Renting in Texas II

Austin Dispatches No. 153 July 30, 2012

In a variant repeat of last year, Dad expressed mild concern for me, living amid the heat. I pointed out that it’s summer in Texas – the real story would be if temperatures were unseasonably cool. In fact, a spate of recent thunderstorms has ameliorated the drought.[1] Also, I’m seldom far from water and air conditioning.[2]

On the Town

A cover headline of the July 27 Chronicle proclaims Austin “just one big sausage fest.” Mr. Fusion was unavailable for comment.[3] However, my recent social experiences refute the Chronicle’s contention.

July 8: The crowd at Dallas Nite Club booed a new reggaeton track the DJ introduced. It had the usual elements plus cheesy ‘80s synth layers.[4] Word was Homeland Security developed the selection to break terror suspects’ resistance, but even the most hardened torturers considered that excessively cruel.[5]

July 19: Ed Hardy T-shirt-wearing mooks overran Dallas and got in everyone else’s way with their jutting elbows and standing in the pathways between the tables and the dance floor, instead of finding an unobtrusive corner in which to loiter.[6] Regardless, I successfully reversed the usual pattern of flirting: The women became self-conscious and apologetic, on and off the dance floor, in attempting to justify themselves to me after they noticed my attention. Eye contact is key. Although I don’t want to hype the circumstances. Compared to mooks in Ed Hardy, I probably looked like a better prospect.

Austin Death Watch

An East Texas biomass power plant officially opened July 18. Four years ago, Austin Energy, eager to be green, greenly rushed into a deal, and agreed to pay above-market rates, which will be reflected in Austinites paying more green for their electric bills. Even environmentalists are dissatisfied with this.[7] This is the same Austin Energy that blames billing errors on a bungled project by IBM.[8] In turn, IBM says Austin Energy’s responsible for the problems and the City owes it $4 million.[9]

The Justice Department is suing one of those local non-governmental organizations, run by Latins and Arabs, for “fleecing” their own immigrant kinsmen.[10] The Texas government is overreacting: These are just indigenous traditions sustained in the face of an oppressive, hegemonic Anglo culture. Multiculturalism must prevail.

Police and poverty pimps specializing in street bums are pleading for the public’s help to solve a rash of slayings among said bums.[11] I was wondering why I hadn’t see as many of them loitering at major intersections in the neighborhood, or even begging me for money. Now that I think about it, this story is like the subplot to the 1972 police procedural “Fuzz.”[12]

Community Impact Newspaper concludes the City’s bond packages benefit downtown most, to the expense of everywhere else.[13]

Media Indigest

Lately, I’ve read seemingly a plethora of articles listing the top cities for this and that where Austin makes the cut. Usually, the article’s claim doesn’t square with my experience or observations. Now a new Forbes list proclaims Houston America’s coolest city, which has the Statesman scratching its head.[14]

Foreign Communist shill Alexander Cockburn, who continued the work of his ancestor who torched Washington during the War of 1812, finally died.[15] His kind can’t die fast enough,[16] and the libertarians who posted posthumous panegyrics displayed a shocking lack of political acumen in doing so.[17] Fuck them, too.

The Onion has finally run out of original shtick. True, the publication’s premise has always borrowed from Mad magazine’s imagined newspaper stories, but its July 19 lead headline, “Nation’s Morons March on Washington State,” is just a reworking of an old Polack joke.[18] Next the staff’ll be stealing from the Milton Berle and Henny Youngman files.[19]

Business Roundup

The Business Journal reports on a uptick in public-private partnerships: Texas Facilities Commission P3s are “part of a larger movement toward private capital supporting public projects, and an alternative to governments issuing bonds or asking for appropriations – both increasingly unpopular as budgets are stretched by cutbacks and a sluggish recovery.”[20] Stripped of Chamber of Commerce happy talk, this is also known as corporatism, which its proponents and beneficiaries advocated openly from the turn of the last century until the defeat of the Axis, after which they had to be a little more circumspect. Too many people knowing the similarities in economy policies of Progressives and New Dealers with that of their supposed ideological enemies could raise too many troubling issues.[21]

For example, H1-B visas are a governmental device by which businesses artificially depress wages and undermine workplace cohesion, and a new think tank study finds Austin doesn’t even get its share of the federal job training money that comes from visa application fees. In other words, the American working man is getting screwed over yet another way by a cabal of bureaucrats and politically connected businessmen, and their foreign pawns.[22]

The president of furniture store Louis Shanks told the Statesman that the store’s retirement sale is just to liquidate the existing merchandise before bringing in new stuff.[23] A sensible plan: I visited in January while shopping for a recliner, and decided to keep Shanks in mind if I ever bought the Palace of Versailles and needed new furniture. Athletic clothing retailer RunTex is closing its Lake Austin Boulevard outlet. Ironically, I’ve passed by it thousands of times – in my car on MoPac Expressway.[24]

Neighborhood News

A gynecologist has opened a practice.[25] At The Domain, a computer manufacturer is expanding and bailout beneficiary JPMorgan Chase is building a bank branch.[26] Nonprofit advocacy organization Disability Rights Texas is building a new headquarters at West Braker Lane.[27] That’s a perfect spot for the group. Around there, people already drive like they’re blind.

Home Archives


[1] Smith, Amy. “No Drought Here.” AC 27 Jul. 2012: 13.

[2] “Summer Air Conditioning Can Double Electric Bills.” Austin Energy Customer News Jun. 2012: 1.

[3] AD No. 68n3 (June 21, 2004); AD No. 84n37 (Oct. 10, 2005); Eisler, Dan. “You Called It Years Ago.” E-mail to Dennis Lucey, 26 Jul. 2012.

