Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How We Got Here: A 2016 Postmortem

Last night ended one of the most contentious presidential elections since 2000’s Bush v Gore. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fought a hard battle to the finish line. They were two completely different candidates, coming from completely different experiences and worldviews. Neoliberal versus unpredictable nihilistic anti-establishment tornado. All in all, it was recipe for political disaster and realignment. And nobody saw the result coming. Well, sort of. More on that later.
This was also a battle of parties. The Democrats in the waning days of what could be considered a middling Barack Obama presidency, much of its squandered promise tempered by unprecedented Republican opposition and a stay-the-course policy with regards to foreign policy and economic policy. The Republicans were seemingly in the political wilderness, but nominated a candidate that shocked their party establishment.
In one corner, there was Hillary Rodham Clinton. She was the Establishment candidate, tempered by relentless political battles from her time with her husband as governor of Arkansas and two-term President, the Senator from New York, and Secretary of State.
Clinton, as the establishment candidate, had every institutional advantage under the sun. She had full control and loyalty of the Democratic National Committee. After all, they were remnants from the first Clinton presidency and fellow Neoliberals, New Democrats, and Centrists
She was the first woman to capture the nomination of a major party in the United States. She was, quite probably and literally, the most famous woman on the planet. Through the Clinton Foundation and her political connections, she gained a reputation across the world (for better or for worse). Her 20-plus years in the spotlight made her the most vetted political figure in American history.
But it wasn’t without setbacks. She lost the 2008 Democratic presidential primary to a political shooting star in the form of Barack Obama, after eight years of a disastrous George W. Bush presidency and an economic crisis on par with the Great Depression. Clinton represented a return to the steadiness of the 1990’s. Obama represented hope and change. Nostalgia for Clintonism didn’t save her. And Obama, reconciler as he was, brought her into his cabinet as an olive branch after their emotionally charged contest.
After her time in Obama’s camp, traveling the world as an ambassador for women all over, and with even more experience under her belt, this should have been her contest to dominate. Unfortunately, the world continued to move on from the neoliberalism that she represented.
Events around the world and domestically spelled the death knell for Clinton’s candidacy before it even began. The political unrest in Greece over the European Union and International Monetary Fund’s attempt to install an austerity regime, which led to the rise of the anti-neoliberal Syriza Party. The rise of Podemos in Spain. The shift to the left in South America and Iceland. And the cherry on top, the shocking BREXIT vote that no one saw coming.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the rise of Occupy Wall Street surprised a complacent and ignorant Establishment. There was a legitimate reason for that complacency. To the Establishment, the reforms that President Obama installed were good enough to help them maintain their way of life. Outside of the DC-NYC Interstate 95 corridor however, it was different story. Americans outside of elite circles were still hurting from crushing income inequality because of policies dating back to Ronald Reagan. The idea that the entire system was rigged for a select view proliferated in Middle America’s cul-de-sacs, small towns, and exurbs. And it culminated in the rise of Occupy Wall Street.
Occupy Wall Street put the fear of God into the elites. They literally had no idea that the plebs were that angry. Cloistered away (aware or otherwise) from the struggles of the everyday American, they could not understand that anger. So, they did what any reasonable (to them, anyway) society would do to something that questioned everything they knew and held dear—they crushed it underneath the police state that they owned. OWS wasn’t a liberal rebellion against austerity and establishment. It was more of an anarchistic reaction to a system that completely ignored their struggles. While the elites toasted the end of OWS, people across the country saw what happened and grew even angrier.
While President Obama’s run may have staved off a global recession that could have lasted longer, he didn’t address the resentment that working class white people felt. They had pensions, good paying jobs, and enjoyed a degree of privilege which kept them insulated from the problems minorities already experienced—crushing debt, the loss of their homes, and various states of poverty. But that insulation was gone.
The jobs lost from NAFTA and WTO policies that neoliberals like Bill Clinton’s DNC championed were never coming back. Banks were stealing their homes. That angered populace found scapegoats in the wrong form—immigrants, women, people of color, LGBTs. Meanwhile, the establishment was on television claiming that things were okay. They obviously weren’t.
It was the middle of 2015, and the neoliberals in control of the Democratic Party thought they had a bulletproof candidate, a bulletproof strategy for a post-Obama world, and a bulletproof strategy to roll out an unopposed Hillary Clinton out to the world again. But they didn’t pay attention to their audience. Neither did their opposing party, the Republicans.
