For the first time in my 12 years, 6 months, and 15 days as an Austin resident (I wasn’t counting, I just remember the date I moved in), I have purchased a badge. It’s only for the Interactive festival, but dammit, I’m going to be one of those cool kidz strutting around downtown with that icon of cool, the SXSW badge.
Let me say up front, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve sashayed around the fringes of the ever-growing conference for over a decade, only now jumping partway in. My effort last year to watch the free Strokes show at Auditorium Shores without actually entering the park is a good representation of my level of commitment up to this point. I have mostly come to view SXSW as an invasion. A bunch of LA/NY types who espouse styles that have not yet reached Austin (and will never matter to me) descend on my city for two weeks and turn it into a sea of tight jeans, ironic sunglasses, and (largely) unearned self-importance.
This year, y’all are going to have to deal with me. And I will be saying “y’all” a lot, because it’s provincial, bitches.
I think the interactive festival is a bit different. There will still be a big hipster contingent, but we’re also all nerds (or geeks). There is a meetup session for Game of Thrones fans, for crying out loud!
I spent several hours yesterday creating a schedule on the SXSW website. Just doing that made me tired. I’m boarding my dog for a whole week (in luxury, fear not) and buying a bus pass so I can avoid parking and worrying about making it home at a certain time for feeding and peeing (the dog, not me). This will be an interesting week. When it is all said and done, there will still be five days of music. And I only slept four hours last night. I am in way over my head.
The bloggings of people I know and/or read and/or grudgingly respect have been invaluable. Here are two good primers:
With no further ado, here is my unsolicited advice to those of you who will be gracing my fair city with your presence for the next few weeks. These are in no particular order.
1. Austin is not like the rest of Texas. All the stuff you read about in the news that’s so embarrassing for all Americans, nay, humans? Aside from shenanigans at the State Capitol, that all happens elsewhere in the state. The Capitol building is actually protected by a force field that keeps the crazy contained to a roughly three-block radius while the Legislature is in session.
2. Austin is not just like the West/East Coast. So stop trying to make it that way, please.
3. We get it. You’re cool. I’d really like to see you wear that wool hat, sweater, and skintight jeans ensemble here in August, though. One great thing about this town is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re going to extend that same courtesy to you.
4. Pedestrians may have the legal right of way, but cars are still bigger than you. When you enter a crosswalk in downtown Austin at 5:00 in the afternoon, please try to remember that thousands of people work there, have no connection to SXSW, and are just trying to get home to their families in peace and without developing the nickname “Hipster Slayer.” If they have the green light, don’t try to cross in front of them.
5. If you’ve never used “Texas” phrases before in your life, do not start now. It hurts our ears. This includes “y’all,” “fixin’ to,” “might could,” and “that dog won’t hunt.”
5. Welcome to Austin. This town is fucking awesome, so enjoy it.
6. Chill the fuck out. The six hours you’re spending waiting in line for the Perez Hilton party? You could have spent that time doing things you couldn’t also do in Los Angeles. The organizers of SXSW work very, very hard to put on a kick-ass conference. The people of Austin work year-round to create a kick-ass city.
Photo credit: All photos by author.