Escape from Austin (Day 5)

Wake up. Update blog. Return the electric bike from previous night. Walk into the city with the help of motivational bridges.

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Based on my summary understanding of The Secret, I projected my hunger to social media and insta-got this from a van.

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I walk about a mile to Caffe Medici’s again. Use my secondary PayPal account for another $20 of free food. I’m a master of disguise. 

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Meet up with Saeed and try to go to some free BBQs. Both of the spots ran out of food. Did get another Kind bar though. I’m a sucker for circular narratives.

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Walk over to the MTV Woodies Festival. There’s a line around the block and the place was at capacity. Click here to unsubscribe.

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Stop by the conventional center. Find a table full of Lego blocks.

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Some lazy guy asks me to help him make a helicopter.

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This takes me almost half an hour.

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These children want none of my input but keep making me separate blocks for them. Today we learn about outsourcing.

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We thought this was a secret phone number. Shouldn’t hold out for pi in the sky.

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@llovise on Instgram strikes a pose.

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Some girls from Red Bull strike a pose.

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Man with a guitar singing about God and shopping strikes a pose.

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We go through three different lines for the Mad Decent showcase, until security tells us it isn’t a free event. This is despite putting the RSVP on a “like-wall” which also grabs contact info. Austin Party Weekend gets a perma-unlike from me.  

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Saeed’s friend got us on a VIP list for an event five miles in the wrong direction relative to the airport. I had $16 and four hours to get to the airport. I make my final bad decision.

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Boxer at South Austin Gym strikes a nose.

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Mobb Deep was there.

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And Mike Jones.

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And Judge Mills from Celebrity Deathmatch.

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Two people said I could ride with them back downtown. Get double crossed twice (quadruple crossed). I end up hitching a ride with a group of strangers. Luckily I also had something on me that one of the people wanted. I manage to scrape together $30 and a free cab ride.

With my new found wealth I bought some fried rice with an egg on it from a food cart for $8 and spent the rest on the cab to the airport $32 + $6 tip. 

—-

Land at JFK. One unread text message.

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—-

Health: 60 / 100

Morale: 55 / 100

Cash: $0 (Or -$30)

Encumberance: 0%

Wheelin & Dealin / I Get Around (Day 4)

Call a cab. Wait half an hour. “Cab is on their way. If in twenty minutes, it doesn’t arrive, please let us know.” Wait half an hour. Call back. “If in twenty minutes, it doesn’t arrive, please let us know.” Wait an hour. Let’s try hitchhiking. 

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I get in the back of a pickup truck to get near the bridge.

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I get in the back of Krishna’s car to get to the bridge.

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I was down to hike the rest. Alicia was not for some reason.

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I forgot to take photos for the next part. Here are some photorealistic renderings depicting the awesome things that happened.

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Here’s an example of bad money management. Spending 33% of my money on Heifeweizen beer at Austin Ale House. 

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Then we go to this awesome concert at a church. I love going to church.

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Praful wanted to experience Austin BBQ before we left. Unfortunately the place was miles away. Fortunately I asked the guy on the left if we can hitchhike and he said yes. Unfortunately the place was closed anyways. 

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We settled for some Korean Tex Mex. I split some $8 kimchi fries, leaving myself barely enough for cab to the airport tomorrow. 

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Randomly pop in an arcade bar.

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Mandatory game of Ninja Turtles. I was stuck with Michelangelo so obviously died pretty quickly.

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We saw this shark guy get bounced from a club for being too drunk. He was trying to get to a house party about 4 miles away. I was down for a typical teen comedy random house party aside, but since I had $16 and no one else wanted to split a cab with this dude we had to let him go.

He didn’t get ten feet away before a crowd of people screaming “SHARKSY” swept him away.

I ran into him a few hours later with another group of fans. I’m sure he ended his night like a hero.

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The worst pirate commandeers a pedicab. 

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Jonathan lends me his electric bike and a youth sized helmet. I had the difficult decision between not having a helmet and getting strangled to death by the chin straps. 

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I spend almost two hours watching Praful not get a cab anywhere in Austin. 

