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2013CriticsMedia

Best Defiant Roadside Intrigue
Transgressor Billboard

For a venture with a particularly digital immateriality, we were stunned to see this quizzically material advert, emblazoned with the publication's URL and those two magickal triangles. We wouldn't be surprised if many a driver cocked their headsicles in an "Oh my, what's that?" motion. Hopefully, when they arrived at their destination they let their fingers do the walking through the digi-verse, happening 'pon illuminating texts about porn producer Fred Halsted and images by Justine Kurland. Transgressor may be hitting the right balance, a Vice without the 'tude, or a BUTT without the scopophilic singular GM focus, thus garnering a laissez-faire hipster-ruffian readership. And now that they've got a boots-on-the-ground physical ad campaign, they can add the daily commuter.

Transgressor, www.transgressormagazine.com

Best Design Nerd Journal
'Foxing Quarterly'

Daniel Mejia and Jane Robbins Mize are relative newcomers to Austin's literary scene, but in just a few short months the co-editors of the literary journal Foxing Quarterly have made a neon-colored splash in the pantheon of print. Created as a shrine to the materiality of the printed word, the journal has so far boasted art direction by the likes of comic book master Jim Rugg and design guru Yann Legendre, as well as choice comic strips from top artists. Seamlessly integrating graphic design into its poetry and short fiction pieces, the visual aesthetic strikes a balance between edgy, cerebral, and mad fun. It's enough to make you want to blow your paycheck on the subscription poster series – at $200, we have a feeling it's a bargain.

Foxing Quarterly, www.foxingquarterly.com

Best Guide to Living Green
The Austin Environmental Directory

Everyone who's serious about protecting our environment should own a (free) downloadable or print copy of The Austin Environmental Directory. Call us biased, but the 2013 edition is one of the best directories that activist Paul Robbins has published since starting this exhaustive endeavor in 1995. Appropriately, water is the theme of this year’s guide, which also includes updated info on clean energy programs, energy-efficient lighting, recycling, an expanded list of local enviro groups, and so much more. Think you know everything already? You're guaranteed to learn something new.

Austin Environmental Directory, 512/447-8712, www.environmentaldirectory.info

Best Indie Press
A Strange Object

Those watching Austin’s burgeoning print-based literary scene have been eagerly awaiting the first title from A Strange Object, the independent press formed eight months ago by former American Short Fiction editors Jill Meyers and Callie Collins. Literati, rejoice! This October, A Strange Object releases Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail, the debut collection of odd, elegant, and often funny short stories by Michener fellow Kelly Luce. Slim but well-curated, the collection doesn't disappoint. The design is understated; the tail is literal. Strange, indeed! Bolstering editorial experience with collaborative projects like their new reading-and-performance series Tesseract, A Strange Object has positioned itself squarely at the forefront of Austin’s emergent world-class literary scene.

A Strange Object, www.astrangeobject.com

Best Man on the Street
Shelton Green, KVUE News

Shelton Green, the nearly 20-year veteran news reporter at Austin's ABC affiliate, KVUE, has been here since 1995 and has reported on everything from cops to city politics, mayhem to music festivals. He's the everyman on Austin's streets, bringing his winning smile, charming personality, workhorse work ethic, and nose for news to every story he covers. Quite frankly, Shelton is the unsung hero of local TV news.

KVUE, 3201 Steck, 512/459-6521, www.kvue.com

Best New Look for a Publication
'Texas Highways' Magazine

Texas Highways magazine continues to evolve with a new look as it nears its 40th year of documenting the beauty and diversity of Texas. The redesign gives a fresh look to the familiar format. Using bolder and cleaner fonts with more white space increases the readability of the print edition, while the expanded departments offer more destination choices. Published by the Texas Department of Transportation, the magazine has always been more than just bluebonnet pictures. It is a travel guide to what makes Texas unique. Let the exploring begin anew.

