Austin: A Nice Place to Visit, But I Wouldn't Wanna Live There
Oh, Austin. You try so hard to be cool. Too hard.
Oh, Austin. Meet Shark. Shark, meet Austin. Go ahead, jump that shark, Austin, jump! Oh wait, you already did.
Of course, the place wasn't always that way, but I'm not gonna go getting into one of those old-man-style "Well, back in my day, Austin was a hippie, laid-back fun town, blah blah blah" tirades. Yawn.
But truth be told, I don't like living in Austin. A great vacation destination, sure. But not a place I wanted to call home. I recently moved from Austin to a rural town outside Austin, close enough to go there a couple of times a week for a client, or something else I gotta do. Sure, if I wanted to go to 6th Street and see a band, I could, and I do. I just get the sinking feeling that half the crowd is there just to be able to say they were the next day at their job at the vintage clothing store or game design company. Yuck.
Ooh, we're Austin...oooh, we have great barbeque restaurants! We're so cool. Uh, no. Your barbeque sucks. The best barbeque? Try Lockhart. Taylor. Giddings. Elgin. Now they gots barbeque joints but those towns ain't Austin. Yet.
SXSW is okay, sure. But even the people that come from out of town, hell they realize it's just a place to network and buy meals and drinks to write off on expense accounts. You'll see an up-and-coming band, and the cover charge will be twice the usual price (but still cheaper than in LA or NYC). Sometimes you'll be lucky to get in, and it will be oh-so-crowded. And for some reason they keep adding other mediums to it. It's not just music anymore. I think this year there's a South x Southwest hopscotch festival.
The art scene? Maybe there's a tie-dye museum that I'm not aware of? The museums are so sad. The Radio City Rockettes came to town and there were people SCALPING tickets. Oh, that pains me even to type it. Anyway, there's no art culture here. There's nice wildflowers, though. And don't miss the bats at sunset.
The other annual hipster music festival, ACL (or Austin City Limits) is a little better than SXSW but barely. Don't you hate the girls in bikini tops that sit on their boyfriend's shoulders at an outdoor concert and yell "Wooooo"? I do. And did I mention that the boyfriend dude is shirtless, has ironic facial hair and is wearing hemp sandals? Yeah, that's why I can't go back to ACL.
Lake Travis, Barton Springs and Lake Austin and the nearby rivers are awesome. Absolutely beautiful. Seriously, they rock. But wait, look, there's Lance Armstrong's house! And Sandy Bullock's! Good God, you're going to get excited by big houses on the lake? Go to LA and buy a celebrity homes tour map, you'll have more fun. On the other hand, make sure to go tubing on the Comal River, swimming in the year-round perfect water of Barton Springs, and take a boat ride on Lake Travis.
Hippie Hollow and the Oasis? Must-sees if you visit. Sure, everyone should go. Once.
Anyway, I've lived in a lot of places, and I rue the day that I thought moving back to Austin was a good idea. It's got all the benefits of a nice little covertly racist town, plus 40 thousand or so fratboys and sorority girls, rents that aren't cheap, a longhorn or "I bleed orange" emblem on every car, a vast number of overpriced vintage stores and so-so tex-mex restaurants, and traffic that obeys no known logic. Geez, what's not to love?
Anyway. Sorry to sound like Debbie Downer and complain, but it will never be New York City with gorgeous bodies of water surrounding it, but it seems like that's what it aspires to. If you have to live in a "large" metropolis in Texas, it's the lesser of several evils, aka Houston and Dallas.
But by all means, come visit, buy some vintage cowboy boots or hat. Go to Stubb's and catch a band and have chicken fried steak, have a Lone Star longneck and a shot of Tito's Texas vodka at Club Deville on some beautiful evening and make sure sit you outside.
There's lots to do, but for me, it got stale really quick. I did the "Green Acres" thing and now I've taken it to the the next level....a farm. Maybe Austin was my rebound city after I dumped New York City, my transition to a really really simple life.
Keep Austin Weird, and y'all come visit.
- ACL Music Festival ~ Sep. 16-18, 2011 ~ Zilker Park, Austin, Texas
ACL Music Festival is a three-day, eight stage event happening in Austin, Texas on September 16-18, 2011 with 130 bands and much more.
- CLUB DEVILLE : AUSTIN, TEXAS