Reporter’s notebook this weekend

Part of being a good blogger (and a good writer, for that matter) is noticing the delicious little details of everyday life that provide vividness and interestingness. And, at the end of the day, gaining an audience of any kind (online and off) is all about being interesting. (As Michael Hirschorn suggests, newspapers should “stop being important and start being interesting.”)

So, for Monday, tell us something interesting that you observed this weekend—or overheard, noticed, etc., in Austin or wherever you happened to be this weekend. … Some ideas: Did you eavesdrop on a quirky conversation in a coffee shop, or in the laundromat, or another kind of “third place” around town? Did you know you can call 311 on any cars parked in bike lanes and the cops will ticket them? Bonus points if you spot one and call the cops. Additional bonus points if you spot one, call the cops, they don’t ticket it, and you have a photo to prove it. More bonus points if you spot one, call the cops, and they don’t ticket it because it’s a city council member’s car. If that all happens and you get it on video, I’ll buy you lunch.

10 Responses to “Reporter’s notebook this weekend”

  1. 1 Briana C September 21, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    after our win against Rice this weekend, my friends and I headed downtown to celebrate. One of the bars that we went to is frequented by under age UT athletes. None of them have fake identification, but somehow, the bouncers are notified to let them in. On any given weekend that there’s a home game, I would say that about 5-10 underage athletes can be found in this bar. The bartenders provide them with free drinks as well. Talk about scandalous. I understand that being able to say that “this is the bar the UT athletes come to” is probably great for advertisement on the street, but these young men are breaking the law by being in the establishment, and by drinking while being underage. Last year, a couple of football players were arrested for driving under the influence, but i don’t think enough attention was paid to research where they got the alcohol from and why they were allowed into the establishment. These young men made poor decisions when it comes to drinking and driving, but i think that the bars that grant them free entry and free drinks while being knowledgeable about their age should bear some responsibility as well.

  2. 2 Caroline Page September 21, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I actually had a very interesting experience tonight… I had to cover an event for Austin Monthly magazine because I’m working there this semester. It was a fundraiser for the Octopus Club, which is an organization that raises money for AIDS emergency services in the Central Texas area. Some of you might have heard of this event, but the group hosted the Octotea Dance tonight. It is an all day sort of dance and cocktail party, auction, etc. – it was at the new Long Center this afternoon and night. I didn’t have any idea what to expect, so I looked at the organization’s website and saw pictures from last year… a bunch of sweaty men without shirts dancing! I thought well heck, this will be a different experience and I have to go, so we’ll see…

    Because it was an AIDS benefit, the majority of the attendees were part of the gay community in Austin and very much excited about this event. About 1/4 of the people at the benefit were women, so I was definitely a minority and needless to say, no one was paying attention to me 🙂 There were a bunch of people there and many had been drinking all afternoon, so the dancing was getting into high gear when I arrived. The people were really friendly and loved me taking pictures and getting their names for possibly being in the magazine – the men were doing some serious posing! I was told by one guy working the event to “take pictures of the hot guys.” It ended up being fun and definitely one of those times where working as a journalist was entertaining and puts you in situations you would never expect. That was my slice of life today!

  3. 3 Caitlin W September 21, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    I was mostly in transit this weekend, because I had to drive to San Antonio Friday and back up to Austin Saturday morning. The most striking thing that I kept seeing were traffic signs asking people not to drive to Houston, or reminding them that gasoline would be incredibly limited along that way. It really solidified in my mind the severity of Ike’s destruction, and my heart went out to the people who called Houston home, but couldn’t get back there. On a brighter note, when I was in IKEA with a friend, all of their bath towels were missing from the shelves, and signs were posted, saying that they had donated them to the Ike relief effort. I thought that was really nice, and it gave me hope about communities coming together to support their people when people are in need. I also wonder what other local businesses are doing for the relief effort – I’m sure there are quite a few helping out.

