Richard Linklater on that time he got fired from an Austin hotel, and other words of wisdom about money

 

“Every single commodity you produce is a piece of your own death!” — Hitchhiker, “Slacker”

“Didja ever look at a dollar bill, man? There’s some spooky s*** goin’ on there.” — Slater, “Dazed and Confused”

The films of acclaimed director and Austin resident Richard Linklater don’t explicitly deal with money, but the characters in Linklater’s films often ruminate on philosophic ideas about money, capitalism, life, love, time and everything in between.

Austin Film Society Founder and Artistic Director Richard Linklater poses on the red carpet for the Texas Film Awards at Austin Studios where he later presented Shirley MacLaine with the lifetime achievement award. (Suzanne Cordeiro/American-Statesman)

Those philosophic ideas about money (such as the quotes above) stem from Linklater’sown experiences. Linklater shared those experiences in a 2016 guest blog post for WealthSimple, an investment website. In the year-old essay, Linklater writes about his relationship with money, and why he was glad he got fired from a job at La Mansion in Austin (now the Doubletree Hotel off I-35 North).

More: Richard Linklater adaptation of ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ starring Cate Blanchett to start filming July 2017

The story goes like this:

When he was 27 years old, Linklater was working as a night bellhop at La Mansion. One night, he went to go pick up a customer at the airport and bragged about how his hotel job basically allowed him to read and write and he guessed that during a regular 8-hour shift, he only did about an hour to 90 minutes of actual work.

via GIPHY

Turns out, the guest Linklater picked up was the assistant regional manager for the hotel chain, and Linklater found a pink slip at the desk when he showed up to work 10 days later.

Related: Shirley MacLaine walks the Texas Film Awards red carpet with Richard Linklater

But, he said that experience allowed him to travel to New York and hone his screenwriting skills for a summer. Then, his filmmaking career started to take off.

“That Doubletree Hotel isn’t far from my daughter’s school, and we drive past it all the time. I’ve pointed it out to her: ‘See that place? That’s the last real job your dad ever had, the last honest buck I ever made!'” Linklater wrote in the blog post.

Linklater also dropped some pearls of wisdom about money, including these quotes that wouldn’t sound out of place in one of his films:

  • “The best advice I ever got about money was from a doctor I met a long time ago. He had plenty of money, and he told me, ‘Invest in yourself.'”
  • “Ultimately, for me, money is a bad motivator. I’m so blessed because I’ve never really done stuff for money. I just try to make the films I want to make and tell the stories I care most about. Once you really don’t give a f*** about money, it comes scratching at your door.”
  • “When you grow up pretty poor, you see money as the thing that will solve all of your problems.”
  • “Once you have a reasonable level of comfort—you’ve got a roof over your head, you can pay your bills, your utilities aren’t being shut off, you can fix your car—having more money doesn’t really increase your happiness.”

Read Linklater’s full blog post here.

Mosquitoes arrive early this year thanks to warm winter, recent rainfall

It was so beautiful this weekend it was hard to resist the call of the outdoors. But as you were enjoying time at the park, grilling out in the backyard or even taking a dip in the pool, maybe you heard a faint buzzing in your ear, or even felt a little itch on your forearm. But mosquitoes couldn’t be here already, could they?

Mosquito_Dengue
Mosquito season could start early this year. credit: Agencia Reforma

“It’s been an unusually warm winter, so it wouldn’t be a shock with the warmer temperatures that mosquito activity would increase,” said Whitney Qualls, medical entomologist with that Texas Department of State Health Services. “We typically expect our mosquito season to be from May through November. Due to warmer temperatures and rainfall, it’s no surprise that mosquitoes are out and about.”

Thanks to the combination of few below-freezing winter days and plentiful recent rains, chances are good mosquitoes will start making a strong appearance this year in April.

Some interesting mosquito facts:

“There’s a number of different mosquitos that are present in Austin,” said Qualls, who studies the Zika and West Nile mosquito vectors. “The Zika vectors breed in containers. Right now is the perfect time to dump out that fresh spring rainfall every three to five days. If people are doing that, they’re reducing the next generation of mosquitoes.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services offers updates every Tuesday on the number of Zika virus disease cases in Texas broken down by the patient’s county of residence. As of the end of last week, there have been seven reported cases of Zika this year: one in Bexar County, one in Brazoria County, two in Cameron County, one in Collin County, one in Lubbock County and one in Smith County. From December 2015 to December 2016, there were 317 reported cases of illness due to Zika.

