One fun thing about delayed flights is watching everybody try to figure out whether they have time for another drink—set boarding times are pushed back, pushed back again and then announced abruptly; some settle up responsibly and then look back longingly over their laptops, wondering whether it’s worth it to repack their backback and carry-on and waddle back over for another $6.50 Stella; others gulp their last few ounces down as the shuffling queue forms, amoebically (it’s late, the terminal staff has lost interest in maintaining an orderly line).
It’s turbulent. Through the seat backs in front of me I can see someone is watching Up in the Air.
This is a Friday night nonstop Jet Blue flight from JFK to Austin on the opening weekend of South by Southwest.
There’s a level of demographic comfort on this flight I’ve never experiences on a flight before (that we had extra time at the gate to scope out each other’s simpatico wardrobes no doubt helped). I’ve overheard seatmates actually introducing themselves and discussing their plans projects—the girl in the aisle seat is screening her short tomorrow afternoon; up ahead a friend of some actors quizzed an undergrad with a badge; I briefly spoke to a Williamsburger carrying a cymbal. It feels weird to be on a plane with people you might know in real life. As we were stowing luggage, a guy in thick glasses a few rows up said, not quite in an indoor voice, “We’re throwing a party tomorrow night…”
I am at SXSW to cover the film festival. That is, to see movies. Saturday morning through Friday night I have every slot on my schedule at least theoretically filled with mid-sized buzz-seekers, favorites from other festivals, familiar indie-film names, and stuff with interesting catalog descriptions. I’m already starting to suspect that I may be missing the point. Reports on the relative gravitational pull of peer pressure, and my level of facility at finding free booze, are no doubt to follow.