I've never been to Austin, but when I do, it better be fucking awesome. There better be bacon growing on trees, Reese's peanut butter cups better fall from the skies, and craft beer better flow from water fountains.
Austin has become the measuring stick for middle to small cities with any bone of creativity. From Richmond, to Athens, to Nashville, to Louisville, and beyond. If I had a bong hit for every time someone said, "It's kind of like a small Austin" or "It's the next Austin", well, I'd be really really stoned.
The appropriated slogan, "Keep ______ Weird", has become ubiquitous. "Weird", whatever that means now, is the new normal. It's become a brand, a marketing tool, a t-shirt. Which begs the question, is this movement eating away at the fabric that made the tapestry of cities like Austin, and Portland, so unique and genuine?
The answer seems obvious. Shit, even Austin has become weary (terrified?) of all the attention. All the flattery, and pride, has begun to erode as they stare down the barrel towards all the problems that come with being that fastest growing city in America. Rent prices and traffic being at the top of the list. Music venues are mobbed, good luck seeing former Austin alum Gary Clark Jr. when he comes back to town. And let's not even talk about SXSW or ACL. There's more to Austin than that, but like I said, I've never been, I'm just relaying second hand accounts. I don't want to over step my boundaries, as I'm sure some Austin blogger will have a snark filled shit fit.
If Austin can take some measure of pride, it's that it laid the blueprint for these artistic and "weird" communities. Granted not all are the same, but what Austin has shown, is that cities can bank and build on the local movement. That small businesses, fiercely supported and frequented by the neighborhood, can survive and thrive. Which is a beautiful, and very powerful thing, in the face of the corporate-strip mall-box store-uniform-whitewashing that has plagued the country for the past 20-30 years. I'm just worried that this is the new whitewashing.
My message to all these aspiring Austin wannabes....be yourself. Fuck Austin, and Portland. Grow and nourish what makes your city, town, or neighborhood special. That's the only way that any of it will ever last. Reference the blueprint, if you must, but then create something you can be proud that you built.