Fun fact: My SXSW comes with a punch-card that will get me one free cocktail a day at the Registrant's Lounge, an outdoor party space across from the Convention Center. And for two days straight, I've failed to redeem it. I'm worried I might not actually be doing this Austin thing the right way.
But I've at least spent some time with folks who definitely are. I started off my day grabbing some breakfast at the Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden with Phil Graziadei, fresh off the world premiere of "Honeymoon," the delightfully unnerving thriller he co-wrote with director Leigh Janiak. The ear-to-ear grin plastered on his face said it all, despite not getting much sleep after opening the festival's Midnighters section. He cited the overwhelming enthusiasm and positivity of the SXSW audiences as what makes the fest such a stand-out.
Not wanting to risk further flubbing my festival experience, I turned to the consummate local, Richard Linklater, who assured me that "it's not usually this cold" during SXSW. "What should you be doing? I don't know. There's a lot of good restaurants, a lot of good movies," offered, though he was at a bit of a loss as far as specific. Maybe the cold was getting to him. Or he was preoccupied with bringing his Sundance hit "Boyhood" home. "I look forward to seeing it with a Texas audience," he told me. "I mean, Sundance is great, Berlin is great, but there's nothing like South-By and Austin. Plus this is a very Texas movie. It never leaves the border."
By the way, my best insight into Austin life so far came from the cab driver who took me back to my hotel at the end of the night. He'd spent 10 years in New York before deciding the grind wasn't worth it and he didn't want to have a boss anymore. In 2005 he moved to Austin, where he claims he makes as much in two days as a cab driver as he did in six days in New York. He also been able to start a second business, buy a home and send his kids to the University of Texas. "I love Austin. There is no stress in this city," he said. "This is my final destination."