DrupalCon Austin

Ron Brawer

The entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart.

Need I mention Alec Baldwin, Lady Gaga, Harvey Weinstein, the Kardashians, Christian Bale... and my very own doppelgänger, Howard Stern?

Which is to say that after a lengthy career toiling in the dungeons of music (rock-band performances at CBGBs, recordings at Electric Lady), television (Emmy Award), and, lately, film (screenplay optioned by Danny Devito), I’ve developed a very thick skin and a willingness to plunge headlong into the unknown, brushing aside or knocking down obstacles in my path, and taking on jobs and responsibilities for which I was eminently unqualified.

Which brings us to DrupalCon Austin.

But first, some back-story.

At my initial interview for the copy editor job at Drupal Watchdog, I was careful to explain that, although familiar with the open source movement and knowing what Drupal was for, I neither wrote code nor had the foggiest notion about how to build a website.

On the other hand, I could put stuff into good English.

They hired me.

Merely a few Watchdog issues later (and still Drupal-ignorant), I decided I should have my very own website and, of course, it should be built on Drupal.


That evening, on my third martini, I fired off an e-mail to Jeremy (Jeremy Andrews, Drupal Watchdog publisher) proposing I write an article about a Drupal newbie who embarks on his very own website. Jeremy was encouraging and so “Baby Steps” was born.

Naturally, the article was in the form of a screenplay. It starred a character named Ronnie Ray – a martini-drinking, somewhat clueless (but somewhat aggressive) screenwriter. After he read it, Jeremy laughingly mentioned that my article was surely the first time in history that the words “Drupal” and “post-coital” had been uttered in the same breath.

He also requested that “Baby Steps” become “Baby Steps #1”; the first of a regular Watchdog column.

(Yes, I know: Austin. Relax, we’re getting there.)

Desperately Googling material for “Baby Steps #2,” I stumbled across the Drupal Association website and the template for a “Letter to Your Boss,” explaining why it was important to send you to DrupalCon Austin.

Hey, I already knew why it was important send me to Austin: a great music scene, a plethora of hipsters, and terrific craft beers.

So, that evening, 30 minutes into Cocktail Hour, I filled in the blanks of the “Letter to Your Boss” and shot it off to Jeremy...

Within weeks I was on my way to Austin.

Okay, here we are, Austin!

My Sunday evening arrival was a downer: the airline misplaced my luggage and by the time I arrived at the hotel it was too late for a Sunday-night-only Austin institution: chicken-shit Bingo. (Patrons get a Bingo card; a chicken is led into a cage with bars across the bottom with a large Bingo card under the bars; eventually, the chicken drops a chicken-size load and... well, you get the picture.)

Monday I got to meet many of my Drupal Watchdog stalwarts: the-ever-good-natured Jeremy Andrews; coffee savant Jeff Shelten; brilliant Narayan Newton; kooky genius Morten DK; the rarely-seen-in-public “Chx”; Peta Hoyes, Tag1’s beloved Organizing Force; and my reliable wingman for the next few days, Bob Williams. (Thanks, Bob!)

But by Tuesday morning, after Dries’ opening remarks and after attending a session about Drupal something-or-other, it became painfully clear that, Drupal-wise, I had blundered too far, too fast, too deep.

On the positive side, everyone I encountered seemed of boundless good cheer and enthusiasm; there were smiles galore and everywhere you turned small knots of people with DrupalCon name-tags and Drupal t-shirts congregated, introduced themselves, and engaged in animated conversations.

Plus there were the perks: Free yummy lunches! Open-bar parties! Funky little music clubs with no cover or minimum! Jazz! Blues! Rock! Wow, I was loving Austin.

Yet meanwhile, the question kept burning into my guilty, hung-over, coffee-stoked brain: How do I justify my existence here?

Then it struck.

“Jeremy, what if I interview some of these Drupalists, ask them where they’re from, what they do, why they came here, what they expect – you know, to try and get a sense of the Drupal community.”

Jeremy readily agreed, showed me how to set my iPhone to record, and I was off to the races.

The upshot: Not only did I get a sense of the Drupal community, but after transcribing, editing, and submitting the interviews, Peta responded that I had “captured the breath, depth, weirdness, and energy of the Drupal Community... The interviews are light, humorous and insightful. I would like to find a way to use them.”

Use them? Hmmm...

What about in the next issue of Drupal Watchdog?

And so, Ronnie Ray had blundered into another column. *

And a blog post.

* Look for “Baby Steps #3: Lost in Austin” in the next issue of Drupal Watchdog, arriving late-September – in time for DupalCon Amsterdam.


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DrupalCon Austin

The entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart.

Drupal Watchdog Joins the Linux New Media Family
Drupal Watchdog 6.01 is the first issue published by Linux New Media.

Drupal Watchdog 6.01 is the first issue published by Linux New Media. Come see the Drupal Watchdog team at DrupalCon 2016!

Drupal Watchdog was founded in 2011 by Tag1 Consulting as a resource for the Drupal community to share news and information. Now in its sixth year, Drupal Watchdog is ready to expand to meet the needs of this growing community.

Drupal Watchdog will now be published by Linux New Media, aptly described as the Pulse of Open Source.

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