Cover Story: Taking Austitude Down A Peg Or Two

Categories: Cover Story

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I love Austin. Really, I do. I was born there. My family has had at least an off-and-on presence there since 1895, when my great-grandfather entered the University as a 28-year-old freshman, and his career with UT continued on to include a stint as registrar and a role in helping found the Texas Exes. My grandfather was born and raised in West Campus, and he, my dad and I all also attended UT. (The former two even graduated.)

And as a kid in the 1970s, with its live oaks, laid-back lakes, and enchanted violet-crowned hills, Austin always seemed like a magic place to me. I can't really tell what it was, but being in Austin felt as odd and different in its own way as it did to be in New Orleans. It didn't feel quite like America or even Houston; it was, indeed, weird.

Today, that old-time feeling is gone. As Houston blogger Lou Minatti has so ably pointed out, today's Austin is less weird than it is merely pretentious.

Insipid suburbia extends into surrounding counties in all directions. Roads haven't kept pace with people, and traffic jams abound. Families can no longer afford living in the lovely neighborhoods to the west of downtown, and the entire working class has been priced to the margins of town and beyond.

The music scene -- once so unique and proud of its Texan-ness -- is now a muddle of the same kind of smartypants indie rock you find in every "hipster archipelago" city from Seattle to Boston.

Austin is a lot more like Houston and Dallas than most Austin people would care to admit, but to hear our capital city cousins tell it, you'd never know that was true.

On at least two of my visits to South By Southwest in fairly recent years, I've had people look at me as if I'd just announced the death of my dog when I've told them I live in Houston.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," one old hippie-lady said to me from beneath a halo made of smug.

That attitude -- or Austitude -- has always chapped our Houston-proud hide. And so that's why we penned this week's cover story.

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bolognavest
bolognavest

There's some truth to this. It would probably ring even truer with regards to Houston's and Dallas' relative individualism if this same story were not on the cover of both the Houston Press and Dallas Observer on the very same day.

When your alternative weekly is owned by a media conglomerate out of NYC, it's kind of hard to take pot shots like this.

Ms. Pants
Ms. Pants

Austin is an ersatz Berkeley.  As a native Californian, I don't think the US needs the one Berkeley that it has, let alone two.

Dudley "Booger" Dawson
Dudley "Booger" Dawson

That is so true.  I went up to Austin a couple of weeks ago and could not believe what I saw and heard.  I remember when I was younger the place was great and everyone was friendly and cool.  Now it is just a bunch of pretentious people who get this smarmy elitist attitude if you aren't one of them.

Luke
Luke

I have a hard time reconciling the fact that the article bashes yuppified/hipster/white Austin, while touting the growing popularity of Houston neighborhoods like Montrose, the Heights and East End. These Houston neighborhoods and their new restaurants, bars and retail attract the same type of people that populate Austin these days.   The problem is that people are all looking for a balance between "stuff white people like" and affordable, alternative, unique, gritty and authentic surroundings.  Montrose and the Heights are already too expensive for many and too overpriced for most others.  It will only be a matter of time before the East End is the same.  It's already well on its way by being tagged EaDo.   This article would have been more appropriate 10 years ago.  Everyone knew Austin had jumped the shark by that point.    

Mike
Mike

The Montrose hip?  Gimme a break.  You str8's have moved in (those with and without trophies) and have transformed our neighborhood into yet another, "hippster" hangout.  Sheesh.  The Montrose used to be an excellent place to live:  it was dirty, with crappy, hustler hangouts, seedy bars, mom and pop restaurants and cheap apartments (I used to live on Westheimer for $575/mo).  That was 1995.  Now, our bars have been taken over by your drunk girlfriends who invade our dance floors every weekend and turn our bars into "bars."  Hell, Blur Bar now has two female dancers!  Where's the gayness, bra?  The Montrose is now str8.  Your army has invaded on all fronts.  You've assaulted our domain from the south, with the arrival of more str8 coffee shops and "boutiques" (which means str8 women), from the east as The Anvil moves ever closer, from the west, with your "new restaurants" on 'steimer.  Where's the gayness?  Now we have begun a northern trek to new pastures.  The Heights?  Oak Forest?  Acres Homes?

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Austin doesn't really have neighborhoods comparable to the Heights or Montrose. Sure, artists can't afford to rent bungalows there for $325 a month the way they could during the Oil Bust, and yes, the bungalows themselves are vanishing amid rampant condofication. But both of those neighborhoods are immensely more diverse than every similarly close-in neighborhood Austin has to offer save for rapidly gentrifying Central East Austin. Also, EaDo (hate that designation) is not to be confused with the greater East End. Until the redevelopment of the past ten years or so, EaDo was a sparsely populated wasteland of derelict warehouses and vacant lots. The East End proper remains a Hispanic stronghold and appears to be getting gentrified in large part by newly-prosperous Hispanics.

Luke
Luke

I agree with everything you said, but I still believe we are creating a number of neighborhood sized Austin's inside the loop.

Read the comments on swamplot or Haif and you will already see "austitude" oozing from the inhabitants of these hoods.

craig
craig

You "in the loop" turds are just as bad as the choads in Austin.

Jimedia
Jimedia

I love Austin too Lomax.  I love returning to it. Curiously, I love leaving it too.cheers,  jim radio   Austin Airwaves  @FreeRadioBerkeley:twitter

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