so many people to thank.
Volume II, 04
“You’ve been with the professors And they’ve all liked your looks”
contributors The poet Kurt Heinzelman is also a translator, editor, scholar, and cultural observer (see Dylan, page 9)--a lot of “er”sounding things that rhyme with “error.” UT Classics professor Tom Palaima writes regularly for the Austin AmericanStatesman, The Texas Observer, and the Times Higher Education. His take on Bob, page 9. Richard Thomas is Professor of Greek and Latin at Harvard, writes and teaches on Virgil and other classical poets and runs a freshman seminar on Dylan (see page 8). Breanna Rollings enjoys beaches, brunches, red wine, and British comedy. She writes for local websites Austinist (see story on page 12) and Austin Eavesdropper. Carol Stall is an erstwhile investigative reporter cum multimedia artist, jeweler and photographer. Occasionally she glances up from multiple projects to wield a pen. She profiles artist Jonny Slie on pages 6 and 7.
The One Village Project’s annual Global Youth Peace Summit brings refugee and immigrant youth who have survived war and the hardships of extreme poverty to the area for a week-long overnight conference from Aug. 7 - Aug. 14 at Wimberley’s John Knox Ranch. Uniting youth and supporters from around the globe, the summit creates a model global village that builds cultural understanding. More info at www. amalafoundation.org. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------As summer winds down, cool down with the kids at the 4th Annual Ice Cream Festival at Waterloo Park on Saturday, Aug. 14. The event includes games, activities, contests and live entertainment, all for $5 (12 and under free with an adult. Doors open at 10 a.m.). Contests include ice cream making, eating, screaming and Popsicle stick sculpture. For more info see www.roadwayevents.com. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Austin Museum of Art hosts its ongoing Second Saturdays for families on Aug. 14, 12-4 p.m. Chill out by discovering an eco-friendly way to make art by painting with ice cubes. At 1 p.m., join Bea Love Yoga for a family yoga class. $7 per family; members $5. For more info, www.amoa.org. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Bemba Entertainment and KUT have been instrumental in developing Austin’s thriving Worldbeat scene and celebrate the one year anniversary of World Music Night at Momo’s on Saturday, Aug. 14. (618 W. 6th St.). Fifteen acts, $10: El Tule, Atash, 1001 Nights Orchestra, Aciable, Buscando El Monte, Huerta Culture, Manga Rosa, Rattletree Marimba, Wino Vino, Anne Simoni, La Guerrilla, Austin Piazzolla Quintet, Frederico7 & The Hashashin, Oliver Rajamani, Azul. (Story on pg 11.) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Hispanic Network of Austin, along with Tri-Swag Entertainment are hosting a fundraiser for Manos de Cristo to provide backpacks to thousands of underprivileged children in Austin on Aug. 20, 6 p.m. at MoJoe Room Bar & Grill (6496 N IH 35). Four vacation package giveaways, gift baskets and more for those who bring a backpack. Details at www.manosdecristo.org. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Batfest!, Austin’s 6th annual bat shindig, is back on Congress Avenue Bridge Saturday, Aug. 21, from 1 p.m. - midnight. The event features arts & crafts booths, music, food, children’s activities, educational displays and of course, prime bat watching (8 p.m.) against a scenic backdrop. Over 20 bands on two stages and millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. Free! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Barsana Dham’s acres of scenic land represent the holy district of Braj in India, where each year, in the midst of the rainy season, the festival of Hariyali Teej is celebrated with swings placed in shrines. Help carry on the same tradition at Jhulan Leela (400 Barsana Rd.) Aug. 21-22, 7:30 - 9 p.m. Info at www.barsanadham.org.
Yoga made ESY for You. 1050 East 11th St. #150 ~ 512.779.8543 www.eastsideyoga-austin.com
Volume Ii, Number 04
From the Plaza
Fitness Feria Helps Hispanic Youth Get Fit
KidOshoe Shoe Store Opens With Worldview
Terra Toys and Dragonsnaps, locally owned and operated since 1979, announced the opening of kidOshoe children’s shoe store. Owners hope that kidOshoe’s modern approach will do for shoes what Terra Toys did for toys in Austin, by placing emphasis on the natural and healthy development of the child. With a wide range of shoes imported from all over the world, as well as shoes handmade in Texas, kidOshoe aim is to support quality craftsmanship both locally and abroad. -----------------------------------------------
Austin Residents Support Best Wurst
By Mindy Heredia
Battling obesity and diabetes is no easy task, especially for those of Hispanic origin who may face several obstacles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanics show higher percentages of heart disease and diabetes compared to whites. Sadly, a growing number of these cases are children. Fitness Feria, a program focused on expanding health awareness, hosted a fitness fair in mid-July with hopes of promoting healthy living for the growing Hispanic population. Representatives and athletes from the Texas Stars, Austin Toros, Austin Aztex, Round Rock Express as well as several health experts attended the fair to inspire children to get excited about being physically active. One of the primary goals of Fitness Feria is to tackle the language barrier that many Hispanic families face. Training the Spanish-speaking parents to better understand the sports system will enable them to lead their children on a path of healthy living. The
July program featured interactive demos as well as exhibits and hands-on participation opportunities. A variety of activities that can be enjoyed by all ages, such as volleyball, cycling, football, ballet, cheerleading and even karate were demonstrated to encourage all age groups to become active. Motivating children at an early age increases the likelihood that they will continue on the path of physical fitness, and decrease their risk for childhood obesity which could lead to diabetes or similar conditions. Parents who attended the showcase at the Tony Burger Center were provided with instructions on how to easily access athletic mentors, free sports camps and information on physical activities being held in their area. According to the Austin Times, The City of Austin wishes to make this their signature program by next year. To find out more about Fitness Feria and how you can get involved, visit www.fitnessferia.com.
Amala Foundation Promotes New Program Strives to Unity, Peace and Love Encourage More Hispanics to Vote Republican By Mindy Heredia The Amala Foundation, an organization aimed at promoting a peaceful, loving and equitable world has partnered up with other peace-focused organizations to bring about the 4th Annual Global Peace Summit. The Summit is an 8-day conference that unites 70 international, refugee, immigrant and youth ages 12-18 to become peace leaders. The ultimate goal of the Global Peace Summit is to encourage youth to open their minds and unite with one another through peace, healing, respect and service to others, despite cultural differences. Open discussion, special events, art and music activities will help the youth better communicate and act with compassion and love. The Amala Foundation is currently accepting applications for youth delegates and adult volunteers. Scholarships will be offered for underserved youth who wish to take part in the event. This year’s summit will run August 7th through the 14th and will be held in Wimberley, Texas. Visit www.amalafoundation.org/gyps.html to find out how you can be a part of this inspiring event.
By Mindy Heredia
George P. Bush, nephew of George W. Bush, has initiated a new approach to encourage Hispanic individuals to join the GOP. As many Hispanics struggle to find their place in the political arena, many find themselves shying away from the Republican Party as they do not share the same views on issues such as immigration, healthcare and education. Daniel Santonti, spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party, explains that Hispanics do not necessarily feel welcomed by the Republican Party. Hispanic Republicans of Texas Co-founder Juan Hernandez feels that with the growing population of Hispanics in the United States, there needs to be more representation for them from Republicans. Only a small percentage of elected officials in Texas are Hispanic, and with this new initiative, the Hispanic Republicans of Texas propose to recruit, elect and support Republicans in office and candidates in the state.
