This post is a rambler from yesterday. Keep in mind that this is the copy-pasted entry for 750 words entry, not a thought-out post. None of the prompts turned me on or got my fingers going. I didn’t know what to write until I saw one of the Soursop people here in Spokesman. She stopped for a decent chat before going to work. There it was. The Yard and its babies. (Links added for this post.)
There is a new place in my hood. Place? I don’t know if that is the correct term for it. The Yard is a former industrial … yard in the St. Elmo district in Austin. Since I have been here, it’s been empty-ish. If the area was human, I’d say it had been ridden hard (literally) and put up wet. There are still the large trucks that haul construction and industrial materials, so it still has that rough feel, but this set of buildings that is now The Yard has become my adult Sesame Street.
The places I’ve visited are The Austin Winery, Spokesman (coffee and beeya), Still Austin Whiskey (not yet open, but the owners let us in to chat), St. Elmo’s Brewery, Soursop. These all offer drinks and food. Also in The Yard are SupATX, MADabolic, Wooly’s Beach, Enabler, Impact Hub, and heaps more. I don’t have much cause to visit the others on a daily basis, but I did a walk around on a much cooler day to find out who was here. A quick walk turned into a long one as nearly everyone came out to talk about what they were doing. I still see these people almost daily. I see Spokesman people when I am at St. Elmo’s and Soursop, and I see the good people from Soursop and St. Elmo at Spokesman. It’s a neighbourly neighbourhood spot. Everyone is nice. Everyone is kind. It has been the most wonderful thing to happen in my zone.
I live an easy 30-minute bike ride to the Capitol. It’s an uneasy 35-minute ride back, but that’s more about incline, the number of gears on my bike, and my spindly legs. I have always felt lucky to have found a place this close to the CBD. I had excellent timing. I am not far from a lot of great eateries and fun places to drop coin; however, I was never walking distance. I’ve walked from the Capitol. It takes me 75 minutes. It takes me 40-60 to get to the fun spots. I’m all about walking and cycling, but eventually, I want to arrive not looking like a mess. And while those eateries are good and SoCo is fun, it’s not neighbourly. They are not set up to be. They target the travelers and masses. That’s great and much needed. This isn’t about what is better. It’s not a competition. SoCo is a different beast than The Yard.
Where SoCo has its chaos and tourists among its loyal locals, The Yard has its chill vibe. Even on Thursdays when St. Elmo’s has Grassy Thursdays (bluegrass) and Spokesman has its free movie night with Vulcan Video and the volume is up, there’s a mellowness that comes from places where one sits and stays. There is a sense of investment of time by those who come in.
I don’t drink. Or, rather, I rarely drink. I am at The Yard almost every day and am yet to have an alcoholic drink. The bars in The Yard do not feel like bars. They are just places where adults can hang and be adulty. To drink or not to drink is up to the individual. No one cares. Come in and enjoy the music, live or vinyl, and do what you want to do. Bring your child if you want. They’re not so much child-friendly as parent-friendly. There is a difference and it shits me to no end that people want child-friendly for places that are for adults. Be parent-friendly. Leave child-friendly to putt-putt courses and places that include “family dining” in their descriptions. Parent-friendly is different. The focus is still on the adult, but accommodates them with things like nice changing tables, games, fun art. While at Spokesman, I saw a little boy leave the men’s restroom saying “It’s so cooooool!” It is. I take my phone to the restroom to pick a character to photograph. Briks Loves You is the artist behind all that you see on the walls at Spokesman. Every character has its own personality. There is even an axolotl in the women’s restroom!
I hope more neighbourhoods get their own version of The Yard. It’s nice to have a little town to visit on foot or by bike without heading into the city. It’s still very much what you think of when you think of Austin. As it gets harder to afford to be near the usual places to go out for food and music, places like The Yard become what helps Austin maintain its vibe. Note that I didn’t say “Keep Austin weird”. I hate that. “Keep” is an unfriendly word: keep off the grass; keep Amurka for Amurkins; keep your filthy paws off my silky drawers! Ok, the last one is ok. Do keep your filthy paws off other people’s drawers—silky or otherwise. “Keep”, though, is often seen on an angry and unfriendly sign. I guess “Allow people to go on about what they want to do and refrain from judging them if they are different from you” doesn’t work on a tie-dyed shirt from a sweatshop in Macau.
In times when community is hard to find and for someone who struggles to balance being a loner and wanting to see friendly faces, The Yard is my place.