The Edge of Texas 2017 Lineup Announced

2017 marks the first annual Texas Monthly The Edge of Texas. Based off the May 2017 issue, this event is what I like to think of as a all-Texas SXSW in the middle of the Autumn season up in Dallas, TX.

The Edge of Texas will be held on November 10th and 11th, with each day holding a different theme. Friday, November 10 will be “Party on the Edge” at the Fashion Industry Gallery. Think great food, great music and great art as you and your fellow Texans celebrate everything art, fashion, and food.

Saturday is split into two themes. The day events (10 AM-4PM) is “Storytelling on the Edge”. Your favorite Texas Monthly writers and editors will be interviewing various speakers, allowing their stories to come alive from the pages of the mag. Topics vary from medicine to ISIS to movies to magicians to murder! The night portion begins at 7 PM with live cooking and a “futuristic campfire”. The night is finished off with musical performances by Shinyribs, a local Austinite band (“I Got Your Medicine“) and Sarah Jaffe, who is from Denton (“Clementine“, “Bad Baby“).

To see ticket information, the full lineup and the schedule, check out www.edge.texasmonthly.com.

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Graffiti Park (Castle Hill) – ATX

 

 

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The entrance to HOPE Outdoor Gallery/Graffiti Park/Castle Hill/King’s Hill

This place is known by many names. Google calls it HOPE Outdoor Gallery, but it’s also known as Castle Hill, Graffiti Park, and, I recently learned, King’s Hill (I think that’s a new Austinite thing). I call it Graffiti Park because it’s the most self-explanatory.

The last time I went to Graffiti Park was Spring 2014 as part of a “ultimate downtown ATX excursion” with a large group of folks from high school. My friend John has never been so I figured it would be a great time to re-explore the park during the Labor Day weekend.

Helpful advice: Graffiti Park is one of the most colorful places you will find in Austin. Also one of the most packed when it comes to parking. The park does not have an official parking lot and the surrounding shops are strict with their “Tow Away” zones, so that leaves parallel parking on the side streets. If you can get their via Metro or your own two feet, I would recommend it.

Took a few-okay more than a few-pictures of the park, which you can find below. You’ll notice the park is layered. There is no concrete sidewalk to hike up to get to the top level, so I would also recommend you wear sneakers or comfortable flip flops and not fancy boots. I saw a few of those and couldn’t help but cringe. I would describe more about the park, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. 🙂

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If you are ever in Austin, this is a great spot to check out, especially when it’s not 100 degrees out.

HOPE Outdoor Gallery is located at 1101 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703.

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Zelly & Ol' Hem's Graffiti
“Follow Zelly & Ol’ Hem’s” 🙂

STUDIUM Fall 2017 Edition

My dream has always been to be a published writer. I’m so excited to announce that dream has come true.

This past March, I submitted my undergraduate Honors thesis, “Little Complaint, Much Grievance: The Failure of the French Directory (1795-1799)” to a journal called STUDIUM, which is published by the Faculty of History, Philosophy and Theology – “The Lower Danube” University of Galiti, located in Romaina. I had been rejected by Duke and U of Chicago, never received word back from West Point and the folks at Oxford, though they saw the passion in my writing pretty much said to come back when I have my PhD. Hearing about STUDIUM, I was hesitant for five seconds before jumping right in. I mean, it couldn’t get any worse than Oxford telling me to get a PhD. xD Going on a tangent now. Focus!

Almost two months passed by and I hadn’t received word. I was a little discouraged. It was West Point all over again! Siddiqi, the logical one, advised I inquire about it, so I did. Two days later, I got it: the acceptance letter. I was going to be published. Pretty much floated on cloud nine for a week.

