Well, here’s one reason to head for Austin. I’m staying at the sprawling compound of mysterious internet identity David Burge, among America’s most perceptive and hilarious online commentators. A routine is quickly established. By night, the Burges take me around Austin’s finest and lowest establishments (often they’re the same). By day Dave runs whatever business he’s involved in – stolen human organs, for all I know – while Mrs Burge and I check out the sights. I buy a pair of shoes at a store that also sells pistols, rifles and semi-autos, drop by Torchy’s for a Trailer Park Taco (experienced hands know to order them ‘extra trashy’) and then we wheel the Burge family’s train-sized Ford F150 through a car wash. Remarkably, the car wash is beneath a scale replica of the University of Texas tower – a structure notorious for gunman Charles Whitman’s 1966 killing spree, which reduced the university’s need for graduation diplomas by 14. ‘You should have seen it before,’ an employee tells me. ‘The university made us change the top so it didn’t look the same.’ The university is notable, of course, for reasons other than Whitman’s mass slaying. For a start, it’s the only place in Austin where people seem glum. UT attendees are just as beat-down and dismal as any sad second-year sociology students at the University of Sydney. In 1966, UT students rushed to their dormitories, grabbed their rifles and pinned Whitman down while police stormed the tower. The current mob look like they’d read Sylvia Plath’s poetry at him. A statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, has stood at the university since 1933. The day after I photographed it the statue was removed due to complaints about racism. Students cheered. Finally, something made them happy. The bronze statue is now destined for a museum, where it will presumably appear alongside other university relics such as jokes, freedom of speech and students who aren’t total whiny bitches.When we were in Austin about a year and half ago, my son bought this T-shirt:
"Weird" it certainly was. How so? We ate supper at a downtown pizza joint that's popular with UT kids. The front of the establishment did take out, but you could have a sit down meal at the back, which consisted of an open-air courtyard with a bar and tables and chairs. In the middle of the courtyard there was a spiral staircase, and all through dinner we watched as young'uns dressed in wacky get ups (some looked like Super Heroes; others like space aliens from that famous scene in Star Wars; still others seemed to have just arrived from a Renaissance fair) descended from apartments on the upper levels.
The three of us (my husband, son, me) agreed that Austin did appear to have more than its share of strange ones, even for a college town.
A bit later we learned what was up with all the weirdness: an Anime convention was in town.
Update: A line in the Wikipedia entry about Anime epitomizes the kind of lefty thinking that infuses university campuses (including UT in Austin) these days--and made me laugh:
Some scholars suggest defining anime as specifically or quintessentially Japanese may be related to a new form of orientalism.Some scholars have feces for brains.