||In here I'm throwing the Austin experiences that don't fit in the other categories.
South Austin | Maura | Miscellany Miscellany
With nothing planned on my last day in town, I drove around South Austin to see what was there. I started with
a breakfast at Kerbey
Lane, where I spent longer waiting than eating. Which was fine--I was
enjoying a book (Girlfriend
in a Coma by Douglas Coupland), and, well, it's Austin, which means
you're never in a rush. My corn pancakes were parchingly dry.
Driving north on South Lamar, I passed an eye-catching storefront for an establishment called Blackmail. I pulled a U-turn, parked, and entered
the otherwise patron-less store, which predominantly sold vintage or faux vintage clothing (all black, of course).
On a video monitor the classic film noir Gun
Crazy had just begun. My intently watching the movie caught the attention
of the woman working behind the counter and a man sitting across the counter from her. We started talking film
noir, femme fatales (neither of them "got" the appeal of Barbara Stanwyck), movie stars we find attractive,
and sundry other topics. The woman (whose name I unfortunately forget) owned Blackmail, and the man, her husband
Evan, has a business designing and building signs (he did a particularly cool sign for Club Deluxe, the darkest
bar in Austin.)
A favorite moment in the conversation was an observation Evan made about San Francisco, where he had lived for
many years in the mid-to-late 80s. He loved SF, said it's his favorite city in the world, but he had to move away
because he "couldn't get anything done there." I love that comment.
After an hour-long or so chat, I purchased a pair of snazzy sunglasses and headed out, wishing them well. I continued
on my way north, and pulled over to stop at Sandy's Frozen Custard. If you saw the sign, you'd pull over, too--a
great throwback to the 40s and 50s. I ordered a root beer float, and ate it in the warm spring air while reading.
A wave of amazing contentness washed over me, and I got a feeling that made the hairs on the back of my neck tingle.
I could live here.
Afternoon with Maura
Much of my time in Austin was spent with groups of people. While this afforded an amazing amount of social contact,
it didn't allow for the intimacy that feeds me. A happy happenstance lead me to spending a meandering afternoon
on Guadalupe with Maura,
a friend who lives in New York. She and I originally met when I resided there four years ago, lost contact when
I moved back to SF, but found each other again through a small mailing list we're on.
We ducked in and out of a clothing store, gift store, toy store (Maura found some cool schwag in that Cute-Japanese
aesthetic), a donut shop, and a bar (where we drank Shiner Bock and competed in pinball and video games). At one
point my bladder alerted me to a pressing need, so we headed into Barnes and Noble's (B&N's and Borders make
the best rest stops). We stayed there for a while, camping out in some overstuffed chairs, giving our legs a rest.
And we talked. And talked. Good conversation about ourselves, our lives, our friends, a little gossip. Nothing
special. Except that any good conversation should be considered special. And I was happy to have someone I could
Shortly after leaving B&N we headed separate ways.
There are heaps of cute girls in Austin. And this was during Spring Break, so I don't even want to know what it's
like when school is in session. (Okay, maybe I do.) And many of these women employ the Geek Chic aesthetic, the
most notable trait being thick-rimmed glasses (Dorothy Parker's adage is most definitely no longer true). And Human Code
seems to have employed many of them.
Austinians remind me of San Franciscans. I noticed this our first night out at the crowded Club Deluxe. Walking
through the throngs, I'd forget I was in Austin, and half-expect to bump into folks I know in SF, as it was the
kind of venue where I'd see them. Very similar modes of dress, attitudes, and, you know, "vibe" (for
want of a better term). I've never had this feeling so strong elsewhere in my US travels.
Where you realize you're not in San Francisco is when you're outside. Now, it's not fair making an aesthetic comparison,
as no American city matches San Francisco, but I would think that a city as enlightened as Austin would better
attempt at improving its look. Apart from its magnificent state capitol, and some hidden residential
neighborhoods, Austin's architecture is overwhelmingly drab. Combined with an essentially flat topography, and
you get a city that brings on visual ennui.