“The story is always better than your ability to write it.” — Robin McKinley
I’m a creature of habit. I enjoy the places I enjoy and rarely spend time exploring new places. I’ve been like this since I can remember. I can’t conceive of a time that will change. Still, there are nights I find myself amongst the people of the world, enjoying what they have to offer. Tonight was one of those nights: Austin’s 2010 Night of the Bat featuring Adam West.
Which seems like a weird thing to celebrate until I tell you this: Austin is home to the largest free standing bat population in the United States. More than 1 million bats live under – UNDER – the Congress Street bridge, where they leave each night in search of foodstuffs, nearly blocking out parts of the night sky. (Also of note: the entire population are
women female as this is a birthing station. The more you know.)
My pal Chris, the brains behind the South by Southwest Interactive Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator (*exhales*), told me about this over lunch last week. So I invited Logan, a Ball State University alum who just moved to town, to join us on the Congress Street bridge in downtown.
I arrived first because I always arrive first. I have a weird issue with being late. That meant hanging around a bunch of nothing.
Logan and Chris weren’t far behind me though, which unfortunately didn’t start the festivities any more quickly. We just stood around (Chris said: “They need some signage to tell us what to do.” Always the event producer.) until a rag-tag group of musicians began marching across the bridge.
There are many reasons to love Austin. This is one of them: a band that has a hula hoop girl.
After the band started, there were a series of odd bicycles with bat attachments and furry wings following along. It’s unclear exactly what they were doing, but it was the Night of the Bat so who really cared. We just wanted to get our pictures in front of the things.
Chris was very successful:
But when I went to get my picture in front of the Bat Bike, the rider said “Hang on I have to go,” wheeled around and took off. Logan caught me in what I am told is a “Classic Brad Face” as I muttered something unspeakable under my breath. (Which in Bradspeak means loud enough for everyone around me to hear.)
Eventually one of the stars of the night showed up: the 1966 Batmobile.
While that’s not the real Batman, he was around. Actually, he’s sitting in the passenger side of the car. You just can’t see him (because I am not much of a photographer). I did catch him on stage though.
Batman – the one, true Batman – did not disappoint. He was funny and humble and hilarious. My favorite moment, when he pimped his website AdamWest.com. “You can go there,” he said, “and buy stuff you don’t need. Right from me.”
Holy Marketing Savvy, Batman. You rock.
After West finished speaking, people began to filtered towards the south end of the bridge where the bats emerge.
As the night fell, people packed the bridge and the green lawn below was overtaken by families. Several boats floated on the river, awaiting the bat’s emergence. Alas, by 10 pm they had still not arrived. (Apparently, the wet season meant lots of good eating under the bridge and that allows the bats to go hunting much later, when they are less likely to be eaten themselves.)
Fortunately, we had the chance to see Austin’s Blue Lapis Light, a dance troupe that performs…on the side of buildings.
There’s really no way to explain what this group does, though. Words are oftentimes poor tools. Instead, I shot this wobbly 3-minute video with my camera (since I forgot to charge my video camera battery). I’d like to ahead and apologize for the commentary.
As it turns out, we are idiots. But if you’ve read this blog at all, I’m not telling you anything new.