The Texas Debacle

by Prescott Johanson

I picked myself up off the pavement and chased the car for another block or so, panting from the wind being knocked out of me, hand and knee bleeding and bruised. I knew I was beat at that point so I immediately called 911. This trip had ominous overtones from the beginning, the signs all pointed towards a debacle, but you play the cards how they're dealt. Let me give the quick synopsis and bring you up to speed.

Tallahassee airport, random security check with wand, shoes off, belt off, and all the other harassment of the unlucky. Went to take my belt off and my zipper was down, utter embarrassment, what an asshole I am. Bag searched by paranoid airport security who saw something suspicious (an ink stamp). Went to pull it out to show them to shouts of "Get your hands away from the bag". Okay!! Finally boarded the plane, small jet, lots of turbulence. Reading the paper as I went to pick up my half full glass of soda and knocked it into my lap. Did I mention what an asshole I am. Anyway, small stuff, but what a start to a trip.

My friend Paul picked us up at the airport in Houston. We smoked 3 bowls of dank shit from the rather large bag he acquired at my request. Ahh, the night is getting better. Arrived at the Rockets/Portland Trailblazers game late in the third quarter. It was a blowout so we only saw Yao Ming for a minute or so, Tracy Mcgrady, the Rockets other star, for a few minutes. Okay I seem to be 0 for 3 at this point, well, the game was fun anyway. We went out in the down town area, first to an Irish bar and then to another (starting to get hazier and hazier), then to a bar in Rice Village, the hang out spot for the students of Rice University. Did I mention we continually smoked out constantly between places. I was ripped, we all were. Me and Paul were having great political discussions as we always do and he pointed out parts of the city as we were driving to and fro with Bob Marley bumping out of the stereo. Finally we got back to his house after closing down the bar at about 3:00 AM. I was having a great time despite the fact that me and Amber worked a full day, caught an immediate plane and went full bore since we arrived in Houston. We smoked another bowl and me and Paul were on our second when Amber calmly asked Paul for a band-aid. We went into the bathroom to find she had sliced a thick hunk of skin out of her pinkie when she reached into her bathroom bag and caught her finger on her razor, uuuughghgh, and it was bad too. What the fuck, all in the first night. Luckily Paul is getting his nursing degree in a couple months so he knew what to do. I was helping but have trouble with the sight of stuff like that, call me a pussy if you may, so I left the room cause I was getting dizzy. Amber was fine at first, but then Paul called me back because she had passed out and he was holding her up. We got her onto the bed and was trying to bring her to. Apparently, Paul being a nurse, had told her what she had done and that made her pass out. Anyway, she finally came to after some talk and prodding and answered all relevant questions (i.e. where she was, who we were, etc. etc.). Phew what a first night, that capped it and we went to bed. The wound was bad enough to go to the emergency room but we got it to stop bleeding and Paul said all they would do is sodderize it so the trip was not necessary, yet.

The next day was fairly uneventful. We got supplies and Paul cleaned and patched Amber's wound periodically. She was a real trooper through all of it I must say. We smoked a bowl upon our awakening, it is a working "vacation" after all, and set out for the day. We went and ate at a place called Thelma's Barbeque, ranked by many periodicals as the best in Texas. It was quite simply delicious, the first of many really good meals in Texas. Paul drove us all around the inner loop, the Enron Buildings, downtown, the medical district(one of the best in the world), passed the vast wasteland of the Houston refineries and oil industry. That was one of the most appalling sites as it looked like something out of Bladerunner or any other movie showing a futuristic city after a great war or other disaster. Towers, drums and smoke for what looked like miles jutting out of the earth like an earthquake spit it up from Hell. Anyway we drove by the museum district(also one of the best around), and stopped at Hermann park. It had a Japanese Tea Garden that was very cool as well as a reflecting pool reminisce of the Washington Monument with a statue of Sam Houston at one end atop his horse. We walked all through the park for miles and stopped at an outdoor symphony where they were practicing and listened for a bit. For dinner we went to Chuy's, a Mexican place for margarita's, queso, and other food. The food wasn't great but the decor was an eclectic mix of hundreds of dog photos and an Elvis shrine of all things. From there we went to a couple more bars and had drinks and ended up at what they call an "icehouse" called Little Woodrows. Icehouses are all over Texas and are basically just cheap buildings built to be bars. Oh yeah, I forgot it was Saint Patrick's day, of course, uh yeah, that's why we were drinking so heavily, ha ha. We had green Shiner Bach pitchers, numerous ones and sat and talked there till late. The only eventful thing was that they were giving out free beer and skipped us, but the group of guys right beside us had so many a couple had sat on the table for over an hour. I told Paul to grab one and hand it to me when he went to the bathroom out of spite. They were all standing up but a couple of them saw me. I explained the situation and said they could have it back if they wanted, but they let it go. We retired to bed around 4:00 after smoking a couple more bowls and drinking some more beer at Paul's apartment.

