It’s Official: I Love Austin (Weird And Wonderful Highlights Edition)

I feel we’ve established that I really love Austin.

“Seems like you’re U-hauling right into that relationship,” I can hear you saying.

It’s actually funny that you say that, because that was one of the phrases I overheard in Austin!

(Please feign your surprise here.)

Yeah, I was waiting for Grimes to begin her set at the Austin City Limits Music Festival when I overheard a gentleman talking about the man with whom he had recently fallen in love. “I’m U-hauling right into that relationship,” he said.

I’d never heard it put that way before, and I thought it was clever. Where I’m from, we still say, “I’m horse and buggying it right into that relationship.”

———

So I swear I’m just going to write this one last love letter to Austin and then I’ll move on …

While there, I walked into a Barnes & Noble and went for the magazine rack.

One of the first publications I spotted was this one:

DepecheModeMagazineAustinAs you recall, I was in Austin to see Depeche Mode.

I took this as a sign that the rock gods were smiling upon me and letting me know I was in the right place.

It seems they “Never Let Me Down.”

———

Sometimes a man needs a crown.

I was wandering around the cool South Congress area, or SoCo, when I spotted the Goorin Bros. Hat Shop.

Suddenly, I felt like my baseball cap wasn’t making the stylistic statement I needed to make.

After an hour of searching (that’s more time than I’ve spent in the last year shopping for clothes, as you can probably tell), I emerged with this little number. I feel like it gets me, and I love it with all my heart.

HatAustinObviously, the feather puts the exclamation point on this fashion statement. The staff at Goorin Bros. were friendly beyond words (Would you like a free cocktail?), and they obviously knew I was a bird of a different feather when selecting this rich red and yellow feather combo for me.

Yes, if you ask nicely, you can touch them. But ask nicely, please.

———

For years, I have been reading Ain’t It Cool News.

Harry Knowles and company definitely played a role in cultivating my love for film and making sure that my tastes ran the gamut from 1970s exploitation films to high-minded abstractions with subtitles.

Through that site is where I learned about The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, an almost mythological paradise for film fans — but it’s very real. They demand respect from audience members (absolutely no talking or phone usage) and provide a full menu during the film (why, yes, I’ll have a Maker’s Mark milk shake and wings. Thank you.)

The Alamo has been expanding its chain across the U.S. and actually has a venue as close to Yankton as Kansas City.

While in Austin, I went to the Alamo Ritz along Sixth Street for their Weird Wednesday showing.

It was a 70s exploitation flick called “Fight for Your Life” that played up racial tensions in a way that is so offensive that there is no way it could be made today (at least I don’t think it could). However, it was definitely the kind of weird and memorable experience a person looks for on a vacation. Thank you, Alamo!

Even the trailer for the film is NSFW:

———

the black heart austinWe visited many establishments during our time in Austin, doing our best to get a local flavor (so to speak).

We found our way to the Rainey Street Historic District more than once because we enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s as if one of the historic neighborhoods near downtown Yankton happened to be nestled in a booming redevelopment area and, instead of residences, those historic homes were converted into bars and restaurants.

I know there are some Austin residents who aren’t pleased with the gentrification that has occurred, but I can say as a visitor to the city without that historical perspective it was a fascinating destination and one I recommend.

My favorite venue was The Blackheart. I love the name and feel of the place.

I also really enjoyed their drink called “The Gentleman Caller.” It was delicious.

I should probably mention that it’s where I tried my first glass of mezcal, which I would compare to a smokey tequila. I had to check that experience off my list.

Bands also perform there, and we accidentally caught a good one that played a midnight set — though I never did get its name.

———

The final day of the music festival was canceled because of rain.

However, Franz Ferdinand managed to schedule a free show at a venue called Infest.

We had some logistics problems and didn’t get there in time to get inside.

However, they had a side door open that allowed latecomers like us to hear the show as if we were inside.

We kept our distance from the entrance, bobbing our heads with the music.

Security started clearing the doorway suddenly and we were a bit confused. Before we knew it, the band emerged, and we were shaking hands and swapping sweat (did I mention it was really hot in Austin?) with lead singer Alex Kapranos. The rock gods came through again!

———

What vacation would be complete without going to the 80s dance night at the local goth club?

No vacation!

The nice thing about a place like Elysium is that everyone is allowed to do their own thing, so everyone has a good time.

It was a great way to end a successful vacation.

Except, that wasn’t quite the end.

We each grabbed a slice of pizza on the way back to the car. I finished mine in the parking lot and went to throw away the trash.

That’s when I looked over and noticed that 20 feet away was a beautiful woman who had decided to bare the top half of her body while talking to some people on the street.

I’m not sure what prompted it. I overheard something about “art.”

I did not cast any judgment upon her. I just smiled and expressed my gratitude once again to the rock gods for letting me know I was in the right place. That was the resonating final image of the downtown I was forced (forced, I tell you) to take home …

Yes, I love you, Austin.

And I can’t help but feel like you love me, just a little bit …

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