04 TODO Austin // Aug 2010 // TOdOaustinonline.com
Controversy has developed over a battle between an iconic food stand in Austin and an upscale restaurant that sits just a few feet away. Owned by local musician Jon Notarthomas, The Best Wurst has occupied the corner off Sixth Street and San Jacinto for the past 17 years and has since been voted “Best Street Food” by the Austin Chronicle. Despite the recognition the food stand has received, Parkside restaurant owner Shawn Cirkiel wishes for the stand to change locations as he plans on adding a balcony that would potentially interfere with its current location. Notarthomas’ permit expired in mid-June, but the City must investigate Cirkiel’s many complaints before considering renewal. The city of Austin has stated that the two restaurants can in fact coexist and still meet city regulations even after the expansion process has completed. Many Austinites have united in support of The Best Wurst as they are in fear of losing such a long-standing icon. The food stand has already gained a following of more than 2,500 fans on Facebook in support of their desire to keep the current location. Until the city makes a decision, Best Wurst will remain where it stands. -----------------------------------------------
Publisher/Editor - Gavin Lance Garcia email@example.com Art Director - Dave McClinton www.dmdesigninc.com Executive Editor - Erica Stall Wiggins Senior Editor - Katie Walsh Associate Editors: Brandon Ramiro Badillo, Mindy Heredia, Alexandra M. Landeros, Blake Shanley Contributing Writers/Artists: Paul Anthony, Joseph Banks, Stefanie Behe, Deborah Alys Carter, Jennie Chen, Brandi Cowley, Mia Garcia, Kurt Heinzelman, Anoop Iyer, Pranaya Kondekar, Harish Kotecha, Callie Langford, Julia Lee, David Marks, Brooke Maudlin, Tom Palaima, Mary Parsamyan, Kathy Pham, Breanna Rollings, Marion Sanchez, Carol Stall, Richard Thomas, Kristina Vallejo, Kuetzpalin Vasquez, Priya Vijayaraghavan, Julia Walsh, Bowen Wilder, Yvonne Lim Wilson Photographers: Heather Banks, Marina Chavez, Jenny Fu, Mark Guerra, JoJo Marion, Maverick Shaw, Aimee Wenske, Matt Ziehr Advertising: Jake Morse at 817.313.7062 or Kathleen Fitzgerald, 512.284.5492; or firstname.lastname@example.org TODO Austin is published by Spark Awakened Publishing. © 2010 Spark Awakened Publishing. All rights reserved. Unsolicited submissions (including, but not limited to articles, artwork, photographs) are not returned. On the Cover:
Latinitas Magazine Seeks Exceptional Bob Dylan by David Gahr SONY/BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT Athletic Females In a recent analysis of the U.S. Department of Education, data indicated that only about 36% of Hispanic girls participated in interscholastic sports, while 52% of non-Hispanic girls participated during the school year of 2001-2002. The data indicated that low participation rates were due to economic status, transportation and extra responsibilities Hispanic girls may take on, such as contributing to the family income or caring for younger siblings. Being involved with sporting activities has been associated with preventing teen pregnancy, drop-out rates and even obesity. As a means of empowering young Hispanic women nationally, digital magazine Latinitas has announced their search for exceptional young girls that excel in “athletic achievement, high academic standards, community involvement and outstanding leadership qualities.” Nominations will be accepted through the website, and prospects must be Latin teens ages 13-19 that participate in school-sponsored athletics or open amateur sports and exhibit a dedication to leadership, community service and academic excellence. Downloadable nomination forms are available on the Latinitas website, latinitasmagazine.org. Winners will be presented in a front page article of the magazine. The submission deadline is September 15, 2010.
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TODOAustinOnline.com Join us at TODO Austin Multicultural Media for All of Austin TODO Austin is a free, colorful print and online journal for all of Austin highlighting our multicultural heritage. Our mission is to promote the concept of community in an ethnically diverse city. TODO Austin’s content closely mirrors the changing demographics of Austin. TODO Austin provides a platform that profiles Hispanic, Anglo, Asian, African American and other individuals, groups and organizations that are representing a positive vision in the community.
WRITE TO US with stories, submissions, etc.: Contact@todoaustinonline.com Editorial – 512.538.4115
Let’s Talk About It
Phantom Funds II: Where’s the Money?
That’s (Still) the Question In June of this year, TODO Austin explored the questionable use of taxpayer-funded federal grants in City of Austin housing programs, focusing on the story of one loan client, Allissa Chambers. Chambers fought a lengthy legal battle with the City after their contractor breached the contract and abandoned her home, leaving behind botched and incomplete work and extreme levels of lead contamination. While the City never produced a Certificate of Completion for the job, Chambers claims she was forced to inhabit the hazardous home and pay down a loan that appears to have never been released. The well-documented questions of forgery, fraud and housing fund mismanagement raised by Chambers’ case remain unanswered by City and County officials, despite numerous requests for outside investigation. According to Clint Smith of the advocacy organization Gray Panthers, this lack of response is in direct violation of Title 18 of U.S. Code. But these questions aren’t unique to Chambers’ story, nor to the City of Austin. Several citizen complaints, isolated cases covered in the mainstream media and investigations and indictments in other municipal governments illustrate a pattern of localized corruption on a national scale.
Patterns & Practices One recurring theme is the lack of proper accounting of how housing funds are allocated and spent. Research conducted by Austinites Lobbying for Municipal Accountability (ALMA) via open records requests revealed that roughly 48 of 115 affordable housing clients were not reachable at the project address, and in fact that several project addresses appeared to be empty lots—a curious finding within a program that claims to help families stay in their homes. In 2009, the Austin American-Statesman reported that a federal audit of the Housing Authority of Travis County uncovered more than $3 million in unaccounted for federal monies. Several Austinites who have participated in affordable housing and home loan programs mention other common themes: a lack of responsiveness and communication at the City, incomplete and substandard work, failure to complete projects on time, failure to honor warranties, contracts and agreements and pressure to sign off on premature payments in order to keep projects moving. Along with the cases of Joan Sutton and Ophelia Micilia described in the June 2010 issue, a number of other individuals have spoken out about problems with City of Austin federally-funded programs. Joy Moore spent years living with gaps, cracks and lots of caulking—the only remedy her City contractor would provide for continuous repair problems on a home she purchased through the Dollar Home program. Even after a City official determined that the issues were related to substandard materials and workmanship, Moore was unable to obtain adequate repair until she contacted the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) directly. A select few cases have received mainstream media attention; The Austin Chronicle has published a handful of Austin cases. In 2003, they ran “Hard Luck in Heritage Heights,” exploring the plight of renters at a federally funded affordable housing project in East Austin who’d had heavily advertised rent-to-own agreements silently pulled out from under them. “I just feel like I’ve been misled, no communication. I feel like they’re not complying [and] informing me as to what I need to know,” one tenant said. The Chronicle also covered the struggle of the grassroots group “Juniper 5” in securing new or rehabilitated homes they’d applied for from the City of Austin and Austin Revitalization Authority (ARA), the nonprofit development company tasked with rehabilitating East 11th and 12th Streets. Lack of communication, misinformation and the surrounding issues of the ARA’s troubled financial history (which prompted FBI and HUD questioning the same year) all point to the same patterns. And those patterns extend beyond Austin city limits. After a lengthy FBI investigation, 16 Dallas City officials were indicted on bribery and extortion charges in 2007, involving the acceptance of bribes in return for affordable housing contracts. The Houston Chronicle reported that 58-yearold Marsha Farmer fought the City of Houston for nearly eight years after uncovering mismanagement and improper spending related to her federallyfunded home repair loan. The documentation she compiled showed that contractors regularly exaggerated material costs and charged the City for incomplete or poorly executed work. Her findings and resultant lawsuit against the City of Houston prompted a HUD investigation, ultimately resulting in a demanded repayment of $15.5 million in misused federal housing dollars.
To be sure, several successful projects have come out of the $55 million G.O. bonds, but transparency around the allocation and expenditure of the funds is, well, muddy. Last summer, nearly $3 million of the sum suddenly became available for an affordable housing project in South Austin called the Village; a deal that raised criticism from the public for a number of reasons. Firstly, the developer collecting the funds was a former partner of then-Director of Neighborhood Housing and Community Development (NHCD), Margaret Shaw. As The Statesman reported in June of 2009, the Village’s land was fully subsidized, yet only onefifth of the development’s 240 units were priced below 50% median income—far fewer than most affordable complexes. The Village is also property tax-exempt, affording the for-profit developer significant tax breaks. In the same month, another $2 million of the G.O. Bonds surfaced for a home repair initiative. Smith claims that based on meeting minutes, Shaw “admitted to City Council members that [the City of Austin] had failed to make the funds available previously.”
by Katie Walsh
“Where did that money come from?” Smith wonders. “They’d told us that they ‘couldn’t find it’ but Shaw could find $2.9 million for her former partner? What happened to the rest of the $55 million? These are the types of issues that have not been resolved.” When he couldn’t get a substantial response to his questions, Smith partnered with ALMA and the Travis County Green Party (TCGP) in pursuit of “some real answers.” In December of 2008, thenTCGP Chair Bill Holloway hand-delivered more than 150 pages of documentation related to City of Austin housing fund mismanagement to the Travis County DA. They’ve submitted a number of inquiries to the U.S. Attorney as well. Neither party has submitted any response. To Smith, the silence is deafening. “How is it that these officials don’t feel obligated by law to respond to inquiries from the public?” he asks. “In other jurisdictions, these kinds of questions have been investigated. Why not in Austin? Isn’t it about time the public be given an explanation?”
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Cases have surfaced in San Antonio, Newark, New Jersey, Detroit and Washington D.C., to name a few.
Why So Silent? These issues gained the attention of Smith and the Gray Panthers in 2006, while Smith was serving as treasurer of HousingWorks, a local housing nonprofit. HousingWorks helped to secure $55 million in local, voter-approved General Obligation (G.O.) bonds in 2006, to be used strictly for home rehabilitation efforts. So when five new City administrative positions were created and paid for with the bonds, Smith began asking questions. “The HousingWorks board followed up with [thenHousing Director] Paul Hilgers about these bond issues and the newly created positions, and couldn’t get any clear responses on how the money was being spent or whether it was legal by the City,” Smith said. “My resignation from HousingWorks was due to the persistence of these unresolved, unanswered questions.”
