Monday, October 27, 2008

Other from the Thriller dance (see my last post) and lunch afterward, the weekend was sort of uneventful. Hung out with Chris a bit (yes, I got my XBox back, so we're back at it), and had dinner last night with Ryan, Jamie, and Mandy at Hyde Park. Lots of movies and reading with some guitar playing in the backyard (to enjoy the weather and entertain Cassidy). The weekend just sort of flew by. I'm always amazed at how quickly they go.

And I guess Austin's popular music venue, The Backyard had its final, farewell concert last night, with local favorites like Kelly Willis, The Gourds, Grupo Fantasma, Jimmie Vaughn, and Willie Nelson performing. The Backyard is closing down at its current location due to recent development in the area which has caused traffic and parking problems and changed the formerly rustic ambiance of the venue. The owners and management have previously said that they have plans to try to reopen in an alternate location within a few years, but those plans seem to remain uncertain.
I have very mixed feelings about The Backyard and its closing. It was the location where my friends were in the terrible accident that killed Jeff Wilson and seriously injured Kim and Sigmund Bloom. I think a combination of the poor parking situation and the poorly directed traffic at that time probably played a role in that accident (although, ultimately the responsibility will always lie with Mary Dodgen, the intoxicated driver who jumped the curb and hit my friends), so sometimes I have a hard time looking favorably upon the venue because of that accident.
On the other hand, I have some very fond memories of The Backyard as well- some of them with Jeff. Jeff and Mandy got me a ticket to see Willie Nelson at The Backyard for my birthday one year (Jack Mitchell went with us, as well as Chris Perry, who was working at Joe Turner's office with Jeff at the time), and it was a really great show and a good time. Beautiful weather, a great setting, great people, and good music. Definitely the best Willie show I had seen and one of my favorite birthday memories.
I also went to The Backyard with Jeff to see Widespread Panic at one of the first concerts that I ever went to with him. I didn't even have a ticket. Jeff talked me into going down there and trying to buy one from a scalper, but when we got there it was totally sold out and no tickets were available. We went into the restaurant to see if anyone was selling tickets in there, and the next thing I new Jeff was leading me through a side door that went into the venue. Somehow I got into the show without ever buying a ticket, and to this day I'm not sure exactly how we managed to slip past security and into the concert. It was a great show, though. Once again, really good music on a really nice night out there in the Texas Hill Country (this was back when The Backyard was still surrounded by forest and trees rather than strip shopping and parking lots). Before long, Jeff had struck up a conversation with this couple that had come in from Louisiana to see the concert, and they ended up buying us a few beers.
So that's a great memory, and that was classic Jeff Wilson. I swear, if there's a heaven, and if it has a great big gate at the front with a line waiting to get in, I'm sure Jeff will meet me there to sneak me in through a side door.
Anyway, it was easy to turn sour on The Backyard after the accident back in '06, but I have a lot of good memories out there, too (a really great David Byrne concert among them as well). We'll see.

I don't have much else. I wish the stupid election would hurry up and get over with. Given the current state of the economy, the war in Afghanistan, our country's health care crisis, our energy and environmental problems, and a host of other near catastrophes, there's part of me that's almost dreading a win for Obama. Through this election season I've listened to right leaning spokespeople and pundits blame the Clintons and anyone else that they can think of for all of the nation's ills, all without accepting any responsibility for the party that's been in power for the last 8 years. And the moment Obama takes office, they're not going to waste a microsecond shifting the weight and blame for all of the nation's problems to him. It's almost not worth bothering to try for the presidency at all, given the mess they've made of things.
But someone has to try to turn some of these problems around, and if Obama's willing to take on the challenge, I'm throwing my support behind him. I'm not naive enough to cast my vote without realizing that the man is young and less experienced than McCain, but he's incredibly smart, has a good temperament, and he seems to be surrounding himself with a powerful team of advisers.
AND I really do think he's going to do more than people expect to heal some of the partisan fighting among our policymakers. Obama, by most accounts, is a very practical guy, and despite people trying to brand him as a radical or a socialist or whatever during the campaign, I think he's going to enter the White House with a desire to get things accomplished expeditiously and efficiently, and he's going to be open to fair compromise in order to achieve those goals. He's already kind of upset a few liberals by altering his policies to allow for some offshore oil drilling. People accused him of playing politics in making that decision (with Americans struggling for affordable oil, it seemed a bit suicidal to oppose offshore drilling in some capacity), but I think he also made it simply because he became convinced that it could be done while maintaining reasonable assurances of environmental protection, thereby hopefully providing a win-win situation for people demanding energy and for those seeking environmental protection (a more dogmatic ideologue might have resolutely opposed any form of offshore drilling, but after being persuaded that some drilling could be performed safely, Obama was willing to reconsider his position). Anyway, this is an example of why I say that I think Obama is more pragmatic in his approached to finding common ground.
But yeah- ready for the election to be over. Aren't we all?

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