Okay present day: Yes, STUDIUM came out with the Fall 2017 edition of their journal. The best part of all this, besides getting published, is the fact I got published in the same edition as Siddiqi. #TexasTakeOver

“Little Complaint, Much Grievance”

“Little Complaint” focuses on the final four years of the French Revolution before Napoleon establishes the Consulate. The Directory (Le Directoire) is not really a high focus since it’s sandwiched between the violent Reign of Terror and the fascinating Napoleonic Era. I focus on how the Directory was established, how they managed the following sectors: Royalism, Terrorism (different from our current definition), Finance, the Catholic Church, War and Napoleon; and an analysis on why they failed.

I spent all of my senior year working on this project. It was the most fun project I have ever embarked on and I love that I can now share my hard work and passion with the world. I would like to thank my family for supporting me, Siddiqi for recommending the journal to me/being my editor, Dr. Austin for being my thesis advisor (and an awesome one at that!), Dr. Lowe the thesis prep adviser for the Fall 2015 semester who helped during the panicky moments of deadlines and research topic mayhem, and Oana-Maria Mitu, the Editor in Chief of STUDIUM, as well as the staff for accepting my submission.

Little Complaint Comic Book Cover
From my undergrad thesis comic book. Yes, there was a paper AND a comic book. 🙂

Please read my article, Siddiqi’s article and all the other published writers’ articles here: http://www.studium.ugal.ro/index.html

The Great American Solar Eclipse

Happy Solar Eclipse day! If you’re like me, then you either didn’t have time or money to jump in a car and drive to the path of totality. That’s okay. There’s still much to learn and experience about the Solar Eclipse. Here are some fun facts for today (pst teachers. Great way to kick things off for the first day of school!):

  1. Google created a Google Doodle for today’s event. If you play the video, the aliens will teach you about eclipses!google
  2. The last time a solar eclipse came through the USA was 99 years ago. The next one will come in 2024 (save those glasses folks!).
  3. You can live stream the solar eclipse on NASA’s Facebook page. They’ll give you the optimum experience, showing the eclipse from different vantages points, including from the ground and from space.
  4. Don’t have glasses? Create your own! All you need is a cereal box, white paper, aluminum foil, a pair of scissors and a pencil. ABC News has your step-by-step guide to make your five-minute box here.
  5. Please don’t look at the sun without glasses. It’ll cause long-term damage to your eyes. Also, please don’t point your cameras or phones at the partial eclipse without a filter. That’ll do long-term damage as well.

It’s a great opportunity to go on an adventure and see our wondrous universe at work. Have fun everyone!

Can I take the butter to-go? (Clark’s Oyster Bar – Austin, TX)

My friend John and I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary. We went to a fancy dining spot. Okay, Clark’s isn’t “dress code required” fancy. It’s upscale casual with high dining prices. Well, John and I considered it high dining prices. We’re broke college students. Cut us a little sack. 🙂

Clark's Oyster Bar
Clark’s sign from the outdoor patio

Clark’s is a quaint bar located on West 6th Street. Around the area are art galleries, other restaurants, a bakery and a liquor store. Even more quaint homes reside on the side street. The parking situation is not idea, but it’s not impossible to deal with. Depending on the time of day, you can find empty curbsides with no restrictions.

Before you enter, you are standing on the porch with a long high table that stretches to the end before the porch swings around. The high table faces the street. Picnic tables run along the windows. When you enter, you face the bar and kitchen. Above the kitchen is a black sign listing out the oyster selection, cold bar and catch of the day. To your right, past the indigo aquarium, is a long booth with about ten white tables and two chairs on each table. The decor is simple. There is a mix between modern and ultra. Since it was dinnertime, the place was packed. You had folks who were dressed uber nicely and you also had folks who were dressed as if they came out from yoga.

Clark's Bar area
Courtesy of: Clark’s website

We got three oysters, two from Prince Edward Island and one from Maine (“Mookie Blue”) to start with. Note to oyster amateurs: Canada is the entry level. I went straight to the Maine oyster since it had a cool name. John thought the oysters were good, but could not eat more than two. I had one and sadly regretted it (more on that later). For entrees, John ordered a lobster roll with fries. I got the Catch of the Day, which was Bluefish with a side of watercress salad and a dressing that I believe was smoked paprika with herbs. Whatever it was, it was amazing. I used it on my fish and John used it on his fries. The seafood was super fresh, a plus for any seafood joint that is not near an ocean in my opinion. John’s lobster was not gummy, it was perfect. My Bluefish was to die for. It was crispy on top and it melts in your mouth on the inside. I’ve never seen a fish so white and beautiful!

