Monday, March 21, 2011

Shame on You

Well another SXSW has come and gone faster than you can say, "badges only." After much reflection on this year's events, I'm left perplexed. I am beginning to think that maybe SXSW has outgrown Austin. Why you ask? Because I've seen more bad behavior this year than any other. It's embarrassing to see grown adults behave so poorly. Let's discuss some of these events.

Last Saturday, my dear friend Kenneth ventured east of downtown to meet some people. His outing was completely unrelated to SXSW, just a usual Saturday night. Before reaching his destination, he decided to grab a bite to eat from the #19 Bus(the big red double decker) located on the corner of 6Th and San Marcos in the East Side Drive-In. He noticed a lot of commotion going on behind the window yet proceeded to order a hamburger. The very rude woman at the window was a bit snippy with him. Kenneth noticed they were out of hamburger buns and in substitution decided to use flattened cheese steak rolls instead. He inquired about the buns in anticipation of ordering a different item. At this time, the woman would not even address Kenneth directly. He then overheard her snarl, "That out of towner doesn't want a burger!" This was a slap in the face for someone who's lived in Austin since the Clinton Administration and regularly supports local businesses. I'm sure the proprietors were probably overwhelmed and frustrated with the crowd, but who talks to people like that? Obviously, they were short on ingredients and probably understaffed, yet it is no excuse to be rude to anyone (local or tourist)! What kind of message does that send to visitors?

And where does this "locals only" attitude I've seen lately come from? What is this BLUE CRUSH? I have personally lived in Austin for twelve years now. the first year I attended SXSW I was a visitor. I absolutely fell in love with the city because of it's laid back vibe. I felt comfortable being myself and I especially enjoyed all the friendly faces I met. I still feel that way for the most part. Austin has inspired me to be a more creative, open minded, and compassionate person. True born & bred Austinites are as rare as that damn white squirrel on UT campus. So let's remember that we were all "out of towners" at one point or another.

SXSW may be inconvenient for some people, but it is easily avoidable. It's not some new event that just started. This has been going on for twenty-five years which is a lot longer than #19 Bus has been around. Bars and restaurants should know by now what to expect during SXSW. I myself realize that many places increase the price of food & drinks, but it's a small sacrifice for all the cool shows we get to see throughout the week. Most establishments are welcoming and pleased with the influx of visitors because it boosts business. SXSW is like Black Friday for most places in the downtown area. Businesses often make more money during one week of SXSW than all year! It is the bread and butter of Austin's economy and we need to be respectful of the people kindly spending their money here. I'm not saying every visitor is a perfect angel or great tipper, but let's try to be a little more hospitable. If I wanted to live among pretentious jerks I'd move to New York!

Our friend Bonnie also relayed a story to us about rude behavior at Swan Dive/Barbarella during SXSW. She arrived early at the venue for a showcase that was being sponsored by Sailor Jerry's rum. Several bottles of rum sat on the bar while the bartender prepared to setup. She noticed a patron swipe a bottle and immediately informed the bartender of the shenanigans. The bartender just scoffed at Bonnie then walked away. This was not her first run-in with said bartender. It used to be that you would only get bad attitudes at Star Seeds Cafe. However, it seems this apathetic disposition has infected the town.

Locals were not the only ones misbehaving this year. Let's talk about how Ben Weasel totally pulled a Mel Gibson. By now, most of you have seen the video of the events that took place at the Fat Wreck Showcase. It's horrific that he assaulted not one but two women in one night. What's more upsetting is that he picked a fight with someone who stood up to his antagonistic misogyny, something Screeching Weasel might have preached about 20yrs ago. Don't get me wrong, I remain an avid Screeching Weasel fan, but a fan of Ben Weasel I am not. I saw them a couple years ago at Emos for the big reunion and the performance was great, but it's no secret Ben Weasel is known for being an asshole. He is the patron saint of cynicism, but isn't that why we like his songs? At least liked his songs! I personally haven't been interested in anything since How To Make Enemies and Irritate People (no pun intended). So Ben Weasel spends an entire set dissing SXSW and "corporate stiffs," like no one has ever done that before. Seriously, if you don't want to play a "shameful excuse for a music event" then fucking don't, simple as that. Don't come to town complaining about only getting $250 & a "disgusting green room" as opposed to San Antonio who guaranteed you $25,000. You're lucky people still give a shit about Screeching Weasel! A man in his 40s with a wife and children has no business throwing a temper tantrum like that.

