Landlore, Featured City: Austin, Texas

Featured City: Austin, Texas
Landlore: V1, Mid-North America
Motto: "Keep Austin Weird"
Guest-post by: Kantiki Jayamana Whateva

[The contents of this entry are copyrighted material of the author, Kantiki Jayamana Whateva. This material may not be re-printed without written permission from the author.]

[Printable text version is available here.]

Disclaimer: The contents of this [entry], with exception to physical locations, are works of fiction. Especially anything that may be illegal. Those are big fat fibs from a naughty liarhead!

The characters—me, God or any other—are either completely fabricated or have been exaggerated to the point of caricature. Any resembles these characters and stories may have to factual counterparts are by pure chance.

Nothing contained herein is endorsed by the author. The included material has been expressed for artistic merit, alone, and in no way should be considered a “[guide]” of any kind.

By [...] reading this [entry], you have agreed to remain a calm, docile, law-abiding citizen of whatever country laser-etched the bar-code into your flesh. If you break this agreement, then you're a bad ponky, who should be spanked and placed in dire grail-shaped peril.

An ATX Welcome: If you ask a traveler from another country what one city should be seen if visiting North America, the majority of the time you're going to get one answer: "Austin, Texas!" The ATX 3rd Coast, and "Last Free Port of North America," has no mountains and no oceans. It's near no other major cities that people might give a hot-damn about. In fact, relative to the rest of the United States, it is a nice stretch "out of the way." Yet, the city's reputation for individual rights, fun (and weird) environments, a booming job market and music, music everywhere just keeps proving itself true. Welcome to Austin.

The ratio of "Damn Your Cool" peeps to the "I Coulda Been a Contenda" others is noticeably higher here. The variety in scenes, skill-sets and opinions nearly match this ratio. The University of Texas, one of the highest populations in the country, brings in a fresh supply of young hot-bodied intellects each year from all directions. Austin is the Capital of Texas, a title stolen fair and square from the city of Houston, and draws in political activists and politicians alike. Silicon Hills brings in one technophile after another, and comes with a premier list of jobs to pick up some quick cash from. Thanks to Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughen, the alternative music scene born out of Austin in the '70s has only grown, by leaps and bounds, until Austin claimed the rightful title of "Live Music Capital of the World."

With such a hippie movement, yuppies were soon to follow, but they've brought their health stores, parks and bike shops with them... so we forgive 'em. In fact, the health scene is a dominant player in the city, and you don't have to be a yuppie to be a health nut. Most of the "Weird" scene, as well as larger companies, have adapted their menus to suit this demand.

There is also a large population of Mexicans, of Texans (not to be confused with Austinites) and Californians. The latter two fight to see who is taking away the next set of rights. Appropriately, the population of Austin, fed up with Democratic thievery and Republican killing sprees, has grown more and more Independent Libertarian with each year.

The city is as spiritually varied between religions, harboring one of the most open Christian churches in the world, and one of the most beautiful Buddhist Temples to be experienced. The many Pagan holidays (along with those Christian holidays still on lend from the Pagans) nearly all have organized gatherings and events to herald them in. The tolerance of varying religious beliefs and philosophies is matched only by their driving passions.

Let me end this on a bit of an off note... okay, quite a bit offf ff f—the Weirds. The true treasure of this port is the culture behind “Keep Austin Weird.” This is one patchwork mushroom dropping city of culture, and the lifeblood flows back to the Heart of Weirdness. Independent Thinkers and Indie Companies alike comprise the Weirding, and the only rules seem to be: “Don't let ya momma dress ya,” “Don't carbon copy the competition” and “Overboard just means more fun in the water.” The movement's main network for communication is the Austin Chronicle [], available at most weirdstops, and the Keep Austin Weird organization itself []. If you're going to Austin, bring a pink cowboy hat.

The Bad: I was sure to tally complaints made from others so that I could formulate at list some complaints against the Paradise of North America. I'll just get those out of the way now.

Heat: I am a heat junkie. I love desert dry heat almost as much as I love the stinking monster of a jungle heat that leaps on you and doesn't dismount until you've left it's hunting grounds. Needless to say, I didn't lodge this complaint against the city. Many be the whining voices who've lodged it for me. A little hundred degree weather, to me, simply means less clothing on the female forms I love so much... and Austin has no shortage in this department.

Shape-Shifting Maps: You want a street, highway or loop with five names? We got it. Hell, we have streets with the exact same names that actually parallel themselves. Streets that change directions? Check. Unmarked dead ends? Got 'em! Downhill roads that end in a lake. Oh, yeah! Booyakashah! And don't even think about pronouncing them right. Just point, grab someone, and ask how the hell you say the name. In fact, that goes for some areas of the city. The closest thing to a “Main Street” is Lamar, and Lamar's is as straight and narrow as American politics is free of corruption. I love it. Anyone running deliveries hates me for loving it. I love 'em for hating me for...

ATX Drivers: It's not the traffic that's bad. Traffic's worse in many places. It's the drivers. The Texas DMV, deciding to jump on the environmentalist bandwagon of the city, decided decades ago that it would make their jobs so much more easy if they just planted trees that grew new driver's licenses each spring. It's a decision that's lead to many a death by high-speed vehicular grenade bombardment. Any dramatic shift in weather means that stupidity rains from the sky, soaks the roads and looks on dumbstruck and frozen as other drivers decide to give 'em a kiss at the appropriately stupid speeds. Did I mention there's too many Californians and Texans here? The Californians have their cell phones doing the driving, and the Texans, who can't see the cars below their trucks and SUVs, drive moving masses of death with no care to who's driving around them. Of course, other darklings such as myself can simply avoid all this by driving at night.

Wilco-Texas: At last we reach a complaint even I can get behind. Austin's in the godfrakked middle of Texas. In fact, it marks the very center of the Texan Yin-Yang. To the West, only hills, sand and rock mark the vapid stretch of wastes leading to El Paso and beyond. To the East, there be farms, jungle and bayou leading to the stinkhole that is Houston. Getting an American to visit Austin, their first reaction is almost always, “Isn't that in Texas?” Yes, we're surrounded by it. No matter how much we try and deny this, Austin remains an oasis of light in the darkness of Texas.

The factual reality of this has lead to a type of war, of which battle-lines have been drawn between the counties of Williamson (to the North) and Travis (to the South). Travis, for all its corruption, remains very liberal in the rights granted to those under its protection... which just happens to be most of Austin. Wilco, on the other hand, is infamously a police-state collective of cities. Wilco has shot a man who was trying to commit suicide, has prosecuted people found with only one marijuana seed and tried for prison, then makes illegal arrests within Travis territory.

I once crossed the Travis-Wilco border on a walk up to the Alamo Lake Creek and saw a Travis officer doing traffic duty for the construction along Hwy 183. When traffic cleared, I walked over to his side of the road and jovially shouted out, “You know Wilco claims this territory, don't ya? Shouldn't they be doing this?” The officer laughed and said in his harshest, most gravelly voice: “Wilco couldn't handle this job.”

The Good: Now that we've got thems baddies outta the way, let's just wiggle our way on to fun, profit and firearms.

Healthnutz: Inner city hiking trails, biking lanes, organic grocers, gyms, sports... you know, I'll just stop there. Should any technophobic Ludists publicly express the belief that humans need no improvement on their design, or that immortality is unnatural, they would find themselves outnumbered and at risk of being heard by someone who makes a hobby of collecting black belts from various martial arts. If only this meant: “You want health, we got your healthy right here! You want grease, we got grease comin' outta the gutta.” Sadly, the healthnutz had to go healthnazi, and have extended this fine form of Californian Communism over the Austin arena. This is seeded in the belief that people must be made better if they won't do it for themselves, and is shown in the smoking ban that was passed (and has been failing). Of course, the negative affect this had on the music and weird scenes required a counter-assault of simply ignoring the ban, more and more, in protest.

