First a disclaimer: no, it’s not the town it used to be. I grew up here-ish, and the Austin my mom remembers isn’t the one of today. And that’s ok. Things change, it’s cool. Here’s why it’s still cool, though, and why I’m loving being here:
1) First Thursdays. Why have I never been there before last night? Why had I not heard of this? I’ve just passed my year-mark of living in Austin as an adult* and I’m still finding out all sorts of things.
Part moonlight madness (back in the day, local shopkeepers would stay open til midnight on Halloween with crazy sales), part street fair – minus the traffic barricades, part meet’n’greet. The ultra hip people weren’t even the majority. I saw lots of the tragically hip, and that’s to be expected on South Congress. But I also saw lots of rootsy musicians, dirty hippies, and straight up keep-Austin-weirdos that even my mom would recall. BTW, and to keep this loosely topical, I made a beeline to Hill Country Weavers when I realized it was also part of the First Thursday stuff. I found the yarn I might want to use for Wisteria, and although it was on sale for 20%, I couldn’t seal the deal because I had no idea how much to get or if the gauge was right. Balls!
This is the only picture I took last night (blame the camera phone and its flashlessness):
2) Neon. Man, seeing neon signs is like seeing my brother’s work. For a long time, he could point to a large majority of Austin signs and say he did that. Murals, too. They’re fading out now, but every time I see more neon, I can’t help but feel like that’s a part of Austin that’s a part of my family, too.
3) Artists (speaking of my brother). Artists are what originally made Austin weird and are the thing keeping it so. Or trying to. To whit, I got a comment from an Austinite who was at Maker Faire (and the fact we could have a MF here speaks volumes in itself). I should have blogged all of my pics from MF, but somehow, this image of the men’s bikini briefs just didn’t do it justice as in person.
Thanks for the comment, Bonnie, and keep Austin weird — and great!
4) Food. Hummina. A perfect storm of hippie vegetarianism (think Whole Foods and Sun Harvest), meat loving (BBQ!), Southern-frying (I am actually craving chicken friend steak for breakfast since just thinking about this sentence), and locale-specific (Tex-Mex) food. Please don’t think Taco Bell is Tex-Mex. It’s not. Of course, if you’re from this area, you just call it “food”. Oh, and sidenote, in Alamo Drafthouses, food and beer is delivered right to your seat while you watch the movie. Hells yeah.
5) Activities. Well, we’d have to do something after all that food! Nevermind the hike and bike trails all around Town Ladybird Lake and Zilker park. Nevermind all the sporting clubs in the area (which is what got me downtown to First Thursday to begin with). Let’s talk about that Texas Parks card that’s burning a hole in my pocket. Except, in a few weeks I’ll be in Big Bend, a national rather than a state park. Oh well on that one. Plenty of time to camp all through December, January, and February. Perfect time, actually. I plan to hit my ol’ fave Enchanted Rock a lot, and Pedernales again. I really need to camp in Bastrop, too (although Beutchler was a nice fall-back). Hike until it’s too hot! Camp until it’s too cold!
*glee* Man, am I jazzed for the weekend now! Food and beer at ye olde Wurstfest. Again. Nevermind that I went last weekend, too, and enjoyed my little friend here. We won’t talk about that. Oh no.