It’s easy to imagine that those of us who know Austin for SXSW don’t realize that it is, most of the time, a college town not unlike, say, Madison, Wisconsin. That is a big school with a decent academic reputation, a serious sports program and a culture of coeds and frat boys and whatever it is they do these days. SXSW famously got off the ground as a Spring Break filler, wherein the bars were willing to take a flyer on a week when their easy money was on hiatus.
The private after-party for the film “The Heart Machine,” with its thoroughly New York and Brooklyn essence, was sort of surreal, taking place as it did at a joint called Cheer Up Charlie’s, with its signature drink, the Banana Hammock. Though inclined to think it was booked (it was a co-party with another film and, true to its indie ethos, had a cash bar) with an ironic smirk, it didn’t seem to matter. Never so well have throbbing dance floor beats and Ulysses S. Grant beards blended so well. What the heck: the movie just had its world premiere, folks seemed to like it (more on that later) and Bushwick’s like 2,000 miles away. Sometimes it feels good to forget about appearances and just cut loose. This seemed like a perfectly good image with which to end a cold and rainy day, but on my way home, I passed the transformed Red 7 Bar (see the photo), a celebration of the upcoming TV series of Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk to Dawn,” and I could not help but think that that party was costing more than the entire budget of his first film.