The Austin Chronicle

Wish You Were Here

By Luke Winkie, November 17, 2012, 9:07am, Earache!

You wouldn't call Austin a tourist capital since we don’t have any obvious attractions. We’re a city of lifestyles; an idyllic background to study, to make art, to open a business. My parents touched down from San Diego last weekend to visit, vibe, and fix the cracks in my lovably unmaintained condo. As for as being a local guide, I didn’t know where to start.

We began by eating a lot. Burgers from Hopdoddy, sausages from Bangers, buffet from the Clay Pit, and a deliciously regrettable bout of chicken and waffles from 24 Diner in the wee hours of Saturday morning. It’s not hard to find a good meal in Austin.

This is a place where weird concepts become local icons. We're anything but short on ideas. There’s something so immediately reassuring about stepping into a place like I Luv Video, an honest brick-and-mortar video store, and knowing that it’s built above the living-room ColdTowne Theater.

These are small but important places. They tie us together, and my parents understood that. It’s nothing hierarchical. Every city has its charms, but there’s something beautiful to how Austin props up economic exceptions.

My favorite outing was Saturday night. I didn’t have any shows circled, and none of us were up for any downtown exertion. So I did the logical thing and navigated the rental car towards Flipnotics, something warm, loose, and ready for baby boomers. We drank coffee and watched a guy on guitar.

Harrison Anderson isn't the only songwriter trying to build a music career in Austin. He plays coarse, lyrically taut folk; I imagine most of his influences are dead. There was nothing particularly revealing about his point of view, but it all rang true. Anderson, like so many others in this city, writes from the soul. It’s impossible to take that for granted. We're so lucky to be surrounded by such earnest attempts at art.

Sometimes Austin can feel very small. Sometimes it feels like the town's finally given up all of its secrets. Sometimes it feels that this is a place we’re all destined to leave eventually. And yet when tasked with giving someone you love an idea of what makes where you live special, all those initial seductions come rushing back.

There we were, staring at the skyline from South Congress, eating trailer cupcakes with a street-performer’s steel-stringed rendition of Pink Floyd's “Wish You Were Here” fluttering in the background. I live in a city where I can feel this every day. I can be at home, right here.

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