PS- Your half ass apology is not sufficient and the new album sucks ass.
UPDATE- Apparently, Screeching Weasel (the band) has up and quit on Ben Weasel (the jerk) as a result of his stupidity.

As soon as I heard about the Death From Above 1979 secret reunion show, I just knew shit was gonna hit the fan. There was no way Beauty Bar would be able to handle that madness, and of course a fucking riot of hipsters broke out. What's funny is that I do not remember that many people liking Death From Above while they were still around, as when they broke up. Their lifespan was very short lived with only one album released. I'm quit impartial to them, but I could care even less about MSTRKRFT which I suspect is the real reason for all the attention. My only interest in that show was to see hundreds of grown ass men weeping like the second coming, or some shit. I'm sure by Saturday most people were so delirious and drunk they hadn't considered the consequences of dismantling an entire fence. Yes, the cops WILL show up and fucking tazzer/mace your dumb ass! Was it worth it?

Initially, I had no real intention of attending SXSW this year because there really wasn't any artist I wanted to see until I heard OMD was playing. To be perfectly honest, OMD brings out the spell caster in me! I knew I wouldn't be able to catch them at Stubbs with Duran Duran so fortunately I found out about a free show at Mellow Johnny's. Good thing I missed the Stubbs set because a camera boom fell on the crowd crushing five people. A photographer continued to take pictures of the victims in a pool of blood on the ground until the fuzz forcibly removed him. Where is the humanity?

In all the years I have attended SXSW (going on 12yrs), I have never heard of anything like the events that took place this time around. How can these situations be averted? I just hope we as a community can take the next twelve months to reflect on our behavior and ensure that next year's event is much more pleasant.

Finally, I'd like everyone to consider what it would be like if Texas Relay Weekend was a week long event. Wrap your head around that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

So Long Old Friend

It's taken me a few weeks to talk about the atrocities that have been committed against me. The wounds are still fresh so bear with me.

Recently, I received a "Dear John" letter from T-Mobile letting me know that they were ending the relationship between me & my beloved Sidekick. Just like that, no discussion. Those of you who know me well, know my love for and dedication to the Sidekick. You also know how long I have used one. Aren't we all dependent on our phones? Anyhow, Danger (the company that hosts the Sidekick's data service) will discontinue the data service as of May 31st. The letter also stated that I need to back up my information because NOTHING WILL BE SAVED! The letter said I had the option to purchase a new Samsung phone (selected phones only) for up to half price. One can only imagine the outrage I was consumed with after reading this letter.

I know what most of you are thinking. Why not get an iphone? Well, let me tell you, I fucking hate iphones! I also hate AT&T. I cannot use anything that has a touchscreen. Also, I've heard of nothing but problems with iphones and AT&T. Just because Apple sent you a snazzy new case for you phone doesn't excuse the fact that no one could use the damn thing to make calls! A phone that cannot be used as phone is more ironic than a Chekhov play. Even now, I can tell when I'm conversing with someone who's on an iphone because it continues to cut out and I never hear the other person clearly. I could care less about that stupid face time crap.

Yes, I know the Sidekick is a dinosaur by other phone standards but it was MY lil' t-Rex. I love my Sidekick! It was the first phone with Internet capability. Sidekick and I really had a great run. Remember when we all used AIM? I love the keyboard; it has actually helped me type faster on a regular computer. I love the size of the screen and I love the data service. It may run slow here and there, but nowhere near as slow as an iphone loads during SXSW. Also, and this is the biggest feature: My data service was only $20 and included unlimited texting.

I immediately called T-Mobile to express my disdain once I heard of this travesty. Up until now, I never really had any problems with T-Mobile Customer Service. The customer service rep was not helpful at all, nor understanding. If I wanted to purchase another phone and set up a data plan with them, it would cost $30 more on top of my minutes plan. THEN if I wanted unlimited texts, it would be an additional $10 making it $40 total for what I already have at $20. When I pointed this out, the rep tried to explain it better in a roundabout way. Clearly, I am no fool! There's a huge difference between $40 and $20. She basically explained that new technology costs more. Call me technologically illiterate if you'd like but I don't give a shit how many Gs a network has or whatever fancy operating systems are out there. There is nothing this "new technology" can do for me that is worth $40. I don't play games on my phone or have a Facebook for that matter. All I really need it for is to occasionally check my twitter, look something up on IMDB, read the news, and find directions.

