Page Two: Tonight's the Night

Moving forward into the fog of SXSW

Page Two
Tonight's the night, yes it is,

tonight's the night

Tonight's the night, yes it is,

tonight's the night.

I got up early, packed up my stuff at one hotel, loaded up the car, headed to check into another. Awash in sunlight, with the car cool from being parked in a garage, I find a quiet I've been missing. At first, no music. My South by Southwest survival strategy is just as disciplined as most of my life-coping strategies are. The opening line of Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn explains it. The line goes something like: "Once you've given up hope all else follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos." I waddle along during the beginning days of SXSW, bitching and complaining, until at a certain point I enter into the flow and "all else follows with dead certainty even in the midst of chaos." "Dead certainty" doesn't suggest that I either know or am prepared for what is coming; it is more along the lines of knowing that, while I'm floating in the timeless space of SXSW, boulders will come flying at me from every direction – some launched as weapons, many just free-falling in space.

I put on Neil Young's Tonight's the Night. As much as I love many Young albums, I started listening to this one only recently, because Roland Swenson insisted.

There is pain in the voice, and fear: anger and longing, weariness and power, a kind of assured knowledge matched to an incurable confusion. The tour, when Young and company would launch into "Tonight's the Night" as many as three times during a single show, must have been either offensive and/or exhilarating; I can't imagine one being dispassionate about this song being drilled into you. I put it on to welcome the descending fog of "forward": Sleep won't be needed; weariness will be excluded, sickness ignored, subtlety disgraced. The ambition is forward, through the day and through the night, undistinguished from each other; the only effort and goal is forward.

I want to write about Neil Young and Jonathan Demme. I want to write about Elliot Roberts a lot because he deserves it, and there is so much to say. I want to write about the article about me in the Austin American-Statesman. I was fine with it, and not at all dismayed.

But the phone keeps ringing. People are waiting on me. Meetings are being called. We have entered the time of no time, when we must be moving – and writing this column, unfortunately, is sitting still.

Enjoy SXSW. Or enjoy not being at SXSW. Listen to music, sing, dance, watch movies, know joy. end story

Special SXSW Bus Service

Capital Metro will run free shuttles every 10 to 15 minutes between Auditorium Shores (Thursday-Friday, March 16-17, 5-11pm; Saturday, March 18, 12:30pm-11pm) and Austin High School (where you can park for free). For more info on free and paid routes (including airport shuttle: 50 cents!), call 474-1200, or go to and plug in the relevant addresses – or landmarks, even – and leave the rest to the experts.

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sxswm, SXSW 2006, South by Southwest 2006, Neil Young, Tonight's the Night, Roland Swenson, Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn, Jonathan Demme, Elliot Roberts, sxsw

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