Saturday, May 15, 2010


My original plan was to leave San Diego on the 12th and head to Tucson for a few days, then take the train to Austin. After debating the merits of a 40 hour train ride versus three extra days at the beach (it was not a long debate), I decided to skip Arizona and New Mexico completely and fly directly to Texas. Getting on the plane took a surprisingly short amount of time, even with being searched; I got to Austin around six.

Erin had previously informed me that if I failed to go to the Alamo Drafthouse cinema, we would stop being friends. I checked their showtimes and realized the universe was trying to tell me something - Peaches Christ was presenting All About Evil, the movie I'd failed to see in San Francisco, in four hours. My new friend and roommate Alex agreed to join me. We bought tickets and tried to figure out what to do to kill the time in between. Alex then told me about the bats.

Every spring 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats migrate north to Austin and congregate under the main bridge. And every night, hundreds of people congregate on top of and alongside the bridge to watch them emerge to feed. It was like a fireworks display - people packed into anywhere that had an unobstructed view. Three ferries were floating around underneath, also full of people and shining red spotlights on the colony to give a better view. The bats started coming out around nine - not all in one massive terrifying cloud, as we'd hoped, but filtering out over the course of an hour. It was still pretty cool - along the riverbank, where we were, they zoomed by a few feet overhead. In the late summer months the population peaks and it is even more impressive.

We wandered around 6th street for a while - this is where most of the bars and live music performances are - and listened to a super greasy classic rock style trio - the guitarist had a bandanna and vest and was completely into his music, closing his eyes and rocking out. Headed to the Alamo to get seats - where other theaters show you commercials or movie trivia before the film, the Alamo gives you a menu and plays grindhouse trailers, which Alex had never seen. Trying to explain the appeal of grindhouse is difficult - you either think it's amazing or incredibly stupid.
The preshow was almost as good as the film itself - Peaches did a brief musical introduction, with her stage manager and costumer as backup dancers, where she revealed that she had become the greatest queen in SF by murdering all the others, and anyone in the audience wearing cheap perfume and acting like a whore wouldn't be leaving the theater alive. Afterwards was a brief Q and A with special guests and costars Mink Stole (a cult actress who's been in almost every John Waters film) and Cassandra Peters, aka Elvira, aka my new hero. There is selling out and then there is what Elvira does. She's made it an art form, everything from car fresheners to beer. I don't think she ever turned down a product endorsement. It is refreshingly honest.

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