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

Austin Twitter to Trump: Don’t tax my Topo Chico

President Donald Trump announced his method Thursday for paying for that border wall he commissioned Wednesday: a 20 percent tax on all goods imported from Mexico.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the plan would generate $10 billion a year and “easily pay for the wall,” according to the Associated Press.

Later, Spicer said the 20 percent tariff was just one of several options available to the administration to pay for the wall.

The announcement set off a firestorm on Twitter. Users were quick to point out the many things imported from Mexico that would balloon in price if the tax is approved by Congress, like cars and car parts ($24 billion worth, according to CNN Money), telephones ($11.9 billion), refrigerators ($4.1 billion), tomatoes ($1.8 billion) and beer like Corona, Modelo and Dos Equis ($2.8 billion).

But you know what else comes from Mexico?

Topo Chico.

topo2

You know what Texans love?

Topo Chico.

The wonderful mineral water drink started trending on Twitter in Austin shortly after Trump’s tax announcement. Users were passionate, to say the least.

Other users were dispirited about the taxation of other alcohols such as tequila, Corona and Dos Equis. Republican South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham called the plan “mucho sad.”

via GIPHY

https://twitter.com/EvilMopacATX/status/824725208883986434

https://twitter.com/soniasaraiya/status/824719834764247041

What about you? Do you think the tax plan will get approved? What item would you hate to see get taxed?

Why does Matthew McConaughey live in Austin? The answer is simple

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves attend a party at the Highball before the Austin premiere of McConaughey's movie "Gold" on Jan. 12, 2017. Contributed by Rick Kern
Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves attend a party at the Highball before the Austin premiere of McConaughey’s movie “Gold” on Jan. 12, 2017. Contributed by Rick Kern

Sure, the Uvalde-born Matthew McConaughey is a Texan’s Texan with an obvious affinity for the Lone Star State …

EXHIBIT A: Yes, that's Matthew McConaughey back there cheering on a Longhorn touchdown during an October 1999 game. Photo by Sung Park / American-Statesman
EXHIBIT A: Yes, that’s Matthew McConaughey back there cheering on a Longhorn touchdown during an October 1999 game. Photo by Sung Park / American-Statesman

… but the Hollywood superstar could live anywhere he wants — and afford to bring plenty of Texas with him — why does he live in Austin?

The answer is simple: Family. In an interview with ABC News film and TV critic Peter Travers, McConaughey said “my mother is there, the rest of my family is there, part of the reason for going back there was having kids.”

McConaughey has lived here in Austin with his wife, Camila Alves, and their three children. His mom, Kay, lives in the Sun City retirement community near Georgetown.

Last week, McConaughey appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to promote his new film, “Gold” — wearing, fittingly, a shirt emblazoned with Texas yellow roses …

RELATED: Photos of Matthew McConaughey through the years

Austin’s cutest couple contest 2017: Is it you?

Pam and Chris LeBlanc smooch at the Puppy Love mural outside Mud Puppies on East Riverside Drive.
Pam and Chris LeBlanc smooch at the Puppy Love mural outside Mud Puppies on East Riverside Drive.

You guys are cute.  But are you the cutest? We see your matching shirts. We see your mutual love and respect. But seriously, are you the cutest?

A fun, romantic Austin publication is seeking the cutest couple the city has to offer. That publication is us, and we hope it’s you. If you think your love is a little more than Instagram-worthy, send us a picture and accompanying story by Jan. 31 (link to enter below). After that public voting will be open from Feb. 1-10 and used to determine which couple takes the cute cake.

The adorable winning pair will receive a $100 gift card and the unshakable expectation that they remain forever cute. Good luck to you and yours.

