April Fool's Day is hard on reporters and newsreaders alike. The annual tradition can leave confusion, pain and joy in its wake.
To make things a little easier this April Fool's, we compiled a list of pranks we found across the Austin metro today. Some needed a little work to be convincing, while we're still not sure if others are real or fake.
Here are 7 April Fool's jokes to spice up your afternoon:
1. El Arroyo's 'stolen' sign
It is with great sadness that we share some disheartening news… Our famous marquee sign has been stolen. If you have any information about the whereabouts of the sign, or any leads, please comment. #BringBackTheSign #ElArroyoSign pic.twitter.com/4aeiJVPpPB— El Arroyo (@ElArroyo_ATX) April 1, 2021
We may have fallen hardest to this one. Early on April Fool's morning, the restaurant announced that their iconic sign was missing. They even provided security footage shots of what appeared to be four suspects at the scene at around 4 a.m. Thursday morning.
Many said the restaurant was crying wolf, and it was awfully suspicious timing that the iconic sign, which features hilarious new phrases every single day, would go missing on pranksters' favorite day of the year.
On a phone call with Austonia, a restaurant employee chuckled mysteriously and said, "no comment," when asked about the missing sign at 12:25 p.m.
The restaurant later revealed that the precious sign was found at the Yeti location. In a Tweet, the restaurant mocked Austinites and said, "Y'all fell hard for that one, huh?"
We certainly did. This might be the best prank of the day, and it certainly created an authentically Austin April Fool's panic.
2. Did Elon Musk buy Austin?
In the early hours of April Fool's morning, the Austin Chronicle revealed some shocking news. Gov. Greg Abbott had signed away the Texas Capitol, giving the entire city to billionaire Elon Musk, who declared himself the "Iron Mayor."
In the shocking announcement, the Chronicle wrote that Musk appeared via hologram at the signing ceremony and said if there's ever a scandal about him, he'd like it to be called "Elongate." Some, like Attorney General Ken Paxton, decried the statement as "fake news," while Austin Mayor Steve Adler said having a "Technoking" leader that wishes to colonize Mars isn't that off-brand for the "weird" city of Austin.
Don't worry though—Musk couldn't quite get his hands on the Texas Capitol or University of Texas campus.
Technically, this hasn't been confirmed or denied, but we haven't seen any "Iron Mayor" activity today. Some say the prank was a little too real and that the mysterious tech giant is "scary enough as it is."
A for effort on this one, Austin Chronicle.
3. Camila McConaughey goes classic prankster on her kids
Camila McConaughey became a bad influence for mischievous kids everywhere when she pulled a prank on her son, Livingston, and Matthew himself.
McConaughey took video as she fed her unsuspecting son and husband toothpaste-filled Oreos.
"Spicy," Livingston cried after taking a big bite. "You tricked us!"
Everything was not "alright, alright alright" for Mr. McConaughey. A bit more disgruntled than his son, McConaughey exclaimed "Nasty, what is that?" as he threw the remaining Oreo off a balcony.
Camila even provided a link for more April Fool's ideas, a power move that could inspire thousands of aspiring pranksters.
4. Is Austin's housing market slowing down?
The Austin-based realty group said words that have almost never been spoken by Austinites—especially in the past year.
In an Instagram post Thursday morning, the company posted the harrowing phrase, "the Austin housing market is slowing down." No need to fear—the culprit behind the quote is "literally nobody."
In the post, they said "can't even get through the sentence a second time," adding "Happy April Fool's Day!"
A good marketing trick, but it's not fooling anyone who's seen the city's booming housing market recently.
5. Old Thousand goes emo
Chinese food chain Old Thousand is transforming its two locations for April Fool's Day.
At their location on Burnet, the restaurant is now emo sandwich shop Jimmy Eat Sandwich. All day, they'll be jamming to pop punk, selling T-shirts and offering classic sandwiches.
At their 11th Street location, the restaurant is fusing with Red Lobster-esque meals as "Old Lobster." Menu items include twists like cheddar "Bae" scallion pancakes, crab rangoons and shrimp scampi lo mein.
