SxSW Field Report, Day Ω: Texas Indoctrination

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Sorry for the weird nomenclature, with the omega and all. It’s just that we’re not in Austin yet, so things haven’t really started, but we’re also going around being kind of drunk and ridiculous, so they have also totally kind of started. And I don’t know Greek or anything, so you can see my dilemma here. If you can think of a better symbol, let me know, and I will take it under advisement.

EVERYONE ELSE WENT FOR ICE CREAM, AND I STAYED HERE WRITING

Because I love you and want to keep my promises to you. See? I am earning your trust as we speak.

I HAVE A NOTEBOOK; PLEASE ENJOY IT

A notebook that is awesome, and in which I will jot down my notes for each day’s field report so that I will have something to work with when I arrive home, all donked on melted Otter Pops and vodka. (I believe that is what the Chili’s was serving, anyway.)

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The marshmallow stickers smell like marshmallows, but the pizza ones smell like pizza, so it is basically a wash.

Anyway, this is not some ironic hipster affection, using something so analog at what is basically a convention of the digital — it’s more a practicality, because my phone sucks and even opening a text file basically makes electricity shoot out the back of it.

Also, I can make origami cranes if I am so inclined:

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Available upon request.

I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING OUR AIRBNB HOST IN AUSTIN

Apparently he drunk dialed Tim Falls last night and kept him on the line for like 15 minutes, telling Tim things he’d already told him about the apartment — as well as some sad country-song-type stuff about how everyone leaves you in the end, I can’t really recall.

My main point is more that I am super excited to have this character in our orbit now, and kind of hope he randomly pops in thoughout our visit, like Drunk Country Song Kramer, to yell about sad truths about life. That would be just so Texas, am I right?

WINDOWLESS BUILDINGS

Listen, tech industry whiners, let this trip serve as our annual reminder that our lives are basically amazing. On the whole, we all work in amazing, beautiful spaces, yet we have all complained at one point or another about the caliber of our catered lunches or how our chairs aren’t ergonomic enough or whatever. But now I am here in Dallas, TX, and approximately 3 out of 4 office buildings around here are windowless prison bunkers.

Please take a moment to remember that there is a whole huge group of human beings who aren’t even allowed access to sunlight as a so-called “professional perk.” We are doing pretty great, OK?

UNHAPPY RV PEOPLE

Our main goal as a group today was to a) all get to Texas and b) pick up the HUGE, STUPID RV that will take us to Austin and back, and which will be some of our homes while we’re there. (Me, me, me!)

I have to say, though, the RV company could maybe use a little help with their promotional materials. It seems like every one of these dudes is being held at gunpoint and forced to have Outdoor Good Times:

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The only real adventure, children, is the journey to the grave.

THE RV STILL NEEDS A NAME

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TF lookin’ BA in the RV.

Right now, I’m thinking Janet, because it just feels like a Janet, and I’m a stupid INFP, so I am basically just a tiny boat awash on a stormy sea of random emotions and hunches, but I am still open to suggestions. Please send name ideas to me ASAP, and we will vote or something.

BE OUR GUEST

OK, I have rented RVs before, and I am always disproportionately excited over basically every feature of them (walls you can collapse inwards, a bed above driver’s seat, odd toilet pedals), but this one takes the cake:

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Big ups to Eric for his hostly manner.

AN OMEN, REVERSED

On the way to our hotel for the evening, I spotted a MEDIEVAL TIMES DINNER & TOURNAMENT, and I obviously started to freak the hell out. I will be honest with you: I have been to Medieval Times twice in the past year (1, 2).

Trust me — put aside whatever dumb qualms you have about the place and just go. (Get the best seats possible.) It is so so fun to drink goblets of wine and scream and wave light-up swords around as bad character actors do fake axe fights for you.

Anyway, as soon as I saw the thing, I took it as a sign and couldn’t talk about anything else. We are going, damn it! And, shockingly, everyone agreed! However, I severely underestimated Northeastern Texas’ interest in Thursday night staged feudal warfare, because they were completely sold the hell out. Even the comically expensive tickets I usually make everyone buy anyway!

I guess I should be mad, but honestly, I’m mostly just impressed at Texas for having their priorities straight.

HOW MANY “EVERYTHING’S BIGGER IN TEXAS JOKES” CAN I MAKE

A million. A billion. Even my capacity for making everything’s bigger in Texas jokes is bigger in Texas.

