Star Seeds Cafe

Posted in Keep Austin Weird on September 1, 2009 by dvcmann

StarSeedsWebLogo

3101 N I H 35

Austin, TX

(512) 478-7107

menu

Located just under the northbound deck between 31st and 32nd St, the atmosphere is the classic Austin mix of funky, hip, and laid back.  The food is awesome and the portions are generous.  Try the Migas.  After you shovel in the first bite, you’ll actually stop chewing and be like, “Damn… that’s awesome right there.”

StarSeeds

The outside looks like a Jalisco taco joint attached to a funky motel, but the inside is classic American diner.  When you walk in you’ll first get the impression that it’s too small, but there is plenty of seating with lots of large booths and a long counter.  The bathrooms are a trip with the black paint and graffiti personalizing the walls, and somehow that’s just the way you wanted it to be.  You’re server will have tattoos, be dressed in a thrift store ensemble and more than likely have a pierced septum (among other things I don’t usually ask about) and they are some of the nicest people in town.

StarSeedsBuilding

I have no idea how crowded it must get after sixth street closes but the Star Seeds is open all the time, as in right now this very minute.   When you get there don’t forget to add one of their t-shirts to your order for just $4.99.

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Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

Posted in Read This on July 20, 2009 by dvcmann

brightlightsbigcity

“The candor was infectious.  It spread back to the beginning of your life.  You tried to tell her, as well as you could, what it was like being you.  You described the feeling you’d always had of being misplaced, of standing to one side of yourself, of watching yourself in the world even as you were being in the world, and wondering if this was how everyone felt.  That you always believed that other people had a clearer idea of what they were doing, and didn’t worry quite so much about why.  You talked about your first day of school.  You cried and clutched her leg.  You can still remember how her plaid slacks felt, the scratchiness on you cheek.  She sent you off to the bus — She interrupted you here to say she wasn’t much happier than you were — and you hid in the woods until you saw the bus leave and then went home and told her you had missed it.  So Mom drove you to school, and by the time you got there you were an hour late.  Everybody watched you come in with your little note, and heard you explain that you missed the bus.  When you finally sat down you knew that you would never catch up.”

His first novel, you think what a shame it’s so easily dismissed as “brat pack” literature by people who have never even read it.  You also vaguely remember the Michael J Fox movie version you saw once.   You’ll have to rent that again sometime.  You’ve even heard that they’re going to remake it – just like the Karate Kid, Red Dawn, Wall Street and every other memorable movie from that decade.   You fully recognize that the 80’s is a gold mine for every creatively callow dipshit in Hollywood.

You also think he’s writing about you; I mean, so does everybody else, but damned if he hasn’t been watching you.

Le Tour de France

Posted in (UPA) on July 13, 2009 by dvcmann

Vive le Tour!

tour_de_france

LIVESTRONG!

Masquerade – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Posted in Cinema, Duly Noted on June 19, 2009 by dvcmann

From the 2004 film adaptation of Phantom of the Opera.  It’s brilliant.  Rent it.  Burn it.  Make it yours.

Click’n’read

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Posted in Read This on June 19, 2009 by dvcmann

American Psycho

“. . . There is an idea of Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable:  I simply am not there. . .”

It would be too easy to couch Bret Easton Ellis’ classic 80’s tale of yuppie horror as morbid allegory of the Reagan era.  After all, he wouldn’t be the first artist to do so.  John Carpenter flat-out said his cult classic They Live was made as a direct indictment of that administration.  Several symbolic comparisons can be made between Ellis’ story and some of the pressing social issues of the time.  Let’s see what we have to work with:

Poor homeless people with mental illness that find themselves the victim of a cruel and unfeeling elite? Check.  Budget cuts during the Reagan administration were blamed for the closing of public mental hospitals and shelters that didn’t necessarily help what was already a growing homeless problem in the United States.  There are numerous references made to the homeless in American Psycho.  The main character’s disdain for them is clear, and they are a frequent target of his savagery in the novel.

The banal obsession with materialism? Check.  The 1980’s was the dawn of the young, upwardly mobile class in America, yuppies, whose status was maintained by keeping it on constant display.  “He who dies with the most toys wins.”  Pure, cold-filtered narcissism.

