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Thursday, May 8, 2008

What's Vanishing Next?

At a much-loved Austin coffee shop on West 6th Street in Clarksville, a young man behind the counter handed me my biscotti, looking on in astonishment at my Vanishing Austin series. "All these places are gone??" he asked, seeming a bit dumbfounded.

"No no no," I told him hastily. "This series of photographs is my take on what Austin stands to lose whenever a new high-rise condo overtakes the old-style artsy Austin buildings with all the charm and funk and personality that these have." (well, I said that more or less.)

He seemed relieved.

"But look," I pointed out. "Already this is gone. And this. This, too." We both looked longingly at the Alamo Drafthouse neon sign that once enlivened the Warehouse District (I called my image Remember the Alamo). And we contemplated the image I called Frisco Gold, where soon Walgreen's would stand in place of the Frisco-Nighthawk's vivid golden orange-roofed home on Burnet Road.

But his face lit up when he saw the one-of-a-kind mural that Marriott would soon raze--painted on the side of the building next to Las Manitas (Avenue Cafe) on Congress. "That Joseph's mural," he explained about the image I call Stylin' High, "I love seeing that mural because that's my name. Joseph."

We both considered this loss solemnly.

He promised to visit my Vanishing Austin blog and post a comment.


Iris and David said...

Jann.. we sure could have used you with Vanishing Clarenden.. like ole Austin, there was a charm that was completely unstudied, it reflected the ways in which people lived without drawing inordinate attention to themselves. It wasn't a movement, it wasn't a trend, it was just the way people lived... There was, on one of the last of the old Clarenden buildings.. alas, too late... a hand spray painted "Keep Clarenden Weird".. and of course, the developers have made it anything but. Too bad. And I hate to see whats happened to the loveable parts of town in Austin. Keep up the good work. Sad to say, but maybe this is how museums of the future will be able to remember something which once was, and is more. And, can I get another cup of decaf with that toast, hon??


david b.
arlington, virginia

Jann Alexander at said...

David, I appreciate your insightful reminder that yes, I lamented the passing of Vanishing Clarendon at the time, too . . . my sister in Florida suggested I start a series there on Vanishing Panama City. I suppose it is pandemic. What's next, Vanishing Oshkosh?

Missing my Arlington connections--Jann in Austin!

Greta Olivas said...

It's amazing when you see all the places that are no longer there. Austin is just not the same. I am all for progress, but everything does not have to "vanish"!

Jann Alexander at said...

I agree, Greta, that is the issue--how to have progress while maintaining the heart and soul of our city. thanks for your feedback--Jann

Laurel Daniel said...

Hey Jann, In the face of change, it's comforting to see these images captured for all time. I am one of those who loves to see the old black and whites from before we even got to this point. Since change is inevitable, I am with you - let's at least try and preserve Austin's wonderful character! I LOVE your series!
Love, Laurel

Jann Alexander at said...

Laurel, thanks so much for your comments--I, too, love to study the old b/ws for what was. and of course I love to imagine myself in the time period they evoke with all the mystery of who and what was there, and what were the actual colors, anyway???

I appreciate your insights! Jann

Riley said...

Cool... Indeed, very well.


Jann Alexander at said...

appreciate the praise, thanks for checking it out!

bigsley123 said...

One New Year's Eve a few years ago, I spent a magical weekend exploring Austin with a recent transplant from DC. Seeing your images of Vanishing Austin, I wonder how many of my special places remain: the Hula Hut, with its Gauguinesque murals; the Oasis with its lake-front, sunset snack scene; the Broken Spoke for the best fiddle-fired New Year's Eve on the planet; and the astonishingly creative blaze of Christmas lights on 37th Street. Are all these weird-Austin venues still standing? Any chance you've photographed them? I'd love to see.

Jann Alexander at said...

your descriptions are spot-on and luckily, most of these all still stand--the Oasis, despite a fire, is rebuit; Hula Hut, despite losing its lovely sister restaurant, Lucy's Boatyard (see, is as popular as ever; the Spoke, though the land around it will be developed, has just said no to development that would emperil its fiddlin.' The 37th Street Christmas lights contest is tamer than in recent years, due to changes in the hood. Of course we recently just said farewell to Tesoros and the Frisco Shop--both relocated to make way for corporate America to copycat itself in their longtime homes. Thanks for your very colorful comments! --Jann

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

In the 60's the Boston Redevelopment Authority razed the entire West End of Boston. Displacing all the folks and losing all history.
Built City Hall Plaza which might be the biggest, widest, windiest or hottest season depending) wasteland of brick, maybe anywhere. Those how remember, still mourn the loss.
I love your series.