The Confederate State of Austin

Again, a brief half hour before breakfast ends and I am awake.  Cursing about Alexandra’s desire to remain in bed as long as possible, I dart out the door.  This is my dad in me – ever in a hurry: in a hurry to wait, in a hurry to relax, in a hurry to grab a newspaper and sit down and drink coffee and relax.

So I ditch; head for the elevator and wait.  A Texan was there with his comely wife, the halls were scrambling with people.  Lots of girls, lots of teenage boys.  I reckon a softball or baseball tournament by the clothes they were wearing and subsequent level of fitness which was suspect.

Oh, and when I say Texan I mean portly, sullen, facial haired, and slightly indignant about even minimal discomfort. Truly, a cowboy of old, whom if their descendents are any indication, constantly whined about riding sores and coyotes (kai – yotes).

I suspect this only because after about a minute of waiting for the elevator, it hadn’t come and the Texan had been there longer than I had, who knows how long he had been stubbornly refusing to walk down three flights of stairs.

But, I did arrive soon enough to see him slam the elevator button a few times and sputter “what the crap”, before I gave up and took the stairs.  The casual reader might not take offense to this, but entertain my analysis.  Why not Hell or Fuck?  My guess: didn’t want to offend the delicate sensibilities of his wife.  That seems a decidedly southern thing to do. Clearly, a deferential ‘what the fuck’ aimed at the elevator would blaspheme the morning air.

Oh Texas, it is you!  There you are Texas! (I’m trying to channel Hook here and I don’t think it’s working)

Once in the breakfast room, I was sure of it.  All the telltale signs were there.  First of all, Fox News was now on the television.  I imagine it went like this, when the Man-Who-Changed-It awoke, strolled in, bleary-eyed, and turned on the TV: CNN?! What is this, the Soviet-crapping-Union? Get that faggy liberal blow-job circus off of my television screen.  Ya’ll’re in Texas now.  We watch Fox News in God’s country, which is Texas, for y’all what didn’t a’redy know that.  The United States can gyyeeeeeeeeet out (No, I will not stop making fun of Gov. Perry’s suggestion that Texas could and should secede from the Union in the Year of Our Lawd 2009).

The room was now filled with people.  A few overweight Spanish men with their dainty/chunky/obese wives sat at table with their gaggle of spawn, all slurping egg, sausage and bread discs covered in hot sauce. A team of girls sat at the large table over my shoulder, discussing, not unintelligently, abortion or gay rights or something purely philosophical in nature.  Unfortunately, they were in their mid-teens, and nothing intelligent was ever said in the nasal, grating and upward-inflection laden dialect of the pubescent.

And there weren’t no papers.  No USA Today or San Marcos something-or-other, as there had been the day before.  At the very least, I’ll credit Texans with liking to read their papers.

Alexandra arrived, with plenty of time to finish breakfast and I was angry at my Dad in me who had rushed me out the door.  We were going to the Outlet Mall, a Texan-sized outlet mall, that was like an inverted Sawgrass Mall and all the more ungainly because of this change.  Instead of parking around the mall, and walking air-conditioned through it, there was a golf-course sized parking lot in the center and, like, two square miles of shops bordered the parking lot.  Did I mentioned it’s a gagillion degrees outside, even at 10am when we got there?  Fucking engineers, or architects or politicians.  Whoever made this distinction in design can rot in a worm-riddled tomb.

Long story short, we spent like two or three hours here, and left for Austin.  Despite that Alexandra wanted to go in, like, every store; I still spent more money and bought more things than her.  Our difference in perspective is that I shop when I need things and specifically for those things that I need.  She, on the other hand, is hunting out sales of an ephemeral quality that I cannot here describe nor could she if you  gave her pen, paper and a million years and neither could any shopaholic female describe what she’s searching for out there in the wastes.

So we went off to Austin today.  Finally some history to share and enjoy.

We toured the Capitol first.  It’s pretty awesome and we jumped into a free tour.

This is the old-world wonder everyone loves and, look, right here in Texas.  So, this star on the floor resembles the 5 nations that have claimed Texas during its history.  In some detail the tour-guide went over all but one, can you guess?  Here’s why the French, or Spanish, or Mexicans or Americans claimed Texas and controlled it, oh and that one’s the Confederate states, moving along.

Seal of the CSA

Whoa lady, don’t talk about the CSA like it merely “claimed” Texas and y’all didn’t jump willingly into the CSA to fight the yanks.

Whatever, it’s not like you’re still worshipping them though.  Oh, wait, what? You mean to say nearly every memorial on the Capitol Grounds outside from here is commemorating the civil war, specifically from the side of the CSA?  Hah! Yes.  Fucking yes.

They even have one of those disputed obelisks topped by a soldier, of dubious allegiance, because the manufacturer of those soldiers sold them to both the North and South after the war.

