Greetings from Austin. South by Southwest is just getting started and films are being shown all around the city.
Before I start trying to sneak in to a few screenings, here are some observations about the differences between Austin and Los Angeles:
Austin is a pretty liberal thinking city; an island of blue in a sea of red. There is a low power FM conspiracy theory radio station, and many vehicles display their growing disdain for our current government. There are a few pro-bush cars out here too, but not a lot.
No bling - hardly any vehicle rolls on 22 inch Dubs with spinning rims with a mirror finish. Most everything is stock wheels, dirty and functional. There are a few low-life, baggy pants wearing, wanna-be G-money types, but they are few and far between and usually only 16 years old, which I think is just so adorable.
Lone Stars everywhere - there is a lone star motif embellished into the railings at the airport. In the bus benches. In every fence and private yard you go past. There are huge lone stars hanging on the side of buildings, garages, and porches. Its really quite obnoxious.
And if its not the lone star symbol, its the longhorn symbol: on bumpers, on trailer hitches. On shirts on the sides of buildings. Painted onto rocks. And everyone walks around wearing the UT colors - which is officially "UT orange" or "Burnt Orange" and should never be referred to as "brown."
Despite what people may think, not a whole lot of people wear cowboy hats. Unless you are plowing the north 40, its just too much of a cliche.
Downtown Austin is a lot like San Francisco without all the hemp-wearing hippies. Tons of great places to eat, drink, and be merry. 6th street, in the middle of downtown is party central. Nothing but tattoo parlors, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and tourist traps for several miles. Its also the home of the "Dizzy Rooster" bar from the Real World series a while ago. Make sure you have on your pub crawling shoes as this street can be a bit of a walk. The payoff is that if you start at the far West end of 6th and work your way East, there is a cool Cajun craw fish bar at the end.
Lone Star Beer is like Coors Lite with a bit more flavor. Shiner Bock beer is my new favorite.
Threadgills. Apparently this is the birthplace of the live music scene in Austin. Kick ass food.
They have breakfast tacos almost everywhere. The Migas taco is this concoction of fried tortilla chips mixed with egg, possibly chorizo, jalapeno peppers, cheese and wrapped in a flour tortilla. They are a buck and a half a piece and you cant possibly eat more than four of them without dying of gastric distress. You'll want to try, but your stomach will find its revenge. I am really not sure why this food hasnt been popular in Los Angeles. Migas tacos kick ass for breakfast.
Texas loves its barbecue and Austin is home to several seriously good barbecue joints. I have had time to sample a fair share of the many places and in my opinion, "The Salt Lick" has, without a doubt, the best fucking barbecue I have ever tasted. Hands down. $14 buys you all you can eat and they keep serving it to you plate after plate after plate. They slow-cook the meat for FOURTEEN HOURS. The meat on the pork ribs falls off the bone. The sausage is incredible and the beef brisket dissolves in your mouth with an explosion of flavor that makes you want to walk up to a vegetarian and kick their pasty white ass. Their BBQ sauce is tangy, spicy and not like anything I have found on the West coast. I dragged my bloated ass out of there feeling like I ate an entire cow. Its worse than crack. Seriously.
That's enough for now.