In the other corner was Donald Trump. He was what many in the establishment considered to be a joke candidate. He was called a carnival barker, a reality show star, and a fraud. Maybe he was some of that, all of that, or none of that. But he managed to galvanize a Republican base that was tired of the Mitt Romneys, the John McCains, and the Marco Rubios of the world.
Trump was already a celebrity, a questionable giant in real estate, one of the faces of the Greed is Good decadence of the 1980s. He had a successful reality show in The Apprentice (and its spinoffs), possessed of one of the more memorable catchphrases of the past decade, “You’re Fired!” He traveled in the same circles as the establishment, but he didn’t appear to be one of them.
Listening to his speeches, he used a method of pentameter and vernacular that captured the hurt that his base—the white working class—felt after eight years of being ignored, ridiculed, and outright vilified by mainstream media. His speeches could be sort of hypnotic and empathetic at the same time. He was frighteningly good. To the establishment, it seemed like rambling. To a certain segment of the populace at large, his simple style of speech and barebones policy prescriptions spoke right to their fears and anxieties in a rapidly changing world that was leaving them behind.
At the beginning of the Republican primary, things were status quo. The Republican Party was in control of most state houses and governorships, and had enough power on the federal level to check any move that President Obama wanted to make. After 2012 it was all gridlock, all the time. 2016 was fast approaching, and the Republicans had the opportunity to nominate a candidate that could propel them out of the political wilderness. They just didn’t predict what was coming out of their crowded primary.
Trump was the natural result of the Republican establishment not in tune with their party’s base. Their base was a combination of Economic Conservatives (Wall Street and Corporate America), the Religious Right (end-of-times Dominionists and Evangelicals), and the Neoconservatives (the Warmongers). They worked often at cross purposes, but they shared the same base values. After being rolled in 2008 and 2012 by Barack Obama because the establishment ran conventional candidates, the base wanted something new and different.
The party didn’t even take the clue that seemingly fringe elements such as Dr. Ben Carson, Michelle Bachmann, Rand Paul, and Trump were catching the attention of the electorate during their primary crammed with also-rans that they expected to dominate, as they did in the past. The Republican Party establishment even tried to force Rick Perry and Jeb Bush into the nomination, with hilariously and predictably disastrous results.
When the dust settled, Donald Trump was the last man standing, sending shockwaves throughout the establishment, in both major parties. Unfortunately for both the Republican Party and Democratic Party, they could not have predicted the ultimate result.
Once the dust settled from the contentious Democratic and Republican primaries, we were left with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were two of the most unpopular figures in American politics in history. Sky-high negatives for the pair of them, yet they survived to face each other. Both candidates took decidedly different approaches to campaigning.
Clinton won her primary through a heavy thumb on the scale from the Democratic National Committee. She defeated Bernie Sanders through dubious means, quite frankly. The debate schedule, the control of the media, and a myriad of other machinations led her to victory. Her attempts to unite the party were practically nonexistent outside a few ersatz fig leaves during the convention. But she had serious weaknesses.
Her main weakness was appearing to be inauthentic. Her wonkish nature led her to deliver lawyerly, meandering, and ambiguous answers to simple policy questions. Her ties to her donors and her neoliberal ideology prevented her from taking any populist positions. Hence the long answers that said nothing. It made her look fake. The constant attacks on her for decades created a negative image for her that was difficult to shake. And that’s all before her lack of campaign theme.
Hillary Clinton didn’t have a coherent, direct message. It was always “I’m with Her.” And that’s it. Her policy prescriptions were ignored in favor of a race run by weaponizing identity politics and racial/economic intersectionality. Looking at her advertisements, there was nothing that spoke to the needs of the populace that felt that they were being left behind in the post-2008 Recovery.
Where were, the commercials touting her debt-free college education plan? Why didn’t she go to North Dakota to stand with the Standing Rock Tribe? Why didn’t she show up in Detroit outside of a photo op in the wake of the lead crisis there? Where was she during the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina? Why didn’t her campaign try to absorb the popular ideas that Bernie Sanders brought to the mainstream? Why did her surrogates spend time hippie-punching anyone to the left of her who didn’t 100% fall in line?
She was already unpopular, yet didn’t attempt to make herself likeable to more of the populace? Why did they focus solely on pointing out on how bad Donald Trump was?
