A. The Vertical Mixed Use (VMU) ordinance is bringing substantial development to transit corridors. The Zilker area alone will add 1,700 dwelling units by 2013, with many more in the works. VMU is bringing density, but the units will be very expensive and every development will be “over-parked” with more traffic and cars coming to crowded roads. Do these developments match your vision for our transit corridors, and what changes would you make to improve future VMU projects?B. If we expect people to get out of their cars, there have to be alternatives in place for them to get around. Capital Metro has reduced its service through the Zilker neighborhood. Last year a bicyclist was killed on S. Lamar. The intersection of Bluebonnet and S. Lamar was recently identified as one of the riskiest pedestrian crossings in the city. What transportation options do you propose for close-in neighborhoods, and how will these fit in among existing or proposed projects?C. Property tax payments have risen sharply in the last 10 years, and have continued to rise in the South Central neighborhoods. How will you be a good steward of our taxes, and ensure that services and infrastructure in older neighborhoods keep pace with their higher cost of living?D. The Heritage Tree Ordinance reflects the importance of green space and ecology to Austinites. Yet we consistently see exceptions to the ordinance, allowing for the removal of desirable trees or construction into the critical root zones. How will you address our urban tree canopy in the face of an ongoing drought and development pressure?E. Zilker Park is the crown jewel in our city’s park system as a place to gather, explore, and play. It is also highly sought after as a concert venue, athletic field, and commercial area. At what point does the park begin to lose value for the public in favor of private interests, and where do you draw that line?F. A year ago, Zilker Elementary and several other urban schools were identified for closure. That process has passed, but there will continue to be annual facility reviews looking at this option. Meanwhile, AISD continues to explore building more facilities in less urban locations. Should the city encourage families and schools to invest in urban neighborhoods, and if so, how?G. S. Lamar is caught in between being a highway for downtown access and an increasingly urban road with residential and retail uses. How do transit corridors like S. Lamar provide the greatest value to Austin, as a highway or as a mixed-use city street? Can they serve both purposes?H. The Imagine Austin plan is coming. Public voting identified affordability, education, transit, and several other factors as most important, while rewriting the land development code was dead last. Yet the emphasis of implementation seems to be focused solely on rewriting the code. How will you ensure that the public priorities are followed so that Imagine Austin will meet the goals that Austinites have identified?I. The debate over Short-Term Rentals (STRs) has highlighted a distinction between traditional residential and commercial uses in neighborhoods. Is it appropriate for residential zoning to be used for something other than residential dwellings?J. Property values continue to rise, making South Central residences increasingly unaffordable. At the same time, the City’s budget for Affordable Housing projects is dwindling. What solutions do you propose to keep neighborhoods in reach for people at all income levels?There are many other important issues facing our next Mayor, and other forums have gone into detail about single-member districts, water policy and the like. I hope that this event will lend a unique South Austin flavor and a little fresh dialogue to the mayoral race.
All eyes may be on the Circuit of the Americas and its warily anticipated first date with Bernie and Formula One this November, but the bi-wheel inclined must bide our time until MotoGP joins the party in 2013. Fortunately Texans have plenty of opportunities to live out our race fantasies on tracks around Texas.
There are five active tracks that lease public track time through a variety of organizations, with a sixth possible if Elite Trackdays schedules dates for Harris Hill this year. Everyone from nervous newbies to battle-hardened experts are welcome, with multiple classes offered at most events. The race-minded can get licensed and compete with the CMRA in a single weekend.
Given the Texas climate and a persistent La Niña pattern, it’s never too early in the race season to find warm and dry days for turning wheels in anger. This weekend marks the first chance for track time in 2012, with races and track days piling on in February. Get out the wrenches and safety wire, and start lining up any one of the 78 events I’ve compiled below!
