People are surprised when they hear that I grew up in Houston, Texas. The stereotype of a brash, potato-faced, shit-disturber doesn’t fit me in any way, shape, or form. But it doesn’t fit most of the people I know from Texas either–even those self-identified as cowpokes.
I spent a lot of time in and around Austin, especially as a teenager. I would go to Austin for weekends, stay with friends, and explore being a restless young person who was, otherwise, bored and frustrated with life at home. South Congress Avenue was the edge of my universe. I remember it mostly as a rough, no-income neighborhood brimming with mechanic shops, bodegas, auto detailers, storefront notaries with brown wallpaper, and the Continental Club where Roky Erikson of the 13th Floor Elevators used to play.
In April, I went to Austin with my husband and son for spring break, to visit family and swim in Barton Springs. South Congress Avenue has been transformed. Man, it looks like LA! Bright stucco storefronts, vaudeville decor, gothic curiosities, milagro-studded signage, vintage tiled doorways …. a cornucopia of DIY enterprise punctuated with taquerias, irony, and orange cowboy boots.
It was worth a trip just for the inspired window displays.