Ah, another lazy morning. We went out last night again to 6th street. I'm not impressed. It's populated mainly by U of T students, which is fun to look at, but let's face facts. I'm 35. There, I said it. I must look creepily old to these kids. These hot kids, with their taut tan bodies and perfectly firm breasts...Oh, sorry. I went off on a tangent there.After getting back to the hotel and getting up at 10:30, I showered and met some of the guys downstairs by the pool. They were clearly working off hangovers. "Anyone want to poke around town?," I asked. I received stares like I had just sprouted a second head. Ok, going solo.I haven't used my rental car even once since I arrived, so I put it to good use investigating some of the shopping districts of Austin. The guide book directed me to "The Drag", which is adjacent to the UT campus. Like you'd expect, it was mostly geared towards college kids, with a few bars and one very excellent bookstore where I picked up a needed Ethernet cable (Yes, I'm a dork).The next area I had time for was South Congress Avenue. That was much better. There were a bunch of really funky antique shops with lots of Southwestern kitsch, some decent art galleries and the greatest boot store I've ever seen, Allen's Boots. Try to imagine you local big NIKE store, but now imagine absolutely nothing but cowboy boots. The smell of leather was overpowering when you walked in. I only had a few minutes to browse around before I had to go back and meet the guys for the bus to The Salt Lick for lunch. Too bad too, because I would really have liked to buy a nice pair of authentic Texas cowboy boots. I saw this insane pair of black and red colored boots that were detailed with skulls and flames and such. Really really bad-ass. Price…$1750. Uh, maybe I’ll wait on those boots.
I started driving back to the hotel to meet up with the guys in the lobby. David had rented a bus for the 20 minute drive out to The Salt Lick, which is in Driftwood about 18 miles SouthWest of Austin. Instead of joining the guys though, I decided to make more use of my car by driving over myself. It was actually nice to drive on the rural roads of Texas, past dozens of huge ranches, with horses and cattle and the local Texas vegetation as far as the eye could see. Plus, it gave me a chance to use the Garmin GPS unit I had rented. Bad thing about the Garmin. When I entered ‘The Salt Lick’, it could find any entries! It turns out there’s about a 15 mile radius that you can do searches for. Luckily, I brought my Austin guide book along and was able to track down an address from that. From the address, I got the name of the town and was able to find it that way. I knew those boy scout days would come in handy. J
The Salt Lick is a famous local BBQ joint that is located on an actual working ranch. The entrance to the ranch are large iron gates with the name of the place worked into the gate and a large old sign hanging from a tree. Like the other BBQ we ate at, The IronWorks, this place is pretty no-nonsense. You walk in to the restaurant area past an open smoke pit used to smoke the meat. The pit is circular, about 10 feet in diameter, and dozens of racks of ribs, sausages and briskets were all hanging over it, tantalizingly dripping juices and fat into the smoke pit below. About a dozen very busy looking employees were working diligently around the pit, making sure everything was perfect. Because of my problems with the GPS system, I arrived about 10 minutes after the guys, so when they sat down, they had already ordered. Not that I think there’s a menu, per se. We were all seated, 18 of us, at a long wooden table, Viking style, and the waiter brought us plate after plate heaped high with sausages, brisket and pork ribs. Along with pinto beans, cole slaw, white bread and beer and soda, it was quite a spread. The guys ripped into the food like they were just brought off of Gilligan’s Island. And the voting was unanimous; The brisket was THE. BEST. EVER. I don’t quite know what they do to BBQ in Texas but it is SOOO much better than anything I’ve ever had in NY. The guys polished off about 6 plates of meat and the mood around the table, festive to begin with, started to take on a decidedly sluggish tone. A couple of guys went out to smoke and the rest of us sat there looking like we’d been beaten with rubber hoses. And it didn’t end there. We had multiple orders of Pecan Pie, Blackberry cobbler and Peach cobbler. And it was all outstanding. When the guys piled back into their bus, they looked like fattened cows being led to the slaughterhouse. I followed behind them in my car, and looking through the window on the freeway home, I’d say half of them fell dead asleep. An amazing meal.
