The unofficial slogan of the Capital City is “Keep Austin Weird.” Even though a couple other local tour companies tout this motto by selling shirts, caps, and stickers, nobody but the Texpert actually offers a journey to the odd side of town. My KAW trip visits several exemplars of only-here places. Consider these highlights for your custom tour:
The Cathedral of Junk exhibits one man’s success at making beauty out of otherwise ugly, cast-off stuff. Behind Vince Hannemann’s ordinary suburban residence is a tunneled mountain of old banners, bicycles, bottles, bedsprings, and beaucoups of other dross. Reminiscent of Houston’s Orange Show, this eclectic folk-art collection boasts all colors.
Along South 1st Street in South Austin is an array of coffee houses, Tex-Mex cafés, and retail establishments worthy of weird attention. Roadhouse Relics carries “vintage modern” neon signs, foam sculptures, and bumper cars. Nearby are one of the city’s original Moonlight Towers and Casa Neverlandia, which together connect the past with what could be our future.
South Lamar also holds some delightful destinations. Its curves front more great eateries, but the most fun stop is at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture and the adjacent Planet K. Outside on a long, roofed wall are shrines to Austin’s famous dead, such as Janis Joplin, Grey Ghost, and Jaxon. Inside stands a curious collection of poster art from the city’s live music performers. I met Henry Gonzalez, who’s presenting a retrospective on the Ritz Theater, soon to reopen as the downtown Alamo Draft House. Guests will want to see themselves photographed next to the agave automobile on their way into Planet K to procure candles, incense, comix, and other “family-oriented” items.
Red Wassenich accidentally coined “Keep Austin Weird” in the year 2000, and Texpert highly recommends his new book and website for more ideas for your KAW tour. This KAW trip introduces you to some of the independent businesses that define Austin. Only Texpert offers you the inside scoop from yours truly – helping to keep Austin weird since 1971.