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SXSW: Playing it cool

March 12, 2008  |  12:35pm

The difference between Austin, Texas in mid-March and Austin, Texas in early September is not so much “night and day” as “quite pleasant, actually” and “absolutely oppressively swelteringly crazy-making hot.” When I was here late last summer (for the Austin City Limits festival) the penalty for making bad clothing choices in the morning was absolute miserable heat-induced insanity. Having paid that price, it’s a relief that now the worst that could happen by picking the wrong outfit is possibly having to lug around that hoodie you thought you might need because it was a little chilly when you left the hotel in the morning.

This is only bad if you’re really interested in looking cool at all times, because lugging around a superfluous hoodie makes you look kind of uncool, like you’re obsessed with being prepared for every unforeseen crisis. People might think you used to be a Girl Scout and that you also might have band-aids, granola bars, ten extra ink pens, Beano, and one travel-sized bottle of orange-scented hand sanitizer gel in your bag.

If this is all true, then you are me. If you are me then you’re also really enjoying your time at SXSW so far, and not just because the weather is pretty much perfect.

After a mostly uneventful morning of airline travel (highlight: John Norris from MTV was on our connector flight from Houston to Austin, but when we saw him in the terminal we thought we saw him walk into the women’s restroom, and this was really strange not because we thought John Norris had gone into the women’s restroom but because we thought it might actally just be a woman who looked exactly like John Norris, which would be really unfortunate, but it was actually him and he never went into the women’s restroom) and a really awkward cab ride to the hotel (nothing like cruising down the Texas interstate in a yellow van packed with luggage, sound gear, two sleepy staffers and two sleepy interns, everyone silent and with Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” blaring-- blaring-- on the stereo) we headed over to Stubb’s BBQ. The premise of this visit was to “scope out the venue” for the party we were to host with OurStage and DellLounge that evening, but really I think it was less about “scoping” and more about “eating BBQ”—which was fine by me.

To tell you how great the BBQ was: I literally just stopped typing and stared out the hotel window for several minutes because my train of thought was so violently derailed by the very thought of eating it again. There is a hole in my stomach the size of a warm doughy bun loaded with saucy chopped up meat. This must be remedied soon.

Later in the afternoon we swung by the Austin Convention Center to register. Each of us had our photos taken for our official passes, which in theory I was pretty excited about for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, probably because I am obsessed with being Legit and with everyone knowing how Legit I am. Also because it was a chance for me to try, once more, to overcome the Bad Photo ID Juju Demon that has long plagued me and so many others. I should have known better. I failed miserably. I am scarecely indistinguishable as a human being, let alone Rachael Maddux from Paste Magazine, Legit Conference Attendee. Any creepy little girl from a Japanese horror film could totally steal it off me and go bounding around Austin besmirching my name.

Now it’s about time to go grab some lunch (I’m pulling for BBQ but I’m really hungry so I won’t be picky). Next up: We return to Stubb’s for an evening of delicate folk, badass girl rock, a hyperactive brain-dance party and awkward white people dancing.

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