Oysters

Lobster Roll
Compared to other places, this lobster roll was tall. The dish came with fries, pickles and butter.
Catch of the Day: Bluefish
Bluefish with a side of watercress salad, an amazing mystery dressing and a cooked lemon. Please excuse the oyster. Also, that red stuff is cocktail sauce.

Now the fun part. As I mentioned earlier, we hardly go to upscale downtown spots. My friends and I usually find the most casual, budget-friendly spot that isn’t a traditional fast food chain. Typical food spots include Torchy’s, coffee shops, or Mediterranean cafes. There’s a certain vibe that comes with places like Clark’s. You can hear it from people’s conversations: dealing with million dollar accounts at work, vacationing in Europe, escaping to the lake house at Horseshoe Bay, etc. They may not be dressed like a million bucks, but I’m pretty sure most of those people, if not all, had more than a couple hundred bucks in their bank account. That being said, here are the six things you shouldn’t do when you are a nicer place:

1. Don’t bring food from another food joint. I managed to get there and find parking at 6 PM. John and I were meeting at 6:30, so I had thirty minutes to kill. The outdoor patio didn’t look packed so I figured there’d be indoor seating. Less than a block away was Sweetish Hill Bakery, which I have heard is a top bakery in Austin. They close at 7 PM, so this was a now or never opportunity. I called up my mum to see if she wanted bread from the bakery. She, as always, says yes to bread from the bakery (grocery store bakery bread just doesn’t do trick). I grabbed a baguette ($1 folks! First time in my life that I have seen a whole baguette sell for $1!!!!! #success) and two “I love Texas” cookies, which were shortbread cookies with a red frosting heart. I thought about putting the treats in my car, but leaving bread and cookies in a car during a 100+ degree day is not a good idea. I had to take the food with me. Fortunately, the wait staff did not say anything since we got outdoor seats. But they didn’t bring us their bread until it after we got out oysters because John had to ask for it (he was on the verge of stealing my baguette).

Sweetish Hill Bakery

2. Google “How to eat (insert food here)” before you go into the restaurant. I’ve seen oysters before. I never ate one and neither has John. John said you should slurp them but I didn’t believe him. Or, I was too afraid to slurp them since oysters are slimy. So I got the tiny fork that came with the plate, put some cocktail sauce on top of it, picked up the white part and ate it whole. I highly recommend you don’t do that, unless you want to be borderline gagging. It was after then John Googled “how to eat oysters”. First, you have to make sure it’s detached and then you–you guessed it!–slurped it. Hm, I wonder if slurping it would give a better taste than bland mixed with medicine flavored cocktail sauce…

3. Warn your friends about dressing up. I’m guilty of this 100%. I love dressing up and find every moment to doll up. I had a Banana Republic short summer dress that ruffled on the bottom with flip flops and earrings. I thought John, who works at an immigration law firm as a legal assistant, would be coming in his work dress (collared button downs and dress pants are much the dress code at his office. I, on the other hand, work in a place that has no dress code). John did text me asking if he had time to put on shorts. I responded sure why not, failing to mention I had an above-average dressy dress on (this is why you should call and not text at the stoplight). When he got there, I gave myself the face palm. He came in a shirt and basketball shorts. We laughed it off obviously and he won the award for most comfortable in summer heat.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter what the guy behind you ordered. Again, I’m guilty for this. There was an old couple who sat behind us. The man ordered a plate and when it arrived, John and my jaws dropped. The man got a whole fish! We figured he ordered the catch of the day, so I got pretty excited and slightly intimidated at the thought of eating such a huge thing. When my plate came, we were confused. It was a filet, not a whole fish. Then we put logic to it and $29 was not going to be enough for a whole fish at that place. I didn’t care. I loved that filet. But yes, don’t try to act like you know what you are ordering. It never hurts to ask.

