I like Texas! If you didn't know, I was just in Texas from March 14th to the 19th.
Texas reminded me of The United States in the late 80' and early 90's: people still get married early, dial up Internet is just starting to roll out (exception would be in Austin), and men still work very manly jobs that require either large trucks, oil rigs, or cattle.
The People: Texans are a funny bunch. When you first meet them they come across as being either slow or mentally r'tarded, but in reality they just have to warm up to you. Once they get comfortable with you they never shut the hell up. If a Texan starts up a conversation with you and you have a plane to catch, just call up the airline and cancel it.
Texans LOVE talking about politics, especially gun control and civil liberties. When I told them that I was one of the few "New York libertarian's", they got really excited. I was constantly reminded about our Gestapo Mayor in NYC, King Bloomberg, and how he is trying to ban large soda's among other things.
Texans get a kick out of New Yorkers. Once they got their point across regarding politics, they would ask me a million questions about New York City and how we live. They seemed excited that we actually took the time to travel to Texas for vacation.
Texans have a good sense of humor. I came with two of my friends from my first book, "Mr. Pleasure and Erico", and we had the Texans cracking up with some of our typical New York banter. I could probably start a comedy show and travel across Texas making a lot of money.
Overall I really like Texans. They are FIERCELY independent and self-sufficient, but let's not go overboard, Texas has RULES. Ton's of stupid Rules, and definitely a lot more than we have in New York City.
In Texas you cant:
They are also pushy on other stupid rules like jaywalking, they drive HORRIBLE, and they change the speed limit every 100 yards to pull you over for speeding.
They also tried to arrest my friend for vomiting outside on a beach deck. I looked at the officer and started laughing, I said "Officer, we are on vacation, its 1:30am, we are on the beach, and he vomited on a wooden beach deck!". The officer laughed and let me carry him out, but I couldn't believe they cared about that. In NYC if you vomit the bar starts cheering, and we hand you a glass of water. You are supposed to get drunk in a bar! Why else do you go there?
The 2am rule is the worst. They throw an entire niteclub out onto the street at 2am, and since everyone is just getting started, the people go crazy. People start throwing punches, jumping on cars, and running into the middle of the street.
In NYC bars, people start to slowly stumble out between 2 and 4am, making it a peaceful exit instead of a mad bumrush.
It's not only bad that they have a 2am closing time, but they are also strict about it. In NYC you can ALWAYS get a beer after 4am. If the bar is still going strong they will stretch it and give you some extra time.
Texas doesn't stretch. They take their own bullshit way too serious, in Brooklyn you can buy beer from a grocery at 8am on Christmas morning.
San Antonio: San Antonio was our first stop. I liked it, but I couldn't live there. San Antonio's downtown area is really small. It reminded me of downtown Phoenix, a nice place to watch a basketball game and have a beer, but after that everyone goes back to the suburbs where it is nicer.
There are only 2 good spots in San Antonio that I found:
The Riverwalk was pretty much where all of the action was. The Riverwalk is a cool 20 foot wide river that snakes through the bottom of downtown San Antonio. There is a walking path that you can take, and that leads you to several different bars and restaurants. It almost reminded me of Epcot center in Disney World.
The Riverwalk was definitely cool, but I think that I would get bored quickly of the same couple bars if I lived there. The only bar I really remember standing out was an Irish bar called Waxy O'Connors http://waxyoconnors.com/">http://waxyoconnors.com/
Nice weather in San Antonio, but not enough going on for me to live there.
Brownville/South Padre: The next day we drove about 5 hours through the desert to South Padre. There was nothing to see on the ride except dust, and some cattle ranches. We stopped into Brownsville to have probably the best Mexican food I ever had, and then we drove on to South Padre.
You know you are getting close to South Padre when you see this really long bridge. It connects the mainland to the inlet, and it was packed with cars. We didn't see any cars for hours until we got stuck in horrible traffic on the bridge.
South Padre reminded me of Ocean City, Maryland. Its a long narrow beach with some hotels and the occasional nightclub, with teenagers walking around trying to stock up on beer. We stayed at the "Hilton Garden Inn", which is down a little bit from the big action, but it's near "Clayton's" which was probably the second most crowded bar. http://claytonsbeachbar.com/">http://claytonsbeachbar.com/ We spent the first afternoon AND the first night at Clayton's. Cool outside bar with a huge deck, highly recommended.
