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US Odyssey Part 3: Pre-SXSW and the red-light show

We arrived in Austin on Tuesday, a day before the music portion of SXSW started, so if you’re looking for info on that, check out the next entry in the US Odyssey.

My technique for finding places to stay, and also to meet people in this country are to play open mics. That way, they get to hear what I do, and I get to show how likeable/non-sketchy I am, and that I’d be a worthy addition to their floor. We went to Opa, a greek bar and restaurant to check out their open mic night, only to find out from the coordinator, Annabee (sp?) that they had prearranged scheduling due to SXSW. We chatted for a while, and found out that she likes to refer to herself as a Rednexican (the brilliant blend of Redneck and Mexican), and when she parties she usually has a friend in charge of keeping her out of trouble, referred to as the Beekeeper. Well, she was helping us out in this instance, by giving us a bunch of different numbers of people to call to see about renting a room for the weekend.

At SXSW, everyone’s trying to cash in, whether by hosting ‘unofficial’ events in the hopes that they’ll get more traffic, or by renting out couches and extra bedrooms at ridiculous prices. One person we talked to was offering a bedroom for $120 (to put it into perspective, most Motel 6’s are around $30-$40). With most hotels/motels being booked up for SXSW, that was starting to look more and more like the only possibility.

We hunted around for cheap motels a little bit more, and found one at the ridiculously low price of $15.99 a night. I walked up to the window while Shannon sat in the car, and before I even saw the check-in clerk, I saw a posting mentioning an hourly rate, so I turned and walked back to the car, walking past two ‘ladies of the night’ in short shorts leaving a motel room. A few blocks over we found another motel, this time for $47.99. Sold. However, as I was paying, Shannon was again in the car and this time saw a very fancy vehicle drop off a younger woman on the street corner, who may or not have been counting some bills. Alas, I had already paid for the Economy Inn before Shannon relayed this to me. Ah well, the room was pretty decent, with a  renovated bathroom, and all new TV and furnishings (everything was Sanyo, maybe they cut them a deal for buying in bulk or something?). We sit down, and then we get a text from one of the numbers that Annabee had given us; they have a room available for FREE, and we’re welcome to stay there for the duration of our trip. Really? That’s amazing!

Morgan's backyard in Austin, and Mallie - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

Of course, if we’d like to make a donation, they’ll pass the money along to a non-profit group that helps keep Austin a Pet Kill-Free Zone. I go downstairs and try to haggle with the owner of the motel to get our money back, but no dice, so we leave the motel anyway and go stay with our new friends Morgan and Richard!