An unassuming corrugated studio on the Eastside of Austin is home to Graphic Glass, an enterprise run by Rejina (Reji) Thomas, the only black, female, glass engraving/acid-etching artist in the world. Sheer diligence landed Thomas a sub-contract in the twisted, bureaucratic weave of bids to replicate all of the intricate glass work in the Capitol Building during the recent renovation. The project was intensive: approximately 600 panels of glass, had to be matched to old specifications. Her experience with a rarely used double-acid etching process put her ahead of out-of-state contractors. Thomas had actually replaced panes for the Capitol before when fire damaged some glass during the mid-Eighties. Her art is world-renowned; she was commissioned by the State of Texas to create gifts for both the President of Mexico and Queen Elizabeth of England.
Graphic Glass Studios Inc.
1101 E. Fifth
Everyone who works out knows inspiration is key to sticking to it, and Daniel at World Gym inspires us to perspire. Weekly, he hosts four upbeat step classes and two funk/hip-hop dance classes that are so much fun, they hardly feel like exercise. By teaching advanced, motivating steps, his most accelerated students remain challenged while he takes care to give special instruction to the beginners. Oh, and he's also somewhat of a comedian, but we can't often laugh, 'cause we're struggling to breathe.
Looking for an option to the HMO? You do have a choice. AHS provides a comprehensive network of alternative health care providers - from acupuncturists and aroma therapists to massage therapists and rolfers - at a 25-40% discount. Membership fees are pretty cheap, at $99 per individual, or $145 for a family, per year, plus a one-time $25 enrollment fee.
If you love olde things but don't have the time to troll the antique stores for the pieces you desire, or if you know you need something, just not quite sure what - enlist Liz McMahon to find it for you. She's got great taste, knows the inventory of every hole in the wall from Buda to Round Rock, and she's a bargain hunter to boot (read: no deal-breaking commissions). Really, Liz just loves to shop, so why not let her buy you some time?
For the next six months, at least, while the J.H. Faulk Main Library is closed forremodeling, the city has tabbed this branch as the next best thing for research. They've moved both the periodicals and reference services here, and if it's not in the same class as Faulk, at least it's open (including new 2-6pm Sunday hours). Is this a prelude to the expansion into the old Americana Theatre next door, which the City already owns? Only time - and the budget process - will tell.
Mr. Wizard's has never been nor acted like a chain store; instead, they repair electronic equipment at very reasonable rates, search the world for that particular stylus you need for your antiquated turntable, sell abandoned, repaired equipment, and cheerfully refund your money if it doesn't work out. They'll talk shop if you want and not if you don't, and treat you like a perfectly intelligent human being who just doesn't happen to hold a degree in electrical engineering. It almost makes us look forward to frying that amplifier.
Mr. Wizard's Electronics Service
1507 W. North Loop
We are very impressed with the work of this inventive printer located in what we think of as the Manor Road Rennaissance Area. The knowledgeable, helpful professional staff produces creative work on recycled paper with earth-friendly soy inks. You may be familiar with their stuff if you've been shopping at Whole Foods lately; Kestrel designed their current campaign, from the warm newsletter to the signs in the aisles.
If only he had an "I" for a middle initial, we'd name a drink after him and raise our glasses in toast to his down-to-earth, cut-to-the-chase, forget-the-legalese-jargon tactics. Esquire Berger: He's smart, he's funny, and for once you'll beg someone not to get off your case, but to please, please, get on it.
No franchise feeling here. It's the kind of garage that reminds us of when we were kids and dad took us in the Buick down to the local gas station for a sodey pop and a tune-up. (Note: The only gas here, though, is that swapped amongst the workers and patrons.) Friendly, patient guys like Lonnie will, if you want, get on hands and knees and show you what's been done. Now that's full service.
If you're a veteran motorcycle rider you know how difficult and painful it can be to release your precision machine to an untried mechanic. No worries with Kasson's crew of seasoned professionals. They've been keeping Austin bikers happy for 20 years. They fix what they say they'll fix, and return your bike on time... clean! Kasson's services all types of motorcycles, except Harleys. Call and chat up their friendly and informative staff for diagnostic advice - if they don't know the answer they'll say so, a beautiful and unusual trait in this trade.
Austin is the birthplace of two of the best service ideas in the country. You can subscribe to Dinner at Your Doorstep by the month, by the week, or call for same day delivery of any number of their freshly prepared, delicious meals. We are especially fond of their new drive-by kiosk on Far West Blvd. If you are hankering for a restaurant meal without leaving the comfort of your home, do what we do and call the friendly and accommodating folks at EatOutIn and they will do all the work for you.
