Road trip!

You think you’re going to write but your mind is just pulling your leg.  Nobody writes on a road trip.

The trip started in Palm Springs, took us to Austin, then across the broad sweep of central and northeast Texas and into New Mexico.

Why Austin?  Because the husband was picking up awards, that’s why..

Each year the American Association of Political Consultants hands out awards for the best political ads of the cycle.  This year the ceremony took place in Austin

We arrived in time for the luncheon honouring James Carville and Paul Begala….. plus Karl “hates our kind” Rove.

I still don’t get the whole bi-partisan thing, especially when the guy you’re talking about is Karl Rove.  Enough said.

Carville – introduced as a brilliant and batshit crazy political guru – was surprisingly moving, saluting his friend and Clinton campaign colleague Begala.  Aside from the campaign yarns, like Begala, he talked about why most of us are in the business – to make life at least a bit better for people who need life to be better.

To underline the point he closed off with a scene from the War Room, where he saluted the Clinton campaign volunteers.  The short clip is one of the greatest speeches a campaign manager has ever made, not that they make many.

Then the awards.  American campaigns are plush with money and they have the ads to show for it.  If you’ve ever sat through an evening of TV down here during primary season you know what that means – wall to wall ads to elect “Beth Steve Bubba Louise Smith Smollett Harris Franklin” – indistinguishable candidate after candidate.

Breaking through that clutter to get at something that matters to a real voter is almost impossible.  The AAPC honours the ads that work.

Now Communications won 5 awards and an honourable mention, the best performance by a Canadian firm.  And they’re not even from Toronto.

The one gold prize was special to me.  It went to “Christy Crunch”, the ad Now did for the BC NDP just after Christy Clark won the BC Liberal leadership and before the BC NDP picked Adrian Dix as their new leader.

I love this ad.

“Christy Crunch” went viral just after it was launched, with the highest number of hits ever achieved by a Canadian political ad.  It belongs side by side with the best of the American ads.

We did more than conventioning in Austin.

We ate.

We walked before and after we ate.

And we checked out music.  SXSW had just roared through town so the amazing Austin scene was a bit subdued.  Still over two nights we saw some new soul and old tejan music.

The tejans were the original settlers, mostly from pre revolution Mexico.  When the border moved around them they stayed and taught newcomers to ranch.  Their brand of music is called conjunto and revolves around the button accordion.

We checked out conjunto at a 5 – 8 show at the White Horse Tavern.   There we met Manuel and Anita, two tejans who had retired in Austin after leaving it for careers in Wisconsin.  Between dances they filled us in on the original tejans, the changing social mores and conjunto music, which is undergoing a revival in Austin.

Think polka socials in a church basement in Saskatchewan with a lot of added pepper.  Odd time signatures and a crazy old time bounce to even the slowest song.   It was fantastic.

Before we headed out on the road we wandered around the State Capital, where I found this monument plastered with it’s own hundred and fifty year old spin.

The unnamed ‘right’ they fought and died for was, of course, the right to own a slave.  Funny how that escaped attention.

I saw this and thought a lot has changed and too little has changed.

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4 Responses to Road trip!

  1. Regular Reader says:

    So glad your road trip was enjoyable but also very glad to have you back! I enjoy your clear concise writing and well developed, often thought provoking ideas. Your understanding of the political system in BC comes through loud and clear. I have sent a link to your blog to others on several occasions and have received a number of thanks from recipients for so doing.
    Take care of yourself and know that your writing is appreciated!

  2. It was truly an innovative ad and it deserves the recognition. Let’s hope Christy & her team are reading this.

    Guy in Victoria

  3. RS says:

    Just wondering why the Christy Crunch ad has been pulled from your site and You Tube, and it can’t even be found on the BC NDP site. All that seems to remain of this outstanding and award winning ad is a news report on CTV.
    Why wouldn’t the NDP want this ad to run anywhere and everywhere right up until the the election? Did the Liberal’s contact Cadbury (Crispy Crunch) and/or Quaker Oats Co. (Cap’n Crunch) suggesting copyright infringement as Brent Shearer alludes to in his report dated March 28, 2011?

    Congratulations on the well deserved awards by the way.

  4. Evan Lloyd says:

    Ian I just had the opportunity to read this older post and had to comment. As I turns out I just returned from a road trip across (part of) Texas, including West Texas highlights – Marfa, Alpine and the Big Bend National Park. We finished up in Austin, and like you, dropped into the White Horse Tavern as well as some other favoured local music and watering holes (people take their two-steppin’ seriously!). But, like you , I also found myself walking the grounds and noticed their side-stepping monument to the Southern patriots who died defending slavery (sorry “constitutional rights”). They may not be flying the Old Glory, but Rick Perry’s Texas ain’t far off.

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