Monday, March 15, 2010

SXSW Vol. 1

Why am I sitting with my laptop (on my lap-top), on a bed, in a weathered - though recently painted - prefab oak furniture and retro-British horse and hound print-drenched room at the Best Western off Highway 10 in Sonora, TX?  Aside from sitting out the most relentless downpour, the most garish flashes of lightening and the loudest, window-rattling-est, room-shaking-est thunder I've heard/felt in all my many (many) days?

Well, I'm on the third day of a four-day driving trip from Palm Springs, CA to Austin, TX for the musical leg of the SXSW Festival.  Why am I doing this?  Well, because I've never been to the festival and, from what I understand, it's the place to be for any and everybody interested in contemporary music.

Oh, you want to know why I'm driving.  I get it.

Well, not sure I have a sane answer to that question.  Especially now, as I sit here, hobbled by this uniquely nasty storm.  I suppose the long and short of it - in that order - is that I find the need, at least once a year, to venture out into the desert wilds of the American Southwest, accompanied by little more than my ipod, my thoughts and as much luggage as I can fit into my Beetle's 2'x2' trunk, in order to keep my head clear and my creativity flowing.  As I'm way overdue for that, I figured I'd take advantage of this opportunity to get out and do some of that well-needed head clearing.  And I'm morbidly afraid to fly.

I do it from time to time - fly, that is - when I absolutely have to.  I flew to Orlando, FL last year about this time for an academic conference.  I considered driving there, as well, but decided that would just be insane.  However, driving more than half that distance for this year's voyage seemed perfectly lucid two days ago.  Now, not so sure.  Particularly as I contemplate the return trip.  But I'll fret about that come next Monday.

For now, I'm looking forward to getting into Austin tomorrow - as soon as the weather permits - and setting up my temporary HQ at the Austin Marriott near the airport.  I'd originally booked a hotel downtown, where I'd have been able to walk to all the major venues with ease, but there was some sort of technical mixup and now I'm stuck out by the airport.  No need to finger point in terms of whose to blame for the snafu, although I'm certain it was the Marriott hotel chain's fault and not mine.  But honestly, I'm just happy to have a place to stay.  A vacant and affordable hotel room is a rare find in Austin at the moment.  So I'll withhold my complaints to the management until after the festival's conclusion - don't want to rock the boat just yet - never know when another "accidental" techno-glitch my occur and leave me afloat and stranded with nowhere to stay at all.

I'll check in with you all again once I'm settled in Austin.  After that, I intend to send out periodic dispatches from the field as the week progresses.  As I'm disinclined to spend days on end deluged by major industry folks - there are already too many others willing to do that - I plan to spend my time exploring some of the more tangential, and, I expect, compelling venues that will undoubtedly emerge from within the city's alternative underbelly.  Also, I couldn't afford festival tickets.

So, until then, pray for my safe deliverance from the perilous abyss of rural Texas into the milk-and-honey promised land of greater Austin.  I'll sleep better tonight knowing somebody's looking out for my best interests.


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