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So when did you move to Austin?
February 12, 2013 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Austin is booming with jobs, condos, festivals, traffic, hipsters, joggers, and high-concept dive bars.
Does that mean it’s no longer Austin?
posted by four panels (132 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nope, it's the same as it ever was.
posted by Seamus at 1:37 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ugh, I hate articles that ask a controversial question and then are like, "Shocking answer: No!" Why write the article in the first place?
posted by muddgirl at 1:39 PM on February 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


At least this article reminded me of my favorite Austin Chronicle headline ever:
Will Will Wynn win?
posted by activitystory at 1:40 PM on February 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why write the article in the first place?

Because it's a slow news day.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:40 PM on February 12, 2013


Sounds pretty much like the Austin I've been visiting since, oh, 1985 or so...
posted by kjs3 at 1:41 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a slow news day every day for the TM.
posted by Seamus at 1:41 PM on February 12, 2013


Then have the courage to come right out and say your thesis in the headline, rather than posing it as a strawman.
posted by muddgirl at 1:45 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I gotta say that I used to have a really stereotypical Northerners' view of Texas as the land of guns 'god but all the publicity around SXSW and Austin has challenged that. So how is that a bad thing? People as far away as Sydney want to move to Austin. That's great for tourism.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:47 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Austin is still Austin, but the prices are higher, and the traffic is worse.
posted by BrandonW at 1:48 PM on February 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sounds pretty much like the Austin I've been visiting since, oh, 1985 or so...

Pretty much. Wait, Austin has an influx of people from outside the state, terrible traffic, and tech based growth? That's what I thought Austin was.

Considering the other options in Texas (Houston - industrial hellhole, Dallas - corporate wasteland, San Antonio - tourist attraction) it's doing fine. It has a decent mix of culture to corporate, and is one of the places that doesn't respond to environmental/cultural concerns with an emphatic "PAVE IT ALL" mentality.
posted by zabuni at 1:49 PM on February 12, 2013


It's idiotic to complain about your city becoming popular with people; would you rather keep it really real and live in Detroit?

Besides, Houston is where it's at.
posted by Renoroc at 1:56 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Keep Austin Writers Writing This Weird Trend Piece
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:58 PM on February 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I moved away from Austin in 2000 and visited again in 2011. Eleven years of growth really blew me away. A lot of the quieter, more open spaces were gone. It was sad to have the memories not match up with the current landscape, but at the same time it's great that the city is thriving in the way that it is.
posted by holmesian at 1:59 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Argh. Everywhere I've ever lived I've been a usurper. An invader. I haven't always been the lateliest Johnny to come, but whatever. What can a person do? Even if I were to move back to my sort-of ancestral home, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and lay claim to the ground that my parents walked, and the area in which I was born, I would be an even worse invader there because there is not a notable influx of people there and I have no real cultural claim.

But basically: there are just so many people everywhere.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:01 PM on February 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Austin started going to hell precisely after I moved here."--Everyone non-native.

(I include myself because I keep having the Tuscan villa conversation from Seinfeld. "IT'S ALL FULL!")
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:02 PM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okay, I am the Ant-Apologist for Austin. I hate this place.
But many, many of my friends love it. Most of them who want NO ONE NEW to come here lived here during the '80s.
I think some of them would rather live in a Detroit-ized Austin than have another "Californian"* move in.

*Californian is , apparently, a code for anyone from Dallas, Houston, New York, Paducah, Grand Rapids, Kankakee, Jacksonville, DC, Louisville, Juneau or anywhere else in the United States, including California.
posted by Seamus at 2:02 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Houston is actually a lot nicer than "industrial hellhole." It's probably my second favorite city in Texas, after Austin. I love Houston's diversity of people, culture, and food. You can find just about anything there, and I would argue that some of the ethnic food is better than you'll find anywhere else in the United States.

Houston has its problems. It's big, sprawling, polluted (although getting better), and ostentatious. But it's still got a lot of charm and life.

Dallas, on the other hand, is totally a corporate wasteland.

Austin is great except for the allergies. I hate cedar fever.
posted by fremen at 2:04 PM on February 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


I grew up in Austin. And I still go back a couple of times a year. I find it hilarious that people complain how bad the traffic is in Austin (or Seattle where I currently live). Yeah, it's worse than it was, but so is everywhere else. If you want to see some bad traffic, try L.A., D.C., or Atlanta.
posted by grouse at 2:05 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Austin is fucking awesome, but I'm probably biased because I grew up there.

Fort Worth is actually a pretty fun town too, though it's got its bad sides.
posted by kmz at 2:07 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to want to live in Austin for the longest time. Then my ex-wife and a long-time ex-gf both moved there (separately). At this point, it's a George Strait song, so I'm letting that dream go and opting to stay in Chicago.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:08 PM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


High-concept dive bar. Wow, is that a thing? Thanks for perfectly describing something I never intend to hang out in.
posted by phaedon at 2:08 PM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


A buddy of mine moved back to Austin from LA for a few months and lived in my house. He started out complaining about people who complain about the Austin traffic. By the time he moved back to LA, he was firmly in the camp that Austin's traffic is worse. Definitely different, but worse.

