Austin, Day Four

There is a mercifully cool breeze in the air today. I drop into a hipster coffee shop on the way to the studio where a fracas erupts between an ornery customer and an uptight barista. I notice the background music is some absurd industrial noise art-wank that sounds like a fucking bombing raid on a battery chicken farm. Not exactly conducive to civilised coffee consumption. No wonder the old guy with the wraparounds and handlebar moustache had “an attitude”. The fucking music has an attitude. Everyone looks a little sheepish. I notice the customers ahead of me tip the barista conspicuously in an effort to placate her. Buying cooperation and compliance, like western diplomacy.

I have the morning off while the piano is being tuned at Mr. McC’s. I nose around some vintage shops and buy a few old shirts to supplement my vanishing supply of clean stuff. It’s so hot here you need a fresh torso covering every day. In Glasgow you can wear the same clothes for a month and nobody would notice. I’ve been wearing the same T-shirt and leather jacket since 2010. The guy next to me on the plane seemed a bit bothered by it. Every time I moved a puff of acrid steam would be expelled from the neck of the jacket and settle over him like a sea fog.

Later I take a break to get some air after tracking vocals for a few hours. The whole area is filled with the sound of running engines and the air is choked with the smell of fuel. Austin is not a quiet city, not where I am. It’s much more like LA than I ever realised. In twenty years it’ll probably be exactly like LA. Cities the world over would be massively improved if every vehicle was electric. Or we could all teleport. Make space on the carpet, I’m coming over.

The general feeling on Obama’s debate performance here is that he was too reticent and respectful while Romney blatantly lied about his previous positions the whole way through. I heard an interview with a pundit on public radio this morning who claimed that Republican vote rigging is so sophisticated in the key states that Obama can’t win. I hope he’s a scaremongering conspiracy theorist. Obama had better pull the finger out soon. I have a strange feeling he doesn’t really want the job anymore. I don’t blame him.

I take a table for one in the seafood joint beside the hotel. It’s Friday night so the place is full of families. The Latino folk on either side of me are friendly and having a good time. Opposite there’s a white family – mum and dad and junior. He’s about 21. Every time I glance across at them they are all sitting staring into the middle distance with their fingers entwined under their chins looking grim and desperate. It’s making me nervous. I ask for the bill and scarper back to my room for my last night in the hotel before decamping to a guesthouse belonging to a friend of Mr. McC. The change of scene will be welcome. Away from the interstate and into the trees, a bolt-hole in a neighbourhood called Hyde Park. I’m settling in, getting local.