Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Writer's City

The unofficial official motto of our state's capitol city is Keep Austin Weird.

It's not emblazoned across the Governor's Mansion or anything, although our Gov does bear resemblance to a Saturday Night Live escapee. Shown on right with his good friend and no-gun-is-too-big compadre Ted Nugent.

Actually, no one lives in the Governor's Mansion since it was firebombed last year. But that's another story.

Austin is full of stories. One morning this week I was driving on Barton Springs Road, coming up to the light at Congress, when a late-model black Honda Civic pulled into the next lane. Bike rack on back with two big locks, no bike. Plastered on the back windshield was a bumper sticker: Reading is Sex

I love this town.

Then I went on to the cafe. Every now and then, I stop in for a breakfast taco. In other states, people eat breakfast sandwiches. Here, tacos. Anything goes--although I draw the line at brains. The cafe I go to now has food names in English.

I took my paper plate to a bar stool adjacent to a group of late-middle-aged men. I've seen them here before. I used to sit a respectful distance away, so as not to intrude on their middle-aged-guy talk, but I couldn't hear the conversation well enough. Now I sit off-center from their table, my back to them and reading material propped in front of me. So they can't see me listen.

The last time I caught them, they were talking about writing. One of them is (evidently) a well-known writer and he was talking about his writing process. Unfortunately, I missed most of the conversation but I did get the part about staying in his chair until the pages were done.

Today, they were on music. Another one is (evidently) a musician and has been in Austin's music scene for many decades. I learned that Stevie Ray Vaughan, the guitar wonder, was shy and retiring. And that long-time rocker Delbert McClinton is a character. Actually, anyone who has followed Delbert at all knows that. Denny and I saw him at Gruene Hall last year. It was too much fun and I didn't really dance on the table, no matter what anyone says.

"Well," said the slight man in the faded blue shirt, "Delbert mostly does his own thing. He says he cain't stay with a band no more'n two days."

The barrel-chested guy with the silver beard asked, "Why's that? The drinkin'?"

"Naw, Delbert's been sober for twenty years. Just 'cause you're sober don't mean you ain't crazy."

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