We Have an Issue: “The Light That’s Leaving”
On Bill Callahan’s likably melancholy new record, and another month of painful closures of Austin fixtures
The brilliant Austin musician Bill Callahan writes like a guy with a permanently wry half-smile and sings like a neutral face emoji. His newest album, Gold Record, is one of his finest: witty, character-driven, alert to nature (flora and fauna, especially the human kind), and liable to send you into a mellow kind of melancholy – "lonesome in apleasant way," in Callahan's own words – my very favorite headspace. Check out Rachel Rascoe's Q&A with him here.
From melancholy to funereal: September has been an absolute bloodbath for Austin businesses. Over the weekend it was East Seventh bar MugShots calling it quits, joining other local fixtures like North Door, Cap City Comedy Club, I Luv Video, and Veggie Heaven that couldn't outlast COVID-19.
Another pioneering vegetarian restaurant, Mother's Cafe, may be next. With a lease running out soon and ongoing concerns over how to safely operate a restaurant during a pandemic, Mother's co-owner John Silberberg tells Food Editor Jessi Cape in an interview this week that there's a strong possibility that Mother's – like so many other Austin institutions – will close its doors for good this fall: "There will be restaurants and bars in Austin in 2024, 2025 – but they won't be the same ones."
Now, everything is cyclical, something Austin especially is resistant to; the day after you move to Austin is the day you start grumbling about the way things "used to be." Still, it's going to be pretty jarring when we come out the other end of this and the landscape looks completely different.
If there's something – a place, a performer, a radio station, a shoe store, whatever – that is tied up intensely with what Austin means to you, check in with that something if you haven't in a while. Pick up a meal. Visit an online shop – businesses closed by executive order like music venues and bars are probably still selling merch – or Venmo a tip straight to an artist. Buy a subscription. Volunteer your time. Leave a good review online, or just tweet your thanks. They could probably use a kind word.
Online This Week
Matthew McConaughey's Next Act: The local actor, philanthropist, and most enthusiastic Longhorn will rep his new memoir, Greenlights, at this year's Texas Book Festival, one of over 125 authors announced Wednesday for this year's all-virtual fest. Other authors participating in the two weeks of online programming Oct. 31-Nov. 15 include David Chang, Kevin Kwan, Sigrid Nunez, Isabel Wilkerson, Julia Alvarez, Michael J. Sandel, and Ibi Zoboi.
Mobley Does House Calls: This week, Mobley released a self-directed video for new single "James Crow" and announced a Curbside Tour of Austin, playing solo concerts for select fans from a safe distance.
Don't Stand So Close to the Art: Austin Museum Day – the annual tradition of storming local museums for zero charge – takes place Sunday in hybrid fashion, with some in-person events, some timed livestreams, and some digital archives to explore at your leisure. Wayne Alan Brenner previews the programming, and gives a rundown of the whole schedule.
Storming the Airwaves: The Austin Chronicle Show, our weekly program on KOOP 91.7 community radio, is still on hiatus, but we got to stretch our legs a little on Civil Rights and Wrongs on Tuesday, when host Bob Dailey checked in with Editor-in-Chief Kim Jones, staff writer Austin Sanders, and recently retired staff writer Michael King. The archived show should pop up on the Civil Rights and Wrongs home page soon.