Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another Summer Camp for Kids

This one comes from my friend Kathryn. I wish I was young enough and had the time to sign up for this one. And don't forget, I have a couple of summer camps myself. Details here.

Note from Kathryn:

Dear parents,

We will be offering our 5th Spanish Day Camp for Girls this summer. The camp
will take place during the weeks of June 15-19, June 22- 26, July 20- 24,and
Aug. 17-21. We will meet in the afternoons from 1 - 4. It will be at our
home on Preston Ave. and will be offered to girls entering grades 1 - 6.

As we did the last 4 summers, we will keep the ratio of campers to
counselors/assistants/helpers very low. (The past few years it has been
3:1!) We will say everything in Spanish and English, while we cook really
good food, sing, learn Mexican dances, do art projects, go on nature walks,
play card games, play lotería with our new vocabulary, make Oaxacan hair
braids, and swim.

The camp is always a lot of fun! Each summer I have 4-5 assistants who are
studying Spanish in middle and high school. The campers LOVE becoming
friends with these teenaged girls. Another cool thing about the camp is that
the girls come from schools from all over town, AND they get to know girls
of all ages.

Some years, we have learned about a different country each day, so at the
end of the week, the campers will have learned about the food, music, art,
and vocabulary of 5 different countries where Spanish is spoken. Other
years, we have had a theme such as CORN ( maíz, elote, choclo), and have
based all our activities( art, vocab, music, cooking) around that theme.

Often we have guests who tell the girls about what it was like to grow up in
a Spanish speaking country. The girls have learned how to cook plantains (fr
om a Cuban friend), how to make their own toys (from a friend who grew up in
Costa Rica), how to carry a jug of water on their head (from a friend who
was volunteering in a small town in Mexico), and what it was like to work in
an orphanage in Guatemala (from my cousin).

The cost will be $215 for one week of camp, and if your daughter signs up
for more than one week, the cost will be $200 for each additional week. Your
payment will hold your daughter's spot in the camp. There are some
scholarships available each week.

I hope your daughter will join us! Feel free to call (477 1513) or write
with questions. If you would like to talk to the moms of any of our previous
campers, just let me know. Please forward this email to anyone who might be

Thank you!

Kathryn Anderson

1513 Preston Ave., 78703

477 1513

Friday, March 27, 2009

Office of Good Deeds: Whimsical Request

Hello Everyone,
First of all, because I like to let you know, I have a new post up at the Austinist. If you like it, please recommend it.

Second, and MUCH more importantly, I am making a whimsical request on behalf of the Office of Good Deeds, my little pet project. Most often, I make requests for stuff like blood donations for folks in emergencies, or food/clothing donations for folks having a hard time.

This time around, I want to help raise some funds for my friends, Kristine and Garreth, who won the recent 2nd Annual Austin Regional Grilled Cheese Invitational. Unfortunately, I couldn't taste the winning sandwich, as it involved mangoes, and I am, sadly, deathly allergic to mangoes. (God, I love mangoes, which is how I found out about the deadly allergy.)

As winners, K & G get to fly to LA next month to compete in the BIG COMPETITION. They have been given one plane ticket, to help them get out there. Now they need a second ticket and a little dough to cover expenses like room, board, and ingredients.

Now, I know these are hard times for everyone. But I was just thinking-- if everyone who reads this kicks in just one or two bucks-- just ONE OR TWO BUCKS-- we could really give them a leg up and help them represent this fine city. All you need to do is fish a crumpled dollar bill out of your pocket, stick it in an envelope, and send it to:

Office of Good Deeds
c/o Spike Gillespie
P.O. Box 4843
Austin, TX 78765

Email me if you have questions. I'll personally match the first fifty donations up to $100.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Help The Girls Rock, People

Austin's Girls Rock Camp, which-- let me explain the obvious-- teaches young female musicians how to rock out so they don't grow up to be groupies, is part of a contest. If they win, they get matching $5000 funds. They only have til tomorrow to win. Even if you can only donate $5, it'll help. And if you have deep pockets, please note Dolly Parton just signed a guitar that will go to the first person to donate $5k or more. Immediately below is info on the DP guitar. Then, below that, is the press release about the contest. Come on, people, help the girls rock.

Dolly Parton autographed guitar to be awarded to donor by Girls Rock Camp Austin

Dolly Parton signed a guitar for Girls Rock Camp Austin, a nonprofit
organization in Austin, Texas. The organization is currently
embroiled in a celebrity challenge called the "Social Media Smackdown
for Charity." Brea Grant, best know for her roles on Friday Night
Lights, Heroes, and the upcoming Halloween 2, is blogging, along with
a team of web-savvy ladies, to raise money for them.

