Project Blog

Everything’s Bigger in Texas!

Sep 22, 2008

Friday morning we rose early to take a portrait of Dean and Louise, red carpet style, in front of their house. Then we were back on the road, still a little stiff from our hike the day before. The GPS said it would take 11.5 hours to get to Austin, so Rob finally agreed to let me drive for a substantial stretch. And when we drove through boarder patrol in El Passo, I was caught so off guard by this strange stop along a stretch of highway completely within the US, that we were really lucky we didn’t get searched for all my nervous laughter!

Through mutual friends back in New York, we’d been put in touch with a couple in Austin, who invited us to stay with them. Although my sister, Hannah, had just moved to the area that week, she still hadn’t found an apartment, so this was an opportune time to make new friends with folks who have a guest room! When at around 9 PM we remembered the time zone change, and realized we mysteriously still had 3 hours of driving ahead of us (how does this happen!?), I called our hosts to apologize for our late arrival. But they assured me that they would still be up, probably playing Rock Band… This would be interesting!

We arrived a little after midnight to be cheerfully greeted by Jennifer and Chris, both barely older than Rob and I, but already with extremely impressive resumes. Chris is in the middle of developing online suicide prevention software and Jennifer is a freelance writer. I was impressed to learn that not only has she been published by some of my favorite magazines, but she’s currently producing her own screenplay.

Over homemade breakfast tacos, Chris and Jennifer brain stormed about their contacts who might be helpful for our Project, and called several friends to join them at the fundraiser we’d be photographing later that afternoon. These are highly proactive people, and Rob and I were taking notes!

We arrived early to the public park where the Barack-BQ fundraiser was being held, to find the available power outlets left us with little shade and away from the action. But with our proactivity bolstered we made it work!

After photographing Michael and Zarina, the organizers of the event, Michael’s mother came over to tell me how proud she was of all his hard work. Then Michael’s teenage sister came by to be photographed with her two friends in the “Artists for Obama” t-shirts she had designed.

I did a little impromptu design of my own, when Hannah arrived in a plain white tank and insisted I customize it with a “Baker’s for Obama” logo in sharpie. Jennifer and Chris also made an appearance, bringing with them their friend Tuck, a “Biker for Obama,” who pulled his Harley right up on our red carpet!

After the shoot we all went out Mexican food and margaritas, before heading back to the homestead for several of riotous rounds of “Rock Band,” which, despite my initial skepticism, I found strangely cathartic. All this went a long way to illustrate that we could work hard and play hard sometimes too. Rob and I were only a little jealous that Hannah was going to get to play with these wonderful folks all the time…

2 Responses to “Everything’s Bigger in Texas!”

  1. It was so great to host y’all! Meeting you both proves my theory that it’s pretty simple to meet incredible, smart, caring, proactive people, if you’re open to it.

    Also, I consider it my honor to have introduced you to Rock Band. As young activists especially, you must have some way to relax and recharge — and what’s better than screaming along with “You Oughta Know?”

    Travel safely, and we’ll be glad to see y’all come this way again.

    - Jennifer Gandin Le

  2. Yes, It is pretty fortunate for Hannah that she gets to spend time with us, myself in particular( obviously) but… The good news is that you know you have friends in Austin. You guys are invited to visit us anytime you want. We’ll keep the queso hot for you.



    - Dave

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