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Hello, FORT WORTH FOOD PARK!!!

As a devout follower of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race,” which recently completed its second season, I was thrilled to find out that I could scratch road trip to NYC so that I can consume a grilled cheese sandwich  bought off a truck from my to-do list (OK, I still want to do that, but you know what I mean). Heck, hitting the various food trucks in Austin (which has had its own race representative), has typically been a highlight of any of my trips down I-35.

Now, a north Texas denizen has to trek no further than Fort Worth for a moveable feast. The doors (and windows) to Cowtown’s new food truck park have officially opened.  Shoot, Fort Worth might now be considered the states food truck capital soon enough. 

For now, the park will be open for dinner on Thursday and for lunch and dinner on Friday-Sunday.  Located in a lesser urbanized area of Fort Worth, tenants are hoping to expand their services to six days a week as the spring season and even other developments move in.  Plans are also in the works for a horseshoe pit and a children’s sandbox, in hopes of creating a destination spot for families.  But for the time being, the six food trucks currently slinging burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, and cupcakes, will create quite the destination spot for me and anyone else with a similar food truck obsession.

 Here’s some of the trucks offering up their brand of goods…

http://www.thegoodkarmakitchen.com/

 http://yestaco.com/

 http://www.jakesburgers.net/

 http://www.redjettsweets.com/Home.html

 http://www.leesgrilledcheese.com/

 http://nammitruck.com/

Ok, promise. This is it. The last time I go out of my way to discuss how great things were at this years Fun Fun Fun Fest. In fact, you don’t even have to read my thoughts anymore. Just give this video. Look and see for yourself.

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 from Guerilla Suit on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago, our resident funny man, Dave Little, mentioned that when he hits Austin, he really digs making trips to both Waterloo Records and to Book People. Both independently owned store-fronts are more or less treasured Austin landmarks. With that said, however, you don’t really hear them mentioned in the same breath as the South Congress Bats, Barton Springs, The State Capital Building, or even the glorious den of iniquity that is Sixth Street when it comes to the standard, and perhaps tired, must-see Austin attractions.

The sad fact of the matter is that it had been way too long since I, myself, had darkened the doors of either establishment. My recent trips to Austin typically centered around festivals or quick day trips, and there was rarely time for the leisurely browsing time that visiting these two places would surely require of me. That all changed a couple of weeks ago, though. As my wife, son and I made our way into town from Dallas for the FFF Fest, I decided that we wouldn’t be hitting I-35 North on Sunday until I had traversed every shelf and display of both Book People and Waterloo Records, both located on Lamar Street near the flagship Whole Foods.

After strong and spicy Bloody Mary’s at the original Kerbey Lane restaurant (I know, I know, it’s touristy, but it’s really great, regardless), the family and I pointed the car towards Book People. Open since 1970, it’s tough to imagine more than a handful of similar book havens of this caliber in the entire country. Celebrity book signings and a mammoth inventory are only two of the many great qualities of this three-level shop. I pursued the gigantic music section (“Ooh, Jay-Z’s Decodedis in paperback, now??”) while the Mrs. and our four year old son got all up in the crowded and kid-eriffic storytime, set in what can only be described as an indoor amphitheatre for little ones. As I resisted the urge to pick up an autographed Jonathan Franzen novel on the way out, I knew that I wouldn’t be so prudent when we left and then hit Waterloo Records

Whether its the dozen or so iPod-powered listening stations that seem to be more curated by knowledgeable, discerning lovers of music than simply cobbled together by label publicists and trend-watchers, or the large room of all things vinyl, this store will never go unvisited by me again when I visit Austin.

After choosingSlint’s Spiderland vinyl, as well as the 33 1/3 series book that discusses the same album, I gave the first few tracks of themuch-maligned Metallica/Lou Reed release, Lulu a listen. After thinking the first track, “Brandenburg Gate” wasn’t so bad after all, I asked one of the store’s employees what he thought of the bashing the album’s been taking. He was quick to say that he really liked the first track, but wasn’t too keen on the rest. So, great minds and all, right?

So, if reading Little’s column didn’t compel you to visit these jewels of independent commerce as it did me, I can only hope that you feel as such now. If not, well, that’s one less person standing in my way at the vinyl bins next time.

So, a couple of weeks ago, at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, thousands were treated to some blistering performances that were every bit as extreme as had been promised. With metal, electronic dance, hip-hop and alternative comedy acts making up a large portion of the weekend long bill, extreme is the only way to properly describe the sets that took place on four different stages over the course of three days. Check out my article from that week’s Dallas Observer, and check out a few more thoughts below…

 
 

The first set I took in at FFF Fest; Big Freedia got everyone's rump shaking. Hard.