Rampant and unchecked corporate greed. Believe it or not, the savings and loan bale-outs of the 1980’s seemed huge at the time, really.  As a side note, I hear They’re going to make a sequel to another famous parable on greed from that period, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street.  Mmmm…smell the irony.

The objectification of women by a callus, misogynistic good ol’ boy system. Glass ceiling anyone?  You don’t get much more objectified than a hollowed-out head on a coffee table.

The decay of the main character, Patrick Bateman’s ability to fake it in his “normal” life as his mask of the Manhattan socialite decomposes to reveal an unabated psychopath can easily be read as a metaphor by an artist that saw the greed, self obsession, and violence of America at the time as an insane slide to impending doom.  The cold war was being forced to a conclusion, one way or another, by a president many considered to be a reckless cowboy.

First Edition Cover

First Edition Cover

As the novel begins, the intensely graphic violence one is expecting from the get-go is merely foreshadowed with creepy glimpses into the main character’s mania.  The reader is lulled into a sense that maybe this guy is just a spoiled-rich douche, so when the first act of actual violence is committed, the naked cruelty of it almost catches you off guard.  The hints that we are dealing with a truly deranged mind are only flashes of insight up to that point.  Did he just really say that, or only think it?

It is difficult to comprehend this level of brutality.  The frequency of violence increases as the story progresses, and the load on the reader gets much heavier to bear.  As Bateman begins to lose his grip, the author uses tricks in his writing to maintain the sense of disconnect.  He switches tenses, for example, from first person to third.  He catches you watching more than once with direct reference to the reader.  Also, I can’t be sure if it’s related, but there are a few noticeable errors in the text as well.  At first I thought they were editing mistakes, but as my copy is a later printing (pictured at top), I can’t help but think they are intentional

Ellis was smart not to overwhelm the reader at first.  But make no mistake, he does overwhelm, and you will eventually be burping up bile of the psyche at some point.  It’s almost as if Ellis is issuing a psychological evaluation to his audience, measuring precisely what level you reach before you stop reading and say out loud, “DUDE… WTF?!?”.  A test of our desensitization to violence from exposure to American culture, issued in private, with the results to be evaluated by us alone.

What is oddly worrisome is how familiar the novel is to today.  Replace the Walkman references with an iPod and American Psycho could have been written last year.  We seem to be surrounded by Patrick Batemans all lining up and waiting patiently for their turn to start their shooting sprees and then disintegrating before us.  But this is not Camus’ The Stranger, or Taxi Driver where we watch a man’s collapse.  No,  Bateman’s soul is long gone.  And it is somewhere between the beginning of the novel when he expresses his empty concern for humanity with politically correct opining on world hunger, AIDS, the homeless; and the ending of the book, when his own deranged personal needs take hold, that we witness an artists expression not simply of an era or political administration but of us as a nation.  What we thought was a book is only a mirror, and what we are really watching is the death of America’s conscience behind our own eyes.  Did we ever have one – or did we just think it?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go return some video tapes.

The Pixies – Gigantic

Posted in Duly Noted on May 18, 2009 by dvcmann

Figured perusing the blog with some tunes would be a good thing.

Just click’n’read:

Digging Through the Spam Filter

Posted in (UPA) on May 18, 2009 by dvcmann

spam2
Most of the time the spam filter here does a pretty kick-ass job of keeping out the marketers and creeps.  No, I don’t need your link to the best Texas Hold ’em site on the web, or your insurance deals, no secrets to male enlargement, thank you.  I’ve got the cheap penis insurance thing covered for when I’ve played too much online poker, so I don’t usually check the filtration system.  But when I wandered down to the blog basement today I noticed that a couple of possibly real people had posted a few things that were pretty spamtastic, so I dug them out.

Like any filter you neglect for too long, they get clogged with the detritus of daily life – dirt, hair, old bits of unidentifiable crap, a gum wrapper maybe, a penny…oh a penny.  Sweet!  The point is, there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t necessarily unwanted (dryer lint makes awesome fires!) but it’s mostly full of stuff nobody notices.  This one’s no diff’rnt.  However, adding to the Universal Pile of Awesomeness (UPA) is the goal, so I just had to check to see if there were any pennies in there.   Found a couple.  I scraped as much of the fuzz off as I could.

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