Austin is a city that takes pride in its heroes. You get off the airplane and are greeted by posters of Willie Nelson. Our city park has a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn overlooking the lake. For the last several years, there has been yellow posters and wristbands decorating more than a few gyms around town.
Even if you didn’t know anything about cycling or didn’t like the guy, it was hard not to have a begrudging respect for Lance Armstrong. The idea of testicular cancer is so intensely personal that men try not to think about it. The idea of overcoming testicular cancer to become the best in the world, and the best of all time, is the stuff that dreams are made of.
But now the truth is finally, firmly, and unequivocally out. The only thing more clear than the fact that Lance Armstrong is a cheater is the fact that he is just one big jerk.
Austin is quickly changing. It’s a regular on the top ten lists of Forbes and and the like. It’s almost impossible to meet someone who’s actually from here. The small quirky town that idolized Willy, Janice and Stevie is being reinvented as the third coast capital, not just of music, but of innovation, entrepreneurism and hipsterdom. What Willy was to the “Keep Austin Weird” crowd of the 80s and 90s, Lance was to the Whole-Foods-shopping, Town-Lake-running, young professionals of the 2000s. He was the local boy done good, our American dream on two wheels.
There won’t be another Lance in Austin. The city is becoming too unwieldy to have local heroes we know by first name. It will be interesting to see how the city will define itself in the future. Hopefully, we’ll find something of greater substance.