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Slackers.
February 8, 2010 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Slacker is a unique film written and directed by Richard Linklater that follows the life of various characters in a Austin, Texas. Mind-numbingly boring or oddly captivating, Slacker provided an inspiration to other independent movies of the era and helped established the image of slacker as we see it today. Quoting Ebert, "We don't get a story, but we do get a feeling. " A Salon retrospective.
posted by mikepaco (86 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Remember when Austin was weird?
posted by swift at 6:06 AM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Interesting that the whole movie is posted on YouTube, legally.
posted by smackfu at 6:07 AM on February 8, 2010


This is one of those movies that everytime it comes on, I say, "I'm only gonna watch this scene." And then 90 minutes later I'm watching the credits.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 6:10 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


That Salon retrospective is almost old enough for a retrospective of its own.

Also, the pap smear girl scene almost made me pass out back then, but the next day I realized I was actually coming down with the flu. But I still can't think of Madonna's pubic hair without feeling queasy (unlike everyone else).
posted by DU at 6:11 AM on February 8, 2010


Remember when Austin was weird?

We've always been at war with Condolandia.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:27 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite movies. Wish I lived in that universe (even as I chuckle at the now-outdated fashions).

My favorite scenes are the smallest ones, like the guy smoking a cigar watching old Big Band clips just before dawn.
posted by mreleganza at 6:31 AM on February 8, 2010


Austin, back in the day. I remember walking around their cameras on the Drag, fighting past them to get to that hamburger shop where the owner shouted insults at everyone passing by.
I have a half dozen friends in that movie, and two or three of them never recovered from it. Twenty years later this is still their defining moment.
posted by pomegranate at 6:37 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Remember when Austin was weird?

Except the movie isn't about Austin, just uses Austin as the petrie dish to feed its characters. The same movie (or a very similar one at any rate) could have been made set in Berkeley, Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor, Providence, Hyde Park, Seattle, or any other hip big-liberal-arts-university area. These folks were not unique to Austin, which is why the movie is titled "Slacker" and not "Slacking in Austin."
posted by aught at 6:39 AM on February 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


My favorite scene: Slacker dude is having a leisurely conversation on the stairs outside of his rental apartment.

Slacker dude: "Well, I really should be moving along. I've got band practice--in about five hours."

As if to prove the pressingness of this engagement, he absentmindedly looks at his watch. Except: There's no watch! Just a bare forearm.

Later, he meets a friend on the street (this is just before the appearance of the slacker--was she in the Butthole Surfers?--with the overquoted pap smear sample).

Friend: "What're you up to these days?"

Slacker dude: "Oh, I dunno. Just lollygagging around."

To me, this character defines 1990s slackerdom. Or, "defines a unique, unshackled lifestyle free of our overzealous obsession with time." Take your pick.
posted by Gordion Knott at 6:49 AM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I knew half of those people (I lived in Austin in the early 90s). They were way weirder in the flesh.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:00 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, yo Austinites, UT is closing the Cactus Cafe -- the CACTUS! -- to save money. Stop them!
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:01 AM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Except the movie isn't about Austin, just uses Austin as the petrie dish to feed its characters.

Actually, those characters were cultured in the petri dish that is Austin. Linklater didn't round up actors from wherever and give them characters he had written. For the most part, the people in that movie were non-actor locals (the "old anarchist" in that movie, Louis Mackie, was one of my philosophy profs at UT).

The way they act and the pace of life depicted in that movie are resonate with Austin in a way that does not seem true to any other place I've been.

A couple of Slacker stories from the local alternative weekly for the movie's 10-year anniversary: an interview with Linklater, a look at some of the key locations from the movie (sad to say, I think only one of these locations still exists in the same form).
posted by adamrice at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


...was she in the Butthole Surfers?--with the overquoted pap smear sample

Yep. That's Teresa Taylor/Teresa Nervosa, their drummer.
posted by griphus at 7:03 AM on February 8, 2010


I couldn't help but think of the Smurfs conversation when Avatar came out.
posted by malocchio at 7:04 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Criterion Collection DVD.

