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All Ablog Austin

So just how weird is Austin? We'll give you the quirky, the colorful, the odd and the offbeat from around town. If we see it and think it's weird, chances are you will, too. And you can read it here on "All Ablog Austin."

Published: 2013-07-24T11:04:14-06:00


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Portland beats out Austin in hipster comparison


In the battle for hipster supremacy, Portland has scored the latest point over Austin.

Real estate blog recently compared the cities’ hipster amenities head to head, and found that the Oregon city is more hipster friendly than the Texas capital.

The blog considered a variety of criteria, including number of hipster-age people (20-34), the cities’ walkability, bikeability, number of coffee shops, vegan restaurants, Whole Foods, farmers markets and vinyl record stores.

“To rank our two cities, we first determined how each one placed in our individual criteria, then averaged all the categories together to produce an overall score. We should note that we only looked at data on the cities themselves, not the surrounding metro areas, and our retail data (from Yelp) has been used to generate per capita results against the cities’ number of hipster-aged residents, not total residents,” the blog said.

Austin, with a population of about 820,000 in 2011, edged Portland in hipster-age people: 32 percent compared with 27 percent for Portland (population 593,000), the blog said.

Austin also won out on number of people working in artsy jobs. But that’s all.

Portland beat out Austin in per-capita number of dive bars, coffee shops, vintage clothing stores, record shops, walkability and bikeability.

Perhaps surprisingly, Portland beat Austin in number of Whole Foods per capita, despite Austin being home of the natural-food supermarket chain.

“Portland has one (Whole Foods) for every 39,786 residents while Austin has one for every 86,985. For (farmers markets), Austin has one for every 3,782 folks there while Portland has one for every 2,947 people,” according to the blog.

So there you go Austin. This is either a win or a loss. I’m not really sure.

Statesman team rappels 32 stories for charity


Don’t look down!

In the photo above, John Bridges, managing editor at the Austin American-Statesman, readies for his first step off the tallest building at One American Center, 600 Congress Ave., on Saturday.

As part of the Over the Edge fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas, Statesman publisher Susie Ellwood and multimedia advertising consultant Emma Rice-Tanner joined Bridges in the plunge.

The Statesman team was one of the top fundraisers, according to the event website. With the help of Statesman employees, other donors and a matched donation of $2,500 from Ellwood, the team raised more than $6,500.

Ellwood said the goal of team Statesman was to reach $5,000 — the average cost of granting one wish for a child with a life-threatening medical condition.

“It’s so great that we beat that goal,” she said.

On Saturday, friends and family members could watch the start of their loved ones’ trip down the 372-foot building by video in the lobby of One American Center.

In the photo to the right, Rice-Tanner prepares to zip down the front of the building. She told viewers that rappelling down a 32-story building is a bucket list experience for her.

Afterward, Rice-Tanner said the highlight was the birds-eye view of the State Capitol.

Lauren Bremer, with Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas said more than $300,000 was donated to the organization during the Over the Edge fundraiser.

More 200 people were scheduled to rappel down the building this weekend, she said.

Rappellers had to raise a minimum of $1,500, but there were several fundraising teams and individuals who collected more than $10,000, Bremer said.

If you look up, people will be rappelling off the One American Center building until 5:30 p.m. Saturday and from 10:30 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Sunday.

In the video below, Bridges gives a shout-out to the Statesman and gets cheers from viewers before he climbs over the edge.

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Love and cheese steaks: Austin food trailer offering free weddings today


Is that love in the air or just the aroma of a Philly cheese steak?

It might be both.

If you’re looking for a way to combine love and food today, (Valentine’s Day if you’d forgotten), both Way South Philly food trailers are offering free wedding or vow renewal ceremonies for people wishing to tie the knot or to tighten up that knot.

“We started the weddings last year for the month of February as a goof, but it took off,” owner Willy Pearce said. “It’s one of those things you can only get away with in Austin. It’s a unique little quirk, and the community just embraced it.”

Turns out, all nine employees have been ordained online by the non-denominational Universal Life Church, Pearce said.

You can get married any time of the year at either location for $59.99, which gets you two cheese steaks, two orders of tater tots, two drinks and a spouse.

For February, though, Way South Philly is dropping the price to just $29.99. Juicy!

Today only, the ceremony = free.

The ceremony itself - yes, walkups are welcome - takes about 10 minutes, Pearce said. Cooking up that food will tack on another 10 minutes, he said.

I asked if employees just stick their heads out the trailer and perform the service over the counter, but Pearce assured me they come outside with a book of vows.

Pearce said they’ve probably done about 10 vow renewals and three weddings over the past year.

He’s had people show up in full dress and tuxedo, “but it’s usually pretty casual, laid-back. At the very end you get to cut a cheese steak and feed it to each other.”

Is that your heart melting? Nope, that’s probably cheese.