Hitchville: Getting a ride into and out of Austin, Texas has always been one of the most easy ventures for me. It's an eight-hour stretch from El Paso to Austin, and a single ride has always dropped me into the city or near enough to make the last bit myself. Houston's just down the hill, and getting to Austin from there is almost as easy as the jaunt up from San Antone. Leaving Dallas means reaching Austin by night, and, as with most of Texas, you can hitch right along the Interstate. On my first hitch ever into the city, an Austinite pulled up beside me and handed me a bag of Breakfast tacos as I walked. I wasn't sure what else to say other than “thank you.”

CapMetro: Capital Metro, our fair maiden of transportation, has a pretty impressive fleet of buses. There's bike racks, night fliers, free “ozone” days and an express system for those of us who are hightailing our asses out of the city as quickly as possible. Now, here's the maraschino cherry at the bottom of the bottle of tequila—it costs fiddy cent to ride (a greenback on an express). Too pricey? It's only ten dead presidents for a thirty-day pass. I actually miss this bus system when having to deal with the rundown rejectabuses in most other cities. Most of CapMetro's bus system actually runs on an approximate schedule... and then there's the 383. The 383 is known, throughout the city, for being far too early, far too late, or even skipping that scheduled period altogether. I've even had it pass me while the driver looked right at me, and have had an eye out for that driver ever since. Basically, don't make any tight plans if the 383 is involved, and you'll lead a much happier life. Oh, yeah, and we have a free downtown 'Dillo system. That was all me. I did that.
[, 512.389.7400, 2910 East 5th Street, 78702]

Signage: W00T w00t! City after city has been making curb-side signage illegal. When we switched to selling things, those laws soon grew to encompass simply remaining for too long on a body of raised concrete (or other public construct) than was needed to move away from the street. Not so in Austin. Not yet. We have some rather legendary homeless, and defenders of the homeless here. The rumors rose, and has yet to be put down, that the signs made by bums here in the city are the sole source of any creative signmanship in the nation. The alternative is that we have some very up-on-current national signage homebums. “Ninjas killed my family...,” “Spaceship broken...,” “Visions of a...” and more I have seen pop up in this little city, then later saw in another city.

Gaea's Cradle: Let the whiners crybaby their eyes out 'bout the heat, but the ATX is nearly natural disaster free. There's a percentile collective of low possibilities: tornado, earthquake, divine wrath—but I've seen not a dollop o any of 'em. Nature loves us. We love her. This city is strikingly green, as in lush vegetation nearly everywhere, trees growing out of the middle of a parking lot and a series of drainage ditches, lakes and reservoirs to help ensure that it never floods. In this very year (2k7), we have had rain at least once every three out of four days, and the city just soaks it up and spits back out oxygen at us. Terrible habit—spitting—but the minor flooding has been worth the regenerative gift this year's rain has brought. This is a good time to state that, at least two years that I've stayed here, I have actually seen it rain for more than a week straight without any pause. Both of these years, there has been, also, rains off and on for more than two months straight. The city has years where there's only two seasons—Summer and Not-Summer—then it has its bi-polar spit on the mortals years.

Green Me Up: Let me frame this inclusion with the knowledge that I am in almost as much contention with the Green Party as I am with lobbying groups (such as CEI) that accept funding to put out anti-global warming research papers that not only mis-quote data, but will actually change the research being done. Both sides are rather disgusting. In the case of the Austin Green Party, I am much less torn. There is still the hint of Communism behind their definition of “Decentralization,” and their key value of “Feminism and Gender Equity” still betrays a small mind that wants only to fight for its own rights, and not equal rights, but they have done a lot of good for this city and are more approachable and malleable to ideas than in other cities. Beyond the recycling programs, the ATX Green Party will pay for 75% of your solar panel costs to buy and costs to install. Then the city pays you for any energy you put back into the system. Any interested parties will find much more than this through the Green Party network.

3-Degrees: Austin is a really large smalltown. Over 700,000 soulfires burn here. Stars, within the star of the Lone Star State... just another white star in a field of stars on blue beneath the stars above. In this city, at any time, you are likely only separated from any other person in the city by three degrees. A huge part of the cause is the music scene. So many people are part of one or more bands, either on or off stage, that you are constantly getting to know and love yet another Austinite when you find out that you've been right nearby each other already on multiple occasions. If your a positive person, this means you'll positively affect your environment and will love the lessening of degrees. If you're negative, however, I'm sure I'll someday hear word of you slowly cutting yourself off and planning an escape from the city.

Art and Activism: Something's going on. Anyone who's bored in Austin has chosen boredom. We have concerts so often that it's hard to avoid them, art exhibits at restaurants and coffee shops and warehouses for forging, sculpting, carving or exposing photographs in a studio's darkroom. The activists may get political, or may have simply found a niche that society's called for (for instance, whoever's truly brilliant idea it was to make so that Austinites could track cheap gas prices). Finally, the two huge run in the opposite direction events of the year are SXSW (South by South-West) and ACL (Austin City Limits). You're either going, or your staying a safe distance away, and it almost always depends on what bands are flying in from where in the world on to tell what side of this line you'll be sitting or moshing on.

The Kantiki ATX Experience [outline]

Zilker ~ The Hippie Experience:
* Zilker Botanical Garden
* Barton Creek
* Baby Acapulco's ~ Baby A's
* Planet K
* Book People
* Whole Foods Central ATX
* HI-Austin

6th Street ~ The Clubber Experience:
* The Congress Street Bat Colony ~ The Bat Cave
* Embassy Suites Town Lake
* DJ Tetsuo
* seaflea
* Plush
* Alamo 1
* Leslie
* ARCH ~ The Arch

The Main Drag ~ El Studente:
* The Capital Building
* Schlotzsky's
* UT Campus
* Buffalo Exchange ~ Weird Willy's
* Kasbah
* Half-Price Books ~ The Warehouse Half-Price
* Epoch Coffee ~ The Poch

The Village ~ de l'Occident a l'Orient:
* Trainhop-Point
* Grape Vine Market
* The Graveyard ~ The 24, Tex and The Den
* The Academy of Oriental Medicine:
*** Korea House
*** White Crane
* Alamo Village

The Arboretum ~ The Yuppy Experience:
* The Arboretum and Duck Pond
* 360 Point
* Fo Guang Shan Hsiang Yun Temple
* Spicewood Springs Rd

The Border ~ Last Call for Weird:
* Chuy’s 183 ~ Chuy Chica Boom Boom
* Kerbey Lane North ~ The Kerb
* B B Rover's Cafe and Pub ~ BB's
* The Tea House
* Starbucks Anderson Mill ~ The Bucks
* Jardin Corona
* Alamo Lake Creek
* Oak Knoll Shell

Round Rock ~ The North Gate
~ Keep Round Rock Mildly Unusual ~
* Freebirds Tech Ridge
* Katherine Fleischer Park
* Saradora's

The Kantiki ATX Experience:

The Hippie Experience...