5. Don’t get excited when you get dinner and a show when the show is a car accident. I’ve been in fender benders but I’ve never seen one happen in front of me. John and I were talking about how changes to the immigration process had made things more complicated at his work. I see a white SUV, a Ford Explorer I believe, turning onto West 6th from Blanco. The Explorer slowly accelerated when the sedan came from behind at a higher speed and rear-ended the Explorer. The whole block could hear the windshield glass shatter and the front of the sedan smash into the back of the SUV. The SUV had some minor scratches. The wait staff and restaurant-goers rushed to the scene to make sure everyone was fine and information was exchanged. Fortunately, all parties involved did not get hurt.

6. Never ask to take only the butter to-go. Okay, this didn’t happen but there was a 95% chance it was going to happen. The butter that came with Clark’s bread was the best butter you can get at any restaurant. It was light and fluffy. It had the perfect balance of saltiness. You couldn’t stop eating it! John even had it as a dip for his french fries. He loved it so much that he wanted to take one to-go! The only thing stopping him was the fact he finished the butter (you can find it on the picture of the lobster roll).

It was the most fun nights I had in a long time. Sure, I didn’t act on my best behavior, but I didn’t care. The food was great, the weather was not too hot and I had great company. Who could ask for more? Definitely want to get into the habit of treating myself to the above-average budget experience. John, where do you want to go next? xD

I’ll give Clark’s an 9/10.

I’ll give Sweetish Hill 10/10. That bread was totally worth it.

Clark’s Oyster Bar is located at 1200 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703.

Sweetish Hill Bakery is located at 1120 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703.

 

 

Spontaneous Outings

It’s never fun when your original social outing plans get cancelled. But that also opens up a whole day to be spontaneous and explore new things. My best friend Siddiqi and I did just that.

We started first off picking up a vinyl player in the Hyde Park area for Siddiqi’s friend whose birthday is tomorrow. Next came the grand adventure at Half Price Books on North Lamar for 50% off day. Sold two overflowing bags of books for $24.50 (a major success) and got a couple CDs for close to $14.00. Siddiqi found two vinyls of Russian classical music for wayyyyy less than that.

We had lunch at MezzeMe in the Triangle. MezzeMe is a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant (I was overdressed for Peace Bakery). Siddiqi got a braised lamb (it’s halal btdubs) pita wrap with spicy tabouli and hummus. I got a Crazy Grain rice bowl with braised lamb, roasted eggplant, hummus, and sprinkled with parsley and feta cheese. It was pretty good. The braised lamb was spot-on. The hummus was amazing too and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like hummus. There was nothing really grand about the rice and the roasted eggplant had too much vinegar. If you get a pita wrap with the lamb, hummus, parsley and feta, it’d be a pretty damn good pita wrap.

Lunch at MezzeMe
He seems to be liking his deconstructed pita wrap.

MezzeMe is located on 4700 Guadalupe Street, #9, Austin, TX 78751.

Our next stop was Goodwill on Peyton Gin near 183. This is the only Goodwill in the Austin area that has a computer store. We browsed through the general area, finding old microwaves and a couple Sony cassette players. We then caroused to the computer store. I am not a computer nerd. I am far from it. I call the Motherboard a flat plate that pricks your fingers. You would think I would be bored as Siddiqi looked for power supplies and cables for a computer he’s building. Actually, I was not. Computer parts are like one big puzzle game with colors and boxes and shapes and weird foreign pieces. During the hour or so we were there I found a cool BG camera that takes lomography for $5.00. Held onto that for dear life. Also found an old Apple keyboard for $12.95. It’s got the USB cord and the traditional clicking sound and everything. The staff was super friendly and helpful (Siddiqi said it was because I’m a girl who was pretty dressed up and girls are rare finds in that part of the store). The supervisor of the computer store knew quite a bit about cameras and helped me look for more film cameras. His mannerisms reminded me of Doc from Back to the Future. Probably my most favorite part of the day. Who knew?