ENTER: Austin360’s Cutest Couples Contest

Bobby Bones raises almost $6 million for St. Jude

Austin DJ Bobby Bones and his band The Raging Idiots were joined by some of country music’s biggest stars Monday night at the Ryman Auditorium to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Photo: (l to r) Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; St. Jude patients Ian and Kenlie; iHeartMedia radio personality Bobby Bones and Grammy Award-winning country music artist Garth Brooks on stage for $2 million check presentation. (PRNewsFoto/St. Jude Children's Research Ho)
Photo: (l to r) Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; St. Jude patients Ian and Kenlie; iHeartMedia radio personality Bobby Bones and Grammy Award-winning country music artist Garth Brooks on stage for $2 million check presentation. (PRNewsFoto/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

The Band Perry, Garth Brooks, Brothers Osborne, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Rascal Flatts, Craig Campbell, Lindsay Ell and Caitlyn Smith performed a full night of tunes at the second annual “Raging Idiots Million Dollar Show,” celebrating the past charitable efforts towards St. Jude.

The night ended, however, with another $2 million raised for the hospital after Garth Brooks walked out on the stage to present a $2 million check.

“What I love is this paycheck isn’t going to you, and I know that’s what you love about it, too,” Brooks told Bones, according to The Tennessean.

The first “Raging Idiots Million Dollar Show” was in 2015, put on to celebrate $1 million in donations raised for the hospital. Over the past three years, Bones and iHeart Radio have raised roughly $3.8 million for the hospital. Brooks’ donation Monday night brought the total so far to about $6 million.

Bones, who still lives in Austin part-time after moving out to Nashville in 2013, said in The Tennessean that before he moved to Music City, he thought St. Jude was just “a hospital in Memphis.”

But then he visited the facility.

“I went into this place and I saw all these kids who weren’t sad,” he said. “It’s in Memphis because it’s in the middle of the country and they bring people from all over the country in. If you have a cancer they’re working on, you’re in for free. Once I understood it was more than brick and mortar in Memphis, but a hospital in the middle of the country … for the world, then I really understood and wanted to learn more about it,” he said in The Tennessean.

Bones was also recently featured in a Forbes article that calls him “the most powerful man in country music,” pointing to his charity work and his ability to get airplay for unknown artists as evidence of his clout.

That feature, which touches on some of the same themes explored in Bones’ memoir, also yielded some new interesting quotes from the country DJ:

  • On his interviewing skills: “I’m the best interviewer in the whole [radio] format. Except for Howard Stern, I’d put myself against anybody.”
  • On his work ethic: “Basically, I prepare for it and then just freak out until I’m successful. I fail at things all the time. I’m always being told no. I just get back up and try again.”
  • On his self-awareness of his own insecurities: “I think a lot of what I do are just obvious cries for help. I’m not good at being vulnerable [in intimate settings], but oddly I can do it when I’m in public.”

The Factory Cafe on Burnet Road goes laptop-free

In a unique move, Austin’s The Factory Cafe decided this week to ban customers from using laptops in the space.

Image via The Factory Cafe
Image via The Factory Cafe

The cafe, which calls itself a “creative sanctuary,” announced the decision on its social media channels on Tuesday with a graphic saying, “No laptops! Talk to each other” and the caption, “Starting tomorrow, Dec 7th [sic], we are going laptop-free! Make new friends, be inspired, find your muse.”

The Factory Cafe, which opened in the former Saladworks space on Burnet Road earlier this year, is one of Austin’s few coffee shops that doesn’t have a WiFi connection (Cuvee Coffee is another, and Radio Coffee and Beer turns its WiFi off at 5 p.m. when the happy hour crowd begins to show up).

The decision is an interesting one for a coffee shop in a city brimming with bloggers, freelancers, creatives and technology workers. U.S. News and World Report ranked Austin as the top metro area for working remotely, with 6.77 percent of the city’s nearly 1 million workers telecommuting at least half the time they are working. Austin is also home to four universities, a community college and various other institutes of higher education, with more than 70,000 total students who use spaces like Factory Cafe to study and work.

The cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. and serves beer and wine, as well as a variety of decked-out waffles and snacks.

We’ve reached out to Factory Cafe for comment on their decision to go laptop-free.

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