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TODO Austin // Aug 2010 // TOdoaustinonline.com 05
By Carol Stall
As his “tag” indicates, he might just be a clever graffiti artist who turned up in Austin last year. Abandoning the clandestine world of graffiti art after 15 years, “Jonny Slie” is bridging the artistic gap between graffiti and traditional art forms. The artist reveals his true identity as Jonathan Booker, who is now making his mark on the Austin Arts scene with the recent opening of the Seventy Seven Gallery. “If you’re doing illegal graffiti and you want to get away with it, you want to be sly,” he says, explaining how he came by his name. At a recent interview in his new light-filled gallery at Sixth and Brushy, he turns to point out a new work, a colorful canvas that was completed sans spray can. As for his history, Slie, AKA Booker, won’t reveal how many illegal pieces he did in his time as a graffiti artist, but he’s quick to point out that he was never affiliated with gangs or set out to destroy property. “I would never go write on someone’s building that had not been written on before, Booker said. “If I ever did graffiti, it was on parts of buildings that were not really in use—where it wouldn’t hurt anything.” “We were just a bunch of nerdy white guys that liked it. And we were cool enough to get a hood pass. We earned that just by being good. Those guys, even though they’re into gangs and tag a lot—there’s a lot of good people and they can recognize art.”
Born in Orange County in 1977 (hence the gallery name, Seventy Seven), the youngest of three, Booker grew up mainly in Santa Cruz and Modesto California and has been an artist for as long as he can remember. Extensive travel during his youth, as well as an artistic family, fueled his love of art from a young age. Booker’s father David was also a painter, using oils as his medium until he fell in love with watercolors. His uncle Paul provided huge inspiration to a young Booker. He used a mix of oil-based hobby enamels and water to create remarkable flowing organic forms and effects on canvas. “When I was growing up he always had canvases at my dad’s place, and I would see them and I was like, what the heck, how does this guy do this? After he passed away I thought I’d honor him and try to figure it out. I’m still trying.” Jonny Booker was only sixteen when he picked up his first spray can in Modesto California. In 1993, a high school friend with the moniker “Clowns” showed him the graffiti ropes under a Modesto bridge. By 1995 he had his own recognizable style. After high school, Booker left Santa Cruz and moved to San Francisco where he attended the Academy of Arts, but he became so involved in the graffiti scene that he dropped out to paint the walls and roofs of San Francisco. continued on Pg. 7
Jonny at work.
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---------------------------------------------------Sunday 8/1------THE LEROI BROTHERS Thursday 8/5----THE BOB FUENTES SHOW Friday 8/6--------LOS FLAMES Saturday 8/7----TED RODDY Sunday 8/8------THE TEXAS TYCOONS Thursday 8/12---ZERO SKILLS Friday 8/13-------LOS FLAMES Saturday 8/14----THE BETH LEE BAND Sunday 8/15------TIBURON
Thursday 8/19----SUZANNE SHERWIN Friday 8/20--------LOS FLAMES Saturday 8/21----PONTY BONE & THE SQUEEZE TONES Sunday 8/22------MITCH WEBB & THE SWINDLES Thursday 8/26----JOHNNY GIMBLE Friday 8/27--------LOS FLAMES Saturday 8/28----SPENCER THOMAS BLUES REVIEW Sunday 8/29------CHICKEN STRUT *All shows are acoustic
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“TexAsia” Explores San Antonio Asian Community By Yvonne Lim Wilson
Local Austin historian Mel Brown partnered with San Antonio community activist May Lam to publish the book “TexAsia,” released in 2009. “TexAsia” realizes Lam’s concept to have prominent San Antonians contribute chapters and segments, creating a collective landscape of Asian community in San Antonio. Brown edited the text and pulled in historical context. The project took three years. “It’s a look at the modern Asian communities in San Antonio. The strength of it is that it’s told by members of those ethnic communities,” Brown said. “If you don’t know anything about Asians in San Antonio, you’ll learn something.” San Antonio is the home to 23,538 Asians, about two percent of the population, according to 2000 U.S. Census data. “San Antonio is a very special place,” Brown said. “It’s been such an ethnically mixed city; it’s very tolerant. The Asian community seems to be doing very well and found a good place to live.” Brown’s favorite story in the book is about Dr. Li Jia on her difficulty settling into a new country, away from her family and without a place to live. “As a scholar new to this land of freedom and democracy, I have found another home for my family,” Jia wrote. “Our life was made easier by pioneers who had paved the way for later comers like us.” Austinities may be interested to learn about San Antonio’s annual Asian Festival during the Lunar New Year, which was started by May Lam. In its first year, hundreds of people attended, setting the pace for the festival for years to come. “It’s hugely successful, with 6,000 to 7,000 people walking through the gate on one day,” Brown said. “The event has become a focal point for the city.” Brown, a fourth generation San Antonian and self-described “history nut,” has had a long history with the Chinese community in San Antonio through his wife Lorraine, who is Chinese American. Brown’s previous book “Chinese Heart of Texas” chronicles the history of the Chinese in San Antonio. “I didn’t write it because of my wife, but then the more I got into it, I realized it was her story. Her grandfather was part of [building the railroad], so it’s family history,” Brown said. “I’m really proud of that book.” Brown is also the author of “San Antonio: Past, Present and Always,” “San Antonio in Vintage Postcards,” and “Wings Over San Antonio.” May Lam is the publisher of “TexAsia,” business owner, artist and 2008 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asian American Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio. Copies are available for $20. For more information about “TexAsia” or Mel Brown’s other books, visit www. home.earthlink.net/~melbjr/chineseheartoftexas/index.html.
continued from Pg. 6
When his friend Clowns moved to Seattle, Booker soon joined him. They formed a new crew under the acronym TITS and began to get serious about the art side of graffiti. TITS had a wealth of meanings: “Trapped in the System,” “Turning into Stars,” or even “This is Tasty Salsa.” When their work began appearing in graffiti magazines, Booker knew they’d made their mark. After a seven-year stint in Seattle, he moved back to LA and in 2003 it was on to New York, where he would discover graffiti’s roots. While there he encountered other graffiti artists making forays into the fine art world. “That’s when I really started to see the transition that graffiti artists were making into contemporary art. Because they were realizing that graffiti art was not cutting it (financially). But they were great artists, so a lot of people just started doing canvases—without any fonts involved.” His New York sojourn also inspired him to create a place for the work of other artists making the same transition. Most of the transition art does not look like graffiti. According to Booker, graffiti is still best displayed in a large, outdoor setting. “It’s gotta be large, the bigger the better! I always wanted to open up a graffiti park, maybe a place where kids can ride bikes, skateboard, but all gated off—sign up, pay money and you get that wall for a week and no one can touch it.” But instead, he’s settled for an East Austin art gallery. Booker sees his gallery as the perfect venue for the fusion of graffiti art forms and contemporary art.
“A big part of the gallery is to involve people who never really had a shot to get into a gallery before. I encourage any artist to come into the shop and talk to me, because I’d love to do group shows.” While he’ll always love graffiti, he’s taking what he learned and returning to his fine art roots—perfecting the enamel medium his uncle pioneered. “I took what I learned from graffiti, with the colors and angles and the energy, what I learned from my uncle, then I took a little bit of my love for the traditional Japanese scroll paintings and kind of meshed the three together.” He’s also added texture into the mix. “That’s another thing I started to get into—a lot of texture and a lot of big blops, just so it’s kinda popping off of the canvas. So you can actually touch it.” A close look at his current work—a combination of natural elements punctuated with bold color slashes and yes, blops of texture—reveals that words are still present, albeit subtly. The “Slie” tag can be found in each painting, though it’s sometimes hard to identify. Booker loves Austin and believes it the perfect place to raise his two-year-old son. Choosing East Austin for the gallery, he says, was a no-brainer. “Everyone said, for the arts, you have to go to East Austin, that’s where it’s happening, so I did.” While frequent exhibit openings bring in large and enthusiastic crowds, Booker points out that daily foot traffic is slow—and for a reason. An undeveloped field next to a chop shop across the street serves as a haven for crack addicts. “I watch drug deals come down all day. I watch people getting
arrested, you see prostitutes. Some art patrons don’t feel safe walking down the street. It’s sad, I’m trying to help. I’m trying to bring business here to East Austin. I’m just a guy trying to get some art out there. ” A mere two blocks east, things are much better, but, Booker points out, rents are significantly higher for a start-up venture like his. “We need to clean up East Sixth Street. I mean, this is Pecan Street, the most famous street in Austin and the entrance to the East Side—and it’s dedicated to crack sales. Something should be changed about that. Let’s create jobs for people and clean up this area.” And according to Booker, developing the empty lot across the street and patrolling the alleys would be a great place to start. “People want to be able to walk around and see art—you know, without having to know Kung Fu.” But he’s optimistic, and will move forward as best he can. Meanwhile, his shows are well attended and he encourages both patrons and artists to drop by and see what’s happening to the evolving art of graffiti. He gazes speculatively at the field across the street. “Just the right size for a public graffiti park,” he says with a sly grin. Seventy Seven Gallery | 900 East 6th St. Suite 130 www.seventysevengallery.com TODO Austin // Aug 2010 // TOdoaustinonline.com 07
In this golden age when American popular culture is a worldwide culture, Bob Dylan is in many ways its fons et origo (its spring and source). “It’s an immense privilege to live at the same time as this genius,” states British literary critic and former Oxford Professor of Poetry, Christopher Ricks. On the eve of his August 4th concert date in Austin-a community which has adopted Dylan as one of its own-TODO Austin has invited three American scholars to reflect on Dylan’s wide cultural impact.