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Our next stop was Tours Les Jours, a Korean-French bakery in a small Korean plaza on North Lamar in Central Austin. Siddiqi was craving bubble tea and I was craving anything cold (100 degree burning sun is not fun without a cold drink).  He’s never been to TLJ and it was super close to Goodwill. I got blueberry cream cheese bread and a cold chocolate roll. Unfortunately, they ran out of tapioca for the bubble tea. 😦 We weren’t going to give up though! We went to the interwebs and found a place nearby called Snow Monster. We jumped into his Subura and drove off to this 4.6 star place.

Tous Les Jours is located at 6808 N Lamar Blvd B-115, Austin, TX 78752.

Snow Monster is a “build your own shaved ice” joint on Lamar and Braker. It’s relatively new, opened in 2014 by two Taiwanese UT Alumni. Snow Ice is, according to Snow Monster’s website, fruit extracts and fresh milk made into blocks and shaved finely to create flakes. You can add your own toppings, including fresh fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. You can also use soy milk if you are dairy free. It gives the same fluffiness as whole milk. I got vanilla snow ice with a side of strawberries and chocolate chips, topped with  condensed milk. Siddiqi finally got his bubble tea and according to him, it was delicious.

Snow Monster is located at 11220 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753.

It was a grand day full of spontaneous productivity and amazing food. The clouds came in and the wind picked up so it was perfect timing to head on home. Pretty excited to go back to Sno-Mo and the computer store. Hopefully I can come up with a glossary of computer-to-my mind’s version terms of computer parts soon.

La Fête Nationale 2017

Bonne journée de Bastille!

In 1789, revolutionists stormed the Bastille, freeing the political prisoners, providing a symbol to the Revolution and a cannonball to the Old Regime.. A year later, the French government named July 14 a holiday, commemorating the event. To those in the States, this holiday is known as Bastille Day.

“Storming of the Bastille” by Jean-Pierre Houël

Today, we celebrate with food, parades and fireworks. The fête begins early, with articles on food tips, culture lessons and fashion trends. Here are a few articles I found:

How to Celebrate Bastille Day like a True Parisian” – Vogue

Eric Kayser of Maison Kayser is interviewed on his favorite Bastille Day traditions and, of course, food suggestions. Parisien sandwiches made with Parisian cooked ham and Gruyère cheese? Oui s’il vous plaît!

The Best Bastille Day Movies: The 13 Frenchest Films of All Time” – Vogue

This is more of a #FlashbackFriday article, written back in 2015. Movies are timeless. I must say, they should have named 14 movies to match the date July 14th, but their choices are spot-on. My favorite choice was Les enfants du paradis, a 1945 film about a woman being pursued by four men, one of them being a mime. Yes, you read that correctly.

Party like a Parisian on Bastille Day with French food, cinema and activities” – Chicago Tribune

For those of you in the Chicago area, here are a few suggestions to party it up at eateries and bars. There is also family-friendly event suggests, including a Bastille Day Picnic at the Lycée Français de Chicago.

France Remembers the Nice Attacks: ‘We Will Never Find the Words’” – New York Times

Though Bastille Day is meant as a day for patriotic celebration, it (unfortunately) is a sad day for many. One year ago, a horrifying attack was made in Nice where a terrorist drove a truck through a parade, taking 86 lives and wounding 450 people. Men, women, children from different continents with different faiths. Though things have returned to normal and tourism rebounded, the scars of those affected will never vanish. Please have a moment of silence tonight for those who lost their lives, those who were wounded and those who tried to stop the truck.

Eiffel Tower fireworks mark Bastille Day 2017 in Paris, France” – YouTube

ABC News provided a live show of the fireworks in Paris. This is a great way to see the beautiful celebration in France if you are not in Paris…or France. Merci tech world!

