Mar 19, 2013 by Jenna Zine
Brass House bartender -sxsw 2013.JPGThis guy is my favorite person from this year's SXSW. Sure, I saw Brendan Benson (one of my all-time favorite musicians), The Zombies (twice - and I was so overcome with emotion that I cried both times), the legendary Billy Joe Shaver, The Coup (the hottest band, both sonically and aesthetically), Solange (aka - Blue Ivy's aunt), Telekinesis (freakin' awesome), Patrick Sweany (also a new must-have), Anders & Kendall (that's Mr. Parker and Ms. Meade to you), Ravens & Chimes (I hate to hang the "adorable" tag on them, as they're so much more. But man, they're cute!) ... and more incredible bands than I can even recall right now. (It takes awhile for the blur to solidify from breathtakingly exhausting fun to lifelong treasured memories.)

Along with amazing bands there were also some pretty kickass parties. Top of the list was Rachael Ray's Feedback - especially the house party portion. I think I'd punch my own mom to have just one more of those beet sausages. Oh, and the gracious hostess and her hardworking crew weren't bad either!

So what's so special about this guy? As the week grew on and 6th Street became awash in trash, The Brass House was a beacon of light and a port in the storm. One of the owners was on hand with a smile, repeatedly greeting us at the door. (That may not sound like much - but it's a welcomed sight when most (rightfully harried) door guys look like they'd rather murder you than check your ID.) Then, immediately to the left upon entry, was the corset-clad cutie ready with a tub of ice-cold beers for sale. Umm, yes please! The bar itself is new - clean, welcoming and intimate. And this guy - I think we're ready to give him a name - is Chris Riviera, the barback who helped keep it humming smoothly. Chris's eagle eye went above and beyond. The moment a glass was empty, it was removed and the table was wiped down. (This was effective, versus overbearing.) Chris was like the ninja of table service. 

But he really won me over when he'd just done another stealth round of cleaning when I saw him pause. And then? Then he stooped over and plucked a barely visible cocktail straw from the folds of a booth. He held the piece of carelessly discarded refuse between his fingers and shook his head like the straw was offending the very molecules of his being. (Picture the look on a French person's face when an American tourist shouts questions in English, hoping the sophisticated Parisian will magically understand him or her and you'll get a lock on the vibe of this amazing moment.) After he took a moment to laser his disgust onto the item, he turned, tossed it in the trash and kept moving in search of more hidden debris. Finally, I just had to talk to him. I grabbed him for a second, in between rounds, and asked him why he was so dedicated. "I want to be a bartender here and I'm paying my dues," was his sweet reply. If he pays as much attention to his duties as a mixologist as he does to cleanup (and I have no doubt that he will), The Brass House will be lucky indeed. If I come back next year and Chris is not behind the bar, justice will not have been served. (I so want to make some kind of drink to serving joke right now, but I've really got to move on.) So, yay Chris and yay Brass House. (My husband says they need a better sound system; but I don't know shit about that so I'll refer you here. I thought the shows sounded great, and we saw several different bands there.)

A few other things that trended this year:

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Skirts with cowboy boots are out! It's all about short shorts. Even this pair pictured were longer than what I normally saw - in fact, these are practically culottes compared to the labia-huggers the majority of gals were wearing. I'm not a mother, but I fretted about dirty bottoms and yeast infections for these girls as if they were my own daughters. Instead of saying anything though, I chose to knock back some refreshing Sapphire & Tonics while snapping creepy photos. I'd be a terrible parent. 

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As if the above isn't enough of a spoiler alert, I caught a case of "the olds."** Not only did I just about ruin my eyesight spending several hours poring over every band playing in every venue of the printed version of the music guide, I also took time to take some notes - just like I did in high school! When I asked a nice young man at my husband's hip music industry party (where I was a VIP, as dictated by the laws of marriage) who he planned on seeing, he whipped out his phone and started scrolling through his schedule. 

"Wow, is that an app?" I exclaimed.

"Uh, yeah. It's the SXSW iPhone app and it's free," he said as he uncomfortably shifted away from me. 

"Cool, man. Cool. I've totally got that on my phone too. I just thought it was kind of fun to write it down, like non-ironically. I'm a writer and I just love me some pen and paper."

"I'm gonna go get a drink," he said with a sad smile as he continued to edge towards the staircase.

Good luck, pal. Booze won't inoculate you now. You've been touched by the olds! I thought, though didn't say out loud because I was a de facto hostess and didn't want to scare off anymore guests than I already had. 

