Gone Westin’

Hello. My name is James and I am 27 years-old.  In my 27 years on this earth I have never, I repeat never, left the Midwest.  I spent about a year living in Chicago, I once took a weekend trip to Minneapolis, and I occasionally visit my Yooper family members (that’s Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for those unfamiliar with the lingo, ya).  Other than that, I’ve spent my entire life living in Milwaukee and visiting other cities within the state.  So, when my friend Joe asked if I’d be interested in driving down to Austin, TX for the South by Southwest festival, I jumped on it like Gerard Way at an eyeliner sale.

So all of us (Joe, Keith, my girlfriend Jackie, and I) hopped in a car and made the 20+ hour drive to the Lone Star State’s capital.  I think it’s safe to say that the anxiety and stir craziness of the car ride left all of us itching to get to the hotel.  This brings me to the first lesson this journey taught me.

Road trip tip #1: Never use GPS to book your hotel.  You see, about a month before the trip we typed in the address of one of the festival’s main stages and had the GPS find the closest hotel to it.  We made reservations but upon arrival realized that there was no hotel at the address we were given.  We soon discovered that GPS stands for Generally Pretty Shitty because although the number and street name were dead on, our “electronic navigation expert” had us booking a hotel in a city 20 miles north of Austin.  After a little worrying and a few phone calls, we miraculously were able to reserve a room for just a few bucks more per night, and we were within 2-3 blocks of SXSW.  I knew from here on out everything would go off without a hitch, right?

Road trip tip #2: Research where the hell you’re going!  Outside of making a list of bands that I wanted to see, I really did nothing to prepare and had no idea how everything worked, and neither did any of my friends.  So on our first night in Austin, after eating some barbecue at Stubb’s, we discovered that your best bet to see any show is to spring the $165 for a wristband.  So the next day we grudgingly went to the SXSW Convention Center to purchase said wristband.  And guess what? That’s right, SOLD OUT.  This brings me to my next, and most important, word of advice.

Road trip tip #3:  Always have Sage Francis within shouting distance.  After learning that the wristbands were gone, we were told the only way to get one was to have someone with a laminated badge get it for you.  Immediately, my friend Joe looked for the first person he could find with a badge, and that person happened to be Sage Francis and a friend of his.  They listened to our tale of despair and agreed to use their badges so that we could buy wristbands.  Soon enough, Jackie and Keith found people to do the same.  I can’t say this enough.  Sage Francis saved this trip for me.  I’m now going to buy all of his albums, and you should do the same.

After that the trip did go smoothly for the most part.  The locals were surprisingly pleasant (I’d be pissed if a few thousand people invaded my city and started asking directions to everywhere) and the restaurants were awesome, though anyone who knows me knows my food palette is quite miniscule.  And among others, I caught shows by the Cold War Kids, The Meat Puppets, Thomas Function, Human Eye, John The Savage, The Paper Chase, Lady Sovereign, The New York Dolls, MC Lars, and Daniel Johnston, and all of them were fucking great (go buy all their albums too).  So in closing, here’s a few fun facts about my trip.

1.    Throughout the whole trip we travelled over 2,500 miles.

2.    In total, we spent almost two full days on the road.

3.    I estimate I spent over $200 on cigarettes and beer alone.

4.    It was in the mid 80’s and sunny every day of the festival. (Remember, it was March and I had never been out of the Midwest up to this point.)

5.    Jackie and I had our picture taken for austin360.com twice.

6.    I got drunk enough to take off my pants in public once.

7.    A patron of our hotel decided to give us beer by throwing cans of Modelo over 20 yards from the balcony into the swimming pool area where we were.

8.    The worst injury incurred was when Jackie’s leg gave out and she skinned her knees on the concrete. (Surprisingly, no alcohol was involved in this mishap.)

9.    Keith’s hands sweat profusely when he drives.

10. Somewhere circulating there is a Sage Francis video interview with Joe standing right next to him.  (If anyone finds it, please send it to me.)

See you next year Austin.

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3 Responses to “Gone Westin’”

  1. Nickie Says:

    Uhh.. This is one of my favorite blogs yet. Although, I am quite disappointed you didn’t make it to DinoLand. Wtf.

  2. jamesdolata Says:

    Hey, give me a break. I had to save something for next year.

  3. Jackie Says:

    dude, i was all about dinoland, however, i thought you wanted to come with? you and i should go together at some point. p.s. i just bought some pretty awesome dino-earrings. i know you’re jealous.

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