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.
Photo by Esteban Contreras
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 of 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.
Photo by Ryan Joy
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 mustache 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; it'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.
Photo by Maxine Sheppard
It's Way Too Hot
Seriously. April and October are generally pretty nice in Austin, but every other month is either abrasively cold or stupid hot. You swim through the humidity here. It will utterly destroy your ass the second you walk outside. It gets so hot it will actually stop you from going to shows.
Back in 2012 we broke a record with more than 69 days with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher. That's 69 days. So before you move here, you should probably be aware that any city getting that kind of heat is inherently unholy.
Photo by Gina Pina
Nobody Has a Clue What His or Her Job Is
When ye build a city on the promise of employing every vague Comm-degree'd asshole in America, ye will reap what ye sow.
"So what do you do?"
"Oh, you know, marketing stuff."
"What kind of marketing stuff?"
"I'm a digital marketer."
"It's just marketing stuff."
I was recently rejected for a job in Austin that forced me to write a haiku about my feelings in regard to the application process. That's what we've done in Austin: We've traded our marketable skills for haikus. When you move here you separate yourself from any childhood aspirations and settle down with a job that you're still not sure actually exists.
Photo by Flickr user Kirkh
Traffic Is Way Too Bad for a Town This Small
I don't even leave the house during rush hour. It's not worth it. Austin is a small town that's grown way, way faster than its infrastructure allows.
The whole city is networked by dinky two-laners, which means it takes fucking forever to get anywhere, and "anywhere" always has terrible parking. The dream is that Austin eschews the big-city problems that makes life miserable on the coasts, but in Central Texas, you'll still be spending way too much time sitting in traffic.
Everyone Hates the Festivals That Pay Their Rent
Hell hath no fury like a bunch of Austin transplants bitching about South by Southwest. These days their ire is focused more on the F1 races and, more recently, the X Games. It feels like anything cool or interesting happening in Austin is immediately met with local animosity, because fuck anyone excited about your city if it makes the JuiceLand line longer.
But the thing those people fail to understand is that the only reason they're employed, the only reason they even enjoy living in Austin, is because of those larger corporate interests. If this were Austin in the 80s, before all the development, you wouldn't have your condo, you wouldn't have your job, and you certainly wouldn't have all your favorite restaurants. The whole anti-corporation thing is a lie. You will thank those SXSW sponsors for making your life comfortable, and you will like it.
Photo by Jennifer Holcombe
Barton Springs Is a Giant Toilet
People in Austin love going to Barton Springs. It's the most iconic spot in the whole city. It's just a swimming hole, but it's treated like Mecca by the people who live here. It's frigid, communal, charming, and when you don't have a beach, you do the best you can, right?
Of course, if you swim in Barton Springs you might go blind if you open your eyes underwater. Why? Well, because of all the "fertilizer, leaked motor oil, metals, and other pollution" that is currently contaminating the water. Man, there's nothing better than waking up to a nice swim and the sweet tingling of pink eye in the morning!
Photo by Sean Savage
You're Still In Texas
You may be living in Austin, but you still can't buy liquor on Sundays, marry someone of the same sex, or legally smoke marijuana. In fact, Texas drug laws are some of harshest in the country. I know a band whose old drummer is currently spending multiple years in prison for growing and distributing weed.
People think when you move to Austin you're somehow not moving to a deeply conservative state. This is still Texas, and unless you're ready to deal with that, move to Minneapolis or something.
Everyone Is Scared to Move to a Real City
Everyone in Austin under the age of 25 is sort of plotting a move to New York. They will not move, though, because they are scared. Living in a city where things are actually expected of you is hard. It's much easier to blame your professional and personal failings on the lack of inertia in Austin.
It's just so much nicer to hunker down in an inclusive local scene than trying to reach your potential as a human. Austin is like the safety school of life.
A typical night at Emo's. Photo by Flickr user SlipAustin
Do you like your favorite band turned into a sweaty brown-out via bad mixing and a terrible, decrepit PA? Do you like peeing in a metallic trough? Do you like ugly dark-red light? Then you would've loved going to shows at the now defunct Emo's! This awful little club had some of the best shows in the whole city, which means you were at risk of catching hepatitis every weekend. Emo's lives on at Emo's East, a much larger, nicer, air-conditioned venue that totally annihilates the old space in every way imaginable.
Austinites being Austinites, they found a way to bitch about it. "It's just not as authentic man!" Apparently there's nothing more authentic than a frustrating night out. Emo's sucked so bad that there was an Austin band in the 90s called the Fuckemos.
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