The book. (Includes searchable script.)

Quotes.

"You should quit traumatizing women with sexual intercourse. I should know -- I'm a medical doctor. I own a mansion and a yacht."

"It's like sort of getting down to the real Madonna."

"Smurfs are getting kids used to seeing blue people."

"Granted, giving the man a quarter isn't going to change his life around. I do realize that."

"How many dreams do you have where you read? ... Well, it was my dream, so I guess I wrote it."

"The next person who passes us will be dead within a fortnight."

"Hell no, I've got less important things to do."
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:12 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


@griphus I sure hated her. She worked at the original Whole Foods, in their deli department. She interviewed me for a job and, instead of asking me questions, she repeated back everything I said, like an 8 year old boy teasing his younger sibling. In retrospect, she may have been going for some absurdist dada moment, but to a 19-yr-old from a small town, it just seemed mean.
posted by pomegranate at 7:14 AM on February 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


I couldn't help but think of the Smurfs conversation when Avatar came out.
posted by malocchio


So did I, heh...

Slacker will always hold a special place in my life, because the first time I saw it was actually also the first time I ever took acid. I happened to be wandering aimlessly around campus (with another "traveler") when we encountered some friends go to see it playing at our campus theater. We went with them, and were cracking each other up the rest of the night mumbling lines to each other.
posted by stifford at 7:20 AM on February 8, 2010


Madonna Pap Smear Origin.
posted by Tube at 7:27 AM on February 8, 2010


In retrospect, she may have been going for some absurdist dada moment, but to a 19-yr-old from a small town, it just seemed mean.

From what I know about Gibby Haynes/the Butthole Surfers, this surprises only to the extent that there is yet more affirmation to the character of the band.
posted by griphus at 7:30 AM on February 8, 2010


I love Slacker. On the recommendation of a friend from Austin (at the time) a buddy and I drove down from Massachusetts to see it at the Angelika in New York, and then spent the drive home basically re-relaying the movie to each other. "No! After the 'I have a mansion and a yacht' lady is the guy in his bathrobe who doesn't want to have premeditated fun, and his girlfriend who is watching Geraldo, and then those kids peep in their windows and run away to steal cokes from a machine, and then one of the dudes who is going to throw the typewriter off the bridge buys a coke from the kids, but then he gives it to his girlfriend who bumps into the JFK assassination guy in the bookstore..."

My friend from Austin was sort of surprised that it was well received. He'd thought it was basically a big in-joke about Austin. But, even if Austin was a particularly 'weird' place, the 'people' in Slacker were everywhere. And still are, because the things that make them interesting are are not specific to Austin, or 1991.

For me, the thing that Linklater does so well, here and in each of his movies, is have people have conversations that feel familiar to me - not specifically about pap smears or JFK or whatever - but the way people talk to each other, even when those people, say, have a TV attached to their back, always feels like a conversation I can imagine having, under the right circumstances.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:32 AM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I grew up in Austin -- was in junior high when Slacker came out. It's almost hard for me to watch it these days. I live in New York, now, and it makes me extremely nostalgic. I think it did catch the feeling of being young in Austin around that time very, very well.
posted by chasing at 7:34 AM on February 8, 2010


It was an accurate reflection of a time and a certain psychic space.

This is what I love about Slacker. Anyone who was around Austin about that time also hung out somewhere in that film, talked to one of the actors in a bar about something quasi intellectual, had conversations similar to the ones in the movie - about nothing, while not in a rush to get anywhere.

I still miss that Captian Quackenbush coffee house that used to be on Guadalupe. At the end they go to the Mt Bonnell I remember sans the safety rails that are there today. I can visit my own fond memories of Austin 1989 in this movie.

Slacker anecdote: by 1991 I had moved to Houston. Rice University radio, ktru had a contest promoting the movie before it came out. They asked listeners to write a 25 word essay about why they were the biggest slacker. The winner would get to meet Richard Linkletter who no one knew who he was at this time: Slacker hadn't been released yet. My future husband would win this contest by writing "cornflakes" 25 times.

