The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, November 10, 2006, Columns

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY Originality is forgetting from where the idea came.

I SCREAM I work on the Eastside – which might as well be known as the Land of 24-Hour Ice Cream Trucks. Nine in the morning or 10:30 at night, dozens of these purveyors of snow cones and ice-cream novelties shall not be deterred from their appointed rounds. Some are as basic as a bicycle with a cooler mounted in front; some are more elaborate, paneled vans plastered with decals of the frozen confections. But what do they all have in common? Hideous music. Vile, repetitive, electronic tunes ranging from Beethoven's "Für Elise" to a particularly reprehensible version of "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands" that is punctuated with a digital voice regurgitating the word "Hello!" over and over. "Frère Jacques" is another popular tune … though not so popular with me. "Turkey in the Straw" and "Pop Goes the Weasel" are doubtless designed to attract children but are guaranteed to drive any adult within earshot completely insane. It's like some kind of prisoner-of-war torture based on the idea that hearing "I'm a Little Teapot" a thousand times in a row will make you submit to anything. By nature, trucks drive slowly so that wide-eyed children clutching quarters can pour forth from the houses … but it also means that we hear the infernal music very slo-o-owly approaching long before the truck is visible, then at a deafening decibel as it is near, and then slo-o-owly trailing off into oblivion. At least until the next one comes. It is fall now, and the trucks still make their parade in 60-degree weather, but at the height of summer, you almost expect some sort of turf wars to ignite. You haven't lived until you've heard "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" being squealed from one truck, while another truck half a block away is screeching "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Of course, the phenomenon dates back to simpler times, and there is a kernel of charm buried beneath that dreadful music. But with the modernization of the music, it's as charming as living inside one of those "musical" Christmas cards that chirps "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" every time you open it.

FRINGE BENEFITS Last Monday's B. Iden Payne Awards put on by Austin Circle of Theaters at Zach Scott was a terrific high-energy undertaking with a great turnout that was a cross section of Austin theatre denizens and their supporters… Thursday's Help Clifford Help Kids benefit for American YouthWorks raised more than $350,000 for the organization that was Clifford Antone's pet project… Friday's Arthouse benefit Harajuku Nights was wonderful with its Asian theme – a delightful event marred only by the presence of a wretchedly unpleasant creature … well, I swore already that I'd never mention her name in my column again, though you might know her for being obsessed with karaoke.

V AS IN VOLITANT Have you been to the Volitant Gallery at 320 Congress ( It's a wonderful space of striking interiors, the perfect display space for art. The first time I was there was for the Quentin Tarantino party awhile back, I was struck by how stylish the exhibitions and installations were and the stylish visitors to the gallery. There's a marvelous show there right now – U-Genics through Saturday, Nov. 11 – artist Terri Thomas ( has taken her fashion-industry background and mirrored it through her art, which is a caustic yet beautiful comment on consumer imagery, societal stereotypes, cultural fascinations, and art history itself. Also at the Volitant, Saturday, Nov. 11, 7-11pm, is the release party for Issue 2 of the quarterly Cantanker magazine, a publication focusing on the burgeoning visual-art scene in Austin. The related Web site,, carries even more art and editorial in a campaign to attract new art collectors.

SHOWTIME As a benefit for Antone's and the Long Center, Made in Heaven presents its Holiday/Resort Collections at a fashion show on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 8:30pm. Tickets are $20, general admission, at 8pm for the fashion show and postshow party; $50, reserved seating, including a VIP cocktail hour with hors d'oeuvres from 7 to 8pm and postshow party; $100 for front-row tickets with a VIP cocktail hour with hors d'oeuvres and sky-box entrance for the post-party, featuring Patricia Vonne, Robert LaRoche, and a very special musical guest. Tickets are available at

AGENDA Friday, Nov. 10, at the Mansion at Judges' Hill, the Austin Humane Society presents Rags to Wags, a benefit and presentation of the AHS Guardian Awards, emceed by Judy Maggio with a reception, music by the Crying Monkeys, hors d'oeuvres, and a dog-and-people fashion show emceed by little ol' me. Go to for complete info.

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