RELATED: TEXAS OFFICIALS CONFIRM FIRST CASE OF ZIKA SPREAD LOCALLY

“We have the right environment, meaning we have warm weather, we have the right vectors, and we do still see a lot of people traveling from areas where there is an ongoing outbreak,” Qualls said. “Conditions are favorable for potential local transmission.”

 The Texas Department of State Health Services offers the following tips for protecting yourself from the Zika virus:

• Apply EPA-registered insect repellents.  
• Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts that cover exposed skin.  
• Use screens or close windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.  
• Remove standing water in and around your home.  
• Cover trash cans or containers where water can collect.  
Learn more about the virus and reported cases at dshs.texas.gov/news/updates.shtm

Austin’s White Denim partners with Spotify to create song that only plays when it’s raining

 

Spotify announced a new feature Monday that’s sure to excite that niche group of people who love rainy weather and geotargeting.

The rain did not keep people away from S. Congress Avenue on Saturday, January 31st, 2015. People wait in line underneath umbrellas for food at a local restaurant. Photo by Laura Skelding

The streaming giant has partnered with The North Face and Austin band White Denim to create a song that you can only hear when it’s raining outside, Pitchfork reports.

The gist is Spotify will use the location services on your phone to push the song into areas and markets where there’s discernible rainfall at any given time. (But only in the U.S.)

Review: White Denim taping of ‘Austin City Limits’

A snippet of the song, called “No Nee Ta Slode Aln,” can be heard in a commercial for The North Face Apex Flex GTX Jacket.

Guess you’re out of luck if you’re a White Denim fan who lives in Arizona or the California desert. But the rest of us can sit back, relax, and know that Spotify is bringing us one step closer to Skynet.

If you like the song and want to hear more from White Denim, they’re playing at South By Southwest on Thursday and Friday. 

[H/T Pitchfork]

SXSW-goers find Austin’s lack of Uber, Lyft disturbing

 

South By Southwest is in full swing, which means crowds. Crowds everywhere, full of people with panels and parties to attend.

Many of those people forgot (or didn’t know) that Uber and Lyft no longer operate within the Austin city limits. And when it rains all weekend, as it did last weekend, people got upset at the gouged prices and long wait times for Austin alternatives Fasten and RideAustin.

Fasten is the latest mobile ride-hailing app to jump into the Austin market. Credit: Fasten

More: What we learned about Austin’s ride-hailing options by testing six of Austin’s ride-hailing apps

Making matters worse, both Fasten and RideAustin went down on Saturday night’s rainstorms, creating issues for people who needed rides, and needed them ASAP.

Local ride-hailing service RideAustin posted on Facebook early Sunday morning that its database locked up throughout most of the evening Saturday, and Kirill Evdakov, CEO of Fasten, confirmed that service also had problems, beginning a little after 8 p.m. Saturday. He called SXSW, rainy weather, and glitches with other services simultaneously “a perfect storm” that led to Fasten receiving about 12 times as many ride requests as normal.

More: Two Austin ride-hailing services report problems in first days of SXSW

During the outage, many people complained on Twitter about the resulting price surges…

https://twitter.com/HeyHeyESJ/status/840948977986093056

While some people who just got into town were aghast that Austin does not have Uber or Lyft anymore…

https://twitter.com/Jason/status/841031230997032961

https://twitter.com/tjparker/status/840551537235644417

One person was angry at Uber and Lyft for leaving Austin after the May election that included Proposition 1…

While another was worried about how RideAustin’s app could legally exist because it looks so close to Uber’s…

While many people thought the whole idea of complaining about transportation during a huge conference event was preposterous…

https://twitter.com/sssssparkers/status/841083082170068994

https://twitter.com/samfbiddle/status/841047517567569920

And others simply found (gasp!) other means of transportation for the weekend.

 

Anyhow, the whole event got its own Twitter moment Sunday night:

However, many people who arrived in town Thursday night for SXSW Interactive were well aware of the ridesharing situation in Austin. The following is from breaking news reporter Katie Hall, who went out to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Thursday night to interview conference-goers.