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"Let’s check Uber."

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I have a short video of me riding the bike back to Jonathan’s crash pad from the previous night.

Here’s an unrelated gif of a dog riding a bike with training wheels.

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—-

Health: 65 / 100

Morale: 65 / 100

Cash: $16 ($2 tips, $10 beer, $4 one half of kimchi fries)

Encumberance: 95.1% (Carrying an extra lanyard for some reason)

Sleeping in Zilker Park (Day 3)

Wake up and run into a man wearing a parrot suit. It can only go downhill from here.

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Attend a free brunch at the Lambert’s for Innovation Policy Day. This is what a bouncer for brunch events looks like.

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Deviled eggs, tomato mozzarella, pulled pork, and falafel burgers. 

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Relaxing with my raspberry mojito.

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We decide to go to Whole Foods to pick up SXSW guest passes. We walk by this thing on the way.

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Got the guest passes. Stoked.

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All right! CHEVY was caught! Would you like to give CHEVY a nickname? No, but where the iPhone charger?

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Grabbed a beer and a ginger whiskey at the French Tech Hub. Met the awesome Parisians representing Reed Midem. Talked about the transformation of the music industry from digital to subscription and how snobby Parisians are.

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Charging our phones at Austin Convention Center before the next venue. 

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Apparently the volunteers there thought I was actually homeless and gave my friends a volunteer meal voucher so I don’t starve. I guess there’s still hope for this generation.

Here’s a shot of four people splitting one chicken pot pie and two bags of Doritos. We grabbed that girl off the street. Apparently she had an hour to kill and eating a quarter of a pot pie was the best way to spend it.

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On the way out the convention we run into my friends Jonathan and Alicia, who gave us some VIP code to a concert at Cedar Street Courtyard. Apparently one pot pie wasn’t enough so we head back to Lambert’s for more free food. 

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No I didn’t just use the same photo with adjusted brightness settings. 

After Lambert’s I’m at Cedar Street Courtyard with Praful, John from Next.io, Saeed, and Peter from BU. 

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BIG MISTAKE OF THE NIGHT #1: Accidentally getting a beer after the open bar ends. The $6 was almost 15% of my remaining cash supply. I leave with two $20 bills.

The gang follows John to a secret Kurt Vile concert a mile away across the highway. 

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BIG MISTAKE OF THE NIGHT #2: $8 for this amount of tacos, or 20% of my remaining cash supply. 

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John took pity on me or his own body and gave me his extra slice of pizza. I need all the calories to fuel for my hike to Zilker park.

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I saw a guy puking.

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I saw another guy getting arrested.

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Unrelated woman selling bratwurst.

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And the boring stretch over the bridge.

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Beat up and almost out of batteries, I make it to Zilker Park. At one point I almost caved and got a pedicab for $15. But since Interactive ended, I’ll probably need all of my remaining money just to eat and drink water. 

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Probably one of the scratchier parts of the whole park.

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I try to take a photo from inside the pillow.

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Ten minutes in. I hear footsteps. Some guy’s walking by carrying a large bucket. The hour or so after that was me paranoid getting up every five minutes because of leaves rustling. The drawback of being in a giant cotton face helmet is that everything sounds like someone running towards you to kick your face like a football.

Hit the opt out button. Texted my friend Jonathan and he responds.

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Unfortunately his place was another 1.2 miles away. My phone had 2% battery and the laptop that I was using as a backup battery went from 33% to 0% inexplicably. 

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Suddenly a wild cab drives up in front of me and lets off the passenger. With only $32 left I decided to walk away. Some dust flew in my eyes there.

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The phone dies.

I manage to remember the door number. After half an hour of walking to every single house and trying to read the door number by moonlight - I open the door to this dramatic reenactment.

His owners call him Cielo. Eventually he calmed down and passed out next to my face. Cielo was a good dog but had major b.o. (Here’s a reenactment)

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Wake up to pancakes, tea, and a hot shower.