The camp has decided to award the first donor of at least $5000 their
Dolly Parton autographed guitar. The Social Media Charity Smackdown
ends on March 26, 2009. Donations can be made through Paypal on Team
Brea's site at this address:

“Do you know what $5,000 would do for GRCA? It would send FOURTEEN
girls to camp who might not otherwise be able to afford it,” says
Emily Marks, Director of Girls Rock Camp Austin. “We have an
extensive scholarship program and we believe strongly that girls
should have equal opportunities regardless of background, ability or
what’s in their parent’s bank account.”

Girls Rock Camp Austin (GRCA) provides a positive, all-female
environment that offers musical instruction as well as a variety of
workshops and performances. GRCA fosters leadership, community,
social change, and life skills for girls of all means and abilities.


Riot Grrls vs. High School Music Thespians
in Celebrity Charity Smackdown
Austin Celeb Brea Grant Champions Girls Rock Camp Austin
Paypal Will Donate an Extra $5,000 to Winner 
(Austin, TX) A local organization, Girls Rock Camp Austin, could be the lucky winner of the first Social Media Smackdown for Charity. Launched at SXSW, the Smackdown challenges nine celebrity teams to raise the most money for their chosen charities via social media sites and blogs.
Former Austinite Brea Grant (Heroes, Friday Night Lights) is teaming up with Girls Rock Camp Austin to support young women artists—but the competition ends Thursday, and the ATX home team is currently in fourth place, with High School Musical’s Corbin Bleu in the lead.
Today, Paypal announced that it will donate an additional $5,000 to the winning team.  “
“Do you know what $5,000 would do for GRCA?  It would send FOURTEEN girls to camp who might not otherwise be able to afford it. We have an extensive scholarship program and we believe strongly that girls should have equal opportunities regardless of background, ability or what’s in their parent’s bank account,” says Emily Marks, Director of Girls Rock Camp Austin.
Girls Rock Camp Austin (GRCA) provides a positive, all-female environment that offers musical instruction as well as a variety of workshops and performances. GRCA fosters leadership, community, social change, and life skills for girls of all means and abilities. 
Fans of Brea Grant and supporters of Girls Rock Camp Austin can go to to donate by Thursday, March 26. They can also help spread the word by copying their favorite celebrity’s PayPal fundraising widget to their MySpace pages or personal Web sites and encouraging friends to donate.
For more information about Girls Rock Camp, go to  Registration for summer 2009 is now open!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Hello Everyone,
Next Dick Monologues is April 15th, 7 pm, Hyde Park Theatre. Tix are $12 apiece. If you bring a group of fifteen or more, I'll buy the first round. You can reserve seats by emailing me directly at Please tell your friends. There's general info about the show at The Dick Monologues.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Great Show Tomorrow and Pics from Yesterday

Some pictures from yesterday, as described in the post I put up about Unearned Ruggedness.
Also, tomorrow there is a GREAT day party-- free with free food and beverages-- tomorrow at Big Red Sun.

Here are the details:

SXSW FREE DAY PARTY AT Big Red Sun (Friday 3/20)

Friday, March 20th for a Free (all ages) day party at Big Red Sun (1102 E Cesar Chavez). The party begins at 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and will be featuring music from Eleisha Eagle, Molly Venter, Billy Harvey, Jeremy Messersmith, Tara Holloway, Kacy Crowley, The Soldier Thread and Wideawake. There will be food and beverages provided by Curra's Grill, Sugar Mama's Bakeshop and Maine Root.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

South by Stay Home: It's Official I'm Too Old for this Shit

I've been doing SXSW just about every year, one way or the other, since 1992. That first year, I was training as a waiter at the Magnolia Cafe, and I learned-- fire by baptism-- about how nuts this town gets the third week of March. Roughly a bazillion musicians and music fans descend on the city, a place already crawling with music fanatics. I came to understand there were the haves-- those with all-access badges-- and the have nots: those of us waiting on them.

Over the years, I learned more. You can buy a wristband, which may or may not get you into a show. You can-- as I eventually did several years-- earn a badge either as a performer or a journalist. I call these badges Asshole Badges, as they allow their owners to sashay to the front of very long lines, past folks waiting and waiting and waiting, often not getting in because they lack the credentials. And I have to say, years I had an Asshole Badge, I enjoyed playing that front-of-the-line role.

Somewhere over the course of the past seventeen years, I came to recognize a certain anxiety accompanying the arrival of the festival, which grew to include a film conference and a multi-media conference. If I tried to wrap my head around all the offerings, and map out a plan, I got stressed at the prospect. If I vowed to ignore it and stay home, I suffered FMS-- Fraid of Missin' Something syndrome-- sure I would hear later that Jesus had played a small hole-in-the-wall around the corner from me, and that it wasn't even full, and he did a Neil Diamond medley the tore the roof off. One year I skipped it all together, and left the state. That was a decent idea.

