Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cheapo Discs

 Unfortunately, Cheapo Discs has left Austin.  You missed it.

 If you love movies and music in Austin Texas, then there really is only one place to go.  That is Cheapo Discs.

 Just like the name implies, Cheapo Discs buys and sells CDs, DVDs, albums, and a small amount of video-games.  The majority of their inventory comes from their patrons, with literally thousands of items coming in every week.  The selection is an eclectic mix of everything; punk rock, country, rap, classical... whatever, and they often have it on vinyl as well as CD.  The movie selection is massive, with a large number of collections, full seasons, rare, and hard-to-find items... all reflective of the weirdness that is Austin Texas.

 Cheapo Discs is also host to a variety of live shows featuring local and national artists, and has on occasion even been host to pieces by visual artists.  The employees are a hip-crowd just as mixed as their store; tattooed-babes and stuffy-shirt intellectuals who are all equally friendly and knowledgeable about their particular areas of interest.  Prices are generally half or less for the same item purchased new, and everything they sell has a 7-day guarantee.  

 Cheapo Discs is, in my opinion, an inherent part of the spirit of Austin.  It is a little bit of everything, where the really rare is highlighted and frequently expressed.  This shop simply kicks ass.

Cheapo Discs
914 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 477-4499

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Austin Lowbrow

 "Lowbrow" is an art-movement that is a reflection of a culture.  This culture is born as a response to the commercialism of aesthetic, the flirtation with the dangerous that inherent in Americana, a strong individualistic streak, and a definite sense of humor.  It is a culture with a bad-attitude.  It has been fed on cartoons, underground-comix, and merchandise branding.  It grew up with many brothers and sisters; punk rock, hot-rod street-culture, tattooing, skate-boarding and extreme sports, etc.  "Lowbrow" is a rejection of the standards of the mainstream, but has hypocritically developed its own standards and been absorbed back into the social-fold.  Most people who consider themselves part of the "lowbrow culture" generally don't care.  It is about doing what you want to do... finding meaning in your own efforts.

 "Lowbrow" is the way I tend to look at life.  The socio-political machinery is often a source of amusement and frustration.  I have always been one to explore the "underground", looking for the seamier side of life's experiences.  I am also a consumer; I work for every dollar that I earn, and I spend those dollars not just on what I need but also what I want.  The experience is often as important to me as the material object.  "Lowbrow" is a culture, one that knows the difference between grades of beer, that is cognizant of what makes a good wine, and take pleasure in being more than a little drunk.  In most ways there is little difference between lowbrow and highbrow... just attitude.

 Back when I lived in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, I kept my finger on the pulse of what was going on.  I was the guy that knew were all the "lowbrow" information outlets where catering to the different segments of the culture.  I kept track of when and were the talented and unknown musicians were playing; watching shows in basements, the backrooms of clubs, even parking lots.  I followed the artists that showed their work at coffee-shops, tattoo-studios, and private homes.  I hung out with the gear-heads who raced their street machines illegally.  In Germany, my mania for all things underground only increased.  I was the guy on post who knew where the parties were, where the girls where, where the skateboarders were congregating.  American punk-rock bands that came through Geissen of Frankfurt sought me out to see the sights that most people would never think to look for. 

 Austin has been a harder nut to crack because, well, the lines between what is underground and what is not has been blurred.  The catch-phrase of this city is "Keep Austin Weird", and many of the citizens and businesses live by it.  The mainstream here is what would be underground elsewhere.  There is just simply so much to do.

 I have played around with the idea of this blog for some time, even starting something with a sputter or two over the last few years.  This blog will be the readers way of following me around town as I explore Austin, seeking the weirdness amongst the weird.  I will tell you were I go, what I do, and why.  We're going to talk about bars, tattoo shops, restaurants, music venues, strip-club, art galleries... taking some risks and maybe making some friends along the way. 

 "Lowbrow".  The culture of the anti-culture.  Thanks for reading.