Home is where the heart is – and, home is also where the beer is, so I’m staying put.
A great many of us have opted out of the re-opening of Texas for now, preferring to continue hunkering and adopting a wait-and-see approach. Meanwhile, renowned Dallas rich guy and man-about-town Mark Cuban has run a little experiment in his hometown over the last week, sending out “secret shoppers” to see exactly how D/FW businesses are comporting themselves in the first week, and they discovered that generally, they’re blowing it: Cuban’s study found that 96% of Dallas businesses were non-compliant across all mandatory protocols, with basic, essential best practices like social distancing, sanitizing of tables, and yes, employees wearing face coverings ranking towards the bottom of a terrible scorecard. With numbers like this, how much better could Austin businesses possibly be doing? Not encouraging.
Nice to Zoom with Laura Wood of Kids In A New Groove recently, a non-profit that I’ve been super proud to be involved with for awhile – KING pairs Texas foster children up with volunteer musicians, who provide music lessons and mentorship for some of our most vulnerable little Texans. A great cause, but one whose model must adapt in the new age.
As the re-opening of Texas continues apace, along with hair salons, the state limitation on common-use swimming pools is lifted as of Friday. Interested in your thoughts on this, as I continue trying to balance my deep desire to get back to normal (and get poolside) with the knowledge that the danger of doing so too quickly is perilous, to say the least. A nice lazy afternoon sit at a well-spaced Deep Eddy sounds pretty great right now, I gotta say. The City of Austin has said that the opening of municipal pools might be interfered with not only by the pandemic, but also a shortage of lifeguards – if you’re looking for work, and you’re a strong swimmer, might be a gig in it for you.
A new article in Rolling Stone highlights the dire straits that live music venues across the country continue to face, including of course ours here in Austin. Many of them are putting on programs and fundraisers not only for the facilities themselves, but also for the musicians who have graced their stages. Please keep up with your favorites, and lend a hand if you can.
Since I started keeping track of a 7-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases in Travis County, I’ve been curious as to WHO exactly is still getting infected. Could it be people who are taking all the recommended steps and quarantining? Could it be people throwing caution to the wind and hanging out at the river in big groups? Turns out it’s the most likely situation: people who have continued to work in teams, in person – in particular, construction workers. What’s this lead us to expect as more businesses reopen for workers and the public, including Texas hair salons, as of Friday? I’ll continue watching the daily numbers closely, but I gotta say, I’m pretty nervous.
Speaking of which – I’ve wondered why Texas restaurants with outdoor seating were not given higher priority in reopening, considering studies that show transmission of the virus to be much less likely in open air. Turns out, patios and the like don’t apply to that 25% occupancy limit placed on restaurants – rather, outdoor tables must be kept 6 feet apart and cannot be occupied by more than 6 people each. All of whom, of course, are probably within 6 feet of each other. This is not easy – in the end, only you can judge what crowd is too crowded for your comfort.
Meanwhile, reports are out that between Saturday and Monday, the state of Texas set a new record for new COVID-19 cases, at 2,077. Travis County, with 1.27 million residents, represents about 4.4 percent of the population of Texas, about 29 million. Over that same timeframe, we’ve discovered 133 new cases, or 6.4 percent of the statewide total, which means that for the moment, not only are we not outperforming the rest of the state, but we’re actually trending slightly ahead of what can accurately be described as a building statewide spike.
Enjoyed a talk with Julie Chase of Visit Austin, the folks in charge of keeping our town’s profile high amid the global travel scene – a job that’s gotten a lot trickier lately. Visit Austin has pivoted to some cool online and very Austin-y stuff lately, including a round of virtual Chicken S**t Bingo on Friday and some quality live music on Saturday, all details housed on their Facebook page.
Our friends at the SIMS Foundation are hosting the SIMS Sofa Sessions – daily home-done performances from a bunch of our local and Texas faves throughout the month of May in observation of Mental Health Month. The Wind and The Wave will play Friday, and Max Frost takes a turn on Sunday, with lots more to come thru May.
Ever thought what fun it would be to drive the track at Circuit Of The Americas? Well here’s your chance, and for a great cause: The COTA Food Drive for the Central Texas Food Bank happens on Sunday from noon to 5 with your chance to roll in your own car around the 3.4 mile twists and turns of one of the country’s premiere racetracks. Donations are being matched up to $10,000 by Germania Insurance, and matched again by the facility and Austin Bold FC. Kudos to all on a fun and meaningful idea – perhaps a great and safe Mother’s Day experience for the quarantined as well.
I wonder if I’m the only one spending a fair amount of time lately cruising memory lane. I’ve been doing a bit of wallowing in the music of my teens and twenties, and was pretty excited this weekend to find a link to recordings of hours and hours of archived MTV broadcasts, including the very beginning moments of the network that changed popular music forever, for better or worse. Interesting timing also, for Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day to crank out a perfect pop punk production of Kim Wilde’s “Kids In America” from that same golden age this week. Turns out we had it pretty great back then…and for that matter, last October.
I’m still steering clear of dining in at restaurants for the moment, but we’re trying to do takeout several times per week. Glad to see beloved sister joints Top Notch and Galaxy Cafe come back online for carry out after having shut down at the outset of the party, and also pretty excited to see Pinthouse Pizza back in gear this week as well – I’m a good two months from my last Electric Jellyfish, so Pinthouse on Burnet is a very likely stop on this week’s weekly Thursday craft beer tour! Let me know of any others you hear of showing signs of new life.
Our cousins at ACL Live at the Moody Theater have begun scheduling livestream shows with the likes of Hayes Carll, Fruit Bats, and Alex Maas of The Black Angels, with the opportunity for you to support the artists when they need it most. We sure miss actual LIVE live music, but it’ll be back at some point. What a party that’ll be!
Stay clean dream team.