Monday, March 17, 2014

SXCK 2014

SXSW Preface: I can feel the earth tremble and the air vibrating in preparation for the first wave... although year after year these creatures descend upon us I still feel as unprepared as the very first time I bore witness to this phenomena. Each time presenting new challenges. Each time revealing new perils... I watch in horror as my flickering and dwindling cell phone reception acts as omen for my trepidation of what's to come... Tomorrow morning, it begins.

SXSW Day 1: The sun rises over the horizon, much like any other day. Burning through the morning haze and forcing it's way through the unfinished buildings casting ribbons of light onto the streets of Austin, TX. However today, they don't bring light and the promise of warmth and spring... they bring with them the first of invaders. The badged ones have arrived. The first are the scouts from what I've gathered. Snapping photographs and acquiring "followers" as they roam emblazoned with logos and emblems. Relatively harmless compared to the second wave but every bit as inconvenient. More concerned with their handheld devices that seemed to be permanently glued to their hands as they meander aimlessly through our streets in packs. Seemingly oblivious to their surroundings they somehow navigate with complete disregard to our vehicles on our roads. They must not have them where they come from. The most interesting is the phenomenon that happens after dark, when these ostensibly meek creatures congregate in huge masses indulging in the jollification provided by their superiors who sent them. Bacchus would be proud...

SXSW Day 2: The morning brings rain. Glistening prisms cling to my windshield as I sit stationary in the parking lot that was once known as Lamar Boulevard. To my dismay, the precipitation does little to slow down the badged ones. They've all arrived by now. Proudly displaying their credentials around their necks they rendezvous as they poorly disguise their discomposure from last night's debauchery. The uninitiated are the easiest to pick out; eyes hidden behind darkened spectacles despite our typically boastful sun demurely hiding behind veils of storm clouds. They greedily consume cups of dark bitter drink that deceitfully promise reprieve from their overindulgence. They'll eventually learn. Occasionally they will converge, comparing satchels of corporate salvage they must have looted and plundered from yesterday's initial reconnaissance. It's a symbiotic relationship. Like leeches, they feed like gluttons on the fattened corporate sow while their superficially benevolent hosts send them back into our world adorned with their insignia. Viruses... I feel safe within the metal walls of my car, though I would feel better if I were able to move...

SXSW Day 3: It's hard to imagine that the mindless rabble scouring our streets represent the more intelligent of the species. The late night storms finally subsided to make room for a winter resuscitation, my morning spent clenching my coat closely around me as I navigated through the throngs of the swarm. One interesting observation is that with the herd, there come the parasites. Multitudes of masses all looking to benefit from this exuberance. Pedal driven conveyances, vendors of all shapes and sizes line our once clear streets in efforts to unload their wares. I don't blame them, the first wave come with promise of wealth and lines of credit, and a some strange foreign term called "per diem" that allows them to indulge with no threat of consequence. This elaborate dance all in preparation for the incoming hordes that are soon to follow. Enjoy them while you can, you can almost hear their rumble from the distance. Those damn locusts...

SXSW Day 4: The calm this morning is disconcerting. The first wave has begun their exodus. These temporarily empty streets deceitfully provide a moment of consolation that I know will be all too short lived. As if I were in some colossal celestial caprice, the eye of this hurricane fell in line with our local tradition of time manipulation. Each year, governing powers decide to move us forward in time by an apparently insipid single hour, ousting us of precious sleep and effectively providing more daylight for the invaders. These short sighted halfwits not realizing that this simultaneously brings night, closer...sooner. Darkness is where the next faction truly thrives. Fools. Already massive machines are arriving to blockade our streets unloading amplifying contraptions and contrivances that will soon deafen us in phonic barrage. I try and enjoy these few moments of reprieve but can't help but settle into my foreboding prognosis from painful memories past. I slow my breathing and attempt to focus on peace. Music is coming, and with it... chaos.

SXSW Day 5: A certain semblance of normalcy has washed over me. The sun finally shining through a cloudless spring sky and crisp cool air does well for a weary mind and achy body. I never expected quiet to be such catharsis. I find it interesting how quickly the locals become assimilated with this foreign culture that has infected us. I watch as we intrusively attempt to photograph ourselves with these visitors. We give these humans worship at levels typically reserved for deities, so many of whom are are ironically known not for who they are but for their portrayal of people other than themselves. The very sight of them giving us a sense of purpose, a glimpse at greatness, if only I could stomach the stench of pretension that surround so many. The waters have calmed temporarily, only a few remaining ripples remain from the initial waves. I have to remind myself to stay vigilant as this brief intermission will dissipate before we truly can enjoy it. Enjoy it while it lasts my friends...

