Whether it's GQ or Huffington Post, it seems like every day a new article about Austin is published. They usually highlight the same restaurants, same neighborhoods and same stores, and have the same closing sentence about "keeping Austin weird." Watching this cultural trend can become tiring, predictable and can even induce a bit of cynicism.
The coverage reached a fevered pitch following this year's SXSW. Literally overnight, a tragedy turned Austin into a target. Suddenly SXSW was too commercial, Austin was over, and her citizens should just pack it up and move to Buffalo. (Thanks again for that, Washington Post.)
So it's surprising when, well, an Austin piece actually surprises you. David Allen is a columnist for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, a newspaper in Ontario, California, a small town about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Over the past few weeks, Allen has penned the most earnest multi-part love letter to our fair city. Though billed as a travel piece, it is mostly about just how much he really likes Austin, from our people to our airport to our Cathedral of Junk.
To begin, one must go to the very beginning of his journey: the airport. After a pretty hilarious Southwest flight (he details the flight attendants' jokes!), Allen lands at our "nifty" airport, and applauds ABIA for providing local choices in the terminal. In doing so, Allen reminds us that those of us lucky enough to travel are lucky enough to do it from an airport without a McDonald's anywhere in sight.
The travel piece itself is mostly about eating, catching a book reading and wondering if the random band playing in the bar is any good. So, basically, it's a pretty good snapshot of what we do here. Though Allen does mention buzzy joints like Franklin's Barbecue and Gourdough's, this piece isn't attempting to be a super hip expose on the next cool thing in Austin. Instead, it's a simple list of things that people just really like about Austin.
But the best part of this multi-part series is the reader reaction roundup where Allen shares Austin stories from other Claremont residents. From a Denny's meal that showcases our quintessential hospitality to a list of favorite tourist attractions, Allen manages in a folksy, heartwarming way to capture the soul of city.
Yeah, we may roll our eyes at the tourists waiting for the bats, or the long line at Home Slice, but this piece reminds us that these things are nifty. And, yeah, it's easy to make a joke about the article just sending more Californians to Texas, but that's just the cynic in us. We are a town full of people that pay for each other's meals, of really nice barbecue pit masters, of people that turn piles of junk into cathedrals.
And thank you, David Allen, for reminding us.