Keeping the Weird in ATX
I like live music. I like craft beer. I like floating down rivers. I’ve revealed these deep, personal secrets to confidantes before, and often these moments of vulnerable honesty are greeted with a common response: “You would love ATX.”
Conveniently, the launch of Cities | Places | Things coincided with a weekend trip to Austin, Texas, home of Austin City Limits, SXSW, the University of Texas, Lake Travis, and most importantly, my little sister, Colleen. Given all of the hype, I was super eager to set off last Friday for the capital of the Lone Star State to enjoy a few of my favorite things. As the plane lifted off the runway early Friday morning, my anticipation for that first local Austin brew mixed with the excitement of this recently launched blog, and I began considering the questions I hoped to answer while in Texas: What is ATX’s culture like, and how does it differ from DC’s? How does the pride in another oft-celebrated metropolitan area manifest itself in its residents? How would these folks greet my travel companions and I, most of whom hailed from very different corners of the country.
Well, dear reader, I regret to inform you that I returned to DC very late on Sunday evening – thanks passenger on the flight prior to mine that couldn’t find the air sickness bag located in the seatback pocket – without even a decent answer to any of those questions. You see, 48-hour bachelor parties fail to offer sufficient time to fully assess a destination, anthropologically-speaking. However, that’s not to say that I returned from Austin without learning a life lesson or two. Quite the contrary in fact…
I learned that Austin natives often adorn themselves with elaborate tattoos, typically in full or half-sleeve fashion and often in aesthetically pleasing manner. Additionally, the ratio of facial tattoos per capita is well above the national average.
I learned that when you order a pitcher of drinks for the bachelor party at Shakespeare’s on 6th Street, the bartender doesn’t necessarily assume you’ll need cups to go along with it, perhaps due to the frequency with which plastic cups turn into projectiles launched in the general direction of the DJ booth.
I learned that even when a yacht carrying a bachelorette party beckons you and your bachelor-party comrades to drop anchor alongside their vessel on Lake Travis, the bachelorette ultimately gets the final word on the docking. Maybe it was our beater of a rental pontoon boat, or the barely-conscious Silicon Valley native drifting prostrate and semi-conscious behind our vessel that caused the bride to shoo our party away as soon as we floated within a tenth of a nautical mile. We respectfully altered course, but I’m not sure we would have been welcome very long anyway despite our offerings of Lone Star lager, Smirnoff Ice, and the entire Creed discography on blast.
I learned that tubing behind said pontoon boat, while slow and long-since disqualified from its factory warranty, can still result in a challenging upper body workout, and maybe a pulled hamstring.
I learned that rooftop hotel pools are amenable to grown men in water wings and inflatable rafts.
I learned that, while Biergarten Haus on H Street in DC is a fool-proof destination for casual, outdoor beers with good friends around German beer garden style picnic tables, there’s always room for improvement. Here's looking at you, Bangers on Rainey Street! Say hello to your 50+ exotic craft beers on tap for me!
I learned that my sister has a beat on all of the raddest local haunts in the city, where tacos flow like wine and hipsters instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.
Finally, I learned that I have so much more to learn about this city that has for so long been at the top of my must visit list. This maiden voyage, in honor of the right, honorable, soon-to-be-wed JZ, was but a peek into all that Austin has to offer. But even in this short and practically sleepless duration of time, it was easily apparent that the city and all of its offering are worth a return trip.
*Special thanks to the dudes that made this weekend, and therefore this post, possible and necessary, especially the best man (let’s just call him Corey) for handling logistics and lodging, including an entirely unnecessary hotel room booked through tomorrow night, and the social media-less, mechanical bull-conquering bachelor himself, frequently referred to as The Killa.