Leonard Gabbay is a crack-whip personal injury lawyer who'll make you glad you didn't see that banana peel. And, when it comes to helping you set up your final testament, believe us, you: Where there's a will, there really oughta be a Gabbay.
Joys in the 'hood include: affordable exams, cheap methods of controlling and/or eliminating those pesky active sperm that can wreck a gal's whole month, free advice, and never, ever any passing of condescending judgement even if you arrive in a condition that suggests you haven't behaved in current recommended manners of safety and caution.
They carried our lime-green dinosaur in from the car without laughing. They didn't try to sell us a new one (though we were sorely tempted by the industrial models, all brawn and shine). They cleaned, oiled, replaced clamps and belts while we waited (diversionary chat with accompanying two-year-old, no extra charge). Four dollars and 32 cents later, the old Hoover really sucked again.
7801 N. Lamar
Whether you're a jarhead, a baby butch, or you just want your Power Ranger helmet to fit better, the best flattops, buzzcuts and hi'n'tights are at Pete's. In business for over 27 years, the fellas at Pete's will square off your dome for a reasonable price. Call ahead on the weekends - there's usually a little league team in line before you.
Pete's Flattop Shop
Now, here's a name that truly fits. The caring folks at Community AIDS Resources and Education (C.A.R.E.) offer free, confidential, walk-in HIV tests on Mondays, Tuesdays (8am-7:15pm), and Fridays (8am-4:15pm). They also offer HIV case-management services, drug and alcohol treatment referral, acupuncture detox treatment, and a slew of other caring services.
1633 E. Second
Walking into Austin Violins' resin-scented interior, we feel suddenly transported to another time and place. Repairing and revamping stringed instruments is an old-world art and luthier/owner Charles McDavid's hushed, precise manner sets just the right tone. If you're leaving your 300-year-old, hand-crafted musical instrument with a stranger, you should feel not just okay but assured, confident that the delicate assemblage of thin wood and string will be in the proper order when next you see it. Mr. McDavid's reverent, knowledgeable way and 25 years experience (14 in Austin) give all the assurance we need. Ask about his training in Germany for a fine story while you wait. Discounts given to professional musicians.
7801 N. Lamar
The fix-it shop that time forgot: musty, oil-stained, cantankerous, and...oops, that's the owner. Charm aside, this place keeps our aged push mower clicking with good, cheap tuneups and sharpenings. Owners of newfangled machines look happy, too, but we wouldn't know about that.
The Sharp-All Shop
100-A E. North Loop
Their forebears made a big fuss about rediscovering natural childbirth; now, Baby Boom Mach II puts its characteristic stamp of hyperconvenience on the process. If you use their midwife services and would like a water birth, New Life will rent you an inflatable, five-foot tank, air mattress, and air compressor, and waterbed heater - all for a mere $50. Expectant parents pick it up a few days before the countdown, set it up, participate in the miracle, and return it a few days later. Anything more efficient would have to be drive-through.
This is a working genealogical library with census indexes from across the United States, one of the biggest collections of privately printed family histories in Texas, and new CD-ROM data bases containing tens of millions of records. Whether you manage to track down an ancestral rogue of your own or not, just looking at the microfiche of census from the 1800s - the elaborate handwriting, the listing of occupations and sometimes enormous number of offspring - is intriguing. If you pull a random history from the shelf you might find a copy of a letter from an young early settler describing her daily trek several miles each day for water, putting today's tribulations in perspective.
Texas State Library & Archives, Geneology Collection
A very talented musician and singer in her own right, Mady Kaye is also a much-sought-after vocal instructor. Beginners with career aspirations and professionals who just want to keep their chops in shape are among her legion of satisfied students. Kaye's main criteria for selecting students is that they share the same delight in singing and professional attitude reflected in her own work.
We know there are many valuable chiropractors in town, but our guy keeps us in line at a price we can afford. Dr. Schneider's healing hands can untie a muscle knot in minutes, feel out what's causing that persistent back pain, or alleviate the pressure of a sinus headache on the spot. If your ailment requires more subtle therapy, he may hook you up to electricity so surprisingly enjoyable you'll want to take the machine home with you. So if you're feeling out of whack, why not give a caring professional a crack at you? Your quality of life will be greatly improved.