COMPETING THEME SONGS

While we were in NOLA, Justin and I apparently came up with 2 wildly different theme songs to play throughout our extended Louisiana-Texas sojourn — as entrance music, to get us pumped up for a night out, etc.

He chose T.Swift’s “Shake It Off,” which I cannot fault him for at ALL, because that is a solid-ass song, but I don’t think anyone can possibly deny the superior staying power of my choice, Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.” (Or, if I’m feeling particularly depressed, the super emo cover of “Higher Love” by James Vincent McMorrow.)

A better man than me would add a poll here, so you all could choose your favorite, but it is 2 damn 30 a.m., and I am not figuring out someone’s godforsaken poll widget right now, so just let me have this one, OK?

TAROT READINGS

A bunch of us got tarot readings while we were in New Orleans, and because I am an easily susceptible sucker, I more or less decided that I wanted to start doing readings myself moving forward. (I used to try back in college, but that was mostly to try and convince women they should make out with me. “You will meet a mysterious pale stranger, with an unconventional skill…”)

I am still pretty slow and gawky at tarot readings, and they don’t always seem to give the best news, or even answer the actual question we were going for (”THE CARDS TELL YOU WHAT YOU WON’T ASK,” says the fake stereotypical fortune teller in my head), but it’s pretty fun and I need the practice, so if you spot me and want a reading, I will totally do one for you.

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This was supposed to be a simple reading about whether or not we’ll have fun at Sx, but instead it shaped out to be some pretty portentous shit about the Real Meaning of Leadership or something? Do not rely on cards for anything, in my point.

GON’ COUNTRY / DIABETES

Honestly, I don’t totally know what that means. I scrawl these heading notes as I go, and they aren’t always written with the clearest of heads.

But I think what I meant was that we decided to do as the Texans do while we’re here and head to some terrible fucking chain bars and restaurants. Between Chili’s for dinner and Dave & Buster’s for corporate-mandated fun™, I would estimate we consumed roughly 800 pounds of complex sugars, generally in the form of fried hell starches and sugary nightmare drinks. I feel great, is what I’m saying.

You know that one margarita where they just stick a stupid upside-down Corona in the top? (Here is a picture of Snookie with one.) Well, Dave and Buster’s now does one where it’s a bottle of damn Prosecco upside-down in some poisonous, saccharine, Kool-Aid-y mess. Thing should come with a damn insulin chaser.

3 stars.

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We also got like 4-foot-tall thing of beer served out of a fire hydrant. I am losing touch with America.

Anyway, let the record show that I beat Alexa at both Guitar Hero and DDR, because when she back in high school, making friends and learning socialization and stuff, I was learning how to fake play instruments and fake dance. Game-set-match, Meyer.

SECRET SOUTH BY STRATEGY SESSION

(Sidenote: What is the correct way, if any, to abbreviate SXSW to “South By?” Is it “Sx?” Because I feel a little bad doing that and maybe making you read it as “Sex” each time. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.)

After we sugar-struggled our way home, Justin quickly briefed us on Keen IO’s super secret strategy for SXSW: Skip pretty much any official conference or expo event, find the good parties, and then go be awesome at them so people like us.

I hope I didn’t wreck the company with these WikiLeaks.

Anyway, this plan sounds pretty reasonable on paper, but I am pretty much only likable when I have had 3 drinks — no more, no less — and that is a pretty narrow window to live one’s life by.

So, you know, fingers crossed I find a good partner-in-crime — someone willing and able to con their way into these things and drag me along with them — or these are forthcoming field reports will be pretty sparse and/or depressing. (”Another long night at the 24-hour Arby’s…”)

Hey, you know what I need? One of those hats with a little scrap of paper in the brim of my hat that says “PRESS” on it. That’d probably fix everything.

I AM WRITING THIS ON HOTEL STAIRS, BY THE WAY

No, really, look:

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I am just like Thompson, man. Gonzo journalism.

Actually, what’s happening is that I am pretty sleepy, but I want to finish this, so I am making myself cold and uncomfortable, so I stay awake. My art, I suffer for it.

WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK IS IT, ANYWAY

Friday, huh. OK, rad.

Good night! I love you all! There will be more actual things to write about tomorrow, I am sure, but aren’t you impressed how much I dragged out from all of these non-things? No? Well, that’s cool, too.

❤❤
Nate

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