 

Russian Circles - Before that Friday night, I simply wasn’t aware of this well-regarded band that excels in post-rock style metal. Without singing a word, this group pummeled the stage into smithereens as they featured tunes from they rhythmic, groove-heavy and bombastic recently released album, Empros. Easily the biggest surprise for me over that weekend, this Chicago-based trio had me feeling horrible about my modern musical IQ, since this was the first I was ever hearing from them. They ruled.

 
 

The Murder City Devils were great, but the Russian Circles set that ended just before this one stole some of their thunder.

 

Public Enemy - They did what they do and have done for so long. They owned the stage. They weren’t flakes, they weren’t divas and they hit the stage pretty much on time and tore through the classics such as “911 is a Joke” and “Fight the Power.” It was just one of those sets where you were just happy to know that you were witnessing a legendary group show why they so legendary.

 
 

Yet another crappy picture from me. This is Donald Glover inside of a jam-packed Comedy tent.

 

Donald Glover - The guy from one of the best, and least watched, comedies on TV, Community, offered a hilarious and taboo-filled 30 minutes that had the hundreds of people watching on cracking up at everything form his impression of Michael Cera doing a Shaft impression to his thoughts on how homeless people freak him out and intrigue him, all at once. He performed his hip-hop set later as rapper Childish Gambino, but we didn’t catch that.

The Joy Formidable - The band that I was personally looking forward to catching the most, the Welsh trio, led by Ritzy Bryan, didn’t disappoint in the least. Playing a 40 minute set consisting of tunes from their breakthrough album, The Big Roar, Bryan commanded the stage with a fiery and almost angry presence. It’s no wonder why this band got picked to open a few shows for The Foo Fighters.

The festival's MVP, Ritzy Bryan from The Joy Formidable. She dominated.

Austin Daily Press Food Truck - The team that almost took home the prize in Season One of The Great American Food Truck Race, brought home the prize for the best Caprese Sandwish I’ve ever had. I typically need a great deal of meat on my sammys, but this pressed offering, featuring gooey mozzarella and basil blew me away.

Hometown heroes, Okkervill River shook up the late afternoon crowd.

There were tons of great sets, great food and great people watching. There’s just no question that this is every bit the go-to festival as its bigger brother, Austin City Limits.

It's tough to beat the skyline of downtown Austin as a fitting festival backdrop.

I know, I know, we’ve been talking about running a bunch lately, but you know what? It’s fun, right? Right.

Well, add the sense of impending, food-driven joy that comes from Thanksgiving morning to a 5k, and it’s even better, we think. Come on. Lets be honest, we all know that well eat so much through the day. It’ll be good to make some extra room for that extra slice of pie by getting in a few miles before the family gathers together.

As it turns out, There are several Turkey Trots that will take place on Thanksgiving morning all over the state. Check these out below for information on the one or ones in your area.

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I was all up in the grill of Austin’s Auditorium Shores this past weekend enjoying the extreme and often hardcore offerings of this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest. Headlined by the likes of Public Enemy, a diva-esque and dissappoointing Danzig, Spoon, Slayer and Passion Pit, the festival was a blast. One of my favorite sets from the weekend was the Friday night performance from Seattle’s Murder City Devils. Above, there’s a video of a pretty awkward interview with the band. I’m not familiar with ATX Music Mag, but it sounds decent enough. Perhaps I shouldn’t judge it based upon this interview alone. Below is a clip from the performance that really busted the stage to pieces. The clip itself has horrible audio, but it was taken from a camera that basically held itself about two inches above my head, as I was in the pit area taking phots just in front of this specific cameraman. Plus, you at least get an idea for the type of fire these guys threw at the audience, even if the audio isn’t great. Later in the week, I’ll have a few thoughts on the performances and items from the weekend that really left an impression.

Recently, we couldn’t help but notice that everyone around us seemed to be wearing cozy long-sleeve t shirts that bore the name of some race that the person wearing the shirt had presumably run. Honestly, we got a little jealous. Heck, we even ran a 5k in Irving a couple of weeks ago. Good fun. The shirt was horribly ugly though, which was a bummer, to say the least.

For those of you who may have also recently caught yourself feeling a slight ping of jealousy over someone else’s racing shirt, there are tons of options available to you. Perhaps you might want to give one of  these upcoming runs a look and see if your up for running, even of the shirt turns put to be hideously unwearable …..

- The Undy Run (White Rock Lake – Dallas): This Saturday, run in your boxers and support the search for a cure for Colon Cancer.

- The Hill Country Pumpkin Run (Kerville): Another run on this busy 5k weekend.

- Cowboys and Kids 5k (Mesquite): Help the teachers out by running a couple of miles, why don’t ‘ya?

- The San Antonio Rock & Roll Half Marathon: Get a serious run in while you seriously rock out. this is one of the bigger running events in the state, these days.

I officially give up. There is now too much information. Even when I try to learn, my brain informs me that, due to circumstances beyond my control, I am closed. Recently, I was in Austin. I know, look at me! World traveler. And when I’m in Austin, I always visit two of my favorite places. Waterloo Records and Book People. They are across the street from one another. Very convenient. I get very excited thinking about it. Music and books are weaved throughout my life. On my table next to my drinking chair sits at least 20 CDs and 30 books. Whenever I am sad I look at my table. I look at my table all of the time.

