Some Advice for SXSWi 2011 (For SXSW, for Austin, for Attendees and for Venues)

Having ridden this pony before I can see SXSW is becoming a horse of a different color.  This year the newcomer to the Interactive, Music and Film festivals became the 300-pound gorilla, with an estimated 15,000 SXSWi (Interactive) attendees.

The rapid growth in the Interactive Festival demands some changes from SXSW.

(I started this post before I saw this one, by Jolie O’Dell – but I agree also with most of what she says.)

I’ll take each area individually.

SXSW -

This is no longer a little conference.  It is one of the major “tech” conferences in the world now – and while well run and well managed, there is always room for improvement.  SXSWi could start by defining what “interactive” means to them today and who the target market is.  Interactive could certainly include the “Social Media Gurus” that others have complained have taken over the stage.  Interactive could also refer to the proliferation of real-time data exchange applications that now exist and the real geeks that are building off of them.  Like apps built on the Twitter API, etc.  I don’t think it can be both.  Perhaps you need to add another block.

Let me pay an extra ten dollars and have my badge and shit mailed to me – the cattle-chutes are untenable.

And for the love of what makes sense – get the city to close East 4th Street between Red River and Neches, at least.  The Hilton is “Convention Center Two” even for those not staying there and the number of people trying to cross 4th to get to the convention center, along with the bikes, bike-cabs, and autos is just begging for trouble/gridlock.

Austin  -

See above on the street closure.  GET MORE CABS OUT LATE AT NIGHT/EARLY IN THE MORNING.  Borrow some from San Antonio if you must.  But the cabs are all focused on what seems to be a ten block area downtown.

Attendees -

Know what you are getting in for – don’t carry huge backpacks around with you – you block sidewalks and hallways.  Austin is a walking city – plan to walk!  Travel light. Don’t have your own mini-convention in the middle of hallways and crosswalks.  You are NOT that important – move to the side!

Stop spitting on the street, pissing in the bushes, throwing your trash anywhere you damn well please and otherwise acting like a moronic twelve year old with a doting mother.  Be a decent human being (even if just for a few days).

Remember the people who live in Austin were there before you, and will be there after you.  Respect them and their property.  I saw three arrests in Austin this past week.  I probably saw two dozen more that should have been arrests.  And I am not talking minor things, or even drug related things – I mean property damage, assaults and basic ass-hat-isms.

Venues (bars) -

Please learn to say “NO”.  You do NOT need to get everyone in every event drunk.  Really.  Tell them they have had enough – BEFORE you send them out into the streets to get into trouble.  I can’t believe how much over-serving of alcohol I saw.  People who could not stand or walk were getting served.  I know the party sponsor is paying for the booze – but the venue is responsible for serving.  Act responsibly.

Don’t pretend you hold 500 people when only 300 can fit. (Oh – this should also be under the notes for the City of Austin – re-examine your “maximum occupancy” codes – they are fucked up).

Oh – and at least have SOME plan for rain.  Like mats you can put on slippery spots where stairs meet wet concrete.  An dwhile you are at it – spray some of that adhesive grip stuff on your staircases.  You make a fortune during SXSWi – spend a little of it preventing that one lawsuit that will reverse your fortunes.

Venues (Hotels) -

Our hotels cost a LOT during SXSW – and honestly, my hotel is my sanctuary.  I would prefer that my hotel limited admission to the hotel bar and restaurant to hotel guests and their guests.  Yep – sorry, but I said that out loud, and I mean it.  Not being able to get breakfast in my own hotel because it is full of people from other hotels sucks.  Why pay so much to stay in downtown Austin if I don’t have any advantages?

There are more, and I could go on – but I’ll see what if anything you do with this simple list.

I would love to “Keep Austin Weird” – but you also need to “Keep SXSW Useful” and “Keep SXSW Safe”.

Shitheads and Shitstorms – or, “Sometimes people are just no damn good”

The “or” title of this post came from my visit to a local grocery chain where one day a fake haired, fake boobs, fake human BITCH pushed a nice little old lady because she was trying to find the olives her husband liked – and she was taking a bit of time to do so.

This fake human was in a hurry, on her cell phone, and evidently far too important to be kept waiting – and she SHOVED an elderly woman!

When I helped the woman regain her balance (and yelled at the fake human) the nice old lady looked at me and smiled, and said, “That’s ok, son.  Sometimes people are just no damn good”.  While it startled me to hear it come from her – I also realized it was a truism.  We see it in athletes, TV personalities, and many others.

Even in bloggers – ESPECIALLY in bloggers.

A recent case is when a mother lost a two year old child to drowning and reached out to her friends – her network.  Her support structure.  Those friends happened to be on Twitter, and this grieving mother was chastised and second-guessed by people that are “just no damned good”.  At a time this woman needed friends and support more than ever a small army of (mostly, from what I can tell), “I am a better mommy blogger than you are” fake humans attacked her and accused her of horrendous things.  Like causing her child’s death because she was on Twitter and not watching the child.