He liked to say that the true slacker would have never even sent the 25 word essay in because in that day you had to get an envelope, address and stamp it and stick it in the mail. Far too many steps past the first conceptual idea.

He got a bus ticket to Austin and $9.17. 91.7 is the FM dial of the college radio.

My husband took a cab to Linkletter's apartment - that place that used to be on Nueces in the movie - where he slept on a blow up matress for the night. Linkletter took him out to some pizza place, they drove around and looked at places he liked in Austin. Linkletter gave him a little promotional faux pap smear that they had made. It's a little glass vial with 'Slacker' written on a slide inside it. We still have it somewhere. My husband worked at a magic shop, The Fun Store in the Galleria at that time and gave Linkletter a le farter, this goofy little hand held thing that makes fart noises.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:37 AM on February 8, 2010 [35 favorites]


This is still one of my top ten movies. If nothing else I've always used it as a yardstick to measure the quality of a neighbourhood, it's 'slackerness.'
posted by Flashman at 7:50 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, being in your early 20s and living in a town with a university and a counter culture. I watched this in Berkeley and I thought this was about all the weirdos I know. Friends in Santa Cruz thought it was about their town. Arcata, Goleta, Athens, Olympia, Eugene. Probably most people on Metafilter now pushing 40 lived in one of these kind of places. Definitely a document of a generation, certainly more so than the publication of Generation X or the rise of Nirvana.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:53 AM on February 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


ugh. please pardon my spelling above.
posted by dog food sugar at 8:08 AM on February 8, 2010


Yes ..... the days when counterculture was actually something that resembled counterculture, and not some random assortment of half-digested and vicariously nostalgic samples and images to be ransacked and appropriated for Super Bowl ads.
posted by blucevalo at 8:09 AM on February 8, 2010


Same here. For weeks after seeing that film in college (in Madison, WI) I walked around with an uncanny feeling that a camera was following me and my friends. The film captured exactly how we saw ourselves.
posted by rottytooth at 8:12 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The other thing that Slacker wrought: Mumblecore.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:20 AM on February 8, 2010


Frank Orrall of Poi Dog Pondering, the happy guy, is a friend of mine. His part is almost exactly how he is in real life, barely exaggerated at all. I always wonder if the rest of the characters were playing themselves, too.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:25 AM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Actually, those characters were cultured in the petri dish that is Austin. Linklater didn't round up actors from wherever and give them characters he had written.

I understand that, but my point was that you could have put together a comparable cast from people living in a couple dozen other cities and towns across the country with similar counter-cultures. The appeal of the film to many (not in Austin, which is to say most of the people who have seen the film over the years) was recognizing the same characters and situations from their own experiences elsewhere (with a nostalgia for such misfits and counter-culture folks).
posted by aught at 8:29 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand that, but my point was that you could have put together a comparable cast from people living in a couple dozen other cities and towns across the country with similar counter-cultures.

He could have made a similar film in Houston, he would just have to drive a lot more. Most of those scenes were within walking or biking distance from the UT campus. Every city has a "weird" counterculture (except San Diego, which has the underground headquarters of COBRA instead). Austin wasn't that "weird" anyway, that idea seems to have sprung from disaffected kids rebelling against straw men from other larger Texas cities.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:39 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This movie kind of ruined my life.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:41 AM on February 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's funny to me how much Waking Life is basically Slacker with animation/more death. But I loved both films, so who cares.

I was actually went to school near Austin at this time, but was way too intimidated by slackers, per se, to be any part of them, due to religious hangups; but I went to see the film when it first came out in Austin through some weird combination of reasons, and realized that if you subtracted drugs and added religion, you basically had me and my friends, so it was all ok anyway.
posted by emjaybee at 8:41 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I understand that, but my point was that you could have put together a comparable cast from people living in a couple dozen other cities and towns across the country with similar counter-cultures.