Seems like this yummy, punk twist on April Fool's is really taking off.
6. Messi comes to Austin
Messi is going to sign with Austin Bold FC next season...got ya...April Fools or whatever.— Austin Bold FC (@AustinBoldFC) April 1, 2021
I guess they are technically Austin's first-ever pro team, but USL soccer club Austin Bold FC isn't fooling anyone.
The team announced they were signing Lionel Messi for next season—and immediately gave away the prank in the same tweet. For those who don't know, Messi is considered one of the best professional soccer players of all time.
Even the most diehard Austin soccer fans would've had a hard time believing this one even without the quick disclaimer.
7. Austin EMS workers get a veggie surprise
The Austin Emergency Center should know better than to mess with Austinites and their tacos.
AEC staff were surprised to see their Taco Cabana boxes were hiding veggies instead of Tex-Mex meals. Luckily for both the center and staff, the AEC revealed where the real tacos were hiding soon after.
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There is a fearless declaration of the obvious in “Being Texan: Essays, Recipes, and Advice for the Lone Star Way of Life,” a book that invites its readers to recall the power and panache of the late Texas Gov. Anne Richards, before getting schooled on no less than twenty types of taco.
Released this month, “Being Texan” is the first of several Texas Monthly titles to come in the build-up to the magazine's upcoming 50th anniversary in 2023. It is divided into four sections: Identity & Culture, Town & Country, Arts & Entertainment and Food & Drink.
In the introduction, titled “What Does it Mean to Be Texan?,” Texas Monthly editor Dan Goodgame addressed the eclectic aspirations of the book, writing: “Our modest goal was to craft a well-informed, thoughtful sampling of the best the state has to offer.” To this humble end, forty-two editors were utilized to cover fifty-five topics, which tackle everything from the various dress codes that make up “Texas chic” to Selena’s ongoing appeal.
The resulting richness is all over the map, running from Texas Monthly Senior Editor John Nova Lomax’s frustration over the frequent mispronunciations of Texas cities (“From Amarila to Wad-a-loop”) to Oscar Casares’s bittersweet essay on Dia de Los Muertos in the time of COVID (“Souls of the Departed”).
The book goes from silly to serious fast, and the pace might unseat some readers who would otherwise just enjoy the ride of pride that comes from being reminded that Texas gave the world Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, Dr. Pepper, Liquid Paper and the microchip.
So, in a book that switches from the state’s early instance on remaining a slave republic to a piece about collecting San Antonio ghost stories, it perhaps goes without saying that the essays on brisket and beer are the easiest to digest.
“Being Texan” does, in truth, contain some delicious and downright literary food writing.
Joe Galvan’s “Ode to the Raspa,” treats the summertime shaved ice staple as nothing less than a kind of edible ambassador of U.S. cuisine. “They serve as an important and necessary reminder of the fluctuating, imprecise words that American food inhabits,” he writes like some semiotics professor, before waxing poetic on how raspas embody childhood innocence as well as “the humidity of a July evening that finds itself at the bottom of a Styrofoam cup.”
But readers who are tempted to skim the section on “Strong Texas Women” or “The Evolution of Juneteenth” to get to Paula Forbes’ warning not to skip the processed cheese when slow cooking queso, will have missed out on some deep insight into what it means to embrace all the appealing and uneasy aspects of the state.
In “A Tale of Two High Schools,” Dan Q. Dao, details how, as a Vietnamese kid growing up in Houston, he employed the tropes of Texas culture as a tool of survival. “Perhaps out of a sense of self-preservation, I became enamored with the gilded mythology of Texas, from the folklore of the Alamo to the twang of country music. I wore cowboy boots, showed up for Friday night football games, and rarely missed a rodeo,” writes Dao, observing that: “Part of me believed that if I proclaimed my Texanness loudly enough, I would be spared the label of outsider.”
The dilemma of the homegrown Texas outsider is artfully explored in Skip Hollandsworth’s “Why McMurtry Matter,'' a meditation on the ironic popularity of Larry McMurtry, a writer who wrestled with his relationship to Texas--particularly the Hollywood myths and misconceptions that surrounded the state. Speaking about (to his mind) the perplexing success of “Lonesome Dove,” McMurtry said: “All I had wanted to do was write a novel that demythologized the West. Instead, it became the chief source of western mythology. Some things you cannot explain.”
