1998 Readers Poll
1998 Critics Picks
Best Bumper Sticker

Seen on a privately owned yellow bike that apparently has been confused with those other yellow bicycles: THIS IS NOT A YELLOW BICYCLE.

Yellow Bike Project / Bikes Not Bombs
4701 Ave. H;

Best Clear Voice On Lone Star Affairs

Too often getting broadcast news on Texas issues means filtering out static from reporters who feel the need to gussy up their stories with faux drawls, tired Texas-isms, and outdated references to Southfork. Whenever we tune in to NPR's Texas specialist John Burnett, however, we hear our state's affairs discussed with uncommon clarity. Burnet knows the territory, its people, its history - knows all those Lone Star myths, too - but he lets you know it in reports that are hoke-free: A recent report on the conflict between the Vatican and local bishop John McCarthy over birth control practices at Brackenridge Hospital was vintage Burnett: descriptive, detailed, and broad in scope, delivered with concise prose in his trademark solid, unhurried, forthright voice.

John Burnett
KUT 90.5FM
300 W. Dean Keeton

Best Community Newspaper

This small publication produced in East Austin has been in existence 18 years, which makes it the longest running community paper in the city. Providing not only coverage of local and national Latino art and business news that often doesn't get covered in the local daily, ARRIBA is a unique publication that has also launched the careers of many local writers and artists.

ARRIBA Newspaper

Best Fumble Recovery

After constant, ridiculously harsh criticism of Pacifica Network News from a more-left-than-thou faction at KOOP radio, the venerable pacifist network finally severed its ties with KOOP, depriving Austin of Pacifica for several months. Thankfully, KAZI came to the rescue, and the best daily news program in the nation rides again in Central Texas, Mon-Wed and Fri at 5pm.

8906 Wall St. #203

Best Info On Latino Politics

This is Politico's first and last Best of Austin award, because founder James Garcia moved his operation south a few months ago when he became editor of the San Antonio Current. Every week for just over a year now, Politico has been providing the total lowdown on the Hispanic political world, with everything from Washington to South America, Miami to Los Angeles, or anyplace else; you can get it either in print or e-mail.

PO Box 17387
San Antonio

Best Legacy

KVUE-TV's news director passed away in January, but she left her mark on television journalism - an official station policy mandating strict guidelines for coverage of violent crime. Despite statistics showing violent crime on the decline, many stations continue to sensationalize crime coverage; KVUE only reports on crimes which its staff feel are relevant to the larger community. The policy has been held up nationally as a model for stations wanting to wean themselves away from a steady diet of violence.

Carole Kneeland
3201 Steck

Best Local Radio Program Not On Local Radio (again)

You know the story by now: The nationally syndicated Hightower broadcasted every weekday for over a year from smack-dab in the middle of Austin, out of Threadgill's World Headquarters, but no local station would carry him. Finally, KNEZ picked him up, bringing a refreshing left-wing tilt to local radio. But then the station went all-Spanish, and we are deprived of Hightower again (except for brief commentaries every Friday on KOOP at 6pm).

Best Morning Show

Strictly speaking, the focus of 101X is music, specifically modern rock, but with Sara and Jen at the controls, we're tempted to just tune out the music and turn up the talk, especially during the 9:00 hour, when they breathe a little easier and expound on a slew of social issues with intelligent and quick-witted delivery. Somehow, it always circles back to dating, but with Sara's perky, charmingly neurotic take on straight partners, and Jen's deadpan, wise-beyond-her-years riffs on gay partners, it's far more entertaining than the stereotypical shenanigans which are sometimes synonomous with the morning show.

Sara Trexler
101X FM
8309 N. I-35

Jen Garrison
101X FM
8309 N. I-35

Best Net Missives

Like the revealing Essaies of Montaigne, Don Webb, local webdiarist and shameless self-promoter, packs his site with candid and personal "letters." At one letter per week, 147 weeks of entries are currrently online; each generally has news about his latest published works alongside personal anecdotes about his wife Rosemary and friends, conversations with his mother. Webb thoughtfully includes Internet links to publishers, occultists, zines, and other writers. Often there are poems or short stories at the bottom of the letters. It is not until Letter #16 that he began titling them ("Hero of the Paperless Office" or "Warlord of Helium" or "How are noses and feet alike?"). Webb spills his guts for us to smell. After a few whiffs, you'll find yourself craving his weekly wonders; as Don puts it, "I've gotten fairly good at the ordinary world - it's the extraordinary one that presents problems."

