Fleet Foxes

Again, I apologize for neglecting the blog. I’ve been so busy lately, and I fear it will only get worse from here on out. I forgot to mention I actually made it into the sold-out Fleet Foxes show at the Mohawk. They were really terrific, in that dreamy, My-Morning-Jacket-y way. Plus they apparently really like Casa de Luz, which means they must be pretty ok. You can see my shots over at Austinist (big thanks to Paige for letting me shoot).

Fleet Foxes

Soaking up the sun

Holy crap! I’m leaving Texas. Flying out to England August 13th. Gonna miss just about everything about this place: the sun, the Springs, the hills, downtown, the Tex-Mex and BBQ, the weirdness, but mostly the awesome friends I have. Thanks for enriching my life. Hopefully I will be back someday.

Until Aug 13, I’m going to be doing as much fun stuff as I can, and I have vowed to take at least a weekly dip in Barton Springs. Join me on Saturdays if you like.

Brad Neely Animation Showcase

Tonight, Monday, and next Thursday only, the Alamo Drafthouse downtown will be showing a Brad Neely Animation Showcase. Brad’s the guy from Austin who came up with the Harry Potter spoof ‘Wizard People Dear Reader’ as well as the Cox and Combes George Washington video (NSFW). He also does a whole bunch of funny stuff over at SuperDeluxe. Drafthouse says:

We’ll have a selection of Neely’s funniest animations as well as an introduction and Q&A with a guy that the Pentagon has called “the most dangerous man in the world.” OK, I made that up. He’s really, really funny though and if you miss it you’ll be sad.

In other Drafthouse news, I’m heading to the Monster Rock Sing-Along tonight at the Ritz. Come on feel the noise.

Railroads and Trailmix

Two things:

  • I saw CapMetro testing out the new commuter metrorail yesterday – the engine portion only stopped traffic for a few seconds at 45th and Airport as it rolled slowly past. Exciting stuff!
  • This pistachio/dried cherry/dried white grape trail mix from Central Market is amazing. You can find it in the bulk grain/spice area. $10 a pound, but totally worth it.

Atash

I know exactly where I’ll be on Wednesday nights: Red Fez, listening to an amazing middle-eastern fusion band called Atash

Atash was born in the vibrant arts and music scene of Austin, Texas, where musicians called The Gypsies began creating an exquisite fusion of world sounds as early as 1996. Quickly hailed as “Austin’s best-kept secret!” (Austin Chronicle), The Gypsies earned numerous accolades for their theatre and film scores, most notably their “live” score to Tod Browning’s 1929 silent thriller, The Unknown, and their incidental music to the play The Conference of the Birds, by Peter Brooks.

My friend and I had just left his music set at Hickory Street, and we were thinking of calling it a night when we passed by the open door of Red Fez. The crowd inside and the smell of hookah enticed us to enter. I’m so glad we did! The band sounded very traditional at first, and they would smoothly transition mid-song to more western beats. All of the members were outstanding musicians, and seemingly each was from a different corner of the world: Indian sitar player, Korean and Mexican violinists, Anglo stand-up bassist and drummer, Guinean Djembe player, and Iranian singer. Atash (which means “fire” in Persian) plays most Wednesday nights at Red Fez. Here are a couple of sample tracks from their site (press the little play button to the right):

Destiny (Majnun’s Song)

Al-Munaajaat (Conversation with God)

The Backyard is closing

I gotta admit, I’m a little sad. Austinist: Austin’s Backyard Ampitheater Announces Final Season

Direct Events and Backyard owner Tim O’Connor has announced the live oak amphitheater’s final season, calling it quits after sixteen seasons in the hill country.

The owner cited the massive Hill Country Galleria and other commercial expansion having “taken away from some of the venue’s magic” as the reasons for the closing. He’s not kidding. The last couple of times I went out there, the formerly serene hill country location was marred by bright blue and yellow Best Buy lights, as well as overall light pollution from nearby parking lots. Hopefully wherever they move it, it’ll be a little more insulated from strip malls.

Austin City Limits – 2008 ACL Fest Lineup

logo_fest.gifI glanced at the headliners at first, and I was mostly unimpressed:

Mostly kinda meh. I mean, Beck’s cool, and of course so is David Byrne – if you will even be able to hear some of his more delicate arrangements. I wouldn’t mind seeing Spiritualized again, if they could somehow magically reinvent themselves as they were a decade or more ago. Band of Horses is decent. Foo Fighters would be ok to see in a big outdoor setting. And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot of those acts, but I’m not jumping up and down to see them either. Upon looking further down the list:

Some decent smaller acts, really, and finally some modern relevance (if you don’t count Vampire Weekend above – and I don’t). But I’m not sure how some translate to the festival scene. I mean, Stars was great at Stubbs outdoors, so that might work. Jose Gonzales fit perfectly on the intimate Parish stage, but outside, during the day getting drowned out by Hot Chip thumping a few hundred yards away? It’s going to be an interesting ACL, good in ways I’m sure, but one I probably won’t mind missing this year.

Physics giant (and former UT Prof) passes away

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John A. Wheeler, Physicist Who Coined the Term ‘Black Hole,’ Is Dead at 96 – New York Times

John A. Wheeler, a visionary physicist and teacher who helped invent the theory of nuclear fission, gave black holes their name and argued about the nature of reality with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, died Sunday morning at his home in Hightstown, N.J. He was 96.

He was one of the major contributors to physics of the last century:

Among Dr. Wheeler’s students was Richard Feynman of the California Institute of Technology, who parlayed a crazy-sounding suggestion by Dr. Wheeler into work that led to a Nobel Prize. Another was Hugh Everett, whose Ph.D. thesis under Dr. Wheeler on quantum mechanics envisioned parallel alternate universes endlessly branching and splitting apart — a notion that Dr. Wheeler called “Many Worlds” and which has become a favorite of many cosmologists as well as science fiction writers.

Recalling his student days, Dr. Feynman once said, “Some people think Wheeler’s gotten crazy in his later years, but he’s always been crazy.”

Scientific American posted a profile of him originally published in 1991 that contains some interesting glimpses into his personality and theories.