Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rapper Flo Rida, Latin musician Enrique Iglesias among more concerts planned ... - Austin American-Statesman (blog)

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Circuit of the Americas this morning announced details of several concerts and festivals that will take place downtown during Formula One week, scheduled for November.

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Rapper Flo Rida (right) and Latin artist Enrique Iglesias (below) will perform at the Austin Convention Center, which organizers said will be transformed into a stylish nightspot called “COTA Club,” organizers said.

Flo Rida will perform Nov. 16, and Iglesias will perform Nov. 17. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at www.ticketmaster.com.

Aerosmith and Cheap Trick are also scheduled to perform at the Erwin Center on Nov. 16 as part of the Formula One festivities.

Tickets for that concert go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday at TexasBoxOffice.com.

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The concerts will run in conjunction with two major events planned for downtown Austin: Fan Fest Powered by Mobil 1, which is being organized by the circuit, and another organized by Run-Tex called Experience Austin.

The festivals, which would take up several blocks of downtown, are scheduled from the evening of Nov. 16, through early Nov. 19, organizers say.

Fan Fest, centered around Congress Avenue and Colorado Street near the Warehouse District, will “celebrate Formula One the sport” and will feature displays by a number of Grand Prix racing teams and sponsors, along with live music and food.

A list of free, live performances scheduled for the stages at the Fan Fest will be released next month at www.austinfanfest.com. Organizers said it will be open to the public.

Circuit officials are also planning several after-parties for the evenings of Nov. 16 through 18.

Latin musician Juanes will perform on Nov. 16, rapper Lupe Fiasco (below) will perform Nov. 17 and the Wallflowers will play Nov. 18 at the ACL Live at the Moody Theater downtown. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at www.acl-live.com.

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The circuit is also hosting an “Official After Party” on Nov. 18 at the Bob Bullock State History Museum that will feature Ghostland Observatory, the Wailers and more, officials said. Tickets also go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at ticketmaster.com.

“Racing enthusiasts from around the world will converge in Austin this fall to celebrate the return of Formula 1 racing to the United States, and we want to throw a Texas-sized party to show our guests what makes our city special,” circuit President Steve Sexton said in a statement. “From racing team exhibits, simulators and interactive displays, to a sampling of Austin’s cuisine and live music scene, the best of motorsports will meet the best of the Lone Star State in downtown Austin for three days this November.”

Another festival, Experience Austin is planned for the area downtown near the Capitol and will be “your typical Austin street festival,” with food, drink, music and artists, Alexandra Stewart, community events coordinator for Run-Tex, has said.

Organizers have applied to the city to close 28 blocks downtown in the area between Lady Bird Lake, Interstate 35, MLK Jr. Boulevard and Lavaca Street for the festivities. Some of those closures would last a week, organizers have said.

All three applications for street closures are in a public comment phase that ended Monday.

Circuit organizers originally planned to hold a music festival at Auditorium Shores and had sought an exception from the City Council because 25 days of events are already scheduled there, the maximum allowed under city rules.

However, the Junior League of Austin had already scheduled its fundraiser and holiday market, A Christmas Affair, at nearby Palmer Events Center at that time and was worried about traffic and parking problems, as well as a possible loss in fundraising.

Circuit and Junior League organizers had productive meetings but couldn’t reach consensus, said Andy Mormon, chief of staff to Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

So the mayor withdrew a proposal he had authored to allow the music festival at the parkland overlooking downtown.

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Formula One downtown festivities

Austin Fan Fest, downtown; free
6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Nov. 16
10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Nov. 17
10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Nov. 18.
For more information, visit www.austinfanfest.com

Austin Convention Center, 500 East Cesar Chavez St.
• Flo Rida: Nov. 16
• Enrique Iglesias: Nov. 17
Doors will open at 7 p.m. both nights with shows starting at 8.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at www.ticketmaster.com

Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River St.
• Aerosmith: Nov. 16
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday at www.TexasBoxOffice.com

ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.
• Juanes: Nov. 16
• Lupe Fiasco: Nov. 17
• The Wallflowers: Nov. 18
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and all shows start at 9 p.m.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at www.acl-live.com

Bob Bullock State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave.
• Ghostland Observatory, Fitz & the Tantrums, the Wailers, DJ Jillian Ann and Tje Austin: Nov. 18
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at www.ticketmaster.com

Top photo: Ghostland Observatory performs at an outdoor concert downtown in March. The Austin band is scheduled to perform at an official after party Nov. 18 at the Bob Bullock State History Museum downtown.

Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

All other photos: The Associated Press

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Whalers band sail past marketing, focus on music - UT The Daily Texan

There is a line that separates cool impartiality from blatant unprofessionalism, and local alternative-rock band Whalers is attempting to build their career by flirting with that line.

Made up of five members ranging from ages 27 to 31, Whalers is the quintessential picture of how a small band comprised of five men might look. When they aren’t playing music, they are probably discussing the acting career of Diane Keaton, drinking Guinness at their favorite dive bar or criticizing drummer Milos Bertram for his love of ‘90s rock music.

If there is anything that can be said about Whalers, it is that there is no predicting what they will do or say next. Their animated and impulsive atmosphere could be one of the key factors to the band’s live performance energy.

“In addition to being a fun live band, one of the things I find great about them is their ability to promote,” said Kristyn Ciani, talent buyer for C3 Presents.

However, according to Gus Smalley, lead singer and University of Texas alumnus, Whalers has yet to really promote an album.

“Every time we release something, we’re just like, ‘Hey guys, new album,’ and when we say ‘Hey guys,’ we mean no one,” said Smalley of their laid-back approach to the business side of the music industry.

Whalers chooses to let the steady beats and punchy tones of their alternative, surf-rock music speak for itself. For this group of men, the mundane matters of music business, image and marketing are not top priority.

“We’re 99, if not 100, percent committed to making the best music we can and don’t spend a lot of time thinking about image or marketing,” Smalley said. “We’re definitely not cool-looking. None of us are trying to look like we’re in a band, except maybe me. And if I didn’t, we’d just look like the biggest bunch of squares.”

This simplistic, almost humorous approach to the blood-sucking monster that is the modern-day music industry has worked for the band thus far. Whalers has played shows around Austin and in various venues across Texas. But the group has some goals for the future that involve more national exposure and could require a bit of straightening up.

“We want to write the next hit song for the next hit sitcom on CBS,” said guitarist Kyle Rother.

“Yeah, like something somewhere between ‘Charles in Charge’ and ‘Growing Pains,’” the vocal and pragmatic Bertram added.

Bertram’s naturally outspoken and sardonic nature almost perfectly fits the mold of the stereotypical rock-band drummer. When he’s not banging out driving rhythms from behind his drum kit, his booming voice is filling the void.

“I beat on things. I beat on shit,” said Bertram in his trademark boisterous tone. “I live on one philosophy: I make it go boom-boom.”

The entire band follows suit when it comes to the playful, self-described goofy atmosphere surrounding the table where they sit and share a plate of fried pickles.

“We all generally have the same type of humor, which leads to some pretty crazy antics,” said Amir Mozafari, bassist and UT alumnus.

Whalers isn’t in the habit of taking themselves too seriously. In fact, they do quite the opposite.

“Why not make it so over-the-top that it’s ridiculous?” Bertram said. “We don’t take ourselves so seriously to the point where nothing’s funny.”

This blase attitude radiates throughout the band’s two previously released EPs. With track titles like “Cheat on Each Other” and “I Slept With Her, Too,” it is clear Whalers is not trying to hide or overcomplicate anything. Their straightforward approach to songwriting is refreshing, but it may lack the depth that keeps people listening.

It could be that the banal nature of their songwriting is purposeful. While some bands and musicians have lofty, grandiose and somewhat pretentious dreams of inspiring generations with their deeply misunderstood and angst-filled tunes, Whalers has one over-reigning reason for choosing to make music.

“College girls,” Smalley said. “That’s our answer to everything: college girls.”

Whalers will be playing a free set following the Beach House concert at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Thursday.

Take charge of your course requirements - UT The Daily Texan

As the fall semester begins, one academic area where students struggle for ownership is the University’s 42-hour core curriculum. A common requirement for all students, the core curriculum features the first-year signature course as well as coursework in English composition, literature, American and Texas government, history, social and behavioral sciences, mathematics, natural sciences and technology and visual and performing arts.

Students view these courses as simply boxes to check off on their degree plans. As the University’s Commission of 125 â€" a group of citizens chartered with formulating a vision for how UT Austin can best serve Texas and the world for next 25 years â€" stated in 2004, these courses “resemble little more than a vast a la carte menu.”

