SXSW 2005 adventures

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2005

I'm on the plane back to NYC from what was my fifth SXSW. I hadn't been for a couple of years and it was good (and a little weird) to be back. Some thoughts, in rough chronological order:

Best panels I attended: tie between Jason Fried's How to Make Big Things Happen with Small Teams and Malcolm Gladwell's keynote. Having read Blink and seen him speak on it twice before, there was nothing much new in Malcolm's talk, but he's a fantastic speaker...knows his shit cold, didn't utter a single "um" or "like", could make the phone book seem interesting, but doesn't have to caper about the stage to be compelling.

Everyone was nice. Well, there was that one guy who was an asshole, but I think everyone pretty much ignored him. But everyone else, so nice to get to meet you or see you again.

Overheard in the hallway: "no woman who knows that much about CSS should be that good looking", "here's how I met Marc Canter for the first time: I'm standing outside at a conference, he comes up beside me and farts", "I have no idea who you are", "surf the glue", "no one will get naked in the hot tub with me", and "Imagine Malcolm Gladwell...with breasts. That's how busy it will be."

My two panels sandwiched the keynote conversation between Bruce Sterling and Alex Steffen, so I was only able to catch about 20 minutes of it. But that was long enough to hear Bruce talking about smoking his shoes. LOL for reals.

Stubbs BBQ menuBBQ! BBQ! In what could be a record for a bunch of folks who can't pay attention to any particular thing for more than 10 minutes at a time, fifteen of us waited an hour and a half for a table at Stubb's (cool menu pictured at right). I can't speak for the rest, but my beef brisket was worth the wait. As a bonus, Kathryn accidentally walked away with the primary object of our obsession during our 90 minute wait, the buzzing/blinking table-readiness notification coaster. I'm sure said coaster will be a treasured guest at many SXSWs to come.

Bruce Sterling's not-house party didn't really get crackin' until the geeks descended on the Zoob toys. The photo evidence pretty much speaks for itself here.

Ben Brown, because he asked me to. Many, many times. Ben, I expect you to comply with the terms of the restraining order from this point forward.

And finally, I'm at the airport ready to leave just after getting through security and I hear, "your attention please, Jason Kottke to security check 3 for a lost item pickup". Bag, check; rollie, check; coat, check; phone and wallet, safely stowed in the zipper pocket of my bag. What the heck could they have found and how on earth do they know it's mine? I zipped over the security check point and was waved over by a friendly/stern police officer. "You Jason?" "Yep." He holds up my wallet, which I swear on a stack of The Origin of Species was in my bag. "Holy crap," I said. "And that's not the worst part," he says with the most serious look I've ever seen on anyone's face.

Uh oh, I feel a full body cavity search coming on.

He pulls out my social security card and lectures me for two minutes on how I shouldn't be carrying it because it's all someone needs to steal my identity. Relieved that I'm not about to be hauled into a tiny windowless room for interrogation, I'm sort of chuckling at this point, which he takes to mean I don't believe him about the SS card. "Do you see me looking you right in the eye, son? That's how serious I am about this." Mr. Sir, as soon as I'm home, I'm taking my SS card out of my wallet and putting it in the safest place I can...right after I change into some clean underwear.