You can take a photo with a giant white buffalo at SXSW, if you’re into that sort of thing

If you’re in town for South by Southwest and you’re thinking, “Man, I really wish I had a photo of myself standing next to a 23-foot-tall, 30-foot-long, 6,000-pound white buffalo,” then, well, we’ve got good news for you.

Contributed by Starz

Starz has installed a great white buffalo at the corner of Red River and Cesar Chavez streets as part of its promotion for “American Gods,” the new television show based on Neil Gaiman’s popular novel of the same name. According to Starz, the buffalo installment is homage to the recurring image of a buffalo in the series.

Where’s the party at? Check out our list of the best unofficial events during SXSW 2017

In the Starz activation area, festival attendees can also charge their phones, get some free “American Gods” swag” and check out custom “American Gods” Snapchat stickers.

But hey, that buffalo. Don’t miss it (and how could you miss it, really).

SXSW 2017: Your first look at the real-life ‘Los Pollos Hermanos’ restaurant

We told you last week that AMC is bringing “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos to life this South by Southwest.

The restaurant is set up at 5th Street and Colorado Street. Reshma Kirpalani/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Well, it’s day one of the festival and the restaurant (which looks identical to the TV version) is open to the public.

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Judging by the looks of that crowd, it’s pretty popular. And yes, you can get real food there.

SXSW attendees enjoy food at the Los Pollos Hermanos popup. Reshma Kirpalani/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
You’ve got all kinds of dining options at Los Pollos Hermanos. Reshma Kirpalani / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

According to our crew at the scene, the line on Friday afternoon was long but manageable, so you’re chances of getting in and enjoying some of Gus Fring’s wares are pretty high. There’s a catch, though: There isn’t any air conditioning in the restaurant, so be ready to sweat.

LOOK: More pictures from the opening of the pop-up restaurant

The pop-up restaurant won’t be the only appearance related to the AMC shows — Bob Odenkirk, who plays Saul Goodman in both shows, is speaking at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 12 during the festival.

SXSW posts signs in bathrooms opposing controversial Texas ‘bathroom bill’

Days after a Texas Senate panel approved Texas’ controversial “bathroom bill,” South by Southwest organizers are speaking out against the bill, which prohibits transgender-friendly bathrooms in schools, universities and government buildings.

PHOTOS: Bathroom bill protest at the Capitol on March 7, 2017

SXSW organizers placed signs in bathrooms at the festival, including in the Austin Convention Center. The signs read, in part, “We oppose discriminatory legislation such as the Texas SB6 ‘bathroom bill’ and support civil rights for all persons everywhere.”

These signs were placed in bathrooms at the Austin Convention Center. Phil Jankowski/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The Senate committee approved Senate Bill 6 early Wednesday morning, nearly 21 hours after a public hearing that drew hundreds to the Capitol to testify on the bill. Read more coverage of the bathroom bill here.

 

SXSW 2017: How to get around Austin without Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft’s departure from Austin last year has left South by Southwest-goers with one huge question: How do we get around?

Music fans wait in line for a taping of Austin City Limits to see J. Cole Saturday, March 21, 2015. Photo by Stephen Spillman

There are still options for ride-hailing services in Austin, and quite a few of them: Fare, Fasten, Get Me, Ride Austin, Wingz and zTrip are just six of the biggest options. But which one is the best? A few Statesman reporters teamed up with our 512tech team to test out those six services and we ranked them based upon wait time, trip time, cost, app ease of use and overall experience. Check out the results.

In town for SXSW? Welcome! Check out our guide to the city

Where’s the party at? Find one with our unofficial guide to the best parties SXSW 2017

Our No. 1 piece of advice for maneuvering SXSW? Don’t use your car. Find more tips in our SXSW Survival Guide.

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Take a break from SXSW crowds and ride around town in the VICELAND Bus

Tired of walking? Want to get in a tricked-out bus with an unknown destination? Well, here’s your chance: The VICELAND Bus will be cruising around town during South by Southwest this year, giving festivalgoers a space to take a break from the crowds (and the heat or humidity or rain, if past SXSWs are any indication).

The VICELAND Bus is coming to SXSW. Photo via @vicelandbus/Instagram

VICELAND, the TV channel from VICE Media, has taken its bus to various cultural events like Comic Con, Outside Lands and the Women’s March on Washington, and now it’s coming to Austin from March 11-18.

