Category Archives: PEOPLE

ADVENTURES IN PODCASTING

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Omar Gallaga’s Statesman story about local podcasts from 2.10.14.

Forgive the sparks that I fear will shoot out of this blog post at any moment, Reader. Not only am I terribly excited, but I’m currently drinking coffee, REAL COFFEE, which to a pregnant woman is like Adderall combined with Four Loko combined with cocaine. I am hyper.

But I’m exercising restraint, because I want to tell you about this new culture podcast from the Austin American-Statesman that I’m a part of, without overselling it! You know when someone tells you about a movie, and they are like, “you have to see it. No, seriously. This weekend. F-k that. Right now! I will take you to see this movie RIGHT NOW and you will love it because I loved it and I have already seen it six times it’s just that meaningful”? And that creates pressure on your viewing experience, and then you just like the movie just ok, but you have to insert fake enthusiasm into your voice because your friend is so fanatical? (If you’ve ever discussed the claymation classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with me, then you already know what this uncomfortable situation is like.)

So I don’t want to do that, but I do want to say that the new culture podcast that Omar Gallaga (tech/culture writer at the Statesman) and I put together – “Statesman Shots” – is causing me a lot of happiness.

Each week, Omar, I, and a third guest talk about three items that are popping up in local Austin conversation – items mostly culture, and mostly local – and intersperse them with games. Sometimes our topics aren’t local at all: this week, for example, we discussed House of Cards and it’s return to Netflix with Season 2. Why? Because it’s amazing. But we also talk about things like Austin’s food scene, the evolving mission and huge-ness of SXSW, and Disney characters we feel very strongly about.

Right now, our third guests all come from Statesman‘s own newsroom, but we’re eventually going to expand that net to include other local folks as well.

It’s a project Omar and I have been cooking up for nearly a year and a half, after we spoke on a panel together for Online News Association and discovered we both had mutual geek affection for podcasts. WTF with Marc Maron, Radiolab, The Dinner Party…all the hits. That’s when we realized, uh – why doesn’t Austin have a culture show? Could we make a culture show? (If you’ve followed my weird little blog for a while you know this has been a longtime dream.)

So we put together a treatment for our show concept, pitched it around…et voila! Omar’s very own professional home, the Statesman, picked it up. We started it for real in January, and we love, love it. Maybe you’ll love it too! Here’s how you can listen/connect:

Statesman Shots Blog

iTunes! (i.e. your phone)

Statesman Shots Facebook Page

Statesman Shots Twitter

This is a weekly show, so we are always looking for topic and guest ideas. Seriously.

As a result though of the story Omar wrote about both our podcast and Austin podcasts in general last week, I realized that – duh! – Austin actually does have a lot of culture shows. Other programs like When in Austin, Austin Sessions, and more. It’s kind of a scattered community right now and reminds me of the early days of Austin’s blog scene, when we were all little islands and wondering how to do what we did better. We are very fortunate to have a platform like the Statesman to launch our show, and I personally am very fortunate to have a co-host like Omar, who is a hard worker, sharp writer, and overall gracious and kind human being. He midwifed our show into existence! But as Austin’s podcasting scene matures, perhaps we’ll start having little meetups or something where we can coalesce and get to know each other better, those of us in the podcasting scene.

Do you listen to podcasts, Reader?

Also, since we haven’t talked in a while, and because I’m still flying high on caffeine, I feel compelled to catch up on other aspects of life. Can we do that? Can we have a proper Cawfee Tawk?

CAWFEE TAWK #1: I’m still pregnant! Wow, I’m pregnant. This is how I look, and this is how I feel. I’m officially in the third trimester now, and we’re still dutifully attending our hummus-laden birth classes. Still teaching yoga, and even doing the teensiest, tiniest bit of aerial, but once baby girl is on the outside I’ll be very eager to hop back on the silks again.

CAWFEE TAWK #2: Speaking of silks, I’m in a new silks company! Did we discuss this already? I can’t remember. Anyway, it’s called Rapt Aerial Dance, and we’re putting together an open house during SXSW to celebrate our brand new space on E. Cesar Chavez. If you’d like to come by during the open house and take some free aerial classes, email me! Or leave a comment. And if you’d like to be an edible/drinkable (non-alcoholic) event sponsor, or a band that wants to come play, let me know too.

