Fightin’ Words: Michael Corcoran v. Terry Sawyer

Another battle for Austin's soul divides a community. 
Thu April 12, 2012 1:45 am
Flickr | StuSeeger

The old and new guards of Austin don’t share much in common other than an affinity for analyzing themselves ad nauseam and the city in which they live. The latest spat over what Austin used to be and what Austin can be is between Michael Corcoran, the award-winning, veteran Texas music critic with a penchant for contrarianism, and Terry Sawyer, the whip smart blogger who represents the wave of people who have moved to Austin recently in part because of the cultural cachet people like Corcoran helped foster.

“Only the mediocre are always at their best, someone said, which could be why Austin is so damn proud of itself,” begins a post titled “ Welcome to Mediocre, Texas” that Corcoran, who took a buyout last year from the Austin American-Statesman, published on his personal website last Friday.

Corcoran goes on to rant about Austin’s lack of pro sports, the poor quality of traffic-time radio, and the influx of people unsatisfied by their hometowns who have moved here, presumably like Sawyer. But at the core of his riff is the sad state of Austin’s music and movie scenes, which Corcoran argues have been replaced by the foodie scene represented by chefs Paul Qui and Tyson Cole, and pit master Aaron Franklin.

Corcoran points out that Austin’s designation as the “Live Music Capital of the World” is misleading and a burden, and that the city has not produced a single Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member (that will change April 14, when Ian McLagan is inducted). “Rock stars aren’t launched here, they go to Austin to retire, work the steps, and wait for their Margaret Moser profile. […] 80% of live music is unlistenable and yet we still have all these entitled musicians who want affordable housing and healthcare.”

The post–though random in its sizing up of Austin to New York and Los Angeles–is satirical and pokes fun at a lot of the same clichés and inside jokes about Austin that were embraced earlier this year via the viral

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