Conclusion: Park - 0, Shelter - 1

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Health: 65 / 100

Morale: 70 / 100

Cash: $32 ($7 in tips, $6 for a Corona, and $8 for a taco)

Encumberance: 95%

The Second Wind (Day 2)

Pass out with my laptop open at Driskill. “Would you like some coffee sir?” No thanks I’m getting a Lone Star at the Pointroll barside chat and chicken nuggets, pulled pork sandwiches, a fruit bowl, and vegetable sticks.

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Spotify House. Free sunglasses. Lines wrap around the block. Let’s nap on a pile of business cards.

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Yahoo puts a twist on the driverless car. Put in ten more drivers.

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Brace yourselves. 

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Get tired of walking, #Catchachevy. Word is someone paid $100 to take Uber for 0.9 miles. We pay in hashtags. I try to get the driver to take us to Vegas. How’s that for a marketing campaign

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Praful wants to nerd out at a driverless car convention. Need a badge to get in. 

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We stop by the Social Good Hub after blowing $7 on 40 oz of kombucha. Run into a dozen people from NY. I buy the founder of Drive Change an avocado taco. $3 to get a like on the Scratching Pad fan page. Where’s my CFO? Oh wait I don’t got one.

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Leave Social Good Hub to get free Shake Shack burgers. Get abducted by a karaoke RV. I’m a creep from New York New York. Pour some sugar on me. I got 99 problems but please just drop us off by the burgers.

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Team ROI KOI tells me I can hire or fire my Facebook friends. I friend one of them on Facebook. Love the New Years helmet. All I want to do is spend $100 to get two drinks at a shitty open bar. Actually I’d rather get four wisdom teeth pulled. 

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Head to the Austin Convention for the Paypal party. There was one guy with a guitar and two people eating hamburgers. My friend Saeed can’t get ahold of his friend for couch surfing. Fortunately, Cynthia of beehiveheart fame gave the green light for both of us to crash in her living room via following the Scratching Pad blog. What a hero! 

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—-

Health: 60 / 100

Morale: 70 / 100

Cash: $53 ($3 in tips, $7 kombucha, $3 taco)

Emcumberance: 95% (Lost phone charger, picked up a poncho)

The Magic Snooze Bus (Day 1.3)

The problem with trying to sleep-hack events is that there are always inconsiderate people blasting music and even more inconsiderate people trying to talk over the music.

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At some point in the night my friend Tal offered me a place on her floor to sleep. At a different point in the night I decided to go to an afterparty with a 3D printer and live guitar karaoke.

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I think I popped out a vertebrae here.

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At a third point (around 4:45AM) I ran out of ideas and decided to buy a $2 bus pass so I can sleep on the bus.

I ended up taking the 7 bus all the way to the last stop in Rutherford Walmart then back up to the other last stop in Bluff Springs. The concerned bus driver woke me a few times to make sure I knew my stop. 1/10 would not try again. 

After three hours of the bus struggle, I find my way back downtown and at Gold’s Gym for their shower. Their 7-day VIP Pass requires a local ID. I get the $18 the day pass to buy back my humanity.

And they don’t even supply towels.

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Health: 45 / 100

Morale: 35 / 100 (Need nap)

Cash: $66 ($5 pizza slice, $2 bus pass, $4 donation, $17 gym pass)

Encumberance: 95 / 100 (Ditched soggy AERO t-shirts in Gold’s Gym locker). Bottom right locker if you want it.

The Lulls (Day 1.2)

By the time I got to the Animal Planet cat party there were no actual cats left, just TV screens playing clips from “My Cat From Hell” and these “cats” -  80s cover band the Spazmatics.

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Even worse I made the following party poops:

POOP # 1: Only getting one drink before open bar expired.

POOP # 2: Talking about SEO in a social setting.

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It’s 10:35PM I’ve burned through the taco and corn the fish and most of the alcohol. Now in a state of fatigue and mild bummerage. 

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I have three more parties and no RSVPs for any of them. 

May the odds be ever in my favor.

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Health: 48 / 100

Morale: 51 / 100

Cash: $94 (Tipped twice)

Encumberance: 105% (Gave beer cozy to stranger in need)

Free Stuff Extravaganza (Day 1.1)

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Ten minutes into downtown Austin I got my first free granola bar. How kind.

