SXSW for Scavengers, Part 1

Each spring, Austin is flooded with thousands of techie folks who struggle to look up from their iPhones and iPads. SXSW (South by Southwest) is a series of music, film and interactive (computer stuff) festivals in which industry-based registrants pay upwards of $1000 for fancy all-access badges.  

But everyone knows: there's plenty of free shit.

Pete and I have spent much of the week aimlessly wondering about in search of anything free: food, tunes, stickers, drinks, excellent people-watching opportunities, etc.

I'd say, thus far, we've been über successful. In fact, we're totally wiped out (and we still have 3 days to go!). Here are some of our daily highlights: 


At dinner time, we didn't have to go anywhere to enjoy some free folk tunes. Our backyard (the restaurant next door) provided some excellent live jams. It definitely beats the nauseating, repetitive Doo-Wop and Motown constantly pumping out of there. I swear, if I hear 'Baby Love' one more time...


First we stopped by Austin's Farmer's Market. It's quaint- about the same size as the Logan Square Farmer's Market back in Chicago (so that's really not saying much about Austin). 

Later, we joined the 12,000-person teacher rally outside the capital on Saturday, the unofficial start of Spring Break. The protests were incited by Governor Perry's proposal to cut $10 billion from public education. Initially, Pete and I were just looking to score some free stickers, but then we were summoned to hand out a stack to anyone who wanted them. 

Afterwards, we hit up the Austin Convention Center, the center of all the SXSW hubbub. Our main goal: free stickers. We were also able to check out ScreenBurn, the free video game conference. A free conference? I guess they couldn't get enough nerds to pay up. 

Lego table!

Mike Tyson, the baddest man on the planet.
I was really only interested in the over-sized beanbag chairs.


Free hot dogs (thanks FedEx!)
Free falafel and hummus sandwich (thanks FedEx!)
Free ice cream
Free queso dip
Free stickers, obviously
Free canvas bags, x 4


Yet another free lunch courtesy of FedEx. Curry chicken and jasmine rice:

This box is not intended for shipping. 
FedEx had one of the better marketing strategies. Three free lunches and the food was bomb! They really want us to 'like' them on Facebook, which I won't be doing, but you're more than welcome if you think the food looked good! I wonder if they would be offended to find out that we rent a mailbox from UPS...

After some grub, Pete and I headed to the Carousolar for some good, ol' fashioned, childhood fun. It's a carousel powered by the sun! 

Speaking of solar panels, did you know that Pete is enrolled in Solar school? He starts next week. We'll probably build our own carousolar and just live on it forever. Or perhaps we'll just solar panels on our Winnebago. That seems more reasonable...

About two hours later, we rode the Carousolar again, this time joined by our lovely neighbors, Pete and Sue:

With our pals in tow, we headed to the Pepsi MAX LOT, a very EXTREME environment of ping pong, four square and endless quantities of Pepsi Max. And come 4 o'clock, FREE BOOZE. 

We spent most our time hanging out with the local alcoholics who are also allowed into all the free beer areas. Chicago wouldn't have that. Keep Austin Weird. 

After getting adequately lubed up, Pete and I walked back towards the Winnie to get more free queso dip and cheap margaritas at the original Chuy's. Delicious. 

Then a quick stop at Uncle Billy's for $2 brew. 

We had every intention of going back out to acquire more free swag. But we were overstuffed on queso and free beer. So we just had to hit the hay. I think it was still light out when I fell asleep...