Tag Archives: Austin

Still Chasing…….

25 Jul

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This summer was supposed to be a chill one. I had a wedding on the east coast, but other than that, my plan was to read books and lay up under the air conditioning all summer. Much like my 2006 plans, things took on a life of their own, and I found myself criss-crossing the country again.

2016 Summer Observations:

  1. Now that Mommy jeans are in full effect, it may be smart to re-invest in Fanny packs. Young hipsters have brought back something so puzzling, that I can’t help but think this is backlash against the increasing creepiness of men’s boorish behavior. It is the only rational explanation I can think of. Why else would young women purposely wear jeans that make them appear bloated and unattractive? Has the buffoonery of our catcalling, drink spiking, leg grinding, and upskirting finally worn away the magic of women leaving their homes feeling beautiful? Is this a retort to the victim blaming laden statement “Well she had it coming, look how she was dressed.”? I hope this isn’t the case, but I also hope it isn’t women being ironic. Not all women age as fine as wine,  and there will come a day when Mommy jeans will be a necessity, not an option. Those wasted days of beauty will be missed down the road ladies.
  2. Seattle is still extremely white. Seattle is so white that it feels like a foreign country. Seattle is so white that when black people see other black people, they not only introduce themselves to each other, they also get invited to dinner and church services. “Come out to Colombia City and fellowship with us. The whole congregation will be there. All ten of us.” One day when I was walking around downtown, I saw a well dressed white man with a cast on his right arm. It took everything I had not to yell out “Ted Bundy” the same way someone yells out “Kobe” when shooting paper into a wastebasket.
  3. I feel sorry for anyone who sits near me on a bus or an airplane. I feel like handing them a card before I fall asleep that reads,” 1-800 How’s My Snoring?” I should just carry a mouth guard with me at all times when I travel, because its inevitable I’m going to konk out as soon as we take off for our destination.
  4. As much as I miss my Okie friends, I do not miss Oklahoma–especially now that its vogue again to be openly bigoted. You will hear some people brag about Oklahoma being the first state to send a man into outer space. I don’t see how this is flattering. I think it displays the extremes people will go to get away from the God forsaken state. The moon suddenly isn’t far enough away from a state that says if a person puts their penis inside another person’s mouth while they are unconscious it isn’t rape. Ironically, sodomy laws are still in effect there. No wonder Oklahoma is 49th in education in the United States.
  5. My top four favorite cities in North America:   1) Montreal Pound for pound the most dime pieces per capita in any city I’ve ever been. Great food. Well designed layout. Reliable transportation and diverse. Tons of street art, and affordable rent. I could tell who the Americans were in the city by their Valley Girl speak. It was rare that I heard people say the words, “Like, you know, and whatever.” Montreal is a world class city. 2) New York, but more specifically Queens. Brooklyn is too trendy to me. Manhattan just feels like white noise. I know very little about Staten Island and the Bronx. Queens though may be the most diverse of all the boroughs. The food is phenomenal. It is a good place to live whether you have a family or you are single. Taking the N,Q, or 7 trains is a convenient way to travel to the other four boroughs. Plus the Mets play there. I do wonder how long it will be cool though. Its becoming harder and harder to live in New York if you aren’t rich. 3) Portland. I forgot how much I love this city–especially during the summer time. I love the heady highs, and the high trees. Now that legislature has caught up with the times, it has become an even more enjoyable place to visit. Even though the town has more happy hours than black people, and buying a house there has become almost impossible for people not making six figures, it is still an extremely fun place. The women aren’t quite as “hot” as the ones in Texas, but they score well because there are an abundance of cuties living there. If hot women were a currency, then Portland would be the Uruguay among North American cities. There is a thriving middle class of cuties who happen to be pretty chill. I dig it. 4) Austin. Of course. Austin is douchier than it was 10 years ago when I first left, but it is also more going on there than 10 years ago. The food is better. There are more places to eat and drink, and its more diverse. Yes its getting “whiter” by the day, but its not all the same kind of white people–at least for now. Much like New York, it may not be as cool of a place 10 years from now.
  6. I left Texas ten years ago hoping to find a new place to settle into–a new career in a new town in a new region. Much of this journey was captured in my collection of poems, Chasing Kerouac with my Credit Card. The trip that I embarked on during the summer of 2006 was a means to explore parts of the United States, and then plop my ass down somewhere.My criteria eventually became: a) A city near the water–namely the Pacific Ocean. b) A city where I wouldn’t be entirely dependent upon driving a car.c) A racially tolerant city where I could at least feel safe as a black man.

