This week is "Public Notice"'s SXSW special. Oh, special.
Welcome to Austin, Texas! Welcome to SXSW, the rodeo, the UIL, whatever! Welcome to the insane pretzel grid of closed streets and nasty-ass construction that is downtown Austin! And, most of all, welcome to The Austin Chronicle's totally sassy yet totally sincere public service column, "Public Notice." We are very serious about our public service here in Austin, Texas. It's been said that we are the "Public Service Capital of the World."
Welcome to Austin! Screw You!
That whole "Live Music Capital of the World" stuff ... you believe that? Well, it's sort of complicated, see. On one hand, that phrase might be read simply as a glad-handing moniker made official at some council or chamber meeting by some fat white guys whose idea of the "inside of a club" has to do with titanium golf technology. Sure, we have the hipster Napolean, Hizzoner Kirk Watson, at the helm of what some like to call a "green council," but lest we forget, he has the blood of our beloved Liberty Lunch still dripping off his suit cuffs. (And here's the sad, sick punchline for you out-of-towners who remember LL with a sniff and a tear: The stupid downsizing company that will infest the area that once belonged to our late, lamented Lunch now says something to the effect of, "Oops! Gee we don't need all this space, hee hee, sorry!" And that myth about the city providing assistance to help the Lunch get back up on its feet somewhere else turned out to be pretty much just that. Ha ha ha ha HA! Isn't that a freakin' riot?)
Taking Care of Our Own
Now look, all of this is not to say, "Austin is bad, go away." As tempted as we are to encourage you not to move here, we must admit that we live in the greatest little city. All that "Live Music Capital" crap is real, but as far as we are concerned, you have to dig to find it. It's not about a city that uses mottoes like that to lure businesses, and then turns its back on the very artists and characters that gave the place character in the first place. It's about those very characters and their will to survive: to not jump off the pole for peanut butter and apples, if you will; to not give in and move away at the first sign of Starbucks and high rent; to dig the trenches deeper, whether it's in the form of house parties, private salons, homemade films, what have you. It's about the artists who will not let change and so-called "progress" mess up their beloved city. Hooray!
Let us tell you about two cool local concerns that embody this ethic and make our city better every day that they survive. And let us ask, dear out-of-towners, that you check into what they do and either lend them a hand or take from them the inspiration to do something similar in your own town.
Check our Community Listings on page 94 to read about other happenings and ways to get involved in Austin.
So you're sitting alone in your hotel room; the thought of another film or showcase has you clawing at the walls. You couldn't stomach another bite of Tex-Mex or BBQ, and all of those escort ads in the back of the local alternative newsweekly leave you cold. You are sad, lonely, and desperate. You are in a strange town. Nobody loves you; in fact, many of the once Texas-friendly denizens of this vacation-destination burg have quite the little chip of contempt on their shoulders for they have just endured the deflating depression of an economic bust that was just -- this time last year -- a boom, teeming with newcomers, out-of-towners, greenhorns, Okies, Yankees, and Californicators alike, just like you, all welcomed, as long as there was cash to flash. This town used to be sweeter, you swear. Yup, your once annual small town/big city spring time haven, Austin, has gone big-time, and it's as lonely here as any hot August night in the Big Easy, the Big Apple, the Windy City, or the City of Angels.
Dial Up Some Luv
We thought we'd make it easier for you, friend, should your trip prove to be a bit harrowing. Here are some numbers you might find handy while you are visiting:
Emergency Medical Services: 911
Directory Assistance: 1-411
Correct Time & Temperature: 973-3555
Weather Forecast: 476-7744, 451-2424
Austin Tourist Info: 478-0098, 463-8586
Capital Metro Buses: 474-1200
Roy's Taxi: 482-0000
American Yellow Checker Cab: 452-9999
Locate Cars Towed by Police: 974-5750
People's Community Clinic: 478-8924
Sexual Assault Hotline: 440-7273
Sex Addicts Anonymous: 440-1494
Drug & Alcohol Abuse Info: 349-6600
United Way's First Call for Help (Non-emergency, support services referral): 324-1899
Legal Aid of Central Texas: 447-7707
U.S. Probation, Parole Office: 916-5761
U.S. Secret Service: 916-5103
AAA (maps for the way home -- ): 444-4757