So, it’s possible that a Yankee soldier, in uniform, with all the standard-issue gear, is topping an obelisk in memory of all those boys who “Died for States’ Rights”.

Hah! Oh my god.  I can’t believe the things I’ve read about are true. No, but seriously, there’s at least 4 memorials outside the Capitol building, and probably more all around it, cause it’s a pretty big lot, in memory of the Civil War, every organization seemed to want to put one in (Sons of Confederate Veterans, Daughers of Confederate, blah blah blah)

Also, under the Capitol is the standard not-so-secret passageways to other parts of the capitol grounds, parking, and exits to various parts of Austin around the Capitol.  It’s haunted by the heads of Texans.  There’s a George W. Bush (hidden in the lowest most shadow-ridden part), George H.W. Bush, some other guys, and LBJ.  Jowls ’em, boy!

Also, super awesome art exhibit at the Austin MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) which is kinda small and expensive for how small it is, but totally worth it.  I did my best to reproduce what I saw with my dinky phone camera.  Chris Jordan is a photographer and artists, and here in Texas of all places! Sure, we’d rentered the hippy-love-fest that is the Austin-Ft. Worth-Dallas delta.  But still.  Check it out. Be sure to click around. No seriously, the website I am giving you is fucking awesome, way better than my shitty pictures.

Here’s my pictures explaining what each one is.

6th St in Austin, the Music Mecca of the South is essentially Ybor City, but hotter and with more aggressive homeless people (I cannot verify that they were homeless, only symptomatically in that they were black, smelled unwashed, and liked to whistle inappropriately at women). Also, there aren’t as many shitty-ass nightclubs.  On the whole, this makes it much better.  Especially because all the bars were packed with people watching the USA crit-fail at football. This was the day the USA lost out of the World Cup.  For some reason, it makes me proud to see how feverish the USA World Cup fandom became over the course of the tournament. Perhaps that’s coloring my review, but seriously, a collective AWWWWWW and FUUUUCCCKKK rolled over the neighborhood when the USA lost and the bars emptied.

Mellow Mushroom in Austin, TX.  Perhaps the only truly bad experience of the whole trip.  Typing those words feels like blasphemy.  Having gone to both the Brandon and Citrus Park locations, I’ve come upon a realization.  What originally looked like, thanks to a playful font they had selected for their menu, a pizza made with “Spring Water Douch” (picture, hopefully?) is actually probably only so delicious because of the restaurants proximity to springs which offer water for their spring water dough.  Having already exhausted what minimal verbal resources I have to describe water-quality in Texas, I will not attempt to do this again.

Obviously, in Austin they don’t have spring water, they have the type of water described above.  Slightly more blasphemous, they don’t use recycled paper napkins, there is no classic rock soundtrack in the background, the tables are not decorated with vinyls of the best albums of all time by the best rock musicians of the last forever.  I’m going to ask everyone to sit down for this next sentence.  If you’re already sitting, then lay down and if you’re laying down then I’m going to have to ask you to not read this, you’re already too relaxed and this will probably just ruin your day.  They had shitty beer.   Not only did they only have about two beers from Texas’ gagillion craft brewers, they didn’t even have but one type of Shiner, a near-macro brew as far as intrastate consumption goes.  Their draft list had a paltry dozen or so which isn’t dissimilar from other Mellow Mushroom locations except that instead of relegating shitty beer to bottles only, they had High Life, PBR, etc. on draft.  Fuck, I should have known for a place literally sandwiched between student housing, Greek living and the fucking University of Texas.  Mellow Mushroom, Austin is more sports bar than pizza nirvana.  I’m talking loud-ass TVs, no music, giant open dining area, meaning no peace or distraction from others, and the same shitty, ironic service you’ve come to expect from every Mellow Mushroom.  Seriously, you tell someone you’re going to charge them for more than 3 lemons for a fucking litre of water that tastes like sewage and expect to get a tip? Fucking hipsters, I swear, that’s the only complaint about Mellow Mushroom that translates over, they hire the same sarcastic, ironic morons who don’t give a fuck about their job.  I suspect M.M. has a terrible corporate policy about how their servers get paid, there’s no other explanation for why none of their waiters ever give a shit about service.

So whatever, I grabbed an energy drink – can you tell how long this day has been? – and hit the road back for Ft. Worth.  Oh yeah, this is right next to a bread factory.  The olfactory abomination if ever there was one.  Fresh baked bread! MMmmmm …Mmm? …Yeeeckkk, fermenting grain.  We stopped at some gas station along the way for potty, coffee and snacks.  It was in the endless wheat-fields bumfuck parts between Austin and Ft. Worth, which is all of it.  The gentlemanly old cashier hit hard on Alexandra, if memory serves.

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