 

 

The Oasis on Lake Travis

I have to admit it: I’m a sad example of a Hispanic girl. I can’t salsa dance to save my life. XD

Lucky for me (and you fellow Austinites/tourists/dancers), there is a place where free salsa exists (both the food kind and dance kind!).

The Oasis is a great place to gather friends and family for an evening of fun. Eleven years ago, the Oasis was a restaurant that was falling apart. Now, it’s a paradise with its renovated restaurant, two other restaurants (one of them being Gumbo’s which used to operate in Bee Cave), cafes, boutiques and an arcade. Oh, and some killer views of Lake Travis.



Every Sunday, from 7-10 PM, the Starlight Terrace holds Latin night where the band plays a mix of Latin-genre music, including salsa, merengue, and Tejano (think OG Selena). From 8:30-9 (today lasted til 9:15 since there was a large crowd), a pair of dance instructors host dance lessons. Piece of advice: can we do the lessons first thirty minutes so I can practice my dance skills? Just saying.


The food is pretty good and the drinks are better. Their most popular plate is the bean and cheese nachos, which actually comes with more than just beans, cheese and tortilla chips. In terms of drinks, they are best known for their margaritas. If you aren’t into food coma nachos, they’ve got burgers and tacos. Worried about calories? Don’t be. You’ll lose it with all the dancing. XD

This is a great family friendly event as well as an adults only event. Or if you have to bring the kids along but planned adults only, you can send the kids to check out the candy store or play in the arcade.


The best thing about this place is watching the sun set over Lake Travis. It’s romantic and fascinating and, if you are a nerd like me, question everything about astronomy and the science that brings such beauty to one’s life.


So maybe you’ll catch me dancing here again and hopefully not as a complete two left feet dancer. 

The Oasis on Lake Travis is located on 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732. You can also check out their website here.

Argentina Bakery – Irving, TX

Every Memorial Day weekend, my family and I try take a mini road trip. We’ve done New Orleans once, Houston various times, and Fredericksburg once. This time around, the family and I went to Dallas. A family friend is in from California and my little sister’s best friend is staying with us before she goes back to Korea for the summer.

The first time when we went to Dallas, about 8 years ago, we coincidently found a bakery called Argentina Bakery. It had delicious pastries and a nice atmosphere. After that, we could never find it. Until now!

The place is just liked we remembered: cozy, small and the bright colors of the pastries popped against the dark wood.

My plate is the bottom one, a cannoli and an alfajore. First, a review on the alfajore. An alfajore was is an Argentine Oreo cookie. Two shortbread cookies are glued together with Majo Blano, a carmelized condensed milk. You can cover it with powdered sugar like a think blanket of snow, or roll the border with coconut. It wasn’t that great, which is unfortunate (Le sigh). The majo blanco is supposed to be soft and gooey goodness. This cookie’s majo blanco was stiff. The cookie could have used a few more minutes in the oven also. 2/5


My guess is the cookie was not fresh.  I took a bite of the cannoli which instea of cannoli cream, it was filled with majo blanco. The majo blanco in the cannoli was the soft warm gooey goodness that is loved by all pastry lovers. The shell gave a nice flakiness. The proportion to of shell to majo blanco was nice (no hollow air). The ends had dark chocolate which countered the sweetness of the majo blanco. 5/5

My sister and her friend got tiramisu mini cakes, which were the size of a CD and the height of my Anna Karenina book (on its face). I, sadly, couldn’t get a picture because they devoured it in a hot second. I did manage to sneak a spoonful. That was goooooooood stuff. If you are a coffee lover, you’re in luck. The tiramisu had a punch full of coffee. It was creamy and fluffy. They didn’t use lady fingers but cake and mousse. 4/5

Overall, it was pretty good and nice to finally find the place that we thought was lost so long ago.