I always thought that Atlanta's traffic was worse, but when I went back there earlier this year, that shit was smooth! (Except this one time when a stalled car in on the shoulder of a 6-lane-in-one-direction highway shut things down completely at 10:00 one night.)
posted by Seamus at 2:09 PM on February 12, 2013


I have also found, since living in Texas, that I seem to be in a very, very small minority for preferring El Paso to every other city in the state.
posted by Seamus at 2:11 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Austin started going to hell precisely after I moved here."--Everyone non-native.


That sounds a lot like Berlin right now.
posted by ts;dr at 2:12 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been trying to visit Austin for like three years now, and finally booked a trip for May. Sorry I ruined it, everyone.

Oddly, this echos a lot of discussion I see about DC, although on the surface it seems like you couldn't get two more different towns.
posted by JoanArkham at 2:13 PM on February 12, 2013


What's an underrated, overlooked city that hasn't been colonized by "Californians" yet. Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill? Nashville? Kansas City?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:14 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


In an interview in the "Slacker" DVD special features, a woman makes an obvious point about something that is indeed gone and not coming back: the low cost of living that college towns like Austin and Athens had in the 70's and 80's. It was very easy, she said, to pay your rent and finance your art or band centered lifestyle by working a couple of shifts a week at a restaurant. You simply can't rent a house for $300 a month and end up owing $75 as your share any more.
posted by thelonius at 2:14 PM on February 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Well, Austin did have a lot more crickets the last time I was there. Thats about the only thing that changed...
posted by asra at 2:14 PM on February 12, 2013


My parents and I moved from Norman, OK to Austin in 1985, smack dab in the middle of my 7th grade year. I lived in Austin proper until well after I did my 4 year stint at UT. I can't live in Austin any more though, and I make do in a nearby suburb with frequent trips to visit.

To me, much of what was good about Austin has been overrun with upscale this and condo that. I understand that cities have to grow and change to stay alive, but I don't do change very well. The pockets of magic and sweet places I remember are still there, to some extent, but many of them have been closed down or changed beyond recognition.

As for SxSW - forget it. 20 some-odd years ago, it was great fun to catch bands and be in the midst of everything, but now, beyond the Austin Music Awards and the occasional fringe free show, I can't deal with it. Every asshole in the free world seems to show up.

Part of what has happened is that I am getting old now and I just don't have the patience anymore. I feel odd about Austin now- I feel like I love something or a place that isn't there anymore. When I was 21 I lived in Dallas for the worst six months of my life, and I toyed with the idea of moving to Houston. I recently lived for 5 years in Temple before coming back to the Austin area and to be honest, I miss the small town vibe.
posted by PuppyCat at 2:16 PM on February 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


This song is about every town like Austin, by a guy I wouldn't get to see play free at least once a year if it wasn't for Austin, so I can't bitch too much. I'm just horribly wistful and nostalgic.
posted by PuppyCat at 2:19 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ugh, I hate articles that ask a controversial question and then are like, "Shocking answer: No!"

Betteridge's law of headlines: "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."
posted by zsazsa at 2:21 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Austin's traffic is terrible in that it takes a tremendous amount of time to go some absurdly short distances (like, Worst Traffic In the Country proportions) but compared to cities where the traffic is moderately bad over very long stretches, it seems kinda silly.

It did take me an hour and fifteen minutes to go four exits on 35 once, though, so I have given up making fun of the people who rage at Austin traffic.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:22 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Houston is actually a lot nicer than "industrial hellhole."

Since moving to Texas, I've learned that people from California are very opinionated about Texas cities even if they've never been outside Austin. Oddly enough, Texans can be opinionated about California cities even if they've never left the state.

(I suppose it's possible that zabuni is actually very knowledgeable about Texas, and yet has come to the same ol' stereotypes about Texas cities - San Antonio being a tourist attraction is a dead giveaway though. Tourists don't come to SA unless they're here for a conference or from Austin.)
posted by muddgirl at 2:23 PM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


And the best parts of San Antonio are the parts that tourists never see.
posted by Seamus at 2:25 PM on February 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


What's an underrated, overlooked city that hasn't been colonized by "Californians" yet. Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill? Nashville? Kansas City?

Memphis is a fantastic town, as long as you're not trying to get ahead. If you want good food, cool music, and a warm girl/guy, and maybe cheap rent, it's a damned fine place. It kinda tends to thwart ambition in a hellish way, though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:26 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Subhead aside -- which probably wasn't written by the author, but instead by an editor or copy editor -- I found this piece to be an interesting look at the growth of a city that's gone from being seen as a sort-of small college town to a hipster mecca. A lot of cities look to Austin with interest to try and understand how that growth has happened, how it was handled well, and how it can be handled better, and the essay provides a nice, informal history of that growth. It's thesis isn't actually "has Austin changed," but "how has Austin grown," and that's a good question.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:26 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tourists don't come to SA unless they're here for a conference or from Austin.

