Monday, July 14, 2008

June issue Rare Magazine, Austin Neighborhoods

It's been over a year now that I've been writing for Rare Magazine. Congratulations to them for the continued success and growth. It's quite evident every single month that more and more of you are reading it. Subscribe today here:

Grab the July issue out today. I wrote about Douchebag guys in their 20's. I originally titled it "ode to Bobby Bones". I think you will see why when you read the issue.

Here is what I wrote for the June Austin Neighborhoods issue:

Am I cool enough to live in my own city? Austin’s “hip factor” has spun out of control and finding a neighborhood where you fit in is getting tougher and tougher.

I am going to attempt something that is probably going to upset a lot of people. I am going to attempt to rank Austin’s Coolest Neighborhoods. I imagine anyone that lives in one of these neighborhoods might be a little too close to this subject. I think there are a lot of hip, eclectic neighborhoods in central Austin that are difficult to define. Let this be a newcomers guide to quirky things us long time Austinites are well aware of.

There are many surveys out there that rank neighborhoods on crime, schools, parks, levels of educations, etc… Not me. I’m going for pure hipness. I’m not saying I’m the most in vogue, trendsetter this town has to offer, but I know it when I see it. I love this city and I’m offering my time and knowledge to rank Austin Coolest neighborhoods for you.

10 Tarrytown

Everyone that lives in Tarrytown bitches about the mosquito’s. Once your McMansion was built there shouldn’t be enough yard to have a run in with bugs, quit your bitchin. Big props to T-town for having a strip center owner with the sack to ban meat and leather. I admire the owner for putting her ethics before the almighty dollar. I can cross mopac to get my cabrito, leather belts and boots. I’ll switch to salads, suspenders and aqua socks!

9 Hyde Park

When I was in college, I rented in Hyde Park and always dreamed of living there. This was where hippieville used to thrive. It was the hub of the co-op mentality, the birth of organic, commuting on bikes, buying local etc… And then a bunch of yuppies have come in and Pottery Barned the hell out of it. Quit making it so damn pretty. A porch swing should be rusty, not bedazzled. HP has slipped down my list over the years, but still hangs on to the top ten because musicians are still renting all the garage apartments. Does Mike still have notes posted all over Hyde Park gym like “if your pee pee is too short, please sit down to pee”. Classic.

8 East Austin

I love so many things about East Austin I don’t have the time and space to mention it all. I love the authentic, inexpensive restaurants. I love the neighborhood bars. I love some of the interesting business concepts like Arturo’s PiƱata’s y Moffles (mufflers). If you count the trailers serving food and frozen novelites, this neighborhood has to have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the city. I just hope the gringo’s moving in there embrace it’s current culture and don’t try to change it.

7 Clarksville/West End

This gets my strongest bid for folks who love location. Everything in this area seems packed in and there are cars everywhere. Either everyone owns about 5 cars apiece or every one of them has offered to house a starving musician…and his van. I get frustrated with Texans for opting for pure square footage. It’s an ego trip or something. This area is the antithesis of that. They are willing to give up space for location. This is one of the few areas not being torn to the ground for a rebuild… and they are not afraid to use outrageous exterior colors or cement bicycles or armadillos to the side of their house. Because of the UT housing in close proximity, you kids might come home speaking Chinese or Russian. Diversity at it’s best.

6 Westlake/Rollingwood

This neighborhood is great if you can tolerate all the political unrest. If only Bob Marley was here to get new and old to shake hands. I’ve learned to appreciate the naturalscape and applaud their efforts to keep it a place that could burst into flames at any moment. I love how the deer just stand there and stare at you as if to say “Go ahead, I’m gonna eff up your Cayenne S and my life sucks anyway…I’d flip you off but I got a damn hoof”. This neighborhood gets props for being more liberal, interesting and eclectic than anyone realizes. Too bad none of the neighbors come within 100 ft of each other.

5 Highland Park West/Balcones

The ONLY thing stopping this neighborhood from numero uno is location and the fact they have to use Mopac to get anywhere. I’m a sucker for well built cool architecture from the 50’s and 60’s and there are some real gems in this hood. I love the mix of young families with bikes, trikes and tree swings in the yard, next to memaw and peepaw making a run to the dumpster with the dirty Depends. It’s one of the least pretentious neighborhoods in the city and I love that so many of them are preserving some of the old school integrity in their homes, although I’ve seen some of my favorite mid-century homes get bulldozed to the ground in a day. Shame on you!

4 Barton Hills

When I bought my last house, Barton Hills was my first choice. Problem is, no one ever leaves so there’s rarely much on the market. I love that there seems to be no social class there. Doesn’t matter how big your house is or what you do for a living. I imagine people having real interesting conversations about real things that matter. I also love that this neighborhood is where all the broken pets seem to have been adopted (one eye, missing leg, perhaps a stutter). My only beef with Barton Hills is that everyone spends their entire paycheck at REI. Too many pockets, backpacks, fanny packs, adventure caps, canteens and compasses. It’s creepy.

3 South Congress/South Lamar

When I first moved to Austin this was flat our hookerville. Many Texas politicians are quite sad this area has been cleaned up. They don’t know what to do when in town for legislature anymore. This area is filled with 30 somethings who apparently don’t have to be anywhere at any certain time… EVER. Their days are filled with coffee shop visits and vintage store browsing. Driving through this neighborhood area it is apparent that everyone is a bike messenger or aspires to be one. So will someone, for the life of me, tell me how they can all afford 500,000 dollar homes. Big props to those who haven’t sold out to builders and are hanging onto those 800 sq. ft. homes. Without you, this neighborhood would be ruined by all the newbies.

2 Bouldin Creek

This area just oozes cool. They are in for trouble though. The home prices and new modern homes are going to bring in a ton of people who “think they are cool” and they are going to dork it all up. The art to living in this neighborhood the right way is spending as little as you can on; cars, landscaping, personal hygiene, haircuts, or clothing. If you are going to spend money, spend it on; music fests, piercings, tats, hemp clothing and Eastern medicine. No one in Bouldin works for the Man. I admire that.

1 Travis Heights

I have always wanted to live in this neighborhood but I’m afraid I would never fit in since I don’t have a Kiln. It’s very popular to be a white person with dreadlocks and to look as if you are heading to or from a Renaissance festival. Congratulations on spending more annually on the health of your trees than on yourself. There’s a difference between being “Cool” to attract attention or just “Being Cool”. Travis Heights is the latter and that’s why it’s my pic for Austin’s Coolest Neighboorhood 2008. Too bad I can’t even afford to rent your detached studio.

Honorable mentions… neighborhoods on the rise.

Downtown, Crestview, North Loop.

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