HI-Austin: Hostelers International Austin is possibly the best hostel in the States. Even while living elsewhere in the city, there is the temptation to go spend a night at HI-Austin just to take in the travelers' spirit that pervades this place, and to meet the new faces passing through my city. Andre, a friend who won an American green card in a Russian lottery, was given work here after only a night so that he didn't have to pay the daily fee. This is something not found in the majority of American hostels, and is only one of many things on a list of such things. The environment is a heavy mix of Austin and European, and there's no curfew forcing you back in at night. It's a great place to stow your bag before heading out.
[, 2200 S Lakeshore Blvd, 78741, 512.444.2294, $22]

Barton Creek: The #29 that runs along Riverside will actually stop right in front of Barton Hills Elementary. Whether on foot or by car, however, you'll need to cross over to the back of the elementary school. The entrance is little more than a wide rocky trail that parts the thick growth of trees on both sides, and it winds for about a mile down to the river that cuts through the greenbelt. Once there, however, you'll find the part easy enough. This area makes for a great sushi picnic while sitting on rocks partially submerged in water. The water has formed a natural waterslide here to douse yourself if getting too hot. During the weekends, you'll find quite a few people down here.
[entrance from behind Barton Hills Elementary]

Zilker Botanical Garden: One of the more scenic stops is a bit up the hill from the rest of Zilker Park, and a better place to be taken than to lug your backpack into. If the person you're with just happens to be a romantic interest, then “all the better to eat you with, my dear.” The gardens are striking both in the selections and landscape. Fragrance, color and careful tending set apart each garden, and winding paths lead beneath wooden arches through the hills, from one garden to the next. Take time to get lost, then find your way back.
[2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, Texas, 512.477.8672]

Baby A's: Any trained bartender is going to tell you the tequila is the main liquor you're going to need if you're making margaritas. Baby Acapulco is going to tell you that this is incorrect. They believe that tequila just isn't enough alcohol for their customers, which is why they use everclear instead. It's the healthy choice. Were it only hiker-friendly, I would likely suggest this place with more gusto. During off-hours, however, you'll find that they'll take just about anyone.
[, 1628 Barton Springs Rd, 78701, 512.474.8774, Fr/Sa 11a-2a]

Taco Cabana: One-dozen fresh flour tortillas for $1.99, with a salsa bar that contains the temptuous succulent that is salsa de fuego. The Cabanas throughout Texas are havens to hikers everywhere for this one meal, although they make so much more that the tongue does thank Mexico for. The Riverside location, like so many others, has this thing about not closing. That means walk-in cheap tortillas with fixins around the clock. If any of the ATX restaurants I mention seem pricey, or give you and your backpack any harsh looks, then flip 'em the bird and find a nearby Cabana. Trust me, there's one nearby. Grab your grub and go take up space on their deck outside for some hours of solace when the heat of the day is in its prime.
[Lamar and Riverside]

Planet K: I'm not saying there's anything illegal going on in Austin... but there is. The most legal outskirts of this movement is a series of headshops that have been dubbed “Planet K.” The K Box is usually found aside two other criminal establishments: AAA News and The Doll House. That latter one is the shadiest, while the former could almost be mistaken for “innocent” (from the outside). Planet K makes little attempt to hide its vile nature, and what sweet villainy there do be found within these walls. If you're planning any dark ops and want to get psyched up in the way only the followers of the Old Man on the Mountain once were, then this is your stop... well... for many things. It's worth seeing just for the character, even if your intentions are strictly legal.
[, 1516 S Lamar, 78704, 512.443.2292]

Book People: Powell's Book Store in Chicago is the only comparison I have for this place. What variety Book People cannot beat Powell's out on is overcome with attrition. Book people is floor after floor of books, most of which you've likely never heard of. There remains plenty selections culled from mainstream marketing, but the bulk of this place has somehow been imported and built from an unknown world of books to any who've never before been outside a Borderz or Barnz n Nobleez. I actually suggest that someone who is just getting interested in a topic begin here, as the views express are diverse, yet passionate and oftentimes well analyzed. Fleshing out this newfound knowledge with mainstream information and Internet research has proven a fruitful endeavor to me time and again.
[, 603 N Lamar, Austin, TX 78703, 512.472.5050, 9a-11p]

Whole Foods Central ATX: The Whole Foods in DT ATX is more of a great way to spend an afternoon than just to stop by quickly. It hides many different areas, inside and out, and your nose and tongue will find many different delectables throughout the whole of this playground. Hitting the place this early on means you can stock up on picnics for the whole trip, or, if you're in the money at the moment, then eat well from the extended cafeteria. It's a great place to sit down and waste away a day inside of a book. You'll need to head over to the sidewalk to smoke anything, and will still catch a look or two, but smiling and offering the glaring eyes a cigarette seems to go a long way. Always remind them: “It's never too late to start!”
[525 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703, 512.476.1206, 8a-10p]

The Clubber Experience...

The Bat Cave: It was Tom Robbins who so correctly cornered Tequila as “the drink of outlaws.” The United States of America was created by a populace of criminals, religious outcasts, heretics, anarchists and revolutionaries. Austin just seems to be the place who never forget this fine heritage. As such, you could say that we like our tequila. Interestingly enough, the bats which pollinate the agave cacti from which tequila is born of live right here in the ATX. Not only do they live here, but we made it a point to improve their living area. Austin, Texas has the largest urban bat colony in the world, harboring almost two-million little criminal makers beneath the Congress Street Bridge. You can't miss the huge statue of a bat just on the South side of the bridge, and following the bridge around the East side will lead you to the colony. Be sure to show up an hour before sunset, as the flight into darkness is not to be missed.

Embassy Suites Town Lake: There's this long-standing tradition of holding a free cocktail hour at the Embassy Suites for its guests. Of course, it'd be rude to ask each guess to show their room's keycard or question their right to be there. This means just about anyone looking the part and backing it with action is just as welcome to those free drinks. Tip a dollar per free drink, at the very least, but get lushed up here before walking up Congress to 6th Street... where the drinks would cost you a paycheck.
[300 S Congress Ave, 78704, 512.469.9000]

DJ Tetsuo: You can't miss the combination of thick spikes for hair coming out of a suit jacket, and there's no replacing who may be Austin's greatest free-style DJ. You have to hit him late at night, when the bars give him free reign to release his own personal brand of insanity onto the floor, but that is when the true monster comes out. DJ Tetsuo, when set free, mixes between one track and another on a list of hundreds every thirty to sixty-seconds, creating a hard hitting evolution sequenced only the a changing BPM that unites each track. Currently, it's best to find this creature at the Co-Op Bar on a Thursday or Friday night.

seaflea: My favorite band to see live in Austin is called “seaflea.” Just what is a seaflea? seaflea's members do be Bret, Jeremy, Jon-Michael and Matt, and managed by iTodd. If I were the one required to apply only a single tag to mark this band's genre, I would go with “progressive rock.” The band blends one song into the next with masterwork instrumentation, mixes metaphors between at least two vocalists and has an amazing degree of “how in the hell aren't they signed yet” thrown into the mix. It seems their primary venue's moved from Redrum to the Red Eye Fly, although you'd be best to check dates and info from online. Oh, and any other electronica artists such as myself may get the same kick out of seeing how they've integrated a Micron into their set. Enjoy! Tell 'em Jaya sent ya!

Fiesta 6: There are three times during the year that really try to draw an Austinite down into the dark trappings of 6th Street: Mardi Gras, or Carnival, or Halloween. Halloween is my preferred night of attendance, and I've actually made it a point to be in-city when Halloween hits. Depending on the energy of the year, this scene could mean rubber bullets from the police or one hell of a good party bordering on rubber bullets. The only way to find out is to strap on your flippers and jump in the pool.