No one's saying that the film doesn't have appeal outside of Austin, but to say "that movie's not about Austin", that's just weird.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:48 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Linklater: I got a note from Ann Richards, the governor, saying how much she liked "Slacker." How's that for a stamp of approval?

Oh, Ann. So awesome.
posted by Eideteker at 8:57 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was 17 and had been living in NYC for less than a week when Slacker came out. My roommate and I saw it at the Angelika and then stumbled out into...the dark. Riding the subway after dark was out of the question (this had been drilled into us by our parents, probably) so we set out to walk from Houston to 116th street. We got back to the dorm as the sun came up.

Along the way we experienced something like a twisted reenactment of the film, with the addition of some sex and violence (or the threats thereof).

After getting hassled about a dozen times by various characters (We were two very, very white kids wearing J. Crew pants), we spent a couple hours of the morning walking in the middle of of the street, where we thought it was safer.

To this day, my fondest memory of life in pre-Giuliani New York is that of a prostitute jumping out at us somewhere along Amsterdam Avenue, shouting "Get these blowjobs while they're hot, gentlemen!" at the top of her lungs.

Alas, I've never made it all the way through Slacker again - it's like I outgrew it.
posted by subpixel at 9:13 AM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Austin wasn't that "weird" anyway, that idea seems to have sprung from disaffected kids rebelling against straw men from other larger Texas cities.

Having been one of these disaffected kids (from a small South Texas town), I admit it took a bit of traveling outside of Texas to really understand that Austin isn't actually that weird. Still, I have adopted it as my home because of all it's differences from most of the rest of the state.

Question: for Slackers, was Alex Jones given a script or just a bullhorn and a car?

Also, I miss that coffee shop on the drag.
posted by MuChao at 9:28 AM on February 8, 2010


I did *not* mean to put that 's' in there.... why does everything have to be plural to me today?
posted by MuChao at 9:29 AM on February 8, 2010


Well this FPP reminded me I need an internship for this summer. Resume sent to Detour. Thanks.
posted by djduckie at 9:30 AM on February 8, 2010


Oh, Ann. So awesome.

Executed more inmates then any governor in history at the time.
posted by delmoi at 9:43 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does anybody want to buy Lady GaGa's pap smear?
posted by jonmc at 9:45 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]



“Slacker”

The video you have requested has been rated "R" and may not be appropriate for younger audiences

To view this video please verify you are 18 or older by signing in or signing up.


Whuh? They know this is the internet, right? That a person of any age can find hardcore pornography purely by accident in no more than fifteen seconds without signing in or up to anything?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:57 AM on February 8, 2010


Whuh? They know this is the internet, right?

YouTube has had that age "verifier" for years.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:01 AM on February 8, 2010


YouTube has had that age "verifier" for years.

Yeah, but the "Rated R" angle is new, isn't it? It's sort of...MPAAlicious.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:04 AM on February 8, 2010


What's even funnier is that YouTube is owned by Google, which makes all that porn so easily accessible.

It's also a bit dumb that they've put a wall around legitimate content. It just gives pirates an excuse to continue pirating.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:08 AM on February 8, 2010


that if you subtracted drugs and added religion, you basically had me and my friends

this is pretty much the exact reverse-trajectory of my life, age 15-27.

And then a few years later I saw Slacker, which had the effect of a drug on me. I actually left the theater without my jacket, figured it out a few blocks later when I realized I didn't have my car keys.

Over time, I've perhaps seen it too many times because a good deal of the magic seems lost. The pap-smear girl? Please, give me a break. The old-man-anarchist? Uggh, what a self-important creep! But other stuff still resonates big time. The ending in particular -- the super 8 camera hurled off the cliff. And one line in particular (attributed in the movie to Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards) but actually an original piece of Linklater dialogue:

"Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy."

Words to live by.
posted by philip-random at 10:10 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I noticed a "plate o' shrimp in the café scene with the "You should quit traumatizing women with sexual intercourse" doctor lady.