I had the honor of presenting the key to the City of Austin to Dylan on February 24, 2002, Bob Dylan Day. In our short visit, Dylan expressed then to the mayor pro-tem and me how happy he was to have been made an honorary Texan by the previous Governor. Welcome, home, Bob.
Back on December 5, 2004, “60 Minutes’” Ed Bradley asked Bob Dylan where a song like the 1965 masterpiece “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” came from. Dylan came across as genuinely puzzled as the rest of us. “I don’t know how I got to write those songs,” he replied, seemingly at peace with the mystery of it all. “I did it once,” he added, “and I can do other things now. But, I can’t do that.”
And so it emerged that one of the other things Dylan can do, good Jack of Hearts that he is, is steal. “Immature poets imitate,” wrote T. S. Eliot in 1920, thinking mostly of himself; “mature poets steal . . . The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it is torn . . . A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.”
“Bringing It All Back Home,” “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde On Blonde” came out in the fourteen electrically charged, “thin wild mercury” musical months right before Dylan’s 25th birthday, between March 1965 and May 1966. Once we heard them, nothing was the same; everything else retreated to the shadows. Dylan changed too, but as he said, he went on to do “other things.”
The sort of theft on “Lonesome Day Blues” makes the song timeless, universal, and literary, though Dylan’s cowboy band and his menacing “I’m gonna tame the proud” keep it out of the library stacks and on the streets. What might have seemed a Vietnam era song — “My brother got killed in the war” — becomes through its intertexts a song for all time and for all wars: Virgil’s and Twain’s civil wars, and the Chinese-Japanese War of “Confessions” — not unlike how the absence of time and place helps make “Masters Of War” the greatest and most undying of all anti-war songs.
Flashing forward past many of those things to three days before the September 11, 2001 release of “Love and Theft,” we find Dylan talking to the Italian paper La Repubblica in Rome—the place matters. “My songs are all singable,” he says at one point. “They’re current. Something doesn’t have to just drop out of the air yesterday to be current.” How further back than yesterday becomes clear in another part of the exchange: “You’ve got the Golden Age, which I guess would be the Age of Homer.” He then runs through the Silver, Bronze and present Iron Age, the GrecoRoman equivalents of Eden and the Fall, found in the Greek poet Hesiod, and in the Roman poet Virgil. The interviewer gets none of what is going on. “Lonesome Day Blues” turned out to have a few lines from Virgil’s epic on empire, the “Aeneid,” the singer, like Aeneas, sparing the defeated, teaching peace to the people, taming the proud. Huck Finn is also there, along with the Japanese gangster novel, “Confessions of a Yakuza.” The whole album, its very title stolen, is now seen to be full of literary allusions and intertexts.
08 TODO Austin // Aug 2010 // TOdoaustinonline.com
This creative and allusive writing is not really new. One of Dylan’s very first original songs, “Bob Dylan’s Dream” did the same with “Lord Franklin” (aka “Lady Franklin’s Lament”) mixing in other traditional songs, maybe picked up at Izzy Young’s Folklore Center soon after Dylan arrived in the Village. But “Love and Theft” is different; it looks outside its own genre, to “authors remote in time, or alien in language.” Where was Dylan on June 1 of this year? Maybe between Istanbul (5/31) and Bucharest (6/2) he went to Constanta, Romania, to see a statue of the Roman poet Ovid, exiled there by the emperor Augustus in 8 CE, perhaps for seeing or hearing something he shouldn’t have. Here Ovid spent the rest of his days, “in the last outback, at the world’s end,” as he put it in Peter Green’s translation of “Black Sea Letters.”
That of course is also Dylan in the final line of “Ain’t Talkin’,” the final song of “Modern (get it?) Times,” what sounded at the time like a final album. This turns out to be one of more than 20 of the Roman poet’s lines, spread across “Spirit On The Water,” “‘Workingman’s Blues #2,” “The Levee’s Gonna Break” and “Ain’t Talkin’” (see http://journal.oraltradition.org/files/articles/22i/ Thomas.pdf). There are none on “Thunder On The Mountain,” though there Dylan does give us a tell-tale sign: “I’ve been sittin’ down studyin’ the art of love” (Ovid also wrote the Ars Amatoria “Art of Love”). If Dylan can visit the childhood home of Neil Young, why not a statue in Ovid’s place of exile? With Ovid, Dylan steals successfully, his settings much changed as Eliot wanted. Ovid is talking to the emperor: “My cause is better: no-one can claim that I ever took up arms against you”; the singer of Workingman’s Blues #2’ is talking to a lover, mysterious and vague though she be: “No-one can ever claim / That I took up arms against you.” Ovid also addressed his wife, back in Rome: “May the gods grant … / that I’m wrong in thinking you’ve forgotten me!” Dylan’s lover is back in time: “Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking / That you have forgotten me?” And hanging over it all is Ovid in exile, a backdrop that works for Dylan, off into northern exile himself in “Highlands” and “Thunder On The Mountain,” and in inner exile from the very beginning of it all. He has shared that inner exile with those who have sailed into it with him over the years, giving us words and songs that matter across space and time, that remain “current.” In the famous December 3, 1965 San Francisco press conference the poet is asked about his role. The response, “my role is to stay here as long as I can,” is deadly serious. That he has done that now for half a century has been a gift beyond belief. I wish I was in Dixie, in The Backyard, come August 4!
David Gahr SONY/BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT
One sure sign of Dylan’s influence is that all three scholars, a noted University of Texas at Austin English professor and poet, a UT MacArthur fellow who studies ancient Greek culture and the human response, including song, to war and violence, and a Harvard professor who is the world’s foremost authority on the Roman poet Virgil and the later influence of classical literature and culture, include Dylanology among their prime areas of interest.
From Osaka, Japan to Oslo, Norway, from Rio de Janeiro to the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio, from Istanbul to the Isle of Wight, Dylan has performed his unique distillation of American musical traditions. His music transcends time and place and crosses cultural boundaries. Around the world and up and down Highway 35, Dylan remains the most important artist alive today, “anywhere and in any field,” to quote England’s Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion.
A Classical Bard Brings It All Back Home By Tom Palaima
“Everybody movin’ if they ain’t already there / Everybody got to move somewhere” -Bob Dylan, “Mississippi,” Love and Theft (2001) © 1997 by Special Rider Music “I was young when I left home / But I been out a-ramblin’ ‘round And I never wrote a letter to my home” -Bob Dylan, “I Was Young When I Left Home,” performed in Bonnie Beecher’s Minneapolis apartment (December 1961) © 2005 by Special Rider Music “I pity the poor immigrant / Who wishes he would’ve stayed home” -Bob Dylan, “I Pity the Poor Immigrant,” John Wesley Harding (1967) © 1968 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1996 Dwarf Music “There’s a lonesome freight at 6.08 coming through the town, / And I feel like I just want to travel on” -Bob Dylan, “Gotta Travel On,” Self Portrait (1970) performed in Karen Wallace’s St. Paul, MN apartment May, 1960, copyright by folksinger Paul Clayton “As I travel on life’s pathway / Know not what the years may hold As I ponder, hope grows fonder / precious mem’ries flood my soul” -Bob Dylan, “Precious Memories,” Knocked Out Loaded
(1986) composed ca. 1935 Aunt Molly Jackson “But me, I’m still on the road / Headin’ for another joint” -Bob Dylan, “Tangled Up in Blue,” Blood on the Tracks (1975) © 1974 by Ram’s Horn Music; renewed 2002 by Ram’s Horn Music “I wouldn’t change it, even if I could / You know what they say man, it’s all good” -Bob Dylan, “It’s All Good,” Together Through Life (2009) © 2009 by Special Rider Music and Ice-Nine Publishing The cover on Bob Dylan’s latest CD, aptly titled, for longtime Dylan fans, “Together Through Life” (2009), uses the magic of a black-and-white photograph from Bruce Davidson’s 1959 Brooklyn Gang series to take us back fifty years to the starting point of Dylan’s career. Davidson’s camera has us in the front seat of a big old sedan. We crane our necks to look at a young couple making out in the back seat as the car moves down a divided four-lane highway. The photo puts us out on the road, right where most of us, as descendants of immigrants or immigrants ourselves, want or
need to be. Our American heroes, old and new, have to move, have to go, have to explore the unknown, face new realities, dream new dreams, confront new and old problems, meet strange faces, try to discover who and what and why they, and we, are. They are loners, by choice or by necessity, and they come to terms with their aloneness each and every day. Just close your eyes and listen in your mind to Dylan’s early hero Hank Williams sing of the lonesome whippoorwill, time crawling by through too long a night, a tearfully disconsolate moon, a weeping robin, and a lone falling star in a purple sky. In four magical stanzas, Williams gives voice to how it feels when “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Songsters in the big and heterogeneous American popular musical tradition, of which Dylan is arguably the greatest active student and practitioner these last fifty years, also know that we can journey without putting the key in the ignition or taking a single step. Songs and thoughts and memories take us on trips. When “there is no place (we’re) goin’ to,” we can be “disappearin’ through the smoke rings of (our) mind(s),” as Dylan puts it in “Mr. Tambourine Man.” We can move by talking, as Dylan sings on continued on Pg. 10
Dylan’s Turkish Delights By Kurt Heinzelman
To some, that Monday, the 31st of May, was a day of infamy. Israeli commandos had raided a flotilla, taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. To others, the evening’s performance at Istanbul’s Cemil Topuzlu Open Air Theatre could not come soon enough. It was Bob Dylan’s second live performance in Istanbul, the first in nearly 21 years. Tickets were expensive by Turkish standards. Still, the concert sold out almost instantly. By the next day, Turkey, the strongest supporter of Israel in the region and the benefactor of so much Israeli investment that parts of modern Istanbul in its northern hills, far from the remnants of Constantinople, resemble high-rise Houston, had withdrawn its ambassador and asked the UN Security Council to follow with its own censure. A crowd tried to storm the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul. All the city’s synagogues and temples were under police guard. A huge demonstration was planned for Taksim Square, the Turkish equivalent of Red Square, not far from where the Dylan concert had been in Harbiye. The amphitheatre sky was crepuscular; the overflow audience, orderly, excited, of every age but largely Turkish, were almost seated when the concert began promptly at 9 P.M. with that fulsome, formulaic introduction that Dylan uses now—citing his rise out of folk roots to rock-and-roll mastery to the druggedout, then busted, then born-again celebrity who has at last become, since the 90s, the best song writer in the American
canon. Then the “Listen up, y’all” drum crash of “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35,” a precise translation of “Hwaet,” the first word of “Beowulf,” and the lights flared up but with no immediately visible Bob, only the slightly spot lit guitarist, Austinite Charlie Sexton, center-stage. At the keyboard, stageleft, Dylan emerged from the shadows, only slowly—coat of black, striped pants, bolero, and flat-brimmed Western hat. Although the play-list for the concert claimed that Dylan played guitar on several songs, if he did, it was for the sake of appearance only. Musically, he was most prevalent on the harp and keyboard, as in the decidedly melodic rendition of the second song, “Lay, Lady, Lay.” It was a very musical concert, one of the most timbred in recent years. Ezra Pound, one of Dylan’s mentors, famously proclaimed, “make it new,” a dictum that doesn’t mean “innovate from scratch” but “take what’s old and recharge it,” the way Dylan does with Howlin’ Wolf in “Cat’s in the Well” or with Willie McTell in Bob’s eponymous ballad, or with, of all people, Bing Crosby in “When the Deal Goes Down.” But what Dylan does most brilliantly in concert is to make new his own songs, changing rhythms, key signatures, and words, sometimes leaving them almost unrecognizable from the album version. On this night, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” came off as almost a waltz. Some nights, however, these changes can be quite grating.