Plush: The night Lotus introduced me to Plush is what we're going to call “a good night.” It was Tuesday, which was drum and bass night. Julie, Grommet and more had been putting on such a set that this tiny venue had packed. To keep dancing was the only way to hold your own space. The word has slowly spread that the place to be for electronica is Club Plush. Plush has continued making a series of good decisions to retain a core following of electronica lovers and high-power DJs at the heart of this scene. It remains one of my few draws to this area.
[617 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701, 512.478.0099]

Alamo 1: The 1st Alamo Drafthouse Theater ever. That's right, here began a legacy of beer, pizza, movies and downright oddities. If a bucket of popcorn and a soda is going to cost you an arm and a leg at a normal theater, then why not saw off that arm and a leg and barter it for something that tastes better and will leave you well-buzzed? It was a concept just waiting to happen. The original location has closed, although you could walk around the Warehouse District on 5th to see where it once stood. News states that it will re-open at 320 E 6th Street, where the Ritz Theater is, in Fall of '07.

Leslie: The Cross-Dressing Mayoral Nominee of Austin. Our fair lady of the streets was second when running for Mayor, and, although housed, is an avid freedom fighter for the homeless. Leslie's thonged physique can often be found prowling 6th Street by night, and flying anti-APD banners by day. Earlier, when praising Travis County, I made no mention of the downtown police force. The ATXDTAPD are trigger-happy, they're corrupt and they've little regard for human life or hospital bills. These federales are the cause behind many of Leslie's more abrasive attacks against the APD, and not the Travis County locals you'll hang out with over coffee elsewhere. Had only Leslie one the Mayoral Election, there would have been a great many changes concerning these sanctioned thugs.

ARCH: The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. Actually, I had no frakkin clue what the acronym was for until I looked it up a second ago. It's the Arch. It's in downtown. It has showers, but never been able to get into the shelter. Also, it's got laundry facilities and soap, but show up way early because slots fill up quick and, thanks to the many amenities Austin affords the homeless, right alongside the weather, the homeless population in the ATX is bloated but beautifully varied throughout its populace. You may want to look into discount bus passes, and they may let you use them as your address should you need to have any wealthy Nigerian princes send you a check.
[7th and Neches, 512.305.4100,]

El Studente...

The Capital Building: Texas has this whole “size matters” thing going. It does stuff big. In fact, it seems to dislike doing anything average or small. Were it not for that bit of auto-rejection of what's smaller or more normal, I would say this was a display of wealth and not just an attempt to compensate for... well, you know... Anyone who just had a chuckle at what I wrote isn't trying to compensate. I get the feeling, though, that a Texan who just read this, or anyone who was offended, that they just might be compensating for a lack in many areas. If you're offended by this, and have a wife in or around the Austin area, please leave a comment so that I can be more considerate of (and take a personal hand in) you and your wife's predicament. As to the Capital Building, well, it's the biggest dick in the nation, but I'll be damned if that cock ain't pretty when seen at night.
[11th and Congress, or, 11th.s - 15th.n and Lavaca.w - San Jacinto.e]

Schlotzsky's: While the libraries, like most major cities, offer free Internet access on their computers, there happens to be another way to hop on a computer to use the Internet. The Schlotzsky's in Austin happen to come equipped with three Macs, each with Internet access. The signs say that there's a 15-minute limit, but I've yet to be told that my time was up. Showing up early, ordering a coffee, then hitting the Net means that fifteen-minutes can turn into an hour or more. The most I've pushed this was six-hours, and I actually fell asleep while typing and wasn't kicked out. I have to give their food props, as well, and would love to send any business there way that may pay them back for all the Net I've siphoned off of 'em.
[1915 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX, 512.457.1129]

UT Campus: Park somewhere, then walk onto Campus. If you can't find your way from the drag, ask someone. Once they tell you, hide your head in shame and wander onward. Here, a boy scout leader and noble member of the US Marine Corps decided to barricade himself in a tower and turn his award-winning life to one of villainy. And they say the days of the Wild West are gone. It was a reminder that this city was built on Texas soil, and that what society has merited most “right” can be (and often is) the most “wrong.” It is a beautiful campus to walk, and a rich history to re-imagine. There are museums, six-way cross-walks and eye-candy in the form of foliage, architecture art and flesh.
[24th and Guadalupe, just keep driving Wayne]

Kasbah: There comes a point in each person's life when the Moroccan glaring at them over the counter demands of them a choice. It's no ordinary choice, and, at this point, a life may fall spinning into that black abyss without hookahs, or one filled with smoky sweet-scented clouds formed by fragrant shisha tobacco. I... I've made that choice. Actually, my brother Tristan made that choice for me, and it was the right one: orange shisha over coffee-flavored, with ice. My brother Keaegan later perfected this mix by turning me on to the Panna Cotta tea offered by Kasbah. As smoke rolls out of me on the deck of Kasbah, I'm reminded that heaven is here on earth, and only ever as far as a hookah. Now that heaven's out of the way, I have to mention that the owners and maintainers are chauvinistic and rude. They set abstract rules that you'll want to read up on upon entering. Bring a group of three, and have your leader speak for you with confidence. It goes a long way here.
[2714 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705, 512.542.9870]

Weird Willy's: As I heard it, the pirate name for this place got it's little start from peeps calling it “The Weird Will.” It's almost not fair to call Buffalo Exchange by the nick “Weird Willy's,” as only a few weirdlings will know what you're talking about. Also, I'm fairly sure only the ATX Buffalo has ever been called this. Nonetheless, I thought I'd add my own bit of influence to spread this meme. Austin can't claim to have taken a Good Will and weirded it, as Buffaloes exist elsewhere, also. With the weird scene so prevalent, however, this is the place to find those neon fishnet stockings that've been haunting your dreams, or those jeans with just the right amount of wear and tear. The fact that you can sell some of your own wardrobe back to them helps ignore a bit o' the markup you'll find here.
[2904 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX, 512.480.9922, 12p-7,]

The Warehouse Half-Price: With book resellers, it is always an interesting mix you could be entering into. It is a type of meta-market, reflecting the intellect and passions of an area. With the warehouse-sized Half-Price Books, the area is a cross-section of the UT College Campus, the artists living in the surrounding co-ops, and the die hards who won't go to a Half-Price any smaller than this megalith. This is a great stop to trade in some books and pick up some new ones before heading over to Epochs. Remember, however, to bring only a set amount of cash, or the rare books section may leave you penniless and flying a sign on a street corner.
[, 5555 N Lamar and Koenig, 78751-1073, 512.451.4463]

The Poch: There was once a little coffee shop named Mojo's. If you've been to Kasbah, then you've at least visited the gravesite. The spirit of Mojo's—the customers, employees, art and environment—has been reborn in what is now Epoch Coffee. Epoch started off good, at a location more remote than where Mojo's once stood. Then, it just kept getting better. It's one of the best spots for coffee, with plenty of seating and as much parking as they could scavenge without expanding into the graveyard. The free Internet is best in the dark hours of the night, but carries a weak signal by day. Some of Austin's more interesting darklings spend their waking hours here, and, as it's 24-hours without closing, it remains my favorite place to both work and play.
[, 221 W North Loop Blvd, 78751, 512.454.3762]

Portal: The hop from the North-most outskirt of the Main Drag to Academy of Oriental Medicine area is but a matter of a bus ride. The #239, from Guadalupe and Koenig, goes to North Cross Mall. There, you can exit and wander your way towards Anderson Lane. This small little stretch of Anderson Lane you'll be entering is one of the easiest jewels to pass by in Austin.

de l'Occident a l'Orient...

Trainhop-Point: I've never done this hop, but have had a train pass right by Grape Vine Market at some “why hurry” speeds on two visits now. I remember well the infrared scanners used by immigrations this far South, but that doesn't stop the little wanderlust daemon from waking within me. It goes so slow, that anyone should be able to make the jump. So, so very tempting. Anyone coming South from Dallas should jump off at the huge neon Grapes, and head right into the Grape Vine Market for some spirits. If anyone finds that this is as good a hop to Dallas as my wanderlust tells me it is, then you tell my ass. When carebear wants hugs... carebear gets hugs!

