SXSW is a gauntlet of booze, bands, and BBQ. When we first started going to it years ago, we were assigned mentors to help us avoid the typical rookie pitfalls. One of these Austin lodestars was Lyndon James Stockbauer, owner of the venerable East Austin watering hole and protogentrifier, the Longbranch Inn. Along with Chad Holt and Adam Reposa, Stockbauer is one of the most polarizing figures to have thrust himself upon the Austin scene in recent years, and he's still going strong as manager of Freedmen's Bar and BBQ, the new project from the owner of Cuatro's. Although he's busy and we don't need mentors anymore, Stockbauer still takes the time every year to email us his new SXSW survival tips. You'd do well to commit these to memory, ya greenhorn Yankee.
- Bring oragnic, hypoallergenic SPF 30 sunscreen. No PCBs. Your delicate northeastern skin deserves the very finest. A burnt face says "I'm a fool and/or live in a ditch," which makes getting laid next to impossible. After a day in the Texas rays unprotected, kissing will feel like smooching a blast furnace.
- Bring two rolls of backup toilet paper. Many a hopeless morning has been spent frantically searching trashed hotel rooms for something soft and flushable because some asshole had coke shits the night before.
- You will need three debit cards and three pairs of shades. You will lose the first card the first night. Don't worry about taking cash out; we pay our taxes in Texas, so every place takes cards. Same reasoning behind the sunglasses. Those Ray-Ban knockoffs will get lost quick, and, as mentioned in tip number one, the Texas sun is brutal.
- Texans can be xenophobic, so drink only domestic spirits to blend in. Forget gay Swedish vodkas and limp-wristed London gins. This is Texas, motherfucker—we make everything you need right here, from Waco hand-crafted bourbon to Treaty Oak moss-infused turpentine rums.
- Carry that "Made in Texas" mantra over to all other sundries. Austin trailer parks are awash with crystalline growth, and local closets are pushing 1000-watt glowing suns 24/7 for your hippie smokeables. Don't risk bringing the little Barbie doll sachette your Brooklyn dealer sold you for a BenHondo last night.
- Pack your own coffee beans. Austin cafes are notorious for switching your favorite Jamaican Blue 100 percent mountain blend with Folgers Red knowing full well your pallet is too numbed for any nuanced taste comparisons.
- Bring condoms, pregnancy tests, and morning-after pills. Some men will inevitably put babies into women this week; make sure you're not one of them. Nobody wants a SXSW baby.
- Twelve packs of lighters and underwear. Lighters make fine trading shells, and the tighty whiteys you wear at SXSW should be considered one-time-use disposables. There's no telling what's on those things.
- Last but not least: BRING YOUR SMILE! Why travel 3,800 miles roundtrip only to have a sullen, cynical look on your face that will send women running in full sprint? Soak up the splendor that is Austin, Texas.