Thursday, July 2, 2015

Five Things: Updates from Water by the Spoonful Tech.

I'm in tech for my last show before the big move, which happens in just over a month. I have an Austin "bucket list," though I don't know that I will get to everything on it before August 9. Eleven years here and I've never been to Barton Springs and never seen the bats on the South Congress bridge. And I'm running out of time and weekends to do these things.

I'm also thinking a lot about the things I will miss about Austin and Texas. I've lived here longer than any other city, excluding where I grew up. We aren't leaving for good - I'm already contracted for a couple of designs in Texas next year - so I know that I will be revisiting these, but here are the current top five things I'm going to miss, in absolutely no particular order.

1. Texas summers. This is actually a new love of mine and it grew slowly over the past three or four years, probably since the first time we went tubing. The summers after that have all had adventures of some sort, from a weekend spent in Utopia swimming in the Sabinal, to our trip to Marfa (including the McDonald Observatory and Balmorhea State Park), to swimming in Jacob's Well and getting BBQ at the Salt Lick in Driftwood on the way back. Whether similar experiences can be had in other states or not, these are things that are etched in my brain as being purely Texas experiences, and even thinking about them I can feel the 100 degree heat.

2. The Alamo Drafthouse. How the hell are we ever going to go the movies again? The Drafthouse is now invading many other cities but it started here, and was one of the very first "Austin" things we did back in 2004. I miss some of the recurring events that they used to have when I was in grad school (Super Happy Fun Monkey Bash, I think one was called). But the Drafthouse has ruined any other movie-going experience I could have. I will miss hearing about how Ann Richards is going to take my ass out for using a cell phone before every movie, and all the preshow clips that never included awful advertisements for whatever product.

3. BBQ. It's not just about the food, it's the entire experience of eating it in a particular place, complete with plastic covered picnic tables, a guy with a guitar playing music, lemonade made right in front of you, red plastic cups like Pizza Hut had in the 80s, paper towel racks on the walls, fly strips hanging from the ceiling, and a lack of plates. I'm combining a few different places there but you get the idea. Combine BBQ with the feeling of a not-quite-dry bathing suit under your clothes and a sunburn, and you have the perfect day.

3a. Tex-Mex. I didn't want two entries for food so I'm cheating a bit. I just hope there are decent margaritas in Minnesota, somewhere, because I know that I'm not getting decent BBQ OR Tex-Mex.

4. The Fusebox Festival. I have big dreams of bringing my future students to Austin for the Fusebox Festival *someday* (no idea when/how/if that will ever be possible). This festival really opened the world of innovative and experimental performance for me. Austin's theatre community can be quite insular at times, and having a once a year reminder of what other bleeding-edge artists were doing has been great.

5. Being around people who are REALLY invested in local politics and issues and culture. I know that other places have this, but I haven't seen it demonstrated anywhere else the way I've lived it in Austin. I don't know anyone who doesn't know how to shop and eat locally and isn't at least a little proud of doing so. I know when the Texas legislature is in session and what they are doing. I can name several state reps and senators and tell you who is awesome (and who is not). I can actually talk about ballot measures and I know who to go to for information and smart opinions on our increasing lack of affordable housing and the growing gentrification problems. And I can actually defend Texas to my non-Texas liberal friends who readily dismiss a lot of the nonsense that happens here with a "what do you expect? you live in Texas." I know that there is a much greater diversity of people living in Texas than outsiders often expect. My views on things like immigration, the need to learn to speak Spanish (I still haven't, because I'm a bad person), and what distance is appropriate to drive to receive adequate healthcare have been permanently altered because of having lived in this state.

The short list of things I will not miss: Million-dollar condos popping up everywhere, being priced out of living in Austin by people who can afford said condos, South by Fun Fun Fun City Limits, I-35, the complete utter inability of this city to pass anything that could possibly maybe someday create adequate public transportation, watching arts communities and theatres barely make ends meet because rents are skyrocketing (see said condos), driving in Texas summer in a car whose A/C doesn't work.
Oh crap, which way will have less traffic today??

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