Austin City Limits: Maybe I’ll Go, or I Might Just Watch Football

Austin has a lot of festivals. SXSW, Rot Rally, Carnival, Mardi Gras, Halloween (one of the biggest street parties in the country – as if 6th street wasn’t legitimately scary every other day of the year). Austin is festival crazy. And the big, fat, burnt orange colored jewel in the Austin festival scepter is ACL – Austin City Limits. In 2011, ACL will be held  September 16th through the 18th. There are dozens of sites and articles that go over who’s coming, what’s hot for this year, and which computer company is sponsoring which stage. Here’s what ACL means for non-necesarily-overly-excited-about-it Austinites.

This year because ACL is celebrating ten years of cultivating some amazing talent and and heavy attendance. The organizers haven’t once, so far, figured out the following: The tickets sell out faster than they can be printed (45 minutes according to some sources) and there is no exception for locals – even though ACL has a vast international following.

Whoever decides how many porta-potties are to be ordered, fire them, and order twice as many. For planning purposes, do not wait until you have to go to get in line. Seriously, just get in line at some point when you’re walking about. Trust me you’ll be way more comfortable with this strategy in the long run.

Even though there is an asphalt ocean of parking at the festival site – there might as well be no parking – it’s prohibited. Odd. However, Capital Metro does provide a shuttle from Republic Square Park. But you have to pay around $20 to park privately near Republic Square Park. Then you wait in line for around 45 minutes to get on one of the buses.

Whoever organizes the food stalls – hire them to run the entire country. The food stalls are numerous and well presented. They also offer exceptionally reasonable prices – allowing essentially every foodie to try a little of everything. I doff my Longhorns hat to you folks.

So, to this Austinite, ACL has come to represent two things – either I am going to attend and have an okay time – it’s not so dissimilar to a thrill ride that you partly enjoy, partly fear for your life, and then have stomach issues for the rest of the day regardless. Or, I’m not going to attend but will do some people watching. The unofficial Austin motto is Keep Austin Weird. ACL abides. That brings me to thoughts about residing downtown.

There are around eight fantastic condominium developments within three blocks of Republic Square Park. The Austonian is right there and it’s the tallest building in the city. Even if you’re on the third floor, you can look down upon the lunacy unfolding below and take a sip from your champagne cocktail and play Stevie Wonder on your Bose surround sound stereo. Stevie Wonder is headlining this year – so you just had a little, personal ACL moment without ever leaving your home. Or, leave your home, go to the park and hop on a bus. You saved $20 on parking because you live so close that it is easy to be part of the action. Although, if you dwell in the Austonian, you probably have a neighbor who lights contraband Cuban cigars with denominations of bill greater than twenty, so more then likely you don’t much care about spending $20 on parking.

When you live in this part of Austin, you are in a special place – geographically and philosophically. You can, with such ease, participate in, at least, a big monthly event in what is arguably America’s most year-round-celebratory city. Or, you can just watch it unfold. It’s like owning one of those second floor patios on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, or one of those houses that look down onto Wrigley Field in Chicago. You’re an automatic VIP, one with the keys to the luxury suite at the big game so to speak. The big difference is that Mardi Gras only happens once a year and the Cubs are a lousy team. In Austin it’s a happening party every month of the year.

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