I was in rough shape at the time. I was 23 years old and working at an industrial plastics company in San Antonio, and I drove up to Austin in June 1993 to watch my alma mater, Bellville High School, play in the state baseball tournament. I saw some of my former classmates at the game, and we all discussed how we were doing. Toward the end, one of them said, “Hey Mark, so sorry you have turned out to be a loser."
I didn’t disagree with him.
Bellville won the game that night, which ended around 9 p.m. From there, I had one agenda. I wanted to get as intoxicated as possible. Austin was smaller back then, and from the University of Texas campus, I drove straight to the Drag and headed north. Down the road, I saw a nightclub on the left side of the street called Antone’s. Back then, Antone's was located at 29th and Guadalupe streets. It looked like just a bar to me, but I discovered upon entering that it was a live music venue. I remember two acts playing that night, Malford Milligan as an opener and Buckwheat Zydeco as the headliner. The cover charge was about $15, which was a pretty steep price for me.
I went to the bar and just started throwing down drinks, one after another. Malford Milligan was playing some hard blues and really putting it down. I just sat there staring into nothing. The crowd kept filing in, and before you knew it, the place was packed. Malford finished out his set, and Buckwheat Zydeco came on to play just an incredible set of fast-paced tunes. The dance floor was on fire.
It didn’t really lift my spirits too much, and I continued to sit at the bar in a complete daze. However, after a little while, something changed. Everyone seemed to start looking at me. As it turned out, not right at me, but near me. People were in awe, and they couldn’t stop talking and yelling in my direction. It was close to delirium, actually. I was very drunk by this time, but my cognitive functions were at least still in tact enough to where I could look around and see what was going on.
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Right next to me at the bar, basically touching elbows with me, was Clint Eastwood. I looked up at him, and my first impression was just how incredibly handsome the guy was. Despite my daze, I took inventory of the crowd around me. There were about 10 to 15 people there, all looking at him and trying to get his attention. Looking back now, Clint was in town at the time filming “A Perfect World,” so this must have coincided with that production. But at the time, I had no idea about that, so you can imagine the moment was truly surreal.
Talk about a crowd. At that moment, despite all the personal misery I was going through, I was in awe and told myself that this was a really special moment and to take it all in. Later that evening, I met a woman and we danced on the dance floor to Buckwheat Zydeco. Shortly after getting to the floor, Clint came out there, as well, dancing with a young woman who had the biggest smile on her face.
So there I was, in a period of depression and struggle in life, dancing next to Clint Eastwood at Antone's while Buckwheat Zydeco was rocking the joint.
It was a special moment, and I’ve never forgotten it.