It may not be Hollywood but Austin has made a name for itself on the silver screen with its fair share of movies that all display the diversity the city has to offer.
These movies will have you pointing at the screen, shouting "I've been there!"
Directed by quintessential Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater, who started the Austin Film Society, "Boyhood" takes place in a small town in Texas and follows the life of Mason Jr. and his childhood in its entirety. The movie was filmed over the course of 12 years, using the same actors throughout. "Boyhood" has been credited with putting several Texas locations on the map. This movie is truly an Austin showcase—putting Texas at the forefront tends to be Linklater's niche—and there are plenty of icons to choose from.
"Boyhood" showcased Dart Bowl Cafe, formerly located on 5700 Grover Avenue, when Mason's father, played by Austin native Ethan Hawk, took him and his sister bowling after an untimely divorce. The institution closed in July due to the pandemic. The hybrid bowling alley and eatery had been open for 60 years.
Next, Mason heads to Pedernales Falls State Park, 2585 Park Road 6026, where he and his father spend a few days camping together in the Hill Country.
Though it is certainly not the end of the Austin references in the film, Mason and his girlfriend Sheena also visit the Continental Club, at 1315 South Congress Avenue, which is widely renowned for cultivating South Congress and the live music scene in Austin.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Another Linklater classic, "Dazed and Confused" is a retroactive Austin A-list film. From the movie that brought you Matthew McConaughey's first feature film and his iconic line, "Alright, alright, alright," this classic is yet another that is full of Austin landmarks.
The immediately recognizable Top Notch Hamburgers, at 7525 Burnet Road, serves as the film's local burger joint. And to wash it down, you might want to run over to the Centennial Liquor, long closed but formerly on 6534 N. Lamar Blvd., and pick up a "sixer." After that, we heard there's a party at the moon tower going on at West Enfield Park, 2008 Enfield Road.
Heartbreak Hotel (1988)
This 1988 comedy, written by Chris Columbus, was filmed entirely in Austin. Sharing the same name as the famous Elvis Presley song, the film follows Johnny Wolfe's kidnapping of the singer to send him on a date with his mother. Though everything you see in the movie came from either Austin or Taylor, Texas, as the end credits state, the movie was filmed at Green Pastures, a historic Victorian house and restaurant located at 811 W Live Oak St.
Office Space (1999)
From soul-crushing job to revenge plan adventure, "Office Space" is a new age classic. The Initech Office is real, though it goes by a different name, and it's right here in Austin, located at 4120 Freidrich Lane. That isn't all, in fact, many of the mundane scenes you see in the movie are in Austin. Watch closely as Peter drives to work and you might see a few familiar sights along Braker Lane, stop by Chase Bank on 9739 Great Hills Trail to see the exterior of Chotchkie's, where Jennifer Aniston was forced to wear her "flair," or head home to the Morningwood Apartments, actually called the Trails at Walnut Creek, located on 11511 Metric Blvd.
Temple Grandin (2010)
This moving biopic recounts a girl who overcomes the challenges of autism during a time when the disorder was very misunderstood. Out of several filming locations in the running, including Arizona and New Mexico, Austin won out for the production of "Temple Grandin," a true story revolving around a girl of the same name, who was born autistic and non-communicative. The film started production at Austin studios in 2008 and ended the movie with a scene at the Austin Convention Center.
True Grit (2010)
Following teenager Mattie, with help from U.S. Marshal Reuben Cogburn, tracking down her father's murderer in a trek across the Texan frontier, "True Grit" was filmed all over Texas. Even though the movie takes place in Texas, the scene filmed in Austin passes as Memphis, Tennessee in the film. Stop by 110 East 9th St. and look for the Austin Club, formerly the Millett Opera House, to see where the film closes off. The filming was very careful—not a high rise in sight!