Paul was at his meeting for school when we woke up, so we smoked a couple bowls and packed up for Austin. Woodstock the movie happened to be on VH1 fittingly so I watched that as I was getting ready. He returned and we were off to Austin. Traffic was horrible as usual but I admit that Paul is a talented driver, switching highways to get away from it. I hate that about Houston, it takes forever to get out of it if you want to go. The trip was okay though as we smoked out and listened to music. Austin was the focus of our trip since me and Amber were considering moving there and because the South By Southwest Music Festival is going on. We arrived in Austin, checked in, smoked a bowl and decided to walk to downtown and the festivities(later we drove the same distance and it was 3.6 miles, we walked a ton over the weekend). We ate at The Hickory Street Café where the food was good, the beer cheap and there was a live band, and of course we smoked half of the joint I rolled on the walk there. 6th street is where all the action was happening and it was great, music blasting from every one of the possible hundred bars. It is just a party place and the music was everywhere. We went into a pub and had long island iced teas (they always fuck me up), followed by a quart of Guinness, a huge beer. Whew I was buzzed, we walked into a back alley to smoke some more and then hit another bar for drinks and music. We left there head spinning, in a good way ha ha, and walked around for a little while to check everything out. We ended up at Little Woodrows, the same place as in Houston. We drank a couple more buckets of beer between the 3 of us at an outdoor table behind a short fence right by the sidewalk. It was very non-assuming in Houston and there was nothing about this place to put us on alert, as Austin is a relatively safe city and such. My heads turned towards the bar when I hear Paul say, "That guy just grabbed your purse!!". I turned around and just reacted hopping the fence and sprinting after him. I was moving pretty fast but he must not of thought anyone would chase him because I was gaining on him fast. He ran around another building, through and empty parking lot and I was right on him, maybe 10 15 feet away, and he had a nice head start. My adrenaline got the better of me and I yelled out, "I'm gonna catch you motherfucker." I saw him right in front of me stumble down some steps leading to the alley, so I just jumped the steps and lunged for him as he jumped into a waiting car with the door open, two of his buddies inside. Cockiness doesn't work for me, and I didn't even see the car till I was falling down beside it. I hit the pavement hard, skinning my hand and knee up, and was pretty wasted. When I looked up the car was turning the corner. I got some of the license plate # but didn't get it completely right, I was only thinking about pounding the guy into oblivion. I really fucked that up, had I not been out of my mind with rage, weed, alcohol and adrenaline maybe I would of got the plate #.

Now that we're up to speed, 911 was called, I was panting out of breath but gave what I thought was the license plate # and explained the situation. A few minutes later she asked if I saw the plate. I was livid, telling her that's the first thing I said and it's recorded. The smartest thing I did was take the rest of the joint out of my pocket and put it on a parking meter. The cop arrived and got our statements and apologized saying that this wasn't the norm in Austin. He also told me sometimes you don't get em, referring to my obvious disappointment at not apprehending the perp. You see, in my mind, you don't get many opportunities like that, to be the hero, to get the bad guy, to teach someone a lesson for trying to take advantage of an innocent victim. City's are unknown entities in that you don't know who you're dealing with. The guy who grabbed the purse was just a skinny guy, possibly even high school. If I would of caught him I would of put him in the pavement, simply killed him (figuredly). The unknown is what his 2 friends would of done? Would they of had weapons? Would they have just tried to fight me? Paul had chased some seconds behind, so I would of had his help, and quite honestly I really felt I would of had a chance at taking on all 3 of them, I just didn't care and was ready, full of adrenaline to take them out. That's the unknown though, and the fact that I didn't catch him anyway haunted me for the rest of the weekend, I just wasn't fast enough. Fuck!