Britt Deyan, of San Francisco, landed in Austin on Thursday night for SXSW Interactive. Deyan said that SXSW had been good about sharing the fact that Uber and Lyft no longer gave rides in Austin.

“Every communication I was sent about SXSW told me Uber wasn’t here,” Deyan said as she climbed into a taxi.

Alisa Hetrick and Sami Huerta, both of Minneapolis, also grabbed a taxi after landing at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Hetrick and Huerta said they had been told by friends in Austin, who invited them to SXSW, that Uber and Lyft didn’t operate in Austin.

A group of six Mashable employees huddled together outside the airport after landing in Austin, discussing the ride-hailing app RideAustin. Their company had called a car ahead of time to pick them up, they said. A few of the people in the group said they were well aware of the fact that Uber and Lyft left Austin because their website had written about it. One of them, however, was not.

“I didn’t know until just now,” she said, after asking the reporter for ride-hailing app suggestions. “After the tragedy that happened a couple years ago at SXSW, I think they’re asking for another tragedy.” She declined to give her name.

What about you? Have you been having a tough time getting around at SXSW? Let us know in the comments.

Statesman reporters Katie Hall and Elizabeth Findell contributed to this report.

This vintage map shows how Texans see America (probably)

 

You don’t have to ask anybody from Texas where they’re from— they’ll tell you right away. (If they don’t tell you within a few minutes of meeting that they’re from Texas, then are they really Texan?) State pride is infectious and unapologetic. But if you needed any more proof of how much Texans love their state, you need to check out “The Texan’s Map of the United States (of Texas).”

From Raremaps.com.

The map, which one antique map website traces back to 1949, imagines a United States where Texas takes up most of the country, stretching from the Mexican border all the way to the Pacific coastline and up to the Canadian border and the Appalachian region. According to Raremaps.com, it was designed by Texas sketch artist Frank Oliver as a way to advertise the Texoak Flooring Company in Crockett.

“Everything depicted hereon is the gospel truth!” a disclaimer on the map reads. “Attested to by a group of impartial Texans! All skeptics may appeal to his eminence, the king of Texas.”

Oh, and the scale? “One Texas inch = 1,000 miles.”

Some highlights from the map:

  • Austin is only known as the capital city, but San Antonio is home to “the world’s largest Army aviation center” and The Alamo, “where history began.” (Due to the map’s insane amount of scale, San Antonio is also located in West Texas right next to Big Bend National Park, for some reason.)
  • Fort Worth is known as “where men are men and the West begins,” while neighboring city Dallas is home to “the world’s best-dressed and most beautiful women.”
  • Crockett, home of the Texoak Flooring Company, is highlighted in the map as “the heart of the world’s largest pine and oak timberland.”

And as for the rest of the country? Anything north of Texas is an “Indian reservation, consisting mostly of land called ‘Oklahoma.'” The Great Lakes are merely “duck ponds” and”Texas reservoirs.” And that big patch of land northeast of the Appalachians and above the Mason-Dixon Line? All “Damnyankeeland.”

More: Here’s 181 things we love about Texas

And here I was thinking that Texas’ geography could be boiled down to this map from Richard Linklater’s “Bernie”:

 

Take a look at the map below.

From Raremaps.com.

What a scandal: List of top fast food takes Texas favorite for granted

We Texans can get pretty defensive about our state’s homegrown fast food treasure, Whataburger. So it’s clear as day that the staff at The Ringer made a few errors in regards to its list of the “Top 50 fast food items in America.

The Corpus Christi-born chain landed in the No. 37 spot with one of the “All-Time Favorites” menu items, the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich. The Ringer left off the “strip” in its name, which is the first of many mistakes (in my opinion) made in this ranking, which include:

  1. Ranking the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich way too low at No. 37
  2. Only placing one Whataburger item on the list to begin with
  3. Placing three burgers from California’s In-N-Out ahead of Whataburger

The Ringer is based in Los Angeles, so perhaps there is a slight regional bias. Whataburger has a Texas-sized online personality and is deeply embedded into our state’s food culture. How could a list of the greatest fast food not mention the expansive menu of items like chicken strips, burgers the size of your head, milkshakes and the holy grail of breakfast food, the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit?

Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries landed in the top spot of the list. A truly eclectic ranking, somehow enough people are convinced Arby’s is worth visiting that the curly fries and roast beef sandwich ranked higher than Whataburger. Other items ranking higher than the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich:  Taco Bell’s chicken quesadilla, McDonald’s baked apple pie and Chipotle’s soft tacos. Auntie Anne’s pretzel landed in the top 20!

Since the list was decided by The Ringer’s staff, I asked my colleagues what they thought of the whole ranking. Here are some choice comments from our newsroom:

  • “HBCB in the middle of the night or bust.” – assistant online editor Gabrielle Munoz
  • “I won’t be reading any list that starts with Chick-fil-A fries. Gross. That being said, the Whataburger honey butter chicken biscuit is fast food nirvana.” – assistant features editor Emily Quigley
  • “Honey BBQ chicken is to die for.” – sports columnist Kirk Bohls
  • “I used to work at Raising Cane’s, and I’m very proud of that, so I take it very personally that their sauce didn’t get its own list item on this list. And – biggest mistake of all – they didn’t even mention the Whataburger Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. THEY DIDN’T EVEN MENTION IT. I’m pretty sure it’s scientifically proven to be the best thing to eat at 3 a.m. ever.” – Rachel Rice, reporter for the Westlake Picayune and Lake Travis View
  • “I’m disappointed that Taco Bell’s Cinnamon Twists aren’t on this list. Crunchy pieces of fried dough dusted with cinnamon sugar… what’s not to love?! These treats kept my sister and I happy on plenty of family road trips during our childhood.” – multimedia producer Tina Phan
  • “Wendy’s chili is getting so screwed over here.” – online content producer Joe Harrington
  • “It is absurd to rank a Shake Shack burger under a McDonald’s burger. This is not a slight on the Big Mac: I believe that every fast food item has its relative merits. There is room for, say, a Taco Cabana taco and Taco Bell taco in all our lives, on their own terms. But when one considers the objective values assigned to each component part of the hamburger – freshness of bun, flavor and texture of meat, melt of cheese – ranking a Big Mac over a Shack Burger is a farce of the highest order and an attack on the very concept of fact-based evidence. And why even bother placing Popeyes menu items in contention if you are going to exclude red beans and rice, which are the perfect side dish? Also: Blizzards are Beyonce, McFlurrys are Rita Ora. Correct placement.” – social media and engagement editor Eric Webb
  • Another one of our multimedia producers, Alyssa Vidales, just sent me this video of someone trying to burn a Big Mac using molten copper.

If fast food is your thing, go ahead and try out everything on the list. Austin is home to every chain ranked (yes, even a Culver’s!).  And if you go a little overboard, head on over to our Fit City blog for fitness tips or Relish Austin for fresh cooking ideas.

Study: Commuters driving into Austin face worst traffic in U.S.

Rush hour traffic filters through downtown Austin along I-35 looking towards the Riverside overpass and showing the Lady Bird Lake bridges Thursday morning July 16, 2015.  RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Rush hour traffic filters through downtown Austin along I-35 looking towards the Riverside overpass and showing the Lady Bird Lake bridges Thursday morning July 16, 2015.
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

If you are sitting in your car, doing zero miles an hour on Interstate 35, and you are thinking that this is the Worst. Traffic. Anywhere. … You could be right.

A new study by transportation analytics firm INRIX says that “commuters getting into Austin spent more time stuck in traffic than anyone else.” The study says highways in and out of Austin have a congestion rate of 28 percent.

Overall, Austin landed at 13th in the United States (42nd in the world) on the INRIX 2016 Traffic Scorecard Report. That’s worse than San Antonio (32nd in the U.S.), but not as bad as Dallas (7th in the U.S.).  Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco took the top 3 spots on the list, respectively.

Austin did make the Top 10, however, when it came to most congested roads. Southbound Interstate 35 (you guessed it) between Airport Boulevard and Slaughter Lane came in at No. 6, nestled between L.A. freeway I-10 eastbound and NYC’s 5th Avenue southbound.