But not on this Istanbul night. The highlight was when the 4-man band launched into “Just Like a Woman” with Dylan center stage. Dylan is notorious for not talking to the audience: he explains nothing; he engages in no chatter; he exits after the encore with a grandly thrown kiss, but with no word of thanks. He is also always the only singer. Suddenly, though, in this song, when the band got to the refrain line, “just like a woman,” the audience, overwhelmingly Turkish, shouted it out. In English. To the immense credit of the band, who spent the whole evening with eyes glued to the Meister himself to see how he was going to riff a stanza, stopped playing each time thereafter that the refrain line came around, and we were all rewarded with an unexpected (in the Middle East, at least) Sixties-era singalong, cell phones engraving the dark arena as Bic lit the night like candles. Joan Baez (who has played Istanbul several times) would have been proud. By the end of the concert, Joan’s diamonds-and-rust kid, now 69 years old, was in full grin, having obviously enjoyed himself. A crescent moon, like the one on the Turkish flag, had pierced the cypresses, and the echoes of the antepenultimate anthem, “Masters of Wars,” were wringing justice from the stars as we exited to the next day’s turmoil and its youth-driven demonstrations.
TODO Austin // Aug 2010 // TOdoaustinonline.com 09
Bemba Beat 30th Annual Tejano Music Awards: Do You Wanna Tejano? By Bowen Wilder
The red carpet was rolled out in the Alamo City on July 11 to celebrate the biggest names and talents in Tejano music. The 30th Annual Tejano Music Awards brought out fans who waited hours in the blistering hot sun through the afternoon in hopes of autographs, pictures, or to catch a glimpse of their favorite Tejano musicians and celebrities in attendance. Elida Reyna, Jay Perez, Michael Salgado, Veronica Sustaita and the entire Quintanilla family were just a few of the industry staples who excited the crowd at the sold-out event.
“San Antonio is the epicenter of Tejano music,” declared Paul Rodriguez, acclaimed Latin American actor, comedian, and this year’s host of the Awards. The Alamo City is considered the Nashville of Tejano Music and has loyally hosted the event for 28 of the last 30 years. However, the future of Tejano music is contingent upon the fans that have been noticeably thinning over the recent years. “Seven years ago the Tejano Music Awards were selling out the Alamodome,” explains Tejano fan Maria Vasquez. “Now the venue is smaller and only a handful of people attend.”
Local Austin favorites Ruben Ramos, AJ Castillo and Los Texas Wranglers were nominated for awards, with Castillo walking away with the prize for Best New Male Artist. Special tribute was paid to Selena featuring Girl in a Coma performing a punk rock version of “Si Una Vez,” complimented by David Archuleta of American Idol fame performing a personalized version of “Como La Flor.” Another highlight saw the Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) bestow upon La Mafia a lifetime achievement award for 30 years of entertainment.
Vasquez traveled from Austin with her husband, José, and spent $60 per ticket to enjoy the show in as intimate a way as possible. Maria and José are die-hard fans, but their enthusiasm is lost on their children. They blame the growing popularity of new genres of popular music such as Spanish Rap and strong Mexican musical influences for stealing their children’s interest away from Tejano Music. Those who are a part of the industry have noticed changes too.
During a performance tribute of their signature songs, La Mafia was joined by none other than the “Garth Brooks of Tejano Music,” Emilio. After two years of rehabilitation from a life-threatening car crash, Emilio’s first public performance produced many a moist tissue, and received a standing ovation. Even so, some fans were less interested in Tejano music and more interested in getting David Archuleta to sign a copy of his new book, “Chords of Strength.” The presence of renowned film director Robert Rodriguez (Predators) and Mexican-American actor Danny Trejo (Machete) sparked increased interest among the crowd. From the pre-show red carpet walk, a majority of artists milled about in relative anonymity. The question on many lips was whether Tejano music’s popularity is in a steady declining and what is next for the genre after a decade and a half of market issues. “classical” continued from Pg. 9
“Together Through Life,” to our own forgetful hearts, or trying to “remember the sound of (our) own name(s).” For as Willie Nelson reminds us, too, “still is still movin’.” And we can be moved by our imagination. In Davidson’s photo, we could be in a car with Jack Kerouac in the early 50’s. Or it could be December, 1960. We could be riding with Bob Dylan in Fred Underhill’s car, heading east from Madison, Wisconsin to New York City, aiming to visit his idol and icon and biggest early role model, Woody Guthrie, at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in northeast New Jersey. Until the inherited disorder of the nervous system known as Huntington’s chorea permanently institutionalized Guthrie during the last 13 years of his life, he was the quintessential hard traveler. During the Great Depression and into the 1940’s, Guthrie was out on the roads singing of and among the faceless and nameless people most of us are and certainly all of us, but a chosen few, eventually become. Dylan paid homage to Guthrie’s wandering ways in his early-60’s “Song for Woody.” But, like Hank Williams, Guthrie and his music stirred Dylan to face the existential question we all face in our shallowly rooted and ever-changing American
Jacinto Casas, a local guitar player in a conjunto band, explained that Tejano music is and always has been a male-dominated genre. The first and most prominent woman to break through this paradigm successfully was “The Queen of Tejano Music,” Selena Quintanilla Perez. After her untimely death, Selena’s fans’ unwavering appreciation and respect for her talent has resulted in an archetype, forcing aspiring female artists to wear shoes that they can never fill. Selena’s creative originality in some ways has stifled her fans desire for new female talent. Nonetheless, the industry has not stopped attempting to rekindle Tejano fans’ love for new and young talent. The apparent dwindling fan base is disconcerting to many die-hard Tejano fans and musicians, but their unwavering optimism and desire to embrace the past while looking to the future will hopefully overcome this small blight in the genre’s history, and ensure another 30 years of Tejano music to celebrate. lives: “I could tell he was very lonesome, very alone and very lost out in his time.” Davidson’s Brooklyn Gang photos freeze the kinds of images that social-realism films, like “Blackboard Jungle” with Glenn Ford (1955) or “The Wild One” with Marlon Brando (1953), gave the young Bob Dylan, and still give us. Those films portray restless youths setting out, striking out, rebelling, defying the static status quo, as if by some kind of biological imperative inherited from their parents on shorter or taller immigrant family trees. As Brando’s motorcycle-gang character replies in “The Wild One,” when asked, “Hey, Johnny, What are you rebelling against?” “What’ve you got?” The music on “Together Through Life” has the inventive and spontaneous quality of a Chess Records session, of blues or conjunto musicians out on their back-road and wrong-side-of-the tracks circuits playin’ with and for different locals every night. And Dylan in concert follows the ways of wandering troubadours in the Middle Ages, whose very name means they have to ‘find’ or ‘invent’ new ways of realizing their distinctive songs each and every night. In 1959, Dylan, a high school senior himself, was heading out and confronting some of life’s hard realities and big questions. On January 31 of that year at the Duluth Armory, Dylan heard
10 TODO Austin // Aug 2010 // TOdoaustinonline.com
photo by Marina Chavez
Hot as he is in the great Lone Star State, Alejandro Escovedo continues to prove to music fans across the world that he is an artist whose creativity increases with time. It’s no wonder then that he’s attracted an all-star lineup of collaborators on his newest release, “Street Songs of Love.” Tony Visconti and Bob Clearmountain produced the album and Chuck Prophet contributed to the compositions with no less than Bruce Springsteen joining in on “Faith,” with Ian Hunter adding vocals to “Down in the Bowery.” “Street Songs of Love” scored the highest chart debut of Escovedo’s career, placing at number one on Billboard’s
Buddy Holly sing. Three days later, Holly was dead. As David Hajdu captures it, Holly, along with 29-year-old Hank Williams and 24-year-old James Dean, was “the third of Dylan’s youthful heroes to be immortalized by a premature death while traveling.” Dylan’s brother tells us the three deaths affected Dylan deeply. Still, Dylan later reminisced with Robert Shelton that, during the summer after graduating from high school, he hit the road to a Colorado mining town that opened a new world for him. The place and its stories took him back in his imagination 100 years to 1859 when gold was first struck there. He gets across his reimaginings, when performing the old standard mining song “Days of ’49.” In the fall of ’59, Dylan headed to the University of Minnesota campus. In its Bohemian Dinkytown district, he immersed himself in roots music with roots musicians. He would soon head to New York, come back a few times, read “Bound for Glory” and identify with Woody Guthrie. Finally he would just fling himself out like a rank stranger, a lonesome pilgrim, a roving sign, to meet with Woody and absorb his essence. In New Jersey in the early wintry days of 1961, Dylan would see up close where life can lead if we are lucky or unlucky enough not to die young on the road. After putting forward his own “Last Thoughts
Heatseeker, and # 93 on their top 200 album chart. Discussing his relationship with “The Boss” and what it was like working with him on the song “Faith,” Escovedo remarked, “I love Bruce. It was wonderful working with him. I’ve known him for a couple of years. I know that he used to play my music on the tapes that he would play before shows, music by Rank & File, the True Believers and some of my solo stuff. He’s been so supportive. He’s a measure of greatness to try to live up to.” On July 23, the Boss in fact joined Escovedo and band onstage in Asbury Park, N.J. for three songs.