And that’s before the FBI and Clinton Foundation scandals, artificial or otherwise. She could have gotten in front of the situation and owned it, yet her camp decided to do what the Clintons always did—they kept hiding from the press and made what should have been an easily manageable crisis into a full-blown fiasco. She actively avoided the press, both mainstream and independent. Her people arrogantly thought they could drag her across the finish line. They kept calling Trump a monster—but didn’t know how to fight the monster.
Hillary Clinton instead became a victim of her own hubris. And, most importantly, she was also a victim of misogyny. There is no way around it. The misogyny was a super strong culprit in a crowd of culprits.
Trump won his primary through sheer force of will and personality, powered by his base’s inherent racism, sexism, homophobia, and resentment of intellectuals and the elite classes. He didn’t speak like the typical Republican. Some elements of his party establishment even abandoned endorsing him, some going as far as endorsing Clinton. This had the unintended result of emboldening his supporters.
The supporters at his rallies may have frightened the establishment in their displays of aberrant behavior, but at home his supporters were eating all his populism and nihilism up. They loved him. It was probably the first time they saw a candidate who they could directly relate to and understand, even though Trump was wealthy and well removed from their daily struggles. He spoke their language, and that’s all that mattered.
He may have had a seemingly insurmountable number of gaffes, scandals, and outbursts, but he managed to overcome all of that. He was the “No Filter” candidate. His shoot-from-the-hip style made him immensely popular to the point where no matter what controversial comments he spoke, he was bulletproof.
Trump’s general election strategy was simple. Attack, attack, attack. Attack the incumbent president’s policies, talk about issues white working class voters cared about, and attach himself to the emotions of that populace. He attacked NAFTA, immigrants, and economic policy, and he surprisingly hijacked elements of Occupy Wall Street’s “the system is rigged” rhetoric. He, unlike Clinton, had a message, and he relentlessly ran with it. Most importantly, he ultimately succeeded in channeling the backlash from victories for women’s rights, LGBT rights, and civil rights into a victory forged from white male resentment that leaves the country’s future in an uncertain place.
In a presidential election, a candidate must have a clear message. In 2008, Obama won with “Hope and Change” against McCain’s “Stay the Course”. 2016 was about, “What is next after Obama?” Trump answered the call. Clinton completely ignored the question. The population decided to change everything and through a potential chaos agent into the White House. So here we are.
A Donald Trump presidency is going to lead to a lot of things that Democrats, liberals, and leftists are not going to enjoy. Republicans are going to love him. What can we expect?
First, the bad news. The repeal of Obamacare. The attempt to reverse any marijuana legalization that passed. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (if it doesn’t pass in the lame duck session). Wall Street deregulation. Social Security cuts (and the Social Safety Net in general). Mass deportations that will make Obama’s already horrific immigration policy seem like child’s play. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Protections for LGBT people will be eroded at a frightening level.
Overseas tax holiday and repatriation for US-based multinational corporations ($4.2 trillion dollars at last estimate). Further gutting of the Voting Rights Act. The potential end of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Supreme Court. The Republicans now control all three branches of government—legislative, judicial, and executive.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better. There’s no sugarcoating that. Things are going to get very bad. Sorry.
If the right people get organized, this will be a one-term presidency. The last time Republicans got everything that they wanted, they wrecked the planet, they wrecked the economy, and they were run out of the White House and Congress. The Republicans have gotten used to being obstructionist, and are rubbish at actual governing (because of what they want). This will become evident rather quickly. This is a good thing.
The Clinton controlled Democratic National Committee is over. This was their last shot. They’re done, opening an opportunity for a non-neoliberal to sweep into power. It’s going to take organization at the local level on up to affect a proper change in the organization. It can be done.
The midterm elections in 2018 should be promising, depending on who the Democrats nominate. If they go the route of bringing in retreads like Evan Bayh and Patrick Murphy, there’s no hope of retaking the House and Senate. If bring in candidates from the left end of the spectrum, a lot of the damage that Trump will do in his first two years can be seriously curtailed, and in the next two years slowed down to a crawl.
Finally, they should have put their support behind Bernie Sanders, who would have obliterated Trump last night. The Democratic Party committed political malpractice on a cosmic scale, and we’re all going to pay the price for their colossal mistake.
A Donald Trump presidency is nothing anyone expected. Yet here we are. The future is uncertain, domestically and overseas. 2016 has proven to be the darkest timeline. But things will get better. Light at the end of the tunnel and all of that. America has had darker days and emerged stronger than ever. Everything will eventually be okay.
We can only hope.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Austin and All Points Beyond, Part Three