It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness.
posted by chavenet at 10:20 AM on February 8, 2010


One of my favourites, and I will always be indebted to the high school teacher who showed it to me.

I fucked her in this tent. She's probably gonna fuck a lot of other guys. She's off to a good start. But she's not gonna fuck 'em in this tent.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:24 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's also a bit dumb that they've put a wall around legitimate content.

A single click confirming that you're over 18 isn't exactly a 'wall'. It's not even a speed bump.
posted by Malor at 10:25 AM on February 8, 2010


The old-man-anarchist? Uggh, what a self-important creep!

Hey, that's Louis H.Mackey and he's my favourite character in the movie.
posted by elmono at 11:07 AM on February 8, 2010


The old-man-anarchist? Uggh, what a self-important creep!

Hey, that's Louis H.Mackey and he's my favourite character in the movie.


Or maybe he just can't act (unsurprising for a non-actor). Either way, I always fast-forward when I get to his part, which of course is one of the longest in the movie.
posted by philip-random at 11:32 AM on February 8, 2010


I saw this movie sometime around 1992 or so, when I was in high school in Houston. As a nerdy kid riding the end of the Gen X alternative culture, I was totally taken in by the life it showed me. I wanted so much to be about 6-8 years older, so I could actually be in this subculture, feel like I was a part of something cool. I moved to Austin in 1994 to go to UT, lived there until 2005, so I saw the "death" of the town depicted in this film, although, as others have said, Austin was probably never as "Weird" as it wanted to be. Still, it was a really great town, and I miss it even though it was becoming more of a generic big city with the gentrification/homogenization going on. I haven't been back in the last 5 years; I'm sure it's still cool, but I am scared to think about what has possibly disappeared. When I first moved there in 1994, Mad Dog & Beans, which I think was the name of the place pomegranate mentions, had the best burgers around, made by the crustiest gutter punks you could imagine. Alas, it closed down pretty quickly after I got there, supposedly due to a huge amount of back-taxes owed. Sad. What else has gone that way, I wonder? Anyway, I haven't seen this movie in about 15 years -- I should watch it again, see what I think of it now.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:33 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I genuinely enjoy that the ad Google chose to show me before Slacker asked me if was ready to get off the sofa and kickstart an exciting new career!
posted by generichuman at 11:48 AM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yep I spent my early twenties in a huge coop (the Ark) and then a big old house on 22 1/2nd (Fredonia) in West Campus and it was a pretty amazing place to be. I can't believe they are nixxing the Cactus!!! First Les Amis, now this (Les Mis is the cable spindle table cafe about 5 minutes into Slacker) - I can't count how may times I saw the Austin Lounge Lizards, Two Nice Girls, and Toqui Amaru at the Cactus - even got to sit and chat with Utah Phillips for about 20 minutes before a show....And Professor Mackey was a great guy and so was his son, One Armed Jake.

I miss the insanity of the club that was in a Vietnamese cultural center in North Austin (Club Saigon?) where Ed Hall, the Pocket Fisherman, and ST37 played damn near every weekend in the late 80s. I miss roaming the streets with a spray paint can, wheat paste and posters (anybody remember the "Austin cops better start shakin" posters - I almost got caught hanging those, never run so fast in my life). I miss my confrontational relationship with the campus police after the '86 anti-apartheid demos, the shanty, and the UT-16.

Yep that is a life gone forever - worked 2 part time jobs (anybody out there ever work at Dynastat, now that was a bizarre place) and payed, at one point, $50 a month for a room!!! I also strongly disagree that this is not really an Austin film - there are transcendent ideas that would apply to many places, but the youth culture of Austin, in the bottom of a real estate bust cycle through most of the 80s, was special. It was dirt cheap to live there, it was pretty much anything goes bizarre, and yet homey and accepting. The personalities that made that move function are stewed up out of the muck of a vary particular culture! Enough pathetic nostalgizing : (
posted by pdxjmorris at 11:54 AM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