    Many people have wondered why I move around so much, and it is because C) has been an elusive find. Some cities are safer than others for black men, but this summer (and the frankly the last 5 years) has proven that nowhere in America is a minority safe–especially blacks. Now that we are on the heels of a Trump presidency, what once felt like paranoia (to other people) is soon to be a reality. To spare us all the unnecessary bloodshed, I just wish all the whites in America who don’t want to interact with gays, blacks, Muslims, Jews, Arabs, Asians, Mexicans, and anyone else not straight, white and conservative, would map out a place in the Midwest (we could call it Bigotopia) where they can live with all their distorted beliefs, and not bother (or be bothered by) anyone different from them. The government should just give everybody relocation grants and call it “The Mulligan Act of 2017.” Everyone wins.

  7. Its crazy how fast ten years just flew by. In some ways this summer paralleled summer of 2006. Moving out of town and being technically homeless for two months was again a theme. The World Cup was the social milieu back in 2006 (where France lost in penalty kicks just like this year’s Eurocup), while the Copa America and Eurocup were going on while I was on the road this year. Though this summer wasn’t nearly as messy as 2006, there were certainly some curveballs that have forced me to stay on my toes. Of course this year’s travels wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly without all the people I managed to meet and befriend in the last ten years. My Texas, California and Oregon connections have taken me to some cool places that would have been almost impossible to know without them. I can’t imagine my life had things gone the way I had originally planned back in 2004–before my first visit to the Pacific Northwest. Had you asked me what I thought my life would be like at 37, I would have probably said a wife and kids, teaching at a school in Fort Worth; owning two cars and paying on a mortgage. None of that sounds bad, but I can’t believe I would have been successful at that lifestyle at that time.I would have spent all my free time staring out the window wondering WHAT IF? I can’t say that these things won’t eventually happen (probably not the part about living in Dallas), but I can say that I’m at least a couple of years away from that being my reality. We still have a lot to accomplish before that happens. I’m still chasing……….

 

Ciao,

BM

 

 

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Getting What You Pay For

31 Mar

South By Southwest jumped the shark years ago, but now it has come to the point where if you don’t have access to a badge (good luck tryna buy one. You better start saving up now), then you can almost forget about seeing half the acts that you like.

The festival has become a bigger deal each year since I started going back in 2006. There was still a fringe element to it back then, where things were clogged, but the streets were still fairly navigable. I could not buy a wristband or badge, and still see plenty of the shows from anywhere in town. Now the major acts almost triple the unsigned ones, and you have to venture east of Red River to see anything resembling a DIY artist.

What is crazy to me is how much you must think ahead for everything during SXSW week (month?)–needing just as much of a game plan for avoiding the cluster as you’ll need for joining the fray.

Lines for every popular coffee shop, or food haunt become longer, and trying to hit up the famed BBQ spots is almost unthinkable. So imagine my surprise when a friend and I were able to just pull up to Micklethwait Craft Meats, ten minutes before they opened, and just get in line. We were fifth to get our order taken when things popped off, and let me tell you, it was legit.

