One Nobel Flu Over the Rest

Austin Dispatches
No. 128
Nov. 7, 2009

When President Obama opens his yap, occasionally he says something direct that even I agree with. Recently, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Obviously, he’s been having a good year – at least up through Nov. 3.1 However, he said he didn’t think he deserved the prize, or the accompanying $1.4 million.2  I’ll take it. I can use the money, and I’ve done as much as Obama for world peace – maybe even more. For example, I haven’t authorized bombing raids into Pakistan.3 

I might’ve pushed this issue more forcefully, but I became ill with something. I lacked some of the critical symptoms for it to be swine flu.4 Or so I thought. At a walk-in clinic to get prescription medication to prevent the onset of sinobronchial syndrome, which sounds like a Red Chinese plot, I learned I'd relapsed to a fever of a 102, but it didn't faze me much. I could function and crack wise in the examining room, albeit weakly. By the end of the work week I was merely as phlegmatic as a British gentlemen's club.5 

Media Indigest

Elsewise in Nobeldom, Forbes’ Joshua Zumbrun reports on a British bookie’s odds for prospective winners of the Economics prize, including Tom Sargent.6  I once covered a lecture of his for my college’s newspaper. He predicted hyperinflation for America. He may yet be right.7 

On the Town

Sep. 23: Terence Blanchard played the Hogg Auditorium.8  I saw him last in 1985, when he was trumpeter in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.  That was my first concert.9 Now, he lead his own band through a moody set of extended compositions, and used electronic effects on his horn reminiscent of early fusion Miles Davis or Eddie Henderson’s work in the Herbie Hancock Sextet.10  Blanchard’s performance also used pre-recorded voice samples, which I thought had an unfortunate tendency to drown out ensemble passages. Usually, someone in the audience does that.

A friend, let’s call him Jake, called to see if I’d be interested in attending National Night Out at the Chinatown Center. “Free food,” he said.11 

“Forget it, Jake,” I replied. “It’s Chinatown.”12 

Instead, I stayed home and ironed shirts, while finally watching “Point Blank,” online.13

Oct. 10: A surprisingly large number of women attended the latest Austin Record Convention. I don’t know why.14

Oct. 22: A Nordstrom outlet store opened at the Gateway Shopping Center. The best I can say about it is that I don’t have to drive as far to find out there’s nothing I want to buy.15 

Halloween: Just to avoid the possibility of having to give the Arab children in my complex candy (instead of something better, like one-way tickets back to wherever they came from – and why are these people permitted here if we’re supposed to be serious about a “war on terror”?),  I attended a costume dance party at Second Run, a newly opened vintage boutique/movie memorabilia store at the Furniture Row shopping plaza at Burnet Road and Highway 183 (Research Boulevard). A home theater system played contemporary zombie movies while the rest of us loitered outside, drinking bloody Marys and gnawing on ribs slathered in barbecue sauce.16

The next morning, a succession of cretins running past my bedroom window along Gracy Farms Lane in the name of breast cancer research awoke me at an ungodly hour with their hooting and hollering.17 

Cultural Canapés

Ain’t It Cool News reports Disney’s lukewarm on David Mamet’s proposed adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary. I’ve never read it – the Jew-as-victim trope doesn’t interest me – but I can imagine Mamet’s take on it. Oh, something like:



May Third, 1943. I’m still in the attic. And my brother won’t give me the good leads on the Leiden properties.18

The Daily Texan reports the culture war claimed a Great Books program at the University of Texas.19 As someone who’s slowly assembled a recommended reading list over the years, I wonder: What would a truly alternative version of the Western canon look like? Is such a thing possible? 

e129fig1 The Daily Texan also dismissed Kiss’ new album as lacking originality.  The reviewer is too young to have perspective on rock ‘n’ roll. Otherwise, he wouldn’t accuse that band of lacking something it never had.20

Actually, this is just an excuse to recount the time my brother met Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Rob was a sideman in a band playing at a Las Vegas hotel. They caught the show, and Simmons e-mailed the bandleader with a critique; essentially, “You have potential but you act like a bunch of clowns on stage.” The bandleader’s response, essentially: “Who asked you, and who are you, anyway?”21

The band still got photos with Simmons and Stanley, in between Simmons “shamelessly hitting on” Rob’s girlfriend.22

“I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” the movie is surprisingly tamer than the stories, especially considering that it plays up the main character’s fetish for crippled chicks and includes the story of wrecking the lobby toilets of a major hotel in Austin.23 Impressario Tucker Max attributes the poor U.S. box office receipts to he and his associates’ failure in publicity and marketing.24

An academic paper about the Austin salsa scene has been anthologized. Piqued, I read the paper. I didn’t recognize the descriptions of any of the local salseros and salseras she interviewed. For that matter, I don’t recall seeing the author, a good-looking woman, on the salsa scene, either as a dancer or a musician. Fortunately for the rest of us, these professoriate types don’t talk in real life the way they write:

“Are you really engaged in a metadiscursive narrative, or are you just signifying intent to colonize a marginal space of alterity?”