Texas Highways, 150 E. Riverside (Lobby of TxDOT Bldg. 150), 512/486-5858, www.texashighways.com

Best Pickup
ATX Television Festival Season 2

What do Veronica Mars marshmallows, Adult Swim acolytes, and Transformers: Rescue Bots buffs all have in common? The tender attentions of the ATX Television Fest, that’s what. After a strong start in 2012, this homegrown festival came roaring back in its second season, drawing fans and industry folk alike with eclectic panels, sneak peeks, affectionate looks-back at gone-too-soon series, and star-studded reunions (Friday Night Lights, Boy Meets World) that captured national attention. Like the terrific TV it celebrates, ATX is a must-watch.

ATX Television Festival, www.atxfestival.com

Best Purveyors of Gloss
Shweiki Media

There's nothing like holding a magazine or newspaper in your hands. Hey, print media loyalist: We're on your side. And so is Shweiki Media. Chances are, if you've picked up any of a number of free glossy publications available at coffee shops and other outlets between the Austin and San Antonio metro areas, you've encountered something printed by Shweiki. The company grew out of a publication launched for the UT happy hour crowd, Study Breaks. In 1999, the entrepreneur behind the empire, Gal Shweiki purchased his first publication-grade web press, expanded his print realm to providing service for other publications, and has been in the CMYK biz ever since. Fast, reliable, and always on the forefront of print innovation, Shweiki delivers. And in light of last year's announcement about their partnership with Texas Monthly Custom Publishing, they will be delivering deep in the heart for years to come.

Shweiki Media, 512/480-0860, www.shweiki.com

Best Somebody's Got to Do It Job
'Texas Monthly' Barbecue Editor, Daniel Vaughn

It’s a messy job, eating all of that greasy meat, trying to decide which of the hundreds of Lone Star barbecue joints deserve to be ranked among the best in Texas and thus, the world. Last March that Herculean task fell to Daniel Vaughn when Texas Monthly magazine named him their first-ever barbecue editor. Arguably the most coveted and least appreciated job in the state, short of the editor of this issue or the Governor’s Mansion, Vaughn has his work cut out for him despite his outstanding credentials as a food and travel writer, and author of The Prophets of Smoked Meat, a culinary guide to Texas barbecue.

Texas Monthly, 701 Brazos #1600, 512/320-6900, www.texasmonthly.com

Best Technicolor Tease
Google Fiber Billboard

Austin and Provo, Utah, both have the distinction of being the next place that Google Fiber is settling its RGB+Y behind, or so Austinites found out with a well-placed billboard on northbound I-35. You know the scenario: It's 6 o'clock and you're headed home from your daily grind in South Austin, and as you ready yourself for a world of slow-mo' hurt, there's a fantastically rainbow-hued member of the family Leporidae (a bunny). Reveries of swifter Internet and cable options are broken by the horn of that G.D. Chevy behind you, rudely telling you to hop along.

Google Inc., 9606 N. Mopac, 512/343-5283, www.fiber.google.com

Best Triple-Digit Prestidigitator
Burton Fitzsimmons

There's something as predictable as a month over 100+ degree temps during the long Texas summer. Namely: At 8am every morning on KUT and KUTX, YNN's chief weather-scryer will deliver the hard blow to you directly, which, let's be honest, is really the best way to hear that you'll be feeling the sweat flow like the River Jordan down your ass-crack (again), isn't it? A Lone Star Emmy nomination no doubt helps the guy in the confidence department.

KUT 90.5FM, 300 W. Dean Keeton, 512/471-1631, www.kut.org

YNN, 1708 Colorado St, 512/531-8800, austin.ynn.com

Best Way to Broaden Your Musical Horizons
'Horizontes' with Michael Crockett

For over two dozen years, Michael Crockett has been purveyor of the latest and greatest chido sounds from Latin America. From electro-cumbia to fusión, dude has a voracious hunger and encyclopedic recall of complex musical landscapes (and their various colonial and postcolonial influences). His easy-breezy chatty style with visiting musicians, who tend to join Crockett in his musical geekery/fandom, is never stiff, never boring. When it comes to radio programming, Horizontes is an old sawhorse made anew each week, undeniably tied to the genuine gusto of its host.

