DEC. 18, 2007
If you’re unable to spend Christmas in Vegas, try not to be pissy about it. Neither did Jesus, and he had crazy connections. Besides, plenty of people manage to make do with Austin’s relatively amateurish attempts at garishness and schmaltz. We have 37th Street, a dazzling ode to excess that’s just a few bong hits shy of becoming a Binion’s or a Bally’s. It’s singularly impressive, but for some reason the residents are either too chintzy or too stoned to comp drinks. You would think that might affect their draw, but every year 37th Street is overrun by lumbering herds of slack-jawed touristas just like the Vegas Strip. Amazing. Ditto for the Zilker Trail of Lights. Even though the ZTOL is strung up by underpaid city workers (probably with a jaded enthusiasm not unlike the dollar blackjack table cocktail waitresses at the Horseshoe), it nonetheless sparkles with the same sweaty palmed, attention whoring desperation of a Circus Circus or Flamingo, and most amazingly, does so without a profit motive. Say what you will about the Vegas casinos’ unconscionable waste of water and electricity, at least they’re contributing to the local economy by bringing in busloads of cash. ZTOL on the other hand, brings in busloads of stoned high school kids, homeless winos, traffic jam masochists, and those scary people who finish their holiday shopping by mid July. Jackpot. Your tax dollars at work. With just a little more investment the city could surely erect a nice Greyhound track on the soccer fields at Zilker and recoup some of the cost. Talk about a win-win: In one fell swoop the city could suppress the insidious influence of un-American sports and encourage the unbridled lust for materialism that made this nation great. When it comes right down to it, all that Christmas spirit isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit if it doesn’t fuel holiday spending. A couple hundred thousand people milling around Zilker marveling at the pretty lights are a few hundred thousand people not out Christmas spending their hard-earned cash. Is that really the Christmas spirit? Shouldn’t all those gaudy holiday decorations stand for something more than just a warm, fuzzy feeling? If you really want to get in the Christmas spirit and you haven’t already booked a flight to Vegas, you can still salvage the season by heading down to the 32nd Armadillo Christmas Bazaar at the Austin Convention Center. This weekend and up until 11pm Christmas Eve, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar will offer all manner of artsy knick-knacks, whatsits, and whys to turn your Christmas list from to-dos to tadas! And, like any local event worth its salt, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has live music by the van-load. For a paltry $3 ($6 after 7pm) you can see acts like Sara Hickman, Ruthie Foster, the Eggmen, the Derailers, Van Wilks, Heybale, Shelley King, and Ponty Bone & the Squeezetones – a veritable who’s who of Austin music. Now that’s the spirit of Christmas giving. If only they would just comp some drinks.