Isn't the Alamo (and to a lesser extent the Riverwalk) still a pretty big tourist attraction? I guess I can't really judge since I'm from Austin.
posted by kmz at 2:28 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of this seems like a bullet-point summary of the book Weird City (highly recommended), which is about the development of Austin and these exact issues.
posted by Ndwright at 2:31 PM on February 12, 2013


Yeah, Dallas is such a wasteland that it and its suburbs are routinely on lists of best places to live, work, raise a family, etc. and have the highest growth. Jobs, high incomes, high standards of living, low crime, developments, etc. You know, the things a lot of people look for.

Is Dallas a great tourist destination? Nope. Is Dallas the greenest city or best place to enjoy the outdoors? Nope. If those are your metrics, then you probably wouldn't like Dallas. But to describe the entire city as a wasteland as if it has no redeeming value and no one in their right mind would live there is asinine. You know, sometimes you can make a point without being over the top and insulting about it. Just a protip.

As for Austin, it is a neat town for what it is. So is Houston, Fort Worth and San Antonio. They are all different. Whether or not you like it depends on whether you evaluate it based on what the city aspires to be.

You don't bitch because Denver has terrible beaches.
posted by dios at 2:32 PM on February 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Louisville.
posted by 3200 at 2:34 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the Alamo/Riverwalk are the big tourist attractions in SA kmz, but people mostly don't go into SA to see them specifically. They just happen to see them when they are passing through.
posted by McSwaggers at 2:34 PM on February 12, 2013


Fort Worth is the next Austin. Move there soon so that you can brag to your future friends about how you were there before it was cool.
posted by hames at 2:37 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine claims that Austin is a town everyone liked better 10 years ago. It's certainly true for me.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:39 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Dallas is such a wasteland that it and its suburbs are routinely on lists of best places to live, work, raise a family, etc. and have the highest growth.

Jobs, high incomes, high standards of living, low crime, developments, etc. You know, the things a lot of people look for


Dallas and its suburbs are great if you're lucky enough to have a high-income job (or inherited it like Highland Parkers), yearn for that suburban experience where you never have to meet people different from you, and would never deign to use public transportation. (Hell, for years they wouldn't even open the Victory Plaza station on non-AAC event days. Wouldn't want the "public transportation crowd" to sully that dead sinkhole of a neighborhood. And that's not even getting into Arlington or fucking Frisco or Plano.)
posted by kmz at 2:42 PM on February 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fort Worth is the next Austin. Move there soon so that you can brag to your future friends about how you were there before it was cool.

Heh, you can already stereotype and segment the new hipsters (7th Street area) from the hip oldsters (Magnolia area) and the clueless tourists (Sundance Square).
posted by kmz at 2:45 PM on February 12, 2013


Austin is booming with jobs, condos, festivals, traffic, hipsters, joggers, and high-concept dive bars.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:46 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


All of Texas' big cities are fucking awesome.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:48 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


All this culture-war yuppies/hipsters stuff seems it's papering over an underlying issue: in urban areas, rents (as a share of income) have been increasing for decades. I am having a hard time finding solid historical data, but anecdotally it seems like there has been a drastic shift. It's not about one city getting hipper, or even gentrification in the sense of a phenomenon localized to particular neighborhoods. This is affecting the whole country. US median gross rents doubled in real (inflation-adjusted) terms between 1950 and 2000. And I don't think that trend slowed down any for the 2000-2013 period.
posted by enn at 2:48 PM on February 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


There was an article I read years back that examined a point in history when Madison, WI and Austin were roughly similar, and how Austin then exploded in growth while Madison sort of didn't. The thesis of the article was that Austin had done something right, Madison had done something wrong, and we must discover this in order to preserve the vitality of Wisconsin's capital city!

I wonder sometimes if it wasn't Austin that did something wrong, and we're doing okay up here in cheese land.
posted by rocketman at 2:48 PM on February 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


You don't bitch because Denver has terrible beaches.

Maybe you don't.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:48 PM on February 12, 2013


Oh no not joggers!
posted by aerotive at 2:48 PM on February 12, 2013


The thesis of the article was that Austin had done something right, Madison had done something wrong, and we must discover this in order to preserve the vitality of Wisconsin's capital city!

As far as this ex-Chicagoan is concerned, Madison's first problem is being located in Wisconsin. I am sitting in my house with my front door open so the cats can enjoy the breeze - how about you?
posted by restless_nomad at 2:50 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Madison had done something wrong and we must discover this in order to preserve the vitality of Wisconsin's capital city!

It snowed. Behold the Koch Industries WalkerDome!
posted by MikeMc at 2:52 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


. The thesis of the article was that Austin had done something right, Madison had done something wrong, and we must discover this in order to preserve the vitality of Wisconsin's capital city!

It doesn't snow in Austin. Seriously, I would looooove to move to Madison - I even applied to UW-Madison. But my partner put his foot down due to the weather. Maybe in 100 years when Wisconsin is temperate and Texas is literally as hot as hell.
posted by muddgirl at 2:52 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Madison's first problem is being located in Wisconsin

Largely keeps the riff-raff out. And the Californians.
posted by rocketman at 2:52 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


US median gross rents doubled in real (inflation-adjusted) terms between 1950 and 2000

(Adjusted) rents probably halved or more between 1930 and 1950 in a lot of cities.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:54 PM on February 12, 2013


Q: How many Austinites does it take to change a light bulb?