on Woody Guthrie” in 1963, four years before Woody’s death, Dylan pushed himself out on his own long and unique road of discovery, invention and re-invention. As Dylan comes to town now he has been for more than twenty years on what his fans, full of hope, call The Never Ending Tour. He is now in the days of 69 as we reckon life in human years. He is playing again with Charlie Sexton, the latest in a series of Austin-based musicians, like Denny Freeman and Doug Sahm, with whom he chooses to play. Dylan has, in the songs he sings and those he writes, dreamed of Columbus’s three ships a-sailin’ his way and of longing for old friends “while riding on a train going west.” He has been on horseback with Black Jack Davey, out on the trail of the buffalo, and with Pancho in the desert down in Mexico. He has been seen riding in a buggy in Baltimore with Miss Mary Jane. And he has used all eight carburetors despite being short on gas. We are lucky to have been along through all these rides and luckier still that he is bringing it all back home to us right in our own Backyard. (For Tom Palaima’s other writings on music and Bob Dylan go to: http://www.utexas.edu/ research/pasp/publications/dylan/dylana.html)
Brandon Ramiro Badillo:
Purveyor of Audible Culture By Erica Stall Wiggins
It’s a sweltering July afternoon, and Bemba Entertainment’s founder Brandon Ramiro Badillo is out papering Austin with posters for upcoming shows. He’s already been to a taping of the local news lifestyle show “We are Austin Live,” and when the sun sets he’ll be bartending downtown. In between, he’ll be delivering a steady stream of promotion through social media outlets, making phone calls and taking meetings. The days are long, but it’s a labor of love for world music promoter Badillo, a firm believer in doing what you love and loving what you do. Luckily for world music fans, what Badillo loves to do is take people to new places through music. Originally from Huntsville, Texas, Badillo moved to Austin to pursue screenwriting and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Radio/Television/Film from the University of Texas in 2003. His first event was Xemumba, an underground Latin music festival held in 2007. His goal was to have as many types of Central and South American music in one setting as possible. “I just wanted to provide an atmosphere that would mentally take people to those regions,” said Badillo. Not only was Xemumba a success, it was the defining moment that led Badillo to decide on his life’s vocation. “I’ve been in love with other cultures and the music that represents them for about twelve years. Any chance I get to turn others
on to great music, I jump on it.” Since that first success, Badillo has built Bemba Entertainment into a full scale production company with a variety of weekly shows, plus original events such as annual tributes to musical pioneers Bill Withers and Nina Simone. His weekly World Music Night, a partnership with Momo’s and KUT 90.5 FM, is coming up on its one year anniversary, and Badillo is busy planning a blowout celebration. In late summer of 2009, Momo’s owner Paul Oveisi approached Badillo to take over the newly formed World Music Night after seeing his promotion of a series at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard. Badillo only knew about ten bands that fit the bill at the time, but he didn’t let the dearth of numbers deter him and jumped right into booking the Tuesday slot beginning in August. Attendance was meager at first, but has been slowly building. “Not only did more people start attending, but more and more bands came out of the woodwork and joined the roster,” said Badillo of the growth over the past year. The lineup for the anniversary show is a testament to Badillo’s enthusiasm and marketing skills. If there’s a drawback to being a world beat promoter, it’s having too many ideas and not enough time to engage them. “The hardest thing for me is placing ideas for events on the backburner
until I can get to them. I really just want to do what I love and do as much of it as I possibly can. But at the moment, I’m still hustling,” Badillo said. This summer, that hustling is translating into a number of community-building events, including a World Beat Cruise series every last Thursday through September. He’s also organizing CD release parties for a handful of bands, producing a few fundraisers for non-profits and is beginning to plan the first Afro beat festival in Texas history for June, 2011. “It will be nice when one day I’ll have the time, money, resources, and manpower to put on several shows a week,” Badillo said. Another challenge for Bemba Entertainment is breaking through Austinites’ devotion to singersongwriters, folk, rock, and blues to expand their listening experience to other cultures. “There’s a tight grip on that scene, and it’s been a little difficult expanding the multicultural scene,” asserts Badillo. “It’s a challenge that I have welcomed with open arms, and I won’t stop until Austin is a live world music Mecca.” With his commitment to creating fresh, distinctive music events with universal appeal, there’s little doubt he’ll find a way to validate that statement.
World Music Night One Year Celebration Saturday, August 14, 2010 | 3pm - 2am Momo’s (618 West 6th St.) F eaturing :
El Tule Frederico 7 & The Hashashin Atash Azul La Guerilla Austin Piazzolla Quintet Oliver Rajamani Anne Simoni Wino Vino Rattletree Marimba Manga Rosa Huerta Culture Aciable Buscando El Monte 1001 Nights Orchestra
All images by HARMONEYES Photography
Austin Piazzolla Quintet
Fared Shafinury and Roberto Riggio
TODO Austin // Aug 2010 // TOdoaustinonline.com 11
By Mia Garcia
The Bass Concert Hall welcomes “Jersey Boys,” Aug. 18-Sept. 5. The 2006 Tony® Award-winner for Best Musical is the story of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. Four sons of Italian immigrants, they went from singing on street corners in the housing projects of northern New Jersey to singing on national television as their songs hit the top of the charts. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30. Sounds like an Austin singer/songwriter’s dream come true. JERSEY BOYS, winner of the 2006 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Show Album and, most recently, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, features their hit songs “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes off You.” For tickets, go to www. texasperformingarts.org.
The Cantu Pan Am Center Hillside Summer Concert Series presents Ruben Ramos & The Mexican Revolution and Big Frank Gomez, Tues., Aug 3, at 7 p.m. Dubbed “The Mexican Revolution” in 1969, Ruben Ramos chose his band’s name due to the emergence of the Chicano and civil rights movements of the Sixties. Winner of the 2009 Grammy® for “Best Tejano Album of the Year,” “El Gato Negro” and his band eschew the trend by many bands to substitute synthesizers and keyboards for the real sound and play with a live horn section. Described as “James Brown meets Santana,” the Frank Gomez Band of Austin was recently voted one of the city’s top performing bands by the Austin Chronicle/SXSW Music Poll. The band’s genres include classic rock, old school R&B, soul, disco, funk, country, Texas blues and Latin. The Cantu Pam Am Center is located at 2100 East 3rd St. For info: www.ci.austin.tx.us/ parks/panam.htm or call 512.476.9193. Austin Hindu Temple will celebrate the Samuhika Shanti Kalyanam on Sat., Aug. 21 by performing Shanti Kalyanam, which is Kalyanam for Shiva and Pavathi and also Kalyanam for Lord Balaji, Padmavathi and Budevi. The celebration will mark the announcement of the planning and construction of the new Main Austin Hindu Temple. This Kalyanam is being performed to energize the land where the new Shiva Venketeshwara temple will be constructed on the Austin Hindu Temple premises. The program runs from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. and includes Sri Sridevi, Bhudevi sameta Srinivasa (Lord Balaji) Kalyanam, and Sri Shiva Parvathi Kalyanam from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Lunch Prasad will be at 1 p.m. The cultural program is from 2 - 4 p.m. It’s all at the Austin Hindu Temple and Community Center, 9801 Decker Lake Road. Admission is free. Sponsorship of Kalyanam is $116. For more info, e-mail shantikalyanam@ austinhindutemple.org or call 512.927.0000.