Texas Capitol. I've been to Austin at least 10 times, and have yet to actually walk inside and take a look.
Sunday morning. I had everything packed up and in the rental, and we elected to grab brekky before heading to SoCo for more shopping and such. Finding brekky involved a lot of walking until we found a cool spot.
It was going to get hot, but at least there was lots of cool parts of the city to check out before we fried.
We did eventually find a cool spot that was recommended to one of us. And it totally worked for us. In fact, it was a fantastic idea. I was sold after seeing the sign.
"Happy Hour ALL DAY"? Sold.
Malaga Tapas & Bar. This place hit the spot. Our little quartet feasted. And when I mean feasted...we basically went all out and ate like kings and queens.
Feasting like a king. Two eggs scrambled with sauteed shrimp and garlic sauce, along with potatoes. On the bottom right of the plate was this paprika based sauce that I dipped the potatoes in. It was excellent.
There there was decent coffee. Endless cuppa Joe, for the wicked and hung over. And all was good.
I so wanted to swipe one of these comically small spoons. It was for the coffee.
We spent a lot of the time talking about the night before and what happened to me when I vanished with the ladies. Then there was talk about work, which I totally decided to forget about with a couple of mimosas.
Mimosas in the morning fix nearly everything in the universe.
We were full and happy, and that meant we needed to find out where we parked our cars. I volunteered to drive, since the other car was in a car park in the shade. And it was nearly 100 degrees, or would be shortly. Middle of the summer in Texas, and that's how it is.
And there was more walking. At least it wasn't 100 degrees. Yet.
Next stop was the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery which was fun to try and find while the GPS got us lost. Two u-turns later and we arrived. Finally.
The GPS may have been a bit kooky, but we eventually got to where we needed to be.
The place was pretty cool and one of our number really wanted to try out the cake balls at Holy Cacao. I tried out their shakes, which were brilliant. It was like drinking a cake. But being lactose intolerant, I was probably going to pay for it later. We cooled off with some drinks from Torchy's Tacos, then dropped off two of my coworkers at the downtown car park (so they could head back to Killeen early). Then it was just Paula and I, off to SoCo.
There were a lot of people out, but they were further down the street. Plus, 100 degrees.
I showed her Service Menswear, where she ended up getting something for her hubby and I picked up a pretty cool t shirt. We also headed to Tesoros Trading Company, along with a slew of other cool shops. Then the heat really got to us, and we headed back to the car, past this strange...guy/thing.
Not what it appears to be...
Paula thought it was a statue. Because, logically, who in their right mind would be wearing that in 100 degree Texas heat? But this is Austin where they love to keep it weird. Suffice to say, once he moved, a slightly startled Paula knew what I had suspected--that the guy wearing that is nuts, funny, and that Austin is indeed weird. Love this city.
Heading north on Congress and hitting the road.
Alas, it was time to head back to Killeen. And back to work for one more week. Boo. The rest of the week was quite uneventful, aside from a cool trip in Killeen to Cheddar's Casual Cafe (which they seriously need to open in Orlando--this place rocked, on the food side and the drinks side...their happy hour is perfect).
Inside of Cheddar's...wicked skylight. It was brighter inside, but my phone's camera was...temperamental.
Cheddar's had a really cool fish tank...but I was too interested in the properly poured Jack & Coke to snap a photo off. And the dinner distracted me as well. Hit the spot and all that.