The only other thing we had planned that night was to go out to The Yellow Rose, a local strip club a few minutes outside of town. But that wasn’t until about 9:00 or so. In the meantime, some of the more adventurous folks went out to the ACL fairgrounds to check out the shows. I looked at the schedule, and while I had wanted to see MUSE and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, a vicious food come overtook me. I laid down for ‘a few minutes’ on my comfy king bed, and before I knew it it was 7:30. I showered up and met the guys in Lee’s room to do some pre-drinking while waiting for the luxury van to come pick us up to take us to the club. The boys have a ritual of what they call ‘Anchormanning’, which evidently involves opening a bottle of hard liquor (Wild Turkey in this case) and passing it around to each member of the group. The object is to leave a few gulps for the guest of honor who will then finish the bottle. Amazingly, the group was able to just about kick the bottle before giving it to Lee who downed it in one long gulp. Then he threw up. And someone else too. All in good fun, right? ;-)
Now properly drunk, we piled into the van. Well, not all of us. Some members of the group had announced that strip clubs “weren’t their thing”. I didn’t comprehend (still don’t) but no one was judgmental about it. We just said, “more room for us”, and went on our way. The van ride was fun, with one guy (Glaser?) yelling out to another, “STOP SENDING EMAILS OF YOUR KID. AND A VIDEO? SIX-FUCKING-MINUTES?!?!” The guys were in hysterics. We got out of the van and piled into the place. It was small by NY standards (about ¼ the size of Scores East) but it was populated by an…interesting mix of girls. There were a lot of obvious U.T. students and a few Eastern Europeans and also a few desperate looking locals earning a buck for their kid(s) at home. Before David gets his titties in a twist, Yes. For the record I did get 3 lap dances in a row and spend a good 35 minutes with a rather thick looking girl with a sad story. What can I say? She was a naughty naughty girl. I look at it as a purely statistical story. If I pick the hot hottie, I have a .001% chance of getting laid. But if I pick the cottage-cheese thighs, professional whore, I stand a .005% chance of getting my jimmy whacked. Statistically, I had to do it. :-p
Oh, and there was poker. On the way into the club, David nudged me and pointed to the left. There was a poker table set up and people were playing! One table and only 4-5 players. But before we get too excited, it was purely play money. Rather stupid actually. For any amount ranging from $20 to $500 or more, you get a set of play chips. These chips cannot be redeemed for anything! At all! Meaning, if you win and leave, your chips stay on the table because they are worthless. So, in essence, you are giving money to the house for the privilege of playing against other people for nothing. The only thing that gets people to fold is that you have to pay to get chips, so if you bust out, it costs money to come back. Oh, and the dealer is playing too as another player. And since he doesn’t have to pay for chips, he routinely raises in order to get other players to keep ponying up chips. So did I join this insanity? Uh, are you kidding? I paid $50 and sat tight to watch this ridiculous, but funny, experience for about 30 minutes. Finally, I got KK and got outflopped when an Ace hit. Still, for the story alone, it was worth it. And there were breasts. Oh yes, there were breasts.
The group rounded up at 1AM, mysteriously missing one member, who was found in his hotel room later on that night (more to come on that). We asked the driver to drop us off in the Warehouse district and we spent the next hour at a bar in that area. The Warehouse area is populated by a somewhat more mature clientele, and the vibe was much more to my liking. Too bad I only got to stay an hour. At 2AM on the dot, the bar closed down, shooed everyone to the curb and we were on our own. Luckily, some of the other group members had glommed onto two separate groups of girls and convinced them to come back to our hotel room with us. So imagine the scene of 5 girls and a dozen guys, drunkenly stumbling back to the Radisson, intent on drinking more when they got there. Which is exactly what happened. As soon as we were in the door, the music was on, the girls were dancing and drinks were served. After about 15 minutes of general silliness, though, three of the girls decided they had had enough and left quickly. Maybe it had something to do with convincing them that they should jump on Paco who was sleeping soundly in the bed in the next room. When he groggily got up, so the story goes, he somehow thought they were strippers and did something unmentionable with their breasts. So they left with their tails between their legs. The remaining two girls were sports, though. They put up with everything and even stuck around when spirits starting running high and the room started to suffer. Let’s see:
The bed was destroyed. It was one of those sleep number beds that have an aero mattress in it and, as Lee put it, “There’s no more ‘Aero’ in it!” The right side of the bed concaved about two feet after they finished throwing it around.
The glass lamp on the table was destroyed when the mattress knocked it over in a crash of glass.
A few of the guys decided that the carpet on the floor existed to soak up the remaining liquid in whatever half-empty beer cans were lying around. So they turned them all over, at once.
A picture, worth $1750 retail according to the Raddison website, was nearly destroyed.
A full size CVS shopping cart was filled with trash and placed on the bed as Paco slept.
Yes, I was a rockstar at last, having, at lease tacitly, participated in the trashing of a hotel room. Now sober, the group awaits the updated bill with baited breath….
I woke up in the morning and a few of the guys trudged down, red eyed and weary. Instead of our usual pick-me-up breakfast, a brilliant decision was made to end the weekend gracefully. So we walked a half block over to the next hotel, The Four Seasons, to have their brunch. It was idyllic. Wicker furniture and an umbrella, overlooking the river, with perfect food and service. Oh, and waffles dipped in Banana crème brulee (The Lee Stern special). I am now in the Continental President’s club awaiting my flight home (you’re a legend Lee!).
Two more things I want to see. David did a ridiculous job getting this many guys down to Austin to have the time of our lives. Second, the guys, to a man, were a class act. Seriously. Readers of this blog might remember when I went to Vegas for a bachelor party of a Friend of a Friend in November and it was awful because it was a smaller group of guys and more than a third of them were world class assholes. These guys, even though most didn’t know me at all, treated me and everyone else, with respect and courtesy and a hell of a lot of class. And it made my weekend. Brotherhood does indeed have it’s privileges.