Do you like it?
I live in Austin. I mean, yeah, I like it. But it's pretty complicated.
What do you like about it?
I grew up 60 miles from here (which, around here, isn't far). I've lived in other parts of the State and on the east coast, and I've spent a fair few months of my life in New Orleans and the north of England. So I know enough to know that, as a matter of understanding the lay of the land and the people, with the exception of San Antonio, this is as close to "home" as I'll ever have. That easy familiarity with the place you come from counts for a lot. Also, when I was a kid, this is always where I thought I would be (unless lightning struck and I made it to New York or whatever). Since then, my horizons have spread, and there are many other places I think about being. Austin, and south/central Texas have undergone explosive growth and a tremendous influx of money over the past 20 years or so, so in many ways, this part of the world has changed under my nose in ways that make it barely recognizable. But there are still good record stores and video stores, Austin has an excellent movie scene, and of course there's always the live music and the University. There's more and more interesting food and now you can get good coffee and good local beer. These are all good things. Also, my wife really likes it here, and some of my favorite family members live here.
What pisses you off?
I've tried to roll with the changes as best I can---it's inevitable and there ARE positives. Despite wanting to be here for most of my life and feeling as familiar with it as a kid from Jersey or Connecticut feels about New York City, I only managed to move here about nine years ago, when I was in my mid 30s. But the city has changed radically, and the speed of change only increases. More and more people live here, the infrastructure is really strained, and the place I wanted to be doesn't exist anymore. When we used to talk about American cities on the boards, Martha would say that Austin was like West Berlin, stuck in the old East Germany. It was a strong analogy, and I wouldn't quarrel with it. But Austin was always a place made by Texans, and was plainly of Texas---you couldn't really separate one from the other. The problem is that the interconnectedness between Austin and the rest of the State seems really strained in this era of polarization. Texas has always been conservative, of course, but with the renewed vigor of the culture wars and gerrymandering, the right wing has become totally unhinged, and there's a lot of ugliness out there. At the same time, Austin seems more like a bubble than ever before, and as younger generations take over,
it becomes more and more incomprehensible to me. There is so much migration from out of state, there is so much money here, so many people who have no connection to the rest of Texas. It really is like living in a big bubble, and the reduced influence of people from other parts of Texas has diminished the essence of the town that I knew from when I was younger. I try to embrace the change and the new things, but I almost feel like an alien in my own place. I can't imagine how the old hippies who have been here for 50 years feel. The other sources of my alienation include the outrageous price of real estate and the stupid Texas weather (no seasons, six months of summer brutality). I'm done with heat.
Would you love to live somewhere else?
Yeah, any number of places. Min still has a place in Lancashire, and it often feels like I have more of a social life in England than I do here (which is an attestation to Min's devotion to her friends and maintaining relationships and my failure to do the same with my people). I like it there and am reasonably certain I would be happy there. For professional reasons, I can't imagine living outside of Texas in the States, but who knows. I couldn't have predicted a lot of this so there's no telling. Nevertheless, I'm still a sixth or seventh generation Native Texan and I feel like I have a stake here, like I need to hang around and work on the place. And the politics will get better.
toomanyhatz wrote:I honestly don't care for most Beach Boys car songs
take5_d_shorterer wrote:If John Bonham simply didn't listen to enough Tommy Johnson or Blind Willie Mctell, that's his doing.