This year, as with last year, I tried to figure out a way to enjoy myself, hoping to attend a few free shows and to use some connections I am very lucky to have to catch a few out-of-town acts. I happen to know some radio folks who are gracious enough to let me sit in on in-studio sessions, which means I don't get the full throttle experience of seeing a performance in a room packed with drunken revelers which, if you ask me, is about as perfect an experience as I could hope for.

Monday, Chris and I hit the early morning pre-festival show at the Four Seasons. This is sponsored by KGSR, happens all week, costs five bucks, includes lots of good free food, and tons of performers. There's also down time between sets, but that's okay. Monday we saw locals Kacy Crowley, whom I just love, and the also wonderful Nakia, whom I first met when he worked at the Apple Store. Nakia went on to do a stint with the Small Stars, a side project of Miles Zuniga, he of Fastball fame and a man I once had a very odd and confusing flirtation with about six hundred years ago. It's been lovely watching Nakia break out on his own.

Tuesday I laid low. Today was supposed to be a Fun Day. Henry's band, Seafields of Elephants, was playing outside at Jo's Coffee on South Congress. Chris and Big Red and I headed down and got a parking spot so incredible that I thought about leaving the car there all weekend and taking the bus, just so I could feel that happy incredible-parking-spot feeling for several days. We got a call on the way down that M. Ward was going to be playing a show at Radio Room on 6th Street at 5. And I was also going to go catch Mistress Stephanie and Her Melodic Cat at 6. Well, the best laid plans and all that...

At Henry's gig, he's sitting on stage, not playing, while some big guy is rapping away. I run into Hen's bandmate's dad, who explains the drummer is looking for parking, which is eating into their short gig time, cutting it down to about ten minutes. Then, I spot my ex-husband, aka The Narcissist of the Universe. I have done an excellent job of avoiding that fucker for two years now. But there he was, with his little wife/daughter, the "child" who insisted he divorce me, and who did everything in her power to drive me out. She succeeded (I recall one of her friends telling me she was well aware that her father could never say no to her and that this would be the case when it came to ending the marriage). Not only were they there, but they hovered near the stage, robbing me of the chance to watch my son up close. I decided on the spot, at least for the afternoon, to forego my fledgling attempts at Buddhism, embrace my inner-Jersey-girl, and feel the hate. Of COURSE he was hovering around the stage. That's what he does, hoping my son will get signed and that when this happens, that my son will invite his sorry old ass to open for him because yes, at the age of sixty-something, he still believes he is going to be discovered as the next Rock God. WhatEVER.

Then I went and ordered some food, because my blood sugar was crashing. I was waited on by a former coworker. We worked for a company that suffered so much in the economic crash that she is back to slinging concessions and I am forever scrambling for clever ways to pay the mortgage. Turns out our former boss, who owes me many thousands of dollars, also owes this coworker three months back pay. Look, I'm not grudge holding here, I'm just saying it's hard enough trying to eke by as it is, and it's even harder to not fantasize about how, if I had my back pay, I'd be good for a few months over here.

The veggie dog helped a little, until I looked up and saw HER-- yes, the woman who, sixteen years ago, slept with my then-boyfriend. When I confronted her about this, years after the fact (she had approached me, all cheerful at a party) she said, "Oh that? That was so LONG AGO!" As if this would somehow make me feel better.

Distracted by all these reminders of shit, I hardly got to focus on the kid's ten minute set. On a bright note, I did get to meet the woman who hosted Hen for a month in Paris a couple of years ago. She was in town for SXSW and, at long last, I bestowed upon her a Kick Ass Trophy because, really, taking in a sixteen year old stranger for four weeks is an awfully kick ass thing to do.

After that, I got it in my head that the gods would somehow arrange for me to get into the M. Ward show. So I found a five dollar parking spot near the highway and hoofed it over to a line that was about 200 people deep. I stood in the middle of 6th street, trying not to listen in on the conversation of the two punks behind me debating how "hot" some chick was, and realizing the futility of my efforts. From all sides, my ears were assaulted by high-decibel distorted rock screaming from every club and tent set up for the week's day parties. The sun beat down. Defeated, I headed back to the car, deciding not to see Mistress Stephanie, but rather to go home and crawl into bed.

On my way to the car, I spotted a young dude sporting what I like to refer to as Unearned Ruggedness, one of those long, sloppy neck beards favored by 98 pound weaklings trying to look like lumberjacks. Hello, Unearned Ruggedness Man? It's Austin. It's 99 degrees 340 days of the year, and you are probably living on a trust fund. Enough already, shave that fucker off.