The second night we went to Louie's Backyard, which was very young, but PACKED. I imagine this place must be really insane in the summer. http://www.louiesbackyard.com/">http://www.louiesbackyard.com/
Overall, South Padre was really cool. Most of the hotels had some parties going on at their pools during the day, and I would highly recommend a trip if you don't live to far away. The only pain in the ass is that the closest airport is Brownsville, and then you have to drive in from there or take a slow bus. Overall, I would definitely revisit South Padre.
Austin: Our last stop was in Austin, TX. My friend Mr. Pleasure had been to Austin before and hated it, but I was dieing to see what all the hype was about. We passed by San Antonio driving up, and after passing it we immediately noticed more signs of city life. We started to see grass on the side roads instead of dirt, and we passed a HUGE outlet mall about half an hour from Austin.
I was always worried that Austin was going to be a gigantic hipster fest like what we have now in Brooklyn, and when I first arrived I started to panic. The first ten people I saw on the street were full blooded hipsters with long beards and tight plaid shorts. "Oh shitttttt!" We all collectively sighed in the car at the same time.
We booked at room at the Hyatt, which was actually really impressive. It's a huge hotel that contains a couple nice bars and restaurants, and it is walking distance to the action. We checked into the hotel and went to go for a walk on 6th street which is supposed to be the hot spot, and immediately we were in shock!
Right at the start of 6th street there was some sort of homeless shelter/methadone clinic, and it had about 40-50 vagrants sleeping outside on the sidewalk. It reminded me of something out of Skid Row in Los Angeles. We quickly made a turn up the block to avoid the nonsense, but unfortunately a lot of the characters were walking up and down the block. They were also the aggressive homeless type, and I was asked for money about 6 times in 2 blocks. 6th street looked really cool, with a ton of interesting bars and live music, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the crack heads walking around looking dangerous.
So after only ten minutes in Austin I was NOT impressed. We went to have a drink at this bar called "Bikini's Sports Bar", where all the waitresses wear Bikini's http://www.bikinissportsbarandgrill.com/">http://www.bikinissportsbarandgrill.com/, and AGAIN we had a problem with some homeless people. We were all watching the Miami/Boston game, when a dirty homeless guy reached inside the bars' open window, and started eating all of the condiments off a table with his dirty hands. It was completely disgusting, and now I was quickly starting to hate Austin.
Two of the guys ended up going back to the hotel, but I stayed out with another guy to drive around and get a better look. We drove away from 6th street, and that's when then we started to get impressed. Austin has all different types of neighborhoods, they have a business district, the state capital building, a University section, and the city is also very hilly. After driving around we were REALLY impressed by everything EXCEPT the seedy parts of 6th street. We were on 6th street on a Monday, so I assumed that there was probably more of a police presence on the weekend.
Overall, I ended up being very impressed with Austin. It has different neighborhoods which I like, a ton of bars, and a million people between ages 18 and 40. The weather was perfect, and all the people seemed very chill. It reminded me of a San Francisco in the 1960's or Seattle in the 90's. It is definitely the "hot spot" at the moment, and a town you really can't get bored in. The music scene looked awesome, and we passed at least 5-10 bars that had bands playing loudly on a Monday night.
The main problem for me with Austin is that it is definitely a hipster town, I would even call it the "Mardi Gras" of hipster neighborhoods. We have that same scene in Brooklyn, and after a while I would go crazy with all the beards and ugly tattoo's. On our last day we went into the Starbucks inside the Hyatt, and they didn't offer customers any "Whole"milk. The lady actually gave us a dirty look when we asked for it, and another women told us that Austin recently 'banned" plastic bags.
That's a little too much government overkill for me, and it is just what I am trying to avoid coming from NYC. But overall I think it's absolutely a cool town that deserves a visit, and if you are into hipster culture this will be your paradise.
Don't mess with Texas
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Texas, but why associate something negative with being gay?
This got me thinking about differences in politics again. Everyone has the same goal but goes about it in radically different ways. Some people believe that the human is free and self motivated while some others believe the human is malleable and needs strict controls. Personally despite leaning towards the free and self motivated camp as well I think the truth may lie somewhere in the middle.