  4. 4 jeffbechdel September 22, 2008 at 12:29 am

    This weekend my parents flew to visit me from Pittsburgh. The fun-loving tourists that they are, they wanted to do something “touristy” that they hadn’t done yet, so we took a tour of the UT Tower. They open it up on weekends to visitors wanting a fantastic view of the surrouding area. About thirty of us were whisked up the 27 flights to the top level and onto the observation deck. There, the previously-huddled mass of people dispersed throughout the observation deck and began gazing and pointing. What stood out to me most about the tour was each person’s personal identification with various UT and Austin landmarks. To my mom, Jester is the jail cell where she left her youngest child 3 years ago in a faraway land; to my dad it’s the ugliest building he’s ever seen; and to me it’s the place where I a year’s worth of my memories still live. For the twenty-seven others on the deck, it symbolized something else to each of them. Later that day, the University as a whole showed unity in the way it so often does in the fall–at a UT football game. But in the oddly-fitting slogan from”Mike and Mike in the Morning,” for everyone in that stadium, “what makes them different, makes them great.”

  5. 5 Kristin September 22, 2008 at 12:55 am

    I’m not entirely sure that this is the sort of notebook entry that Professor Lewis is looking for, but I’ll say it anyway. Do you ever run into people in your everyday happenings and realize that their face looks strangely familiar. As you continue to wonder where it is you’ve seen them before, it occurs to you: no, you haven’t met them before necessarily, but they could be the evil twin of an obscure actor whose name you don’t really know, but you know you’ve seen him/her in many of your favorite flicks…

    Well, this week I had one such experience. I ran into a “Milton”. Yes, the mumbling creepy guy with the red stapler–no, red Swingline–in Office Space. The striking similarities were uncanny, and I just happen to have my camera with me…with a telephoto lens…so judge for yourself! Here’s my flight attendant.

  6. 6 Holley N September 22, 2008 at 1:10 am

    So, for the past few weeks now I have been curious about these tennis shoes that are hanging over the power lines outside my apartment. Now, I’ve seen this before in movies, and on the occasional street, but up until a few weeks ago, there weren’t any shoes on the power line by my apartment. I overheard someone talking about it in my apartment complex, and they said that they thought it could mean that there were drugs at a nearby residence or that the shoes were in memory of someone who died. My eavesdropping made me curious, so I looked it up on wikipedia, ,and apparently it is called “shoe tossing,” “shoe flinging,” or “shoefiti,” and the shoes can symbolize a LOT of different things. I thought this was really interesting, I mean maybe a lot of people already knew this, but until I listened in on a conversation, I didn’t realize that shoes over an overhead wire meant anything at all, and who knows maybe the ones by my apartment mean nothing, but you never know…

  7. 7 Brittany September 22, 2008 at 8:06 am

    I went to Schlitterbahn this weekend with my boyfriend. His mom had won tickets on the radio in late August, and he and I had to go use them becuase this was the last weekend they were open. Well, we had 4 tickets and only 2 of us, so we were instructed to give the other two away and “make someone’s day”. The funny thing was, you could hardly give these things away! Other people in the same situation were standing outside handing away their extra tickets or selling them for half the price. I ended up giving one ticket to a family of 5 that had been given 3 free tickets from someone else. Trust me, this family looked like they needed a free day at Schlitterbahn if you know what I mean. As for the other one, I handed it to the girl at the counter and told her to give it to the next person that came up to buy a ticket. She looked incredulous and asked me if I was serious, which made me laugh. I hope the free ticket did make someone’s day.

    Now, I realize that this story isn’t all that interesting, but neither was any one of the conversations I heard in the park and I spent the remainder of the weekend at my apartment, so….

  8. 8 pieper12 September 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Well, this past weekend was great! I’m usually always going somewhere, either back home to Dallas or visiting friends in College Station…I know, I know, let’s just pray for them! Ha, I’m sort of kidding. But for once, I was able to stay in Austin and enjoy a weekend full of lounging, vegging and watching football. Amazing!

    But I’d say the best part is that we are finally starting to get to know our neighbors who are very cool guys who had us laughing literally until this morning! (We saw one on the bus who apologized for his being so “sorority girl-drunk” this past weekend.)

    He told us about his irrational fears of pearl jewelry and cotton balls! And he was not kidding around. I just thought it was very interesting and then he asked me what my irrational fears are. I really can’t think of any right now. Does anyone have an irrational fear weirder than his?

