A verbatim record of a diary I wrote while visiting friends (Paul & Rice) in Austin, Texas during the Easter holidays of my second year at University in 1994. Re-blogged on the anniversary of each entry. 2017 Commentary, where necessary for context, added as footnotes in italics.
Tuesday 22nd March 1994, 11:15 (CST)
LYING ON THE FLOOR IN FRONT OF THE TV, AUSTIN, TX
I didn’t have time to write yesterday because I was up early and went on campus with Rice. I went to Physics lectures , walked around campus, went with Rice to check his email (nothing from Matt!!). In the afternoon, I decided to have a look at this stadium of the University’s. It was no secret that Texas University has a 75,000 seater stadium; I’d seen it on Paul’s prospectus last year. I’d also heard about it at Christmas from Paul & Rice. I’d seen it from the plane when we came in to land and it wasn’t exactly anonymous by the time I’d got to campus. It’s about 5 minutes’ walk from the Physics building (where I’d left Rice to enjoy his fourth lecture). The main stand is absolutely enormous, towering above campus along with such structures as the main admin building and only one or two others (one’s called ‘Dobie’ and is their equivalent of Bowland Tower, said Rice). Anyway, I walked up 10 of the 11 levels of the *bottom* part of the main stand and couldn’t get any farther. Undaunted, I walked around the other side of the stadium and got in. I sat on the back row, facing the main stand, exactly on the 50-yard line. The twist is this: the main stand is so huge, it gives a 75,000 capacity… …and yet it is only 3-sided! I sat there in awe for about 20 minutes, trying to take in a stadium the size of Wembley, built exclusively for the use of students!
No matter how often you visit America and think you’re prepared for any excess it can throw at you, you’re never quite immune. I’ve now seen Cape Canaveral, the World Trade Center, Denver’s doomed Stapleton Airport* and DisneyWorld. Surely I am beyond such schoolboy wide-eyedness. I am the last person to be shocked by the American capacity to get something so ridiculously right, and yet, even through all my experiences and knowledge of the American Way, when it’s there in front of you (or if you’re sat in it), its compulsion to amaze is irresistible and the inevitable symptom is that annoying British trait of staring like tramps at the feast; a combination of the innate comparison with home and the knowledge that, try as we might, there can be no way we in Britain will equal this.
Anyway, I’m not going to write any more on that stadium — so it’s impressive but just because I’m British, doesn’t mean I have to look like a dumbstruck tourist!
We went to watch ‘Wayne’s World 2’ again last night but there was an unfortunate side-effect: I wanted my guitar by the end of it and I also realised I left my amp in Lancaster… …oh well, writing about it isn’t going to bring it all here!
I’m starving now.
[having eaten, later]
Paul & Rice have gone only campus — I decided to stay here because I’ve got a few things to do.
It’s 1:15, 7:15 at home — I’ll ring today.
I’ve just been flicking round the channels: MTV, Prime English Soccer, the evangelical channels and of course, not forgetting the, shall we say, liberated attitude to advertising. Anyway, I’ll resist the draw of the soap-box for another time… …but it would suffice to neatly contrast the phenomenal ability of this country to impress with its attitude to exhibit, against its phenomenally sad unimpressive class of inhabitant.
* At a time when arguments and protests about a second runway at Manchester Airport had raged on for years, Denver, having outgrown its own airport, Stapleton International, simply demolished it and built a whole new airport (Denver International Airport) on an entirely different site.