Want to try it for yourself? Check out Argentina Bakery in IRL at 3401 Airport Fwy # 112, Irving, TX 75062 and online at http://www.argentinabakery.com.

Curtis Ramstedt

Curtis Ramstedt, local ATX artist and founder of Esplosivoism, is at it again! For those of you who don’t know Ramstedt or Esplosivoism, you are in for a treat as the two go hand in hand. Esplosivoism, in my mind, is taking a pound of Salvador Dali with a couple gallons of modern psychedelic strokes, a pinch of political statements and a whole lot of bold style. For a concrete definition from the founder himself, please read:

“Esplosivoism I describe as [the] pragmatic marraige between the modern and the classical. I use modern techniques such as emphasis on shape and bright color. I do have the same birthday as Henri Matisse [December 31st], but I also use philosophy, symbolism and Renaissance-esque themes like classical art.”

Ramstedt is taking the ATX by storm, even been recently featured in Gorrie’s Perspective.

(For my ol’ Your Way With Words followers, you may know this man by a different name with a different art skill: Curtis Des Marias, the poet. Remember “I, Sisyphus”? How about that villanelle, “Pour Ma Jolie”?)

***

The quirky man with a crazy sense of fashion and art has revealed his latest painting, “Catholica Scientiam”, one of the biggest projects he has undertaken. I at first thought it was multiple canvases that he cut up and glued together but boy was I wayyyyyyyy off. It’s a build-able canvas that makes a statement between Catholicism and science.

The cover. (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

I feel like I’m in 1970s galactic disco with a bunch of floating grapes (this is why I’m the writer/math in the group and not the art curator hahaha).

The right inside flap. (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

I feel like I’m on the border of three different dimensional wormhole portals. The contrast between the left and the right is quite significant. I wonder if he meant to put the creative side on the left and the logical, black/white side on the right to match the personalities of left-handed and right-handed people. I asked him and he had this to say:

“[It’s a] relation between culture and economic systems and human rights and scientific progress.”

Yep, I’m off. But that’s the joy of art. You can interpret it any way you like.

The inside (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

When you open it, the relation is made much more clear. Though I still feel like I’m in a fancy palace with naked pregnant lady that is being observed by a bunch of scientists.

***

Curtis Ramstedt is an interesting guy. He’s come a long way from his start in 2013. He is inspired by things in his life and, according to Ramstedt, the random “thoughts [he has] at the day…[his] brain never shuts off.”

“Jazz Party” – Ramstedt

Fun little fact: the girl in the paining is moi. Yes, moi. Back in 2014, Ramstedt was looking for something to paint and I told him to paint a jazz party. That was one of the last conversations we had for almost two and a half years (aka my “disappearing act”, a story for another day), so I didn’t get to see the painting until we reconnected in March. A few weeks later, I bought the painting. Don’t go criticizing or judging on vanity. You’d do the same. 😉

***

Want to see his art in person? You can check it out at the Kasbah Moroccan Lounge in West Campus.

Like what you saw? Follow/Like Ramstedt on Facebook. Post about it on your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Make sure to use #ramstedt and #z&h when you share. 😀

Want to buy one of his pieces? Check out his website, http://ramstedt-art.com/. Please note he also does custom paintings.

Curtis Ramstedt. Once he’s in your life, no matter how hard you try to disappear, you can’t seem to get rid of him. He adds color to life with a stroke of a paintbrush…and a corny joke or two :).

 

Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ Joints

It’s here! After months of patiently waiting, the list is finally here! Texas Monthly, the National Magazine of Texas, unveiled it’s “Top 50 BBQ Joints” today as part of the release of their June 2017 issue, aka The BBQ Issue. Theories have been swimming around Texas BBQ joints as well as around the office since forever. For those of you who are Franklin fanatics, you are in for a treat.

(Read the full article at http://www.texasmonthly.com/food/the-list-the-top-50-barbecue-joints-in-texas/)

But wait. There’s more! Yes BBQ lovers and connoisseurs there is indeed more!