Instead I wrapped up my crazy and saved my Contagion-style spreading of the olds for Sunday like a god damn normal person, where the waitresses at the Hotel San Jose bar sniffed my age like rotting meat and laboriously tried to avoid my table. They do this every year, and every year I sit it out because I am stubborn. You'd think the consistently horrible service would convince me to go elsewhere, but I think they want me to go elsewhere so instead I keep showing up. This year we reverse-psychologyed each other into one round of drinks and some edamame that took longer to show up at our table than it took to grow. Even my husband was offended at the "white people problems" profiling of our assumed age and income - and rarely does he even notice things like this, much less feel bothered by them. Vindicated once again by, "I do." Anyhow, I think they've finally won because we've both agreed not to go back - for real this time. It's a shame because our favorite way to wrap up SXSW on Sunday is to spend the day outdoors listening to music in the backyard of Guero's Taco Bar and then have a drink at the San Jose. The San Jose has the coolness of any Ace Hotel, but HSJ misses the vital thing the Ace Hotels excels at, which is making all of their guest feel welcome no matter where they fall on the cool meter. In short? Fuck 'em. To balance things out and throw in a positive, The Snack Bar, just down the street at the equally popular Austin Motel, has incredible food and service.

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Illegal taxis started making their appearance Friday evening and, while I certainly do not recommend this, our beat feet got the better of us and we grabbed one out of shear exhaustion. I obviously wouldn't have done this alone, but I was convinced my husband would protect me, even under the influence of numerous beers. In fact, probably better with several beers as he was quite loose and ready to absorb and/or deliver any potential punches. We actually had a great time with this guy - who decided to hop in his car with this homemade sign and spend the evening making shitloads of cash. He careened over two lanes of traffic when he saw our hailing hands as several cabs flowed by us. He noted our dubious looks, but when he quoted us the price of $5 we hopped in his dilapidated vehicle faster than a sorority girl dips a tater tot in ranch. We tipped him generously, as he no doubt hoped we would. In turn, he gave us a huge grin and me this photo op. All's well that ends well!

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You might think an unneeded SXSW wrap-up would include oh, I don't know - a picture of a band or something. But this is me we're talking about (because Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich) so I will leave you with the Jambulance, which was indeed blasting Van Halen because the olds are cool. Until next year!

[Photos: from my iPhone, which I really do know how to use! Click on any picture to see a full-sized version, if you are so inclined. **"The olds" is credited to Patrick at the fabulous I'm Bringing Blogging Back. Thanks for reading! xo]
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Mar 12, 2013 by Jenna Zine
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As I head off to another year at SXSW, on my husband's fabulously busy coattails, I'm thinking as much about the bands and the breakfast tacos as I am about the old adage, "Behind every great man stands a great women." Why, yes - that sound you just heard is me tooting my own horn!  

But seriously: it's really about embracing the grandness of this event, and the music industry as a whole - a way to give thanks to all the cogs in the wheel. One of my longstanding favorite inspirations for greatness standing (somewhat) in the shadows is Astrid Kirchherr - the Michelle Williams doppleganger you see to the left here. Astrid is an artist and photographer most famous for her association with the early version of The Beatles, as well as her great love affair with "the fifth Beatle," Stu Sutcliffe

What did Astrid offer? Only some of the most iconic (and beautifully candid) pictures of The Beatles. She's also credited with cutting their hair into the sassy bowl cuts most of us still associate them with. She is a woman of elegance, possessed with her own drive while standing in the face of overwhelming talent. (Not that she was short on talent, but anyone associated with The Beatles was most likely standing in their shade.) She also gave [and received] love; crazy love that never got to run its full course due to Stu's sad and untimely death. 

Where in the heck was I going with this? Oh, yeah - spring break in Austin and a closer look behind the scenes. While we stand and applaud all the amazing bands, I'll also be scanning the crowd for the person in the corner with shaking caffeine hands, busily stabbing at her or his iPad helping keep said band afloat. SXSW is incredible - right down to the last person left to sweep up on Sunday night. 

[Photo Credit: Thanks to Steve Silverstein who, knowing my love of all things Astrid (I even named my & Larry's beloved cat after her), sent me this pic from his mobile Facebook account.]

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Mar 12, 2013 by Jenna Zine
Unchaste-Readers-poster-March 2013.jpgSays me, to the surprise of... no one. You've seen my Twitter feed, right? Anyhoo - I'm setting out to prove it two weeks from today, in public no less. When I declare, "I'm lewd" it means I plan to go all out; so I've whipped up a piece charmingly titled Vagina Chest. It really has more to do with my collapsing d├ęcolletage versus an actual vagina on my chest, but I'm confident it'll still charm all the same. And yes, I am aware of the irony that I'm part of an all-women reading; and I that I've chosen to chat about vaginas. I realized, too late, that I could've branched out from the female anatomy -- but I'm all in now, because this is what I've been practicing in front of the mirror. 

If you're in Portland, please stop by and watch me make a fool of myself - this time in person versus the Internet. Details above (double click on the poster for a bigger view). See you there! 

[Poster Credit: Please check out these amazing writers! Thanks to Jenny and Dena for including me in this event. I have to thank them now - I might not get asked back after this...]
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