Why do you care? Well, this bus has everything. Leather couches. A DJ booth. A karaoke machine. Free VICELAND swag. A chance to get a ride to an undetermined location without worrying you’re going to be kidnapped.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Wondering how to find the bus? You can find it using this map, or follow along on the bus’ Instagram for a peek inside.

Where’s the party at? Check out our guide to the best unofficial parties during SXSW 2017

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but where's #juiceboxthebear?

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Southwest Airlines gave away free Whataburger on flights for Texas Independence Day

What’s more Texan than Whataburger? Free Whataburger on Southwest Airlines on Texas Independence Day, that’s what.

This Thursday, July 9, 2015 photo shows a Whataburger restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
This Thursday, July 9, 2015 photo shows a Whataburger restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Twitter user @lwaysBeHappy, a.k.a. Charlie, tweeted on Thursday that the Texas-based airline should provide its passengers with free Whataburger in celebration of the holiday.

RELATED: 181 things we love about Texas, in celebration of Texas Independence Day

Southwest responded to the tweet a few hours later, saying, “That is a brilliant idea actually” and well, the rest is history.

It’s a Texas Independence Day miracle, y’all.

Neither Whataburger or the airline said exactly what menu item was served, but it looks an awful lot like a chicken strip sandwich box with Texas toast and gravy. Mmmmmmmm.

If Whataburger and/or Southwest Airlines doesn’t hire Charlie in their marketing department, they’re making a huge mistake.

RELATED: 181 country songs about Texas

A real-life Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant is coming to SXSW

Fans of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” are in luck this South by Southwest: AMC is bringing a real-life version of Gus Fring’s fried chicken restaurant to the heart of downtown Austin in a few weeks.

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 14: Actor Giancarlo Esposito passes out boxes of "Los Pollos Hermanos" chicken during the 'Better Call Saul' panel of the AMC portion of the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 14, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 14: Actor Giancarlo Esposito passes out boxes of “Los Pollos Hermanos” chicken during the ‘Better Call Saul’ panel of the AMC portion of the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 14, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

According to Austin Towers, a permit for a private party was filed with the city last week describing “a temporary 1,400 square-foot space with an A-2 occupancy classification — indicating a restaurant — that also includes a stage space for more than 500 people.” The restaurant will be set up in a parking lot at 5th Street and Congress Avenue (to SXSW veterans, it’s just a block away from the parking lot that hosted a giant Ferris wheel for “Mr. Robot” last year).

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The Mr. Robot Ferris Wheel at SXSW 2016. Kelly West / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The pop-up restaurant won’t be the only appearance related to the AMC shows — Bob Odenkirk, who plays Saul Goodman in both shows, is speaking at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 12 during the festival.

No word yet on if the restaurant will be open to the public or if you’ll need a badge to get in.

 

Famed broadcaster Bill Walton changes into ‘Keep Austin Weird’ T-shirt on air while announcing Texas game

It’s no secret that retired basketball player, famed broadcaster and unashamed Deadhead Bill Walton really, really loves tie-dye. So on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center, it seemed only fitting that Texas head football coach Tom Herman presented Walton with a tie-dyed “Keep Austin Weird” T-shirt at the Longhorns’ game against Kansas.

Walton, who was, of course, already wearing a tie-dye shirt, decided to take the gift a step further and changed into the new shirt on live television.

Some Twitter users watching the game were a little salty that Walton seemed more focused on his new T-shirt than on the game itself, but one thing’s undeniable — the guy’s a national treasure.

North Texas pastor soulfully serenades a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit from Whataburger

You really love Whataburger, but do you love Whataburger as much as this guy?

Fred Thomas, a self-described pastor and comedian in North Texas, posted a video last week of him sitting in his car, belting an ode to the crown jewel of Whataburger breakfast: the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.

If you don’t know (and why don’t you?), the HBCB is a Whataburger delicacy. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savory — flaky buttermilk biscuits, a chicken tender and the sweet golden nectar that is honey butter. It’s perfect in all ways, as Pastor Fred can attest.

Screengrab via Fred Thomas / Facebook
Screengrab via Fred Thomas / Facebook

The video, which he titled “Something About This Biscuit” features Pastor Fred dedicating a soulful three-minute love song to his breakfast.