Wait, do we notice that Spike is feeling irritable? Thing about those Unearned Rugged beards is that they remind me of two people in particular. One is my ex-stepson, who conspired with wife-daughter to drive me out. His role, which I know I have detailed before, but let me say it again, was to smash all of my potted plants, ceramic possessions, and wedding gifts up and down the front sidewalk and all throughout the house. He felt this was his right to destroy my things. The Narcissist, when I told him this was domestic violence, explained that, no it wasn't, Stepson was just "trying to communicate his feelings."

Curiously, over a year later, I had a young roommate, whom I adored, who had a boyfriend who not only looked freakishly similar to the Stepson-- right down to the Unearned Ruggedness beard-- but they shared a first name, a middle name, and both had a last name that ended in the same uncommon two-letter combination. Not only that, but they both went by their same middle name. Stepson was the heir-in-waiting to a bunch of family property. Roommate's boyfriend, who was supposed to only stay over once in awhile, actually moved in, never moved out, never paid rent, never got a job, and-- no shit-- began having his Charles Schwab statements sent to my house. He was a vegan with such a high metabolism, he had to eat constantly to keep his low weight up. Ironically, all the chopping of vegetables burned more calories still, causing the need to eat more. He spent so much time steaming vegetables at my house that, no really, my gas bill spiked noticeably. Do you know how hard it is to drive up a gas bill via steaming kale?

Even more curiously, when Unearned Rugged Beard Boyfriend finally moved out, the Green Mug disappeared with him. This was a $45 handmade mug I had purchased in an attempt to console myself for all the many objects Unearned Ruggedness Stepson had broken. (The plan didn't really work, as the Green Mug forever reminded me of him). Many months passed and then, one morning, I went outside to feed the cat and, mysteriously, the Green Mug was sitting on the front step. Hmm...

So yeah, seeing Unearned Rugged SXSWer on my way to the parking lot triggered an avalanche of bad Unearned Ruggedness memories. At least, in the parking lot, I located two cheerful young women who had not yet paid for parking. So I gave them my parking pass and saved them five bucks. When they tried to pay me, I insisted they not. This made them very happy. And so, at least a little, their smiles salvaged a bit of my day.

Then I came home, and read this story, about a woman whose dog ate $400, which she is attempting to sift out of the dog's shit and reconstruct so she can trade it in at the bank. I wanted to think, "My life isn't so bad, at least my dog didn't eat $400," but wait, she sort of did. Because I just dropped $1600 on a new fence, since the dog kept tearing through the old one. Last night, I let her out to test it. In five minutes, she tunneled right under it. I wonder if I can sift anything out of her shit to reconstruct and turn in at the bank.

Tomorrow is a new day. I am going to sleep a lot tonight. I am going to joyfully accept the gracious offers of my radio friends to hear some performers in studio. I am going to listen to KUT broadcast some shows live. I am going to do this in the comfort and privacy of my own bedroom. I might even relax enough that I fool myself into thinking that I can somehow, without too much discomfort, work my way down to a decent spot at Auditorium Shores to hear M. Ward play for free. And I am going to make plans to leave the country next year for all of March.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Office of Good Deeds Request: Clothing Drive for Low Income Job Seekers

Hi Everyone,
Hope you're well. I have a request for you. The Austin Young Lawyers Association is holding the second annual Women's Resource Fair for homeless and low-income women on Saturday, March 28. Last year, 130 homeless and low-income women and children came to the fair and were able to access medical care, social services, resume writing workshops, clothing and legal services.

So, it's always a rough ride for these women to find work. The economy is making prospects more sucky. What I'm asking for help with is clothes donations-- stuff they can wear to be dressed appropriately for job interviews. Michelle McFadyen is in charge of the clothing drive. I asked her what, specifically, they are looking for. She says:

"I guess you could say business casual, but many of the women will not necessarily end up working in offices. Suits tend not to fly off of the racks as quickly as items like nice pants and button down shirts. We have a higher demand for larger sizes then we do for smaller sizes but we are anticipated a couple hundred women so all sizes will get used. We are also accepting children's clothing, all sizes."

It's easiest if you can drop clothes off (address below) but please know that Michelle will do her best to pick up clothing if you can't drop it off. And if you live central, I will do my best to help her with pick up or else you can drop stuff at my house.

Michelle's contact information is , ph: 512.472.0279.

Clothing can be dropped off at 816 Congress Avenue, Suite 700 between the hours of 8 and 5 Monday through Friday. People dropping off the donations can park on the street or if they have a lot to carry are welcome to park in our garage. The entrance to the garage is on the south east corner of 9th and Colorado and we are the only offices on the 7th floor. We will validate parking if someone wants to use the garage.

If anyone has any questions about volunteering or would like more information on the fair in general they can also contact Michelle.

Please, please help if you can. Purging your closet to assist could literally help folks get jobs and take care of their kids.

And please pass this request on.
Yours in good deeds,