CAWFEE TAWK #3: Writing. I performed in a storytelling event for Austin Bat Cave on Tuesday (Story Department) that was a ton of fun, telling (naturally) my story about attending a naked yoga class. That thing just doesn’t get old. Also, I wrote a short piece for the Statesman about the House of Cards connection to Lyndon B. Johnson, and if you’re a fan of that show (like me) as well as a dork for presidential history (also like me), then perhaps you’ll enjoy it – it comes out this Sunday in the culture section. Oh, AND. Wrote a story for Citygram Magazine about moms with tattoos – “Mom Ink” – that came out today. Was a serious blast to write, and it probably deserves its own proper post. Other than that, just pitching my strange little ideas around, often getting rejected but sometimes accepted. (<–Which should be the title of an after-school special.)

Whew. I think that’s it. And you, Reader? How goes it on your end of the computer screen?

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THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

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Images: Pilfered from my friends’ very fun Instagram account, Reveiller.

I remember the day very well.

It all started with breakfast in my family’s teeny tiny dining room, tucked into our teeny tiny apartment. My mom, God bless her, would get up each morning to cook something for me, and while I was eating, steal into my bedroom to lay my clothes out for me, then dash around and dress herself. But this morning was different; this morning, we were in a hurry. Mom was late, she said, and could I be a big girl and dress myself?

I considered my options.

I was seven years old at the time, just on the cusp of understanding clothing status. For example: I knew that Guess was cool. Anytime you saw a girl wearing jean shorts with that upside-down triangle on the back pocket? Very cool. Gap Kids? Also cool. Reebok Pump shoes were cool, but only if you were a boy; for girls, it was Cole Haan loafers, which weren’t the most practical choice for running around on a jungle gym, but still: Very on-trend. Very now.

I didn’t wear any of these things, because we couldn’t afford them. But I was still too young to care, and didn’t have any older siblings to bemoan the injustice of her absent Gap wardrobe, so it was fine that I wore hand-me-down’s and things that my mom made. Though on this particular morning, without any garment guidance at all, it seemed I had two choices: I could either stamp my feet in protest, or approach my own dresser, and attempt to make sense of its contents.

“Five minutes!” Mom called from the kitchen. “We’ve got five minutes before we have to go.”

My dad constantly carried a red bandana in his back pocket, a remnant from all the years he spent on ranches, squinting into the sun and wiping his brow. I adored them, fascinated by their intricate paisley pattern and the fact that I had once seen Janet Jackson wear one in a magazine. So with only moments to spare, I plucked one from my drawer, and decided this would be the basis of my look. I would be a cowgirl today. And it would be very cool.

Next, I moved onto shirt. What would a cowgirl wear to school? Obviously a puff painted shirt that said “I <3 JOEY” on it, right? A shirt with pieces of ribbon glued to it, no less, and a My Little Pony iron-on. This was an extremely fancy shirt, one I would wear to my inevitable wedding to Joey McIntyre.

Bottoms were next, and here, I floundered. Did cowgirls wear shorts? Yeah. Probably. I didn’t know. How about bike shorts? Were cowgirls a bike shorts-wearing people? Only one way to find out, so I put them on, and analyzed my current look in the mirror: bandana, puff paint Joey t-shirt, spandex. This outfit was really coming together!

I found a denim skirt to put on top of said bike shorts, proto-layering if you will, and decided that my ensemble was nearly complete. I snatched a bluebonnet barrette off the floor to put in my hair (Texas, y’all), my sneakers, and Mom and I were on our way.

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My outfit garnered no more than sideways glances from my polished, well turned-out classmates. These were children wearing Gap Kids practically since birth, but it would be a few years until we noticed that kind of thing. Our PE teacher, however, was a different story.

“What in the HECK are you wearing, Moseley?”

Coach Montanio was a rotund man with the swagger of an Italian mobster, an interesting choice for an elementary school PE teacher. I remember mostly loving him, except for the time he told me he could run a lap faster sliding on his belly than I could on my own two feet. A challenge, looking back, that I should have accepted.

“You’ve got clothes on top of other clothes. And who is JOEY? What did you glue to this thing?”

He was full of questions, assessing my outfit. But that was alright. I knew I looked sharp.

You have to understand that during this time, my dad’s favorite shirt was some long-sleeved purple business, with a picture of the pope playing electric guitar on the front. These were paired with what can only be described as Hammer pants. Also, my mom painted black and white cow spots on our kitchen cabinets, so as a family, our collective style compass pointed in a different direction than the rest of our neighborhood. Which as a kid I didn’t mind, as a preteen I was horribly embarrassed by, and as an adult I’m back to thinking it was cool.

