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Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Photo: Stephen Samuel

While I was putting myself through college at the University of Texas at Austin, I lived for a while in a small apartment complex in the Clarksville neighborhood.  It would’ve been the mid- to late-nineties.  For a brief time, Marc Katz’s ex-wife, a realtor, lived across the street from me.  She gave me her card once:  “Katz Always Kloses.”

But I digress.

I was trying to figure out some things about my life, make sense of my past and figure out who I was going to be in the future.  It was a heady time.  I had trouble getting quiet in my mind, though.  Friends of Bill W. suggested I might benefit from long walks along the Town Lake, and I did.  Five miles from Clarksville to the bridge where North Lamar becomes South Lamar, up to Barton Springs, through Zilker Park, up to MoPac, back to North Lamar.  A wonderfully quiet, nature-filled 5 mile walk smack dab in the middle of a bustling city.

I have fond memories of those walks.  Feeling the perspiration evaporate off my sweaty arms when I rounded the northern, shaded edge of my route.  The sound of my footsteps on fine gravel.  Long leaps to avoid mud puddles.  Neighbors greeting one another as they passed walking in opposite directions — even Governor Ann Richards if it was early Sunday morning and you were lucky.

There was a spot along Barton Creek where I always stopped to watch the mallards and geese.  I can still envision the late afternoon sunshine lighting up thousands of bright green and yellow leaves.  A gentle breeze made the flowers and grasses sway ever so slightly.

The Sony Walkman had just become affordable enough that I’d managed to obtain one.  I bought cassette tapes at Waterloo Records or Tower.  One of my favorite accompaniments to those long meditative walks was Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing.  Society was so high tech then; we could take actual recorded music in our pockets on a long trek.  Who would’ve imagined it possible?  These were good times. Sarah MacLachlan’s style was helping to usher in a new era of popular female vocals.

“Your love, is better than ice cream” the mezzo-soprano crooned as the newly out lesbian tried to figure out why she couldn’t get a date.

The very sound of Sarah McLachlan’s voice has brought fond memories to mind ever since.  Some of her nineties songs feel like audio hugs, lovely and comforting.  A walk down memory lane.  Warm fuzzy feelings pour over me every time I hear Sarah McLachlan’s voice… even today, right?

No!  Not anymore.  Not since she’s become a spokesperson for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

From the ASPCA’s commercial, on YouTube:

“Every day thousands of dogs & cats are abandoned, left to suffer alone .”

And that’s just the beginning.  I can’t bring myself to tell you any more.  You’ll have to watch the video yourself.  Gawd, I’m getting teary-eyed just writing about it.  I’ve been playing the video so I can quote it accurately.  Gah.  It’s killing me.

Damn it, I hate you Sarah McLachlan.

Hate. You.

Because I can’t stand, omg the kitten face, the sad hound… oh (dabs eyes with kerchief).  Okay.  I feel soooo guilty.  It doesn’t matter that I already live with two cats who might’ve ended up on the streets otherwise.  One came from a house full of teenagers who needed to find homes for a litter of kittens, and the other lived in foster homes or shelters the entire first year of her life.  But I can’t take on any more.  Nobody would rent to me ever again, I can’t afford vet bills for a third pet, and our Alpha Cat would just eat another animal anyway.  And right, I could send money, but the budget is tight these days.  Tight.  Besides, by the time the commercial tells us what the ASPCA is actually asking me to do, I’ve tuned it out.  The guilt causes an involuntary reflex.  One I’m not proud of:  denial.

Chosen ignorance.  A closed heart.

Damn it.

I hate you, Sarah McLachlan.  I really do.

Willie Nelson, you’re on thin ice yourself, my friend.

(Ed. Note:  Sarah has helped raise at least $30 million for the ASPCA.  But there’s always more to be done.  Donate here:  ASPCA.)

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Leslie Cochran

Have you ever been to Eeyore’s Birthday Party in Austin? How about Seattle’s Hempfest?  They’re pretty different, and I’ll tell you why below.

I got to go to Eeyore’s a couple of years ago when I took a road trip across the US.  It was right after college, and it was easy to make friends in new places.  One afternoon I ended up at this coffee shop on Sixth Street in Austin. I was smoking with my friend Bryon on the lawn in front of Book People and we noticed these two scantily-clad hot girls making flower wreaths & putting them in each other’s hair.  As you can imagine, we couldn’t look away.  After putting flowers in OUR hair, they invited us to follow them to Eeyore’s.  How could we resist?

Eeyore’s birthday party is in April every year, usually near 4/20.  (Heh heh)   There are drum circles and potato sack races, a donkey for the kids to pet, face painting, beer, pink cake, wood nymphs, girls dressed like faeries, and tons of people sitting in the shade smoking out while the cops look the other way.  A beautiful way to spend a day along Shoal Creek in Austin.

Now that I’m in Seattle, I had a chance to go to Hempfest and I must’ve expected something similar.  But it’s not.  Hempfest 2011 spans 3 city parks full of vendor tents.  You can get lemonade, donuts, pizza, bongs, edibles, tinctures, weed, and medical marijuana cards (in theory, medical records are required).  Cops are in the park as well as out, but don’t stop anyone from lighting up.  And there are 3 music stages, the main one hosts speakers like Dennis Kucinich and Mayor McBike.

Here are the major differences between Hempfest and Eeyore’s:

  • Hempfest:  best scenery (Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound)
  • Eeyore’s: best girl-watching
  • Hempfest: cops stand right next to smokers
  • Eeyore’s: cops hang out on the periphery with their backs turned
  • Hempfest: lots of street food but no alcohol
  • Eeyore’s:  COLD BEER
  • Hempfest: Mighty-O vegan donuts
  • Eeyore’s:  Mexican pink cake
  • Hempfest: 3 music stages
  • Eeyore’s:  a continuous, 2 day drum circle
  • Hempfest: groups of loud young guys looking for a place to smoke & hit on chicks
  • Eeyore’s: smelly people who need showers
  • Hempfest: no shade
  • Eeyore’s: lots of space to stretch out and chill under the trees
  • Hempfest: political activism
  • Eeyore’s: kid-friendly
  • Hempfest:  no Leslie Cochran

But even though they aren’t the same kind of event at all, they’ve both definitely worth going to.  So this post was pretty useless, wasn’t it?

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