The Austin Chronicle

Luv Doc Recommends: Austin Bat Fest

Congress Avenue Bridge, Saturday, September 3, 2005

By The Luv Doc, September 2, 2005, Columns

Here’s an idea: Maybe Austin would still be weird even if we didn’t have all the bumper stickers and T-shirts. Maybe there’s something in the water … or maybe the Balcones Escarpment isn’t just a geologic fault zone but an actual tear in the fabric of reality, a rift in the space-time continuum from which issue all manner of weirdness and insanity. You’re absolutely right: That’s insane, but for a long time now insanity has been Austin’s stock and trade. Not only do we have the Austin State Hospital over by Central Market, we also have the state loony bin at the end of Congress Avenue. Snap! No doubt about it, this town is lousy with colorful, entertaining iconoclasts: Leslie Cochran, Alex Jones, Jennifer Gale … full-bore, over-the-cuckoo’s-nest, off-their-meds wackos who in just about any other city in America would be queued up for a vigorous round of electroshock are tolerated, yes, even celebrated here in River City. Maybe there really is something in the water. In Town Lake, that something is guano. Yes, even though Austin makes a serious bid for being the Grackle Crap Capital of America, we have to remember that those 2 million (give or take) Mexican Freetail Bats living under the Congress Avenue Bridge consume between 10,000 and 30,000 lbs. of insects per diem. Even knocking off a healthy percentage of that weight for bat pee, you’re still looking at a serious load of … uh … guano. And, like a lot of more “advanced mammals,” bats like to pinch one off after a good nap, so what doesn’t end up in bat tourists’ hair most likely ends up in the Rio Colorado. It only makes sense. Do the math. Still, just because we let a couple million bats crap in our river every night (psst … Luling! Don’t drink the water) doesn’t make us crazy, does it? No, but it definitely makes us weird. Admit it. Internalize it. That way you won’t have to pop for the T-shirt, and you can spend that extra money on the Austin Bat Fest, a two day batcentric extravaganza on the Congress Avenue Bridge featuring carnival rides, arts and crafts booths, and live music on two stages – exactly the kind of flashy spectacle that drives most earthbound mammals batshit crazy. It’s a good thing bats are blind, isn’t it? Yes, but they aren’t deaf. That may be why the promoters have booked two stages of top notch bands to play this deal – big names like Bob Schneider, Soulhat, Breedlove, and Grady, just to name a few. Two stages? Even humans should be able to echolocate this party.

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