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Then a quick stop at the Lanai Rooftop Lounge for the AERO Party. Open bar, free t-shirt to sign up for a 4 hour free trial? Deal Howie, Deal.

Met new friend Chris. Hands me a card for a Mashable secret speakeasy bar invite. Have to tweet at them for more alcohol? Shut up and take my hashtags.

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Left the AERO party before the food got there. No problem. Some cute girls hand me an entire pizza courtesy of 7-11. NY Pizza is better. I’m already jaded.

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Never make it to the Mashable house. Get abducted by the #TacoTourBus sponsored by Tocquigny. They’re a branding company. Giving free beers and tacos is the ONLY way to do branding. I’m all in. 

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And I’m keeping that sombrero amigo.

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Back to AERO party for more beers. Give me that corn on the cob. I order three Dos Equis as Seis Equis. Many thanks to my five years of Spanish classes. 

All my friends bail on me. No time to weep bitter tears. Free laser tag courtesy of Freedomland. And free beer. And free seafood? Are you ready kids? AYE YES CAPTAIN.

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Meet up with friend Tal. Friend Tal takes me to the Driskill for internet and electricity. End up sitting next to Cesar from 1 Second Everyday. We have an engaging conversation. 

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Hotel security asks me not to sleep in the lobby. Still manage to squeeze in 20 minutes of solid REM.

Now onto the Animal Planet cat party and something something with Snoop Dogg. 

More later.

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Health: 51 / 100

Morale: 75 / 100

Cash: $96 (Tipped four times)

Encumberance: 110% 

The Adventure Ends?

Daylight savings time always sneaks up on me. My new friend Praful and I planned on leaving for EWR airport at 3AM for a 6:30AM flight. Now it’s 4AM.

Then, as we were about to get on the L, we realized the WTC Path station is closed on Sunday.

After some maneuvering with the Path and Uber we get to the airport at 6:00AM. Praful prints his boarding pass. I’m stuck on the waiting screen.

"Sorry you can’t print your boarding pass. The system is down."

6:01AM

"It doesn’t look like you checked in."

6:03AM

"Are you sure you checked in online?? It doesn’t look like you did."

6:05AM

Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more doomed, this happens. The rep looks me in the eyes and says,

"Oh no. Oh NO. Ooooohhhh no."

Then she snatches a boarding pass from below the counter and puts it in my hand.

"Run."

The Adventure Begins

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In March 2011, I went to SXSW with Hashable and met some of the coolest people in the startup world, got a free upside-down-dog-in-a-sweater t-shirt, and picked up my favorite necklace: the falling whistle.

Every year since I’ve tried to go back but just never put in a good effort.

This year I thought I was going to skip SXSW again. My traveling budget is cobwebs after self-financing my cat rescue project. I also happen to run a daily blog and have eight cats to take care of.

Then, the universe spoke.

1. I found a cheap flight leaving Sunday and returning Friday for less than $300 total on Kayak.

2. My friend Melissa said she could catsit for the week and update my blog with even better photos (she’s a pro photographer).

3. I remembered that when I quit my job in finance I said I would always make decisions which lead to better stories.

There was still a big hangup. Hashable gave us free housing last time. This time I was on my own, and my so called friends were quoting me $500 to crash on a couch. I said I’d rather go homeless and document that adventure. Once again my jokes became reality.

On Friday, this arrived. My mobile living solution. 

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I’m also bringing four changes of clothes, a laptop, Sony RX-100, ANKER external battery, 1/2 of a first aid kit, a toothbrush, a GoPro Hero 3 Black and a bar of organic b.a.r.e soap. The idea is to go minimalist on the comfort side but maximist on the documenting for my week on the streets of Austin. 

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I also grabbed a free seven day VIP pass at Gold’s Gym for showers and those inner thigh machines.

To make things even more interesting I only brought $100 for the week. I’m leaving all my credit cards at home, so there’s a real risk of hilarity. 

Stay tuned.