Local ATX favorite YETI partnered up with Texas Monthly to create the beautifully designed wormhole of everything Texas BBQ related: the YETI BBQ Passport. This includes short notes from Texas Monthly staff members, including BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn and everyone’s favorite Texan, the Texanist (aka David Courtney). There’s wonderfully created map and challenges brought to you by YETI to complete for your chance to win YETI prizes (coolers and mugs and hats oh my!). You can grab a passport by buying the June 2017 TM issue at your local bookstore or grocery store, visiting one of the Top 50 BBQ joints on the list, or, for any of you Austinites, at the YETI Flagship store in Austin.

(Don’t have access to a print copy of the mag or passport? Click here to get your own passport: http://features.texasmonthly.com/sponsored/bbqpassport/)

Also, don’t forget to check out the stories in this month’s issue. There’s an inspiring personal essay from John Nova Lomax about his son joining the US Army (“The Green Machines”), an interesting story on Dallas Police Chief Brown during the moments of the Dallas shooting (“The Empathy of David Brown” by Michael J. Mooney), and a story on a hippie Catholic Church in Southeast Austin. Yes, you read that right, hippie Catholic Church. I’m talking a priest who has a hubby, women being ordained and the awesome feeling of being truly all-inclusive (“Critical Mass” by Robyn Ross).

If you need me, I’ll be in my car driving all the way Lexington, Texas for some amazing ass BBQ (hint hint cough cough :D).

Share and comment below your experiences with these BBQ Joints and don’t forget to follow Texas Monthly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Slake Cafe – ATX

Working in Downtown Austin has many perks, including easy access to some pretty cool lunch spots. Yesterday, my coworker and I decided to venture the two blocks to Slake Cafe for lunch.

Before trying any place, it is always best to check their menu. Common sense I know, but just saying. When we found out they had delicious sounding tacos (brisket tacos anyone?), we had to try it (we’re going through a major BBQ phase and tacos are always a must).

Slake Cafe is a basement cafe as you had to walk some steps down to get to the counter. It’s decor is modern and colorful. They have a bakery case with baked goods including giant cookies, cupcakes and doughnuts. Their daily specials are displayed on the back wall. They serve Austin Roasting Coffee, FYI for anyone who is a fan. 

I was in the straight-up mindset of tacos. Then I saw the board. “Mac of the Day: Brisket Mac.” :O

The world caved in. The indecision and doubt flooded my mind. Do I go with the taco or the Mac? Decisions decisions. I asked the cashier for recommendations. I was stuck between the Pollo Boracho taco- a grilled chicken taco with corn slaw, melted Gouda, avocado and red pepper on a corn tortilla – and the Brisket Mac – mac’n’cheese with brisket, green onion, collars greens, tomato sauce and cheese. The cashier wasn’t much help as she had trouble deciding too. She mentioned the Mac came as a side so I made the ultimate decision: I got both.

Do you want the good news or the bad news? Let’s go with the bad news: the taco was not at all impressive. The chicken was bland. It was also hard and took wayyyy too long to chew. There was no cheese. It was a decent sized taco but it was not worth paying $5.95 plus tax. I can make a better taco at home for free. 4/10


Now the glorious news: Brisket Mac was the holy grail of mac’n’cheese. It’s fighting with lobster mac’n’cheese for my top Mac. The side was the perfect size for me because it filled me up. The pasta was cooked to perfection. The brisket was shredded but the flavor it provided made little cherubs sing “Ode to Joy” in my ears. The creaminess of the dish! Not a single dry spot. The side came with two mini loaves of bread and I dipped that stuff and ate it as if it were chips & salsa. My coworker had a bite and she said she was going to call Slake every day until they have that dish again. The only thing I would change about the dish is the size. I wish I got the bowl instead of the side. I was in a damn good happy food coma for the rest of the afternoon. 10/10

Agree? Disagree? Have any Slake recommendations? Comment below!

Slake is located at 120 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78701, past the Intercontinental Hotel.