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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Finally, Overtaken

Vanishing Austin/Overtaken 
by Jann Alexander, © 2006

More than a year before a corporate giant’s expansion plans doomed Las Manitas, I enjoyed my first breakfast there amid the late Saturday morning hub-bub and was greeted as warmly as a regular by Cynthia Perez, one of two sisters who’ve owned the Congress Avenue café for over 25 years. She took note of my bandaged thumb, offering some homespun wisdom to aid its recovery from the car-door-slamming that had it throbbing that day, and suddenly lessened my focus on the pain with the unexpected comfort she gave.

Maybe that’s why the left-over neon of the old Avenue Café sign, vivid blue and framed against the turquoise of a new landmark building, the Frost Bank tower, caught me so suddenly when I left Las Manitas that day; the image was so clear. Old and new both embracing a cyan Austin sky. That’s when I made the photograph that would inspire my Vanishing Austin series and set me searching for more of Austin’s architectural funk before it bows to development. The little café that would become the icon for keeping Austin weird in another year had just become my icon for Vanishing Austin.


Laurel Daniel said...

It's truly vanishing... I am so sad but so glad you got it saved in a photograph.

Laurel Daniel said...

Me Again. I have just nominated you for the Brilliante WEBlog Award because I love your vision to connect the past with the future and to just get some great images that say "Austin" old and new. Keep 'em coming! The rules for passing it along are on my Sept. 11 blog entry. XOXO Laurel

Jann Alexander at said...

Laurel, I do so appreciate your enthusiasm for this blog!! thanks for the nomination, too. xoxoJann

Patrick said...

You know, I heard that they were going to tear the Cafe down, but for some reason I never made it over there. I've lived in Austin for only three years, but I've witnessed downtown/SoCo change dramatically.

One time while I was working an event downtown one of the ladies who worked there brought me a glass of tea while I was photographing outside of their building in the hot Texas sun. Pretty awesome. Too bad that was my only Las Manitas experience...