Austin is not, they whispered, like all the rest.
Peaches En Randalia #25
The streets were far narrower. That was the first thing I noticed. I was used to sixteen-lane super highways and streets which could fit two football fields from sidewalk to sidewalk in Texas. Everything is SUPERSIZED. Such is not the case in Austin. The beautiful little Texan city is an anomaly in a state which triggers very mixed feelings. Like most bleeding heart environmentally-mind liberals, I now almost permanently align Texas with the dreaded first family of American political crime, the Bush clan.
To go to Austin is to see what can be truly great about America in the form of its art, culture and people. The recent South by Southwest (as I hate acronyms due to the current text message literary culture in which we dwell, I wont mention those four lettersinstead, I prefer to ramble about its pithy tongue-tied sound bite in a right snooty fashion) music festival was attended by what appears to be every American hipster on the planet and one wonders what exactly brought them to the city. Was it the heady music or the cool guest speakers or indie films or was itas Jesse Jarnow sagely and in a bit of inspired hilarity field-recorded the audio activitya gaggle of grackles making loud bird songs in the trees along the city streets? Jarnows comment about the birds being pissed off locals, what with all of the trendy media and music-and-film-loving tourists clogging the claustrophobic environs, was also quite inspired.
But we digressand that perhaps, is Austins greatest legacy from the Asylum Street Spankers and their hit-and-miss vaudevillian post-modern shtick by way of New Orleans to the late, legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan combining rock, big band music, blues and Austin, Texas swamp music with good ole Tennessee stomp-and-strut vibes. Austin is ALL about the sweet digression on a quiet back street and thats enough sometimes in the overcrowded realm of ones normal everyday activities. Slow the fuck down, dig? My late father grew up in Paris, Texas. They made a very cool film about that little place back in the American Century but alas, I think he needed a wee bit more of Austin to supplement his more conservative nature.
I remember how friendly the people of Austin were and how every show Ive either seen in the citythe latest being Trey Anastasios best show of 2006 on Halloween at Stubbs BBQor been told about was an all-time high. Case in point, the recent NYC two-date Ween run at Terminal 5 in Manhattan was apparently eclipsed by the best show of the tour also in Austin, and also at Stubbs BBQ, according to my buddy, Tom.
Austin consistently delivers great music, film, theatre and has a refreshinglyO.K. Ill say itliberal slant on how one can live ones life, who one can love and what one plans on doing to earn a living while bypassing the easy, corrupt road of Texas most infamous oil-drenched political family. Its not so much Dont Mess With Texas, anymore. The bumper sticker should read Dont Miss Austin.
And I wont miss the call of that whisper if Im listeningsometime in the near future, on that quiet city street, outside the frames of homes that appear to have stood for two centuries and contain people with stories that reach back even further as one sees a slice of life that is equal parts Golden Americana and the sweet life that gives us all hope that this wild journey through the lyrical notes of our daily lives is somehow worth it.
_- Randy Ray stores his work at www.rmrcompany.blogspot.com