Best Night To Cook To The Radio

We can't speak for you, but when we're whippin' up a week's worth of family-feedin' feasts, there's just no night like Mondays on KUT. Start the sauce to simmerin' while cackling to Car Talk, then bring it to a boil with Larry Monroe's Blue Monday. It's five hours of prime-time air-fare. We can't imagine a tastier combination: Howlin', Lightnin', Sonny Boy; ragout, roulade, ratatouille! Now you're cookin'.

KUT 90.5FM
300 W. Dean Keeton

Best Office Space & Commute

Inspired by a discarded baby jogger, local artist and alternative technologist David Santos sculpted an entirely green and mobile office by lashing together the baby jogger, solar panel, laptop, video cam, umbrella, and lawn chair. The pastoral Webmaster has trekked over 1,000 miles of Austin, pushing the cart and seeking his muse in the details of the urban and natural landscape that can only be detected at 4mph.

Best Online Gals Club

All us chicks need a little advice now and then, a bit of harmless camaraderie when it comes to dating, shopping, fashion, and bitching - you know, those things that separate the women from, well ... the men. Billed as a "Guide to Modern Living and Intersex Relationships, this site's many features make you feel at home in a henhouse. Heartbroken? "Ask Queenie" gives out advice "for the lovelorn, the sloppy and the dim" (current social counsel recommends befriending ex's exes, starting up a recipe club, and instruction on how not to be so boring). Visitors can add their favorite no \'count to the "Dick List," or if he's still currying favor, fix him a recipe from the "meals men like" section. A recent "Welcome to My Neurosis" essay by webmistress and design diva Miss Lohr reveals the scary symptoms of the Costanza Complex, and it'll be hard not to divulge all after you read her "Secret Confessions." Men, log on and learn something, and if you become too disgruntled to continue, there's a fast link to the hate mail section.

Disgruntled Housewife

Best Overlooked Deejay

KOOP 91.7FM has lots of great music deejays, and Rod Moag probably springs to mind first for vintage country music. But don't forget John Hauser's "Country Roots" program on Tuesdays, 9-10am. He takes you back to a time before it was even called country music - in those days, it was "hillbilly" music. Hauser is a living encyclopedia whose knowledge of C&W from the Twenties to the Fifties is both staggering and entertaining.

John Hauser
3823-B Airport

Best Place To Buy A Used Computer

The computers here may not be top of the line anymore, but they're still very functional. Where else can you find a working Classic Macintosh for less than $100? Most IBM-compatible computers are less than $500 and come with a 60-day warranty. Check out their "Relics of the Past," a virtual museum of computing history, and their many shelves of parts, software, and books. If you are not in the market to buy a used system, consider donating your discards and participate in this most high-tech of recycling programs.

Main office: 1015 Norwood Park Blvd., 512/637-7100
2800 S. Lamar, 512/442-8802
836 Airport, 512/389-3277
Main office: 1015 Norwood Park Blvd., 512/637-7100
13096 Hwy. 183 #104, 512/258-5898
8965 Research Blvd., 512/832-0004
5555 N. Lamar, 512/451-2306
9801 Brodie, 512/280-8037
701 Newman, 512/478-6711
7100-C W. US Hwy 290, 512/288-7700
3910 Far West, 512/795-6387
6505 Burleson, 512/681-3301
7727 Burnet, 512/374-0260
1819-B S. Pleasant Valley, 512/389-0547
1700 W. Parmer #101, 512/719-4119
9111 S. First, 512/280-2204
1420 Wells Branch Pkwy. #300, 512/251-2777
2814 Bee Caves Rd. Ste.2814-B, 512/329-8771

Best Place To Buy Videogames

In addition to stocking new video game titles for the Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64, and Sega Saturn, Gamefellas has a broad selection of used games for those systems, as well as titles for older machines, including those that have long since bitten the dust. Looking for an NES cartridge or a Game Gear TV tuner? Gamefellas is your best bet. Want a Sega Master System 3-D game or an antique Atari 2600 cartridge? This is the place to start. Gamefellas also stocks a variety of gaming accessories, magazines, and hint books. In addition, the stores have several game systems set up and for a minimal fee will allow players who can't get enough gaming at home to test a potential purchase.

