Day 2, SXSW

I’m writing this from the ballroom of our hotel in Austin where they were streaming 4chan founder Christopher Poole’s keynote; I’ve stayed in the room for some automated stock trading panel in the hopes Felix Salmon shows up and gives me my first celebrity spotting of the week.

I mentioned in my post yesterday how new Austin seemed.  History buff that I am, a big part of my appraisal of a city comes from how old a city’s core is and how well-preserved that core is, so these things are important to me.  Last night we walked up Congress to the Capitol and saw the older, nineteenth century part of downtown; then today, my cousin drove me through the older student-dominated neighborhoods northwest of UT, which is crowded with adorable little one-story wooden bungalows, estimated vintage 1920s-40s, in various levels of disrepair.  I hypothesize that they built these homes slung low to the ground, prior to air conditioning, because of the summer heat.  He also took me through the Hill Country, which is considerably more rugged and scenic than I had expected.

Drinks here are cheaper than expected, too — at two different bars last night (OilCan Harry’s and Charlie’s, both very nice) we got 2 cocktails for about $11.  The atmosphere last night, crowds of people and music spilling all over the street, was reminiscent of a better-behaved,  better-educated, and generally less trashy Bourbon Street.  We scored free ice cream sandwiches from another truck on the way home, courtesy of Mozilla, which is hawking its new mobile Firefox app.

I don’t see Felix Salmon so I think I’ll split, head over to the Hilton and try to stake out a spot at this invitingly naughty-sounding 5pm panel.

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