The SXSW Music Festival begins today, so get ready to hear even more air-carried tunes around the city than you normally would. With music kicking off, SXSW 2022 is in full swing—films, XR and experiences are still open to enjoy!
A few quick tips before you head out:
- Don't forget that films are available online for a certain amount of time, which might make decision-making easier.
- Stock up on free goodies! There are tents, pop-ups and stands all over the city offering free samples.
- Check time frames and wait times on the app—it might save you a trip!
The Texas Shorts Program must-see films
(Act of God)
Stemming from SXSW's regular shorts program, the Texas shorts were filmed by Texans and most showcase local stories. At no more than 20 minutes each, they are all worth a watch, but a few made their mark on me.
- "Act of God" follows Stuart, a disabled man, who is struggling to come to peace with his reality after his caretaker, who helps him into his wheelchair, dresses him and even puts him on the toilet, has left him due to his sour demeanor. The film follows a day in his life, having his commute into work interrupted by a $100 bill fluttering in front of his chair, just out of reach. This is a film of reckoning, forgiveness and triumphantly tackling issues in the face of adversity.
- Showing how border towns share people, music and culture between Texas and Mexico, "Folk Frontera" follows the lives of fronterizas Gabriela Carballo, radio personality for "Border Beats and Babes" in Marfa, and Molly Rodriguez, a folklórico dancer who grew up just one of three white kids in her class in Mexico. After spending their entire lives going back and forth between countries, both of their livelihoods are put at stake when they hit visa complications.
- Telling the tale of country music legends Asleep at the Wheel's rise to fame, "How We Found Our Sound," shows how a group of "counter-culture" hippies from Pennsylvania broke down the barriers of western swing music. Though they struggled to make it at first, an invitation to go on tour with Willie Nelson eventually landed the group in Austin and in turn, integral members of the Cosmic Cowboy movement. Lead singer Ray Benson describes the journey into making swing music for everyone, rednecks or hippies alike.
Doodles | 99 Trinity St.
Land, air, space, rainbow puke and doodles come together in one plush space to learn about Web3. With the mission of spreading the joy of NFTs to households all over the U.S., Doodles and its community treasury, Doodlebank, launched on Ethereum in October 2021. Members can gain access to the virtual community by purchasing one of a collection of 10,000 human, cat, skeleton, alien or pickle Doodles, designed by Canada-based Burnt Toast, AKA Scott Martin.
Virtually spray paint on a wall at the back of the warehouse. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
If you can make it over to the warehouse housing the colorful creatures before 5 p.m. today, grab some doodle-inspired snacks, drinks, nail art, merch or simply enjoy the colorful space.
You'll know you've made it when you spot the giant, puking cartoons!
2 p.m., Birds Aren't Real: How a Satirical Community Takes Flight | Austin Convention Center
23-year-old Birds Aren't Real Founder Peter McIndoe sat down to talk about how the internet launched his accidental career. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
Have you ever seen a baby pigeon? Birds Aren't Real founder Peter McIndoe hasn't, and he wants you to know about that. In one of few interviews on the internet without McIndoe in character, the unexpected founder broke down what led up to his movement and how it changed the trajectory of his life.
In a sit-down session with MSNBC's Zach Stafford, McIndoe said he came up with the idea on a whim at a Nashville protest in 2017, when he created a quick sign saying the most absurd thing he could think of: "Birds aren't real." He got many questions—namely, 'what do you mean birds aren't real?' McIndoe would reply, "They're government drones!" A protest attendee filmed his first-time foray into the "BirdTruther" scape and when McIndoe woke up the next morning, he had gone viral.
A movement born from the most ridiculous thing he could think of led McIndoe to drop out of college and pursue his mock conspiracy theory full time. The movement now has deep lore—the millions of BirdTruthers know birds charge their batteries on powerlines and that bird watching goes both ways—but McIndoe said he never meant to fan the flames of actual conspiracies like QAnon.
"We have been intentionally spreading misinformation for the last five years," McIndoe said. "The ultimate goal of that was to take this scary monster idea, the conspiracy theorist, these people that do this harm in our society, and kind of laugh at it rather than be overcome by it and roleplay the bad guy. In that, I think that creates a safe space for processing and a safe space for expressing something that you feel."
Read more about the Birds Aren't Real movement here.
10:45 p.m., Golden Dawn Arkestra at Empire Garage, 606 E 7th St.
Finally returning to Earth after touring around the galaxy, Golden Dawn Arkestra appeared on stage at Empire Garage with a glittering flash of light. As the band broke into the song "Stargazer, dancers at front donned golden butterfly-like costumes to dazzle onlookers.
Each number different than the last, the children Ra sang one of its newest songs like "Phenomenal," complete with full choreography. Streaming fans, ribbons and glittering ensembles brought to the stage spellbound the crowd through one of its oldest songs, "Sama Chaka."
If you missed Golden Dawn Arkestra's Monday set, don't fret! You can catch the colorful, danceable band for free at 8:50 p.m. Thursday at the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake.
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🗓 All weekend
Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities
All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park
This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.
6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703
This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.
10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park
Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.
Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.
11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway
Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.
As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.
“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”
Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.
“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”
Actually, a purr-fect idea.
Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.
At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”
Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.
“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”
Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.
“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”
Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.
“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”
Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.
“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”
And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.
“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”
Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.
“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”