Clarissa, at the risk of sounding like a real bleeding heart, granola-crunching, helicopter hippie parent, I am just going to come out and say that no one should ever leave a baby in the car while attending ACL. Not even if it’s overcast, not even with the window cracked, not even if there’s Raffi in the CD player and it’s set to replay mode. Yeah, I know that sounds crazy because a Raffi CD is almost as good as a full-time nanny. In fact, I bet you could leave a baby in a room with an empty plastic bag, a pack of rat poison, and Mike Tyson and as long as you had a Raffi CD on and set to replay, the baby and Mike Tyson would just sit there staring at the ceiling in gap-jawed amazement for hours on end. (Editor's Note: The Austin Chronicle does not recommend the preceding as an effective or safe method of child care.)
So … what to do with your baby while you go to ACL? Well, you can’t leave it with your parents because let’s face it, no one knows better than you how horrible they were with kids. Your in-laws? That’s like borrowing money from the mob. Your friends? They’re all doing poppers over at the Depeche Mode set. Plus, you can’t just pump and dump and drop your pride and joy on the 14-year-old goth girl across the street who looks suspiciously like a cutter, can you?
No, the best thing for baby is a 10-hour, sun-soaked, dusty slog through some of the finest contemporary alternative music America has to offer. Truth is, all babies look particularly miserable when they’re pink and sweaty and their wispy hair is pasted down on their forehead like Alfalfa getting ready for a big date with Darla, but the bottom line is that we don’t really know if they’re miserable or so incredibly happy they could shit themselves. Some clearly do, and for those, ACL has thoughtfully provided changing tables.
My guess Clarissa, is that you, being a sentient, compassionate being, were feeling a bit of vicarious misery for those babies you saw who could not speak intelligibly for themselves. Had they been able to communicate their duress in some way other than to wail and shriek until their parents took them home, they might have instead commented on how miserable many of the adults looked as well, but we’ll never know. Who will castigate those people’s parents, Clarissa?