The analogy I like to make about barbecue is along the lines of being an herbal connoisseur. Growing up, I smoked a lot swag because it was all I knew. occasionally, a friend would luck into some White Widow, and it wasn’t until I smoked that where I learned the difference in quality of buds.

beef

BBQ is similar in that regard. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, places like Hardeman’s, Rudy’s, Poke Jo’s, Sonny Bryant’s, Gates, and Dickey’s were considered to be really good. Nowadays these chains are like the swag of good barbecue. They’ll do in a pinch, but once you’ve had the really good stuff, it is difficult to not think about what you could be consuming.

Places like Salt Lick, Kansas City Joe’s (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s), and Micklewait are what my college friends would refer to as “BC Nugs.” Pretty good quality, but ultimately mid-grade stuff.

I actually really liked Micklewait. I’d rate it as a high quality mid grade–the 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers of Austin barbecue. Their beef rib (18 dollars a pop) are as good of a beef rib as I have ever had. It came right off the bone (a big ass bone at that–probably half of what you pay for when you are paying by the lb.) and was tender and delicious. I just salivated thinking about it.

The jalapeno cheese grits (yeah I know that I don’t normally fuck with side dishes) are otherworldly. I wouldn’t call myself a grits fan at all, but I don’t see anyway that you could improve the taste of these grits.

Their sausage is on point as well. It has just as much flavor as Smitty’s sausage, but not nearly as greasy. My only real complaint was that the brisket was a little salty. That being said, it was extremely tender. Apparently they also offer goat on Saturdays, which is something I love eating. I’m certainly going to back on a Saturday and give it a run.

There aren’t too many bells and whistles at Mickelwait. It’s just a trailer over in east Austin that is right down the street from East Side Pies. But I’ll vouch for it. If you don’t feel like hitting up the long ass lines at La Barbecue or Franklin’s (spare me), and you’re not in the mood to drive out to Lockhart, then this is your spot.

It is getting increasingly hard to rate all these bbq joints. When you start getting top-tier quality meats from places like Franklin’s, La Barbecue, and Smitty’s, it all tastes the same in its own wonderful way. Anyone who has been to a weed dispensary on the west coast, or in Amsterdam, can relate. Its only when you get the lower grade stuff that you can actually tell the difference. I guess what I’m saying is that Texas is quickly becoming the Amsterdam of barbecue, and that ain’t a bad thing.

 

 

 

A Beautiful Resignation

28 Jul

Slowly approaching a grasp of this uncertain reality
Tentatively found my equilibrium slightly before
entering the airport
whistling the U.S. Blues
wearing sandals,plaid shorts and a Ween T-shirt;
total slacker ware,
feeling good
in a post graduation Austin sort of way.

Encountered the sobering sight of
a pimply young boy in full Army garb

Forcing me to examine
what I had done when I was his age
as a dumb ass among dumb asses,
doing dumb ass things
like finger banging
teenage girls in
small town, Texas, U.S.A.

Raising Hell
certainly not sitting nervously in an airport
flipping my phone upside down
then right side up,
obviously deep in perturbed
and anxious thought.

Would this be one of the young men
my young brother would be in charge of stitching up
patching up?
doping down?
saving?
or putting away?

Would one of these young men
be responsible for an errant bullet
that led to my brother’s crippling demise?

And what of my brother’s final moments
before pre-boarding
setting off
to save young men like these
out in desert country?

A place of which I never wanted intimate knowledge

I wasn’t ready for him to go
didn’t want him to die
but the only way to control when one went
was to off one’s self
something I already knew I wasn’t brave enough to do.

Even if he lived through it all
he wouldn’t be the same
when he returned.
Someday he would in fact die

whether it be
in five,ten, fifteen
twenty or forty years.

Even if this young boy here
somehow rose to lieutenant
saved his whole platoon
from dying face down in the desert,
mouth full of sand,
chest full of bullets and lungs full of blood
he would eventually go too
someday,somewhere.

Even if this plane I boarded crashed,
and I miraculously survived
the laws of physics,law of averages
would get to me too.

Who knew when Armageddon would come for us all?

No need to panic
I suppose there could be worse realities eh?

