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Advertisement: Redefining 'slacker' through O. Henry's Austin

Staff Writer
Austin 360
This undated picture of O. Henry shows him at a bank, which is interesting because he had an odd relationship with money during his life.

Slackers get a bad name. They are stereotyped as characters who lack ambition and are in denial of the "real world." But as shown in "O.

Henry: Original Slacker," a new exhibit by the O. Henry Museum, a carefree approach to life can be a strategy for success.The opening of "Original Slacker" coincides with O. Henry' sesquicentennial birthday, which would have been Sept. 11, 2012.

Visit the museum on Austin Museum Day and learn how O. Henry, the short-story writer who cut his teeth in Austin at the turn of the 20th century, forged the template for the slacker character that Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater popularized in his 1991 movie, "Slacker."

This multimedia exhibit is broken into three displays. "Pauper" uses an iPad to show a trove of letters O. Henry wrote to people in which he begged for money.

This display shows how O. Henry's curious relationship with money both hindered and helped him.

"Troubadour" uses a flatscreen TV to broadcast a performance by the New Hill City Quartet, a reinterpretation of O. Henry's Austin parlor band the Hill City Quartette. This display challenges visitors to imagine Austin as the Live Music Capital of the World had there not been dedicated slackers like O. Henry to pave the way.

Finally, "Cartoonist" uses a giant sketchbook to show the many drawings O. Henry did dating back to his teenage years as a pharmacist in his uncle's drugstore in North Carolina, where his spot-on sketches of the customers were prized possessions. This display shows O. Henry's restless mind and affinity for daydreaming.

Complementing the "O. Henry: Original Slacker" exhibit on Austin Museum Day will be live music from 2 to 3 p.m. There will also be a take-home writing assignment that will press visitors to reconsider the definition of slacker, of the fine line between laziness and productive idleness.

Because if being a slacker is such a bad thing, why did it bring O. Henry so much success?