And I wonder what ever happened to Mark "The Mouth" Harris......
posted by pdxjmorris at 11:56 AM on February 8, 2010


Louis H. Mackey letter to the editor, Time, July 15, 1966:

Sir: Cleans and Dirties be damned. The Rolling Stones didn't invent the bawdy song: it's been around for some time. As for LSD and pot, they are what's happening, and it would be surprising if pop songs didn't take account of them. Rock 'n' roll didn't write the script, it only made the scene. But the main thing is that rock 'n' roll is the first original development in popular music since jazz. Groups like The Beatles and The Stones display a phenomenal melodic inventiveness and a harmonic and contrapuntal imagination that even us squares can dig.

(PROF.) Louis H. MACKEY Rice University Houston

posted by plastic_animals at 11:56 AM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Slacker was pretty dead on for its time. I was living in Vienna when Before Sunrise came out which was kind of interesting in the same was Slacker was in that I knew I lot of the people and locations in the movie. But in that film it was more about outsiders looking in at Vienna, not insiders in Austin.
posted by misterpatrick at 12:14 PM on February 8, 2010


Yeah, Slacker is wonderful. I've come to realize as I grow older that I need a culture like that to be happy. I've found it here in Providence and I grew up with it in Reykjavík. To quote William Gibson, places like that are "where industrial civilization went to dream." Slacker captures that quality perfectly.
posted by Kattullus at 12:24 PM on February 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


"where industrial civilization went to dream"

Thanks for that.
posted by philip-random at 12:41 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Austin, back in the day. I remember walking around their cameras on the Drag, fighting past them to get to that hamburger shop where the owner shouted insults at everyone passing by.

I'm will be sitting here going crazy until someone remembers the name of that place.

Mad Dog & Beans, which I think was the name of the place pomegranate mentions, had the best burgers around, made by the crustiest gutter punks you could imagine.

It wasn't Mad Dog & Beans, which was over on 24th. This place was on the Drag, near MLK. I think there was an adult video store next to it until 1992 or 1993. The charm of the place is that the servers insulted you when you ordered. (But they had greasy cheeseburgers good enough to make it worthwhile.) When they were slow, they'd hurl insults at passersby through a PA system. I want to say that they had other locations around town, too -- I'm thinking there was one on Lamar between 6th and 11th?

Someone, please tell me the name!
posted by mudpuppie at 1:24 PM on February 8, 2010


Great movie. I could watch it over and over. And I have!
posted by zardoz at 1:29 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


anybody out there ever work at Dynastat, now that was a bizarre place

This Dynastat? I was their on-call "computer guy" in 2003-04, before I moved to Houston in '05.

Just a bunch of hardcore nerds and engineers developing and testing new audio codecs. Ira's a good guy. That office was in a very strange location, though.
posted by mrbill at 1:32 PM on February 8, 2010


Funny, I saw this video in our local video store everytime I went into it when I was about 11 or 12, and I always looked at it, and considered it, but never got it. Now it's on youtube and I am finally enjoying it. Too bad though, I would have loved it.
posted by molecicco at 1:33 PM on February 8, 2010


Wow, it's even better than I remember. Then again, I just drank two beers and watched Slacker on a Monday afternoon, so maybe I'm not the most objective judge.
posted by lost_cause at 1:34 PM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Someone, please tell me the name!

The GM Steakhouse. The one on Guadalupe has been gone for years; that's the place where a "cheeseburger without cheese" cost $.10 more than one with cheese. That place has been gone for a long time. I always thought it did a good business, so that's kind of surprising.

The GM steakhouse at 6th & Lamar (where the "you should not traumatize women" scene was shot) survived longer, but is now the Counter Cafe.
posted by adamrice at 1:42 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


*sigh*

Sorry, guys. I always found this movie irritating and boring.

