Monday, March 30, 2015

SXCK 2015

SXSW Preface:

I woke up this morning to sounds of tapping against my window from last night's rain. The occasional car slicing through the slick but otherwise calm city streets. People begrudgingly trudge these empty sidewalks, hugging their coats closer complaining about the early chill and bemoaning our governmental pilfering of an hour of rest not realizing that what's to come is far worse. But I do. I know all too well what is to become of this fine city as the creatures known as the “badged ones” make their annual foray into our midst. Enjoy your innocence newcomers, ignorance truly is bliss.

SXSW Day 1:

There's a disconcerting stillness in the air before these dulcet sounds of night break into a cacophony of traffic and frustration. The first of the badged ones are the researchers, the enlightened of their species by comparison. Easily the smarter of the two waves of invaders that envelope our city. They gather in various rooms scattered throughout, some in the dark watching recordings of themselves pretending to be others, while some walk for miles just to cram themselves into confined quarters merely to listen to each other speak. They still seem to have gained no grasp of our relatively elementary concept of roads as they still wander into the streets as if oblivious to the vehicles just narrowly missing them as they trudge forward. Their attention buried into their handheld communication devices musing the merits of one named after a mundane fruit verses the one more obviously named after a robot. This first group is more of an annoyance than anything, relatively benign and docile compared to the coming hordes. I remove my jacket, thankful for the end of unseasonably cold weather and the glorious return of our native warmth. The morning fog lets in wisps of light, and a cool breeze kisses my face. Maybe this year it might be different. I laugh at the thought and dismiss it just as quickly... It'll get worse. It always gets worse.

SXSW Day 2:

I revel in these moments of calm before the inevitable storm. Watching from a safe distance I see the city begin waking up to streets covered in discarded shwag. Items brandished with the emblems of their tribes lay scattered along the streets as proof of each of the visiting clans’ efforts to prove their dominance with demonstrations of excess and buffoonery. Each year I watch as the first timers foolishly learn the harsh lessons about pacing themselves, donning their darkened spectacles as an invigorated Apollo stabs mercilessly at their eyes with ever increasing fervor. Their winces of pain as they step out of the shadows give them away almost immediately. Fools. They’ll soon learn. Murmurs amongst the locals have already begun about sightings of the visitor’s Champions. Beings of extraordinary beauty and laughably varying levels of talent that are brought in by the tribes to further entertain the badged ones. Oftentimes champions of years past are brought in with almost mocking irony, while the more elite bring in near deified proportions stir the crowds into frothy convulsing masses as they watch. The gorgeous day almost makes me forget that the beast has scarcely reared its ugly head and that the true barrage has yet to even arrive. Almost.

SXSW Day 3:
*Artist's Rendition
It has only been two days and my aching feet already tell the tale of a million steps. I’ve decided to call this first wave of invaders “The Entitled.” It never occurred to me quite how many of these creatures LITERALLY have titles that force rank upon their underlings. The translucent badges waving in the welcome breeze flash three letter acronyms from all corners of the world demanding recognition of their rank in a proverbial pissing contest with the local soldiers who block entrance into these dens of exorbitance. There has also been disconcerting early resurgence of Falculative Obstructive Mental Occlusion syndrome, otherwise known as FOMO* that has been making its way through our natives. Typically this affliction reaches full potency towards the end of the barrage but it seems that the efficacy of our holistic treatments have proven ineffective over time. Take care of yourselves friends, there will be a brief moment of reprieve in a few days, let that bring you hope.
*FOMO was originally thought to have been named after an individual named Fontelroy Mortenson, attributed with being patient zero, who in the great invasion of 2001 made plans with friends and accidentally misplaced his battery operated communications device and thus missed a message that would have gotten him into one of the debaucherous galas of a visiting champion known for being decorated in glorious stripes of white. From that moment on he refused to commit to any plans and became increasingly distant and flaky towards his community for fear of missing out on such opportunities.

