Double Eagles, Long Horns and Lone Stars

Trip Start Feb 18, 2004
Trip End Feb 16, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Friday, February 20, 2004

Firstly, I would like to appologise if my last post showed some unjustified negativity towards budget motels. I had a great time. Honest. To continue from my last post, I have to say Austin was absolutely fantastic. Austin is the self proclaimed live music capital of the world. I met up with some others from the hostel, Richard (Essex, UK) Tom (Birmingham UK) and David (France, erm France?) and headed out to Joe's Generic Bar. This bar is anything but generic, I was unsure wheather the owners had gone to great expense to make it look like a cattle barn, or just neglected it to the point of absolute ruin by refusing to to clean or modernise the place since it was built. A trip to the solitary outside toilet (shithouse) confirmed the latter. Opening the broken, rickety old shithouse door reveals both a foul smell and a strange kind of shrine to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Inscribed in black marker on the walls were personal tributes to him and many of the other late, great musicians who reguarly played there, as well as some randomly placed telephone numbers. It was like a film set, neon lights advertising light beer lit the wooden panels on the walls creating a strange (purple) haze. Cool place.

I wish I could remember the name of some of the bands (Zak Perry was excellent). One of the blues bands was awesome. The lead singer/guitarist was about 60, with long grey hair down to his lower back. He he could play guitar like I have never seen before - his changes were as fast as lightning and the sound from this one guitar was like the sound that comes fron 3 guitars all playing together. He had a really deep, low voice, like Johnny Cash, that could only have been created by chain smoking for 50 years. People worshipped this guy, but he was no prima donna. He was there playing sets all night, and when it came time to change to the next bar, he was lifting the amps and sound equipment like a roadie. CD's were available but I just knew it would be a dissapointment after seeing him live - maybe he is his own worst enemy. We drank the drink and moved onto the Friends bar further down the street for more of the same.

Unbeknown to me, it was Mardi Gras (I asked several people what this meant, and never got an understandable reply) The basic formula for Mardi Gras appears to be live music (all types) students, their tits, and lots of alcohol. Austin has the second largest university in the USA, and at the end of term (I think), loads of students fill west 6th street every night for a few weeks. Let me tell you about the beads. The beads are worn round the necks of rowdy students. The idea is that if you give enough of these brightly coloured christmas decoration type beads to a (pissed) young lady, she will bare all - and by jove they do, and all for the price of a mars bar! Bargain! I have never seen so many beautiful women, all in one place in my entire life. Any preconceptions about American women being somewhat larger than their European counterparts, are washed well away by the stunners in Austin. I got talking to one of 'em, but I got the feeling she was unimpressed with anyone with less than a masters degree in public relations, together with big $$$$$$'s in the bank. So an unemployed "limey" staying in a $19.50-a-night downtown Hostel failed to meet any of her criteria. I should have lied and told her I was actualy a Lawyer with a penthouse in London and a keen interest in Marine Biology. Next time....... Hostels are frowned upon over here, and they are viewed to be the last refuge of the homeless, the rejected and the insane. This is unjust because the HI Austin is the cleanest, quitest, safest, most friendly place I have ever stayed in.

I am freeloading at my uncles house in San Antonio at the moment. Yesterday I went to the last day of the Rodeo to watch men and women get pummelled into the dirt by various rampaging beasts. Attractions included the No Saddle Bronco, Steer Wrestling and Bull Riding. This is surely the most dangerous way for anyone to earn a living outside of Sierra Leone, but it is fantastic to watch the cowboys catch & rope, how do they do that after having their internal organs re-arranged? The crowds were great, and I felt an obligation to remove my hat during the National Anthem & Prayers, which was typically OTT.

I have been out to the local bars, namely The Longbranch, just outside La Vernia. The people are really friendly out here, and you can go anywhere on your own and have a good night out. Last night was "shuffleboard" I lost.

I'm off to the Alamo in San Antonio later today. This will be an emotional experience, I'm sure of it.
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