Can’t Keep Austin Weird? Look Around: It’s Everywhere

Stalking the Innocent Putt Putters by Jann Alexander © 2103
Stalking the Innocent Putt Putters by Jann Alexander © 2103

Yes, there’s reason to worry that we can’t Keep Austin Weird. But if you look around, you’ll find that weird is everywhere.

Austin’s initial appeal, if you listen to the Liberty Lunch Lamenters, was just how weird it was. Keeping Austin Weird means different things to different folks, but there’s no doubt it’s become a marketing slogan that Austin can no longer fully live up to. Still, weird lingers in Austin. (Look no further than the faux-menacing T-Rex who’s Stalking the Innocent Putt-Putters at Peter Pan Mini-Golf.)

And more importantly, weird lives large all around the country—indeed, the world—if you just seek it out.

As a self-defined seeker of the wacky and the weird, I’ve cultivated a number of sources I follow online to get my Weekly Weird and Wacky Fix. These are some of the more creative bits I’ve found lately, many of which I share on Twitter (@VanishingATX).

The current buzz term for this is content curation, so that must make me a content curator. I’ll take that. I’ve always liked collecting things, a close cousin to curating, and bits and bytes are no different (though they take up less space than the physical objects I collect, they are vastly more difficult to keep tabs on. More on all that in a future post.) Besides, it’s enormously fun to share cool discoveries. Do you remember unearthing a buried nickel when you were a kid, and excitedly sharing your find? Same deal now.

Here’s the wacky, weird, curated content I’ve been following closely and am excited to share:
Rock Legends in Wax

Roadside America featured the Rock Legends Wax Museum in Niagara Falls, Ontario, a destination that makes anyone’s bucket list. Rock Legends is a sculptural art gallery of rock superstars, including Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, Buddy Holly, Snoop Dog, Little Richard, even Marilyn Manson—all of the wax sculptures made by 76-year-old Pasquale Ramunno, an Italian immigrant with good musical instincts, and his three Canadian-born children. If you’ve been to both of the falls, and wax museums float your boat, there’s another one nearby: the Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum.
Terror Tuesdays

Blogger Museum Nerd, an anonymous seeker of all things museum art, tweets more often than s/he posts. This week’s blog featured the tweets of 10 Famous Artists on Twitter. Honest.

The Victorianachronists brought us Terror Tuesday: Headless Portraits from the Victorian Era. These daguerrotypes were actually fairly terrifying, as each subject’s head had been removed and/or relocated in a method that suggested some very early Photoshop, but wasn’t actually defined by the blog authors, TheVickyAs.

“The total neglect of the art of speaking . . . English is likely to become a mere jargon”

—Thomas Sheridan

Mental Floss gathered 15 Historical Complaints About Young People Ruining Everything, and surprise, though these complaints date from the 17th—19th centuries (and some even earlier), they’re just as bemoaned today. In 1780, Thomas Sheridan warned of  “The total neglect of the art of speaking . . . English is likely to become a mere jargon, which every one may pronounce as he pleases.” Or abbreviate into acronyms to text.

Headless Body
Headless Body

Do You Remember is a site that’s obsessed with vintage memories, retro objects and old news, from the birth of the Big Mac (1968) to the death of Chuckles the Clown (1971) and beyond. This week, in a ripped-from-the headlines near-parody, a feature on the fired freelancer who penned the headline “Headless Body in Topless Bar” for the New York Post clamored for attention amid news of Really Strange Paint by Number Artworks and Tupperware’s Vintage Catalogs, Lessons for Ladyhood: The Modern Way to Shop, and Essential Life Lessons from Dazed and Confused(You mean that was an educational film?)

Health Camp Since 1949 by Jann Alexander © 2013
Health Camp Super Burgers Since 1949 by Jann Alexander ©2013

I traveled the interstate last week and wondered, How Can They Call It Health Camp? A popular road food stop for I-35 travelers since 1949, Health Camp serves its famous Super Health Burger (loaded with double burgers and double cheese) alongside tater tots and old-fashioned shakes so thick you literally cannot slurp them through a straw. When you’re up for a wacky fix, or just a very fine chocolate-and-peanut-butter milkshake, a road trip to Health Camp in wacky Waco, Texas might just punch your ticket.  

Got a favorite wacky place you’ll share here?

 BUY A PRINT: Choose from 99+ Vanishing Austin prints and a poster by Jann Alexander, starting at $25.

Endangered Species of Austin, poster by Jann Alexander © 2009
Endangered Species of Austin poster

Shop my Vanishing Austin series: While many Austin landmarks are lost, many are survivors still. Admire them all in a slideshow, HERE. Prints start at $35.

Marvel at what’s lost and what’s survived in my Endangered Species of Austin poster, featuring 16 Austin icons, and sized at a handsomely large 24 x 36,” available for $25, HERE.

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