A: 10. 1 to change the light bulb, and 9 to talk about how cool the old bulb was.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:58 PM on February 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


A state that has a Cheese Castle (now more castle shaped!) can't be all bad. (Still sad they hadn't finished the new storefront when I last visited.)
posted by kmz at 2:58 PM on February 12, 2013


Hey dirtdirt, a Texas artist (and I can probably say Austin artist since he plays the Continental Club there pretty regular-like) has a song just for you.
posted by hackwolf at 2:58 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Condos, high-concept dive bars, traffic and hipsters? This could be a thread about Toronto.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:00 PM on February 12, 2013


I've fallen on my ass twice in the last three days. Madison, I love you, but in the wintertime I want to kick you in the nards.

(Which, according to my dad's infamous Isthmus Man costume, created with a Sharpie and a pair of white silk longjohns, is exactly where you'd expect it to be: the Capitol.)
posted by Madamina at 3:03 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


People in Austin can complain once they get a TV show about them.
posted by perhapses at 3:03 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the way, Tallahassee sucks, is becoming less cool by the minute, and you should not move here if you want to be "hip".
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:03 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


BTW, while traffic overall in Austin is perhaps not that bad compared to some other big cities, the bi-level section of I-35 was for years one of the deadliest stretches of road in the country. It's a little better now that they've made the on and offramps slightly more reasonable, but it's still pretty terrifying.
posted by kmz at 3:04 PM on February 12, 2013


Funny, I just happened to watch Slacker last weekend. It made me miss the 80s some and also the Austin of that era. Even though I've never actually been to Austin.
posted by nowhere man at 3:05 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why is it tough to find a decent blowjob in California?

All the cocksuckers moved to Austin.
posted by entropos at 3:07 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


perhapses: "People in Austin can complain once they get a TV show about them."

Not that I needed your permission, but thanks!

I have to admit, I never actually saw the show (didn't have cable at the time), even though it was shot right around the corner from me.
posted by adamrice at 3:08 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Austin had a TV show before it was cool.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:12 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


How nice to have a thread about Austin! Sometimes it feels like people only remember us during ACL and South by. Other than the fact that practically every weekend in the fall and spring has some giant festival that takes over the town now, I don't think Austin is worse for all its popularity.

That said, I'm a little scared at what the new Formula One track will mean for us.
posted by no mind at 3:13 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and our nickname was the Funtier Capital of Texas
If I had any intiative I'd print up some bumper stickers in a vintage font and make a mint.
posted by muddgirl at 3:17 PM on February 12, 2013


My wife and I lived there and our first kid was born there, so we associate Austin with a lot of fond memories. But we lived in a dump of a house just across 35 from work near the capitol (walk/bike) and very close to what we considered entertainment, so all of the grar over traffic and growth sort of flies right past us. We loved the city and miss it dearly.

Honestly, if you're complaining about traffic or too many people doing the things you want to be doing (as the Radiohead ACL comment in the article noted), you're just suffering from Only Person on Earth Syndrome and should work on that. You probably wouldn't like any city.

Also, we live in Houston now, very near downtown where I work, and the actual city part of the city is just as fantastic as Austin in many, many ways--though obviously not a revolving door of 60,000 student ever-young university town cool--it's a great place to enjoy the outdoors, catch a show, raise a family, and make decent money. /Houstonist
posted by resurrexit at 3:18 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, OK, then. Complain away! (We were also late in jumping on the Keep City Weird campaign.)
posted by perhapses at 3:19 PM on February 12, 2013


Besides, Houston is where it's at.

And by "it" you mean soul-crushing heat+humidity?
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:19 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Austin hasn't been the same since Leslie died.

And I moved away.
posted by ColdChef at 3:25 PM on February 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've never understood why so many people who live in Austin spend so much time complaining about Austin.
posted by spilon at 3:25 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


We save our most virulent bile for those we know the best. If I'm an invader to anywhere, it's California. Resident of Texas for a quarter century, take regular trips back. Have family in San Antonio, college friends in Houston, worked in Dallas. And don't get me started on the irredeemable shithole I'm from.

Nice things about the various cities:

Houston: Do you want a job? Go to Houston. Place has blown up in recent years, and there is a reason all my college friends live there.

Dallas: It's suburbia, for all the positives and negatives. Best amenities, nicest looking schools, and most manicured lawns I've ever seen.

San Antonion: It's a lot better at integrating Hispanic culture than either of the above two, or Austin.

If I was going to make large scale negative stereotypes about California, it would be that it's a 20 mile strip of nice weather attached to a giant desert, and if I wanted to live in the desert, I could always go to one that doesn't have a dysfunctional government, absurd housing prices, and enough taxes to make one a conservative.
posted by zabuni at 3:26 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It did take me an hour and fifteen minutes to go four exits on 35 once, though, so I have given up making fun of the people who rage at Austin traffic.

We were heading downtown to Drafthouse Ritz once and spent about an hour trying to go the last mile and a half to get to that exit. I figured out we could've just abandoned the car and walked there and gotten there sooner. That was before I figured out how to take the 1 to Cesar Chavez. (Nobody take the 1, it's full! IT'S ALL FULL!).