RELATED: See the American-Statesman traffic map

WATCH: UT Austin sophomore wins Grammy tickets in The Ellen Show’s Beyoncé costume contest

Hundreds of University of Texas students flooded the campus’ Main Mall on Tuesday for a chance to win tickets to the Grammys from Ellen Degeneres. The catch? The student with the best Beyoncé costume gets the golden ticket.

jwj-beyonce-ellen-0144

The segment aired on The Ellen Show Wednesday, featuring several finalists clad in their best Queen Bey looks. In the clip, one of Degeneres’ correspondents shows off a few of the best outfits (mostly donned by UT students from Houston, Beyoncé’s hometown) and then Degeneres presents the students with a challenge: Recreate Beyoncé’s now-iconic pregnancy announcement Instagram photo from last week.

RELATED: See the best Beyoncé costumes from UT students

The winner was Katy native and UT sophomore Collin Wang, who chose not to recreate the Instagram photo but instead one of the other photos Beyoncé posted to her website after the viral announcement, featuring her underwater wrapped in flowy fabric.

RELATED: UT students get all Beyonce’d up for ‘Ellen’ TV crew

Degeneres commended Wang for his creativity, awarding him the grand prize of Grammy tickets, and recognized McKenzie Jones of Austin, Katie Lewis of Dallas, Victoria Vecchio of Houston and Alexa Vecchio of Austin with runner-up prizes: $500 gift cards to Best Buy.

RELATED: See more Beyoncé photos in our gallery

 

 

The homeless population on Red River: What people are saying

Austin American-Statesman music writer Deborah Sengupta Stith recently wrote about last week’s Austin Chronicle cover story, which addressed the tension between music venues in the Red River Cultural District and the growing homeless population in the area, due in part to the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) at the intersection of Seventh and Red River streets.

Light art is on display for "Creek Show" in and along Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Light art is on display for “Creek Show” in and along Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

As both Stith and Chronicle music writer Kevin Curtin pointed out, it’s a complex issue with no clear solution, but it’s one that requires discussion. Here’s what Statesman and Austin360 readers were saying about the story on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

https://twitter.com/radionewsman1/status/829381395013316608?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

https://twitter.com/homestyle68/status/829408076990132224

Many of the commenters bring up issues addressed by Curtin in his story:

  • The lack of police patrol in the area. Curtin interviewed the executive director of Front Steps, a nonprofit which helps the homeless at the ARCH, who said the original plans for the facility included plans for a police substation and officers stationed in the facility, but budget cuts at the Austin Police Department led to those plans being changed.
  • Those using and dealing K2. The synthetic drug has been a huge problem in Austin the past few years, as Curtin points out, with hundreds of people being hospitalized last summer and more than 1,611 users being treated for K2 use in 2016, according to Travis County paramedics.
  • Why not just move the ARCH? It’s not that simple, Curtin reports, since it’s in the middle of other necessary services for Austin’s homeless or poverty-stricken, like the Salvation Army and the Caritas.

As Stith writes, “Homelessness in Austin — and anywhere — is a complicated issue that needs to be approached thoughtfully and cautiously.”

RELATED: Travis County jury gives 5-year sentence in first K2 trafficking trial

Dennis Quaid, who still has a house in Austin, calls himself a ‘Texan at heart’

Dennis Quaid is a Texan through-and-through, or so he told CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend.

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Actor Dennis Quaid speaks at the screening for "At Any Price" during the 2013 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at the Paramount Theatre on March 16, 2013 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 16: Actor Dennis Quaid speaks at the screening for “At Any Price” during the 2013 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at the Paramount Theatre on March 16, 2013 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW)

In the Sunday segment, he showed CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith around his home, telling her, “This is the beginning of the Hill Country.” The movie star may have grown up in Houston, but he still has a home in Austin, which probably explains why he played a seemingly random pop-up show with his band, Dennis Quaid & the Sharks, at the Continental Club last Friday night.

Quaid is facing backlash surrounding his newest movie, “A Dog’s Purpose,” after video surfaced of possible animal abuse involving one of the dogs on the set of the movie. The actor was emotional speaking about the controversy and the ensuing boycott, teary-eyed as he told Smith, “I would never be on a set where dogs were mistreated or abused. I’m getting a little verklempt talking about it. Because it hits me. Dogs hit us in a certain place. You sleep with your dog. You watch TV with them. You take ‘em out in the car. And dogs, I think what they do for us, too, is they remind us of just the wonderful feeling of being alive. Simple as that.”

Despite the controversy, “A Dog’s Purpose” earned $18.4 million its opening weekend.

RELATED: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ premiere canceled as video of possible abuse investigated, author issues statement