Grape Vine Market: Driving either way on Mo-Pac, it's hard to miss the huge cluster of neon grapes floating to the East of the highway right near the Anderson Lane exit. That, my lovelies, is Grape Vine Market. Grape Vine quite literally has a database on hand of wines throughout the world, and has divided up the large space inside the building between different regions of said world. “Any excuse to go to Grape Vine is a good one,” my brother Tristan has said. There be truth in such madness. Wine browsing (sometimes taste-testing) is at its Austin best here. For the non-wino, who was likely dragged here by their sake-toxicated amigos, there is an entire portion of the store dedicated to imported beers, and then another section to foods and snacks. I'm sure somewhere in the Market they've hidden something that I could lodge a complaint about, but I've either not looked hard enough, or was to merry-buzzed on crimson ambrosia for that particular game.
[, 512.323.5900, 7938 Great Northern Boulevard, Austin, TX 78757]

The Village Graveyard: The intersection of Burnet and Anderson Ln forms a cross over many a dead legend's headstone. I'd heard from my brother Tristan of a coffee shop dubbed “Tex” where some familiar faces gathered. Out and about after a drug test one afternoon, I found myself resting in the shade against a pharmacy looking across the parking-lot at a sign reading “Texpresso.” The Denny's just a block up from Tex was another gathering point. The smoking ban that was barely passed killed both locations. Then, the Starbucks just down the street from them went 24-hours. Many of the same familiar faces showed up again, gathering to what Gaea dubbed "The 24." Just as Summer approached in '07, The 24 was no longer open 24-hours. No more hanging outside smoking over coffee until sunrise. The node remains, however, as does much potential to any strong establishment that would open itself to this node. Hopefully, what rises at these crossroads will not fall in the same manner.

The Academy of Oriental Medicine: If you can find the Village Plaza, then look for the Mexican restaurant and the Alamo Drafthouse Theater. Once you've found the Alamo, walk towards it, but stop when you see a break between the shops on your right. You see how it looks like there's more behind the storefront? Well, there is. I'm going to save a lot for surprise, actually, as this is a primary seduction point to help ease a targeted import into their future role as an Austinite. If you're hungry, sushi at the Korea House [512.458.2477] is excellent (and not cheap). White Crane Herbal Pharmacy [512.323.6720] carries books and meditation tools, not just herbs. Herbs they have as well, and we thank them for it. With all else that has passed away in this area, AOMA is a stable beacon of light I seek out everytime I've returned to this port.
[, 2700 W Anderson Ln]

Alamo Village: The Village Alamo is my favorite. It seems to have the same taste in movies I have, and has its own selection of zany-alternatives playing here and there as does every Alamo I've been into. This Alamo actually kicked me out. To my credit, I had tried to buy a ticket to “Red vs Blue”—a riotous military sitcom using the game Halo to animate the star characters voiced by Rooster Teeth. They were sold out, so I'd gotten in line to save a place for the three friends who did have tickets. Well, an Alamo employee came up and down the waiting line outside the building, asking who wanted to play “Halo” before the movie. The question wasn't “who wants to play 'Halo' before the movie and has paid to stay for the movie.” Therefore, I gladly opted myself to play “Halo” and had to later excuse myself out the door when they asked for my movie ticket.
[, 2700 W Anderson Lane]

Portal: North Cross Mall has been slowly dying for years. What remains active is the nodal part it plays in the Capital Metro bus system. Here's where you'll exit the #239 you can take from near Epoch, and where you can hop the #3 to get to the Arboretum. The bus stops are easily seen from Burnet, although somewhat obscured alongside the road that runs around the back of the mall.

The Yuppy Experience...

REI: I remember the first time I actually took in the price on some of the clothes, gear and other supplies that outdoors stores offer. My first thought was “and people buy these?” Thankfully, I said it out loud, as I tend to talk openly to myself at times. The kid buying climbing gear nearby, with a friendly—almost helpful—smile, walked over and flipped open the booklet for the backpack that the price tag was stamped on. “It has a lifetime warranty,” he said. “It's in their best interest to make this last a long, long time for you. Here, you get what you pay for 'n then some. Lotsa this gear'll have that same price, that same warranty and'll last longer than you'd guess.” It was one of my favorite sessions of being schooled-on I've had the pleasure of oopsing myself into, and he didn't even work there. I wasn't able to get that backpack, but a whole new paradigm had infected me. The REI on the East side of Hwy 183, along Loop 360, is where best to gear up when prepping to get up outta Austin.
[, Suite 200, 9901 Capital of Texas Hwy, 78759, 512.343.5550]

The Arboretum and Duck Pond: You really can't miss the Arboretum if you take Great Hills Trail, from Hwy 183, just West not even a block. It's that forested hive of stores and eateries just to the South. If spending the level of money you can tell this place demands is your thing, then go ga-ga it up for a while and lighten the load on your bank account. There is a book store, however, and a fine selection of moleskin journals be within reach should the need arise. More important is simply the environment. The Arboretum is beautiful, shaded and strangely welcoming. Simply walking the grounds has been a favorite zero-dinero expenditure of my friends and I. Look for the stone steps up against the heavy foliage near the lookout, and you'll find yourself on your way to the duck pond nestled below.
[9607 Research Blvd, Austin, 78759]

360 Point Bridge: If you've already got cardboard, simply walk up the hill from the Duck Pond, scribble down “360 Point” on your board and hold it up along the side of the road. The one time it occurred to me to try, I was picked up in only minutes. You'll know you're there when you reach the not-small-at-all iron bridge. Your destination, should you choose to accept it, is that clearing in the brush atop the granite cliff above you. There's a few paths, all of which ascend to 360 Point Lookout. I highly suggest meditation, breathing exercises or good conversations once you've reached the top.

Fo Guang Shan Hsiang Yun Temple: From 360 Point, walk away from the bridge. If you're driving, you'll need to pull a U-turn. You're going to be looking for a golden Buddha statue on the left (North). If it's before 5p, and on a day they're open, then walk right up the drive, up the stairs and into the temple. If the gates are open, then this means the public's welcome. Mio San, the monk I'm most familiar with here, may come to greet you if you're simply wandering the grounds. None, however, dare disturb the temple with any sound or other sensory abruptness. If any part of you is naturally in tune, you'll feel the sensation of peace that you enter into within those temple walls.
[6720 N Capital of Texas Hwy Loop 360, Austin, TX 78731-1715, 512.346.6789]

Spicewood: From the Buddhist temple, continue your walk back towards 183. You're looking for where Spicewood Springs Rd breaks violently upward and northward on your left (North). Once you get there, jot down “Old Lampasas” on the other side of your board and hold down a spot where drivers could pick you up. Other than by thumb, I've always wanted to see Spicewood by motorcycle. The mountains and valleys you'll be driving through, and the creeks you'll be crossing, make for one of the most stunning journeys within the ATX. When you finally come out on Old Lampasas, head East towards Spicewood Springs Rd, then Spicewood Springs Rd to 183.

Last Call for Weird...

