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sxsw2014 Fri Mar 14 2014
Robbie Fulks has 2 more days left in Austin. But on Thursday, there was: Drama! Intrigue! Beautiful women! Expensive cars! and more!
This morning I awoke to a call from my friend Elaine (whom I love with all my heart). It was an emergency vocabulary call. She needed a word for when simple meanings are encoded in elaborate phrases which expand absurdly over time, for example contemporary job descriptions. Where she works, at a music school, the teachers were first called "teachers." Later the designation was upgraded to "teaching artists," and now an outside consultant was instituting "teaching artist fellows." At three words we're in more of an activity zone: painting lady fingernails, watching Scotty grow. I couldn't think of a word, I could think only of "title inflation," which didn't cover the terrain as broadly as she was hoping. Googling, however, I found a neat one-word neologism for title inflation: uptitling. What is a word for when you invent a silly word to describe a sillier trend? Maybe southbysouthwesting.
Elaine was dismayed by my cat dilemma with Mrs. Norris. (This will be like joining General Hospital in season 27 — I'm not going to provide backstory or define established terms from here on.) [Editor's note: Catch up here.] "Have you seen that movie?" she said. "What is it? Lood....Loon Davis? Lewr? Funny name, it's about a folksinger. Some benefactors open their nice apartment to him and the first thing he does is lose the cat." Takeaway: I've done something so losery that a Coen Brothers character beat me to it.
I ran briefly into Lisa Pankratz on the running trail this morning. She and her husband Brad are gigging this week with Dave and Phil Alvin, with Brennan Leigh, and with Roger Wallace. I made a list of some friends I wanted to go hear tonight — those guys, Rhett Miller, Chris Mills. Seems a shame to come here and miss the music part.
While I was washing laundry, I saw Mrs. Norris on the porch, but I couldn't coax her inside. I'd move a muscle, she'd abscond. Elaine had mentioned catnip, so I went across town to Petco to get some. While there I also got a wire-mouse toy to dangle before Mrs. Norris, and a litter scoop. I came home and opened the deck doors, and before I had the chance to deploy any of the new-bought items, she sidled in and headed to the food dish. I sneaked around the other side of the kitchen island, crouching low martial-arts-style so she couldn't see me, and slammed the door shut, victorious. I looked at my watch to memorize the moment. 2:25pm. The cat saga was over.
Then I went and played a gig with my band, following Della Mae, who were excellent. Now what? Joan Kornblith from Voice of America was in town, so we went with her to Threadgills. From there I walked to the Four Seasons and got filmed talking about music and playing it for some Grammy organization use, not sure what. Then I went to see what Ben and Missy were up to (are you following this? Is anyone reading this? Am I in summer camp and it's 1973?). They were headed to a wild party with Joan, where, if it was as good as last year's, when Steve Poltz put a tampon on his head and freestyled pentameter with James McMurtry, then look out. I hate parties, so I split off on my own.
I had a little plan, which included dinner, a walk uptown to see Chris Mills, a walk downtown for Dave and Phil's set, and home. Then I'd write about what I saw in high-flown language that would lift the hearts of snowbound Gapers Blockheads and other hapless Chicagoans. But none of that happened. Day 4, and still no music. Are you having a good time with this story?
All right, let me explain: first, dinner was so good that I felt physically unable to rise from the table to spoil the effect with music. After three days of Starbucks danishes and Qdoba and that kind of bullshit, to be served peppers and aoli and soba noodles with mushrooms and avocado, you know, THAT kind of bullshit, by a slinky dominatrix called Caitlin, to eat in unimpeded solitude there with a book in hand, it was getting as good as life gets. That's the Congress restaurant, Austin, Texas. When I thought about all the running I was going to have to do to see Chris's short set I thought "To hell with music and to hell with Chris!" and asked dear Caitlin for some carrot cake.
Crossing back over the Congress bridge, I realized I had taken no pictures all day, and I do love the way my cellphone shots come out on this website. I took a quick picture of the skyline from the bridge, and walked the half-mile or so to the Continental.
The line was long and the club was packed, and it looked impossible to get in. Meanwhile, Jeff Bryan Davis, lanky star of What Are You Doing To Me? or something of that nature, and the fastest wit in the universe, appeared with his colleagues from the comedy improv group Superego, Mark and Matt and Jeremy and Dave. The rest of the night I am not at liberty to relate in its entirety. Jeff had just done a movie which luckily left him the privilege of calling chauffeured Bentleys whenever he and his friends needed to be transported to faraway bars — keep seeing those movies, people! — so away we went, courtesy of Lewis, our unflappable driver. Bentleys are cool and attention-getting vehicles — even more so than Jimmie Gilmore's Clubwagon! Bentleys aren't meant to ride six drunk men and one driver in comfort, but in hilarity they work fine. Everything that happened for the rest of the night was so hilarious it hurt. Drinks were involved, music was not.
"Drunk and alone in a Bentley near dawn." (photos courtesy Robbie Fulks' phone)
Robbie Fulks' current (and subject to change) SXSW Music Fest schedule is below:
Tuesday, March 11, 1pm - Trade show
Wednesday, March 12, 9pm - Continental Club
Thursday, March 13, 4pm - Broken Spoke
Friday, March 14, 12:45pm - Yard Dog
Saturday, March 15, 2pm - Brooklyn Country Cantina