CITY: I’ve walked the streets and sidewalks of Austin since 1984. Always felt comfortable. Then something horrible happens. Espcially while guards are down during a festival. All of a sudden, internal alarms clang. After the tragic crash last week during SXSW, I watched my fellow pedestrians more closely than usual. I was appalled to see them stepping off curbs without looking, jaywalking across thoroughfares, trusting cars to stop at crosswalks. Our natural allies, the bicyclists, were no better, running red lights and stop signs, playing chicken with cars and hurtling toward vulnerable walkers. Drivers? What can I say? They seemed to speed up out of frustration with the festival traffic. They honked loudly, swiped corners, took left turns after signals had changed, hooked rights on red without checking the crosswalks. It’s amazing that we come through it all in one piece. (Fixing these behaviors would not have prevented the deadly crash last week, but let’s stay alert and avoid more unbearable sadness.)

BOOKS: Just finished "Double Down." Last year, we had dinner with authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann at the LBJ Presidential Library. Impressed by their verbal dexterity and storytelling skills, I vowed to read "Game Change," their detailed account of the 2008 presidential election, and "Double Down," which covers 2012. Because these reporters promise their sources to hold the stories until after the election, they obtain deep inside information available to virtually no other writers. It was astonishing to be reminded just how many candidates — 15 or more — at one time claimed frontrunner status. (Haley Barbour! Really? Even Barbour’s folks realized it would be hard to sell as a national candidate somebody who sounded like Boss Hogg.) Halperin and Heilemann write briskly, casually, creatively, like sportswriters, which befits the "horse race" aspect of campaigning. (Now I’ve got to see that movie of "Game Change.")

MUSIC: Marketers should pay the SXSW artists. From Peter Blackstock’s column in the Statesman: "Before South by Southwest Music commenced last week and the headlines turned to controversial moments such as Lady Gaga’s vomit spectacle, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s over-ticketed Samsung show and Tyler the Creator’s riot-incitement arrest, an interesting debate had brewed about sponsors and charities that I’d like to get back to. KGSR’s Andy Langer wrote a "long read" piece on Facebook that got picked up by Forbes.com in which he took Gaga and her sponsor Doritos to task for the nature of their promotional show at Stubb’s on Thursday night. Langer took objection to the stunts-for-tickets angle of the promotion, which required fans to do things such as trading their suitcase for one provided by the chip company, or changing their relationship status on Facebook." http://shar.es/RO62O. (Good case, Peter.)