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All pictures in this post courtesy of TDE. Public domain.

Picture a model. Neither waif nor plus-sized. Maybe Cindy Crawford in her prime.

Now picture her ten years later with 20 more pounds.

She'd probably still be kinda hot but not when compared to her prime.

That's Austin.

300,000 to One Million

Austin has put on 700,000 pounds in 50 years.

Its population has skyrocketed from its 1980 level (300,000) to become the 10th biggest city in the United States. The 2022 census estimate puts its population at 975,000, but it's adding about 1,000 people every month.

The number includes Elon Musk and a dozen other billionaires in a city that recently had only a few.

They're throwing money around. The city oozes it.

Two friends told me I would love Rainey Street's live music, cool bars, and food trucks. They must not have visited it with the cage of high-rise construction that currently surrounds it. I could see Rainey Street's charm, but it was like trying to appreciate that model in a frumpy house coat and curlers.

The Astonishing Transformation of Austin
My town, once celebrated for its laid-back weirdness, is now a turbocharged tech megalopolis being shaped by exiles from places like Silicon Valley.

Socialism's America: Billionaires and Homeless

You'll own nothing and be happy, says Klaus Schwab.

Unless you're one of the chosen: the members of the Cocktail Club Party and billionaires. Then you'll be allowed to own stuff.

But the rest of us? The Schwabians put us closer to this rung of the socio-politico-existento ladder:

(I took this photo while drinking from Sixth Street's oldest rooftop bar)

Austin teems with these folks.

Marie and I walked just five blocks away from our Airbnb, in an area that should've been fine. We came across an encampment of about 15, suddenly finding ourselves surrounded on three sides in the middle afternoon, on an inconsequential street. I Chuck Norrised us out of there.

Not really. My inner-Chuck wasn't necessary. None of them moved towards us, at least not directly, though a few seemed drawn to us, just like those slow zombies in the movies who suddenly realize there's a human in the vicinity.

Bizarre. Unsettling.

At dinner with an Austin friend Friday night, he told me the homeless problem is 80% better than it was just a few years ago. Criminy. If there were five times more homeless, I never would've left my room.

There's Nothing There Except Music, Alcohol and Food

I realize that sub-heading is kind of like saying, "He's a horrible person, except for his kindness, generosity, and friendliness."

Music, alcohol, and food: They feed the spiritual, emotional, and physical.

No small things.

And for all three, Austin is top-notch. I can't recommend it enough. Terry Black's BBQ blew me away. Angie's Tex Mex was an unexpected gem on the east side. Cipollina in west Austin was some of the best Italian I've had. My one food truck experience made me happy to be alive.

Inside Terry Black's BBQ

Sixth Street's blaring music was pure fun. The drink selection, from beer to craft cocktails, was Texas big . . . and normally priced reasonably.

But that's it.

Austin touts its parks, but they're ridiculously lame. My small town has a park that, if it were in Austin, would be a crown jewel.

Texas University's campus is alright, but pales next to, say, Notre Dame. The State Capitol building looks like the one in Lansing. The Museum of the Weird is fairly priced at $5. Unfortunately, it cost $13.

The street art is decent (samples below), but there's not nearly as much of it as the guidebooks led me to believe.

The Comedy Mothership: Disappointed

Marie and I picked Austin for our warm weather break because of its comedy club scene.

We paid a premium to see a show at Joe Rogan's Comedy Mothership.

We didn't realize that both of the Mothership venues were available every night.

"Little Boy" and "Fat Man." Same price. Entirely different levels of talent.

While waiting in line, I asked the usher who was performing in Fat Man that night. He said, "That venue is for Rogan's friends and him."

That would've been great to see.

Instead, we were in Little Boy

It was average, at best.

I'm hardly a prude, especially when it comes to humor, but this venue was simply filthy.

And it wasn't filthy like Richard Pryor or George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" skit.

It was filthy because the comics were lazy.

Four of the seven performers seemed to have this mindset: "Filth is itself funny. If I'm filthy, I don't need to go through the work of coming up with funny material."

Off-color references ought to move the humor along, not be the humor itself. It's the difference between adding onion to a dish and feeding your guests a big raw onion. At Little Boy, it was raw onion all the time with four performers.

There were three others, a man from Estonia, an annoying kid, and a woman. The man from Estonia was great. The woman was alright and she came with prepared material.

The annoying kid had this incomprehensible schtick that involved him moving his stool from one side of the stage to the other: over and over and over again. I'm sitting here three days later, still wholly oblivious to what it was about. He never even attempted to "link it up" during his set.

Like I said, I'm glad I went to the Comedy Mothership, but I can't recommend its Little Boy venue, especially at $40 a ticket.


This was, well, weird. Pricey, but it was a decent attraction. It's situated on Sixth Street, nestled among all the bars.
There is neat street art, but not enough of it.
More street art
This is a recurring charm in Austin: funny store signs.
The smell of marijuana in the Sixth Street and Rainey Street party districts is almost as prevalent as the homeless
An outdoor shot of this righteous BBQ joint
Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial