Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Very busy - just a note

I love Austin. I had lived in Texas for years without ever going to Austin, unlike my vacations to San Antonio as well as New Orleans many times. For some reason I had managed to miss Austin as a tourist destination. The closest I came was camping nearby and later looking for dinosaur tracks in stream beds. After spending several days in Austin I realize it is my favorite city.

A public transportation system that works - very big plus.

Every neighborhood seems to have its own set of bookstores and coffee shops and funky creative businesses and a wide variety of food places - double plus good.

It is a place that appreciates music and musicians of every kind. The college NPR station actually plays interesting music. Driving around I discovered a low power FM Free Speech Radio 91.1, radical but mainly from the right. Carries anti-globalist Alex Jones and lots of gold and alternate medicine advertisements. Media offers a wide variety of opinions - triple plus good.

I picked up Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century at Half-Price Books and discovered it is by Austin native Rick Klaw. Essays and other stuff on books, book selling, science fiction, censorship and pop culture. First few essays are extremely good. I tried to find one essay online to send to a few people but no luck. A very Austin book. More on the book and a sample essay. He is creative, intellectual, geeky and freedom loving.

What has this got to do with politics, you might be asking? How communities are run and their priorities, how you live your life, what kinds of people you attract is the ultimate politics. I prefer the politics of Austin.

UPDATE - I totally agree with Muse, the convention center seemed designed to torture people with the slightest handicap in walking. The Texas Democratic Party added two disabled positions to the state executive committee which may help in future convention location decisions.


Anonymous said...

Keep Austin Weird.

Rick Klaw said...

Thanks for the humbling words. I am very glad you enjoyed Austin and Geek Confidential.

BTW, which essay did you want to share with your friends?

Thank you again for all the kinds words.


Gary said...

It was a serendipitous I discovered Klaw's book while thinking about Austin. "Secrets of a Jedi Bookseller" was the essay.

Anonymous said...

You might enjoy my Austin sucks essay . It compares Austin to Houston and discusses the dynamics that make Austin what it is (for good and bad).

I am so jealous you got to go to the bloggers' powwow.

Rick Klaw said...


I've posted "Secrets of a Jedi Bookseller" on the Dark Forces blog so you can share it with your friends.


I read your piece on Austin. While I can't disagree with a lot of it, it's that very "creative class" that you lament that keeps me here.

Money is not everything. I've made my living for the past 20 years (after moving from Houston) in Austin primarily as a bookseller. As you may know (or not), bookselling is the lowest financial rung of retail. (I discuss the economics of bookstores in my book) Hell, I could teach or work at Wendy's and make more money. Even so, I've never been homeless or hungry. It's just a matter of the choices you make. (And I live about 4 miles from campus. It can be done affordabley.) On top of that, for most of the 20 years, I've been happy.

So things aren't as gloomy as you portray. And as for Houston, I'd have to be making in the mid-six figures and doing something I really love to move back.

Gary said...

I wish to really thank both Rick and Robert for their comments and essays.

I had previously read but had forgotten Robert's essay on why Houston is a nice homely misstress while Austin is a great girlfriend who kicks you out when you run out of money.

Gary said...

I also did not include in my post that Austin was having a "Keep Austin Weird Race" that weekend.

Anonymous said...

To respond to Rick's point:

first, here's a link to some of Rick's other essays. Great stuff there.

I was in Austin during a downturn and couldn't come close to making my rent (and although my rent was a little high, it wasn't that high for Austin--especially since not having a car limited my choices about where I could live). Bookstores are a dying venue, and it's hard to compete vs. online prices. I'm sure a little ingenuity could reinvent the concept.

My main complaint about Austin boils down to the fact that I can't find a decent (and decently-priced) restaurant. One can say a lot of crappy things about Houston, but our lack of restaurants is not one of them.

That said, I've met a lot of very cool people in Austin --much more than I ever found in Houston.