One could say that the hero of Austin FC's 3-2 comeback win wasn't one of the team's three goalscorers. Instead, the hundreds of fans who flew from Austin to D.C. for their team found an unlikely martyr in an inflatable rubber chicken.
Dressed in his own Austin FC jersey and painted in the team's signature Verde hue, "Pollo FC" has been seen swinging above the Austin FC supporters' section since last season. But it wasn't until he was confiscated, and later freed, by D.C. United security shortly before a three-goal Austin FC comeback that his name became synonymous with sweet Verde victories.
Since his mouth is stuck in a permanent "O," Pollo's thoughts were interpreted through Trevor Blow as he took a break from the crowd at the San Antonio FC match to talk about the origins of the club's favorite chicken.
Pollo FC can be seen alongside his keeper, Trevor Blow, at just about every Austin FC game. (Austin FC/Twitter)
"It started as just a drunk idea... I thought it would be around for like a day or two, but people kept loving it," Blow said. "It really just drew the best, childlike nature out of people."
Easier to spot than Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, but often just as mystical, Austin FC "cryptids" like Pollo FC are multiplying in the Austin stands with that same agenda in mind.
Drawing from a cryptid of wintry legend, Austin FC's "Meh-teh," wouldn’t tell Austonia whether he would hibernate or not come summer since this "isn't the natural environment for a Yeti." But the man behind the furry mask had a more straightforward answer for his motives.
Austin FC's "Mei Tei" is far from his wintry home but still shows up to each Austin FC match. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
"I love the game, I love the team," the unidentified man in the suit said. "Figured I'd show up in a Yeti suit."
Like Meh-teh, fellow Austin FC cryptid Verdiloko dons his Verde and Black mask (and cape) each week for more than just himself.
"I'm not just Verdiloko, I'm a voice," Verdiloko said. "I'm the voice of every single fan in the stadium, the voice of passion and love for the team."
Austin FC's Verdiloko is a self-proclaimed voice for the team's fans. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
Aside from embodying the team's jersey sponsor YETI, Meh-teh has found a purpose in posing for pictures with young Verde supporters.
"It's fun for other fans, it's fun for little kids," Meh-teh said. "That's what it's all about."
Each cryptid has also gained a presence on social media. Ever the philanthropist, El Pollo has used that newfound fame to do more than change the results of Austin FC games; all proceeds for his stickers and merch go to local animal shelter Austin Pets Alive!
"There was a significant momentum change as soon as he got freed," Blow said. "He's become legend."
By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.