I live in a fabulous neighborhood. It's always been one, although in different ways over the years. When I moved here thirty years ago, it was a very mixed and poor neighborhood: an old blacklands 'hood that had shifted to Hispanic and then to musician. Houses were board and batten and tiny, from the early 1900s. There was a lot of prostitution on Congress Avenue, and when I walked to and from work, I would get offers of a 'ride' every block. But people knew each other and there were a lot of parties. It was edgy.
Now it's all gentrified. The blacks and Hispanics and musicians are mostly gone. It's more upscale, but the restaurants are a whole lot better and no one asks me if I want a 'ride' when I walk downtown. Don't even think of suggesting that it's because I'm thirty years older, cher, I'll backsmack you!
One of the constant things in the 'hood is the Continental Club. Last night James McMurtry was playing there at mignight and, well, I hadn't seen him in a long time. He plays with the Heartless Bastards. They're a power trio, and not for everybody, I'm sure, but I love to listen to him when I drive. And there is a move (albeit a really tiny one) to make Choctaw Bingo the national anthem.
I had to raid my piggy bank to go. Ok, and to take a nap, too. How did I ever play shows that ended at 2 am? Oh, yeah, it was twenty years ago! So there I am walking down South Congress at midnight with my quarters jingling in my pockets. The requisite street musician is sitting in front of the South Congress Cafe with his cds and his guitar. "Wanna hear a song?" I told him I'd love to, but I had just enough to get into the Continental Club.
Ok. So they laugh at you when you pay your cover charge in quarters. I'm tough. I can take it. I stayed for an hour (had to be up early this morning) and started to walk back home. Just up the street was the same musician, with his cds. "Now do you have time to hear a song?" He asked. "I have no money," I warned him. "I don't care, I just want to play you a song..."
So I sat on the bench beside him and listened to Ian Pummel (I think) (it was 1:30 am) play Tame the Mystery. And then I walked on down Congress to my cosy home.
I love South Austin.