“I asked if you wanted to dance.”25 

Austin Death Watch

Instead of being plagued by heat, this year’s Austin City Limits Festival endured regular rainstorms. The storms were spelled by the terrazo-hued cirrus uncinus clouds of a thousand plein-aire paintings for sale at thrift stores. The night of Oct. 4, Michael Crockett, UT professor and KUT-FM disk jockey, explained his stuffy nose as a result of standing in the rain two days earlier to listen to some band. Real smart, prof. Why do these event promoters persist in holding outdoor events, given the volatility of Texas weather?26 

One letter writer to the Chronicle summed up the festival as “50,000 people standing in a field of ‘treated sewage,’ gazing happily upward at rich musicians, could be construed as a symbolic gesture by the live music industry complex to its audience … people standing around wondering: 'Why does it smell like shit? Is it the music? Good thing I'm drunk or stoned, otherwise I'd never know the difference.’ ”27

And why can’t we be as fortunate as Chicago in avoiding these logistical nightmares called events?28

The Sep. 25 Chronicle sneers at environmentalists for using libertarian arguments about cost to oppose a new City water treatment plant.29 Rock Howard better rethink his “left-libertarian” approach if he wants to be invited to soirees thrown by the local power elite.

KUT reported Sep. 29 that the passenger stations for the commuter train – you know, the really expensive one that still isn’t in service – are being vandalized.30 The local power elite presumes to run our lives, but they can’t even make the trains run on time.31 Meanwhile, train operator Capital Metro is mulling a fare hike for buses.32 

Oct. 11-18 marked Austin Red Week, for AIDS awareness. When I first saw the moniker, I thought it was a celebration by all the statists that infest our city.33  The police department’s internal affairs unit is itself under scrutiny.34

Neighborhood News

e128fig2Austin police are looking for a Hispanic man suspected of sexual assault in the 1200 block of Metric Boulevard.35  On Oct. 13, I witnessed the aftermath of a smash-up at Parmer Lane and the northbound frontage road of MoPac Expressway. On Oct. 14, I witnessed the aftermath of a smash-up along Highway 183 above Burnet Road. An eatery has opened at the Arbor Walk shopping plaza.36  The opening of several anchor stores at The Domain has been pushed back because of the economy.37

Notes in the Margin

“South Park” once claimed that anything you can think of has already been a “Simpsons” episode, but I did this joke first.38 

All jokes aside, federal regulation is beginning to encroach upon the operations of Austin Dispatches. The Federal Trade Commission, established during the Wilson administration by pseudo-messianic control freaks and entrenched business interests to quash competition,39 will extend its regulations on endorsements and testimonials in advertising to blogs and social networking sites.40  So you know, Austin Dispatches is a Webzine, not a blog, and I haven’t received any payment from anybody if I say something nice about some product or service.41 In fact, I operate this site at some expense to myself and free of charge to you. Were Austin Dispatches to submit to these regulations, I might have to switch to writing about kittens ‘n’ rainbows to avoid vindictive prosecution, in violation of our ancient liberties.42


