I’ve only ever lived in Austin for a summer at a time. First, after sophomore year of college, when I was an intern at Texas Monthly magazine. I lived in one of those spoiled college kid tenements right off the drag where I had my own bathroom and never talked to the two asian roommates who spent the whole time playing World of Warcraft. I still owe them for a cable bill.
The next time was after 2L year of law school, when I was an intern with the ACLU of Texas. That time, I sublet from a friend who lived in an apartment complex that was about 75% Hispanic families. It may not have been on the drag, but I sure did enjoy reading by the pool every weekend.
The point is, despite the stereotypes about Austin, it is a large, diverse city. However, even within the central University of Texas, 6th Street, Clicheland, Austin is still no homogenous Xanadu that people not from Texas bring up when you say you’re from Texas. In my limited experience, there are two sides to that Plantoic ideal of Austin. The Austin What Were. And the Austin What Is.
The Austin What Were is that fairytale land where ex-hippies, proto-hipsters, marijuana and music fans of all types could live on the cheap, just playing instruments and making music when they’re not working in coffee shops. Everyone misses this Austin. Even if it never actually existed, or still exists.
The Austin What Is is the feeling of being the only Rice fan at a University of Texas bar, looking out on the sea of bros and peroxide, the burnt orange polos only slightly darker than the faces tanned not from Zilker Park but rather the free tanning beds that the $1000/month student apartments provide. But in spite of that, they’re all affable young fellows.
Today, I stumbled upon two YouTube music videos about Texas Governor and Presidential candidate Rick Perry. One was created by Austin What Were. One was created by Austin What Is.
I’ll leave you to guess which is which.
Now, I am certainly no fan of Rick Perry, but my biases are obvious. However, through the gift of Twitter and Facebook, these two videos appeared today at almost the exact same time, without request (The Internet is Magic). The juxtaposition of the two videos seems to say something about Austin.