Anyway, my Californian stereotype is they move someplace like Austin or Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill then spend all their time pissing and moaning about how they do things in California or start every sentence with "Well, in LA..."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:26 PM on February 12, 2013


WACO FTW!
posted by roboton666 at 3:38 PM on February 12, 2013


Ghostride The Whip, it's called MoPac, not the 1. Best way to let everyone know you're not from here is to call it the 1. :D
posted by hanoixan at 3:39 PM on February 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


That and my constant complaining about how in San Francisco, we...
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:45 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still miss Las Manitas. Austin got a lot less weird when they closed.
posted by smrtsch at 3:49 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apocryphon: "What's an underrated, overlooked city that hasn't been colonized by "Californians" yet. Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill? Nashville? Kansas City?"

Cleveland ? Pittsburgh ? Minneapolis ?

Most of the midwest is usually left out of these discussions (of phenomena where young professionals, the creative class are moving) unless you're trying to be sarcastic.
posted by fizzix at 4:02 PM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Austin is still pretty distinctively Austin, but it has grown a lot; I was pretty depressed by all the shit going up around the Broken Spoke the last time I was there.
posted by Red Loop at 4:04 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was an article I read years back that examined a point in history when Madison, WI and Austin were roughly similar, and how Austin then exploded in growth while Madison sort of didn't. The thesis of the article was that Austin had done something right, Madison had done something wrong, and we must discover this in order to preserve the vitality of Wisconsin's capital city!

I wonder sometimes if it wasn't Austin that did something wrong, and we're doing okay up here in cheese land.


I thought about this question a lot in 2004, when my wife and I had to decide whether we were moving to Austin or Madison. Both cities have a lot of partisans, people who feel strongly and say loudly that there's no place better in the world to live. But what I noticed in Austin was a lot of people who told me, "Austin is great, the greatest city in the US, but you know when it was really great? Twenty years ago when it was half the size and everything was half the price." And eventually I realized that the city those people were talking about was the city Madison is now.

Both are great cities, but I've never regretted picking Wisconsin.
posted by escabeche at 4:13 PM on February 12, 2013


Yeah, all of these complaints pretty squarely work with Ann Arbor, where I grew up. The rents went up, the complacent yuppies moved in, and now it's pretty much as bad as the hippies used to claim in the '80s.
posted by klangklangston at 4:14 PM on February 12, 2013


Most of the midwest is usually left out of these discussions (of phenomena where young professionals, the creative class are moving) unless you're trying to be sarcastic.

I feel you, but I think that's changing. I don't know - I grew up in the midwest and recently spent some time there again and lots of cities that were kind of hellholes growing up had really transformed - Madison, Minneapolis, even Indianapolis, of all places, I found to be really pretty hip. Hell, even Des Moines and Omaha have come a long way.

I'm one of those young professionals who moved to Portland because of the hype, more or less (and the fabulous job market!). But anymore, it's not the city itself that keeps me here. Good beer, good music, good art, decent public transportation and liberal values seem to be getting easier to find in lots of cities all over the place. I find myself staying here for the mountains and the ocean more than the culture, per se. And for the porches. Portland has the best porches.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:15 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really, you are not an Austinite until you find yourself complaining non-ironically about how great something used to be but it's now completely ruined. I managed to leave before that moment in my life, and I am fairly happy about it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:25 PM on February 12, 2013


If you want Madison without snow, wait five years. (Seriously, what is up with this winter?)
posted by drezdn at 4:30 PM on February 12, 2013


Everybody thinks their city is better than yours. I have lived in many different cities in different parts of the country and they all have good points and not so good points. In that way, they are all the same. Take food....I always find it amusing when people claim that city X has awesome food. Well, of course it does, it is a city and we have had a major food revival in this country. Every city I have been to, even the smaller mid-sized cities--all of them have awesome food options with some innovative chefs. There are some regional differences but it is all still awesome. And yes, I know it is impossible to believe, but there are actually people outside of Portland and Seattle who know how to make a cup of coffee.

So in my experience what made a place memorable isn't the food or the coffee or the music scene or the number of craft breweries...because all decent sized urban areas have all of those things. It is the quality of relationships you have with people to share those things with. That is what has always made a place work or not, for me anyway. And it is that, more than anything else, that influences how positively or negatively I think about a place I have lived.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:47 PM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I spent time in Austin decades ago. If I went back, I'd have a heart attack. Well, my home town, Denver, has changed, too. This article gets it right: the attitude you take is determined by when you lived there.

In any case, many of those of us in towns/cities like this arrived from Midwestern/Eastern locales with more ingrained prejudice than we could stand. That's why Denver and Austin have grown. (Well, that's just one story. Why have the cities in Arizona grown so much? Certainly not to escape racism!)
posted by kozad at 4:52 PM on February 12, 2013


If you want a good look at Austin in the late 70's, rent Outlaw Blues with Peter Fonda. It even has a scene at Dobie Mall that I think I'm in somewhere when I was skipping class from UT.