There is much about Texas itself that seems hard to explain.
But David Courtney, a senior editor at Texas Monthly, does a good job of speculating on this rare amalgam of conservative pride and fearless experimentation that tends to run through the state, when he writes “Texans believe they possess something deep within themselves that sets them apart, and therefore they kind of do.”
Despite the surface-level accessibility of a book that addresses the cultural significance of Neiman Marcus and the extreme brand loyalty to Whataburger, “Being Texan” offers rare input regarding Texas and its citizenry, as well as handy advice for breaking in a pair of cowboy boots.
'Not a band, an experience': Musician Pete Monfre pushes the boundaries of making it in the music industry
In a city where live music is heralded above all else, Pete Monfre was surprised to find local musicians working for free that he quit the industry for 10 years in 2006.
Local musicians tended to be underpaid before COVID-19 sent the music industry reeling, but the fallout from the pandemic exasperated the existing problems. Musician and marketer Monfre knows—he’s been behind that shaking tip jar, trying to turn a profit while doing what he loves. He’s tackling the problem with a unique brand of live shows, which go against the grain, mix business with pleasure and help bring home the bacon.
The shows, called Stories from the Road, are an informal storytelling jam session at The Saxon Pub that encourages interaction between the artist and audience.
After a brief hiatus due to ongoing woes of the pandemic Stories from the Road came back to The Saxon Pub on Saturday. It was the first of 23 consecutive shows that didn’t sell out, which Monfre attributes to the break of not having shows.
“We called it Stories from the Road—not a band, an experience,” Monfre said. “We're not going to rehearse, we're not going to have a list, we're not going to prepare, every show is a one-off and you will never see it again.”
His shows start early at 6 p.m., with a rotating group of musicians playing blues or Americana who need not rehearse. This time it featured Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff on saxophone and harmonica, bassist Mark Epstein, drummer Kevin Hall and Adam Pryor on Hammond Organ.
You’ll probably end up spending a bit more than the typical show at the Saxon Pub, around $30 per person, but each show goes directly to supporting the artists that made it.
“Part of the mission was to advocate for fair wages for musicians and to help musicians understand their economic value,” Monfre said. “Now I can afford to pay musicians a modest guarantee and we call that the Fair Play approach to live music.”
Monfre moved to Austin as a young adult with the intention of “conquering the music industry” in 1981, which he told Austonia he did not do but did meet “a lot of interesting people.” He left Austin to tour for a few years, then moved to Milwaukee, where he continued to play music.
After returning to Austin in 2006, Monfre discovered some musicians were playing shows for free.
“I'm playing in Chicago and Michigan and hardcore blues places, and we don't play for free,” Monfre said. “So I actually quit for 10 years. There is no reason to play for free whatsoever if you just get the model right.”
Having already tried to conquer the music industry once, Monfre took a business-forward approach the second time. The model also caters to what he believes is an underserved group: working professionals who want to meet like-minded individuals but also be home by 9 p.m.
Chief Technology Officer for Economic Transformation Technologies David Smith, who has been coming to other Monfre shows since they started in 2016, said he enjoys the improvisational nature of the shows because it reminds him of old Austin.
“The Stories from the Road get back to the root of what music is: the fact that you can sit and jam, make music with musicians because they understand music, and that's the soul of Austin,” Smith said. “It really is a celebration of music.”
Monfre said the informality is what makes his shows so popular—you’ll hear the musicians ask the key for a song, take a request from the crowd, make a lighthearted jab at one another or create a song from scratch.
“They want to see the sausage being made, it's really funny I would have never thought it,” Monfre said.
Price (right) said he was happy the show ended early so he could make it home to Lampasas. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“I am knocked out. It just really didn't get any better than what we just had—this band was so good, the crowd was so good,” Price said. “That's what Austin in the ‘60s and ‘70s was all about, just everybody throwing it together.”