We are a mix of will and biology - we can both exert our wills to do the impossible while at the same time being susceptible to the forces of biology/psychology/evolution etc... Finding the delicate balance between both may be our ticket out of polarized political hell!
haha I totally understand the whole hispter thing. just came back from a trip to SF and Portland, OR and its weird: the hispter districts usually end up having the more affordable, yet still safe living, good food, bakeries, and cafes and some good bars with large beer variety, but at the same time the crowd can get snobbish, and the tattoos, ridiculous piercing, weird hair styles really start to annoy me and its like man just chill out. But overall I love what "hipsters" have contributed lately: High quality, coffee, beer, food, clothes, and all sorts of other things. if you liked Austin definitely go check out Portland I really liked it. As for the weird bar rules, almost every state but NYC and I think parts of Cali enforce stupid shit like 2 am closing. When I loved in boston it drove me nuts. Its so surreal coming back from Spain where people eat at like 10+ and go out drinking at 1 am+ only to find out bars be closing around that time in most of the U.S.
I always want to write about a "typical" day here in Austin, but it seems like no day is actually normal enough for me to write about, so it ends up not happening. So, since I have a few minutes in my RV before it's time to head to late night dinner, I'll just write about today. I always wonder what people do with their days, so maybe my regular day will be interesting to you.
((Note: I'm aware that this is a bit like those rambly livejournal entries that no one actually ever wants to read. ))
I woke up at around 10am, which is pretty early for me. The sun comes in through the RV window at just the right angle to hit me in the face at 9:45. This happens every morning. Sometimes I wake up then and sometimes I roll over and sleep until 11am when it finally gets too hot to keep sleeping.
Texas Parkour held their National Jam in San Antonio this year, Friday July 25th through Sunday the 27th. Over 75 people showed up throughout the weekend, coming in from all over Texas and the rest of the country. San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and Dallas all had a strong presence, and traceurs flew or drove in from Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Maryland and Michigan.
People started arriving Friday morning, and kept streaming in throughout the day. Jereme Sander's house was used as a staging ground for everyone, who stayed entertained while waiting for people with Jereme's trampoline and Zachary Cohn's slackline (although most of the adventure was in putting up the slackline. Knots are a very important thing to remember how to tie!). By 7pm, everyone had shown up (save KC Parsons, from Michigan, who earned the nickname “Chicago” after everyone kept thinking he was from Chicago), and we left for University of Texas: San Antonio campus for some night conditioning.
The focus here was not so much Parkour, but showing everyone how hard you could, and should, train. A lot of people who train Parkour either don't condition, or don't really know how. This is unfortunate, because conditioning your body for Parkour is so important – how we consider ourselves athletes but do nothing except for skillwork. Football, soccer, and lacrosse players all do non-skill conditioning work... what makes Traceurs any different? This “conditioning” night session was intended to teach people about conditioning and show them how they can be creative with their environment and still train hard.
We started off with a warmup, which transitioned into a workout. There was running (forwards, backwards, sideways), Quadrupedal movement (forwards, backwards, sideways), “PK Gen Style” push-ups (see: Philly Jam video for examples), hopping, and jumping. We moved onto balancing on some rails, both bipedally (standing and in a duck-walk position), quadrupedally, keeping track of your falls. For each time you fell, at the end you did 10 pushups or squats. Traversal practice was next, from a cat hang position people would shimmy across a wall, which would angle downwards (or upwards depending which side you were on), at about a 45 degree angle.
Eventually, we traveled to a large set of stairs, broken into two 14 step sections divided by a landing. Jereme showed everyone a workout he borrowed from Forrest of Parkour Generations. Everyone starts at the bottom of the steps in a squat position, and then using only your feet and hands (so you remain in a squat position in the air), jump up a step when the leader calls out “Up one!” If the leader calls out “Up two!” then go up two steps. However, sometimes you'll hear “Down one!” or “Down two!” and you have to jump backwards some steps. After this, more stair work. Hopping up all the stairs, one step at a time, with one foot, and then doing pushup hops down (hands on the top step, do a pushup, and when you are exploding up, your entire body hops forward a bit and your hands land on the next step down). Hop up the steps again with your other leg, and then QM down. Instead of resting while everyone else finished, once you completed everything you would just run up and down the steps, with more and more people joining as they completed the stair workout. This was wrapping up the night, and everyone circled up for a group cool down stretch. After about 30 minutes of stretching, people hung around for a bit, jammed, had fun, and then we headed back to Jereme's house around midnight for sleep.