As usual I have gotten behind on this blog. It seems like the more I have to write about, the less time I have to post. The last couple of months have been exceptionally busy and I have lots to fill you in on, but I thought I'd start with my most recent adventure. My friend Jessica and I decided to take a road trip to Austin for SXSW because she reviews films, and I have just always wanted to see what the festival is all about. Some of our Bay Area friends were playing a few shows, and I have a few friends living in Austin, so that was my excuse. In four days, I saw seven films and seventeen bands play, which by most standards is not much. To say it was overwhelming is an understatement, but we had a great time.
We started our road trip with a night at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. We were really only there for a night (we decided to make this a "scouting" trip, with plans to come back for longer), so we didn't get to enjoy the amazing pool(s), but we did have a wonderful meal at the King's Highway restaurant and loved the decor. The next day we drove to Scottsdale in time to catch a SF Giant's spring training game against the Dodgers. I personally am an Oakland A's fan, but they weren't playing the day we were there. The game was really fun, with lots of action, and I got sun burnt, which felt great after the miserable weather we've been having here in California. On our way to the stadium we had passed a couple of antique malls, so we stopped after the game and found all kinds of treasures! I got a new globe for my collection, as well as some drinking glasses, and some fantastic nautical bookends. Here are some of the things I didn't buy.
After baseball and antiques we were starving so we had dinner at Fry Bread House in Phoenix, an amazing restaurant my friend Layla had recommended. I am a huge fan of sopapillas, a New Mexican specialty, and fry bread is very similar. We had it used in place of tortillas with tacos, and also for dessert with honey and powdered sugar. Yum!
In the morning we left Phoenix early to get on the road to Marfa. I had been wanting to visit Marfa forever and it did not disappoint- it is such a cute town! We stayed at El Cosmico in one of the trailers, which was really fun. We had dinner at the Marfa Table, including a delicious coconut tres leches cake for dessert (I had never thought about making tres leches with anything other than yellow cake!), and then went over to Padre's for a michelada before bed.
We arrived in Austin on Monday afternoon, picked up Jessica's badge at the convention center, and had just enough time to stop at our hotel and change before heading out to the first film of the week, Win Win, which is now out in theaters and was incredibly charming. Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan were there for the Q&A and it was a great way to start the festival. After the movie we went across town to the party Oscilloscope was throwing to promote their new film Bellflower. There were donuts from the insanely good Gourdough's (I had one with cream cheese and jalapeño jelly and one with peaches), free beer, and a live cricket eating contest, but we didn't stay long before heading back downtown to meet some of Jessica's friends at the Zynga party. Monday was the last night of the Interactive part of the festival so many tech people were heading home the next day, and this party was enormous. TV on the Radio were playing, along with Sleigh Bells, and there was free vodka and probably THOUSANDS of people. Around 1:00 we started getting sleepy so we went back to the hotel and turned in.
Tuesday morning I met up with my friend Jacob while Jessica was seeing some films. He and I had lunch at Rio, a Brazilian cafe on the East side of town and then went to see Last Days Here, a documentary about Bobby Leibling, lead singer of Pentagram. After the movie I went to the drugstore to buy some graph paper so I could properly chart out my schedule for the rest of our stay. With so many films and shows going on, it took me about two hours to narrow things down into this spreadsheet. Then I went to a screening of Upside Down, a film about Creation Records (who discovered the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub, Primal Scream, St. Etienne, and Oasis, among other bands), which was pretty interesting. My friend Sara picked me up from the theater and took me back to her place for dinner, which was lovely. Then I rushed over to downtown to try and see a midnight screening of Hobo with a Shotgun, but it was sold out. Luckily I ran into Layla and her friend, and they took me to the East side, where The Oh Sees and Bare Wires were playing, and I was able to meet up with another friend, Marlene. Marlene and I wandered back downtown and ran into still another friend, Jason, and we all had a michelada and caught up until I realized I was going to miss my shuttle and had to call it a night.
Wednesday, I met up with Marlene again and we had lunch at an awesome farm-to-table diner, 24, before catching Wild Flag's set at Waterloo Records. I had maybe the best veggie burger I've ever eaten, and a roasted banana milkshake that was to die for. Wild Flag were really cute and put on a great show. It's always nice when the band seems to be having just as much fun as the audience. Jessica had needed to go to a doctor about an eye infection she had, so I went and picked her up, and then we went to a screening of El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, about the famous restaurant. We had dinner in the theater (the Alamo Drafthouse is the best!), and then headed over to the East side again to check out our friends the Wrong Words at a massive show at Trailer Space Records. There were 22 bands playing (since noon) and by the time we got there at 8:30, the whole show was about two hours behind schedule. Jacob met us and we hung around the parking lot drinking beer (the liquor store across the street was literally almost out by the time we left- I think they might have had about a dozen six-packs remaining after having been swarmed by hipsters all day and night) until Apache and the Wrong Words finally played. I had been planning to wait around for Conspiracy of Owls but it was already quite late and I was exhausted so I just went home. In the shuttle I was treated to an impromptu performance by a hip hop band from Detroit called Clear Soul Forces, who were apparently staying in the same hotel as we.