Hail to the Chief: Austinist’s Allen Chen Allen Chen knows just about everyone in Austin. Or at least, just about everyone in Austin knows Allen Chen. The 28-year-old Southern California native moved to Austin in 2004 after earning a BS at UC Berkeley and a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University. Now working as an Analog Chip Designer & Systems Engineer, Allen is well known through his participation with the City of Austin Arts Commission, StrataTX, and, most notably, as Editor-in-Chief of Austinist.com, a popular local news and entertainment website. Under Allen’s leadership, the Austinist team has sponsored a number of successful music and art events around town. Allen’s work in the community is truly a labor of love, which stems from a deep appreciation for all that Austin has to offer. A stroke of luck led Allen to Austinist in 2005. He happened to read a post on Gothamist (based in New York) about a new site in the –ist network launching in Austin, and he went to an open call for new writers that very night. “I wanted a chance to engage with the local community on a deeper level, and Austinist seemed like an amazing opportunity to work with like-minded Austinites who all shared a love for this city,” Chen said. “I decided to just show up and see what’d transpire. It sorta snowballed from there.” Austinist has thousands of readers per month and a large base of volunteer contributors who write about local music, arts, food, politics, events and culture. The goal of the site, Allen says, is “to give people a way to understand what’s going on around them, and a chance to participate in the interesting 12 TODO Austin // Aug 2010 // TOdoaustinonline.com
The historical 100th season of the Austin Symphony Orchestra begins Sept. 10 and 11 at The Long Center with pianist André Watts. ASO will celebrate its 100th birthday on April 28, 2011 — 100 years to the day after the first Austin Symphony concert. A gala concert starring violinist Itzhak Perlman at the Long Center will be projected for the public on outdoor screens on the center’s City Terrace and will be followed by a fireworks display over Lady Bird Lake. “A Gala Celebration of the Bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence and the Centennial of the Revolution” is scheduled for November 19th and 20th, with guest Francisco Ladrón de GuevaraFinck on violin. Other performances include The Preservation Hall Jazz Band on March 5th and The Manhattan Transfer, returning to Austin on June 3 and 4 for a night of swinging jazz. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 16. For information and tickets, go to www.austinsymphony.org or call (512) 476-6064.
By Breanna Rollings
things this city has to offer. We seek out and recognize those among us—whether groups or individuals—who are trying to do something fun, something creative, something innovative.” Without a doubt, Allen and the Austinist team serve the community by getting the word out about what’s going on around town. “For me, seeing the throngs at a gallery opening we’ve written about, or a packed audience at a theater production whose director or actors we’ve maybe interviewed—if, in however small a way, we’ve somehow contributed to that, it makes all of the hard work worth it,” Allen said. Of course, the hard work is just the price of being so involved with the people and venues that make Austin such a special place. In Allen’s view, participation in community organizations is integral to the underlying social fabric of a city. Austin is, after all, greater than the sum of its parts and relies on its people to make amazing things happen. “We’re not just a tech hub, or a college football team, or a place where you can eat delicious breakfast tacos—don’t get me wrong, all of these things are great in their own right— but culture is a huge part of what drives people here, and what keeps them here,” he says. As for what motivates Allen to keep moving forward, it’s fairly simple: “I want to be able to look back on these years and say, ‘I did that—was there when this happened, and it was exhilarating to have been a part of it.’” To check out Austinist, visit www.austinist.com.
photo by Matthew Odam
Chronicles of Undercover Mexican Girl
By Alexandra M. Landeros
The Truth About Your Meat: It Used to be Alive That beautifully buttered, seasoned, boneless, skinless filet of salmon you love was once a slithery, scaly fish with googly eyes swimming in the ocean. So then, why is it so gross to buy a whole fish from the market to cook at home? Why was I tempted by the perfectly pink square slab of boned and skinned salmon, even though it was five times more expensive? Because we are so far removed from our food, we forget that our meat comes from live, moving animals with legs, fins, eyes, and mouths. How many of us would kill an animal for food, if we had to? Would we be able to look the cute, furry lamb in the eye, knowing that hours later he or she would end up on our plate in broiled cubes with mint and feta? A fried chicken leg has become something we eat out of a box, not the part used by the chicken to walk around the farm (that is, if it’s lucky enough to be a free-roamer). Sometimes, it’s not even referred to as a leg, but as a drumstick. We call meat steaks and filets, not muscle and flesh. We eat beef, not cows. Pork, not pigs. Poultry, not chicken. Seafood, not fish. Yet, that’s what it is. We are eating cooked, dead animals. I resisted the temptation to buy the boned and skinned fish. And even though the whole fish had its tail and head cut off, it still looked like a fish— the kind that wiggles around in the water with pulsating gills and a glub-glub mouth. It looked frightening, unappetizing and monstrous. But I decided to be brave and get more intimate with my fish.
At first, I didn’t want to use my fingers to rip open the plastic wrap on the styrofoam tray. I held one end of the tray with a paper towel and tried to remove the wrapping with a fork. When that method quickly proved inefficient and clumsy, I was forced to use my fingers. After a few minutes, I discovered the scales weren’t as slimy as I had thought them to be. It was cold and clammy, but not slimy—and surprisingly smooth. Although I was comfortable touching it here and there, I couldn’t bring myself to grab it firmly with my hands to rinse it in the sink; I awkwardly slid it off the tray into a colander. I was able to rinse one side without touching it, but flipping it over to its other side—well, I was just going to have to go in there grab it with two hands. So I did. After covering it in olive oil, stuffing it with herbs and wrapping it tightly in foil, I was becoming less and less squeamish about the fish. I had to keep reminding myself it was just like the salmon filets I purchased at the store, except one or two steps of preparation back in time—closer to its state of being alive. Otherwise, there was no difference. It’s a great exercise, if you ever have the opportunity to choose a whole fish over the filleted fish. And if you find you can’t do it—well, then, you decide—should you really be eating it? (For the record, this was some of the best fish I’ve ever had. I cooked it on the grill and highly recommend it. It’s inexpensive, feeds many, and will impress your friends.)
Just Add Cerveza!
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5604 Manor: A Multicultural Community Center
By David Marks
If asked which progressive project in Austin received a verbal “thumbs up” from activist Noam Chomsky, it’s likely few people would think of 5604 Manor. Chomsky, however, said of the group, “given the energy of progressive organizers and activists I saw when I was in Austin a few years ago, I am sure 5604 Manor will be a success.” There is certainly a dedicated and vibrant community being nourished at that address that belies the building’s plain exterior.
on “Spirituality and Economics” and “Confronting Collapse Through Art,” featuring musician Eliza Gilkyson.
Funded by individual donors, 5604 Manor strives to be a multiracial/ethnic/cultural center where people come to understand that “community is an experience, not just an idea. We make community by coming together in solidarity, not to ignore our differences but to deepen our understanding of each other.”
Dates and times for upcoming activities can be found on the Third Coast Activist website: www. thirdcoastactivist.org.
Currently, the site houses the offices of Proyecto Defensa Laboral (Workers Defense Project), Third Coast Activist Resource Center and Third Coast Workers for Cooperation. The space holds classes such as English as a Second Language and others, and is also utilized by Mamas of Color Rising, a collective of working class and poor mothers of color. The space currently has a meeting room and indoor stage, and plans are in the works to add an outdoor stage and community garden to the existing play space in the large fenced yard. The property was acquired in November of 2009, and since opening in March has hosted a variety of speakers and events. By the end of August, 5604 Manor will have hosted such diverse gatherings as Iraq Veterans Against the War, a World Cup watching party, various films and speakers such as St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Pastor Jim Rigby
As Workers Defense Project Director Christina Tzintzun puts it, “the building offers an opportunity to develop more progressive organizing work in Austin that goes beyond just one group, whether that be white, black or Latino, but really brings those communities together to work.”
photo by Jason Cato
Workers Defense Project, Third Coast Activist and community members at 5604 Manor Road
5604 Manor Resources www.5604manor.org www.workersdefense.org www.thirdcoastactivist.org www.thirdcoastworkers.coop http://mamasofcolorrising. wordpress.com
A u s t i n Fa s h i o n Awa r d s
Winner in Best Women’s Cut
Nominee: Critics Choice Award for Best Hair Stylist Nominee: Best Men’s Cut Nominee: Makeup Artists, Best Use of Color
Cool Down, Chill Out By Julia Lee
Ahhh… August. Kids start getting new school clothes, magazines feature the fall collection must-haves and catalogs are already on to Halloween. And here in Austin… it’s still freaking HOT! We’ve got another two months of 100-degree weather ahead. Time to re-up on the icy treats and try something new if vanilla and chocolate are getting old. Here are a few places, old and new, that can offer some funky fresh flavors. Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs is already famous for its 26 flavors (or is it 36? Check out the signs). But the key here is to be a little daring. Don’t just order the same two flavors you usually order, side by side. Bor-ring! Try the famous chocolate with the leche canela, a cinnamon flavor similar to Hot Tamales in color as well as flavor. Or get lime with sweetened condensed milk for a key lime pie effect. Or try sour apple and root beer. Or not. Mix it up. Pick a combo that just sounds good, or wrong, and get it.