I gave my statement and then called the credit card companies while Amber was giving hers. Paul had already spoke to the cop at the same time and went back to get our table at Woodrow's. The cop left and the joint was still on the parking meter so I grabbed it, a little stroke of luck. We didn't know what else to do, and Amber no longer had an ID so we stayed at Little Woodrows and had some more beers. We were all still in shock and Amber was handling it alright because it hadn't really hit her yet. Everyone at Woodrow's was very sympathetic saying that never happened in Austin, they all felt bad for Amber. A few of the people who worked there were sympathetic too. Let me say this though, we weren't offered so much as a free beer, which I though was appropriate, and when the time came that they had to do last call and kick people out we got no sympathy, we had to go. We felt we had a little bit of special privilege so we kept drinking the beer we had until they harassed us into giving in. So let me say this, fuck Little Woodrows in Austin, TX. I'll never go there again, and I urge you to as well, they're a bunch of assholes. Not only that but when we left we were waiting on Amber who was canceling her phone and we lit up the joint about 20 feet away, the guy just stared at us even though we did not even look suspicious. Mind your own fucking business asshole, Jesus. We caught a cab after an hour of haranguing and running around working as there were 10 other people trying to catch one when we first stopped, finally getting back to the hotel room. We smoked and Paul went to bed. Amber was clamoring for a beer so I walked a couple blocks across the overpass to get beer and cigarettes. Amber talked on the phone to her sister and we stood on the communal balcony drinking, and I was smoking bowls. We didn't have a bottle opener for the beers so I used a lighter and tore my hands all up more, ha ha, what a day. We retired to bed, completely wasted and wore out mentally and physically after all that happened and walking over 5 miles all together I'm sure.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, thankfully. We ate lunch the next day at "Juan In a Million", a great Mexican place where we had margarita's and some of the best tacos I've had. We tried to get Amber an Temporary ID to no avail, so she had to take around the police report and explain to every bar we went into. Some of them let us in, some did not. The music festival was still going on so we went into quite a few places hearing about 10-12 different bands over the course of the day. Amber was taking it well considering and I was proud of her, but I did notice her tearing up a few times. A woman's purse is her life and I know she felt lost and taken advantage of. The next day we checked out and went again to try to get her a new ID but had no luck, so I called the airline and got confirmation that they would let her fly with the police report so that was good. We drove around checking out the city, went down and walked around the University of Texas putting Strangeroad flyers up to help the cause. The campus was cool, then we headed out to Lake Travis, a beautiful lake. We ate at a place called "The Oasis", which is overlooking the lake, with lots of decks built into the side hundreds of feet above the water. It was spectacular, the best thing about the trip. We ate, had some expensive margarita's and watched the sun set. If you go to Austin, go to the Oasis, it's awe inspiring. We left, found a hotel and went back downtown. The festival was over so we just went in a place, had a Fat Tire , left, got beer and food at the store, and returned to our hotel. We watched TV drinking and smoking and laughing our ass off at this show called "Clown Time" on public access. It was hilarious, just an ugly ass clown pacing around with a microphone talking about lots of things you would never find on regular TV, cussing up a storm. He was on something, eyes dilated, pacing rhythmically taking phone calls. I don't remember what all they talked about but I know one caller said something to the effect that they should burn Bob Seger's fucking body and snort the ashes. That's the type of show it was, and it was great.

The next day we drove though Hill Country on to San Antonio. We didn't need to make the trip, but it was something different. We walked around the river walk, a man made river loop with restaurants and shops all along it. It was below the city and had a definite feel to it, I liked it other then the expensive touristy food and drinks. I think every city should have one. We drove back to Houston and retired to bed after smoking the whole way, after all, we had a sack to kill. The next day we had lunch at Niko Nokos, the best Greek Restaurant in Houston (best I've ever had as well). We got to the airport plenty early, and Amber got through without much trouble. For informational purposes, if anyone loses an ID, you can use a prescription, none of us knew that. I bought the new Rolling Stone magazine which was a tribute for the late Hunter S. Thompson, one of the greatest writers ever and also one of my personal heroes. We got back to Tallahassee with no other incidents, it was good to be home.

Let me say this to the guy who stole Ambers purse, get a fucking education, read books, learn, get a job, become a productive member of society. We're all in this together homie, and you got to pull your weight instead of just being a fucking virus. That's short money right there dog, get yourself right for your family and your neighbors because the next guy may catch you, and you may lose your life over $50 and a cell phone. In fact, your awful lucky my 40 yard time has faded slightly over the years because I may have put you in the hospital and then in jail. Violence and crime is the answer to nothing but chaos and anarchy. We can't have that shit anymore in America, there's too many problems, too many children with no hope. We all have to band together to make this a better world. Get your mind right.

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