While significant and innovative steps such as the creation of signature courses and the development of the School of Undergraduate Studies have been taken to strengthen the University’s core curriculum, for many students the courses encompassed in the 42-hour core curriculum still resemble that of a Cheesecake Factory menu with little connection from course to course.

This lack of cohesion in the core curriculum prevents students from taking ownership of their core classes and seeing them as an enriching part of their academic experience rather than a hurdle they must hurry up and jump over in order to continue on the path to a degree.

No matter what major students choose or field they enter, the subjects addressed in the core curriculum can help provide a well-rounded education. However, this can only be accomplished if students actually view these courses as beneficial and are able to make the core curriculum work for them by finding unique academic pathways.

In order for these pathways to exist, students must take steps toward ownership of their education by providing feedback about their experiences with the core curriculum.

Students can provide such feedback through a short survey, initially sent a few weeks ago to 8,000 randomly selected sophomores, juniors, and seniors. By simply completing the survey, students can help improve the university’s core curriculum and provide data to ultimately lay the groundwork for a more effective core with which students can find their own academic pathways.

Despite great strides and improvements, the University’s core curriculum remains an area in dire need of strengthening if it is to fulfill its core purpose and truly allow students to see it for its benefit rather than the “vast a la carte menu” described by the Commission of 125. The University’s 2005 Task Force on Curricular Reform â€" a group led by now President Powers, then dean of the School of Law, designed to evaluate UT Austin’s core curriculum and make recommendations for improvement â€" reiterated the Commission’s finding that “course-selection decisions are frequently driven by class availability, convenience and whim.”

Students now have a chance to have their voices heard and help positively reform the 42-hours, which affect every student’s degree plan. Students now have a chance to take ownership of it.

â€" Morton is the president of the Senate of College Councils

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Police: No distance restrictions on where people can film officers - Austin American-Statesman

By Patrick George

Published: 9:14 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012

Austin police officials now say they won't ask members of the public who film officers to stay 50 to 60 feet away from them as indicated in an August news conference after the arrest of a local activist.

Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix said he believes it would be "arbitrary" to assign a certain distance between officers and people who might be filming them, as well as difficult to enforce.

"I don't think there's a practical way of doing that," Mannix said. "There is no magic number of feet. The officer is going to make a determination of how much of a buffer zone they're going to need to keep themselves safe, and they'll communicate that to folks at the time."

Mannix's statements represent a change in direction from comments police officials made last month, after Austin activist Antonio Buehler was charged with interference with public duties when police said his actions compromised an arrest they were making downtown.

At a news conference late last month, police Cmdr. Troy Gay, who oversees downtown patrols, said he would like people filming police to stay 50 to 60 feet away. It would be not an official policy, Gay said, but rather a guideline being developed for officers.

But Mannix said department officials never seriously contemplated quantified distance restrictions on filming.

"Our basic rule of thumb is if an officer has to pay more attention to you than the business at hand, and they let you know that, you're interfering with their duties at that point," Mannix said.

"We knew that (having distance restrictions) would never play anyway, and if it did, it would have ended in lawsuits," Buehler said Tuesday.

A training bulletin issued to officers Aug. 28 said officers are to give clear verbal commands to people they believe are interfering, to direct people to go to a certain location where they will not interfere and to give two warnings before making an arrest.

On Aug. 26, two officers were investigating a "verbal disturbance" on Sixth Street between Christopher Williams, who was later arrested after officers determined he had an active arrest warrant, and a woman, an arrest affidavit said. Buehler and two members of his activist group began filming the arrest from 15 to 20 feet away, causing Williams to become agitated and uncooperative with officers, according to the affidavit.

Eventually, Buehler was handcuffed and arrested after refusing to keep his distance from the officers, the affidavit said.

Buehler made headlines for a controversial Jan. 1 incident in which he stopped to take photographs of an arrest at a Central Austin gas station and was charged with interference in an investigation, according to court records. His criminal case is pending. A police internal affairs investigation cleared the officers of wrongdoing in the arrest.

After the January arrest, Buehler founded the Peaceful Streets Project, which focuses on police accountability, including filming police encounters and posting them online.

