Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Austin: So close yet so far out...
I’m writing this while sitting in a fun coffee house, Ruta Maya. I’ve just returned from 5 weeks traveling abroad seeing some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world, yet Austin blows me away. The energy and the attitude feels a lot like Portland, Oregon (another love affair) but with (eventually) better weather and cowboy boots…it's cold here now. Unseasonably cold. Everyone assures me that the Winter snap only lasts for a couple weeks, and that's that. Well, I have a post-travel cold due to the weather change OR it's Cedar Fever--an allergy down here--either way, I'm going through some tissues.
There’s bumper stickers that reads: “Keep Austin Weird”, and for South Austin "78704, it's not just a zip code, it's a way of life". 78704-EVER!
This is definitely a blue oasis in a red state. Oh, and everyone is so gosh darn nice--Cheryl says the contest around here is who can out-polite each other. I found the Bikram yoga (yogagroove.com) and went to a class, and can’t wait to go for more. Austin has definitely opened its door wide for me, and while my Brooklyn apartment is sublet, I’m entertaining what it would be like to actually (gasp) live here…We’ll see.
Re-entry was relatively easy for me (Cheryl was more affected). The day after arriving back we went and got our film fix and saw Sweeny Todd at a very groovy theater, The Alamo, where they serve food and drinks while you watch your film. The timing worked out to dovetail into to the promotional screening of Teeth (teethmovie.com), an indie B-horror/comedy—kitschy, based on the vagina dentata myth . (It just opened in NYC at Cinema Village). The Director, Mitchell Lichtenstein, was there for a Q&A afterwards, with much of the crew in the audience. The promo schwag were toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. Austin does have a vibrant film scene.
We went to a “Come as your favorite God/Goddess party” on Saturday night, so I had an opportunity the wear my Lagong dance costume from Bali and dressed as Saraswati, the Goddess of music, the arts and knowledge.
South by Southwest (www.SXSW.com) is coming up soon. This is the penultimate event of the year. I went to the Volunteer call (as did the rest of Austin's KGSR listeners) and got myself signed up to be a photographer. Locals call the festival simply “South by”. This film/interactive/music festival does take over the town, so people here have mixed thoughts about it.
We went to the premiere of John Sayles' latest film, Honeydripper, with Danny Glover and Lisa Gay Hamilton. Another star was Austin's own Gary Clark Jr., a 24 yr. old prodigy who whales on the guitar and can sing the blues. The after-party was at The Continental Club, where he is a sweetheart, cradled to success. I've been seeing lots of music, because that's what you do here. People appreciate and support musicians. I love it! The radio station, KGSR is really great. Unlike any radio station I've ever heard. I feel like the DJ''s are choosing the program from my personal collection.
Even at the airport there’s live music in the public areas. So far, I’m really enjoying the “live music capital of the world…