Chuy Chica Boom Boom: Chuy Chica Boom Boom! Chica, chica, chica, chica boom boom! I... I can't stop. This particular stain of Tex Mex upon the city is easily my favorite restaurant. Many of the employees I've seen there off and on for years, and it's rare to find such honest happiness in any waitstaff after such a tenure. On the customer's side of the table, Chuy's has the bad habit of making legends. You'll not be offered, but your damn well gonna ask for it—creamy jalapeno. Don't question this, simply order it when you order your drink. Speaking of which, ordering a Mexican Martini to drink would edge you further into the illusion that your a Chuy's regular. Finally, be sure to get the Chica Chica Boom Boom... or something else with the Boom Boom sauce. Now, I order you to disobey all I just wrote. If you start with this order, you may never branch off and try anything else they offer. With such a flavorful menu of treats, that'd be nondandy of you.
[11680 N Research Blvd at Duval, 78759, 512.342.0011, 11a-10:30p, 4p-7 Happy Hour,]

The Kerb: My brother Keaeg once sent me a text message saying only: “Blackberries. Kerby.” Guess where I ate that night? They call it Kerbey Lane. I've no idea who Kerbey is, and would toss in the guess that it's simply the street name for the first of these restaurants. That still doesn't tell me who the hell Kerbey is. The Kerbey Lane in North ATX is so much more laid back than its family to the South. Kerbeys are what happen when an Austinite takes to the thought that a 24-hour pancake shop is a “good idea.” The Kerb has crappy coffee, is 24-hours and serves pancakes. Here the similarities dither away, and weirdness works its weasley way in the front door. This particular Kerbey is where I first take anyone I am trying to have the city seduce. Order the Kerbey Queso, then exert your right to free-will based on the new-found curiosity of your tongue.
[12602 Research Blvd, 78759, 512.258.7757, 24/7,]

The Bucks: There's only a few good places to really take aim and fire off some choice insults aimed at Williamson County from within Travis County territory. The Starbucks just south of Anderson Mill, on the West side of Hwy 183, happens to be my favorite. I know, I know: “It's a Starbucks!” I've been trying to figure out how a Starbucks got so cool for some time now. My findings are too long to share in this brief summary. Let it be said, instead, that the majority of workers and customers who frequent and tend these walls aren't the assworthy peeps I've found in one Starbucks after another. Hence, we call it “The Bucks.” I'm not the only hitchhiker who has set up camp here, and have ran into many retired hikers or lifers at one or another of the many outdoor tables. If there's one thing this Bucks shares in common with its burnt coffee ancestry, it's the fact that there's no outlets outside. I'm beginning to suspect this is national Starbucks policy, and not happenstance.
[13400 N Hwy 183, Austin, TX 78750, 512.401.6253]

The Tea House: I got to see this little restaurant grow up, and remember when it was only a tea leaf planted in brick. Actually, the building was already there, but I was the one watching as it was completely transformed into The Tea House. In order of least tasty (or nutritious), the four types of Chinese food are: buffet, noodle-shop, restaurant, in-house. The latter you basically have to know someone who was trained in the art of the chopstick if you're going to get any. “Restaurant” Chinese food, however, can be hard to locate depending on the area. There's plenty of should-be Noodle-Shop Chinese food stops that try to pass themselves off as Restaurant Chinese in areas where the local tastebuds haven't been warned not to take noodles from strangers. The Tea House is part Vietnamese, part Chinese cuisine, and is worth the restaurant prices they charge (if before dinner). I know the owner, and know the care taken with this kitchen and staff, and that only adds to my enjoyment of this place.
[13376 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78750-3237, 512.335.0935]

Alamo Lake Creek: The most northern ATX Alamo fortification was built just within Wilco territory. While much that surrounds this area is carbon-copy franchiseville, the Alamo remains a safe haven for beer, pizza and movie's uninterrupted by screaming children and obnoxious adults. For having eight screens, the movie selection's not as varied a mix of “pop” and “art” as other Alamo's, but the shadow politics behind reel distribution is at cause here... not the theater.
[, 13729 Research Blvd]

BB's: B B Rover's is one of my favorite little thieves' dens. It not only has the shadowy corners, but beers from around the world, a patio the nicotine-oriented and a location just within reach, but just far enough to be out of the casual “let's hit a bar” mindset's reach. I've been to many a gathering and celebration held at BB's. While I can't suggest any of the food, the environment and choice of drinks so outshine this shortcoming that any time I have to turn down a trip means an involuntary twinge of uncertainty over the decision.
[, 11a-Midnight, 12101 Jollyville Rd, Austin, TX, 512.335.9504]

Jardin Corona: Beware the mixed drinks! Many an unwary wallet's been loosened as intoxication draws out terribly unbalanced tips, the likes of which are found only in the darkest of Vegas casinos. Not to say you shouldn't drink. But you've been warned. Just be sure not to order any food. The Mexican entrees are simply too tasty to be anything but the work of El Diablo. One bite, and you'll be waking up (weeks later) with a craving only food cooked in the Garden at Starglow's Edge can sate. Don't make the same mistakes that I and so many others have made. It is far too perilous.
[13233 Pond Springs Rd Ste 301, Austin, TX 78729-7136, 512.250.1061]

Squats: I've spent most my time homeless in the Northern ATX along the Travis-Wilco border. As such, I've collected quite a few squats. There are two 24-Hour Laundromats within only a few miles of the other—one on Duval, the other on Pond Springs. I don't think they've ever been officially 24/7, but I've never been escorted out of either by an armed officer or angered owner. There are many office suites and complexes that don't open until mid-morning, and have many a nice shady corner to hide your body in while you're away sleeping. I've slept on a bench through the night, quite in the open, and been harassed by neither cop nor criminal. What I haven't done is pitch a tent, and I'd not suggest it.

Oak Knoll Shell: Fresh kreteks, a good wine selection, many great imported beers—along with the standard headshop fares of rolling papers, cigars and munchies. The Oak Knoll Shell has just about everything other than cheap gas. In fact, they have some hefty prices on that petro they peddle. Don't buy gas, but check out this one-stop supply shop party hop should you be nearby and in need of a drink.
[West Side of Hwy 183, on Oak Knoll]

The North Gate...

Katherine Fleischer Park: Picnics, cookouts and long walks in the rain. The Northern Greenbelt is just large enough to wear off most of your physical energy, should you walk from from one end to the other and back again. If you bring chess pieces, you'll find some eight-by-eights etched into tabletops... some were even designed that way. It makes for a great downshift from the fizz pop crackle stop of the city. Park at the Shopping Center around Thermal Dr and Wells Branch Pkwy, then walk West until you see the greenage going under the road. Walk Northly along the greenbelt.
[GPS: +30 26' 34.76", -97 40' 45.88"]

Freebird's: Despite complaints from the health department about aluminum foil infestations, Austinites just can't say “no” to eating burritos that threaten each eater to “finish each bite, or risk retaliation from the survivors!” If it's your first time, start with a small- or regular-sized burrito. If you think you can actually handle more, then you'll just have to come back. This particular location, snuggled threateningly with a knife right behind Chili's, is well suited for arming up a cooler on your way out for a road trip, or for your way in to picnic it up in a park.
[, 1100 Center Ridge Dr, Austin, TX 78753, 512.251.9701]

Saradora's: There was once such an overflow of ATX Weird that the cities of Round Rock (to the North) and San Marcos (to the South) received such a cloud of second-hand weird that it seemed the smell would never come out. Saradora's, for the corrupt little barista bastarda it was, became the forward battleship in the northern campaign into Round Rock. Over the years, many ships were lost from this fleet. The loss of the USS Saradora was the final assurance of this campaign's failure. As with any heroic loss in a worthy fight, it's best to pay a visit to the fallen's headstone. In this case, it is easy, as it's the shape of a circle. You may also want to visit 101 E Main, where Saradora's made its stand.

Out of the Way? Worth it! More Weirdlings...

Mount Bonnell: Don't let the name fool ya. Austin would fall over backwards should a real mountain show itself. This little hill, however, does make a fine lookout point from which to take in the city. If someone offers the ride, take it. Exit MoPac, Loop 1 on 35th St, going West. Stay on 35th when it tries turning into Balcones Drive. Take a right(NW) on Mount Bonnell Rd, and look for the steps on the left after a bit of an upward drive or hike.