I walked into Waterloo Records. It’s organized chaos. Music is alphabetized and categorized for both enjoyment and protection. There is nothing I have to have, which means I am not looking for anything in particular, which causes me to be rudderless, which makes me nervous. I have several hours before I have to be anywhere, so you think that would be a perfect scenario for leisurely browsing. Nope. I wander over to the listening station and gaze at the selections. Okay, I like Lindsey Buckingham. Great guitarist. Plays with his thumb. Had sex with Stevie Nicks back when she was prettier and I had bangs. I fumble with the headphones and try to put them on over my hat, which I’m wearing because I am bald and don’t have sunscreen. My hat falls off. I pick up my hat and drop my sunglasses. I put the headphones back on the hook and knock several Wilco CDs off their perch and onto the head of a baby sitting quietly in a stroller. Until then. I decide I’m more in the mood for books, so I leave. Quickly.

As I enter Book People, I am greeted politely by a staff member who apparently hasn’t heard that I am a one man flash mob. I decide to get some coffee from a woman who would have to do some major disassembling of her face to pass through a metal detector. I figure a double espresso with steamed milk is the perfect companion to help me in my quest to find the perfect book that hooks me in the first few pages like a deep sea fisherman and keep me engaged for the next 400 pages so that when I finish I feel both a sense of accomplishment and worn out from my word journey.

But it doesn’t happen. I pick up several books that the staff recommends on a note card, begin to get the jitters from the caffeine jolt, leave the books on a display where they don’t belong and make a beeline for the bathroom.

Sometimes, there are more important things than the arts.

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Dave Little is a Dallas-based stand-up comedian, writer, musician and actor. He’s funny for Best of Texas twice a month, but he’s funny all the time on his website www.lovedavelittle.com.

 

It’s doubtful that any of you out there are aware of this, but I can’t help but be. Austin one-man-blues-devil Scott Biram was one of the two subjects of my very first post for this here blog. By no means am I suggesting that I was the first to write about him. In fact, I was way behind on him. Way behind.

Needless to say, I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. As it turns out, a ton of others will soon be trying to do the same thing in terms of Biram’s career. Thanks to some recent happenings, Biram’s profile is raising at a nice and rapid rate. Most notable, perhaps is that two of his songs “Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue” and “Lost Case of Being Found” will be feature on October 25th’s episode of the hit FX drama Sons of Anarchy.

Talk about an apt pairing of singer to show. His tales and overall sound are every bit as gritty as the characters and story lines of the biker-gang that inhabits the town of Charming, CA.

Also, be sure to check out the latest Austin Chronicle. Biram’s featured as the cover boy there and writer Austin Powell does a bang-up job in delivering a story that’s more than worth reading.

Oh, by the way, Biram’s new record is out, too. Word has it that Bad Ingredients, his latest from Bloodshot, is yet another grimy, desperate gem.

A few months ago, we discussed what exhibits were being showcased in some of our states best museums. We figured it would be a good time to see what new things were going on. You know, just so you have something to do and stuff.

Dallas Museum of Art: Mark Bradford ~ The DMA focuses on this emerging, modern artist. According to the museum’s website, Bradford “ is best known for his large-scale abstract paintings made from a variety of collaged materials.” For many North texans, this seems like an exhibit that would typically be found in Ft. Worth, so it’s pretty cool to have it land in Dallas’ Art District.

Museum of Fine Arts Houston ~ We could stop with two words: King Tut. But we wont. This gem of Houston’s stellar museum district has too many other great thigns going on right now. If the lines are too long for Tut, or tickets are sold-out, we suggest the The Spirit of Modernism exhibit. Thanks to a gift from a friend of the museum, John R. Eckel, MFAH has only built a stronger case as perhaps the prime must-visit museum in all of the state.

Harry Ransom Center (Austin): Banned, Burned, Siezed and Censored ~ On the heels of wonderful, literary exhibitions (see: Kerouac’s scrolls for On The Road and the recently concluded Tennessee Williams exhibit), this Austin treasure’s latest exhibit ”reveals the rarely seen ‘machinery’ of censorship in the United States between the two world wars. It’s also more than worthy to note that the permenet collection of the Ransom center has one of the only five Gutenburg Bibles in the US. In terms of literary history, it’s pretty hard to top that one.

Kimbell Art Museum (Ft. Worth): Caravaggio & His Followers in Rome ~ What can be said about this museum that hasn’t been said by legions of admirers already? Not much really. In fact, the jewel of Ft. Worth’s excellent arts district is worthy of one simply showing up without even knowing what’s currently travelring through, thanks to the museum’s high standards and historically-proven track record of being beter than so many others at what they do. So, with that said: Just go.