In Austin, Texas, while vaguely visiting UT (The University of Texas) in The Lone Star State’s lively livable capital, I decided to pursue the art of doing absolutely nothing at all.
My college chum from years back at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, Jen Harmon, an art photographer and Aikido expert, was of an equal mind, deciding to nix our going to Austin’s legal nude beach–(we were nowhere near the shore, so it must have been along a river)–and take me instead on a real wild-bronco-ride tour of the Austin Café Limits.
Here, coffee is not served: it just happens!
And as a real Texas-style oil baron, from a privately held petroleum and natural gas concern called CL&F Inc. (Continental Land & Fur Inc.), I made more coffee stops to fuel up on the other Texas T—(or better, Texas C)– than T. Boone Pickens or other native pretenders sporting white ten-gallon hats and Frye suede cowboy boots.
“—at was gewd!”
Beginning like Virgil in his “Aenaid,” in medias res, on “The Drag” (between 19th and 29th Streets), I found myself among a ballet of bicycles and jackhammer exclamation points, caught in the throes of a 4.8 million renovation project.
I adjusted my attitude to pass muster with the smartalecky somnambulists and elitist cognoscenti on the famous “Congress Street” (band heaven), a charmed tarmac filled with time-traveler know-it-alls and rock-star wannabees swaying to, what, what, what?
Stevie Ray Vaughn and The Texas Flood!
“I’m your Voodoo Chile!”
(Whawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhangwhawng. . . .)
“I’m your Voodoo Chile!”
(Whawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhawngwhawng. . . .)
Or, at least, since Stevie Ray Vaughn supposedly died in an ultra-romantic plane crash, like legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd members and brave Buddy Holly, maybe, just maybe, here was some sort of hometown-hero doppelganger who just looked and sounded a lot like him.
Next: Guadelupe Street.
In this Paid Advertisement for alt living, and after my umpteenth “expresso” (black gold, Texas C)—which tasted like it was laced with cocaine rather than sugar–Jen and I dined at a pilgrimage site with a modicum of rave enthusiasm on Tex-Mex “huevos rancheros” (eggs and peppers and cheese) while a Mexican busboy asked “Fresh Beppah, Fresh Beppah?” while pointing a wooden shaker the size of a automatic rifle at us.
This nondescript goddamned diner, located right off the relativistic madness of Guadelupe Street and an expanding universe of unemployable philosophers and mystics, was filled with knife-owning tattooed “Chicanos” involved in chicanery.(No one says the word “Hispanic” anymore so close to the border, somehow mistakenly implying that everyone is from the Island of Hispaniola, wherever that imaginary land is located). All the “local colors” were perforce downing double shots with frightening rapidity.
Accompanied, of course, with “deshebradas” (shredded beef tacos).
Out of nowhere the embarrassing silence was broken by Eric Burdon and War coming on the loudspeakers:
“Spill the Wine, dig that girl, spill the wine, dig that girl!” We sang along, sipping our double café lattés.
A couple of token Native Americans (“Injuns”), bobbing and swaying like cigar-store Indian statues, began reincarnating themselves into rico and suave “Senior Swankys.” I judged this pre-Columbian fantasy world to be too hip for me. With prairie folk in tie-dies arguing against the very oil companies that keep their prosperous town afloat, I made an error in judgment and said that I was a small-time oil tycoon myself.
Weirdly, I had somehow just pulled an honorable mention in a popularity contest, especially when I added among these stalwart “green” extraterrestrial strangers, “Oil is part of nature: you need a car to drive to the rainforest.”
Even though there were decaffeinated smug smiles all around, but no applause, I suggested, just in case, to Jen that we exit stage left and land on someplace else further afield.
Of course, for coffee.
At least, I wanted to leave behind my “ginger ale,” resembling light sweet crude, with maybe a dash of Brent in it, since I had left my drink unguarded during an unscheduled bathroom break (a quick smoko and pep talk), and I was afraid of being “dosed”: Instead, I only wanted to hang out at the most famous café in all of Texas: “Quackenbush’s”!
Here at world-famous “Quacks,” so well-known that it is already an Americana-style icon, almost even a cliché, I ordered a machiatto. Fresh out. Apparently, all the hipcat customers were encouraged to crash a conversation or five. I was dying to do my duckbill platypus imitation anyway, anywhere!
Quack’s was a virtual reality set for the acclaimed film “Slackers”–a generational tag term for the overly educated but chronically unemployed, even lazier than their European counterparts “flaneurs” and “boulevardiers.” Even so, I lured myself once again into a false sense of security.
Suddenly I was surrounded by a neo-beatnik redux of Bohemian groovemeisters all eager to wag their tickertape tongues around an award-winning travel writer.
No mention of empire oil around these generational arbiters of cool and cuppas.
Anyway, Quack’s strange brew was a lot stronger than any Arabica beans I had ever tasted. I immediately guessed there might be a little lacing of habanero involved.
But the bored barista, “J.R.,” flipping through an imported design magazine, resembling a thick coffee-table book, with blurbs in German, Italian, and French, told me this high-octane sampling wasn’t “Colombian” (still considered the world’s best coffee), but was instead “Sumatran” (still made with real monkey turds).
Pumpkin Cup Cakes!
Coconut Cream Pies!
QUACK’S 43RD STREET BAKERY:
411 E. 43RD Street, Austin, TX
Phone: 512 453-3809