Friday night rolled around again, and I'd be home sometime Saturday evening after a non-stop flight from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Orlando International Airport. I hopped in another rental car and headed out from Killeen to Austin for one more night at Barbarella.
This was somewhere after Barbarella, probably at Elysium, which rocked. And yes, you should probably check Elysium out as well. The shot? Straight-up Jagermeister. Because sometimes a Jager goes a long way.
After a night of catching up with my old transplanted friends from Orlando to Austin--Holly and Jacob--I headed to The Jackalope, and then back to the hotel and set my alarm to head back to the airport on time. Let's just say I've got a history of running late to airports. Besides, sometimes it's enough to make sure.

Once I turned in my rental and went through the security theater (after dealing with some TSA worker with a little too vivid an imagination and on a power trip after I forgot that I had a bottle of water in my bag), I ran into another coworker with whom I shared the same flight home. We'll call him Bucky, after Captain America's sidekick--because they look alike, only my Bucky is like 15 years older and has a family. Anyhow, we ended up at Earl Campbell's Sports Bar on the main concourse. And that's where I decided to dive into a couple of things, namely dinner.
I ordered a shot and this is the result. Don't know what it was, but it was the best the lovely bartender could pull together without any top shelf. Surprisingly, it was good. She McGyver'ed it out of random stuff, and vodka.
The first shot I had after lunch was decent, and a good primer to do what I like doing before a flight, getting a buzz--because in reality I've never been a fan of flying, and I checked the motion sickness pills that I usually carry with the luggage. Bad move. Or good, depending on your point of view.
First beer I tried out? Hamm's. Bucky recommended it after trying it first himself. Cheap, but good. But I got bored and wanted to try out something that I missed during the whole trip.
The National Beer of Texas.
Next up was Lone Star Beer. Very ubiquitous during my two and a half weeks in Texas, and what I would best describe as the PBR of Texas. And somehow it was light years better than actual PBR.

A quick two hour flight and I was back in humid Orlando. Definitely a different kind of heat.
Having a quick cig.
I headed outside to have a quick smoke, as the carousels at OIA were and always are notoriously slow. 20 minutes later, I had my luggage, and my cousin swung on by to pick me up.

Overall it was a fantastic trip, aside from the work part. Actually the work part was good as well, since my team accomplished a lot of what needed accomplishing. The fun parts in Austin were a well-deserved bonus. I ran into old friends, met new potential friends, and had a ball just being out of Orlando for a while.

A lot of things went through my mind in the days following the trip. Could I move to Austin? Would it be a good idea? Would what I need be a fresh start in a city that had my name all over it? Perhaps...but those were questions for another day. And last time I checked, we had plenty of those.

Next: A change of pace! I review a couple of bars that I call my usual haunts in Orlando, along with a few off the beaten path. Allons-y!

Once again, a big thanks to Paula at Eat: Watch: Run for hooking me up with a few of the pics in this post. And peruse her blog for insights on running, pop culture, and her interesting experiences along the way. And bunnies. You can find her here:

Austin and All Points Beyond, Part Two

While I was partying it up in Austin, I spent my time in Killeen, TX...about a good hour and some change north on I-35 and U.S. 190 or off of State Road 195--the faster way, even though there is one obvious speed trap somewhere in some town called Florence (population around 1,200...seriously). At the good old Residence Inn.
The room was actually nice, and the food served in the evenings was edible. Just sayin'.
I worked at Fort Hood during the week, and spent my evenings trying to figure out what the channel lineup was. And eating a lot of Ferro Rocher chocolates in my hotel room.
Best chocolates on the planet. Bar none.
Fortunately, the week wasn't that long, even though the work was tough in places. We were at another weekend, and I convinced some of my coworkers to join in the fun. Only they were going to pop in on Saturday, leaving me to head off to Austin and get my dance on at Barbarella. It was, as usual, an epic night.

I'm not even sure how the pedicab dude found my hotel, this time I was staying at the Extended Stay in downtown. It was cheaper than the Super 8 that I spent last weekend at, however the walking distance situation left a lot to be desired. A lot of the places that I wanted to head to were on Red River. But I survived the night and the walk back, thanks to some helpful folks.
Saturday morning came around and I was basically in recovery mode for much of the day, and spent a lot of it watching television, and walking around downtown. My coworkers eventually showed up and it was time to play tour guide.

We ended up having a late lunch at tenOak, where I had another steak (just because), and where we ran into a colorful group of characters. One of them totally ate it at the bar, bumped her head on a table, and got right back up. Sort of. The fact that she was pretty drunk made her practically invulnerable. Sure she'd have a nice bump on the noggin, but at the moment it was nothing.

