When we pulled into south Austin, I was reminded that the line between parody and reality is sometimes very, very hard to see. The Central Casting hipsters were out brunching in droves, there was an entire parking lot full of food trucks and I was about to check into a bed-and-breakfast that featured organic mattresses and in-room organic, fair-trade, estate-grown coffee. (Have I mentioned the chicken coop in the yard, next to the Buddhist prayer flags?)
And it was all pretty wonderful. From the couple of days in nearby Bastrop to see our friends Bill and Scott, to a trip to Lockhart to hit the Black’s-Smitty’s-Kreuz barbecue trifecta (overrated but still enjoyable), to a great show from Junior Brown at the Continental Club (where James McMurty was among the 50 or so people in the audience), to a walk down 6th Street in the daytime when things weren’t nuts, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in Austin and central Texas. She bought a pair of cowboy boots that cost more than our TV and I gawked at some of the California McMansions being tossed up in the Hill Country, and we mulled the possibility of whether we could live here at some point.
I’ve been to Austin before, but only on business and only on a drive-by basis. It isn’t like the rest of Texas, but the rest of Texas isn’t like the rest of Texas either, and that’s the point. There are many concurrent Texas-es, and some of them creep out people from the urban East in particular, but the fact that they all manage to coexist is a high compliment. In fact, it’s more than a compliment — it’s a lesson that a lot of people really need to learn in this divided era. And I look forward to my next visit.