I could be a blackhead on the face

of a 16 yr old virgin nerd who
jerked off with Vaseline

to naked photos of Marge Simpson.

I could be the pus on the tip of an Okie’s dick
after he caught the clap from some bar floozy
with bad tattoos and missing teeth.

I could be the boil on a plumber’s ass.

I could be a clot of blood on a stripper’s tampon.

I could be a herpes sore.

A booger in a 3rd grader’s nose
picked, smashed, and then eaten.

I could’ve been a fly chowing down
on some fresh road kill or
the toe jam in a geriatric’s foot,
the bunion on someone’s soon to be ex-wife,
scraped by a butter knife into the kitchen sink
or an in grown hair on a sweaty ball sack.

So there was no need to panic.
Change is a constant interloper
so why get attached to this human existence?

Worrying only hindered me
from enjoying the trip.
we were all going
to die,
then decompose
before becoming something else like
cosmic dust particles,
or spatial bacteria
and there was nothing I could do about it except
go out in style.

So there was no need to panic about any of it.
Worrying wasn’t going to help me one bit.

~Edward Austin Robertson~

March Madness Revisited pt. 3 : Welcome to Austin, don’t forget to leave.

16 Jun

It’s official! The secret is out!

Honestly the secret has been out for decades.

The secret had been out for years by the time me and my crew moved down to Austin in ’01 . Even then old timers and locals talked about how different Austin had become since the 40 Acre days (This was before the ominous looking Frost building was erected. That was when I knew it was for real. That the the development of downtown and west campus was only beginning. So I high tailed it to California because Austin was surely on its way to becoming Houston).

I blamed Austinite Kevin Dunn and MTV. His appearance on Real World New York spelled the end of the best kept secret in the United States. He was clearly a cool dude ( and not just on television–we ran into each other a lot during UT football games), and his praises of is lovely hometown reached the masses.

Soon everyone wanted to know about the “best place in the world.”

I had a neighbor back in ’01 who said he’d met a chick in Amsterdam that was so fucking cool and was from Austin.  This encounter with her caused him to move to Austin out of curiosity. He ended up staying for over ten years (through a strange coincidence I ended up working at a Greenpeace type organization with his best friend in San Francisco– but that’s a story for a different time–you know like–never).

There has been a large influx of Californians since I’d moved out of state back in 2006. Looking around and seeing all the California license plates made me finally understand what people in Colorado and Oregon were dealing with. The damned vermin had finally ruined their lovely state and were now coming for our respective territories.

This epidemic has spawned such T-shirts as “Welcome to Austin, don’t forget to leave.” and “Welcome to Austin, please don’t move here.”

And why wouldn’t you move there if you lived out west? Land and housing is 4 times as cheap as it is on the coast. You can live the lifestyle and not pay the booty tax.

Then again I was suddenly one of those interlopers. Having grown up in Dallas I moved down to Austin as soon as I could. For weirdo Texans like myself, Austin provided a haven for us.

Too gay for east Texas, too queer for the panhandle? Well come down to the hill country.Don’t let yourself get caught up in the rat race of bullshit, big city life. Move to Austin immediately. Cease, desist and CHILL.

It was fun, it was chill, and it was definitely weird. It was like being in a Simpsons episode. I dug it. But I wasn’t the only one who was cashing in. People were moving down in droves, saturating the job market and re-living the Linklater movie, Slacker.

And then the Yuppies came. Condos sprouted up from the ground like concrete and glass herpes sores. The capital and the UT tower were mere ornament pieces in the downtown skyline.

So it shouldn’t have surprised me when I encountered a large magnitude of people for the music and film festival. Things had reached Mardi Gras proportions. Every city bus on the “drag”  heading downtown was a guaranteed 45 minute ride, when normally it took no more than fifteen.

Every bus was a party bus. Cabs sat in long lines of traffic. I soon regretted not renting a bicycle or buying a skateboard to bring down. I either walked everywhere or I waited on the bus.