Contact Patrick George at 445-3548; Twitter 
@patrickgeorge1

Leave The Taxpayer Out Of The Equation - Austin Chronicle

Dear Editor,
    Re: “The Med School Solution” [News, Sept. 14]: In a short course of time, the voters will be asked to make educated decisions based upon limited information that has been supplied by Sen. Kirk Watson, Seton, University of Texas, and the Central Health district. I can understand their desire to move quickly because of the monies that would be received from the Medicaid 1115 waiver program. But an emergency on their part to get this property tax passed does not constitute an emergency on the taxpayer’s part. Open public discussion, criticisms, and vetting of the issues are paramount to good public decision making, especially in times of fiscal restraint.
    A recent article by Laura Pressley, Ph.D., which came out in the Austin American-Statesman, stated, “there are more cost effective methods for delivering health care, and those solutions don’t require building a medical school and a new hospital.” Which brings up the point again that needs to be explored, is a new city hospital needed or a new medical school, or both? Or does Austin need more health care providers at the clinics to serve the poor and uninsured? Any consideration given to expanding allied health providers (nurses, dietitians, social workers, exercise trainers) working collaboratively with clinic physicians? Isn’t the crux of the issue to serve the poor and uninsured?
    The Central Health Board did a disservice by not having open meetings. Ms. Patricia Young Brown was quoted that taxpayers need not be privy to their negotiations. I would argue that transparency is essential to the people who will have to foot the bill. I understand that they are serving the poor and uninsured but this approach was wrongheaded especially considering Austin’s educated public.
    I support a new medical school here in Austin. It will create jobs and bring in smart people. We already have a nursing school and a law school. But the difference is that they were not constructed with a $50 million taxpayer subsidy. Leave the taxpayer out of the equation and build it. Will it solve the health issues of the poor and uninsured? Look to other cities that have medical schools and see if there is still a problem. Let’s see the studies that support it. Austin is becoming unaffordable even by the admission of the Austin American-Statesman. Our Legislature needs to take note or they might face a Proposition 13 in the near future.

Paul J. Violand, CRNA, MS
Certified registered nurse anesthetist

The entry titled "Crews on scene of gas main break; AISD says Crockett HS will ... - Austin American-Statesman (blog)

Home > The Blotter > Archives > 2012 > September > 18 > Entry

Crews have repaired a gas leak that disrupted traffic near Stassney Lane and Manchaca Road in South Austin this morning but was not a danger to people, officials said.

Traffic has been mostly restored near Crockett High School, although one lane of eastbound Stassney and a right-turn lane from northbound Manchaca to eastbound Stassney remain closed, Austin fire Battalion Chief Palmer Buck said.

The leak was stopped shortly after 7 a.m., about four hours after Austin Water Utility officials reported the break, Buck said. Austin Water crews were working on a main in the area and hit a gas line, officials have said.

Classes will start on time at Crockett High School, and class times at nearby Odom middle and Cunningham elementary schools were not affected, school officials said.

Austin school officials have talked to emergency workers, and the levels are not a danger to people in the area, schools spokeswoman Helena Wright said.

“The gas levels are still safe,” Wright said. “It is business as usual.”

Crockett students are being asked to enter through a side entrance, where buses and other vehicles will conduct dropoffs as well, Wright said.


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Monday, September 17, 2012

The entry titled "Police question man in architect's downtown death." - Austin American-Statesman (blog)

Home > The Blotter > Archives > 2012 > September > 17 > Entry

Austin police say they have identified the man seen in the surveillance footage taken shortly before the death of architect Matt Casey, who died last week of injuries he suffered during an attack downtown.

Officials said the man has been questioned by investigators and that no charges have been filed.

Police said Casey died Sept. 10 of injuries he suffered after he was struck in the head in the early morning hours of Sept. 3.

Homicide Sgt. Scott Ehlert said that about 12:45 a.m. that day, police were flagged down by bystanders who told them a man was lying on the ground at Sixth and Neches streets.

Investigators believe the man, identified as Casey, became involved in a verbal argument with an unidentified man and woman in the street, and one of them struck him in the back of the head, causing him to fall and hit his head on the concrete, Ehlert said.

Ehlert said that investigators do not know the motive for the attack, or which suspect hit Casey. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Police last week released surveillance footage of a man and woman seen in the area shortly before the incident occurred.

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