Thai Fresh has both dairy-based and vegan ice creams. If you haven’t tried vegan ice cream, this is the place to do it. The word “vegan” really does this ice cream a disservice because it emphasizes what’s not in it instead of what is. And what it does have is coconut milk. It has a cleaner flavor without eggy, creamy richness to get in the way. Thai Fresh ice creams explode with flavor. The fig bursts with fig, and the chocolate coconut is one of the best chocolate ice creams you can get. The sweet potato maple pecan tastes like… sweet potato maple pecan pie if you’d frozen it. The flavors at Thai Fresh change every day so a favorite from the day before may be gone the next day. Deal with it. Try something else. The helpful and informed wait staff will let you try as many as you like. Good Pop boasts popsicles minus the cloying sweetness of high fructose corn syrup and chemical tastes of artificial colors and flavors. According to their website, the owners started their company when they couldn’t find good, all natural paletas like the ones they had on trips to Mexico when they were kids. Good Pop has standard American Popsicle flavors like strawberry and mango, but they also have traditional Mexican Popsicle flavors. Try the refreshing El Cucuy which is cucumber and lime. And please try any flavor with chile! They have several options. All good.
Strawberry coconut ice cream at Thai Fresh photo by Aimee Wenske www.aimeewenske.com
La Tropicana is a new little place on the East side at the corner of Westminster and Briarcliff. It’s been open for about a year and in addition to paletas, fruit cups and aguas frescas, they offer raspados, Mexican snow cones. The ice of the snow cones here is not like freshly fallen snow, but more like chipped ice. The too-cute (but knowledgeable and helpful) teenaged and pre-teen sisters at the counter shaved the ice on the spot with the order. La Tropicana has only about a half dozen flavors but they’re all homemade by “Mom.” Try the tamarind and pecan; at the end you’ll get an aftertaste a little like Coca Cola. Maybe that’s the secret recipe! Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs, 808 E. 51st Street Thai Fresh, 909 W. Mary Street Good Pop, 1003 Barton Springs and various locations La Tropicana, 5936 Westminster Drive
Restaurant & Bar
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2 hr lunchtime parking on 6th St.
EVERY FRIDAY - MARIACHI TAMAZULA (FREE 8-10 PM) SAT JULY 31 RUDY Y SU GRUPO KACHE ($10 9 PM) Celebrating Venezuelan and Colombian Independence SAT AUG 14 SON DE ReY (10 PM) SAT AUG 28 ATASH W/ PILAR ANDUJAR (10 PM)
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Word on the StrEat By Jennie Chen
The concept of StrEat has been in the works since roughly October of 2009, with several appearances at local food events. Owner Michael Vilim, who also owns Mirabelle and has years of Austin restaurant experience at spots like The Café at the Four Seasons, Brio and Castle Hill Café, wanted to celebrate street food and expand on his international food profile in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. That, combined with a few of Vilim’s own personal quirks, led him to create StrEat. “The concept for StrEat came out of years working at continental restaurants, developing an incredible diversity of cuisines behind the scenes,” Vilim said. “I’m unable to eat more than two or three bites of anything and I’m hard pressed to sit in one place for more than an hour, so I wanted to create smaller bites of lots of dishes in a casual environment for the modern pace of life.” After building anticipation for at least eight months, this multicultural eatery opened its doors on June 2, 2010. The menu at StrEat is based on an extensive collection of street foods from around the world. The portions are street-sized, and the variety makes this stop a great place for picky eaters. “We were toying with the idea of a food truck or mobile setup, but that only allows you to do four or five things—StrEat has 40 to 50 menu items,” Vilim said. From African bunny chow to Indian chicken curry to Vietnamese crepes, you’re sure to find something new, interesting and tasty. African bunny chow is a warm fish stew served
in a bread bowl, and it looks nothing like what a bunny would eat. The name “bunny chow” comes from the way the dish is typically held: cupped with both hands and brought to the face. This resembles the bunny grooming its face—and explains a dish named bunny, which actually has no bunny in it. There’s something about the Indian chicken curry that makes it seem like comfort food, even if it it’s your first time trying it. The curry isn’t too spicy hot, but full of spices and flavoring. There must be some magical step in the recipe that gives it the “tastes-like-yourGrandma’s” factor even if your grandma never made curry dishes. The Vietnamese crepe on the menu is not like a French crepe with a filling; it is an eggbased crepe with seafood cooked into it. Small shrimp, calamari and fish are embedded throughout the crepe. Served on a bed of green lettuce leaf, onion, carrots, pickled daikon radish and cilantro along with a fish sauce, you might be confused on how to start eating this dish. Some traditionalists might suggest that you wrap it up with the lettuce and vegetables and dip into the fish sauce. But any way you devour it, it’ll sure be tasty. Off the record, StrEat turns into something of a secret bakery in the mornings from 7 to 10 A.M., serving fresh-baked muffins, scones, kolaches and other pastries, much in the fashion of a French pâtisserie.
Challenging Yourself to Compost Pays! By Adrienne Clements
Summer is here, and it’s hot! Hot weather triggers our natural inclination to enjoy in nature’s delicious summer bounty of watery fruits and vegetables. It is the time of smoothies, salads and sun tea. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is the gift that keeps on giving. They provide your body with essential vitamins and nutrients, and can do the same thing for the planet. How? Composting! Composting is the way nature recycles biodegradable items like vegetables, fruits, and lawn clippings into a valuable resource. When these items are composted instead of being thrown away, precious space is being saved in the landfill, and in return you create some of the best natural fertilizer for your garden or lawn.
For more information about the Green30 Challenge, visit www.ci.austin.tx.us/sws/ zerowaste_composting.htm.
The City of Austin knows how beneficial composting is, and has started a composting challenge; the Green30 Challenge. City of Austin Solid Waste Services customers can participate in this pilot program, and in return receive a rebate of up to $75 for the total cost of a home composting system. In order to qualify for the rebate, customers must complete 3 simple tasks:
Whether you live in an efficiency apartment or on a half-acre, there are many great options to start composting. So go ahead and enjoy those summer dishes even more by giving back to the environment and challenging your household to compost.
1) Downsize to a 30-gallon green garbage cart by calling 311. There is no fee to downgrade to a smaller cart. With all the food that can be composted, and with the City’s recycling program, it is amazing how much space can be saved in a garbage cart!
If you are a not a Solid Waste Services customer, or are interested in composting but don’t have the space, time, or desire to have your own compost pile, there is another solution: Green Bucket Composting. Green Bucket Composting is a local company that is helping to solve the problems of urban composting. Sign up for their service for less than $4 a week, and get a personal compost bucket that will be picked up and composted from your home or office once a week. To learn more about Green Bucket Composting visit www.greenbucket.net.
photo by Jenny Fu
2) Take a free backyard composting class by the city, and learn all the skills you need to be a composting guru. 3) Purchase a home composting system that fits your household’s needs and compost to your heart’s content! Composting systems come in all varieties from affordable homemade systems to fancy composter bins.
Compost is key at Springdale Farm in East Austin
If you’re looking for a little something different than the typical Austin street food scene, stop by StrEat and try something from another culture—or two or three.
Vietnamese crepe at StrEat
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Welcome Home, Bob from
Come Watch World Eating Champ
coming soon at the macc
Joey Chestnut In The Ice Cream Eating Contest!
diez y seis celebration
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September 15, 2010 7-10pm • Free & open to the public • Reenactment of the call for independence by Mexican Consulate Rosalba Ojeda • A performance by the Austin Symphony Quartet at 6:30pm • Serape/Sarape Weaving Project 2010
The 4th Scoop WATERLOO PARK SATURDAY, AUGUST 14, 2010 10AM - 7PM ADMISSION $5 AGE 8 AND UNDER FREE! Homemade Ice Cream Making Contest Screaming Contest Ice Cream Eating Contest Popsicle Stick Sculpture Contest
September 19, 2010 12-5pm • Free & open to the public • Presentation by Mexican photographer Diego Huerta from 2-4pm • A performance by the Austin Symphony at 5:30pm
mexican american cultural center
600 River St., Austin, TX 78701 512-974-3772, maccaustin.org
The City of Austin is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you require special assistance for participation in our programs or use of our facilities please call 512-974-3772 or 711 Relay Texas. La ciudad de Austin está comprometida al Acta de Americanos Incapacitados. Si requiere asistencia para participar en nuestros programas por favor llame al teléfono número 512-974-3772 e 711 Relay Texas.
TODO Austin is a free-distribution, full-color, monthly newspaper that focuses on Austin's multicultural community. TODO Austin is published...