One of my dreams for Austin–not ranking up there with my margarita-and-pool dreams, but a dream nonetheless–was to discover a kickass local band.

I saw the Ghost Wolves’ picture in the Austin alternative weekly, in which their huge dog was prominently featured. My response was naturally “ZOMG PUPPYYYY!!!” and then I read that Alejandro Escovedo liked them and had taken them on tour, and I was sold. Sadly, I didn’t get to see them live–they played an in-store at a record shop the day I left, because Alyssa can’t have nice things.  I love the swampy, bluesy, dirty tone of “Gonna Live.”The chorus also came in handy to sing to myself when I was on two very dicey, turbulent plane rides home. If I was gonna go, I was gonna go out watching “Parks and Rec” (albeit soundlessly) with a new song in my head, drinking a Dr. Pepper.



A field guide to rock & roll art in Austin

Among our heavy schedule of drinking margaritas,eating queso, and hanging out on our hotel’s rooftop pool, Amanda and I have done a LOT of walking, some of which was purposeful, and some of which was not. We’ve stumbled into a lot of fine art that befits the Live Music Capital of the World.

This Joan Jett one, by Shepard Fairey, is my favorite. It’s at 304 W. 4th St.


Willie Nelson. It was unveiled on 4-20, 2012, just after 4:20 pm, which was allegedly a coincidence. A coincidence LIKE A FOX. Rumor has it that Willie keeps a pot stash hidden somewhere in the statue in case of zombie apocalypse. I assume it’s a false rumor…but you never know Willie. (“Gotta be prepared,” my dad said when I texted him the picture.) Willie Nelson Blvd. (2nd St.) and Lavaca.Image

This place is a design studio now, but I assume it used to be a club. Did I angle it this way specifically to get Prince’s beautiful tiny face in the picture? Maaaaaybe… even if it did mean I missed out on a fine likeness of Sam Beam’s beard. 612 W. 4th St.


Johnny Cash. I didn’t pay attention to where these things were at the time, so I’ve had to Google all the locations. Most sites I can find just say “Rio Grande, just below 6th Street.”


There’s a Stevie Ray Vaughan statue in a park next to Lady Bird Lake that I didn’t photograph, but I DID voluntarily hike through for at least 2 miles, so…there’s that. It’s probably worth a check-out if you’re in Austin and into him, which I am not, particularly. I’m waiting for Britt Daniel’s likeness to be cast in bronze.

Little Monsters

I have seen one of Lady Gaga’s boobs.

Suffice it to say, I had a BALLER space at the artRave. I stood directly under the clear runway from the main stage to the middle-of-the-floor stage, so I can tell you that Lady Gaga’s sneakers are of the LA Tech brand. (I had hoped it was LA Gear, but no.)

Photographic evidence:





I’ve been off my game.

2 weeks ago I didn’t add any new music. Last week I didn’t either. But here’s what I did over the weekend instead:

1. Celebrated my friend Erin’s second MA at the CC Club. There was whiskey.


2. Hangover breakfast at Glam Doll: chocolate-bacon, the espresso cruller, and a new one with a gin glaze and a coconut-wasabi cream filling. They named that one after Jeremy Messersmith, but I think they should call it the Alyssa. PS: shamefully, there were even more doughnuts than just these three. (BUT I DRANK A LOT OF WHISKEY ON FRIDAY.)

3. A walk around Lake Calhoun

4. Dinner on the patio at the Black Forest. Meat aspic was involved. The waitress told Ben that he “looked like the kind of guy who’d like aspic, so I didn’t warn you what was in it.” Am I flattered or offended that that my boyfriend looks like he’d like jellied meat?

5. Guiltily reading on the couch all day Sunday

6. Mogwai! I would like to do a study on the average height of a Mogwai fan. They’re big. I know because I stood behind all of them.



This little introvert had a very extroverted weekend. Wedding+birthday party+a day at the races (summer goal: learn to somewhat knowledgeably bet on horses)…it was all very fun, but A LOT of people.

I heard this song probably four times on Saturday alone. And while I’m on the record as saying Pitbull is “exceptionally mediocre” (which I know is an oxymoron, but I stand by it), I love this song. Only a little guiltily.

There’s more to life than books…

I learned about the Centurions, who read 113 books in 2013, from a book by Donalyn Miller, one of my teaching heroes. And because I teach a writers’ workshop, consisting mostly of kids who read below grade level, and because I am constantly trying to be like “BOOKS ARE AMAZING AND THEY ARE YOUR FRIENDS” I decided we were going to compete in a reading contest. Since January, I’ve been on a mission to read 114 books this year. (If the eight kids in my workshop, working as a team, read more than 57 books by the time school got out, when I should be halfway through, we’d do “something awesome” on our last day of class. Of course eight kids should be able to read that many books, but they’re mostly really reluctant readers.)

I don’t even know if the Centurions are still a thing this year (I think it’s mostly a Twitter thing, and I’m too verbose for Twitter) but regardless of my writers, it still sounded like one of those ridiculous but easily quantified goals I like to set. (“I’m going to eat at a restaurant for every letter of the alphabet!” “I’m going to do my own 101 Cookbooks project!” PS: both of those goals became my bitches.)

Here’s what I read in April:

Orange Is the New Black was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be kind of “oh, poor little rich girl” but I genuinely felt sorry for Piper, and there were a lot of references to prison reform, and it generally was not as White Lady In Prison as I expected. And then I started watching the show, which is as good as everyone says.

Through the Children’s Gate wasn’t as good as Adam Gopnik’s book about Paris, Paris to the Moon, but I did like the essay about his therapist.

A Land More Kind Than Home was basically modern Southern Gothic, meaning it was awesome.

The Marriage Plot convinced me that Middlesex  is probably the only Jeffrey Eugenides book I’ll ever really love.

Literarily speaking, I don’t think I’m supposed to like The Glass Castle more than The Liars’ Club, but I really did.

I almost always like oral histories, and I almost always like the books I read about China, but The Corpse Walker just sort of made me hate the ’70s type of New Journalism. I don’t wanna know your opinion! I wanna hear about the safecracker!

The Emperor’s Children was like the worst of postmodernism and the worst of modernism all tied up into one pretentious book with unlikable characters and words that even I didn’t know. (Believe the Goodreads reviews, not all the “best of” lists.)

I wanted to like The Liffey Flows On By because I met the author at Magers & Quinn and she was very sweet, but this was awful. Like, if “Days of Our Lives” took place in early- to mid-20th-century Ireland. Bastard children, and secret identities, and a million typos…unless someone actually was thrown in goal, not gaol.

I put a lot of time into Shakey, even though I’m not a huge Neil Young fan. At the end of almost 740 pages, what I came away with was that Neil Young has made a lot of fantastic, epic music, an almost equal amount of near-unlistenable music, and he’s kind of a dick. Also, I’m pretty sure that the author wouldn’t approve of the fact that “Cinnamon Girl” is the only Young song I much like.

Blankets was really good on its own, but it endeared itself to me even more because there was a scene that I recognized from the Milwaukee museum, a formative place in my youth (the T. Rex eating the triceratops.)