By the end of the week my feet were killing me. Because of all the craziness and the way the festival had spread out, I knew I’d have to plan accordingly.

I had made a list of everyone I wanted to see. But the free shows overlapped and some of the others were way too expensive.

I did have 3 major highlights from the time I was down there:

#1 Seeing the film debut of the Bad Brains documentary,

I’d been a fan of theirs since I discovered them in college.

That was the first time I’d heard about an all black punk band from the 80’s who were also considered to be the best of all time. I’d read about their influence on some of my favorite bands like Rage Against the Machine, and the Beastie Boys.

One time I was a club in San Francisco and I saw a couple of dreaded cats in Adidas jump suits. I laughed to myself and made a joke like “Aww shit Bad Brains in the house.”

What I didn’t know was that it really was them. As I’d find out when I ran across a flier the very next day. They had played a gig that night and were playing again the next evening. I was debating whether or not I should go when someone told me not to bother. It wasn’t going to be what I expected.

The film footage in the documentary would only confirm what that person told me. The tour ended up being shitty because of some problems between HR( the lead singer) and the rest of the band and lots of that tour was documented at the screening.

The film American Hardcore touched a small bit on The Bad Brains influence in the early 80’s. I was still slightly dissatisfied with the amount of coverage on the band. Upon hearing about this new documentary being screened at South By Southwest, I knew that no matter what was going on, that I had to see it.

I met up with my friend from Colorado, L______ and we stood in line at the convention center for free tickets. I was surprised to walk in and see that nearly no one was there and that we had our pick of seats. We went towards the back row and sure enough there was HR sitting next to some fine little blonde shiksa about half his age.

During the movie I kept looking back at him to gauge his reaction to certain scenes. I imagined it must’ve been strange to see all the footage of himself as a young man, and hear people sharing all these weird facets of his life for everyone on the big screen.

The movie was highly creative, and in depth and had great interviews (Adam Yauch and Mike D were in a couple scenes as well). I walked out of the theater feeling like my trip had been made.

It was only about to get better. I went to take a piss in the urinal and it wasn’t 3o seconds after I’d whipped my dick out, that HR came in to take a piss in the urinal next to mine. “Fucking A” I thought. Taking a piss next to HR.

I bet his dick had rubbed against at least 6 times as much pussy as mine had seen. To punctuate this thought, HR ripped the loudest sloppiest fart I’d ever heard from a celebrity.

“Pardon me” he said. Then he shook himself and washed his hands and walked out the bathroom door.

I washed my hands and chuckled to myself.

#2 occured in a cramped club on Red River street. My stuffed backpack didn’t help things at all. (It just wouldn’t be a Japanther show if it weren’t in a cramped venue).

I could barely move and I was becoming irritated, agitated and claustrophobic. But once the punk duo took the stage, I hid my pack underneath a stool at the bar and went to it.

They were so punk that it was refreshing. Two dudes, a bass player and a drummer with weird telephone mics, and over sized speakers. And they were terribly loud!

Cats were moshing and fucking getting crazy as Japanther played tunes off their new album Beets, Lime, and Rice. It had the spirit of an old school punk show and they really threw down. I felt so lucky to a part of it all. I didn’t over pay to see them. I was right next to the stage the whole night, and afterwards had a great conversation about basketball with the drummer Ian (A nice bloke but I couldn’t help but remember the bike shop gig in Brooklyn when I had walked in on him and his buddies smoking weed and they all in unison gave me “piss the fuck off” looks).

Right there, so close to the band, getting wild and intimate, and trying to look up this chick’s skirt, because I suspected that she wasn’t wearing underwear. It was a loud and raunchy night. Even the dressed up girls were getting into the pit and throwing people around. It was pretty rad and possibly the best musical moment of the month.

#3 was a documentary on Hip Hop and the L.A. riots.

This was a sneak peek of a VH-1 film that was just shown in the month of May. It was real good. Hilarious interviews by NWA members and other Los Angeles artists who were around that time.

