Welcome to Austin, Texas! You just moved here? Allow me to fill you in on some helpful suggestions to get you acclimated to your new life. Don’t even try and say that you’re just passing through, because the minute you entered the famous Austin city limits you’ve already racked up enough debt that you’ll never be able to pay off. I don’t know where it comes from, but trust me that it’s there, and this is what’s going to keep you a citizen of our beautiful city for many years to come!

Planning on visiting historic Sixth Street to see the thriving nightlife and the charming scene of police officers on horseback? Whoa there partner! Better suit up in a bullet proof vest and swimming goggles and possibly something to cover your mouth what with the random gunshots from the citizenry and the police ready to show you how potent their pepper spray is.

Speaking of swimming goggles, make sure you bring a pair to any body of water you’d like to explore near the city, because lately  it’s become overrun with a monstrosity called Zebra Mussels, along with scooters that have been angrily tossed into the lakes and rivers. Be prepared to stand in long lines the likes of which wouldn’t be seen except for at popular nightclubs in New York City because the rules of most parks have become one in and one out due to the massive influx of new residents.

Interested in more long lines? We’ve got you covered, as there are numerous bbq places in town that have such great reviews that people are willing to stand in one for almost the length of  time it would take you to complete a full day’s work. I couldn’t suggest any one of them in particular but have heard tell that it’s a fabulous tourist activity.

Not so much a line as it is the way into your new city is I35. You’ll be spending the majority of your life on it, so familiarize yourself with ways to stay entertained while you spend twenty minutes to go two miles. Popular time killers are texting, and honking at other drivers that are texting.  The positive side of being stuck in this highway parking lot comprised of hundreds of out of state plates is that if you weren’t able to eat breakfast before you left home, you can take advantage of the 100+ degree weather that the sun provides by shining into your car whether your air conditioner is on or not!  The hell fire-like heat gives you an opportunity to throw a pan of biscuits on the dashboard to bake while you fry eggs on the highway. Trust me, you’ll have time to cook while you wait because there are at least two people changing tires on the side of the road or construction projects that require absolutely every driver to slow down to at least 15 miles an hour to observe this rare occurrence, and that easily slows traffic to a standstill every single day.  Before you hit the road, make sure and grab an $8 cup of coffee from one of the numerous Starbucks drive-thrus that have overrun the city like locusts.

Finally, once you’ve made it through traffic and settled in comfortably you might feel like donating to one of the many local charities in town. No need to do any research to see where to send your hard earned money! One of the aggressive panhandlers at any stop light will be more than happy to take it if you mistakenly lock eyes with them.

Back in the 70s there was a cult leader named Jim Jones. The disciples of Jones created a so called Utopia that was unofficially called Jonestown. The people of Jonestown thought their lives were going to be one big happy family that was going to grow vegetables and raise children and whatever else cult members do. All reports coming out of Jonestown highly praised this new society where there was nothing but love. The community was self sufficient and seemingly happy. These people were supposedly living in a heaven on earth. Occasionally news of  unrest and mistreatment would make its way out of Jonestown, but not enough to really raise any eyebrows. One day after a bunch of family members expressed concern about not being able to contact their loved ones there was an investigative trip made by a Congressman and a film crew. Although Jim Jones and his followers did their best to gaslight the visitors, it eventually fell apart in one apocalyptic suicide.

Strangely enough there are some eerie similarities between Austin and Jonestown. And while we don’t have our own charismatic Jim Jones convincing us that Austin is the epitome of happiness, we have the amalgamation of the City Council members to stand in as the leader we must blindly follow.  

First off, do you like festivals? Trick question!  Whether you’re fan of them or not, get ready to be experiencing  at least 6 established festivals a year celebrating ice cream, dogs, hot sauce, tattoos, cars and other various and sundry things.

Right before most of the festivals I mentioned, almost surreptitiously the city begins to clean up small areas that usually go unnoticed because they’re always dirty. To this, the city adds colorful artwork to buses, benches, and buildings that you wouldn’t normally give a second glance.

SXSW is THE biggest festival in Austin, and is THE most obvious smoke and mirrors game that’s barely held together if you spend more than three days here after the festival is over. Two weeks before SXSW, visitors from all over the world start to trickle into Austin. It’s so beautiful and welcoming that it doesn’t seem real. No homeless people begging for change because they’ve all been transported to the outskirts of the city for a few weeks.  There’s no traffic because a lot of the city has left for spring break. The weather is pleasant because our winter has just wrapped up, leaving our parks and trails lush and green. Music pours from every open door and window, free drinks and food are provided everywhere you look, and there are friendly people as far as the eye can see.

After the smoke of SXSW clears, reality rears its ugly head and you quickly find out that not only is nothing free here, you’re going to pay double for everything because you’re basically paying for the privilege of saying you live in Austin. Like Jonestown, the picture that’s presented to the rest of the world is that we’re living in an oasis of Mexican food and nonstop bbq with Willie Nelson sightings every day. (Speaking of Willie Nelson, of whom I am a huge fan, god forbid you don’t show a fervent admiration for him lest you be drummed out of town with bottles of Topo Chico, the carbonated plague that washed over our city about ten years ago.) During festivals the city pushes the shiniest cult members to the front to show how happy we all are. Meanwhile the rest of us are well aware of the dark underbelly of the so called Live Music Capital of the World that’s been branded with the most annoying slogan ever ‘Keep Austin Weird’ which oddly enough started only a little over ten years ago, long after anything remotely strange in this town was torn down and replaced with condos.  Longtime citizens attempting to send messages of distress to family and friends out of state via social media or phone calls are punished by having their favorite restaurants closed down and threatened with traffic plans that will be completed in the next decade if they’re lucky.

So welcome to Austin! Like Jonestown it will one day collapse from the strain of trying to make everyone believe that it’s the heaven on Earth the rest of the world seems to think it is, but instead of drinking the cyanide laced kool-aid the members of Jonestown drank at the end of their society, we’ll be doing it with margaritas and queso.