Stories from the Road is returning to The Saxon Pub stage on Dec. 18, with a completely new group of musicians. The show, like always, will start at 6 p.m.
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The holiday season is upon us, so get ready to celebrate with carols, snacks and light shows galore. Austin is full of holiday festivities spanning throughout all of December so get out and enjoy the cool weather while it lasts.
Don't miss these nine holiday-themed light shows.
Austin's most famous annual light show and a Readers Choice of USA Today's 10 Best Public Displays of Holiday Lights, the Trail of Lights will be drive-thru again this year Nov. 27-Dec. 31. For 57 years in a row, the Trail of Lights has lit up Zilker Park with games, food, local vendors and more than two million lights gleaming for the holidays. The event, as always, is free to the public and you can reserve slots here. The Zilker Tree is already up, so you can already see it if the holiday cheer is too much to bear.
Coming back for the second year in a row, Peppermint Parkway will transport you to COTALAND, where six million lights gleam and Christmas is just a one-mile drive away. The hybrid event will have you drive through the display of lights, dancing elves and unique little villages before you hit the walking plaza, where you can grab a bite to eat and meet Santa. Tickets range from $40-$95, some including a lap around the COTA track, running from Nov. 26-Dec. 26.
Dreamland Dripping Springs has been transformed into a winter wonderland—running throughout the month of December, the venue's first-ever holiday display is taking over with activities for the whole family. Plus, running from Nov. 20-Jan. 4, a pop-up ice skating rink will really bring the holiday cheer for $10 or $5 Monday specials. The lights display will feature half a million lights and warm, festive sips from the taproom.
With events galore for the holiday season, winter is really when the Hill Country Galleria thrives. Starting with its Light Up The Plaza event on Saturday from 6-8 p.m., where visitors can see Santa, gaze at the official lighting of the holiday tree and hear some live tunes from rock band American Authors. The Galleria will also hold a holiday market every Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to Christmas Eve and periodic photos with Santa at Buenos Aires Cafe.
Deck the Halls at the Driskill Hotel
(Courtesy of the Driskill Hotel)
This holiday season, the Driskill will deck out every nook and cranny of the historic hotel from the grand staircase to the 16-foot Christmas tree in the lobby to be lit on a Dec. 1 ceremony that will be open to the public. Touches of Driskill festivities can also be seen at Dell Children's Hospital with a gingerbread village for its annual "Cookies for Caring" event.
Kicking off the lighting of the tree on Saturday, Dec. 4, Austinites will gather on the steps of the Texas Capitol at 6 p.m. to sing the 45-foot tree to life. Afterward, local band Los Coast will close out the night with a free concert. The fun doesn't stop there though as the Downtown Austin Alliance will host the Downtown Holiday Stroll, with "holiday passports" and stamps to collect for local restaurants and stores, and a Frida Friday Holiday Market at Republic Square.
Combining festive holiday lights and the beautiful native plants of Central Texas, Luminations at the Wildflower Center is back with thousands of lights, luminarias and a lit-up look at Fortlandia. This year will also feature an interactive light maze called "silvana" by Ben Busche of architecture firm Brut Deluxe, which will be the maze's first appearance in North America. The event will run Thursdays-Sundays from Dec. 2-Jan. 30 for $10-$25 per person.
Reserved tables are back for Mozart's Coffee Roasters annual Christmas Lights Show for $20 four-person tables and $30 six-person tables—so get your tickets early because these tables are likely to sell out. The light show will also feature a festival-style Bavarian marketplace for those last-minute gifts. If you're too late to reserve a table, don't worry, there will be standing room available for free so come one, come all, and come early for parking.
From Dec. 2-4, Old Settlers Park will light up with holiday displays, family activities, festive refreshments and live music. Watch the balloons hover above the lake as you sip on a hot chocolate or give to those in need, with stands for Round Rock Operation Blue Santa, which is taking toys for kids in need, the Play For All Foundation, which is accepting cash donations for disabled children, and the People & Parks Foundation, accepting cash donations for green space in the community. Admission to the event is free, along with most of the activities in the park.
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