SXSW

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Fri Jan 9 17:25:05 PST 2004


RT sez:

> James Tauber:
> >I'm .. wondering if any FoRKers had attended an SXSW before and would
> >recommend it ..
>
> Oh, damn, it's coming again.  Even the humblest
> Texmex place will be full of Califonians and
> artistes. Traffic will be worse, downtown
> parking impossible. Nerds will think they're
> cool because they can talk about music and
> film. Musicians will think they're on the track,
> because nerds are throwing money at them.

 From the ASK DOCTOR DIABLO Department...

--

Then there's SXSW Interactive...

Legions of unemployed shameless self-promoting geek-wannabes will burn 
up the phone lines calling their SXSW organizer friends to try to get a 
spot on the panel that discusses how "social software" is going to 
transform society as we know it;  how privacy, security, and p2p 
financial transactions are going to dispense with centralized gov't;  
how bubble economics really did represent a paradigm shift and how  
it's here to stay next time around;  and how mumble-foo convergence is 
yada yada yada.

People will lie, cheat, steal, and forge passes to get into parties 
filled mostly with other wannabes who have lied, cheated, stolen, and 
forged passes to get into said party.  All these people will stand 
around breathlessly telling each other how cool it all is, and yes, how 
cool they are for being part of such a cool thing.  Company HR reps and 
hiring managers will knock each other down to get in line to try to woo 
black turtleneck-clad hipsters with Buddy Holly glasses who speak 
animatedly about "architectures," "paradigms," "methodologies," 
"Metcalfe's Law," and "disruptive technology" while sipping $15 
Appletinis.  (Said HR reps will sadly be firing said hipsters 6 months 
from now when they discover that said hipsters spend most of their time 
at work on ICQ chatting animatedly about "architectures," "paradigms," 
"methodologies," "Metcalfe's Law," and "disruptive technology" with HR 
reps and hiring managers from other companies.)

Chiropractors will do break-out business on out-of-town cervical spines 
strained by rubber-necking while hoping to catch a glimpse of the 
uber-cool Sandra Bullock, who despite repeated sightings is probably 
actually in the Greek islands for the duration.  Spare 
psuedo-celebrities will make the rounds and will narrowly avoid having 
their self-images crushed;  organizers and promoters will devote their 
loving attentions to said psuedo-celebrities, averting this 
celebri-saster.

Scads of new words like "celebri-saster" will be coined that seem 
really cool and funny until sometime in April, when everybody involved 
realizes how stupid they sound.

Enough bad business and entrepreneurial advice to fill the Library of 
Congress will be exchanged by people who wouldn't know Subchapter S 
from Chapter 11.  The word "strategy" will barely edge out "synergy" as 
the most overused word of the conference.

Retail store clerks with no tech, management, or entrepreneurial 
expertise will briefly consider resurrecting that killer circa-2000 
business plan.  What was that?  Oh yeah, "shop by color."  Sure.

Countless faux-VCs and their MBA minions will hunt.  They will prowl 
the crowd like psychic vampires with their pet Renfields, haunting the 
club, the coffee shop, the alley way, ever looking for naive 
"entrepreneur" victims from whom they can suck all time, energy, 
optimism, vision, and ultimately life force.  (The *real* VCs of course 
will just calmly go about their business as usual, making deals happen 
and getting things done despite the noise;  ever the consummate 
professionals.)

Vendors will get together for large plushie Barney-esque love-ins where 
they assure each other that their businesses are on the verge of being 
the Next Big Thing *if only* they partner in such-and-such a way.  
Vendors will hawk their wares to the deaf ears of all the unemployed 
hipsters, who in turn will pitch their expertise and services to the 
bewildered sales guys;  despite this total messaging disconnect, both 
the hipsters and the sales guys will come away feeling --- behind the 
throbbing hangover headaches --- like something was accomplished.  The 
town will run out of Excedrin Migraine Relief.

Halcyon nee Ruta Maya will set records for most coffee sold in a 2 week 
period ever, globally, anywhere, any time.  Caffeine-crazed hordes will 
flood the warehouse district 24x7 for days on end, tripping the cup 
fantastic.  Naive newbies hopped up on hooch, java, hype, and Java --- 
straight males attending their first SXSW --- will inevitably end up 
after hours at Oil Can Harry's and fail to notice the gender mix.  The 
next morning in a caffeine-and-alcohol-deficit haze these folks will 
wake up in the alley between 4th and 3rd with an unusual pain in the 
posterior region.

Strange rites will be performed on the crystalline rooftop of our new, 
bizarre, grotesque, Ghostbuster-eque skyscraper.  The Gatekeeper and 
the Keymaster will bump uglies in the cool night air.  Gozer will be 
summoned.

Iron Cactus will temporarily become the number one consumption point 
for global tequila production.  The most expensive jail in America (per 
square foot) will be filled to overflowing with drunk revelers unlucky 
enough to think taking a whiz out behind Jazz is a good idea.  Many of 
these out of town revelers will be impressed at how *nice* the jail is.

State senators and representatives - devout, upstanding, New Republican 
Baptists from places like Freedonia, Loop, Idalou, Progress, Lufkin, 
and so on --- will have discrete but sweaty or slobbery anonymous 
encounters with chaps-wearing out-of-town Village-People-Biker-Cop-Guy 
studs in the bathroom stalls of places like The Chain Drive.