I left in '86 when I felt it was too much like Houston (where I grew up). I last visited in 2002 and was amazed how much it had grown. I shared an old house on Enfield that's still there, though I was amazed at the number and size of all the condos that have sprung up. 6th St. was completely different.

Just about everywhere I go that's nice, the locals will almost always tell you it was better in the old days. It's not limited to Austin.
posted by jabo at 5:11 PM on February 12, 2013


Was there ever a time when one could not write a piece like this about Austin? It's like the place is landlocked in a sea of bubbas and is consequently in a constant state of identity crisis.

I love Austin but the best piece of advice I got when I lived there was "don't go native."
posted by swift at 5:16 PM on February 12, 2013


We were heading downtown to Drafthouse Ritz once and spent about an hour trying to go the last mile and a half to get to that exit. I figured out we could've just abandoned the car and walked there and gotten there sooner. That was before I figured out how to take the 1 to Cesar Chavez. (Nobody take the 1, it's full! IT'S ALL FULL!).

The 1? I moved away in 2009 but it was called Mopac back then.* Does it still go down to 2 lanes at Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake as it is called now). Does APD still sit under 183 running radar like they're in some hick town? Do they still shut freeways down for nonfatal wrecks that larger cities wouldn't ? I miss a lot about Austin but its transportation infrastructure is not one.

I moved to Austin in 1993. I loved the place. I hardly recognized the place when I saw a photo of the skyline from last year"s acl fest.


* I love how Mopac has signage with Mopac boulevard, Mopac expressway and variants like Mo-Pac and MoPac.
posted by birdherder at 5:18 PM on February 12, 2013


WACO FTW!

It does have the Dr Pepper museum, which is one of the best things I have ever done. I don't know if it's still there, but last time I was in Waco, I went to a pizzza shop that had an actual speakeasy hidden behind an old-fashioned phone booth. So that alone makes it better than almost any city I have ever been to, except Milwaukee, which has a spy themed bar/restaurant that you enter through a secret door in a nondescript office in an alley.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:18 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was lucky enough to visit Austin a couple of months ago for a conference. It was great! That's a super-nice town you've got there. Nowhere's perfect, but the people and places there are tremendous.

I live in Melbourne, Australia which is a great place to be, so the bar is set pretty high.

Cedar street bar! Two bars inside and an outdoor area with a stage. Plus another bar above it! What a great venue.

Austin City Limits is a great band venue for more serious band watching.

The Ginger Man! 100+ beers on tap. And delicious local micro-brew, including a chocolate Stout that definitely tasted like chocolate.

A variety of tasty food places, and better Mexican than I had in Phoenix, AZ (which is a desolate wasteland of a place, IMHO).

Good coffee is hard to find (by Melbourne standards), but not impossible.

But Austin folk: please explain the food truck thing. I'd read a lot about it here on the Blue, but I was totally underwhelmed. It's the sort of stuff we get here at the football or on the way home from a night on the tiles. I was expecting a flavour explosion in tiny portable morsel form. Instead it was more like bulk-produced, reheated sponges of meh. And this was from allegedly the "best" food trucks in Austin.

What gives?

Were my expectations too high? Do I just not get it? Why the effusive love for these things?

I'm genuinely puzzled.

P.S. I don't know why someone hasn't started an Aussie Food Truck with meat pies and sausage rolls yet. Seems a no-brainer to me.
posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 5:23 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Californian is , apparently, a code for anyone from Dallas, Houston, New York, Paducah, Grand Rapids, Kankakee, Jacksonville, DC, Louisville, Juneau or anywhere else in the United States, including California

Heh. All my high school friends moved to Austin right after graduation, but I remained (here in the SF bay area). Now all my new friends are moving to Portland. At least I have the Internet.
posted by cj_ at 5:38 PM on February 12, 2013


Californian is , apparently, a code for anyone from Dallas, Houston, New York, Paducah, Grand Rapids, Kankakee, Jacksonville, DC, Louisville, Juneau or anywhere else in the United States, including California

As a Californian living in Austin for years what I hated the most was how California was blamed on the traffic and Austin's chain stores and eateries. But real data showed most transplants were from within Texas. The chain stores at Brodie or in round rock look more like Dallas suburbs than out here.

The funny part is The Hair is in California this week trying to sell businesses on moving out there.
posted by birdherder at 5:58 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


<Attenborough>

In the more economically-depressed regions of the moderately-sized city, one can often find small gatherings of bohemians. That is, if you know where to look. These strange creatures shun the world of commerce, instead creating self-supporting colonies based on slam poetry and performance art.

The nomadic hipster is attracted by the music emanating from these colonies. Using a form of quorum sensing, hipsters select sites like these in order to congregate and breed. They bring with them money and hashtags, along with symbiotic organisms such as coffeeshops and vegan markets—like this one here.

But these rich ecosystems don't stay secret for very long. The spotted yuppy builds their nests around growing urban centers. And as their nests multiply, they begin to transform the landscape into something wholly alien.

By the time the local rents have started to spike, it is already to late. Soon, the land is covered with internet start-ups, fusion restaurants, and high-end apartment complexes. The lowly bohemians are forced out to nearby ghettos, where they brood and write.