They were serving some pretty cool drinks, which we tried out. And I totally got hit on by one of the guys in their group. Found that to be amusing. 
This was whiskey, lemonade, with blueberries in it. And it was awesome.
Suffice to say, we had a blast there, and hit up Starbucks on Congress & Fifth. Cappuccino for the win, that's all I'm saying. We split up and opted to get dolled up for a good old Saturday night in Austin. Because that's how we roll.
What was on television while I was ironing a shirt (read: trying not to burn my shirt with the iron).

Getting ready for Saturday night was easy. Find a shirt, find my jeans, find a sports coat, find my new Chucks. Easy peasy. I met up with half of the crew at a place called Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant. Excellent place, really. But the drinks were much more excellent.
Excellence in a pint glass.
Next part of the plan was to meet up with another coworker of ours Paula, who was hanging out with her runner friend at the Cedar Street Courtyard to catch an 80's hair metal tribute band called Metal Shop.
Metal Shop onstage and hamming it up.
They were rocking the tight pants, big hair, headbands, belt buckles, and wildly colored outfits. It was an excellent show, and we had a blast. Some of the ladies in our group even went onstage and danced it up a bit--but I'm not asking for the pics to post here. They sang everything from Bon Jovi to Warrant. It was a good mix of stuff that I honestly hadn't heard in a long while along with some old classic favorites. And they had a really great sound, to boot. Worth the $10 we spent.

Paula and I during the blur.
Somewhere along the line, shots happened. And lots of running around. Trying to find out which club was next on the list. Yes, it was a blur, that time of the evening where you're not even sure what time it is anymore, only that it's time to get to the next place on the list before last call. You always want to be in front of last call. It's like an unwritten rule out there.
Shots that I'm pretty sure occurred during the blur. In retrospect, not a good idea--but it was Saturday night...and who was I to argue?
Blurs can be fun. We all ended up on a pedicab ride to Barbarella. That much I can remember. Then there was something about going to the place next door, and then there was dancing, and we all went our separate ways before I ended up escorting a group of women back to their hotel and heading back to my own hotel in the end. And that was Saturday night. Great night.

Next: The Sunday Morning after...which means brekky and food trucks! And the trip winds down as I find out about the PBR of Austin. Allons-y!

Also, too! A big ups to Paula for the pics in Part Two and the upcoming Part Three. She learned that I can't take pics and walk at the same time. Check out her blog! It's called Eat: Watch: Run. It's a great read. Cheers!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Austin and All Points Beyond, Part One

Downtown Austin, with the Capitol in the backdrop.
Austin, Texas. It's the most non-Texas city in all of Texas--and I've been to Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, and San Angelo. It's a bohemian bastion--rightfully earning their unofficial motto of "Keep Austin Weird". It was on a lot of the t shirts that I spotted (and nearly bought) at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. I landed there in early August for a bit of fun and work. Mostly work, but I made the weekends my own.

Spent the first weekend at a not-so-dodgy Super 8 Hotel off of 12th Street. Right at the edge of the downtown core. Not really sure you could call it a "hotel" though. But that's neither here nor there so let's move on. 
Stay thirsty, my friends.
I had dinner at Mexitas Mexican Restaurant, a halfway decent joint for a beer and an affordable dinner--and curiously in the same plaza as a bingo hall, which I thought was brilliant and funny. I had enchiladas and a Dos Equis. Good combo.

Sixth Street is not quite ready for me, or is it the other way around?
But enough of dinner, it was time for a trip to 6th Street--cornucopia of drinking, dancing and debauchery--along with being a center of culture, music, and everything in between. Being a Friday night, I sauntered over to my usual haunt, Barbarella, sister nightclub of Independent Bar in Orlando and Barbarella Tampa in Tampa's Ybor City District. Unfortunately overslept due to exhaustion from hanging out the night before (I'm not a fan of being awake, alert, or sober on flights--and I'm not a fan of flying in general), so I didn't get out till a bit after midnight. I did run into one of my old friends--Holly--now the general manager over there, and had a few drinks before the dreaded 2am closing time rolled around.

