Some initial thoughts about our trip to Austin, Texas for sxsw film + interactive. There are lots of details missing or omitted ’cause they’re dull. Also, every time we turned around someone was handing us a drink so there are plenty of details that are probably lost in the mists of time. Or just better left unsaid.

Husband was a professional and dutifully attended the tradeshow and many meetings and panels. I don’t function well before noon, so selective panel attendance and the late-night events were just fine with me. Having a very serious illness, long days don’t suit me. We booked a hotel right downtown so I could sneak off and nap, although my arthritic aches and stiffness basically resets everytime I go to sleep – it’s kind of like being the guy in Memento, only without the amnesia or the tattoos or Carrie Ann Moss trying to kill me.

We got back late last night and I’m really tired. How tired? This was my to-do list today and it nearly defeated me:


to do list

to do list



We liked Austin. Are we making plans to move? No.

I don’t think that an impression of a city based on a visit spent mostly at a conference and conference-related events is worth much. I got to hang out with two old high school friends, which was great. I didn’t get to see a former colleague who’s at UT now or a couple of old friends who’ve moved back to Austin – that’ll have to wait for another trip.

Austin definitely got points for it’s friendly local running culture. In the final analysis it may still lose a lot of points for it’s drunken frat boy culture, but again, we were there at an odd time of year so it’s hard to tell.

Don’t get me wrong – we like college towns. We like the bookishness and the late hours and the dives. I’m a big fan of dive bars. You can dress me up but you really can’t take me out – I am the white trash all you hipsters like to make fun of (see also: Waffle House wedding reception).

We enjoy the higher level of amusing people-watching college towns tend to afford (see also: the fish nachos guy).

We like bats, though we didn’t get to see the bats emerge from the Congress Avenue Bridge – that will require a future visit.

We used to go to sleazefest religiously so when I tell you that Austin appeared to be the public vomiting capital of the world, I do not make this pronouncement lightly. One night we were walking back to the hotel and I was hungry and about to point out a pizza place to husband when a guy walked out the door and vomited on the sidewalk. It makes me laugh hysterically just to type it because it was a moment of such comic-timing perfection. Still, it was gross. And no, we didn’t eat there.

Now might not be the best time to segue into a brief mention of food in Austin, but what the hell. Among some of our friends who always go to sxsw, there’s a certain level of hysteria about how there’s “nothing to eat in Austin.” I’m not sure what these folks normally eat, because there was food everywhere we looked. Except for the night when I wanted a cupcake at 2 a.m. and we were 2 miles from Hey Cupcake and they aren’t open that late anyway.

We ate lots of BBQ and lots of fried foods, but that was because we chose to, not because the people of Austin forced us to. There were lots of other options, we just didn’t pick them at every meal.

I keep joking about smelling like Texas, which has upset some Texans. Austin, Texas smells like hickory smoke. That’s not an insult, just a statement of fact, so quit getting your panties in a bunch.

One thing I wasn’t wild about was the amount of dog poop on the sidewalks. I know at least most of it was dog poop because I saw people casually letting their dogs poop and not cleaning up after them. In light of the number of free range drunken frat boys, maybe I shouldn’t assume all of it was dog poop.

Let’s not think about that anymore. We didn’t have time for any museums or galleries that weren’t connected to sxsw so my perspective is, like I said, pretty distorted. We’ll just have to go back another time. Preferably when it’s warmer. Yes, I know Austin’s had a terrible drought and desperately needed the rain, but damn it was cold and damp for the first few days we were there.

If I was to complain, it would be about the swag bags – which were basically crap. Magazine subscription cards are not swag. I think I’ve been spoiled by the swag at fashion events. I hope the bag for music were better than the one for film and interactive, because these were boring. And about the Austin Convention Center, which is the single worst-designed convention center I’ve ever been in.

I made a venn diagram of things to do that Austin natives recommend versus things to do or places to eat that Austin experts (read: people who go there once a year for sxsw) recommend, but I can’t get the image to post. (Punchline: the overlap was labeled “nothing”). I suppose that’s typical of anyplace, but I found it particularly hilarious in this case because people’s opinions are so very strong on the subject.

I’ll get some posts up with actual content soon, but now I need to go and watch some television.

We’re pretty sure that the really drunk guy on 6th Street was trying to convince his friends to go get some fish tacos. However, what he kept saying was, “fish nachos.”

His friends were less enthusiastic. I find the concept of fish nachos repugnant yet hilarious, but I’ve been at cocktail parties since 5:00 so do with that what you will.

I didn’t wake up in Austin with any new tattoos, but perhaps appropriately enough for an interactive/tech conference, I noticed this on my foot when I got out of bed:

instead of a tattoo I awoke w a barcode, I don't know what that means...

I have no idea where it originated or how it came to be on my foot. What should concern me is how unconcerned I am. I need some coffee…

I’m too distressed by Ike to post anything lucid. What a nightmare that’s going to be (and probably already is). Poor Texas.