I’d forgotten so much about that time period. I was only a kid when it happened but I remember the helpless, sad, and angry feeling I had that blacks couldn’t catch any breaks in this country.

This was the point where Public Enemy and Ice Cube were really speaking my kind of language and I’d go to middle school just hoping that a white boy would say something foul to me.

The movie was real good though. I ate some over priced chicken tenders while it was being shown.  This black lady and I seemed to be the only people  laughing at some of the dark humor and ugly situations documented throughout the film (The white liberals in the audience were realizing that they weren’t quite as liberal as they believed themselves to be).

I had a great time at the festival. It was a pain in the ass getting around but it was nice seeing some old friends. Running around town got a little tiresome and I was constantly debating just how badly I wanted to move back. Any thought of me living in New York City was tempered with the realization that even Austin was almost too busy for me.

Things had certainly changed and not necessarily for the worst. The city felt a bit more swinging that when I’d last lived there. Californians brought a douchebaggery with them, but they also had brought lots of cool and innovative ideas along too.

The comedy/ open mic scene was more prevalent since my last gig in Austin. Tons more hotties and even a film studio as well. It was becoming little Hollywood.

I couldn’t make a rash decision based on this visit though. I decided it would be best to come back during a non- event week and get a true gauge of things. The summer before I was convinced that I was moving back, but now I wasn’t so sure. I’d already done this, how much better could it get?

It seemed fitting to be sharing a late night cab with a plump and proper, british gal, whom I met at the all night eatery, Kerby Lane. What better way to salvage my evening and end my trip by making out with her on my way to the bus station?

I was heading to what I thought would be a pit stop in Dallas before catching a Spurs-Thunder game and effectively ending the first spring break that I’d had in six years.

But things didn’t quite work out for me. The plump girl and I didn’t make out.  She was on some bullshit about staying in town an extra day and taking her on a proper date (Hilarious). I took her number down and threw it away as soon as I got to the bus station.

I boarded the bus thinking that maybe it’d have been a good idea to have booked my ticket for a straight shot to OKC. But the thought was quietly dismissed as we headed north on I-35, back into the weirdness i had escaped days earlier.

Sure enough Dallas would only bring about bad news. I’d find that my bus to Oklahoma City would be sold out–with the next bus getting me into town well after the Spurs game.

I’d miss the game and my ticket would be wasted (in fact it wouldn’t even be a game. The Thunder would get thoroughly dominated at home–causing many people like me to question the legitimacy of OKC’s chances to contend).

But this would only pale in comparison to the news I was about to receive that night from my little brother. His return home to Texas would be short lived as he had gotten word that his services would be needed in Afghanistan. This news sent me into a state of shock that would last for months.

My equilibrium suffered a great jolt and the ensuing shift in perspective would prove to be tremendously profound.  Things were taking on a whole new meaning. There was no way I was going to be able to look at things in quite the same way . The fun and sun down in Austin didn’t seem so fun anymore. What the fuck was I doing with my life?

Happy GNU year

7 Jan

Not only does January signal the new but also the end of things.
Yes that’s right Jim Mora…. the playoffs.

starting tonight with the BCS championship game.

I’m gonna go on a limb and say Texas beats Alabama 24-17.

This weekend the NFL playoffs start and with that I’ll take Philly over Dallas, Bengals over Jets, New England over Baltimore and Arizona over Green Bay.

**** Eugene has been a good change. I managed to get myself entangled in some drama before I left that I’m still dealing with the residual effects..but I’m past it mentally, and soon enough emotionally…..

but I’m happy to be here. I love the energy, and I feel like everything is working out the way it should. The feeling of being exactly at the right place at the right time.

Outside of Austin and Denton, probably the coolest college town I’ve managed to find myself in. Not sure how long I’ll stay and don’t care.
I just know that it’ll be a really enjoyable time because this is where I’ve wanted to be all along, but just didn’t know it.