Much is being made about access, or rather the lack of it, to the proposed Formula One track in Austin. Concerns abound that the site is currently accessible by 3 two-lane roads, two of which would make John Denver proud. The County started the bidding at 12 hour delays in post-race departures. Organizers initially countered with a weak contra-flow blurb and are now floating 3 hour delays after $15 million of somebody’s money goes to road improvements. In any case, nobody thinks that will happen by the inaugural race in 2012.
Full Throttle Productions has secured the services of two traffic management teams. Even though one is British, I’ll have to assume that the plans will ultimately converge around how to shuffle the maximum amount of cars over to TX-130 and surrounding highways. This is America after all, and Texas by God, so to do otherwise would be foolish. But what a shame if that’s all this event, and this track, aspire to.
Back in 2004, Dr. Max and I jetted to Europe to live the MotoGP fan’s dream. The Italian and Catalunyan GP’s covered successive weekends in July, so we packed three countries, two world championship races, and one flight with Mick Doohan into 10 days of awesome. Both races were manic, jam-packed affairs with thousands of gregarious Mediterraneans pouring in and out of state-of-the-art racing facilities. And while chaotic, both events seemed to clear out relatively easily within an hour or so.
The Italian GP was particularly notable as a state-of-the-art racing jewel nestled amidst rolling Tuscan hills. The main highway (A1 Motorway) is at least a few miles off the track, and the linking roads are mostly two-lane. Dr. Max and I walked 5km to the nearest train stop since there were no discernable shuttles or taxis between the Mugello Circuit and Borgo San Lorenzo. But what the hell, it was gorgeous countryside and there was hardly any traffic on our route.
Attendance that day was 85,000 strong, with perhaps 120,000 for the weekend. How is it possible that a track in the middle of nowhere could accommodate that many screaming Italians, and yet our backroad egress was minimally used? Granted, we stormed the track to kiss Mugello curbing and bask in Rossi’s home court triumph, so we were an hour or more off the pace. Nonetheless, I can’t help but think that there are some things Austin can do to mimic the Tuscan experience, and help keep the traffic manageable for 2012.
- Promote Camping: The Italians set up shop on every square inch of the Mugello site, often piling up in the middle of pathways. Americans aren’t quite so good at cramped chaos, but still would benefit from keeping as many people onsite for the weekend. This not only boosts attendance for qualifying, but makes it likely more people will linger after the racing to tear down before shipping out. RV’s larger than team trucks should be banned, however.
- Stage an Event: Some venues hold concerts Sunday night. There aren’t many better towns than Austin to accommodate that, but it would be more creative to promote a Kerrville-esque camping jam over some lame has-been classic monsters of crap arena shlock. I don’t really want to segue from one crowded noisy event to another, but I would love to hang around and see some orchestrated hoot nights or small stage events. Think ACL Festival, circa 2001 (which means Ryan Adams will careen around the darkened track in a golf cart).
- Welcome Two-Wheeled Attendees: I almost died from exhaust asphyxiation, but the Euros sure did pack a lot of bikes in for those races. There are a fair number of motorcyclists here who would relish the chance to hold an impromptu ROT rally before the race. And do you think somebody in Austin might be able to organize a benefit bicycle ride to and from the track? Lance whatsisname? Get the two-wheelers in and give them a dedicated lane to get out, move lots more people in the process.
- Make Shuttles Rational: There has yet to be an Austin event with good shuttle service, but surely somebody can figure this out. Here’s a hint: a lot of people want to leave on shuttles at the same time when the event is over, so have more ready. Give the buses a dedicated route with access to a limited number of pre-designated lots nearby. Coordinate with neighbors … it’s Elroy Texas, they have open space.
- Build a Real Rail Line Already: All you need is to lay tracks and make the choo-choo go where lots of people need to be: Race track, Airport, Downtown … done. But unless this track gets built in Cedar Park and all race attendees live along Mo-Pac, there won’t be useful rail service for this event. Come to think of it, there won’t be useful rail service anywhere in Austin, ever.
