An impromptu visit from Bill Murray
Sept. 26, 2008
What brings you to Austin: I’m here in Austin with my friend the filmmaker Gil Kenan. We made a film last year in Northern Ireland called, ‘The City of Ember.’ We brought it down here to the Fantastic Fest, which has genre films. This film is set in a future time and takes place in a world that’s underground.
There’s a gigantic community here in Austin that follows these films. There’s a fellow here named Harry Knowles, who’s Web site is called, ‘Ain’t It Cool News,’ and he’s a blogger about films, and these kinds of films especially. So we came to the Alamo Draft House, which is a movie theater that serves food, and they specialize in films of the genre. So we screened the film there and did a question and answer with Harry. And I had some popcorn and got to eat while I was there. Then we went to the Uchi Restaurant and had a really delicious Japanese fusion meal.
Then we were completely stuffed with food, but limped to our car and drove to the Longhorn Cavern State Park. That was a beautiful place, and a party was in progress, well in progress, when we arrived; too far along to be saved. Everybody there was a good bit ahead of us. We didn’t stay that long, but it was late anyway. But it’s a beautiful cave and a great place to have a party.
This morning we went a small vegetarian café in south Austin, and that was nice. Gil’s daughter, Una, had some applesauce and carrots. Then we started rumbling around town here. First we went to a place called the Paggi House, which a neighbor of mine in New York, his family used to own it. (side comment) By the way, am I boring you? You’ve got to fill a lot of time on your Web site anyway right? (end side comment) So anyway, it used to be owned by my friend’s family. It’s Victor Powell who was a pianist in New York. He always told me about it. He’s from here, and he always told me about the Paggi House (in a strong southern accent). It was in his family and was a landmark building, so we went over there and got great stories about the place. There are ghosts in this place. Victor died a couple of years ago, and his family just sold it, but we got the stories about there being ghosts in the building, like an architect wouldn’t take the job because he saw ghosts. But it’s a very cool building. I told the guy to burn sage and that will mollify the ghost problem. But it’s going to be a spectacular restaurant that’s going to be open the first of October. It’s going to be outdoors and indoors and the kitchen is really cool, it’s got an outdoor grill.
Had you been to Austin before: Just a long time ago, Danny Ackroyd and I drove through in the middle of the night. We stopped at what used to be one of the only music places back in the day. I think it was Austin City Limits, because it was before the radio and TV show, I think. We went there and I can’t remember who we saw, but they were pretty good. Then we just kept moving because we were driving across the country, but it was dark and we didn’t know where in the heck we were. We didn’t see much of anything.
What was your experience like coming in the stadium and meeting coach Brown: We really just wanted to see the stadium, and we thought, ‘Is there just a way we can get in there?’ Then someone took us on a route that rolled through Mack Brown’s office. So I got to sit in a really nice saddle that was in there, because Mack wasn’t in there. I could have tried on all of his clothes. Then Mr. Brown showed up and he couldn’t have been nicer. I’ve always had a great impression of him, not only when he won the championship, everybody can be gracious then, but I’ve always thought he was a good sport. I always thought that really came across – his real essential personality – came across. He just really validated that today. He couldn’t have been nicer and was really gracious with Gil and Eliza and their baby. He invited us to the game, and of course, I get this shirt, this crazy shirt (holding a replica Texas jersey). They printed this Texas shirt with my name on it, with Murray as a starter. They got it done in about 90 seconds. I don’t know how. But then we got to go on the field and meet the grounds crew and the greens keeper. And (the stadium) is big. It’s quite a place. It’s really cool.
Are you a big fan of college football in general: I am. It’s more fun. I’m from Illinois, but I really adored when Texas beat Southern Cal, because I thought that was good for the world. I thought that was great. I root more of the Illinois teams, because that’s where I’m from. But I’d like to see Illinois and Texas face off, because they both wear a variant of the orange. The burnt orange versus the orange from the Illini would be sort of like a Darwinian kind of war about which species of the orange would survive.
Do you try to see different stadiums when you travel: Not that much, but I was in Manhattan last year, I think it was the day Texas lost to Kansas State, and they just about tore the whole city apart. Kansas State beating Texas, that’s bigger than the wheat coming in. That’s big.
Are you planning on coming to the game: Well, I might. I’m getting caught up in the excitement. I’ve got an orange shirt now. What have you seen of Austin?
Do you see it as diverse and artistic as its reputation: I can see that. The fellow who was giving us a ride around town has a sticker on his computer that says, ‘Keep Austin Weird.’ I guess that’s a popular sentiment. But there seems like there are a lot of ‘individuals’ here. It seems more relaxed than maybe the impression a lot of people have of Texas. It’s very relaxed and I like the way the city lays out. I like the look of the buildings. Obviously there are new buildings going up, but I like the older buildings. I did see the Paggi House, which is being redone on the inside, but the few neighborhoods we’ve driven through, I like the way they felt. It seems like it would be a very pleasant place to live.
I had always heard about Austin from Wes Anderson, a fellow I’ve made some movies with. He did ‘Rushmore’ and ‘Life Aquatic.’ He went to school here. He and Owen Wilson were roommates here. So the Andersons had always told me about this place and that it was fun. They never really told me everything, and there was always this sort of a look like, ‘You wouldn’t understand.’ But now I see that it must have been a really nice place. I think it would be neat to ride a bicycle around at night in this town. Maybe not at the speed or for as long as Lance Armstrong, but maybe I will. Maybe that’s something to set my sights on. You’ve got to have goals. Although I wasn’t really thinking about speed and power, I was thinking more lazily. But it seems awfully nice.