Saturday morning came along and it was time to hit up  on South Congress Ave--or SoCo for short--full of antiquing, an eclectically savory assortment of food trailers, art, and great shopping in general. I wish I had taken photos, but it was tough walking around in 100 degree heat with not a cloud in the sky. Austin's summer has a different kind of heat. Half oven heat, half humid. Something like that. Hot is hot. That's all that matters. So instead of photos, lots of links coming.

On to the shopping. I browsed through Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, Service Menswear (where I picked a wicked pair of Chuck Taylor Double Zip High-Tops by John Varvatos), Tesoros Trading Company (and picked up some stuff for my mum), Allens Boots (just to check out the cowboy boots, not actually buy any), New Bohemia (an awesome retro store where I picked up the world's ugliest shirt--you'll see it later in this post), Uncommon Objects (where I found a sextant that folded into a case, but was too pricey), and Yard Dog Folk Art. I also stopped over at Stag (where I got my brother a pretty spiffy wallet), and had a quick bite to eat at the SoCo Trailer Eateries (too hot to have anything hot, so I went with shaved ice).

After that I headed back north on Congress to downtown. Next stop? tenOak Bourbon House & Lounge for a late lunch. I ordered the typical Jack & Coke and had this for a meal: 
I cannot express to all of you the joy of eating  all of this.
tenOak Steak! 6 oz of steak happiness with chimichurri sauce and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Had mine cooked medium rare. Heaven in my mouth. Seriously. It was excellent. But either way, this lunch was on point.

I was full and happy, and headed to Wild About Music on 6th Street. Ended up buying a guitar pick. Never know when you'll need one. After a quick stop at Buffalo Billiards, I headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. This time, I set the alarm. Then I decided to put on the ugly shirt that I got at New Bohemia.
Maybe not ugly, but sure as sin different. I thought it worked.
First stop on 6th Street? It was time to run the gauntlet, Texas style. Lots of shots. Lots of random beers. I stopped at The 512 Bar on 6th and Shakespeare's Pub
The first volley--a proper shot! 
There was lots of Summer 2012 Olympics on pretty much every television, so that was cool. I think it was the swimming finals with Michael Phelps and the US Team dominating.

I wandered about some more, but ended up at old reliable, Barbarella. I had a blast there. Had some random English girl buy me a shot, ended up dancing a lot. I also got a tarot card reading. 
Got a reading at Barbarella's courtyard. I have no idea what this meant, but his reading was actually on point. I tipped him well.
And somehow I got back to the hotel in one piece after the pedicab ride. One epic Saturday night. Totally epic. Sleepy time. Or actually, passing out time. Story of my life.

Unfortunately, I had to meet up with some coworkers the next day for the work part of the trip. Can't win 'em all. But next weekend gets better.

Next: The second weekend is even more awesome. I convince my coworkers to take the plunge into Austin for a crazy night involving spandex tights, big hair, Irish pubs, something about walking around a whole lot, and everyone kind of getting lost--but really not. Blame it on the shots. It's always about the shots. Allons-y!

Handle the Friday, Embrace the Saturday

Thank goodness it's Friday. Second best day of the week, by all rights. This is just the intro to the greatness that is Saturday. My favorite day of the week. Why? Saturday has it all--you can wake up when you feel like it, do what you want in between, and pretty much sleep at whatever hour you please. If you're a 9-to-5 type like yours truly, no other day offers such versatility.

Let's get to the waking up part. Sure, there's probably a hangover that needs shaking off from. Or maybe you're not a partyer and can simply sleep in till the sun gets all the way up. Or perhaps it's something in between. It doesn't matter. You can literally lie in bed all day if that's the thing. Point is, there's no need for an alarm clock. Hell, my phone's alarm never goes off on a Saturday--if the phone's even on.

As for whenever it is you do decide to get up and get around to sorting the day's activities (or inactivities) out, it's an open book. Fishing? Sure. Golf? Why not, if the weather permits. Sleeping in on the couch while watching College Football or College Hoops? Hell, that's something. Or maybe you want to and do all the chores that needed doing during the week and you weren't feeling it. And when the sun sets, you can party to your heart's content (which is my thing) and not worry about whenever it ends.

