There are times in life that don’t have a marker. Sure, there are the big markers: November 22, 1963. December 7, 1941, your wedding date, the birth of your child. But so often, we don’t have these markers that we can pinpoint and say, “There! That’s it. That’s when it happened.” It’s more often than not that things seem to change slowly around you until one day you wake up to realize that everything is different, but you can’t really put your finger on when it happened. But for me I now have an official marker. March 31, 2008 – the day Austin became Dallas, or Houston, or Waco, or any other nondescript city in the state.
My relationship with Austin is quite different. My biggest problem is the people that continually claim that Austin is something that it isn’t. “Oh, Dallas is so materialistic. I would never live there.” Right, you never see the Austin female cruising in her Beamer or Benz with fake everything, rocking her Coach purse. That never happens.
Or, “Houston is soo big. The weather is awful, and there is nothing interesting like in Austin.” Sure. No way Houston has an eclectic mix of urban shops and restaurants that’s home to enough random artisans and designers that would make most Austinites look like a Bush Cabinet appointee. Not to mention the unbelievable amount of museums and other attractions.
The thing that bothers me the most, is that no matter how much I disagree with these people, there is, or was, one place that always made me feel like Austin was something different. Shady Grove. Sitting there eating a Hippie Chick, drinking a Shiner, and listening to Bruce Robison, for a moment at least, I could buy into the whole Austin vibe. For lack of a better term, I was feeling it.
Part of any trip to Shady Grove was the accompanying RV Park. You’d always catch a glimpse of some interesting characters roaming the grounds. These were people that, for whatever reason, decided to park it there and see what life threw at them. I don’t know, maybe they just liked the Hippie Chick – I could think of worse reasons for living somewhere. It was all part of the scene. And now, it’s gone.
The RV park was sold, and for what? Homeless shelter, commune for starving artists, center for the advancement of tie-died research. Nope. Condos. Talk about paved paradise and put a parking lot.
I know the restaurant is still there, but it’s just not the same. Sitting in the shadow of a high rise with angry residents blaring horns over the lack of parking – just not the same vibe. Oh well, like everything, it was fun while it lasted. Who knows, maybe someone can franchise this thing – start slapping them up and down I-35. After all, it’s no different than anywhere else.