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Following a family in an Iowa small town just trying to get by, the oldest brother, Gilbert, must take charge of his severely overweight mother and mentally impaired brother. Although this drama, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, wasn't technically filmed within Austin city limits, head just 16 miles east to Manor and you'll see a lot of familiar Endora landmarks. Just about everything was filmed in Manor: the water tower, downtown, the Carver house and Becky's campsite. The one thing that wasn't filmed there was the Grape house, which stood on Hodde Lane outside Pflugerville. It isn't there anymore but fans of the movie know why—if it still was, there would be no ending.
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By Jo Clifton
Members of the city’s living wage work group urged City Council Tuesday to raise the city’s living wage to $22 an hour for the upcoming fiscal year. They said the wage should apply to all regular and temporary city employees except employees of the summer youth program, regardless of position or number of hours worked.
Council members Vanessa Fuentes, Ann Kitchen, Chito Vela, Kathie Tovo and Pio Renteria have already signed on to a resolution on the June 16 agenda calling on the city manager to adopt a living wage of $22/hour in next year’s budget.
The current living wage is $15/hour and that has not changed since 2018. City management raised employees’ wages to $15 as a result of a recommendation from the living wage working group in 2015.
The Human Resources Department convened the working group again this year, asking for its recommendations on a living wage. According to staff’s calculations, providing a $22 minimum wage would cost the city between $18.2 million and $22.8 million, not including wages for police.
Carol Guthrie, business manager for AFSCME Local 1624, told Council during its work session that it’s time to raise wages so the city can meet the demands of the public and its own employees. With inflation, gas prices and rising housing costs, Austin city employees are suffering and underpaid, she said.
While the city raised its minimum wage to $15 in 2018, it failed to keep raising that amount, which should have become $16.83 the following year.
According to documentation provided by the city, as of the end of April, the city had more than 2,474 vacancies, compared to about 1,559 on May 1, 2019. The vacancies include 78 at Austin Resource Recovery, 266 at Austin Energy, 96 in Public Works, 237 at Aviation, 133 at Parks and Recreation, 357 in the Police Department, 198 at Emergency Medical Services, and 126 firefighters.
City employees are suffering, Guthrie said, with some working so much overtime that they have become injured and ended up on the disability list.
City leaders did not foresee the pandemic, nor did they foresee the freeze. “And those additional stressors have played a big role in where we are at today. But something’s got to give. We need more workers. We cannot hire workers. Those who work here – they’re done, they’re spent. They need your help. We’ve got to be competitive. We have got to raise the wage for these workers.” The private sector is now hiring at $20 an hour, Guthrie said, and the city is not able to compete.
Rachel Melendes of UNITE HERE, the union representing some airport employees, said working at the airport is “too stressful. They are overwhelmed,” she said, noting that many airport workers arrive at 3:30 a.m. and leave at noon. “And despite their hard work they are not able to support their families on the city’s wages.”
Fabiola Barreto of Workers Defense said her group has been observing that “the folks constructing the city are not reaping any of the benefits. They’re moving to Buda and Kyle,” because they can’t afford to live in Austin.
Complicating matters, every Council member is aware of the fact that, as a result of state law, they can’t raise taxes more than 3.5 percent without the permission of voters.
Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison voiced her support of the wage proposal. She said she is telling people in her district that they should be prepared to move out of Austin as prices rise higher. That would be better than waiting until they have missed rent payments, she said.
Council Member Alison Alter told her colleagues she is committed to a wage increase, but could not commit to a specific number. She said, “Keeping our workforce competitive is the highest priority.”
Kitchen said it was her goal to reach $22 as recommended by the working group. She said it was particularly important that the public understand the trade-offs city management might have to make in order to pay the amount employees need. She told City Manager Spencer Cronk, “Get us to $22. If you can’t get us to $22 … tell us why.”
Guthrie told the Austin Monitor after the meeting that she and other members of the working group would be at the Council meeting next week to push for adoption of the $22/hour resolution. However, she said she was disturbed that the working group put in so much effort seven years ago to tell the city to raise wages, but there was no action on their recommendations after the city raised the living wage to $15.
