Brace yourself. This will be a little strange.

Austin is a hot, quirky town year round, and this has no reference to our sometimes toasty summers. Read on for just a bit.

Here are some quirky things about our town . . . 

  1. The Museum of the Weird on Sixth Street–the street, by the way, that attracts both weird and ordinary people for live music up and down both sides of the street. The museum is in the same building with Lucky Lizard Curios & Gifts.
  2. Richard Garriott’s collection of the bizarre as highlighted on the video clip at this link ===>   Austin’s Oddities — Science Channel
  3. Car art is big here. My wife Ellen and I attended a gathering of the zaniest cars gathered in one place that we had ever seen—on Sixth Street. Jeremy Nutt has written about art cars in Austin, and has included numerous photos of these novel cars.
  4. A long list of Austin oddities is featured in, such as a really big chicken, a costumed zebra, a story-telling robot of LBJ in the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, a larger-than-life iconic Willie Nelson, a giant spider sculpture, and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” film locations that charge a cool $250 for admission. (I haven’t done that, and don’t plan to.)
  5. The late Leslie Cochran, who died at age 60 on March 8, 2012, personified Austin’s quirky side. We saw Leslie a few years ago at a garage sale in one of Austin’s poshest neighborhoods, West Lake Hills. Leslie had long, clean-shaven, shapely legs and he had a dense, testosterone-fueled beard. He ran for mayor of Austin twice, and not surprisingly ran colorful campaigns.
Leslie posing for the Austin American-Statesman, 1996. (Photo my Mark Matson.)

Leslie posing for the Austin American-Statesman, 1996. (Photo my Mark Matson.)

Leslie is a prime example of Austin’s exceptional tolerance for people of all kinds. Not only is it okay to be different here, but almost anyone who is civil in their personal conduct will be treated with respect without regard to race, religion, sexual orientation, or cultural traditions. Exceptions are rare, as in the reported hateful attack by a group of thugs that led eventually to Leslie’s death. No, Austin isn’t perfect.

But Austin has become one of the hippest cities on the planet. There are many who have lived their entire lives here without ever finding any other place in their travels where they had rather live. People come here from all over the world to be part of the city’s cultural, academic, creative, and weird life. In fact, some years ago the people of Austin adopted an endearing moniker, “Keep Austin Weird.” My blog posts are an example of my ongoing contribution to keeping Austin weird.

I do not mean to be a cheerleader for Austin, but rather someone who simply wants to share my views on a town that we have adopted as our own. Some time ago I tallied up the places I have lived—in seven U.S. states that reach from coast to coast. There have been sixteen addresses that I called home for a time. And I’ve been fortunate to travel in many parts of the world. Still in all, I have found no place like Austin.

What makes Austin so hot and quirky?

A principal reason is that Austin is increasingly known as the Live Music Capital of the World, with over 100 live music venues every day of the week. “Austin City Limits” began here on the University of Texas campus nearly four decades ago, the longest-running televised music program in the U.S. It is seen on PBS or the Public Broadcasting System. The show continues to thrive, and has resulted in the growing annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. Oh yes, Austin has the internationally-famous South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film, and Technology conflab that each year brings a worldwide audience. The iconic Willie Nelson lives on the edge of town, and his energy is felt everywhere.

And my only musical ability is listening to it, something for which I am deeply grateful.

I am in general deeply grateful for the quirky things about Austin. It would be too weird to keep going. You get the idea.