GameFellas Video Game Exchange, 13770 Hwy. 183 N. #134, 512/302-3021
GameFellas Video Game Exchange, 5510 S. I-35 #240, 512/441-4412

Best Place To Get Hip To The Sounds

Post-punk, power pop, old school, electronica - if you've never heard of it, deejay Tina has got it. Playing old and new songs that commercial radio won't touch with a 10-foot pole, Tina will keep you hip and keep your Saturdays happening. Where else could you hear Eighties Depeche Mode sandwiched between cub and Neko Case? Warning: listening to "Ear Candy" without a pen and paper handy can result in a serious bummer.

3823-B Airport

Best Quick Read

It does, indeed, take only a quarter-hour to rifle through this irregularly released publication, but the writing is funny, sharp, and engaging. Gerg and Zub's food reviews factor in all the things you wish restaurant reviewers would focus on, and their front-page Jetsam section takes on all those newsside items and things seen while driving, exploring, and philosophizing on them in an economy of words.

Best Radio Station, In Spite Of It All

Yes, Austin's cooperatively run, community-owned radio station has been in turmoil lately, but those controversies haven't damaged the on-air content: KOOP's mornings are an unbeatable mix of various jazz, funk, and roots music (Rod Moag's "Country, Swing, and Rockabilly Jamboree" is one of the best programs in town and Jay Robillard's "Lounge Show" keeps those Saturday mornings swinging) and its afternoons bring a badly needed progressive perspective to Austin's airwaves.

3823-B Airport

photograph by Jana Birchum   Jana Birchum

Best Reason To Drive To Work On Monday

Monday morning would be too much to bear without Courtney Davis's 7:30am air break monologue. Whether she's recounting her lousy weekend, deconstructing the latest Golden Girls rerun or kibbitzing long distance with a friend in San Francisco (So what if it's 6am out there? Wake up!), deejay/diva Courtney Davis beguiles us with her valley girl-like guilelessness. And hello? She plays all of our Broadway favorites too. Too bad she's graduated. Perhaps she'll hop on some other local airwave soon?

PO Box D

Best Recruitment Campaign

Okay, so your new Porsche Boxster may not exactly fit into your bohemian lifestyle and it may not exactly impress them down at the recycling center, but oh, the thrill of an engine that purrs and then roars, the luxury of a convertible top on a cloudless blue day, the terrible decadence of leather under your fanny and elbows and fingertips! How did this rags to riches dream happen? Thank the good people at PC Order, that upstart young technology firm whose recruitment campaign this past summer offered you big $$ to hand over the resume of some computer genius in your acquaintence. You didn't even need to know squat about computers, only someone else who does. And so you sent in her resume and got yourself entered into a lottery - and now she's landed a fat new job, and you - well, you got lucky and now you're cruising in a Boxster, aren't you? So tell us, who's the real genius here?

PC Order
5000 Plaza on the Lake, #100

Best Response To The Media Glare

Our sympathies go to anyone caught in the media spotlight. Fifteen minutes of fame is paltry compensation for the intense scrutiny that comes with the attention of the news machine. In July, as a lawsuit over police behavior in the 1995 Cedar Avenue incident inched toward trial, the microphones and cameras crowded in on the young plaintiffs, closing in to catch an expression of hostility, a moment of breakdown - and who could have blamed the youths for giving them just that? But what they gave the media was more extraordinary: teens involved in a volatile political case speaking for themselves with a poise and dignity beyond their years. As they reportedly did in negotiating a settlement with the mayor, these youths exhibited cool, maturity, and grace, doing themselves and all of Austin proud.