Speaking of the end, that's Saturday night. Here in Orlando, the end usually begins after leaving whatever club or bar I was in and getting a pedi-cab ride to Five Guys Burgers & Fries or Gringos Locos. Late night cuisine, and getting home in one piece. That's how I roll. And that can be around 03:00. Or later. You can basically take Saturday night and make it whatever it is you wish. A quiet day, a wild night on the town, or you could catch a show.

In the end, Saturday's about versatility. It's a pound of clay that can be molded into whatever pleases you at the moment. It could be planned or played by ear along the way. Or you could ignore all of that and nap it all away. It doesn't matter. It's Saturday, it's tomorrow, and it's the best day of the week. Go out there and enjoy it, world.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pockets and Answers That Involve Jackets

I almost always wear a jacket of some sort. Most usually a blazer, or the longcoat during that week of the year here in Florida where it drops below 40 degrees and everyone in the state freaks out.

But why do I wear jackets?

Simple answer: I like the look.

Complex answer: I really like the look and because I like being warm. I carry a lot of things. I could use a man bag, but Orlando isn't a place that's probably ready for that yet. And not everything I carry cannot fit in a pair of jeans (that probably sounds like a double entendre, but I don't like the backspace key all that much, ergo, that sentence is staying in there). Plus, everything in my pockets goes into a specific place on my person, just out of habit, and because things are easier to find in pockets when you know where something is, and a zombie apocalypse is going on. So, what do I carry in my pockets?

No weapons. While many of the things in my pockets could possibly be McGyvered into weapons, I do not carry anything that could immediately be called a weapon. No knives, no guns, and no batons. I like firing guns, just not carrying them around.

Cell phone. Have to keep in touch with the world, obviously. That, and it serves as my secretary.

Cigarettes in a metal cigarette case. I'm a smoker. Carrying them in a metal case is much better than carrying them in the box they come in, and I can't break my cigs in any unfortunate incidents. Plus it just looks a bit classier and civilized.

Cig lighter. Once again, I'm a smoker. Must have. Making fire is something handy to fall back on when things get ridiculous. Or if there's a zombie apocalypse.

Matches. In case the lighter fails. And if there's a zombie apocalypse, the lighter will always fail.

Abreva. I'm paranoid. And while I don't get cold sores often, whenever I do, I'm cursing the world when I don't have Abreva immediately at hand.

Condoms. I am a bohemian hedonist at the core, but I'm no fool. Practicing safe sex is important. Like Abreva, having condoms handy is important, and I'm cursing the world if they're not immediately at hand.

Business cards. I like networking. Very important, and seeing as my quest in life is to escape Orlando involves finding a job in a more...metropolitan city, networking is key.

Notepad. Sometimes it's easier to write something down in a notepad than typing it into a phone's notebook app. Especially when alcohol is involved.

Pen. Gotta have something to write with, and the only people who have pens when I'm out aren't going to let me keep theirs (bartenders, waiters/waitresses, concierges, cops, lawyers, etc).

Guitar pick (sometimes). You never know when you're going to be jamming out on a guitar at an afterparty. Which has happened to me a few times. If I'm playing the guitar it's because the actual guitar player is passed out somewhere in an unfortunate position. Or fortunate. I mean, he is a guitar player. Ask John Mayer what happens when he picks up a guitar.

Paperclips (sometimes). I work in an office and always seem to end up with a few of them in my pockets. So I just decided to keep them in the pockets when I'm out and about.

Naughty dice. They're mostly a novelty gag, but I'm sure there's another reason I'm carrying them around. They glow in the dark. They also come in a velvet bag that's notoriously difficult to open.

Keys. With a key ring, and that's it. No keychains or anything. Too bulky.

Chapstick. I like not having chapped lips.

Gum or Listerine Breath Strips. I like having minty breath, and the world doesn't like funky breath.

Quarters. A least a few dollars worth. For billiards, darts, and that tempermental cigarette machine at Pine Street. Oh, and to hand to homeless people that I'm in no mood to speak to when I'm walking home.

Wallets. That's plural--I carry two wallets. Not because I have that much money (I bloody wish). One for cash (which I ironically almost never carry) and the other for plastic, library card, and license.

Digital camera. While the phone has a camera in it, the camera that I carry is of higher picture quality. I almost never get to use it. And when I do I forget to upload the pictures to Facebook. Which may or may not be a good thing. YMMV.