The Austin Chronicle

The Q&A Hole: What’s Your Favorite Place in Austin?

By Wayne Alan Brenner, May 29, 2017, 10:00am, Chronolog

Sure, everybody likes to repair to their lair for some mind-soothing downtime, to maybe hunker in the bunker and binge on whatever bright & shiny spectacle Netflix or Hulu is lately offering their collection of viewers. But, eventually, even a card-carrying member of Introverts & Agoraphobes Local 151 will seek a little taste of refreshing elsewhere.


So where do Austinites like to go when they leave their house, their condo, their apartment, wherever their familiar objects await their return?

Amy Gentry, author: That is easy, and I'm sorry it's trite, but: Barton Springs, all the way. Also it's almost the only place besides my home I even go anymore in Austin, so there's that.

Sean Gaulager, artist & curator: My favorite place to relax is Barton Springs. My favorite places to socialize are Austin’s galleries and theatres. There are so many – what? Narrow it down? Damn, dude, you trying to get me crucified? [long pause] Museum of Human Achievement.

Carina Magyar, comedian: On the tip of Red Bud Isle, reclining in the tree roots, watching my daughters swish their toes through the river water.

Marc Majcher, improviser and game designer: The Hideout Theatre is pretty much my second home, so that probably doesn't count. I do find myself spending an awful lot of time at The Ginger Man, these days, partially because of proximity to my workplace and after-theatre hangouts, but primarily because they have the best goddamn baked pretzels that I've ever had. I'll seriously stab a motherfucker for one of those things. When they're closed for lunch, though, Numero 28 Alimentari has some pretty mind-blowing Italian goodies, gelato, and cocktails – I found myself wandering over there at least once a day for the first several weeks they were open.

Marc Pouhé, actor: I love Zilker Hillside Theater. I'm either performing in or watching a show there. Reminds me of the Miller Outdoor Theatre shows I watched growing up in Houston.

Jack Darling, magician: It’s funny that you are asking me this question right now! I was looking out the work window, dreaming. I’ve been working so many tough concrete jobs in a row without much time off. I am exhausted. I was dreaming about what I most wanted to do when I have a break from work. The answer is, hole up at BookPeople with a stack of books on various subjects – just to be lost/absorbed in other people's worlds – drinking way too much coffee. (And "try" and put the books back where they belong so as not to cause too much work for someone else.) At this moment in time that would be my favorite place to be in Austin.

Peter Stopschinski, musician and composer: My new fave place is the Volstead Lounge, which has a lovely back patio shared with Hotel Vegas, excellent bartenders, great vibe, a really cool tiny little stage, and just plain ol’ interesting live-music programming for a guy of my eclectic taste buds. Specifically, Monday nights are called Me Mer Mo, there’s no cover and it features some of Austin's most interesting musicians playing solo, jamming with each other, doing their side projects, playing that guitar they strung with springs, breaking out the ol’ Memory Man delay and getting back to their psychedelic roots, etc. This is a great view into the fun and vibrant underbelly of Austin experimental music. Also, it's free to park on East Sixth on Mondays – so it's all good!

L.B. Deyo of the Dionysium: Well, I surely love to be at the Dionysium at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. But as far as general hanging out, I'd say maybe the UT Campus. I really love the Harry Ransom Center, and whenever I have friends in from out of town I take them there.

Rowan Halliday of the Dionysium: This is a hard question for me, because Austin has been my favorite place in the whole world since I first saw it in 1981. I love this city with my whole heart. Most mornings for the last 12 years I wake up with the thought “I’m in Austin! I’m so happy I made it here!” You can understand why picking one place is hard for me. Where I like to be best, though, is where I can watch it breathe, sleep, grow, and shine. I love to climb up Mt. Bonnell, to stand there gazing down upon the city like the Tick. I look out over Austin, and I feel the sometimes-fist that is my anxious little heart relax, and the calm and peace flow through me, and I think, “There it is, my beloved and wonderful city.”

Denise Prince, artist: That is easy. The Texas Federation of Women's Clubs mansion. God, what a granny answer – but it’s absolutely true. It's everything I love about formality and etiquette meets 1970s venetian blinds and bad plastic flowers. It's elegant and strange. Wrong and captivating. If they had an organ I would hide in closets and secretly live there. Another new discovery is the H-E-B on Manor near 183. It has good vibes. I felt like I got to return to what I liked about life: unpretentious, chilled-out people shopping. Unlike any other store I've been in – and I go to grocery stores all over to cast people for my photography and (art) film work. So, granted, I was watching people that day. It felt like Mister Rogers or maybe Electric Company vibes. Several people dressed with no regard to what the media says style is – and, so, interesting. A mother and three sons, Hispanic, and each with the most amazingly styled hair. Very barbershop, clean-cut, semi-Western dress with some classic Texican sensibility I could not manage if I aspired to duplicate. I suppose a barber could, but the effect of the family was mesmerizing. I actually saw a man lock hands with someone who worked there in this deeply cool, warm gesture that made me feel everything was right in the world. I am not sure you could go there and find it unless your heart was very pure or you were very still that day. It's not something you could go consume. That is what I loved about it: It was what life can be. Maybe people could hold that place in their minds. Austin might levitate.

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