Thursday I saw three movies; Jessica saw five. We started the day with Page One: Inside the NY Times, which was fantastic (my second favorite of the festival after Win Win), had a mid-afternoon michelada in the sun, and then went to see The Dish and the Spoon on the South side, which was good (if you like quiet, character-driven indie films). After that, we took a little break to see Low and Edwyn Collins at the French Legation Museum, where we saw my friend Jacob again, and then I lazed around a little while Jessica went to see the Le Tigre film. The plan was to meet up for a 9:00 showing of Bellflower, but the Strokes were playing a free show that made traffic impossible to navigate. My shuttle ride to the theater- which would normally have taken 20 minutes- took almost two hours, and by the time I arrived, the line was so long for the movie that it wasn't worth trying to get in. I was able to let Jessica know in time and she waited for me downtown as I got back on the shuttle to meet her. Then we went to see a much less crowded screening of Attenberg, a fairly avant-garde Greek film that was a little too "artsy" for my taste but not bad. I had popcorn and a Diet Coke for dinner. Jessica wanted to try and see a midnight movie afterwards, but I opted to meet my friend Ajax and go see Big Freedia perform instead. We only got to see a couple of her numbers but it was still awesome. On the shuttle ride back to our hotel, I overheard a spectacularly embarrassing conversation between one of the members of a band called Shit Horse (really) and his date.
Friday I made my way over to South Congress to see Versus play an acoustic set in the garden behind a pizza place. They were great as usual, and I got sun burnt again walking back to the East Side afterwards (the one day I didn't carry sunscreen with me, of course). I met up with Ajax and Layla at the Shangri-La, where they were playing (they, along with singer-guitarist Josh, are the Wrong Words). Marlene met me there as well and we watched Wounded Lion's set before walking over to see if we could get into the OFWGKTA/Pentagram show, which had a line around the block. Instead we went back to the Shangri-La, watched the Wrong Words, and then got some empañadas across the street before meeting Jessica downtown to see Another Happy Day, which was probably my least favorite thing I saw at the festival (how many movies about families breaking down at weddings can there be?). After that we tracked down the Coolhaus truck for some enormous ice cream sandwiches, followed by a breakfast taco at another truck whose name escapes me. I had originally planned on trying to see Japanther next, and possibly Davila 666, but I was too tired, and we were supposed to be leaving town at 7:00 the next morning anyways.
Saturday we were up early as promised and had a quick breakfast at 24 (yes, I totally had another veggie burger and milkshake for breakfast). Then we drove for about 16 hours to Bisbee, AZ, so we could stay at one of my favorite places in the world, the Shady Dell. If you have never heard of the Shady Dell, you are missing out. Its location is the only reason I have not been there a million times, as it is truly one of a kind. While the rustic style of the trailers at El Cosmico in Marfa was very nice, they really couldn't hold a candle to the cozy, authentic feel of the Shady Dell. On the way there, we had dinner in La Mesa, NM at Chope's, home of some of the finest green chile I have ever eaten, and some excellent sopapillas with honey for dessert.
When we got to the Shady Dell, we slept snugly in our little twin beds under chenille bedspreads, and in the morning we walked up the hill to the wonderful Bisbee Breakfast Club, where I found another favorite of mine on the menu: the Pancake Sandwich (yes, you can make one at nearly any restaurant by ordering two pancakes, two eggs and bacon, but it is rare to find it listed as a menu item itself)- the mark of a fine breakfast establishment where I am concerned.
After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast we were feeling a bit lazy so we decided to stop in Tuscon to check out some antiques, figuring that would get us home around 3:00am, but things took a bit longer than we planned. We got some nice items (I came very, very close to buying my dream Hoosier cabinet for $500, but with shipping it would have been too much), and then drove to Phoenix, where we had an amazing lunch at Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe, a total hole in the wall we NEVER would have found without the help of Jan and Michael Stern. We had fried catfish, smothered chicken, yams, green beans, black eyed peas, cornbread and mac and cheese, and boy was it good, but it definitely slowed us down. By the time we got to Palm Springs again, it was already nearly 10pm and that meant that even if we drove straight through, we wouldn't get home until 6:00am.
Just as we were realizing that (over a slice of coconut creme pie at the King's Highway), Jessica's mom called to let us know that the Grapevine was closed due to flooding and snow, and we decided to try and spend the night someplace near LA. I had been hoping we could make it to Santa Barbara (thus missing the Monday morning LA traffic when we got up), but the rain became torrential and we had to pull of the road in Hollywood. We figured it must be fate, so we drove over to the very chic Farmer's Daughter hotel and booked a room. We got some rest and then in the morning we stopped in Brentwood at the Larder (my favorite!) to pick up food for the road. The rest of the trip was uneventful, and I am so happy to be home!
This trip was so much fun, but I am completely wiped out. I think that if I go back to SXSW again, I will have to make sure I get to take more breaks, and allow time for proper meals... After all the good things we ate, plus the not-so-good things that are inevitable on any road trip, I am feeling the need to detox so I am doing a Blue Print Cleanse. This is my second time drinking their juices and although they are not cheap (understatement), they are really tasty (I am contemplating buying a juicer so I can make my own green juice daily). I'm only cleansing for three days this time, just to get the fast food and caffeine and sugar out of my system, but I already feel much better after just a day and a half. I would definitely recommend BPC to anyone looking to clean up their body. I've also heard really good things about Can Can Cleanse, which is local to SF, and I want to try that the next time I need a pick me up.