I thought about that little seven year-old weirdo yesterday while interviewing Wynn Myers and Levi Dugat for an upcoming TRIBEZA story, and we got to talking about style and what that term means, exactly. Over the years I’d beg my mom to take me to Gap Kids, layering on more and more conformity as I got older. I desperately wanted to fit in, and became an astute watcher in the process, studying how my classmates dressed, walked, talked. The first time I overheard one discussing Vail and how she tried a double black diamond, I thought she was talking about a type of food (specifically, a classier version of Double Stuffed Oreos).

But despite the odds I caught onto the rules of my preppy neighborhood anyway, and I was nice, and I was smart. So I slummed it with my fellow non-rich smart kid friends, until greater social acceptance was possible.

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As a creative person, Wynn, Levi and I decided, you’re always absorbing different people’s art and adoring it, but also always having to step back and make sure it’s not influencing you too much. This happens to me all the time with writing: I read Nick Hornby, and I start writing like Nick Hornby. (Not a bad problem to have.) Wynn is a photographer, and she talked about how the visual style of Alexandra Valenti (a photographer we both admire) caught on in a huge way, but that she, Wynn, wouldn’t know where to begin to replicate something like that. I’m thinking Wynn probably has all the tools and technical knowledge to put together an Alexandra Valenti-esque shoot…but I believe she meant that on a personal, spiritual level. You always want to be authentic, she said, and to attempt something like Alexandra’s work just wouldn’t be authentic for her. It has to come from a real place.

Whenever I visit Alamo Heights, the moneyed small town inside San Antonio where I grew up, I am amazed by how charming it is. Everything’s so pretty and well cared-for, from the front lawns to the churches. A lot of my classmates grew up and moved back to Alamo Heights because it was that real place for them, the place where they felt authentic and happy.

But I think I spent all of college and most of my 20s trying to uncover the bandana/I HEART JOEY/bluebonnet barrette kid, through little fault of Alamo Heights really, and mostly because I got so deep in the habit of watching other people and becoming a really good mimic, whether it be my past day jobs, my writing, or my other creative ventures.

This was all in my head after my talk with Wynn and Levi, while I was walking around Half-Price Books trolling for inspiration, when my friend from college Mary Brown showed up. After hugs and how-are-you’s? and a little mutual fawning over each other – she had on this fantastic rainbow healer necklace pendant that I couldn’t stop looking at – Mary told me she was living in Portland now, just back in Austin for a visit. Back home, she was doing bodywork and studying under amazing teachers, and just generally loving life.

“It’s like I’ve been removing layers,” she said of her past few years, smiling as she said it. “You know?”

I knew. I knew exactly what she meant.

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DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME

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Rod Stewart: the stuff dreams are made of. Image courtesy Suffragette City; inspiration courtesy Megan Renart.

What do you dream about?

Not, “what are your hopes and dreams.” I mean, when you sleep, what are the bizarre motion pictures that play out in your mind?

Recently, a couple of friends have been texting me their dreams, and it delights me to no end.

Our buddy Virginia recently had a dream that Ross and I lived in a treehouse, and invited Virginia and her husband Zach over to hang out. Ross and I had only one house rule for visitors, and it was this: everyone was required to wear fuzzy, pink pajamas during their stay. (Not a bad rule to instate at our current residence.)

This information made me grin for about a week. And then, this morning, Megan wrote me an email about her dream (posted here with her permission):

T,
I had this dream last night that you and I found out that Rod Stewart was performing in the very building we were walking through. It was a cross between Barton Springs Mall and the Blanton.

We were descending the staircase (that looked like the Blanton staircase but was open on both sides) when we realized that there was an open spot and we could see Rod Stewart performing just a few feet from us. We went nuts. He was about 3 feet tall and wearing clothes that I imagine a pirate would wear to bed on his off nights. You were so overcome that you ran up to the group until security grabbed you by the hair and dragged you away. You were completely unaffected by this, only saying when you returned to my side, “I had to give the keyboardist a hug!”

-And now, I will grin about THAT for a week.

I’ve long wanted to keep a dream journal, but suspect that my dreams – while fascinating to me – are too self-referential and boring for everyone else. That’s because inside my cluttered attic of a mind, interesting narratives sometimes play out, but I only remember them in snatches when I wake up. I’ll seize Ross and cry, “you had…wings! Wings, Ross! And I was cooking…salmon! With blue marbles on top! Don’t you get it?

Not surprisingly, he has nothing to say about this.

But I can remember some of his dreams from years ago, and they still make me laugh.