“You know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for me, there’s one particular breakfast that just takes me away,” he sings.

OK, I know the Grammys already happened, but Pastor Fred’s got my vote for best new artist and best gospel performance, because he took us to the Church of Whataburger in this video. Since last week, the video has been shared more than 129,000 times on Facebook and has received nearly 4.5 million views.

He’s also got great advice for ordering an HBCB: “”Every time I get this biscuit, I get a little extra honey butter so it won’t be dry.”

RELATED: This guy dancing with Whataburger at his wedding is a Texas hero

Whataburger should hire Pastor Fred as a marketing consultant — he’s got some great ideas, like, “I’m just waiting on Whataburger to have buy one, get one free” and “Whataburger, I don’t care if you raise the price, I’ll pay. I don’t think the honey butter biscuit should just be breakfast, you should sell them all day.”

The Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. Image courtesy Whataburger
The Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. Image courtesy Whataburger

It’s like Pastor Fred is singing the song every Whataburger lover has had inside of them for many lifetimes, but he finally found the words.

“Every time I pass Whataburger, I hear it call my name.”

Same, Pastor Fred. Same.

The most Texas tidbits from this Anna Nicole Smith profile

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of Texas native Anna Nicole Smith, who captured the heart of America with her beautiful looks and the rags-to-riches tale of a dirt-poor small-town girl turned superstar.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Anna Nicole Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show on February 12, 2004 during Olympus 2004 Fashion Week, in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 12: Anna Nicole Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show on February 12, 2004 during Olympus 2004 Fashion Week, in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Buzzfeed published a profile detailing the late American icon’s rise to fame and the subsequent destruction of her image, her life and her health. Here are a few Texas highlights from the profile on Smith, who was born in Houston and raised in Mexia.

“…the high-fashion look didn’t count for much in Mexia, or even in Dallas or Houston, and Vickie Lynn needed a body that would help her survive the world she lived in, and maybe even escape it.”

Born Vickie Lynn Hogan, the model’s 6-foot figure and stunning looks were too much for the small town (Mexia’s population was only about 6,000 in the 1960s, when Smith was born). So she left Mexia when she was 18, a single mother recently divorced from her allegedly abusive husband, and she headed to Houston.

“Though inescapably connected with a commodity drawn up from deep in the ground, Houston belongs to the ocean.”

The profile details a part of the Lone Star State many Texans know well: “Dry farmland” giving way to “pink skies and sudden downpours” all-too-common on the land along the Gulf Coast.

Buzzfeed writes:

“It’s a port city, and like all port cities, it is a place of transformation: a place where the skyline can change seemingly overnight, where fortunes can be won and lost in an instant, and where the people who kept you down all your life can’t keep you down anymore, because you can become whatever you say you are — or at least whatever the city will pay you to be.”

In Houston, Smith — still going by Vickie Lynn — found jobs at Walmart and Red Lobster in the mid-1980s.

“Houston was the implant capital of America…”

Now here’s a “today I learned…” story you can tell your friends about.

Silicone breast implants were invented in 1961 by two surgeons from Baylor University, and according to Buzzfeed, they were one of Houston’s hottest commodities in the 1980s, “almost as synonymous with Texas-sized dreams and desires as the lasso was.”

However, Houston also later became “the implant-related lawsuit capital of the world” in the early 1990s, as women sued manufacturers for faulty implants.

She became Anna Nicole Smith while dancing at a Houston strip club

After realizing Walmart and Red Lobster couldn’t pay the bills, Smith took a job dancing at the Executive Suite, a strip club near Houston Intercontinental Airport.

Buzzfeed reports the businessmen who frequented the club didn’t much care for Smith’s body, as she was “both too big and too small for the business of seduction.”

So Smith saved her money to get breast implants and buy herself the body of Anna Nicole Smith, saying goodbye to Vickie Lynn and landing a job at Rick’s, the “legendary Houston strip club that some claimed had singlehandedly popularized the silicone implant,” Buzzfeed writes.

She met J. Howard Marshall while dancing at Rick’s in 1988. Marshall, an elderly man who had gotten rich on the East Texas oil boom of the early 20th century, would later become Smith’s husband.

Read the rest of the profile, which goes into detail about Smith’s professional life, her personal relationships and her ties to her Texas family.