- Limit On-Site Development: Admittedly, this goal has little to do with traffic. Part of what makes the event special is the location and surroundings. Mugello has its rolling vineyards. Laguna Seca has the terrain-inspired corkscrew. Phillip Island has the ocean and pulverized seagulls. Austin should have fields and farmhouses, with longhorns and longbow hunters frolicking to a 200 mph symphony. Red and Tavo can chose to embrace the rural Texas life they are plundering, or they can erect a high-dosh Domain pseudo-community and show the world the true spirit of what Austin has become.
Good luck to Red and Tavo. I’m excited about the opportunity to see MotoGP and World Superbikes, even if that means having to feign enthusiasm for Formula One tedium. And in the event that this does turn out to be a huge boondoggle, at least the citizens of Elroy will have access to the world’s largest lawnmower racing R&D facility.
Plenty has been said about Mad Men as a well-written simulacrum of advertising in the 1960′s. The show, using Madison Avenue as a backdrop, has something to say about many topics: social mores in the post-war period, cultural shifts among women and minorities, suburbanization, and youth culture, to name a few. And it’s damn entertaining.
But for me, the writing is never more resonant than when it speaks truth to business. Mad Men takes place in an advertising agency, but the commentary often applies directly to marketing departments, or to agency work in general. The central character, Don Draper, is a creative director with an innate skill to manipulate human emotions, but too many insecurities and near-psychoses to feel his own. These two elements come together in coldly accurate assessments that are as relevant to my job today as in the fictional world of Sterling Cooper.
On difficult clients:
“You’re a non-believer. Why should we waste time on Kabuki?”
[CLIENT] “I don’t know what that means.”
“It means that you’ve already tried your plan and you’re number four. You’ve enlisted my expertise and you’ve rejected it to go on the way you’ve been going. I’m not interested in that. You can understand.”
[CLIENT] “I don’t think your three months or however many thousands of dollars entitles you to refocus the core of our business.”
“Listen, I’m not here to tell you about Jesus. You already know about Jesus; he either lives in your heart or he doesn’t.”
(Season 1, Episode 13)
“Clients don’t understand; their success is related to standing out, not fitting in … Paint them a picture; one wants to be the needle in the haystack, not a haystack.”
(Season 2, Episode 1)
On young hires:
“You’re talking as if they’re some fresh version of us. They’re not. Young people don’t know anything; especially that they’re young.”
(Season 2, Episode 1)
On public relations:
“PR people understand this, but they can never execute: If you don’t like the conversation, change it.”
(Season 3, Episode 2)
On design (or marketing in general):
“You’re not an artist Peggy, you solve problems.”
(Season 3, Episode 2)
“Some snakes go months without eating. And then, when they finally do, they suffocate from eating too much. Let’s take this one opportunity at a time.”
(Season 3, Episode 6)
On motivating employees:
“You’re good. Get better. Stop asking for things. Close the door.”
(Season 3, Episode 7)
I have yet to catch up to Season 4, but there appears to be an episode directed at Marketing Research, as described by CMB. I can hardly wait to see it.
For once it’s nice to read about a celebrity who experiences success and notoriety after their bout with drugs and alcoholism. I love Ferguson’s humor, and am only slightly disappointed that more of it doesn’t come through on the page. His personality comes across best when the story is rooted in Scotland, physically or metaphorically.
Scottish people love to dance. Only certain types of dancing, though. The kind that comes with a set of rules and instructions. We are, after all, the great engineers. Organized stamping and clapping or structured reels and skips are what the Scots want – God forbid anything involving sexiness or free expression, no fluid or sensual movements, please. No squeezy buttocks pushing against groins to a salsa beat, that’s just the kind of thing that leads to people talking about their feelings.
As youthful debauchery transitions into growing celebrity, it is perhaps inevitable that the book loses some of its anarchic self-awareness and slips into something of a procedural for unlikely success. But I found it impossible to stop reading this breezy and engaging story, spun with an outsider’s perspective that avoids many of the usual tropes of an American rags-to-riches tale.
Genuinely moving and insightful, the book serves as reminder to follow your interests, even (or especially) when they lead to unfamiliar territory.