Luv Doc Recommends: Peer Pressure: Indie Presses Unite!
Club de Ville, Saturday, March 27, 2010
After last weekend's molasses-lubed traffic clusterfuck, it's a good bet that any Austinite within a three-mile radius of Downtown was sufficiently motivated to grab a shovel and help dig an entire subway system. Smart growth accomplished. There is, however, one little hitch in our get-along: traffic. Regardless of how it probably looked on the scale model 3-D renderings, all those tiny dog-walking condopolitans haven't decided to ditch their Lexus SUVs for Segways and Mellow Johnny's fixies (Sorry Lance, regardless of the tiny carbon footprint, you definitely have to LiveStrong to have the confidence to walk around in biking shorts – especially the padded kind that make it look like you've just dropped a whopping load). It turns out that just because someone owns a half-million-dollar Downtown Austin condo doesn't mean they don't occasionally like to take their Yukon Denali down to the dove lease for a little Dick Cheney-style Russian roulette. Who would have thought rich people (and, for that matter, tiny dogs) were so hard to train? Downtown planners really stepped in it – both figuratively and literally it would seem. Well, the good news this week is that even if you can't train rich folks and tiny, genetically dwarfed dogs, you can train middle-class suburban commuters – all the way Downtown. The fat part of the economic bell curve that occupies Austin's outer reaches may not have the intelligence, inspiration, or motivation to carve themselves out anything more than a modest slice of the American dream, but they are at least smart enough to know (if only by years of Pavlovian conditioning) that those precious hours spent logjammed on the upper deck are gone forever – like the dodo bird and basic grammar. In fact, they are probably ecstatic to be able to sit down, surf the interwebs, listen to their iPods, and take a few hits off the whiskey flask on their air-conditioned ride back to Cedar Park. After such an embarrassingly long wait, it feels like a true miracle that Austin finally has a commuter train. Yes, it may primarily benefit a tax base that hasn't chipped in its fair share of the ante, but at least it is an earnest step forward in solving Austin's transportation issues. It will reduce emissions, reduce stress, and keep cars off the roads (ideally, particularly the Ford Flex). There are also intriguing cultural exchange possibilities. Sixth Street will surely attract some of the more adventurous, gullible suburban teens, and on the other end, all those pristine privacy fences out in the burbs are just begging for some artful graffiti. It's a situation people too lazy or simple to use the phrase "mutually beneficial" refer to as "win-win." In the end, however, with mass transit everybody really does win, even the tiny-dog people (as long as they don't let go of the leash when the trains go by) and the culturally benighted suburbanites. If you're one of those, here's a quick cure: Hop on the train in Leander Saturday afternoon and head into town to the Convention Center station. From there, it's just a short walk down to Club de Ville to the Peer Pressure event, sponsored by Effing Press, Dalton Publishing, Monofonus Press, and American Short Fiction in celebration of Small Press Month. Hear readings from all four presses, see live bands, and spend the night in a nice hotel because the trains don't run after 7:42pm. What? You expected the Downtown hotels not to win?