But in these meager outposts, fresh foundations are laid. New aesthetic movements are developed. Soon, the lifecycle of the city will begin anew.

</Attenborough>
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:00 PM on February 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah, Austin had a TV show before it was cool.

You can watch some episodes on Youtube.
posted by mediated self at 6:00 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


P.S. I don't know why someone hasn't started an Aussie Food Truck with meat pies and sausage rolls yet. Seems a no-brainer to me.

Clover Moore is trying to get them into Sydney with limited success. Unless you mean an Aussie food truck in Austin, which would fail because nobody eats meat pies in America.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:35 PM on February 12, 2013


Ghostride The Whip, it's called MoPac, not the 1. Best way to let everyone know you're not from here is to call it the 1. :D

It's also the best way to let everyone know you're from California.

As a Californian living in Austin for years what I hated the most was how California was blamed on the traffic and Austin's chain stores and eateries. But real data showed most transplants were from within Texas. The chain stores at Brodie or in round rock look more like Dallas suburbs than out here.

That may be true now, but back when it first started (mid- to late 90s), the influx was hardware and software engineers from CA and, to a lesser extent, southern FL. You can actually look at election returns and see the shift begin -- the map started to turn redder, where it had always been very blue. That was a general trend in TX politics beginning in the 80s, but Austin pretty much staved it off until the tech companies started to relocate there.

I think it's kind of like how the migrants in California during the Depression were labeled Okies. No, they weren't all from Oklahoma, but that's maybe where it started, and it became a convenient shorthand.

I left Austin 12 years ago, in a reverse migration, and now live in California (happily). When people ask me why I fell out of love with Austin -- and I had been passionately in love with it for 10 years -- I explain the phenomenon of the Californians, unironically. (Then I have to explain why I like living in California, and it's like, come on, mountains and ocean and no Texas in between.)
posted by mudpuppie at 6:53 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if anyone has ever tried a British-style curry and Guinness place in a town like Austin....it could catch on!
posted by thelonius at 7:19 PM on February 12, 2013


.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:12 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


People don't eat meat pies in America? Are they aware of what they're missing out on?

I mean, you like pie. And you like meat.

You see what I'm saying? Work with me here.
posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 9:35 PM on February 12, 2013


Pizza is close enough for most.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:49 PM on February 12, 2013


Ha. My partner, who is originally from Austin, just started an Aussie-inspired savoury-pie food truck here in Seattle. It's doing quite well. Turns out Americans are happy to eat meat pies, they just have to be introduced to the concept.
posted by fermion at 10:23 PM on February 12, 2013


I knew it! :)
posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 10:30 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are there places that sell Texas style food like BBQ up North? 'Cause I never encountered any.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:34 PM on February 12, 2013


except Milwaukee, which has a spy themed bar/restaurant that you enter through a secret door in a nondescript office in an alley.

The Safe House is pretty awesome. (And you better know the password!) I think how you have to get out is even cooler than how you get in though.
posted by kmz at 1:17 AM on February 13, 2013


In an interview in the "Slacker" DVD special features, a woman makes an obvious point about something that is indeed gone and not coming back: the low cost of living that college towns like Austin and Athens had in the 70's and 80's.

That low cost of living in city cores was of course the result of decades of white flight and conscious and unconscious policy decisions that favoured the suburbs over the city centres. Onmce that began to reverse in the eighties and white people rediscovered that hey, this living in cities is pretty neat, no more freeloading for the children of middle class suburbanites.

The good news is that there are plenty of collapsed or collapsing mid-western industrial towns were these people can still profit from the ruins of somebody else's dreams, as already seems to be happening in Detroit.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:27 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


“Hey, yuppies, why don’t you get in your BMW and drive back to Pflugerville!”

“Excuse me?” I said. (Full disclosure: I may have been wearing a blazer.)

“We rode our bikes here!” he spat. “We’re from the neighborhood.”


Then, his pal Eddie chimed in: "Leave the beave alone, Wally!"

We all shared in such a rousing interaction.
posted by jkolko at 4:12 AM on February 13, 2013


Are there places that sell Texas style food like BBQ up North?

This is a complicated question, and will have to receive a complicated answer.

Barbecue isn't Texas style food; the various styles of barbecue might be called southern food (but Kansas City...). Texas style barbecue is actually pretty weird in that it's beef... understandable given the cattle culture, I guess, but anything beef is not something that most southerners would recognize as barbecue, which usually means pork with a capital P and another capital ORK.

So... are there barbecue joints up north? Sure, and they're not even particularly rare. Around here there's Kentucky Greg's, which is decent but unspectacular, and a few more that I haven't been to -- Suzy Q's in Riverside, Fat Bob's downtown, Famous Dave's, some other ones in the southtowns, Dinosaur BBQ if you all the way to Rochester... Also a lot of soul food places might have barbecue.

BUT

They usually serve a mix of pulled-pork styles or Memphis-style ribs. You're not going to find many places that serve Texas-style brisket and smoked snausages. This isn't a Yankeeland thing either; I'd guess you'd be more likely to find it up here in some generic many-styles-of-barbecue place than you would down south, where the idea of beef barbecue would get you run out of town with an angry mob screaming HERETIC! at you. Turns out Texas-style is a pretty niche product once you're out of Texas.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:04 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Famous Dave's cannot be called barbecue, because it would have to be food first.

