Sucking Strap-ons

SXSW 2002

South by Southwest—the annual music festival in Austin, Texas—is about three things: watching bands, getting drunk and making out with strangers. Everyone knows this, but dynamic duo Alison M. Rosen and Chris Ziegler know it a little more. And so, for you dear readers, they have decided to break down their romantic (but not with each other! ewww!), debaucherous, four-day wingding of an earache-causing trip into its most fundamental parts.

EARLY WEDNESDAY
Chris misses his 1:30 a.m. flight because they don't let people on planes later than 45 minutes before takeoff—this screens out terrorists, most of whom are habitually late because it's hard to walk in shoe bombs—and spends the night propped up against his suitcase in the international terminal, listening to British people loudly marvel at the little TV sets that tell you when the planes are coming and going (e.g., "Cor! Blimey!").

Alison makes her flight, but her CD player runs out of batteries, she has nothing to read, and she can't go to the bathroom because she's sitting next to Rip Van Winkle and he's blocking the aisle. She convinces herself that perhaps the time will pass faster now that she has something with which to occupy herself (i.e. not peeing on Rip).

WEDNESDAY
Music:
Chris makes Alison go see all his friends' bands just so he can walk into clubs and have the band go, "Hey, it's Chris Z.!" After Chris and Alison leave, the band Tribe 8 has guys in the crowd suck on their strap-ons. This will be the first of many cool things Chris and Alison miss. Making Out: Alison kisses an elf-like, straightedge, vegan, sci-fi guy who bicycles around town promoting his film festival. Later, he will give Alison a rose. Chris wants to hook up with sci-fi guy's dazzling industry glitterati friend who is brilliant, beautiful, hilarious, and something of a authority on the biology of bats and lizards. ("Hey, bats!" says Alison. "Uh, those are birds," corrects Dazzling Girl.) Later, she will leave Chris standing forlornly in a piss-smelling Austin back alley with a bunch of hippies at 4 a.m. But they will meet again. Alison takes umbrage with Chris' description of elfin bicycling guy, although, hey, he's short and rides a bike. Drunkenness: Whiskey and coke for Chris. Gin and tonic for Alison. Orange County Factor:Chris sees a guy in a Paul Frank shirt. Apparently, it's a fake he bought for two bucks in Thailand. THURSDAY
Drunkenness:
Shitty margaritas in plastic cups and tens of thousands of dollars' worth of drinks at a tiki-themed bar, all of which are tasty and flaming but don't get you drunk worth shit. Also, they are kind of embarrassing. But not as embarrassing as Chris' admission that he and his roommate want to form a rap group called Bra and Panties. Music: Quintron and Miss Pussycat and XBXRX dancers at Emo's. Alison really wants to see Arlo, but the minute she and Chris get to the club, she is whisked outside by someone who Really Needs to Talk With Her. Must it be during Arlo? Apparently so. Earlier in the day, Alison sees Starsailor and OK GO and talks with Austin Brown from Paul Frank Industries. Lately, the company has been having problems with fake knock-offs. Making Out: Chris and Alison complain all night that everyone is ugly, which is what happens in Austin when you can't get drunk. FRIDAY
Drunkenness:
Chris and Alison hit the free beer line at Emo's before even touching solid food and get drunk. "It burns!" cries Alison. Chris buys and drinks a 32 of Lone Star at some record store after goading from the locals. Later, he will degenerate into accepting half-empty bottles of beer of indeterminate origin. Even later, he will end up on someone's front lawn at 4 a.m., playing the how-much-vodka-can-you-down-in-one-swallow? game with Corona band the Rattlesnakes, and not very much later than that, he will lose his glasses while puking desperately into a sink. Music: The Moony Suzuki and the Briefs at a record instore. Dead Low Tide at the Hard Rock. The Rye Coalition somewhere else. Later, Alison will return to the Hard Rock to watch the Icarus Line, who, at the end of their set, break a glass case and momentarily "liberate" Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar. Way to stick it to The Man! Orange County Factor: Alison and Chris miss Lo-Fi Champion's set, for which they feel pretty crappy. Chris repeatedly sees a guy in a Vinyl Solution shirt and feels duty-bound to repeatedly and drunkenly accost him. Making Out: Alison overhears Chris say to Dazzling Industry Girl, "Should I get a tattoo of you now or later?" Soon after, he is heard yelling, "Hey, I'm the new Strokes!" Alison discovers that many men at SXSW answer the question "Do you have a girlfriend or wife?" with the ever-classy "Not in Austin!" In a bar, Chris kisses a girl who later takes him to a party where she takes her pants off and pees on the lawn in front of him. He chalks this stroke of sexy luck up to his wearing his Magic Austin Shirt. ("Don't say 'magic,'" he whines. "You'll jinx it! No, really, I don't want to jinx it!") He also repeatedly tells this girl she is "America's sweetheart" until she sighs and tells him to stop it. SATURDAY
Drunkenness:
Alison is still drunk when she wakes up. Chris wakes up in a strange house and doesn't know where he is and can't find his glasses. Alison begins to remember the events of the night before. Chris discovers that he vomited on a car. Alison's phone rings. How many people did she call at 3 a.m. last night? Chris stumbles back to the hotel and orders French onion soup, "easy on the onion." Alison decides if she ever goes back to school, she will write a thesis on the difference between bootycallery and fuckbuddydom. Music: Chris does not go out all day but watches his first-ever episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alison watches Neil Finn at the New Times Party. The New Times people have cool parties. But they don't have Chris Ziegler and Alison M. Rosen, do they? Huh? Do they? Alison watches the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who, unlike Chris (sorry, Chris), really are the new Strokes. Making Out: Chris tells a cleaning lady to come back later. Alison gets dressed saying, "Should I wear the cute outfit or the comfortable one because I don't even want to attract anyone tonight? I just want to go home." Orange County Connection: People at the strange house tell Chris that he was drunkenly moaning all night about "pussing out on Orange County." On the plane home, Alison sits next to a guy from Fullerton. ADDENDUM
Before her flight, Alison returns to her hotel room to find the following note on her computer: "ALISON: SEND THIS IN HOWEVER; YOU ARE AWESOME. E-MAIL ME WHEN YOU GET BACK. BEST OF LUCK NAILING SOME SWEET ASS. CHRIS ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ."
 
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