And I LIKE boring, irritating movies.
posted by desuetude at 1:43 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


adamrice, a million thanks. It closed when I was an undergrad. Its closure gave me mixed emotions -- I liked the place, but I also had to walk by it every day on my way to class, and being heckled on the sidewalk three times a week got a little old.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:46 PM on February 8, 2010


Which is to say, you like Slacker…?
posted by adamrice at 1:46 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yep Mr Bill, that's the one! It was in West Campus in the 80s (I worked there in '86 - '87 or '88) - across the street from a sorority, a the little market in the middle of the parking lot - which by the way is the market where Austin activist George Vizard was shot, killed, and stuffed in the fridge in 1967, killed by a guy linked later to the Minutemen and the police. At that time Dynastat had the test team working in this dimly red lit thing that look like a giant walk in freezer with cheap carpet (the unit was marked medical testing unit or something like that). We did the data entry for the tests on Radio Shack trash eighties. I still think one day Ira is going to call us all in to off some officials or something ala Manchurian Candidate. The call will begin - The girl lost the footrace / Card games are fun to play / Happy hour is over.....No Ira is a nice guy as is Allen and the old computer guy, Steve, was great fun!
posted by pdxjmorris at 2:05 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


The charm of the place is that the servers insulted you when you ordered.

I wonder, is this a common restaurant gimmick? There's a place here in Vancouver called the Elbow Room Cafe that does this as well, should you miss that kind of service and be visiting here in the future.. I didn't know about the place until a few years ago when Tom Waits was here on tour and said in an interview that this place was his favorite hangout when in town.
posted by mannequito at 3:06 PM on February 8, 2010


If anyone doesn't want to be bothered by the whole YouTube registration thing to watch the video, you can watch it without registration using this link instead.
posted by ooga_booga at 3:33 PM on February 8, 2010


Almost since it was released I've been entertaining the notion that Slacker is a science fiction film about a utopian island-state in which crime, war, and illness have been abolished, and there's nothing left for the residents to do. Some continue hurrying about at jobs of no significance, urgently producing work of no consequence, all of which they try to avoid considering. Others have copped to the nature of their utopia and realized that whether they work hard or hang out, they will get along all the same.

When it came out I was an underpaid, underemployed twentysomething who couldn't afford to see it. I still haven't seen Slacker. But when I saw Waking Life it looked exactly like what I'd imagined Slacker to be in its essential details, setting aside the visual animation and tango nuevo soundtrack.

Sometimes I suspect I shouldn't see Slacker, so that I can continue to be right, in my own mind, about my assumptions.
posted by ardgedee at 4:22 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Which is to say, you like Slacker…?

Ugh. No.
posted by desuetude at 4:38 PM on February 8, 2010


Left the room for a few minutes. The cat jumped on the mouse-pad, opened the link, and started watching the movie. No shit. A Classic. I should watch it again.
posted by ovvl at 4:50 PM on February 8, 2010


Yes, the old GM steakhouse. Service with a sneer. If you had your order ready, had picked up your tray, and were moving at the appropriate speed, it was possible you might not get yelled at. 1/2 lb. burgers, and the rule on fries was 'you kill em we fill em.' I believe the whole meal was about six bucks.
posted by Gilbert at 7:28 PM on February 8, 2010


Almost since it was released I've been entertaining the notion that Slacker is a science fiction film about a utopian island-state in which crime, war, and illness have been abolished, and there's nothing left for the residents to do.

In other words, Clinton-era America.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:07 PM on February 8, 2010


It was in West Campus in the 80s (I worked there in '86 - '87 or '88) - across the street from a sorority, a the little market in the middle of the parking lot

That was the office they were still in when I was helping out. Looking at their current address on Google Maps, they've definitely moved up in the world. Their prior digs were that little weird "strip office" that looked like it had been built in the 50s.
posted by mrbill at 9:07 PM on February 8, 2010


And unless I'm wrong, it looks like their old offices were razed and new apartments put up at the same address. That entire stretch of Rio Grande looks brand new on Google Street View.
posted by mrbill at 9:10 PM on February 8, 2010


Almost since it was released I've been entertaining the notion that Slacker is a science fiction film about a utopian island-state in which crime, war, and illness have been abolished, and there's nothing left for the residents to do.

In other words, Clinton-era America.


Interesting. I remember seeing WAKING LIFE for the second time maybe a week after 911 and thinking, wow, that "possible reality" just doesn't exist anymore; reflection, poetry and dreaming just aren't relevant anymore, it's all over now, baby blue ...

Or words to that effect.
posted by philip-random at 10:10 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slacker and Waking Life have that kind of feel where Linklater didn't actually write a script but just let people talk about whatever they wanted to.

Waking Life is one of my favorite movies of all time. I recently watched Tape and I must say that was one of the worst movies I've ever watched.
posted by daHIFI at 10:10 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


In other words, Clinton-era America.

Though Slacker was shot in the summer of '89, six months after Reagan left office and the first year of G.H.W. Bush's presidency. Clinton was still a long way off. At that time -- and at least through the early '90s -- there was still a definite feeling of the old lefties and the new lefties and the anarchists and greenies and punks and slackers all being deep underground, even in liberal college-town islands where there were plenty of earnest meetings and newsletters and protests.

I was 20 and doing a internship at The Austin Chronicle in the summer of '91, and saw this in a theater where everyone around me would periodically point at the screen and say, "Hey, I know that person!" (I just knew Louis Black, the editor of the Chronicle, who's the gruff guy in the diner scene.) Still, I knew lots of those types of people; it was the first time I'd felt something tangible in my life reflected somewhat realistically onscreen. Now 'indie culture' is so widely distributed that it might be hard for under-30s to appreciate how wonderful and weird that was, but it was.
posted by lisa g at 10:43 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I rode through Austin in '90, intending to visit Frank and the rest of Poi Dog, but they had just taken off on tour and I missed them by a day or two (they were in Baton Rouge). So I decided to hang in Austin for a day or two, and hook up with them in Houston.

I had a bunch of film to develop, so I dropped it at a 1-hour shop and went across the street to a little cafe, and got into a conversation with the barista about what was cool in town. When he heard I was from Hawaii, he said, that's interesting, so is my roommate, and right that minute, she called, he gave me the phone just to see if we knew each other. We didn't, but we both knew the all the same people (but she didn't know the Poi Dog crew, didn't even know they were from Honolulu), so we ended up getting dinner together that evening, she was a truly mad thing, and we're still long-distance friends.

If she'd been in Austin when Linklater was shooting Slackers, she would have been in it.

One of the typical gags she got up to was cruising in her friend's art car, covered with glued on tiny animals, around all to the cool kid spots. Guys would come up to the car to hit on them, only to recoil in horror at the girls' horrible hillbilly teeth (bought from a vending machine). They would cruelly engage them in flirtatious conversation as the guys withered and tried futilely to sneak away.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:02 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I saw Slacker with a couple of friends in Chicago when it came out.

A year and some change later, I moved to Austin.

"Hey," I told them. "Remember Slacker? I live there now. Austin is exactly like that."

It was, too. And I ended up getting to know several of the people who were in that movie. It was a pretty great place, and I wish I could go back, but I know Austin as it was at that time doesn't exist any more.


(Closing the Cactus? NO! NonononoNO.)
posted by louche mustachio at 11:06 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


@pomegranate I just talked to Teresa and she said that never worked at Whole Foods. I think you are misremembering something.
posted by kongg at 7:03 AM on February 9, 2010


Ah, that original Lamar St. Whole Foods/Book People complex was indeed some kind of transmitter that disabled the weirdness in Austin. Once they built the new Whole Foods HQ on 6th street the transformation was complete.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:09 AM on February 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


kongg just convinced me in memail that I may no have known exactly what was going on. It may not have been Teresa Taylor, or I may have misinterpreted or misremembered the situation, she might have been just hanging out and joking around. All I know is I missed some really badass Butthole Surfers shows because I was too intimidated by all those cool daddyos.
posted by pomegranate at 6:32 PM on February 9, 2010


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