The Yellow Jacket Social Club.
I pedaled down from my perch near UT-Austin to the city's own "Rough Side of Da TRAX"—quite literally—on Monday afternoon for the premiere party of "It's a Rough Life" Season 2. Crossing the railroad tracks to get to Austin's East Side, I couldn't help but compare it to my neighborhood in Salt Lake (Rose Park represent). Their east is much like Salt Lake's west, but more in the flavor of the Captain Captain neighborhood and less North Temple crack houses. The road I was riding down was kind of rough and rocky, but my surroundings, though definitely more industrial as I went along, were clean and colorful in an organized, Urban Arts Fest kind of way. I rode alongside the tracks, farther and farther east, taking in the tasteful graffiti and the small boutiques, bars and bike shops that lined the street until I came upon the Yellow Jacket Social Club on 1704 E. 5th Street. The large dirt patio was lined with picnic tables, swarming with people that would fit right in at the Twilite Lounge, fenced in with a low, wooden gate, open at the entrance. Jumping over some mud puddles, I locked up my bike and walked to the gate, ready to represent SLUG as the cool, good-time-having people that we are to my fullest extent with the help of the free booze Johnny Roughneck and his crew were providing.
Of course, in order to do that, I'd need an ID that proved my baby-face was at least 21. Alas, I'd somehow left that behind, and though the door guy was nice enough to let me in, he took a black sharpie and marked the backs of my hands with a big bold "X" to ensure I would not be served any libations. I work at a bar, so there's no animosity here 'cause I get it, but damn that was embarrassing. So, I walked through the sea of tables to the rustic-style building that housed the bar with my head hung low, 'cause nobody wants to be friends with THAT kid at the party.
Fortunately, it could only go up from there. For those of you who don't know, SLUG has teamed up with Johnny Roughneck and Jaded Productions, the producers of his reality web series "It's a Rough Life," for a couple of years now for our Summer of Death amateur skate series. We were even on three episodes! Since we're buddies with all of those San Francisco cats, we hooked them up with some SLUG schwag––mags and rolling papers, of course––which they put in bags with some hip sunglasses from Stunner of the Month, Roughneck Yellow Jacket bolts (I know, how fitting was the venue, eh?) and stickers and such to give to the party attendees. I met the power couple behind Jaded Productions, Jeremey and Abby Lavoi, who made me feel right at home, regardless of my straight edge markings, and they took me out onto the bar's rustic wooden porch and past all of the cool kids reading SLUG (!!!) to meet Johnny himself, who was spinning records on the patio. Wow, what a nice guy. Like seriously, this guy's been a star of the action sports world for a while now, and he was super cool, telling me that he's been talking to Salt Lake's SK801 crew about doing a third round of Rough Side of Da Trax. Maybe somethin' you'll see on Season 2 or 3?
After mingling with the cool kids at the party for a bit (water in X-ed hand, wah wah), which included Todd from Stunner of the Month (look 'em up, it's this awesome company from San Fran that'll send you a new pair of shades every month for like $9, stunnerofthemonth.com), I wandered inside to watch some clips from Season 2 of The Rough Life. I've gotta admit here that I don't watch a lot of reality TV, but I've seen a few episodes of that Rob Dyrdek show that was on MTV for a while. Yeah, watching an established skateboarder with loads of money spend it on stupid shit is entertaining, but in my opinion, if I'm gonna watch reality TV, I want it to be as REAL as it can get. Johnny Roughneck is it. This guy's been skateboarding since the '90s, and is STILL trying to make a name for himself and his company. Sure, there was a lot of all that reality-TV bullshit-drama, but it was pretty true-to-life stuff, and catching a glimpse of the backstage of an up-and-coming skate company was super cool.
You can actually watch the "Rough Reel" on itsaroughlife.com right now, so go check it out to see what I'm talking about. Overall, I think the party was a success––the perfect start to my SXSW week and "It's a Rough Life" Season 2. Thanks to the Roughneck crew for a good time, next time I'll remember my ID so I can party like the rest of 'em.