Austin is like the safety school of life.
Reasons Why Austin Is the Worst Place Ever
I am a resident of Austin, Texas.
Perhaps you’ve heard of us. We seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately. Everyone’s investing in Austin, everyone’s excited about Austin. It’s the live music capital of the world, it’s on the cover of travel magazines, business magazines, and food magazines. It’s simply the place to be.
Well, fuck that. I’ve lived in Austin long enough to know that this city can drive you fucking crazy. It’s a sweltering, congested sub-metropolis full of slack-asses and yuppies who simultaneously take themselves too seriously and not seriously enough. It’s a place where spending $11 on a sandwich is considered a societal good. It’s a place where entitled people claim ownership on everything.
Austin is a place where bad people move. People in Austin actually believe they invented the breakfast taco. People in Austin will tell a Mexican family who has lived on the same street for generations that they’re doing their best to “save the neighborhood.”
If that’s not enough, here are some more reasons Austin sucks.
The Yuppiness Is so Chronic it Borders on Self-Parody
The following is an actual exchange I had with somebody in Austin not too long ago:
“We have to go to that place, they have whiskey-infused bacon!”
“Whiskey-infused bacon! That’s so cool!”
“But like why? Why is that cool? How is that more than just a thing? Why should I be excited that some dude made bacon and left it in a bottle of whiskey?”
“Come on, don’t be a party pooper.”
There are so many “crazy” and “awesome” things in Austin! The taco cannon! The moustache competition! The pun-off! Everyone is really excited about all of these things. People are very excited to see horribly self-involved white people tell puns at a bar. That’s something you do in Austin, that’s part of the scene. Why do you go to the pun-off? Because it fits a certain collection of circumstances and idealized cultural values that supposedly makes Austin what it is. By virtue of its own perceived audacity, a pun-off, whiskey-infused bacon, or a ratball bad taco somehow becomes really cool.
But you’re not keeping Austin weird. You’re engaging in this fake, utterly distasteful blend of irony and feigned enthusiasm that will eventually cause the city to self-implode under the density of its own facetiousness. Soon you won’t be able to identify a single genuine emotion within its borders. You don’t actually care about whiskey-infused bacon. You don’t give a shit about whiskey-infused bacon. You’re pretending to, because that’s what keeps the whole city from feeling like a big lie.
The first city plan that Austin leaders came up with was designed to be segregated, but they couldn’t legally write that into effect…the city was built to be separate but equal under Jim Crow.
The Uptight Traveler’s Guide to Portland, Oregon
The constant, crushing judgement I feel for every living person and non-sentient being I encounter is an anchor that weighs me down and prevents me from experiencing true joy. But just because mama can’t experience true joy doesn’t mean she can’t have a good time not doin’ it! (For the purposes of this paragraph I, and possibly you, are mama.) Mama recently found herself a tourist in the socialist paradise that is Portland, Oregon. She’s heard it’s a nice town. She believes it’s a nice town. Said judgement, however, rendered her unable to fully appreciate its charms. If you’re anything like mama (and, dear reader, I pray you are), this guide should help the Rose City’s organic medicine go down.
Get Your Non-Drinking Business Done During the Day
Most non-alcohol dispensing businesses close at or around 6PM, giving the city’s residents ample time to practice with their noise rock bands, make crafts (crafts are considered currency to Portlanders, in the same way “ideas” are currency to San Franciscans) or ironically play video poker. If you want to do anything but get blotto once the sun sets, you’ll be shit out of luck. Plan accordingly.
Purchase Cutesy Shit
Portland is essentially an Etsy store people live inside of. Embrace the twee and buy your estranged spouse the bacon-scented candle and mustache-shaped wine opener you know will repair your damaged relationship.
Pretend to Enjoy Bitter Beer
Portlanders love craft beers—the darker, the better. Part of being a craft beer connoisseur is convincing yourself that the more bitter a beer, the better it is. You may wonder why your face contorts into a pained grimace every time you take a sip of that local IPA. Ignore those logical feelings and prepare your body for one of the worst hangovers it will ever experience.
NOTE: If you feel like consuming a beverage that won’t make you build character, a mere $3 can net you a tall boy of shitty American macrobrew. Tell your friends it’s an ironic choice, all the while knowing in your heart of hearts you’re drinking it because you want to consume something that doesn’t taste like coffee grinds.
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Three Gothic Tales from Austin, Texas
by Amie and Clancy Martin
The Hotel San Jose
“I’ve stayed in this hotel at least 15 times. Trust me, you’ll love it.”
Clancy had shown me the video tour of our suite at the San Jose Hotel. It looked like The Hermosa in Scottsdale (except at The Hermosa, each guest has her own adobe casita). It looked like the Altis Belem in Lisbon (except the oceanfront Altis Belem is fancier and I prefer the San Jose’s APC.-style simplicity). It looked like Philip Stark’s hotel in Hong Kong, except the suites there are bigger, cleaner, and more stylish, with individual touches, like a beaded rocking chair from Africa, and the Stark boutique hotel has free breakfast, free snacks downstairs all day, and cocktails and cake in the afternoon.
When we checked in the staff was strangely surly. They acted like clerks used to act at cool record stores in the 90s.
“That’s the only problem with this place,” Clancy apologized. “They’ve always acted like that. But otherwise it’s great.”
We were in the largest suite but they couldn’t check us in for several hours. “Check-in,” they said, “is at three.” Apparently there is a great demand in Austin, Texas for $700-a-night suites. All four had been booked the previous night, according to the clerk in a newsboy hat, and none had been cleaned. He offered to hold our bags.
Things went from inauspicious to bad. It may come as a surprise, but when I get angry I go crazy. We were finally checked into our room at around five. That night, Clancy and I had the worst fight we’ve ever had. I broke the bottle of “Rainwater” that was provided free of charge. I shouted.
Two bearded, hipster security guards arrived. These two young men in black were in over their heads. Not knowing how to handle noise complaints (one said there had been four, and one said there had been six), they seemed to have come to our door thinking, “What would the officers on Cops do?” One had a Maglite. I sensed they were frustrated they couldn’t arrest me. I felt like they wanted to award Clancy, who gets quiet and—in his own words—exaggeratedly polite when he is angry, a Man of the Year Award.
The next morning a hotel manager called the room. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
Clancy said that was fine, but that she would have to credit us for the second night’s stay. She said, “No, I won’t be able to do that.” He was firm. They met in the courtyard, next to a tiny black-slate wading pool and the little boutique where the Hotel San Jose sells Toms shoes and $25 neon-green flip-flops.
“I’ve had complaints. You’re going to have to leave,” she said.
Clancy said, “That’s the business you’re in. I’m sure we’re not the first couple to have a fight in this hotel. Are you married?”
She shook her head.
“Well, one day you will be, and then you’ll understand that married couples fight, and you can’t decide when and where you’re going to have a fight with your spouse.”
He returned to the room. “We’re staying.”
Things went from bad to worse. The entire staff had been gossiping about us. That was understandable, but the strange thing was that they wanted us to know it. No one would look us in the eye, except to express contempt.
“This is fun,” Clancy said. “I feel like the unpopular kid in high school again.”
The next morning we sat at Joe’s, the pleasant coffee shop owned by the hotel, located on the other side of the parking lot. We debated about whether or not we should write this review.
What can I say? It’s a boutique hotel, like any other. We behaved badly. But there’s a reason The Four Seasons, The Rosewood, The Mandarin, and my little places such as the ones mentioned at the opening send their future managers to The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. While there, future managers work for a year, starting in housekeeping, or as busboys. It is because for a hotel to be good—let alone great—only one thing is required: courtesy.