The out-of-towners

Big weekend underway. New York bigwigs watertiger, res ipsa loquitor, (and Brooklyn Girl, I think) will be flying into Austin. They’ll be mixing things up with the local, and some wider flung, Texaschatonians. The inimitable Four Legs Good will be serving as Cruise Director of this whole movable shindig/hootenany, which includes BBQ tonight, a yard party at Chez Doghiney tomorrow, and other goings-on. It is my understanding that the ladies from NY will be on the prowl for hunky cowboys. Good luck with that, ya’ll.

Homegirl racymind started the weekend off early, and got into Austin last night. We hung out, drank and dined, then headed over to the Cedar Door to the very happening Texas Progressive Blogger Caucus party, which was impressively well-attended by bloggers, delegates to the state convention, pols, reporters, etc.

Photos and more anecdotes later, I’m sure.


Sunday morning coming down video: I ain’t up to my baby tonight

Fell into this over @ Adrastos last week and have been dipping into it liberally since, for more than one reason, though climatology overarches all.

Here at casa virgo, the livestock are spread out in Dali-esque pools, the ceiling fans are rumbling, and I’m trying to stick to my guns and keep the AC off till late afternoon. Like the coffee table in the video, mine is crowded. Except it’s with laundry that needs folding. Thus, I distract myself.

Cause it’s hot, ya’ll.

Hey, it’s as good an ethos as any. Plus, subtext.

Alejandro. Acoustic.

Where I’ll be tomorrow night.

Just listening to a neighbor strum on the guitar. No big.

Do I live in a great town village or what?

Below, Alejandro with some guy from Jersey.

Wild babies

It’s that time of year again, so let’s review:

What do you do if you find a tiny fawn all by itself?


Very good! Carry on.

Hill Country grasses photoblogging

I had the privilege yesterday to participate in a field class on identifying the Texas Hill Country native grasses. The class was held on the Onion Creek Management Unit of the City of Austin’s Water Quality Protection Lands. It was conducted by botanist and Master Naturalist Tom Watson, a Land Steward for this beautiful acreage.

Examining the stolon structure of Curly-Mesquite, Hilaria belanger

When I took the Master Naturalist certification training last year, I was lucky to have several teachers that were very knowledgeable about grasses, and grasses were emphasized all through our training. Even so, it’s a difficult subject that takes a lot of experience to fully master. At best, after nearly a year of training, there were only a handful of the more familiar species I could identify without their flowering inflorescence, which is only present for part of the life cycle. I found this class especially helpful because we spent a lot of time on learning to better identify the structural vegetative features of family Poceae.

A grass everyone is likely to become more familiar with, due to its potential as a source of ethanol: Panicum virgatum, commonly known as switchgrass.

Finally, my favorite: The beautiful Eastern Gamagrass, Tripsacum dactyloides, interesting due to the inflorescence having both separate male and female flowers. The orange stamens are the most easily recognized as they are larger and visible for a longer period of time. The more delicate stigma is visible here, in Tom’s right hand, directly above his index finger.

Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008

Robert Rauschenberg, artist, multi-media pioneer, pop icon, creative giant, visionary everyman, philanthropist, and force of nature, died yesterday at the age of 82.

Critic Robert Hughes described him as

“a protean genius who showed America that all of life could be open to art. …Rauschenberg didn’t give a fig for consistency, or curating his reputation; his taste was always facile, omnivorous, and hit-or-miss, yet he had a bigness of soul and a richness of temperament that recalled Walt Whitman.

From a 2005 NY Times feature, Rauschenberg discusses his signature multimedia pieces, or “combines”:

“I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly, because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable,” he has said, bringing to mind Whitman’s remark, “I do not doubt there is far more in trivialities, insects, vulgar persons, slaves, dwarfs, weeds, rejected refuse than I have supposed.”

Whitman counseled veterans in hospitals during the Civil War, and – poetic symmetry – Mr. Rauschenberg did the same for draftees and soldiers with acute combat psychoses during World War II. This, he told the art writer Calvin Tomkins years ago, was when he “learned how little difference there is between sanity and insanity and realized that a combination is essential.

It always amazed me that Port Arthur, Texas gave Janis Joplin and Robert Rauschenberg to the world. I’ve often used that fact as an argument to the shortsighted assholes that toss off comments about “red” vs. “blue” America. Granted that talent and creativity don’t always flourish in the place of their genesis, and that Joplin and Rauschenberg had to leave in order to fully achieve their greatness, but no one can ever know where genius and beauty, usefulness and value, might come from, the totality of experience and locale that might create such American masters like these two. This idea that we can just write off huge portions of this country as lost or blighted is the epitome of dulled, cynical tunnel vision. It’s the same kind of thinking that couldn’t grasp the genius and soul in Rauschenberg’s inspired assemblages of found or discarded materials, the combines of the mundane, the humble, the weedy and rusty, the stuff of life right there in front of our eyes, under our feet.

Photo: Pilgrim (1950)

Heifers in organza

Most of us have known all along the Bushes wouldn’t know a real ranch if it fell out of the sky on top of them. Even so, this is pretty WTF? :

Jenna’s twin sister, Barbara, will serve as maid of honor and wear a gown designed by Rose and dyed a “moonstone” blue to match Barbara’s eyes. “It’s a long-to-the-floor gown, but it’s in a soft shimmery fabric, so it still seems appropriate to an outdoor ranch setting,” Rose said.

Because nothing says “ranching” like a shimmering floor-length gown…

Actually though, there’s hint of accuracy in this. The Preznit’s Crawford residence is not a ranch, it’s just “an outdoor ranch setting.”