SXSW Day 4:

Early morning clouds whisper premonitions of oncoming storms. Soon our ever zealous sun burns through and fills the air with a sauna-like haze of humidity. The badged ones are staying longer than in the past; further indication that our defenses are weakening. The colorful bands decorating their wrists and necks are becoming more and more intricate with each year’s incursion. Each tribe incrementally moving towards more visible ways to show their dominance over rival sects. The necklaces from which the badges hang have gotten preposterously embellished with emblems of powerful divisions. Proudly boasting the riches they have spent on ridiculous bravado to ensure the fallen natives know under which heel they should kneel. I shall not bow. A decade of invasions have come and gone and a badge has yet to drape across my collar. Stand proud friends. The burden of compliance is great and the penalties dire.

SXSW Day 5:

There is no more beautiful sound than that of engines fading off into the distance. The Entitled ones slowly make their exit just as the first drops of the foretold rain splash against the sun baked pavement. On this day, the locals pay the retreating tribes no heed as a more imperative tradition occurs. Men, women, and children from all walks of life don garments of green and pay homage to the death of an ancient saint named Patrick. Myth states that he drove away snakes from his homeland while using an unusual triple leafed plant to explain the concept of a holy triumvirate deity. In honor of this saint our natives down pints of strong distilled and fermented liquids to drive away bothersome short term memories and inhibiting morals much like St. Patrick did with the serpents. Careful getting too close if you come across a pack of revelers. Though their slurred speech and drifting eyes may imply simplistic brain function, if they don't spot you wearing their treasured color, according to their traditions they are obligated to assault you with a barrage of irritating pinching. Tomorrow the streets will flow with emerald streams of excess. I envision the final wave of invaders readying themselves while so many of our own foolishly and voluntarily impair themselves. I for one am saving my strength, for not only is the next blitz larger, they are not burdened with intellect.

SXSW Day 6:

Apparently my immune system has not built up antibodies to the foreign illnesses The Badged One’s bring with them each year. As I lay huddled in a painful mass on couch I only hope that this goes away as quickly as it came. In my stupor I can’t help but reflect on a few interesting mutations on this year’s trespassers. The most peculiar of which is how a few of the males seem to have started to mimic the appearance of our 16th century Amish settlers. It was shocking at first to see what seemed like a tear in the time fabric watching wide brimmed hats adorn over faces concealed by cumbersome beards walk up and down our modern streets, but it was quickly revealed by their dangling badges that they were nonnative. It seems their access to clothing material is limited as all of their pants were preposterously tight, seemingly painted on and constrictive of any normal movement. Perhaps their initial research was mistaken and simply assumed this was the most prevalent look to assimilate into the crowd. The females of the species have gone a different direction. Their clothing climbing higher and higher above their waist and their legs covered in some strange mesh type material while midriffs remaining bare. Fascinating. I hope my attempt to combat this ailment through medically induced sleep proves successful, the worst is yet to come and I will need my strength.

SXSW Day 7:

The earth rumbles and the trees shake in anticipation of the coming foray. An entire year’s worth of preparation culminates to this weekend. Batten down the hatches, they’re here. Distressingly, the symptoms have already started to show even amongst the seasoned veterans. Arms sheathed in ribbons of colorful plastic and paper, climbing higher towards their torso until I imagine it will ultimately constrict around their neck to fatal end. The telltale layer of filth from the inability to properly wash their forearms is a more subtle indication of the presence of the contagion if the chromatic manifestation wasn't enough. In the meanwhile, the Badged Ones brandish them proudly. The champion sightings continue as one deplorable side effect of each year’s infestation is the inability to not drop names. From the north, Markus the Cuban has been making his presence known brandishing a tank of sharks and the knight, Mix-A-Lot arrived to much fanfare as he hasn't been seen in nearly a decade. Our local women inexplicably swooned over a young goose named Ryan, while others huddled around a genetically mutated cat with anger issues. Images of zombie hunters have been popping up everywhere which makes me fear for the conditions on the outskirts whilst even I spent the evening in the company of musical demons. The taunting rain clouds capriciously fade in and out of existence releasing nary a single drop but the cool misty breeze tells a different story. The rain is coming. I can smell it.