Way South Philly has been in business for about two years, Pearce said. The trailers have a “Rocky” theme, and all sandwiches are named after characters from the film.

Pearce, who is from Philly, has been in Austin about five years, starting the business after getting laid off about three years ago.

“I figured Austin needed an authentic cheese steak offering,” Pearce said. “I make ‘em the way they were made for me.”

The trailers are located at East Sixth and Waller streets and at Jesse Street and Barton Springs Road.

Both locations are open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and from 5 to 10 p.m. weeknights. They’re open til 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The Waller Street location will “dress the part” after 5 p.m. tonight, Pearce said, with tablecloths, roses and Hershey’s kisses at the tables.

“It’s all about the love,” he said.

Video below is from Way South Philly’s website

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Austin high on list of top cities for cheaters


Well now.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Austin has climbed on top of’s list of Top 10 Cities for Cheaters.

The live music capital is actually No. 2 on the list, dutifully coming after our nation’s capital for the top spot.

And in a Lone Star two-time, Houston finished third.

AshleyMadison, which bills itself as “the most successful website for finding cheating partners,” had this to say about the whole affair:

“The Live Music Capital of the World is also the nation’s capital for affairs according to new data from extra-marital dating site The dating site designed for those already in relationships says Austin experienced a surge of sign-ups in 2012 (over 20,000), following in the philanderous footsteps of only Washington D.C. In addition to taking the number two spot in the country, Austin also boasts another dubious distinction; the highest percentage of active members on the site after 11:00pm.”

Miami was No. 4, but it has a reputation for being pretty hot (I’m not just talking about the weather), so that’s not too much of a surprise.

The rest of the top 10 gave me pause, though, starting with Oklahoma City at No. 5. I guess they need something (or someone else) to do. Among the other cities on the list are Richmond, Va., Boston and Lincoln (not so honest, Abe), Neb.

Here’s what AshleyMadison’s editor had to say about Texas infidelity:

“Though Austin and Houston are two very different cities culturally, infidelity is the thread that ties them together; transcending socio-economic, ethnic, age and obviously gender bias.”

Sleep tight!

10 more things to love about Texas


We won’t go so far as to say Texas is Utopia, but it may just be a thin slice of heaven. BuzzFeed’s Summer Anne Burton published a list of 50 Sure Signs that Texas is Actually Utopia, which included three photos from the Statesman’s Collective Vision blog. Since Burton was kind enough to share our photos, we’re chiming in with one or two (or 10) things she missed. Texas BBQ Yes, in Texas it’s actually spelled B-B-Q. We take smoked meats very seriously in the Lone Star State, and our passion for the pit pays off in the form of some of the most mouth-watering brisket you’ll ever taste. Texas Beer Wheat or barley, light or stout, Texas breweries produce a seemingly infinite variety of beers. Austinites in particular are fond of local breweries like Austin Beerworks and (512) Brewing Co. Fredericksburg Peaches It wouldn’t be summer in Central Texas without sweet, juicy peaches from one of the dozens of growers in and around Fredericksburg. Get them pre-picked at a roadside stand, or pick your own straight from the orchard. Texas Cheerleaders & Drill Teams From the Kilgore Rangerettes to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Texas is known for pretty ladies (and fit gents for that matter) with lots of team spirit. Beyond the squads themselves, competitive cheerleading and drill team are popular pastime for Texas youngsters. Dance Halls & Two-stepping In her BuzzFeed article, Burton made it clear she knows how important music is to Texas’ culture and heritage. She forgot to mention the importance of Texas dance halls in that musical legacy. According to Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc., there were once 1,000 traditional Texas dance halls. Texas Rodeos As far as foreigners (a.k.a. non-Texans) are concerned, the word Texan is synonymous with the cowboy. Rodeos are more than just entertainment around here; they’re a part of Texas’ heritage. We even have kid cowboys and cowgirls Chili Cook-offs Each year, thousands of chili enthusiasts descend on the tiny West Texas town of Terlingua for two international championship chili cook-offs: the Chili Appreciation Society International and the Original Terlingua International. 365 Days of Festivals Is it a day ending in ‘y’? Then you can bet there’s a festival going on somewhere in Texas. We have festivals celebrating art, music, fruits, flowers, books, salsa and more. Republic of Texas History From Spanish conquistadors to the Battle of San Jacinto, Texas history is fascinating. While it’s technically not true that we’re the only state that was once an independent republic, there’s a reason people remember the Alamo. State Parks Texas is home to more than 50 state parks, including Dinosaur Valley, which has some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. The scenic landscapes of Big Bend and Enchanted Rock attract visitors from all over the country. In case you were wondering, here are the stories behind the Statesman photos Burton used in her list: Jay Janner Best of 2010 Kerrville Folk Festival SXSW 2012 Photos by Austin American-Statesman staff. [...]