Question: Is Austin legitimately fabulous, or only comparatively so?
I visited Austin—an oasis in a bleak and vast cultural wasteland (I’m looking at you, Texas)—on work business, sans Airstream. Released at last from exhibit hall duty at the Hilton I set out on foot in the wrong direction to find Hey Cupcake, the Airstream food cart darling of Twitter buzz. After many blocks I was informed by a hot UPS guy that I was miles from my destination on the opposite side of town. “But if it’s cupcakes you’re lookin’ for?” he said, pointing. “Right by those men there walkin’ up ahead? There are some cupcakes…” [trails off, slowly shakes head]. “Mm-mm. They are dee-LISH. They make you wanna slap yer mama.”
I held out instead for the Airstream cart and took a cab to SoCo. After the driver and I each had a Red Velvet, he dropped me off to witness the famous bat exodus from under the Congress Avenue bridge. Misinformation about these bats circulates from cab drivers (“Ain’t no bats, it’s November, these bats ain’t stupid, they already flew to Mexico”) to your hotel concierge (“There were millions last night!”). I don’t know if the colony was at capacity but indeed, (thousands? millions?) streamed out on schedule at dusk, reminiscent of the vaux swifts that fly en masse into a chimney at a Northwest Portland elementary school every September.
Sixth Street on Saturday night was a joyful pageant of inebriation. I have never seen so many drunks in one concentrated area, and I’ve been to Bourbon Street, Cabo, and on a Carnival Cruise. I’m talking falling-out-of-the-cab-onto-the-street drunk; pantyless-girl-getting-a-piggyback-ride drunk; staggering-40ish-couple-making-out-to-the-drum-solo drunk.
When the sun came up the next day everyone I met continued to be chatty and warm and seemed to be having a good time. Texans in general know how to have a good time, presumably even Bob Bullock, who has the most boring museum in the lower 48 named after him. Unless you’re interested in old deeds, the oil industry, or the details of the Battle of Bexar, the Texas State History Museum is the proverbial two pounds of crap in a ten pound bag.