I’m sorry.  You can stick your “better than me” attitude right up your (choose an orifice).

A mother lost a child.  And “better” mothers were mean, and cruel and uncaring.

Sometimes people are just no damned good.

And shame on them for it.

“I Never Trusted You”

Someone I knew from 7 years ago shared that with me tonight.  Why, I wondered.

The reason, it turns out is stupid – I was a single parent raising two young “teens”.

“That creeped me out”!

Really? In 2002 a father raising his kids creeped you out?  You must be going totally bat-shit now then – there are SO many of us compared to then.

Guess what?

You creep me out.

Deal with it.

It’s true – I don’t like Doctors

But sometimes they take it personally. For the first time since getting my new gig, I used my new Doctor. She’s very nice, but I was there for the Flu/Strep throat that has been kicking my ass and she wanted to talk about the entire freaking anatomy.

Finally I told her, “Look, let’s just get me over this current shit, and we’ll work on some of your other concerns, OK?”

Her response? “You are lying to me – you won’t come back until the next time you are miserable”.

BINGO! You win the grand prize, Lady Doctor! Because you are absolutely, positively 100% correct!

Why? Because your goal is to FIND SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME. If I have flaws that AREN’T bothering me, then honestly, I prefer keeping it that way for as long as I can. When they start bothering me TOO much, I’ll come see you. Perhaps in time – perhaps not. But shouldn’t that be MY call?

I guess not, since I just got a call from her office telling me she had set an appointment for me tomorrow. Oh, it was a computer that called, which sucked. It isn’t very satisfying telling a machine to shove itself up its own ass! (I DID try though). I won;t be seeing you tomorrow, Lady Doctor.

So, Dear Doctor Lady – let’s make a deal. I promise to come visit you whenever it is the lesser evil between seeing you, and the the pain/discomfort/odd growth/whatever that drives me there. But in between you need to leave me alone and instead anticipate with joy that the next time you see me I will be ABSOLUTELY miserable, and you can say, “I told you so”. And should I grow a large brain tumor in that period you can really gloat about it. Deal?

One more thing – don’t remind me that smoking is bad for me. I know that. I knew it before you were born :)

Work with me here!

Gads, I hate Doctors :)

Voter Suppression?

Today on Twitter I suggested that I am tired of all the political hate, and that I didn’t really care for either candidate, and that I wasn’t going to vote in the Presidential Election.  Mostly though, I don’t like either political party.

Neither are “people serving” – and both are “self-serving”.

I don’t know why this was received with such fanfair – especially by my ex-fellow panelists on NewsGang Live, a show I was “dis-invited” from tonight – simply because I stated that NOT voting is an option that might be realistic for people to consider – for MONTHS I have stated that I am a libertarian (with a small “L” – NOT a member of the party).  Actually, I was asked not to come on and talk about NOT voting.  Since it is prety much a political show (and Obama Rally) now, that basically means, “don’t show up”.

But why the hate?  Because I decided NOT to support Obama?  Sorry – that is MY decision – and I have as much right to Tweet about it as I do anything else, and as much of a right as anyone else has to Tweet in favor of their candidate.

But I did NOT accuse John McCain of being a traitor on Twitter today, and I did NOT call Palin a “bitch” on Twitter today – others did.  “Friends” of mine did.  I didn’t bash them.  I didn’t ban them from a show or suggest they have no business Twittering their opinions.  I didn’t even unfollow them. I DID react to them though – they made me realize that if you vote in this election based on HATE, you fail.  If you get others to vote based on HATE, you fail.

They just helped me decide that I didn’t like how politics works – and even, to some extent, how they are working politics.

So I won’t be on NewsGang Live anymore – which is fine.  I haven’t been on much lately anyway, and the last dozen times were just about politics – I enjoyed it more when it had a broader audience/subject matter.  I DID have a lot of fun on NGL though.

I’m really disappointed in the American political system, and how powerless we Americans feel to fix it.

Neither candidate is for “change” – they both just want “their version of change”.  Real change is drastic, and would destroy our two party ssytem – so they have no reason to “change” anything.

So I checked out of the ugly political debate, and I will check out of the election.  Sorry.  I have a right to.  And I have no obigation to vote for a candidate I cannot support, and in this election, I find little to like.

And don’t tell me I “have a duty” – I have served on Active Duty for this country and I have AT LEAST earned the right to not fucking vote for people I don’t fucking like – don’t you fucking think?

So be it. Hate me for not voting.  Hate your ass off.  I won’t hate you for it :)

But I was also accused of “voter suppression” which firstly, I think is a felony and thus a dangerous “McCarthyism-like accusation”, and second, is just *rude* to suggest.  I am NOT going to manipulate others into not voting, prevent people to attend the poles, etc, etc.  Just going to share my opinion that voting for a bad canditate isn’t any better for not voting for one at all.

Deciding NOT to vote, and even encouraging others NOT to vote is NOT voter suppression.  And I was persnally offended at the suggestion.  Especially since a “friend” suggested it.