— 13 March 2006 —

SXSW: An Odd Night in Which 9rules Wins a Web Award, Scrivs Gets Sick, I get Assaulted, and Almost End Up in Jail

I’ll add the details tomorrow, but damn I am pissed. And happy. And concerned.

~~~

So, I have a little sleep in me now. Actually, more sleep than I’ve had any night here so far.

The most important thing first: 9rules Network and Bryan Veloso won SXSW Web Awards last night. We were all surprised we won. Mike and I went on stage to accept the award. Paul wasn’t there, unfortunately, because he was sick in his room (we’ll get to the hospital part of the story in a minute). We invited all the 9rulers in the room up on stage with us because 9rules wouldn’t be what it is without our great members. We did, after all, win for Best Community… So there you have it, 9rules is the best community. Which is validated even more by one of our members winning an award too.

After the awards, Mike and I got interviewed really quick for something we may or may not be able to see in the future. We took the award up to Paul and within a few minutes were off to the hospital. We were there for about three hours, sitting around a lot of people who were in a lot of pain. I guess it is a good thing that there is a Emergency Room specifically for kids, but obviously I don’t like the idea in some respects.

Eventually they discharged Paul and we went to the hospital pharmacy which was needlessly far away from the waiting room. By the time we got the pharmacy meds, the meds they gave him in the Emergency Room were kicking in and knocking him out. So we wheel-chaired him back to the waiting room and waited again for a cab (got the same cabby). We helped Paul to his room and he passed out basically when he hit the bed. I know a lot of people are teasing him to his face and in general that he has been drinking and whatnot, but that isn’t the case. He’s sick. He is on antibiotics from the doctor. And hopefully over the next 10 days he will get better.

He should be in bed (in my opinion, but I tend to care too much ;) ) but he is here with me, Dan Rubin, and Rundle listening to Craig Newmark be interviewed by Jimmy Wales. Which I will now listen to and continue this story later.

I am sorry it is taking 3 days to tell this. I haven’t spent much time online the whole conference, which has been a really good thing.

After we dropped Paul off at his room I left to go to mine. Mike stayed with Paul to keep an eye on him. Plus he just loves sleeping on a couch. I got back to my room, but didn’t stay long as I was hungry. No dinner. I went to the hotel bar which had stopped serving food 10 minutes before I arrived. So I went to 6th Street to get pizza at one of the many sell-by-the-slice places. I ran into Dan Rubin, Wade Winningham, and Garrett Dimon.

They invited me to bar hop with them. I was not at all in a drinking mood, but I wanted to hang out. We went to a bar that quickly filled with women who wanted to dance on the bar. Frankly, all images that might have just filled your head aside, I would feel that dancing on the place I was trying to serve drinks to people was really rude. But I am a practical kind of guy. The next stop was pizza (finally!). Dan and I each got a slice that was hot, and I mean freakishly hot out of the oven. We walked down the block as Garrett snapped pizza-eating action shots.

Out of nowhere some woman came up behind me, hugged me from the side and yelled, “Take another one!” Which was fine by me. Sure, take a picture with some stranger. Then she reached over my shoulder, grabbed the recently mentioned freakishly hot pizza and smashed it into my face and down my shirt. What. The. Fuck.

She ran off with her 2 friends down the block. I followed. I was walking rather briskly, but not running. I could easily follow where they went into a bar in the next block. I followed. Just as I was about to step across the threshold, Garrett grabbed my shoulder and said, “Take a look around. This is not the place.” While I did used to ride a motorcycle, most of you who’ve seen me will know I am not a “biker” and all the images that term conjuers up. This place was filled with people wearing their “biker” uniforms.

Garrett was right, of course. I was far too pissed to make that decision on my own. I know most people don’t understand why I feel this way, but honestly… No one has the right to touch me without my permission.

This bar happened to be right next to another pizza place (they’re everywhere!), so Dan bought me another slice (which, insult to injury, wasn’t as good as the first one tasted). We stood there for a bit, then Garrett disappeared into the bar. He came out a minute later with the woman. She walked up to me and said, “I want to apologise. I didn’t mean to do that. Well, I did mean to do that but I shouldn’t have. I’m really sorry.” She extended her hand and I shook it. That was that.

Garrett had simply walked up to her and said, “I want you to apologise to my friend. That was totally an uncool thing you did.” Garrett had a cool head, which prevailed for about 5 minutes. I haven’t come to the arrested part yet, but a non-cool head plays a part.

We finished our pizza and decided to head back to the hotel. We were right at the corner and started crossing just as the flasshing hand finished flashing. But, to be clear it was still flashing when we started walking. We had to go around a cab that stopped in the middle of the crosswalk and the cabbie beeped at me because apparently I was too slow in going around his inconsiderate parking job.

I think it was the beep that drew the attention of the cop.

“I’m gonna need your identification.” Uh, why is that? Because aparently we were pedestrians in the road way. I stand by my statement that we crossed legally, but there is no way to win an argument with a cop. None. At thet level, at that interaction you have no power.

Which Garrett didn’t seem to be comfortable with. And I agree in concept that you should not sign an inacurate document. But again, you aren’t going to win the argument.

The cop wrote Garrett’s address wrong. Garrett didn’t want to sign it until the cop corrected the mistake. There was a back and forth of “Sign it,” and “Not until you fix this.” Which led to the following statement: “Either sign that ticket now, or I am taking you and your friends to jail.”

This guy was willing to waste the resources of the City of Austin, which if he arrested us it would result in the same outcome with more time and money spent. Totally uncool. From a business perspective and a social perspective. All he had to do was be friendly and we wouldn’t have a problem. Garrett asked us to witness that he was signing an inacurrate document. The cop did correct the address, but oddly did it without looking at Garrett’s license. How do you do that without having done it on purpose in the first place? I don’t have an answer to that. I think we were cited because it was closing time at the bars and there was a quota to fill. I know, I know… cops don’t have quotas.

I am completely fine with, if I did something wrong (which I didn’t), receiving a ticket as a warning to be more careful around 2000 pound hunks of metal that could kill me as I cross the street. Worst case for what actually transpired would be that we recieve a stern warning and a statement of, “If you had waited for the next light, you’d be at your hotel by now.”

So we have to call on the 23rd to hear what our punishment (if any) is going to be. Could be up to $500, which is not noted anywhere on the ticket but was told to Wade by a different cop who wrote his ticket.

And that was it. All within 5 hours.

The bummer thing was that I missed the after parties. Though I much preferred being at the hospital (though not for the reason) than at parties. I did miss out on a bunch of free shirts. Not a catastrophic event, but if you happen to have an extra one, or you work for one of the companies that was handing out swag, I wouldn’t mind if you sent one my way. :)

Beyond swag, and having a bit of time between the events and now, I do realise I come away with one good thing: a great story to share. And that’s the power of this new ease of publishing that’s sweeping the land. The only thing that identifies us as individuals is the stories we share with people. Storytelling is an important part of human history that for the last few hundred years has been controlled by the few. We change that.

Share your stories and change the world. Get better Paul.

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