I'm mostly upset that I am being forced into paying more and getting less. I realize it will probably be like that with most phone companies, but why do we as consumers take it? Also, as a consumer I feel like I'm being taken advantage of. It just seems like a bigger opportunity for phone companies to raise prices. Remember when they used to charge for roaming? I know it sounds like I'm making a big deal about nothing (especially with a crisis in Japan), but there are few things in this world that I really cherish. My Sidekick is one of those little indulgences.

Now there is talk about this new 4G Android Sidekick coming out this spring (allegedly). T-Mobile refuses to give me a release date for it. Regardless, as of May 31st my trusted friend will cease to exist. What should I do? Should I wait for a new Kicker? Should I make the switch to another phone company? Should I try another phone? Should I start an aggressive hate campaign for T-Mobile? What would you do? Any advice or recommendations is appreciated dear readers!

Here is my criteria:

* Internet capability
* full keyboard (no Blackberry bullshit)
* full screen
* NO touch screen
* decent battery life (I hear these Droid phones die quickly)

Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

And Scene

Alas, The Oscars have come and gone. Now is our time to reflect. I won't even get into the poor choice of hosts (apparently Franco CAN'T do it all) or completely mundane acceptance speeches. Anyone else notice the resemblance between Kirk Douglas and Mason Verger in HANNIBAL? I will say congratulations to Mr. Firth, it was well deserved. In my own reflection, I began to wonder how the Academy chooses which scenes to show during the nominations. This then got me thinking about iconic scenes in film and my own personal favorites.

As a kid, some scenes that really stuck with me were the Prom scene in CARRIE, the scene with all the heads on the wall in RETURN TO OZ, and the bathroom scene with Joker & Pyle in FULL METAL JACKET (Advice of The Day: Probably shouldn't let your child watch FULL METAL JACKET before bed...or at all). These scenes have stayed with me forever and have become more vivid than some of my own memories. Most of us remember the first time we saw the shower scene in PSYCHO more than our first day of school. We remember the mirror scene in TAXI DRIVER better than our tenth birthday.

Film has always been a huge part of my life, even before I was aware of it. I'd like to share some of my favorite scenes. Here goes:

THE GOONIES- pirate ship scene
How many of us went hunting for buried treasure after seeing THE GOONIES? THE GOONIES is probably responsible for my infatuation with pirates, skulls, and Brolin. Just think about the first time you watched this film and remember the first time you laid eyes on the pirate ship. You may have been so wrapped up in the story that you forgot what they were searching for. Then out of nowhere, the biggest most glorious ship ever! The cast wasn't even allowed to see the ship until they filmed the scene so their reactions were all genuine. As an adult, that scene still makes me smile.
Goonies never say die.

I'm obsessed with spoilers; I generally do not like surprises. However, when BASTERDS was on the verge of release, I restrained myself. I waited patiently like a child on Christmas for this film. When I finally saw it, my mind was fucking blown! QT went and did it again; he's a true master of film! My favorite scene is the montage with Shosanna. From the beginning when she's staring out the window to the part where she prepares to meet the Nazis is just brilliant. I can't think of a more fitting song than Bowie's "Cat People." I've seen BASTERDS dozens of times since and I still get chills from that scene.

ALMOST FAMOUS- Penny Lane's dance
This film touched the hearts of anyone who considers themselves a music fan including myself. I first watched ALMOST FAMOUS in a hotel room while traveling which was very fitting. It's hard to put into words how I feel about this scene without crying. Watch it and make your own assumptions.

This film is definitely in my Top 10 Favorites list. It's the first film we really got to see a different side of Bill Murray. For several decades we knew him as a comic genius (like in CADDYSHACK the greatest film of all time). Then suddenly we see him as this forlorn shell of a man in the midst of a midlife crisis. We are left to wonder: Did we ever really know Murray? The scene in which he sings Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" just had me in tears. That was the moment I fell in love with Bill Murray all over again. The only thing that could rival it is the final scene; it's the best use of a Jesus & Mary Chain song.

AMADEUS- party scene
This was one of my favorite childhood films. I loved the music, costumes, and dialogue. And my mother loved it because it kept me occupied for almost three hours. It was really hard for me as a kid to comprehend the plot but I got the jist that Mozart was a little crazy. Looking back now, this is a stunning scene. It shows Mozart's raw talent as well as his absurdity and lack of constraint. The masks are also kind of scary.

Honorable Mention
OLD BOY- octopus scene
This is a hard one to sit through. It gives squeamish a new meaning.

It's intersting how most of my favorite scenes include music. It just goes to show that the montage is a very powerful thing. What are your favorite scenes?