SXSW Day 8:

Today brings biting wind and frigid rain from a winter that I thought had long since passed. I should've known, that damn prophetic rodent is never wrong. Oddly, the weather did little to deter the propensity for the Badged Ones to gather in those outlandishly long lines that I've grown so accustomed to seeing each year. Drenched to their core they huddle together foolishly using their electronic equipment. I can only assume that perhaps the precipitation where they're from doesn't damage their technology like it does ours. What a rude awakening they'll receive when they return home and find that they're unable to communicate with the rest of the horde. The first day of the final wave and the streets are already desecrated with the scattered remains of the discarded bands of those of us who attempt to hide the symptoms of infection. Tearing away one after another only to wake up and find more have seemingly manifested overnight. This evening as I was walking home, desperately hiding myself beneath my hood while the rain stingingly kisses my face with painful frozen splashes, my thoughts turn to last year's tragedy. Year after year the invaders come but by and large they cause no lasting damage, save last year. Watching them attempt to operate their conveyances after a day of chemical bombardment concerns me more than any of the other mannerisms that they have displayed. This is when they have the most common with our natives. The blatant disregard for each other's safety. The short sighted sanctimonious thinking that the actions of a few cannot so greatly affect the lives of many. The arrogance of believing that tragedy cannot strike close to home. The roads are precarious even for those unimpaired. Be aware. Be safe. Be smart. These are not mere contrived platitudes. These are survival truths. We are rapidly approaching the zenith. The pinnacle of the aggression and it is now when we must remain the most vigilant. We shall not concede to another catastrophe. We cannot afford another disaster. Your lives are far too valuable.

SXSW Day 9:
Once more back unto the breach my friends. Each year I'm reminded of Shakespeare, and his powerful rallying cry. One more brutal surge before the Badged Ones make their retreat. Constant confrontation breeds contempt. Over furrowed brow I watched as the inescapable swarm poured itself over our saturated streets. How much destructive distraction can we endure? Several of our own aim to test their limitations. I for one have learned isolation seems to be a much more effective strategy. This year the apparent leaders brought with them long metal rods that they attached their communication and documentation equipment onto. Proudly brandishing them like royal scepters capturing their conquests. They seem happy enough, chronicling themselves amidst our consternation. It almost seems that they savor our trepidation. Sadists. Like leeches I watch endless legions tether themselves to our power sources and while I am thankful for the brief moment of reprieve from their terrifying marches, the depletion of our resources is concerning. It will take time for us to built up our reserves. Quietly I wait, until the rumble of amplified chaos calms down and we can all rebuild and recover. Such is the way for our world. I would like to say we put up a good fight. That we went out with vitality and honor, but the truth is, while some fought back with vigor, many respond with a whimper. Hold, our day of reclamation approaches.

SXSW Epilogue:

Birds. They're the first to return. I remember what used to be vexatious cackle have now become music to my ears. How quickly we condemn minor inconveniences promptly forgetting how unpleasant the alternatives. One of these days I'll learn that lesson. It's been a couple weeks since the last of the invaders have left our borders. Leaving behind absolute devastation in their wake. Like every year the locals hover in restorative stupor from the exhaustive battle we all endured, somehow managing to return to some semblance of a normal life. Our streets, once littered with multicolored rubbish dancing in the Spring breeze, are all but revived as our beloved vagrants slowly come out of hiding. In the distance I can smell "black and milds" and already feel the rumble of extraordinary bass. The relays will be here soon. I suppose I should enjoy the peace while I can. There truly is no rest for the wicked.

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