RAD: I can safely say that I remember the night Kelly Newhouse came to the ATX. It was a good night. An even better night was when she kicked off what would become the renegade art scene of Austin. As fire-dancers increase their rhythm to the music, they light the paintings of other artists in a glow found only by fire and night. Tattooed, pierced, multi-colored weirdlings laugh, shout and call down the stars. This is “Raw and Desperate,” a dream made reality that has cut a scarred niche into the ATX.

Jesus Weirdos: My training under four of the Greater Forces left me in an interesting position of being naturally heretical to a huge percentile of the human world's institutions. The shock, therefore, when this little heretic announced he was off to... er... church... was as fun as being personally shocked by finding a Christian Church where the Spirit it was meant to be the wellspring of—and not the container of—has not been dammed, nor closed to any who thirst... nor could I find any trace poisons in this cup from which I drank. In fact, each visit left me both peaceful and energized. The Sunday breakfast starts at 9 in the morning, and the sermon I'll really let speak for itself. Sermon starts at 10.
[, 7406 Newhall Lane, 78746, 512.347.9673, Sundays, 9a-Noon]

Chez Zee: Yeah, yeah... the French know their pastries. In this case, there do be but one target—the Creme Brulee French Toast Platter! This place ain't hiker-friendly, and this plate, at a heft twelve dollars, is a risky venture out of the way for any wayfarer. It's worth it. I've had my tastebuds tear up at just the thought of this succulent sweetmeat. You have a limited window in which to plan your attack, should these words tempt you to, as brunch is a Saturday/Sunday-only event, and only between 9a and 3p. Ignore the rest of the menu, and forgive them their Frenchness. Afterall, they're weird Frenchies.
[, 5406 Balcones Dr, 78731, 512.454.2666]

Kim's: Mi hermano, Tyson, turned me on to this addiction. Bob, he who be “the Shit,” would later remind my flighty ass that, when it comes to Pho, the ATX do have but one choice—Kim Phung's. This isn't a debatable matter of opinion, we're talking about. Kim's collects rewards throughout the city like a hunter collects the heads of prey. Get the regular sized bowl. I've seen only one person finish the large. It is right along the #1 Bus and just south of where the #383 terminates at the North Lamar Transfer Center. In short, your petty defenses against my memetic proselytization be weak, young padawan. Try saying “proselytization” out loud. If you fail, you're indebted to me, and will be until you try some of Kim's pho. If you got it right on the first try, find some way to get ahold of me. No promises, but I might just buy you your first bowl.
[7601 N Lamar Blvd # I, 78752, 512.451.2464]

Amy's: It's Ice Cream. Austinites rage 'bout this place. Even your's truly, who never had his sweet-tooth grow in properly, gives props to Amy's Ice Cream. You've got a menu of “holy creikies, this is gonna hurt me” to choose from. Once you can formulate words loud enough to reach the other side of the counter, they collect your choices in to one pile and you get to watch as they torture and prepare your ice cream while it's still alive. It doesn't get much fresher than fresh-killed ice cream, still bleeding milk down the sides as you eat it. Very hiker friendly, and you have to ask for an application!

ThunderCloud: The name “Jared” is famous in the food industry, as well as in the minds of the many yo-yo dieters of America. Had the boy been to a ThunderCloud, he may have turned out sexy as well as thin. Actually, I take that back, but I'm not deleting it. Homeboy lost nearly three-hundred pounds. While I doubt the publicized method be anything more than a partial truth, that is still one hell of a jog to the finish line. There is a certain smell, however, in most subshops that I always associated with over-processing. In the case of ThunderCloud, you walk in and the thought your nose sends to your mind is “Food!” It'll turn you off to all other subshops. For some real fun, order: “Large Nada Chicken, on Wheat (or White), with Provolone and Marinara.” Each ThunderCloud has its own name for this, but they'll know what the words mean that are coming outta your mouth.

Mangia: I'm not sure if Chicago approves of what Austin's done with stuffed pizza, but Austinites junk up on this scarily affordable (and filling) slice of Italy-gone-weird as if on rampage. The price is just high enough to make a hiker question how heavy their pocket change feels, but low enough to make any day under the umbrella of a paycheck well worth the stop. Mangia cooks for herbivores and carnivores alike, and specializes in catering to both camps. The one complaint I could etch in stone against this place would be that they've opted not to back the “legalize cannibalism now” campaign. As such, they must be considered traitors to the cause!

Zen: I love sushi! I love sushi in that special way fish were meant to be loved. I hate seafood. I hate any fish that's been dead long enough for me to taste it. This is a good time to state that I was raised vegetarian, and usually never order anything with meat... unless it's sushi. I'm a sushi addict. Compared to the “cost a lotta nada” price tag Zen stamps on their sushi, this place has become a constant stop-off to pick up raw fish and the beautiful green horseradish-paste that is wasabi. Sadly, many Zens have begun covering up their outlets so that the Austin-standard of free WiFi has become “free as long as your battery lasts.” The price you use to pay for non-Sushi dishes was once worth it, but this growing trend has lead to picking up only some quick sushi, netting it up inside for a while, then jetting for a place with more power.

[with thanks to my sister Maya for importing me into Austin]

Heart of Prajnaparamita

The Heart of Prajnaparamita Sutra

Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on the Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty, and so released himself from suffering.

Answering the monk Sariputra, he said this:

Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.

The other four aspects of human existence --
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness --
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.

So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.

All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.

The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.

This is truth that cannot be doubted.
Say it so:


Windows Security and Maintenance

While hitchhiking around, I have found that my technical skills have had me fixing more than one computer of a gracious host. In fact, my first laptop I purchased for only $500 dollars (which, at the time, was a third the cost it should have been) because the owner thought it was long gone. It wasn't, it just needed a little touching up and to have a particularly nasty virus removed.

What follows is a brief guide for PC owners (sorry Mac users, you're just going to have to settle for having a Unix-based OS that already borders on perfection). The instructions are geared towards Windows XP, assuming that the computer is set up factory defaults with one hard drive mapped to "Local Drive C:" (and not set up some other funky way). If this isn't you, but you still want to play along, then modify where needed or turn tail now.

The only thing these steps cost is time. Donating this time beforehand saves both time and money in the future.

Legal Stuff: The steps here included are for entertainment purposes only, and are not meant to be followed. The author has no vested interest in system security, and does not actually use any security software or maintenance applications. The links included are not meant to be clicked, and are for effect only. Any names or web-site references have been completely fabricated, and any resemblance they may bear to actual similar applications, sites or people are completely by chance. Mi nombre es Inigo Montoya. You killed mi padre. Prepare to die!


All of these steps will need to be performed from an administrator login to your computer. If you have only one login on your system, then you are already likely logged in as an admin. If you have more, and are unsure, you may want to check ("Start" menu, "Control Panel," "User Accounts") if you are "Limited" or "Adminstrator." If you're limited, logout and into one listed with admin access, or contact those who have admin access.

When you're logged in as an administrator, create a folder (I suggest on your Desktop) that will store your Security and Maintenance shortcuts. This will be your one-stop folder to remind your computer that you love it. If you're not sure how to create this folder, here's how:

1. Right-click anywhere empty on your desktop.
2. From the menu that appears, move your mouse cursor over "New."
3. From the New menu, choose "Folder."
4. Type in an appropriate name for your folder (e.g., "Computer Lovins").
5. Press the "Enter" (or "Return") key on your keyboard when finished.


