Tender Mercies, reminds me of Austin back when I was a grad student

The thing about Austin is everyone says it was great, now is spoiled. I’d say everyone is both right and wrong. My time there in the late 70s I would have to say was fabulous, except I didn’t have the money to enjoy it. An occasional can of grapefruit juice on my way home from wasp field work on Lake Travis was about all I could manage for fun that cost money. But there are a lot more great taco trucks now. I had a delicious taco campechana from the corner of 290 and S1st on Tuesday.

Well, I could write a lot about Austin, since I’ve been living there, visiting, or traveling through since the late 1950s, when my dad was nostalgic for how great it was in the 1940s when he was a student there. But I just wanted to say here that Tender Mercies reminded me of Austin, and when I lived there. The country music, the barbeque, the dryness, the small wooden buildings. Not a lot happens in the movie. Women do all the heavy lifting while men find themselves, or something like that. Oh, women pay the price too. That should be clear from the beginning, where the drunk can’t pay his bill, so he works it off by doing work outside while the woman owner/manager cleans up his drunken, messy room. They didn’t show any vomit, but it would probably have been there.

It wasn’t filmed in Austin, or near it, but instead in Waxahachie and Palmer, Texas, in the dead of winter. According to Wikipedia they dragged out the lettuces and other plants in the so-called garden every night. OK, it wasn’t great, had almost no plot, and that it had was not what a feminist like me would love, but it was atmospheric, so ok. I imagine there are tons of Texas movies, and I’ll have to discover them. The question is which ones are good?


I guess this is ok to post since it is from Wikipedia.


Winding my way to Austin.


Too bad I didn’t have time to take any of those farm roads.


I never did figure out why Texas thinks picnic areas, or scenic overlooks,

don’t need toilets, or shade.


Just east of Austin, on 71.


No help heating these homes from USA – lucky they are in Texas and won’t die.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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One Response to Tender Mercies, reminds me of Austin back when I was a grad student

  1. Danny says:

    The movie sounds really interesting, especially if you could enjoy it given its anti-feminist slant. Looking at all those pictures of Texas (despite the fact that they don’t know that shade and restrooms should go hand in hand with rest stops) and reading about your occasional can of grapefruit juice makes me think you are really going to mess Texas. It will miss you more, though.

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