Best Secret Clubhouse

In the time of instant connectivity, you don't have to wait for some hard-to-find flyer to find you when you want the really big party action. Dial up some kindred souls who dwell underground in far away Tarrytown. Down a dank flight of stairs lies a gin-u-wine Fifties era bomb shelter (complete with original operating instructions) decorated with merry strings of tiny pants. The pants were there when the current residents took possession, so they took advantage of a decorating opportunity. The club was born when 1,500 surplus Jell-O shots needed a reason to be consumed. No cover, free beer, packs of rabid flesh-eating squirrels and possum, capability to burn anything, and a money-back guarantee. The rest will be dimly remembered history. Hey, Holy 8 Ball - where's your e-list?

Club Pants

Best Sign Of Austin Online

We've always been impressed with Austin Free-Net, our city's cooperative effort involving educational, civic, and corporate entities to provide community computing resources and on-line access for the benefit of all citizens. So when we heard that Executive Director Sue Beckwith was being "kicked upstairs," we were ready to raise hell, until we found out that "upstairs" meant that the city was creating an Internet Services Office. Beckwith would still be involved in Free-Net, but now also be the main point person responsible for everything that goes out on the Internet from the City of Austin. Meanwhile, Ana Sisnett, who has worked assisting people with on-line and computer access at the DeWitty Center, is now the ED at Austin Free-Net. WTG!

Best Site Redesign

We are proud card-carrying members of the Harry J. Knowles sychophant club. This year, he's even more so the "Best Austinite to Shake Up Hollywood" with his glitzy new redesign of the Ain't It Cool News Web site, a monstrous compendium of news, opinion, and hearsay about the film world, all rendered fiercely compelling by Knowles' unflagging passion about all things celluloid. All that information used to suffer a bit under the hard-to-navigate fledgling design, but the overhaul - pretty, organized, more interactive, yet still infused with personality - sucks you into Harry's world even more than before, your eyes glued to the screen for hours on end. In a world where so many Web sites get old and stale fast for lack of new ideas, creativity, wherewithall, whatever, Mr. Knowles could well add "Web Visionary" under "Film Juggernaut" to his list of accolades.

Ain't It Cool News
PO Box 180011

Best Survival Story

The Lone Star State's leading source of progressive journalism needed $40,000 to survive, so Waco philanthropist/liberal good guy Bernard Rappaport challenged its readers: If they would come up with the first $20,000, he would pony up the rest. The readers came through in a big way, with $90,000 in donations.

The Texas Observer
307 W. Seventh

Best Techno-kids Business Idea

Last spring an enterprising group of AIL multimedia students snagged a $1,450 grant from the Capital Area Tech-Prep Consortium as the startup money for their own Web page business. Their previous success with making videos, digital editing, and Web site design generated plenty of support documents from already satisfied customers. Browse the AIL Web site at to check out student home pages and the Virtual Party, which includes work by the winning grant writers Mary Buonoamici, Kyle Herzog, Manuel Madril, Alberto Ramirez, and Jason Reynolds.

American Institute For Learning
204 E. Fourth

Best TV Show With No Name

Channel Austin
1143 Northwestern

Best Unsung High Tech She-ro

Hey, have you seen Austin rent prices lately? Yeah? So what do you do if you make $5.50 an hour? What if you're feeling the lasso of "welfare reform" tightening around your neck, trying to move out of public housing, or you just got out of prison? What if you have three kids? What if your job skills haven't been considered marketable since the Carter Administration? Go see Carlean Johnson at the City of Austin's DeWitty Employment & Training Center on Rosewood. Carlean makes sure that residents of Austin have access to technology training and job opportunities. She makes the rest of Austin take notice that folks East want a piece of the high-tech action. Carlean's life work is helping people find jobs and training. She's been through the mill herself and found her way out. She's a guide, a mentor, and she's devoted to the people of East Austin. And for all that and more, we think Carlean Johnson is "all that."

Carlean Johnson
DeWitty Center, 2209 Rosewood #205

photograph by John Carrico   John Carrico

photograph by Bruce Dye   Bruce Dye

Best Used Computer Salesman

They used to say the difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows when he's lying to you - meaning that many people in high-tech sales are, um, a little unclear on the details of the product they hawk. This is not the case with Ken Gould. The guy knows his used Macintoshes, and has he got a deal for you. He sold Mike Judge's wife a complete system and provided tech support for Vanessa Redgrave when she was in town researching a script, so he's got the Superstar Seal of Approval as well as ours.