You should already be using Firefox. If not, hit yourself three times, cry, forgive yourself, then goto this entry, first, before continuing. What remains in need is an application to hunt down malicious applications and data on your system. For that, I suggest Spybot, Anti-Walware, SUPERAntiSpyware and Trend Micro's "HouseCall" (the free online virus scanner). Since you may already be using one or more of these, I'll separate the installation and configuration steps for each.

NOTE: Security should be performed about once a week, every two-weeks at the latest. On some systems, I would suggest a startup scan on their computer. If you want this, then be prepared to wait through each scan every single time you start up your computer.

I originally had typed up a full entry on this section. However, MajorGeeks put a lot of work into creating a more in-depth section. I will reference there exact links when needed.

[incomplete, 2 b continued]

HouseCall: [requires broadband]
1. Click inside this text-box:

2. Once the URL is highlighted, click on the pull-down "Edit" menu and choose "Copy" (If the entire URL doesn't auto-highlight, choose "Select All" from the "Edit" menu, first).
3. Open the Security and Maintenance folder you created.
4. From the "File" menu, navigate to "New," then choose "Shortcut."
5. The "Create Shortcut" window should appear.
6. Holding down the "Ctrl" key on your keyboard, press "V" to paste the URL.
7. Click "Next."
8. Type in a name for the Housecall shortcut (aka, "Trend Micro HouseCall").
9. Click "Finish" once named.
10. Open your new shortcut (which should open HouseCall in Firefox).
11. If you accept the Terms of Use, then check this box.
12. Click the "Launch HouseCall" button.
13. Under "Using Java-based HouseCall kernal," click on the "Starting HouseCall" button.
14. The "Java Platform" should load in the System Tray (in the lower-right section of your screen, just to the left of your System Clock). If not, you should be taken to a screen with instructions on how to install or update your version of Java.
15. When the Security Warning appears, be sure to check the box next to "Always trust content from this publisher."
16. Click "Run."
17. Under "Scan complete computer for [...]," click the "Next" button.
18. Close all video and audio players, and leave your computer alone while HouseCall scans your system. When Step 3 is highlighted, and HouseCall switches to the "Results" tab, the scan is complete.
19. If prompted, click "OK" at the end of the scan.
20. If you have no "Detected Vulnerabilities," skip to Step 25. Otherwise, perform steps 21 thru 23 for each vulnerability.
21. Click on the "More information about this vulnerability and its elimination." below the vulnerability to open a knowledge base article on it.
22. Locate and click the link to download the patch file.
23. Save the file to disk.
24. Run all saved patches once you've finished all other HouseCall steps.
25. Click the button to clean all infections (if any are found).
26. When prompted, confirm the deletions.
27. When the cleaning finishes, exit HouseCall

Once you have all three security applications set up and configured in this way, you should run them at least once a month. I suggest once a week. Spybot, configured this way, you only need to open then walk away. It will update, scan and delete, and you will only need to "OK" out of the application once it's finished. Ad-Aware, you will need to right-click and "Remove" all infections, but it will scan for you as soon as you've opened it. HouseCall is more needy, and you'll have to do some cleaning. However, you can use it to scan individual files you've downloaded if they're suspected of any threats.


Maintenance consists of cleaning your computer's registry using the free "RegSeeker" application, using your system's "Disk Cleanup" to touch up your hard drive, then your system's "Disk Defragmenter" to tune up how your files are stored on your drive. To make this more easy to perform on a monthly basis, I am including a setup section, then how to run each application.

NOTE: This is assuming that you already have WinZip. If not, a free trial can be downloaded from the website.

1. Visit this URL:
2. Scroll to the very bottom, looking for the "::FREEWARE::" box.
3. Click on the top "Download RegSeeker" link.
4. Click on the button next to "Download Now."
5. When prompted, choose to "Open With WinZip."
6. When the download completes, WinZip should open.
7. In WinZip, click the "Extract" button.
8. When the Extract window opens, locate the "Security and Maintenance" folder you created.
9. Double-click on this folder.
10. Click on the New Folder icon in the top-right corner of the Extract window.
11. Type in a name for your RegSeeker folder.
12. Click "OK."
13. Click on this folder in the Extract window to highlight.
14. Click "Extract."
15. Once extraction completes, close WinZip.
16. Open your Security and Maintenance folder.
17. Open your RegSeeker folder.
18. Locate the RegSeeker.exe file.
19. Right-click on this file.
20. Choose "Copy" from the context-menu that appears.
21. Go back to your Maintenance and Security folder.
22. Right-click on an empty space in this folder.
23. Choose "Paste Shortcut" from the menu.
24. Click on the "Start" menu.
25. Navigate to "All Programs," then "Accessories," then "System Tools."
26. Right-click on "Disk Cleanup."
27. Choose "Copy."
28. Go back to Maintenance and Security, then Right-click on an empty space.
29. Choose "Paste Shortcut."
30. From "Start," go back to "All Programs" > "Accessories" > "System Tools."
31. Right-click on "Disk Deframenter."
32. "Copy," then go back to your Security and Maintenance folder.
33. Right-click and "Paste Shortcut."
34. Locate that RegSeeker zip file where it downloaded.
35. Drag the zip to your Recycle Bin, then empty it.

1. Double-click to open your RegSeeker shortcut.
2. In the left sidebar of RegSeeker, click "Clean the Registry."
3. Click the "Auto Clean" button.
4. Click on "Select All."
5. Click on "Go!" to start.
6. Close all video or audio players, and let the scan run.
7. When prompted, click "OK."
8. Quit RegSeeker.

Disk Cleanup:
1. Open Disk Cleanup.
2. Wait while calculating. If waiting more than an hour, close and do not use Cleanup.
3. Click the "More Options" tab.
4. Under "System Restore," click "Clean up."
5. Confirm the deletion.
6. When finished, click the "Disk Cleanup" tab.
7. Click the "OK" button to begin cleanup.
8. Confirm the cleanup.
9. Wait while cleaning. You'll know cleaning is complete when the application closes itself.

Disk Defragmenter:
1. Open Disk Defragmenter.
2. Click the "Defragment" button.
4. After analysis, you may be prompted whether to continue. Choose to defragment.
5. Close all other applications when defragmenting, and let your computer work.
6. You will be prompted once defragmentation is complete.
7. "OK" out of the prompt.
8. If defragmentation results are displayed, close out of these.
9. Close Disk Defragmenter.

You should run these three, in this order, at least once a month. Your computer, if you've never done this before, will likely perform better to a noticeable extent. The setup involved is lengthy, but later and more regular uses mean the process is more simple, and finished with more quickly. The time you will save on your computer, and the addition to your computer's life, are worth the investment.

NOTE: The author has no love for third-party applications that install spyware, or are otherwise ill coded, which may not run correctly once these utilities have been run. Instant Messengers, free Tetris games, and much more are all suspect. Shop more wisely, as these applications drain your system's performance power and may intend it direct harm.

Neurotically Yours

Neurotically Yours
(or, "The Almighty Church of Foamy")

Production Company: iLL WiLL PreSS
Creator: Jonathan Ian Mathers

I take time out to laugh each morning. It's healthy... and I have a dark sense of humor to sate. One of my stops is iLL WiLL PreSS. Foamy, a true rantmaster, is not a happy squirrel... and he's out to share this unhappiness with his viewers (as well as the human goth chick named Germaine that seems more an unwilling sidekick than a friend or owner).

Some of my favorites... that will be your favorites very soon ;}

[with thanks to Tristan for my introduction]

"Free your mind!"

[2010.07.24] - Added YouTube link and videos and removed original section on psychosis and neurosis.

Cyanide and Happiness

"Cyanide and Happiness"

kris-wilson [deviantART]

Feed: RSS

[copy-and-paste code to place animated image on your page]

"Cyanide and Happiness" copyright


Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @


Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @


Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @


Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @