Exactly 1,000 Austinites were vaccinated in the name of live music on Friday, thanks to a vaccine drive put on by ACL organizers and VaxTogetherAustin, which traded a jab for a free, single-day ACL wristband.
ACL tweeted that they would give the first 1,000 people who signed up for the drive a free pass to any day of the first weekend just two days before the drive was scheduled—on Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Q2 Stadium.
Ready to get vaccinated? We are partnering with VaxTogetherAustin, Austin FC and Walgreens to donate ACL Festival 1-Day Tickets for Weekend One to the first 1,000 people who pre-register and get vaccinated THIS Friday, 8/27 at Q2 Stadium in Austin. Signup: https://t.co/LTgmWz7ou5pic.twitter.com/QTW0ON8y3d
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) August 25, 2021
Vaccine incentives are not new to Austin—Austin Public Health began offering $50 H-E-B gift cards to recipients of both first and second doses earlier this month. VaxTogetherAustin founder and Executive Director Sharon Cohan told Ausotnia since the uptake of vaccines has plateaued, the giveaway gave people an extra push to schedule an appointment.
"This is Austin and people love live music—both weekends of ACL Music Festival are sold out," Cohan said. "Several people that I've spoken with today have said that they were here because life is busy and you know, they're a little worried about it, they were waiting until a good time. Then they saw this opportunity, and it was too good to pass up."
The drive gave out first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, second doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Though all 1,000 spots were claimed, VaxTogetherAustin is announcing when appointments open up on their Twitter so you might not yet have missed your chance to score a wristband.
Both 26-year-old Jessica Valdes and 28-year-old Andre Mitchell were due for their second shots when the promotion was announced, so registering for the drive was a no-brainer. Valdes chose a Saturday wristband to see Billie Eilish, while Mitchell opted for a Sunday ticket so he could see Tyler, the Creator.
Mitchell, who lives nearby the stadium, said he's excited to finally be able to go to music festivals and travel again now that he's vaccinated.
"I honestly forgot all about it so it's a perfect incentive to get my second dose," Mitchell said. "I can travel anywhere out of the country, that's the biggest thing for me, and I can go to festivals again—especially in Austin, I feel like that's really the bread and butter of everything."
Feeling frustrated because you've already been vaccinated? While she understands the sentiment and wishes vaccine incentives weren't necessary, Cohan said incentives work and the goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
"Vaccine incentives, we wish we didn't need to use them, right? But they work and at this point, if we want to control the pandemic and relieve our overwhelmed healthcare system, we need for people to be taking the vaccine if at all possible," Cohan said. "Our organization is committed to making the vaccine as accessible as possible to reducing barriers to getting vaccinated and reducing hesitancy."
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As summer temperatures continue to increase, so does Austin's "Party Island"—a hundreds-strong army of kayakers and paddle boarders who gather each weekend in the middle of Lady Bird Lake.
Born from the pandemic, the swarm of paddleboarding partiers has continued to grow each summer and can be seen from the nearby Lamar Boulevard Bridge. And while "Party Island" certainly lives up to one half of its name, it's not actually an island at all: instead, it's located at a shallow sandbar near Lou Neff Point.
With beers, burgers from portable grills and even DJ turntables in hand, more friends and strangers continue to beat the heat in new ways at the distinct Austin hangout.
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If you are a committed, grunge-wearing resident of the Pacific Northwest, it is easy–almost automatic–to look at Texas as an extraordinarily dry, hot and culturally oppressive place that is better to avoid, especially in the summer. Our two granddaughters live with their parents in Portland.
Recently we decided to take the older girl, who is 15, to Dallas. Setting aside the summer heat, a Portlander can adjust to the vibes of Austin without effort. So let’s take Texas with all of its excesses straight up. Dallas, here we come.
Our 15-year-old granddaughter and her sister, 12, have spent summer weeks with us, usually separately so that we could better get to know each individually. In visits focused on Austin and Port Aransas, the girls seemed to be developing an affection for Texas.
Houston and Dallas are two great American cities, the 4th and 9th largest, each loaded with cultural treasures, each standing in glittering and starchy contrast to Austin’s more louche, T-shirts and shorts ways.
Three hours up I-35, Dallas loomed before us as a set of gray skyscrapers in a filmy haze, accessed only through a concrete mixmaster of freeways, ramps and exits. I drove with false confidence. Be calm, I said to myself, it will all end in 10 minutes under the hotel entrance canopy. And it did.
The pool at the Crescent Court Hotel in Dallas. (Crescent Court Hotel)
We stayed three nights at the Crescent Court Hotel ($622 a night for two queens), a high-end hotel in Uptown, patronized by women in white blazers, business people in suits, and tall, lean professional athletes, their shiny Escalades and Corvettes darting in and out, and other celebrities like Bill Barr, the former attorney general who shoe-horned his ample self into a Toyota.
Each morning as I walked to Whole Foods for a cappuccino, a fellow identified by a bellman as Billy the Oilman arrived in his Rolls Royce Phantom. Where does he park? “Wherever he wants to. He likes the Starbucks here.”
We garaged our more modest set of wheels for the visit. We were chauffeured for tips by Matt Cooney and Alfonza “The Rev” Scott in the hotel’s black Audi sedan. They drove us to museums, restaurants and past the enclaves of the rich and famous. In Highland Park, The Rev pointed out the homes of the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman along with the family compound of the Hunts, oil and gas tycoons.
The Dallas Museum of Art’s “Cartier and Islam” exhibit (until Sept. 18) attracted an older crowd; the nearby Perot Museum of Nature and Science was a powerful whirlpool of kids’ groups ricocheting from the Tyrannosaurus Rex to the oil fracking exhibit. Watch your shins.
A Geogia O'Keeffe oil painting called "Ranchos Church, New Mexico" at the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art. (Rich Oppel)
For us, the best museum was the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, a 50-minute, madcap drive away via a 75 mph toll lane along I-30. Don’t try it during rush hour. The Carter has an exquisite collection of Remington paintings and sculptures and an excellent array of 19th and 20th-century paintings as well. Pick one museum? The Amon Carter. Peaceful, beautiful, uncrowded, free admission and small enough to manage in two hours.
The Fort Worth Stockyards, a place of history (with a dab of schmaltz), fun and good shopping, filled one of our mornings. The 98 acres brand the city as Cowboy Town, with a rodeo and a twice-daily (11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) cattle drive. We shopped for boots, drank coffee and watched the “herd” of 18 longhorns. So languid was their progress that if this were a real market drive the beef would have been very tough and leathery before it hit the steakhouse dinner plate.
The cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards. (Rich Oppel)
But we could identify: the temperature was 97. “I saw a dog chasing a cat today,” said the emcee, deploying a very old joke. “It was so hot that both were walking.”
With limited time, we chose three very different restaurants:
- Nobu, in the Crescent Court Hotel; Jia, a modern Chinese restaurant in Highland Park; and Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. Nobu’s exotic Japanese menu set us back $480, with tip, for four (we had a guest), but it was worth it.
- Jia was an ordinary suburban strip mall restaurant, but with good food and a reasonable tab of $110 for four.
- Joe T.’s is an 85-year-old Fort Worth institution (think Matt’s El Rancho but larger), a fine Mexican restaurant where a meal with two drinks was $115.
Sushi at high-end restaurant Nobu. (Crescent Hotel)
It was all a splurge for a grandchild’s visit. Now we will get back to our ordinary road trips of Hampton Inns, where a room rate is closer to the Crescent Court’s overnight parking rate of $52. And to corner cafes in small towns.
Did Dallas change our 15-year-old’s view of Texas? “Yes. I think it’s a lot cooler than I did. The fashion, the food.” So, not only Austin is cool. Take Texas as a whole. It’s a big, complex, diverse and wonderful state.