1 Barabak, Mark Z., and Faye Fiore. “GOP Victories Send Message to Democrats.” LAT 4 Nov. 2009: A1+.
2 Albom, Mitch. “Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize? Is Mine in the Mail?” Fort Worth Business Press 19 Oct. 2009: 35; Sonne, Paul, and Guy Chazan. “Nobel Committee Chairman Draws Fire Over Pick.” WSJ 19 Oct. 2009, Eastern ed.: A12.
3 Gorman, Siobhan, and Peter Spiegel. “Drone Attacks Target Pakistan Militants.” WSJ 17 Sep. 2009, Eastern ed.: A8.
4 Haberman, Suzanne, and Tiffany Young. “Health Update: Flu Prevention.” CIM Oct. 2009: 9.
5 Eisler, Dan; “Re: Flu Shot.” E-mail to KT Hernandez Woods, 17 Oct. 2009; Eisler. “Sorry I Couldn’t Follow Up on Your Recommendation.” E-mail to Arik Hesseldahl, 18 Oct. 2009.
6 Zumbrun, Joshua. “Who’s Happy About the Nobel in Economics?” 12 Oct. 2009 Forbes Clips <>.
7D. Eisler. “Speaker Sees Inflation for Future.” ODE 15 Jan. 1990: 4.
8 “Austin 360 Bets.” AAS 23 Sep. 2009: D2.
9 D. Eisler. “Live at the W.O.W. Hall.” Unpublished mss., 1985.
10 Davis, Miles. The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions. Columbia/Legacy C4K 90924, 1998; Hancock, Hancock. Mwandishi: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings. Warner Archives 45732, 1994; Hancock. Sextant. Columbia KC 32212, 1973.
11 Adkisson, Nathan. “Police, Neighbors Share a Night Out Tonight.” AAS 7 Oct. 2009: B3.
12 Chinatown. Paramount Pictures/Long Road/Penthouse, 1974.
13 Point Blank. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1967.
14 Austin Record Convention. Advertisement. AC 9 Oct. 2009: 19.
15 “Community Impact: Northwest Austin.” CIN Oct. 2009: 5.
16 Gillette, Amelie. “The Halloween Rules.” The Onion 29 Oct. 2009, Austin ed.: 18; Muson, Ben. “The A.V. Club Psychoanalyszes Your Halloween Costume Ideas.” Idem., 28.
17 “Sports.” AC 30 Oct. 2009: 75.
18 David Mamet: A Casebook. Ed. Leslie Kane. New York City: Garland Publishing, 1992; “Merrick.” "Mamet's THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK Isn't THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK & Might Not Happen Anyway...." 25 Sep. 2009 Ain’t It Cool News <>.
19 Davidson, John. “The Demise of Great Books.” DT 23 Sep. 2009: 4.
20 Rich, Robert. “Originality Evades KISS; xx Produce a ‘Fresh Perspective.’ ” DT 6 Oct. 2009: 8.
21 Eisler, Rob. “Fwd: Hate Mail” E-mail to D. Eisler et al., 9 Aug. 2005.
22 R. Eisler. “Re: Rob Eisler With Kiss.” E-mail to D. Eisler, 15 Sep. 2005.
23 Max, Tucker. “The Austin Road Trip.” I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, 2nd rev. ed. New York City: Citadel Press/Kensington Publishing Corp., 2009: 102-140.
24 Max. “Domestic Wrap-Up and Other Thoughts.” 31 Oct. 2009 I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell <>.
25 Jones, Hannah. “Former Professor Shares Articles.” DT 6 Oct. 2009: 9; Kapchan, Deborah. “Talking Trash: Performing Home and Anti-Home in Austin ’s Salsa Culture.” American Ethnologist Aug. 2006: 361-377.
26 O’Neal, Sean. “Agenda.” The Onion, Austin ed. 1 Oct. 2009: 30; Rich, Robert. “ACL Perfect Rainy Day Music.” DT 5 Oct. 2009: 11-12.
27 Bowman, Thomas. “Doesn’t Trust the Dirt.” Letter AC 9 Oct. 2009: 12.
28 “Olympics Loss Taxpayers Gain?” CQ Weekly 5 Oct. 2009: 2209.
29 King, Michael. “More Water Under the Bridge.” AC 25 Sep. 2009: 15.
30 Buchele, Mose. “Still Waiting for the Train.” KUT-FM 29 Sep. 2009.
31 Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties, rev. ed. New York City: HarperPerennial, 1991: 100.
32 Platis, Rachel. “Possible Cap Metro Bus Fare Increase Has Riders Worried.” DT 6 Nov. 2009: 1-2.
33 Whittaker, Richard. “Naked City.” AC 9 Oct. 2009: 16.
34 Longoria, Bobby. “APD Chief Fires Investigative Officer.” DT 6 Nov. 2009: 1-2; Plohetski, Tony. “Policy Inquiry Reveals Issues to Be Senior Officers.” AAS 1 Nov. 2009: A1+.
35 AMLI at Stonehollow. Letter to residents, 2 Nov. 2009.
36 “Community Impact: Northwest Austin.”: CIM Sep. 2009: 4-5.
37 Novak, Shonda. “Domain Prepares to Welcome New Hotel as Retail Phase Stalls.” AAS 28 Oct. 2009: B9.
38 “Homer the Whopper.” The Simpsons. Fox 27 Sep. 2009; “The Simpsons Already Did It.” South Park. Comedy Central 26 June 2002.
39 Kolko, Gabriel. The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History. New York City: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963: 274.
40 MacMillan, Douglas. “Blogola: The FTC Takes on Paid Posts.” BW 20 May 2009: 7.
41 AD No. 82n2 (Aug. 18, 2005); AD No. 105 (Feb. 27, 2008); AD No. 107 (Apr. 12, 2008); AD No. 121 (Jan. 5, 2009).
42 Roberts, Paul Craig, and Lawrence M. Stratton. The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice, rev. ed. New York City: Three Rivers Press, 2008.