I know that in Chicago there were several Whole Foods that had brisket available, and I think there were a couple of other Texas style BBQ joints too. But yeah, Texas barbecue is a pretty particular thing.
posted by kmz at 6:09 AM on February 13, 2013


Oooooh! Arguing beef versus pork barbecue! One of my favorite pastimes.

I have a buddy (native Texan) who moved to Brooklyn and there is a Texas style place in NYC. You can get Shiner and Lonestar there. Like their brisket, the beers are over-priced and sub-par in quality,
posted by Seamus at 6:27 AM on February 13, 2013


I have lived in the midwest my whole life (...yay) and I don't think I have ever been to a BBQ place that didn't have both pork and beef on the menu. Usually brisket, but sometimes beef ribs, too.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:47 AM on February 13, 2013


Well, I haven't lived in that part of Yankeeland, though people say Buffalo is sorta midwestern. Though now that I think about it, I realize that my eyes go straight to the pulled pork, so maybe most bbq places offer brisket that I can't even see.

My point was more that you'd be harder-pressed to find brisket barbecue in NC than you would in NY.

Famous Dave's cannot be called barbecue, because it would have to be food first.

Noted. Will avoid. Any word on Suzy Q's?

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:08 AM on February 13, 2013


Pork is the greatest (not just pulled, either!), but you should try some brisket! Why not both?
posted by adamdschneider at 7:17 AM on February 13, 2013


Sorry, haven't heard of Suzy Q's. And "why not both" just reminds me of another great region specific food: the Italian Beef and Sausage combo. Mmm.
posted by kmz at 7:37 AM on February 13, 2013


Which makes me think of another great food, Mississippi Pig Ear and Hot Links sandwiches.
Are MS hot links beef or pork. I would bet pork, but man . . . what a sammie!
posted by Seamus at 7:56 AM on February 13, 2013


There actually is an Aussie meat pie place here in Austin: Boomerang's.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


All websites should have a tab that says "find pie."
posted by JoanArkham at 5:54 AM on February 14, 2013


Dub Pies in Brooklyn is amazing and they now have a truck. Americans love meat pies. Who wouldn't, really?

I am not surprised how little discussion there's been about the lack of racial diversity in Austin. And it's very segregated. I see that the East side of town is being gentrified now. It reminded me of mid-2000s Brooklyn in that way. Rents go up, Blacks and Hispanics move further away from the city center and generally poor/middle class people (like me) can no longer find affordable housing.

I didn't like Austin very much at all.
posted by anthropoid at 7:02 AM on February 14, 2013


Austin's growth is actually kind of annoying. My job moved me away for two years and now I'm having a hard time finding an affordable place to live that isn't snapped up the day after it's on the market. If it wasn't for the fact that I work here, I would consider it a sign that I'm not right for it any more. 150 people a day moving into the MLS region. Makes me want to cry tears of craft beer into my aging hipster beard.
posted by melt away at 1:59 PM on February 15, 2013


I was pretty depressed by all the shit going up around the Broken Spoke the last time I was there.

It took me a couple days to get over there & get this photo: It's Some Sort of Metaphor For Something.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:15 PM on February 15, 2013


Wow, what the hell happened to the Broken Spoke?
posted by mediated self at 7:39 PM on February 15, 2013


It's fine, it just has a massive mixed-use development going up on either side of it so it's basically surrounded by Jersey barriers and shredded pavement. Although they're super worried that the disruption will scare away their business, I was there a couple weeks ago and it sure seemed packed.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:42 PM on February 15, 2013


I used to live down the street from the Spoke on S. Lamar, so that picture Devils Rancher posted threw me for a loop. Also, restless_nomad, your comment seems like a synecdoche for Austin itself.
posted by mediated self at 7:59 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


For south Lamar, at least. It's pretty much like that from the river to Ben White.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:00 PM on February 15, 2013


What, me editorialize?

It is pretty damn jarring to down s. Lamar when you only do it every few months. I lived & worked south for all of the 80's & 90's & it was still a backwater despite the regional growth, so when I moved north in 98, it really threw me when south took off with the infill & redevelopment. Bouldin/South First/Oltorf was pretty poor & majority Hispanic when I lived there. It's just weird driving down there, around Annie, Mary, Live Oak now. David's Y food mart hangs in there, though!
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:30 PM on February 15, 2013


The grotty little convenience stores are the best part of this part of town. Bluebonnet Mart is my home base - I love those guys.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:31 PM on February 15, 2013


We have a dearth of those up here, though the Randall's at 38th tries. There was a scathing review of that store on Yelp a while back - some college kid was disgusted by the stooped old man who was eating a muffin at the register. I read it & thought "Elvin!" He was deaf as a post and ornery, but I liked him.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:39 PM on February 15, 2013


I spent a lot of time at the Bluebonnet Mart (homemade breakfast tacos!) and the connected laundromat (management added a couple of arcade games to ensure I never had quarters in my pockets when I left).
posted by mediated self at 9:56 AM on February 16, 2013


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