How South By Southwest Fosters Marital Bliss

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to urge you to reconsider your decision to deny me media credentials to the upcoming South By Southwest Music and Media Conference. Yes, I’m writing again. I am well aware that D Magazine doesn’t regularly cover music. And I realize that when this missive reaches you, it will already be March, and the festival will commence soon. But I think I now know why my previous entreaties proved ineffectual. I guess I held back when I wrote those first few letters because I hoped this situation could be resolved with a minimum of fuss. I’m not sure where my head was while drafting the next series of dispatches. Looking back, I don’t recognize the man who wrote those, so I can hardly blame you for not sympathizing with him. Disregard the last batch of correspondence—I was angry.

Now that time is truly of the essence, however, I am ready to “let it all hang out,” if I may be so bold as to use the vernacular of the rock musicians that have made yours the preeminent such festival in perhaps all of Texas. So, without any further ado, here goes: if you don’t allow me entry, I fear I won’t be around for next year’s installment. Let me be clear. I love my wife, and I’m pretty sure she loves me. But if you don’t grant me a media pass, well, then you, sir or madam, will become culpable for whatever harm I suffer at her hands.

(Sure, she might just divorce me. But have you seen that show Snapped that regularly airs on the Oxygen network? To quickly get you up to speed: each episode tells the story of a woman who has murdered her significant other, unintentionally highlighting what mistakes not to make for any woman with similar ideas. Guess who has a season pass to Snapped on her DVR and watches it like Bill Belichick breaking down game film.)

You’re probably still wondering how your music festival fits into all this. I’ll explain. During the first years of our marriage, my wife hated my annual trip to Austin for SXSW. Try as I might to convince her it was (at least in part) for work, she nonetheless saw it as a paid vacation and a flimsy excuse to get drunk with my friends. Not helping my argument was the year I came home looking like a Glen Campbell mug shot and proceeded to wear sunglasses for two days straight, indoors and out, including when I slept. And that’s just one example.

illustration by Raul Allen
I didn’t realize until recently, though, that she doesn’t actually despise my yearly excursion. When I told her that I wouldn’t be able to secure free entry from you guys this year, I assumed her response would be one of relief. Instead, her reaction could best be described as one of abject horror. “But, but, but,” she sputtered, “you have to go.” The last time I’d seen her like that, I’d just wrecked her mother’s car—for the second time in three weeks. She didn’t have to say the next sentence, because I quickly figured it out: “I need you to go.”

See, those five days that I’m gone every year are what gets her through the other 360. She needs me to leave for the same reason other wives sign off on similar weekend trips for their husbands. For some, the destination is a football game or NASCAR at the Texas Motor Speedway. For me, it’s South By Southwest. Yes, I need to get away (please don’t tell her I said that), but she really needs me to be gone. I’m like the husband from one of those ridiculous CBS sitcoms where the fat guy is inexplicably married to the hot girl, fumbling through marriage and fatherhood obliviously, leaving dirty dishes and overflowing recycling bins in his wake. South By Southwest is my vacation, I guess. But it’s her vacation from me. Please don’t take that away from her.

(If you don’t change your mind, I only ask one thing: if, in the coming weeks, you see a news story that mentions my name in connection with the words “mysterious disappearance,” I trust that you will turn this letter over to the authorities. And don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m sure I had it coming.)


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