Austin (Capitol, not Bionic Man)

I found Austin to be a cool city. It has an exciting population, chock full of artists, filmmakers, musicians, and hipsters (and probably hippies, too). As many residents are struggling artists with liberal world views, it seems much more suited to be the capital of California than of Texas. While it’s not the film town that NY or LA is, it seems to be much more excited about being a film town than either of those cities. This is the 11th year for SXSW, which started out as a music festival, then added film, and finally interactive topics. This makes sense from the city that bills itself as “the live music capital of the world” (it’s now working on becoming the clean energy capital of the world). For many residents, SXSW has become an important ritual, and locals seemed to make up the majority of attendees.
     While it certainly has its charms, there were a few things I found off-putting. Perhaps in an effort to appear more “green”, trees lined most city streets, and had an inordinate number off birds flocking to each one. Looking at the white-spotted ground, you know there is certainly no “five second rule” in Austin. It also seems to have a high homeless population, especially in the downtown area, and while I can’t be certain, I believed I was approached by scammers twice. As the Silicon Valley of Texas, Austin’s housing market has risen considerably, which compounds the problem, albeit their housings costs are ~40% of SoCal’s. If you’re alone at night, it can be slightly discomforting. Granted, that’s probably true of most cities, and I didn’t expect any violence.
     That said, I can see why I’ve often heard friends say that Austin is the only viable city in Texas. It’s just cooler.