Guthrie said she and others would be ready to fight for their wage proposal. In addition to AFSCME, other members of the group include representatives of Central Texas Interfaith, Workers Defense Project, Laborers’ International Union 1095, IBEW Local 520, the Austin chapter of General Contractors, Plumbers Local 286, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Austin LGBT Chamber, UNITE HERE, Local Progress, Texas Antipoverty Project and the Equal Justice Center.
When Mark Coffey moved to Austin in 1986, it was the land of Stevie Ray Vaughan shows, MTV and new opportunities.
Now, it may be the land of limited housing, property tax hikes and California license plates—but many are still choosing to stay for remnants of that old-school charm.
Austinites love to lament the loss of “Old Austin”—they’ve been saying it since 1884. And with one-bedroom rents up 112%, home appraisal rates up 56% and the cost of living on a seemingly endless upward trend, it's hard not to see Austin's past through rose-tinted lenses.
But even in money-stretching times like these, some Austinites are taking a break from their usual complaints to remind themselves why they choose to stay.
Mark Coffey has stayed in Austin for decades due to its uniqueness, inclusivity and community. (Mark Coffey)
As a near-original Austinite, Mark Coffey didn't have too much trouble buying a house or finding a job with pension benefits at a local utility service decades ago. Still, he said he's stayed in Austin for more than financial security.
"Despite the cost of living, the brutal heat and traffic... I think the trade-off is that Austin has always kind of had that sense of possibility," Coffey told Austonia. "Of all the cities in Texas, it's been the most open to change and future possibilities and I don't think that's ever completely lost."
Austin's unique spirit has attracted like-minded small-town Texas kids looking for community. Gabriel Rodriguez, who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, moved to Austin a few years ago after graduating from Texas State University and still hasn't become bored with the vibrant live music scene.
Gabriel Rodriguez, who has experience as a musician has found a home in Austin's live music scene and with Austin FC. (Gabriel Rodriguez)
"The big thing to me was the music," Rodriguez said. "That's what made me want to move to Austin in the first place... I grew up in a place that didn't have that."
Coffey, Rodriguez and many others have also found the Austin spirit with Austin FC, the city's first major league sports team, and its vibrant and community-minded fanbase.
Reason for being in love: Austin FC.
— Micky Ruñoz (@HighMs66) June 7, 2022
"Austin FC has come around and it's caused both old and new Austinite to kind of rally around something that like, yeah, this is our club, but it's also a statement about the kind of community we want to be," Coffey said.
For others, like Michelle Sanchez, Austin is home for many reasons—namely, a famed food scene, family and plenty of outdoor activities.
Proud, Austinite. I love Zilker (all the greenbelts), people for the most part are friendly, soccer, the food, and the fact that my family lives here. <3 I have thought about leaving once my contract is up.
— Michelle Sánchez (@MichelleS_tv) June 7, 2022
In a Reddit post that saw nearly 800 comments, dozens of users pointed to outdoor activities—from Barton Creek's Greenbelt swimming holes to paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake and trails dotting the city's outskirts. Others said that despite its flaws, they've never found anywhere better.
"Austin doesn't do anything spectacularly, but does more things adequately than most anywhere I can think of," user boyyhowdy said.
However, for some, those "adequacies" still aren't enough to stay.
Over austin too. I resigned a (sub)lease for a super small studio that’s 40% lower than the average 1 bedroom in Austin. This will be my last year in Austin, so I’m staying to save money then move to a city with actual public transit and ditching my car.
— amanduh (taylor's version) (@hey_amanduhh) June 7, 2022
Rodriguez said he's thought of leaving too. But whenever he thinks too long about the city's flaws, he finds solace in Austin's live music venues, including his favorite, Moody Theater. Coffey, meanwhile, recommends longtime spots like Continental Club, the Broken Spoke or even South Congress for a quick "old Austin" fix.
And with housing prices showing signs of slowing down and longtime haunts like Austin's longest-standing grocery store opening back up, there still may be time to reignite a romance with what "Keeps Austin Weird."
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