  9. 9 Mollie B. September 22, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    I don’t know if anyone else feels the same way I do, but I absolutely love the fact that I am a University of Texas student and I’m so thankful that my parents were willing to make some financial sacrifices to allow me to attend here. I grew up in a very small town where those students that did graduate high school and attend college usually went to a community college, SFA, Sam Houston, or A&M (eww). There aren’t many families in Grapeland (my hometown) that are Longhorn fans, and needless to say there aren’t many students who attended and earned a degree from UT. However, my grandfather & great-grandfather both graduated from UT, so I was decked out in burnt orange and learned to hook ’em at a very young age.

    My grandfather is a HUGE Longhorn football fan (he cried when we won the National Championship in ’05) and he is thankfully to blame for my love of all things UT. Now Granddaddy hasn’t been to a Longhorn game at DKR since probably the early 90s and for his 80th birthday this year (it’s in October actually) I wanted him to come see a game. I managed to get two tickets to this past weekend’s game against Rice, so he and my dad came in for the game. I didn’t get to sit with them but I was told by my mom and dad that Granddaddy had a GREAT time and I was so happy he could be there.

    Now by far the greatest thing said all weekend was this: all three of us were walking around in front of the north end of the stadium and we had stopped to watch the alumni band march by. So they’re all playing away and I got in that mood where I’m like “gawd I freaking love UT” and I could tell my dad was getting pretty pumped too because he was trying to call my mom but she didn’t answer. So after the band went by, I turned to my dad and said, “Isn’t it great?! Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside!” My dad laughed then turned to Granddaddy and said, “What about you Dan? Does it make you all warm and fuzzy inside?” To which Granddaddy replied, “YOU BET IT DOES!”

  10. 10 Samantha G. September 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    This past weekend I did what I always do on a beautiful Austin Saturday, I worked. I work at Vespa Austin where I sell scooters. On a typical weekend, I only work Saturday’s because we are closed on Sunday’s. However, last weekend was Pecan St. Festival. Pecan Street Festival is held down town on 6th street. My self and a female co-worker had to work the Vespa booth at the festival on Sunday. To our right was a Christmas booth specializing in quilted Christmas tree skirts and hand made dolls- to our left was and a hippie/hemp/beaded jewelry booth. A few people stopped by, followed by hordes of Austin’s most interesting and unique individuals. I will paraphrase a few conversations and give exact quotes on others, I will also describe some of their out fits so that as a reader you can get the full effect.

    30 year-old guy: “How are you today?”
    Me: “Fine, and you?”
    30-year-old guy: “Yes you are, but you can hit me for that later.”

    Old man (late 70’s) missing teeth wearing, dark brown pants and shirt. In his front shirt pocket are about 12 pens, sticking out of his pants pocket is a Dole fruit cup. He smells. He approaches me touches my hands and begins to ask too many questions. I cannot understand anything he is saying, I think had/has a son whom he bought a Vespa for in the mid-70’s for $1,200. That’s what I understood from what he was saying- and that’s what he kept telling me over and over…. Until he finally left and the pear and peach fruit cup accidently fell out of his pocket. Unfortunately he was unable to bend over… so I picked it up and gave it to him.

    A 215 lb woman, with bleach-blonde hair, wearing a pink baseball hat. The hat said something about being a Marine’s wife, the shirt she was wearing said in HUGE letters… “ Not only am I perfect… I’m a redneck too.”


    Guy who looks like he used to be a drag rat and cleaned up “a little.” Approached us, in what I am pretty sure was English, which I am also pretty sure was his first language he proceeds to ask random questions about the bikes we have on display. One question was:

    Guy: “how much d’ those cost?”
    Me: “this one is a little over 7 grand, and that one is a little over 8.”
    Guy: (yelling!!) “Jesus!, I ain’t never had 8 thousand dollards.”
    Guy: “ Are you guys from Austin?”
    Us: “yes”
    Guy: (yelling again) “KEEP IT WEIRD!”

    (then he abruptly turned and took off)

    I could go on… it was an interesting day with a lot of interesting people. I’m glad that we had beer to drink.

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September 2008

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