Just the kind of spa you'd expect to find in Austin. Situated in a perfectly serene spot - just 20 minutes outside of town where Lake Austin abuts a hill country "mountain," across from the old Bohls Ranch - the place has terrific spa "activities" and some of the best food in the city, much of it grown on the premises. Their totally laid-back atmosphere invites you to veg out, or cardio-funk until you drop... onto the massage table for some body work and maybe a seaweed wrap. (The spa utilizes Austin's vast network of talented relaxation technicians.) This kind of paradise doesn't come cheap, but it's certainly more affordable than the spas of the Golden Door ilk. Check into their frequent specials.
Thursdays at 9:30pm at the Black Cat on Sixth Street, instructors Matt Jones, Susy Hovis, Darby O'Shieles, and Peter Turner give two-stepping and Texas swing lessons to the rest of us clod-footed wannabees. We're grateful and they're gentle. Dale Watson takes the stage at 10:30pm so you can practice what you've learned. $6 gets you in all night.
Now, here's a concept... This facility happily houses medical doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors all under the same roof. Convenience is not often a word used in describing medical services, but it's nice to know that the folks at Southwest Medical will integrate traditional, pharmacological, and holistic practices to heal what ails you.
You're in a nightclub with a group of people equally as nervous as you. Everyone makes a big circle and you are directed to snap your fingers to the music - and begin scatting. Yes, scatting. You look around. People are actually doing it. You part your lips. A slight "Bah-buh-dee-bop" eases itself out. You look around again. Nobody's laughing at you. Everybody's smiling and swaying and snapping and scatting. This is weird but you like it. Marci Lynn's teaching techniques are always unique; her vocal exercise cassettes are favorites among many local performers for those in-the-van, pre-gig warm-ups.
Outside looking in (...at your keys dangling from the ignition)? Call the newly merged American/Yellow Checker Cab Company. They come quickly, charge $25 to get you back behind the wheel, and before you can say, "Slim Jim," you're driving away.
It's no joke that taking a class in defensive driving can lower automobile insurance premiums by up to 10% and at the same time strike that moving violation from your license. Yes, there will be those darned traffic films, driving rules, and safety quizzes, but this time we found ourselves chuckling all the way through. For your record's sake - and you know your record follows you around wherever you go - why not sign up for comedy defensive driving. Who knows? You might actually learn something while laughing all the way out of traffic court.
Every pet owner knows how hard it can be to drop off their beloved bow-wow or feline at the kennel, and then enjoy vacation or leisure time without feeling some sense of underlying guilt. Will the experience leave them forever traumatized with recurrent flashbacks of being in the slammer? While there is no solution to the high cost of pet psychotherapy, there is the Amabassador Pet Resort. Yes, there is no place like home, but perhaps your dog and cat won't mind the boarding experience quite as much if they are pampered in Ambassador's deluxe accomodations - TV sets for dogs and waterbeds for cats. True, these options will cost you, but then who can put a pricetag on love?
Get a new outlook on life through those windows that haven't been washed in who- knows-how-many years, and help a graduate student get closer to his Ph.D. at the same time. Kuipers does a terrific, efficient, unobtrusive job of shining your glass. He'll do window repairs, too. But hurry, because he may be back to his books before you can get him up your ladder.
Counseling needs have certainly changed in the 20 years since WomenSpace began to address women's problems through peer counseling in the mid-Seventies. Women's Counseling & Resource Center (WCRC) developed from there. Today, WCRC has sessions on topics like codependency, family roles/parenting, sexual harassment, and assertiveness training. Austin Women's Addiction Referral & Education Center (AWARE) tackles the tough issues inherent to drug and alcohol abuse. They provide counseling for women who have addictions and for those who have family members with substance-abuse problems. Both organizations operate through Austin YWCA and always welcome volunteers.
You just can't get enough of the good stuff at this place - the most happening hair, hair colors, make-up, manicures, and nails. Award-winning stylist Deborah Carter does some of the most famous faces and heads in town; gorgeous daughter Farrah was tapped for Charlie Sexton's video; Tisa is the Red Sonya of Spurs fans; exotic Sylvia is roomies with Mr. Lifto, Kip hangs with Kevin Aucoin... this place is never dull. Formerly known as Alonzo's, Astarte is the place to get styled for the annual Austin Music Awards; they fluff'n'puff the Awards show staff and, girlfriend, does the gossip fly then!
Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin. Support the Chronicle