Ken Gould
Mac Alliance
900 Old Koenig Ln.

Best Value-added Customer Service

Even if you never buy a single piece of produce from Boggy Creek, you'd enjoy the weekly e-letter, in which proprietors Larry Butler and Carol Ann Sayle (usually the latter) update friends and fans on the vicissitudes of farm life - sexing chicks, fixing Big Red the farm truck, fending off raccoons, surviving the summer heat - with humor worthy of Lewis Grizzard. Oh, and it tells you what's ripe 'n' ready, too. Good taste in every byte.

Boggy Creek Farm
3414 Lyons

Best Voice On The Radio

La voz del radio, Maria Martin has been in radio for almost 20 years. Her smooth vocals and in-depth reporting bring the latest news on issues affecting Latinos in the US. Winner of several radio journalism awards, Martin will soon be taking a hiatus from Latino USA to pursue a masters degree.

Best Way To Find Out The Latest With La Raza

The only bad thing about Latino USA is that it's only broadcast on Fridays at 3:30pm. The half-hour news program covering issues of and about Latinos is produced at UT in a small suite of offices buried deep inside the Communications Building on the Drag. The news program has become a vital link for providing information to Latinos nationwide. In existence for five years, the nonprofit news program is constantly threatened with funding shortages, but its excellent staff puts in countless hours to produce a program that has won many national and international awards.

Best Way To Infiltrate The Media

It's true. Ted Turner and Robert Murdoch have conspired to keep you silent, building multi-billion dollar empires just to make sure nothing intelligent seeps out over the airwaves. But don't let that and a complete lack of video equipment, not to mention technical skills, keep you from your birthright: being on television. Twenty-five years after its inception, Austin Community Access Center gives ordinary people-people who just aren't as glamorous and charismatic as Brit Hume three channels to make others as paranoid as yourself.

Channel Austin
1143 Northwestern

Best Way To Sell Widgets On The Web

Formed in 1996, WebZealots provides corporate customers with custom database solutions for web integration. The majority of their sites are Internet replacements for legacy systems and they do it all: site hosting and development, domain registration, e-mail setup - everything short of crawling through your customers' monitors and asking if they'd like fries with that (though they say they're working on it). You wanna move units, don'tcha? WebZealots can whip your company into a selling machine and make it look damn good doing so.


Best Way To While Away A Saturday Morning

Every Saturday morning from 10 til noon, KOOP crooner Jay Robillard makes getting out of bed a dance. Playing vaudeville, big band jazz, and Rat Pack classics, Robillard adds a velvety touch to the morning coffee and paper. And if a hangover is what meets you come Saturday, The Lounge Show is the next best thing to a saline IV.

3823-B Airport

Best Web Site For Business Research

Gary Hoover, the man who founded Bookstop and TravelFest, has taken his superstore theme online. The eight-year-old Austin-based Web site offers a well-stocked database of information on companies in every industry - from adult entertainment to TV and radio. Billed as "the ultimate source for company information," the Web site provides company profiles written in pithy prose by Hoover's in-house staff writers, as well as current business news, stock reports, and a list of top employers. Most features on the site (such as company profiles) are free, however, "membership" is required to access the site in greater depth.

Hoover's Online
1033 La Posada Dr.

photograph by Jana Birchum   Jana Birchum

Biggest Media Bandwagon

The ridding of South Congress' porn theatre was a media playground and made real estate broker Henry Benedict an overnight local joe celebrity. We're guilty as hell. But while we're at it - here's something else to chew on. While vice cops were swarming the aisles at the height of their sting, theatre employees entertained them with a feature about hairy-chested cops in a swinging prison. Billy clubs, too. Even Max Nofziger's gotta laugh at that one.

Most Useful Fanzine

Consistently giving the lowdown on the low-price chow down, Gerg Steeb and ZZub Narom dare to venture into the heart of Buffet darkness and come out smelling like roses. Er, at least Swiss Steak.

Hey, Hey, Buffet!

Critics: Kids
Critics: Outdoors & Recreation

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