The escort population of Austin will swell as "touring" pros (two weeks 
only!) flock in from Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston...  even 
Lubbock, New Orleans, Albuquerque.  The median price of an hour of 
escort time --- the only true measure of value anyway, of course, we 
should adopt this as the new gold standard --- will rise by 150%.  
Sufficient fortunes will be made to enable a few thousand white trash 
skank hos to move on out of the trailer park back home.  Ironically, 
the local titty bar business will be mostly unaffected, as none of them 
are near enough to the magic 100 square blocks to catch any of the 
increased traffic.

The quality of street drugs will decline as product is repeatedly 
stepped on.  Who cares about quality when the business isn't repeat 
business anyway?  Smart but sleezy runners will pass off pulverized 
urinal cake as meth.  Hospital emergency rooms will be busy.

Huge piles of money and ganja will be burned.  Accidents will happen;  
rivers of alcohol will flow;  fights will break out;  and countless 
don't-ask-don't-tell extracurricular sexual liaisons will be had.  The 
"professional hipster-goth" look will make its temporary annual 
comeback.  Open season will be declared on hot marketing hipster babes. 
  Said marketing babes will drink enough to temporarily forget that they 
got the memo that geek cool wasn't cool anymore.  Geeks will get laid.  
Hotel halls will echo the refrain:  "You want to put it where?  Well, 
I've never done that before, but... I guess that's okay..."  In the 
mornings some of the hot marketing babes will actually turn out to be 
pudgy, pimply local admin gold-diggers.  A condom shortage will occur;  
2nd Chance birth control sales will spike.  Local Pro-Med docs will 
have a spate of hypochondriacs seeking treatment for the "scorching 
case of...  hair follicles" they picked up along the way.

The smell of booze, sex, sweat, urine, coffee breath, and cigarette 
smoke will envelope Central Austin like San Francisco fog in August.

The Annual Police-Instigated Riot might choose to make its appearance.  
Probably not, though --- the cops usually reserve that for the townies 
at some other time.

For a brief moment, a shimmering veil of illusion will fall over 
downtown:  the ghost of 1999, it's the bubble baby, DOT-COOL, woo-hoo, 
we ride again!  The homeless and unemployed --- who a mere 3 years ago 
were Webmasters and Webmistresses, sysadmins, IT ops guys, tech 
support, and programmers (not to mention sales studs, road warriors, 
biz dev gurus, graphic designers, and marketing, marketing, marketing) 
at such hot companies as mall.com, Exodus, and so on --- will haunt 
shadowy side-streets like cantankerous Jakob Marleys, ghosts of SXSWs 
past.

Our almost-mayor Leslie the Transvestite will freak out as many people 
as he amuses with his 
Philene's-Basement-Bosnian-Refugee-La-Cage-Cirque-Du-Nightmare duds and 
his Hakim Bey-esque ranterish psychobabble.  Next year's Paris and New 
York fashion shows will scarily echo the garbage-bin designs Leslie 
sports this year.  Pink boas will be a constant theme in said trends.  
John Kelso will try to seem clever by working the word "bubbasexual" 
into as many conversations as he can, a word which IN FACT I coined 
some time ago.

A forest will be felled to print all the extra copies of the Austin 
Chronicle that will be snapped up by revelers seeking to read about all 
the cool music acts at all the clubs that they won't get into.  Global 
O2-to-CO2 ratios will decline ever-so-slightly, leading to a slight 
increase in the warming trend - and accelerated by all the hot air 
produced by the gum-flapping SXSWers.  10,000 penguins will perish in 
the subsequent collapse of another ice shelf on the coast of Antarctica 
in 2005.

The number of "Keep Austin Weird" T-shirts sold at Shady Grove will top 
the 2 million mark.  Ironically, the people purchasing them are the 
very people that, well, won't.

Downtown will continue to die a slow, barely-perceptible death of a 
thousand paper cuts;  the murder weapons:  out of town dollar bills.  
Locally owned-and-operated businesses ("what a 20th-century idea!") 
will continue to be displaced by such hip and urgently necessary 
culture-outlets as Hard Rock Cafe, P.F. Changs, and the like, seeking 
to get a piece of that sweet Austin pie.  Eventually downtown will be 
an open-air mall, perfect and plastic and shiny and utterly lifeless, 
populated by perfect and plastic and shiny and utterly lifeless 
thirtysomething dinks and breeders on an evening's hiatus from dinkhood 
or (respectively) tending the rugrats, thank you 
Suzy-The-Women's-Studies-Major-Cum-Babysitter.  This is all good for 
the economy.

The Austin high-society in-crowd will gather in more discrete places to 
drink expensive wine at outrageous markups and congratulate themselves 
on how cool Austin is and how smart they are for moving here from the 
Bay Area or Boston X years ago.  Everyone will feel *really, really 
good.*  Journalists for countless magazines will be impressed by the 
"quality of life" in Austin, and will perpetuate the destruction of 
that very quality of life by writing articles that talk about how good 
the quality of life is in Austin thus encouraging refugees from places 
where the quality of life isn't as good to flock here.  10 years from 
now these immigrants will be puzzled by the sudden recognition that 
their newly adopted hometown and its people look just like the place 
and people they moved here to escape.

The skies will burn pink over downtown at midnight like some ghostly 
premonition of an atomic blast.

Then, like an Indian summer, it will be over.  Again.  Until next time. 
  Silence will descend over downtown until, warily at first but with 
increasing confidence over the following weeks, its usual denizens 
creep back out to suck down a brew at Joe's Generic, play a game of 
pool at Casino El Camino, or catch Six on NTN at the Chili Parlour 
while eating a bowl of Bill's Red.

Later this year, the bluebonnets will bloom on Mopac.

> Maybe I can arrange to be out of town...

Myself, I much prefer when the bikers come to town.

Peace, love, and evil smileys!

;-)

dd



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