1970s Austin No. 15: Tim McClure on the pure and the simple
We asked thoughtful locals why the 1970s left such a lasting imprint on Austin. We received many provocative answers, which we’ll share here first.
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Tim McClure, co-founder GSD&M, Austin citizen since 1966
Because, purely and simply, Austin was pure and simple in the ‘70s. This was pre-Californication. These were the salad days of Armadillo World Headquarters, Oat Willie’s Head Shop, Hippie Hollow and Dry Creek Saloon.
Nothing was wrong, so everything was right, right down to dancing “on the wrong side of the tracks” at Charlie’s Playhouse, then moseying over to the Chicken Shack after hours to soak up all the evening’s illegal alcohol.
Everything was politically correct, because nobody bothered to correct us. The Vietnam War was winding down, thanks to the largest protest marches east of University California Berkley. Politically, Democratic Governor John Connally had just abdicated to eventually rebrand himself as a Republican and run for President. He was followed, after a fashion, by the likes of Governors “Press On” Smith, “Dog Biscuit,” Briscoe, “Clementine” Clements, and Mark “One Term” White.
God, I miss Ann Richards!
Austin was still small back then, still had a sense of humor liberally blended with a sense of humanity. This was still Virgin Territory –- free of South by Southwest, Formula 1 and all the “foreigners” that take over our fair city as if it’s their own.
I could go on, but I suspect you see where I’m going here: Back. Back to when promises were promises and a handshake made it right. Back when you could eat a greasy, cheesy Holiday House Hamburger and feed the leftovers to Charlie the Alligator.
I long for those lazy, crazy days, my friend.
And if you hunker down and squint your eyes real hard, you can still see Old Austin -– Authentic Austin –- if you’re willing to overlook the traffic snarls and the back-in parking and the Confederacy of Dunces that have tried (in vain) to take over this great city.