SXSW Day 6: It's peculiar. I've come to the conclusion that the favored pastime of the badged ones seems to be standing in long serpentine lines. Throughout our city, surrounding apparently meaningless buildings they congregate. I avert my eyes and do my best to maintain my distance as I fear the symptoms of their infection are starting to show. My blood ran cold this morning as I noticed a credential lanyard tossed haphazardly onto my nightstand and a colorful band clinging to my wrist. I tore it off in a panic, hoping it's contact with me has no lasting effects. It's worse than I thought. It seems under the cover of night the first of these intruders infiltrated our borders. Distressingly this is considerably earlier than years past. Looking back on my observations I anticipated their influx to start tomorrow. But make no mistake, though already troublesome, this is but a fraction of the onslaught over the approaching hours. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more..." lest we close up our walls with our fallen locals...

SXSW Day 7: I write this entry through eyes reddened by tears and a heart encumbered by tribulation. Last night, an individual took it upon himself to absolutely make the worst decision anyone can make and it resulted two casualties, a number in critical condition and even more injured. This is unacceptable. My conscience was burdened all day as I couldn't help but feel that this should not be treated as an isolated incident and that for too long so many of us have stood on the sidelines as bystanders of the most avoidable of tragedies that happens all to often in our city. Last night's circumstances seem exaggerated by the collateral damage to the innocent but in truth, this is mere media fodder. This is not any more or less tragic than what occurs to our own citizens each weekend. Our city is growing. An increasing amount of these outsiders are taking root and we continue to invite them within or borders more and more frequently so we must adjust our infrastructure or the consequences will be indelible. Tonight marks the start of what effectively is the most stupendous of the surges and our city is already bursting at the seams. I only hope that this calamity was anomalous. I pray that we as a city grow weary of mourning and are instead galvanized by these fires of misfortune to make lasting changes in our culture and our society... Be careful out there my friends.

SXSW Day 8: The invasion has reached it's terminal velocity. Most streets are barricaded impeding any semblance of normal pedestrian movement forcing us through a guided labyrinth of blockades. Our buildings and even our abandoned lots have been commandeered by the badged ones. Everywhere you go a cacophony of aural assault bombards from all angles. The symptoms of the infections are pronounced and unmistakable at this point. Colorful strips of paper and plastic swathe their wrists obviously representing some crude form of hierarchy. The hoarding of these adornments go far in the primitive culture of these walkers. Like feral animals I suspect that the vibrant gaudy adornments serve some sort of purpose in their courtship and mating rituals. The females of the species preen and gather around the alpha males who have extraneous bands and accoutrements that grant access to these fortresses. Even the beta-males reach out in efforts to obtain the necessary credentials for entry that will hopefully raise their personal status. Choruses of "I am on the list!" and "Please go ask him!" can be heard echoing on every corner... in their world, the "list" is sacred. In their world you're nobody... unless you're somebody.

SXSW Day 9: We've reached the pinnacle of this year's invasion. The unseasonably wet weather continues to do nothing to stop the encroachment, but I am grateful for the cool breeze as it dances across fatigued brow. The morning fog acts as convoy as it seamlessly blends with a haze produced by these creatures, saturating the air with its poignant oily and herbaceous scent. It reminds me of a slightly less beloved creature native to us, the skunk. I speculate that they use this musk in similar fashion as the air is dense with it's acrid aroma. I digress, tonight will be fundamentally the most vigorous of the surges and consequently when we need to remain the strongest. The badged ones, at this point largely functioning off chemical enhancements, with their minds blurred by exhaustion and excess; it is during this final wave that they exhibit their most lemming-like qualities as they figuratively dive off the cliff of coherency and fully embrace delirium. Some have worked themselves into a frenzied froth and flirt with absurdity and preposterousness, while others barely maintain their poise and instead trade their dignity for debilitation and relative immobilization. Regardless, I watch them all from a safe distance and endure isolation with foolish optimism that the majority of these visitors will return from whence they came and leave us be to nurse our wounds.

SXSW Day 10: I found myself sitting this morning at dawn, watching the sun rise over the now abandoned buildings. My ears gratefully savoring this cherished silence. The badged ones have all but vanished from our borders, leaving our lands ravaged and desolate. The last of their monstrous trucks are but a rumble in the distance. Such little care was shown as these sycophants bled us dry. Sapping every last drop of vitality from each they came in contact with as they left our city anemic and despondent, a mere shadow of it's former glory. Now the healing begins. The northern winds bring an unexpected chill but the cold cannot depress my spirit today. I smiled as I clutched my jacket closer and thought the most exquisite thought I've had in days... it is over. We've survived. Drops of crimson ran down my arm as I hastily cut the last of the growing assortment of colorful bands from my wrist that I was ineffectual in keeping from accumulating. These symptoms grow worse each year. I assumed I would've developed an immunity by now, but alas nothing could be further from the truth. Needless to say, this is a discouraging development. This was only the first of the many invasions to crash against our borders so I must remain steadfast and enduring as the next will be upon us before long. But for now, in silent acquiescence I allow myself a brief reprieve to enjoy this moment of serenity. The street lights blink a peaceful rhythm as the wind whistles a lullaby through our abused streets. "Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk to you again..." Such beauty in these sounds of silence.


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