Alright, alright, alright, alright also...alright

BILL MARTIN

I watched with great delight as my good friend Matthew McConaughey captured the Academy Award for best actor a couple of weeks ago for his performance in “Dallas Buyer’s Club.”

Actually. That’s a fib.

Matthew McConaughey is not a friend of mine, I would be shocked if he could even remember my name.

But back in another time and place, he was a part of my universe and me in his.

My college roommate and teammate Marcus Walls and his partner Homer Hill had a restaurant down on 6th Street in Austin called Catfish Station, which served up tasty Cajun cuisine.

Austin being a college town, Marcus and Homer employed many a college student in his restaurant as waiters, waitresses and cooks.

A good looking dude with blond wavy hair and a slow Texas drawl showed up one day looking for a job and Marcus hired him as a waiter.

Matthew McConaughey was studying film at UT.


Matthew McConaughey and some old dude at the Austin Convention Center in 2005. Matthew McConaughey and some old dude at the Austin Convention Center in 2005. Now I spent quite a bit of time at Catfish Station, as a matter of fact, almost every night.

To me, it was just like visiting my friend Marcus at his house—only the food and music was better.

Rockdale blues man T.D. Bell was a fixture at the place. (That’s another story.)

As Matthew got to know that I was a sportswriter, he queried me on everything Longhorn.

He was not an athlete, nor a great sports fan. When he got the part in “Angels in th Outfield”, he had to learn how to play baseball.

It surprised me to find out that Matthew was in a fraternity, because, first off, he was working. He had that working man sensibility. He just didn’t seem like any frat boy I had ever run across.

When he wasn’t working he would often show up at Catfish Station with a bevy of gorgeous girls (one at a time). That should not be a shock to anyone.

When he graduated and moved on, we didn’t think much about him, until he got the role of Wooderson in the iconic film “Dazed and Confused.”

Or as I like to call it, the “Rockdale Class of 1976 Home Movie”.

If you want to know (and you may not) what was going on in Rockdale, Texas in 1976, check out “Dazed.”

Around 1995, I popped into Catfish Station to find Matthew with his friend Monty paying Homer a visit. He had kept in touch with Marcus and Homer all along.

I had played basketball at Clark Field with his pal Monty, a good dude, despite becoming a lawyer.

I congratulated him on nailing the character Wooderson in the movie and I told him there was a guy in Rockdale who was Wooderson.

He liked that and he wanted to know his name (which I revealed to him then, but will not now to protect the guilty). The four of us strolled over to the Iron Cactus down the street to shoot some pool and in the middle of our games, Matthew received a call—he had just been told by his agent that he won the part in John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill.”

That movie made him a star, comparing him to Paul Newman.

He would pop into Catfish Station sporadically over the years. One night he brought another girl with him up to the office where we would all hang out.

He introduced her as “Sandy.” It was Sandra Bullock. Homer and I went to the Austin premiere of his movie “U-571” and attended the after party at Antones where we hung out with his brother, Rooster.

The next and last time we saw him was during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.

I was volunteering for the Red Cross at the Austin Convention Center where thousands of evacuees were being sheltered and, through Catfish Station, Matthew set up a Cajun celebration for everyone from food to music.

As he arrived and approached us that evening without any fanfare, I was stunned that he remembered my name as he stuck out his hand to shake mine. It had been 10 years.

Later that evening, Homer and I joined him and his mother Kay at The Four Seasons, where he was staying. His mom is a hoot.

I always describe the “real” Matthew McConaughey as being closest to his character “Ed” in the movie “Ed.tv.”

Just simply, down to earth.

There you have my brush with greatness, so Matthew, just give me a call sometime so we can hang out again. Maybe head down to Nat’s. You still owe me for the pool.


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2014-03-20 digital edition



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