KUTX 98.9FM, 300 W. Dean Keeton, 512/471-1631, www.kutx.org

Best Way to Spark Up a Conversation
Dorkbot Austin

After some Dorkbot Austin Facebook group stalking (which we're sure its members would approve of, right?), we found that by joining we'd be in the company of some of the city's most creative and influential people. You know, the behind-the-scenesters who can play a mean computer keyboard and can dance on the metaphysical tables of Google Fusion all night long. Get lost in the Cloud with local artists, hackers, designers, engineers, and students, among others involved in the creation of technological art, during one of Dorkbot Austin's meetings.

Dorkbot Austin, www.dorkbotaustin.org

Best Wheely Great Throwback
The Shiner Premium Boogie Van

When Shiner Beers relaunched Shiner Premium earlier this year, they found the perfect way to celebrate: hunting down a 1970s boogie van and taking it to Rodriguez Rod & Cycle, where they painted it bright gold and airbrushed a mural of a beer-thirsty bald eagle on one side and a rattlesnake on the other. Just like Shiner Premium, which enjoyed a rockin' heyday in the early 1970s, this disco-era van has been resurrected from history, and now makes appearances around town, blazing in the sunshine like a glowing golden Phoenix. It's yet to be seen how this van will earn its infamy (rolling Seventies dance parties? party-bus-style taxi service? rentable Shiner-dispensary on wheels?) but we've got a good feeling about this one.

McGarrah Jessee, 121 W. Sixth, 512/225-2000

Shiner Beers, www.shiner.com

Rodriguez Rod and Cycle, www.rodriguezrodandcycle.com

Most Radio-Unfriendly Radio
'Commercial Suicide' on KOOP

Tuning into KOOP's Sunday evening programming sometimes feels like you've discovered alien airwaves, an entirely new in-between station, a Platform Nine and Three-Quarters of the FM dial. But it's just Commercial Suicide, KOOP's long-running, much-revered sanctuary for all that is ambient, electronic, noise, minimalist, and more (or less). Whether your knowledge of experimental music begins and ends with Björk or your idea of a good time is listening to microphone feedback, gracious hosts Nick Hennies and Alex Keller will Virgil you through the inner circles of sound art. It's a bright spot in the radio wasteland of endless Top 40 loops, and a reminder – as if you needed one – of why community radio still matters.

KOOP 91.7FM, 3823-B Airport, 512/472-1369, www.koop.org

The Thea Williams Memorial Award
TIE: Jordan Gass-Poore; Rob Cohen

Welcome to our inaugural Thea Williams Memorial Award for Distinguished Interns. We want to brag on two of our own, but first, a word on the lineage of this award. Thea Williams was an executive producer and journalist at KVUE and a gifted instructor of journalism at Austin Community College, where she treated students as journalists, not student-journalists. She was also a friend of the Chronicle. In so many ways, the passing in 2010 of this kindly hardass with a heart of gold is a loss that is still felt in Austin. So, in homage of the greatness that will remain Williams' legacy, we've ferreted out two of our own emerging talents who wear the mantle well. They couldn't be more different: There's Jordan Gass-Pooré, a student at Texas State University and reporter for the University Star, and Rob Cohen, who embodies the punk-rock spirit and founding principles of alternative news weeklies. Both have made it their business to know their culture/sub-culture well. Both are inquisitive and kind, virtues important to Williams, and unrelenting in journalistic mettle. We could go on about their skill for sentence structure, their inherent wit, their baffling work ethic, curious eating habits, or the scarily accurate Morrissey impressions that issue forth from the mouths of these babes, but we've already buried the lede. The truth is, Gass-Pooré and Cohen remind us, not only of ourselves at their ages, but of the importance of our chosen vocation, and the kind of joy that can be endemic to it.

KVUE, 3201 Steck, 512/459-6521, www.kvue.com

The Austin Chronicle Internship Program, 4000 N. I-35, 512/454-5766, www.austinchronicle.com

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