One time, Ross had a dream that he had a special relationship with a group of ants (?), and that they all lived together on what I believe were camping grounds. Maybe a park. Anyway. Some people wanted to come and set up shop on top of the ants’ home, and they were getting all pissed off about it. So Ross found the ants another home next to a tree, somehow led them there in their secret Ross/ants language, and everyone was happy! The people got their space, and the ants got a new house.

How can that not make you giggle?

(It’s even funnier when you know Ross, and how diplomatic he is. He is always very pro-communication and solution-oriented, even when his conversation partner is an insect.)

Do you have any funny/strange dreams stashed away in your memory? I really would love to hear about them.

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THE NEW MAN

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Eight years ago, in college, I wrote my English honors thesis about the “New Woman:” a character trope in late Victorian literature that was kind of a proto-feminist.

In novels, this character was usually single, middle class, and either employed or trying to get a job. She walked around without a male escort (gasp!), and sometimes, she cross-dressed. For Victorian England, this meant wearing a pair of pants.

Because of the New Woman, I spent many late nights in the computer lab, and the computer lab probably spent lots of money replacing the keyboards that I drooled on. I found my old thesis online the other day, all 50 painstaking pages of it, and totally dorked out over my beloved New Woman. What a fascinating character! Just like we make fun of hipsters today, everyone made fun of the New Woman – who, in addition to a fictional trope, was also a real person walking around in England. Magazines did cartoons of New Women riding bikes and wearing huge ugly bloomers, smoking cigarettes and looking generally dudely. Some male novelists went the other way, portraying her as kind of a slutty harlot. That happens in Dracula, when one of the characters, Lucy Westenra, starts sleepwalking in her sexy underthings and eventually turns into a sexy vampire.

So basically, the New Woman was any woman who challenged female gender convention. Edith in Downton Abbey? Classic New Woman.

Anyway, I got to thinking about all this the other day because we are experiencing a New Man. Aren’t we?  Yeah. We are.

I see him in Austin all the time.

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Recently, I have absolutely fallen in love with WTF with Marc Maron, a delightful little interview podcast. Have you listened yet? Oh. SO GOOD.

Anyway, what makes Marc so compelling is his feelings. Which he talks about, all the time.

You know who else does that? Louis CK.

And? Mike Birbiglia.

Three comics who have been in the game for a while, but they all made their names recently by being deeply confessional. Personal. They each reach into their soul’s crevasse, and pull out something extremely intimate for us to stare at.

We (and by “we” I mean Fox News) always talk about masculinity in crisis, and while that makes me giggle, it’s also maybe true. Are uber manly men en vogue anymore?

The stoic ones, the Don Drapers? The Vin Diesels?

We just don’t see them around as much anymore, do we?

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The Internet has made us all more confessional, so maybe that’s a part of it. We’re letting it all hang out a little more, so maybe this New Man, this personal version with all the feelings and the reflection, just makes sense for our time. At first I thought it was just me, that I in particular was attracted to these kinda guys – but no. It’s bigger. The whole Judd Apatow comedy complex is populated by guys, guys like Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, who wear their hearts on their sleeves and a dopey grin on their faces. We as movie goers pay millions of dollars collectively to watch those guys do their thing.

So, is it that? The Internet?

Or a deeper cultural shift?

When the New Woman came along, it was largely an economic thing. Finally, a middle class woman could go out and get a job, and not have to make her way in the world financially via a dowry and strategic marriages. But it’s something different with the New Man – I just can’t put my finger on it.

And like I said earlier, I see these New Men in Austin every day. Hell, I’m pretty sure they’re all my friends.

So I’m thrilled that they exist. I just can’t figure out why they exist. Why now? Why this very moment?

Explain it to me, men.

Especially you New ones out there.

(Listen to two of my favorite New Men, Marc Maron and Seth Rogen, talk to each other on WTF.)

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A PLACE IN THE SUN

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A Pack of Boozy She-Wolves, A Sorority for Thirty Year-Olds, A Ragtag Band of Aspiring Thelmas and Louises –

These are my beautiful, profane, dancey girlfriends. We all went to South Padre a couple of weeks ago; sort of an annual thing for us. We pack up our things, hop in a car, and drive!

I always come back from South Padre just a bit dreamier than before I left, fully ensconced in summer mode. This year we took a bar hostage, frightening our seated, fellow patrons, but also took full (full) advantage of the cover band, and hopefully made said band’s night.

It certainly made mine.

All photos by the unbelievable Nicki Lemon.

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