[4] Reggaeton. Ed. Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall, and Deborah Pacini Hernandez. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.

[5] Danner, Mark. Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror. New York City: New York Review Books, 2004; Greenberg, Karen J. The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib. Ed. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel. New York City: Cambridge UP, 2005; Greenberg. The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire. Ed. Tom Engelhardt. London: Verso, 2008: Ch. 15; Rajiva, Lila. The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media. New York City: Monthly Review Press, 2005; The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse. Ed. Marjorie Cohn. New York City: New York UP, 2011; United States. Dept. of Justice. Office of Professional Responsibility. Investigation Into the Office of Legal Counsel's Memoranda Concerning Issues Relating to the Central Intelligence Agency's Use of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" on Suspected Terrorists. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 2009.

[6] Calderon, Anthony. “Ed Hardy Vodka Raises the Bar on Taste.” Hollywood Weekly Feb. 2009: 4-6.

[7] Toohey, Marty. “Wood Waste Plant to Add to Electric Bills.” AAS 19 Jul. 2012: A1+.

[8] Idem. “Billing Glitches Still Vex City, IBM.” 21 Jul. 2012: A1+.

[9] Idem. “IBM Goes After Utility.” 27 Jul. 2012: A1+.

[10] George, Patrick. “Austin Firm Fleeced Immigrants, Suit Says.” Idem., 26 Jul. 2012: A1+.

[11] Grisales, Claudia. "Police Seek Info in Slayings." Idem., B1.

[12] Fuzz. Filmways Pictures/Javelin Pictures, 1972.

[13] Behunek, Sara. “Public Investment in Northwest Austin Among Lowest in City, Analysis Reveals.” CIN 27 Jul. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+.

[14] Dinges, Gary. “Forbes Says Houston Is America’s Best Place to Live – Wait, Seriously?” AAS 28 Jul. 2012: B1.

[15] Moynihan, Colin. “Alexander Cockburn, 71, Acerbic Writer and Critic.” NYT 23 Jul. 2012, New York ed.: B8.

[16] O’Rourke, P.J. “A Call for a New McCarthyism.” TAS Jul. 1989: 14-15.

[17] Raimondo, Justin [Dennis Raimondo]. “Alexander Cockburn, RIP.” 23 Jul. 2012 <>; Walker, Jesse. “Alexander Cockburn, RIP.” Reason Hit & Run 21 Jul. 2012 <>.

[18] “Nation’s Morons March on Washington State.” The Onion 19 Jul. 2012: 1+; Reidelbach, Maria. Completely Mad: A History of the Comic Book and Magazine. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1991: 76; Weshinskey, Winnie, and Bruce Elliot. “Polack Jokes.” Retro Hell, 163.

[19] Milton Berle's Private Joke File: Over 10,000 of His Best Gags, Anecdotes, and One-Liners. Ed. Milt Rosen. New York City: Crown Publishers, 1989; Take My Wife, Please!: Henny Youngman's Giant Book of Jokes. 1974. Rpt. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing Group, 1998.

[20] Grattan, Robert. “Push Is on for Public-Private Partnerships.” ABJ 6 Jul. 2012: 7; Price, Asher. “Partnerships Sought to Fund Parks Agency.” AAS 30 Jul. 2012: A1+.

[21] Dennis, Lawrence. The Coming American Fascism. New York City: Harper & Bros. Publishers, 1936; Ekirch, Arthur A. Jr. The Decline of American Liberalism. 1955. Rpt. Oakland, Calif.:  Independent Institute, 2009:  Ch. 11-13, 15-16; Flynn, John T. As We Go Marching. 1944. Rpt. New York City: Free Life Editions, 1973; Gilbert, James. Designing the Industrial State: The Intellectual Pursuit of Collectivism in America, 1880-1940. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1972; Higgs, Robert. Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government. New York City: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy/Oxford UP, 1987: Ch. 7; Kolko, Gabriel. The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History. 1963. Rpt. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967; Nisbet, Robert A. The Present Age: Progress and Anarchy in Modern America. 1988. Rpt. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003: Ch. 1-2; Peikoff, Leonard. The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America. New York City: Stein and Day, 1982: Ch. 7-8, 10; Radosh, Ronald. "The Myth of the New Deal." A New History of Leviathan. Ed. Radosh and Murray Rothbard. New York City: E.P. Dutton, 1972: 146-187. Reimann, Guenter. The Vampire Economy: Doing Business Under Fascism. New York City: Vanguard Press, 1939;  Shaffer, Butler. In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918-1938. 1997. Rpt. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2008; Stromberg, Joseph R. The Political Economy of Liberal Corporatism. Burlingame, Calif.: Center for Libertarian Studies, 1977; Sutton, Antony C. Wall Street and FDR. 1975. Rpt. Cutchogue, N.Y.: Buccaneer Books, 2007: Ch. 3, 5, 9, 11; Sutton, Antony C. Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler. 1976. Rpt. Cutchogue, N.Y.: Buccaneer Books, 2000; Weaver, Paul H. The Suicidal Corporation: How Big Business Fails America. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1988: Ch. 8-10, 13; Weinstein, James. The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State: 1900-1918. Boston: Beacon Press, 1968: Ch. 1-8; Weissmann, Karlheinz. "The Epoch of National Socialism." Journal of Libertarian Studies Fall 1996: 257-294.

[22] Zehr, Dan. “Austin Gets Its Visa Share, but Not Fees.” AAS 18 Jul. 2012: A1+.

[23] Dinges. “Shanks Store Will Liquidate, Not Close.” Idem., 29 Jul. 2012: E1.

[24] LeBlanc, Pam. “RunTex Closing Lake Austin Outlet.” Idem., 25 Jul. 2012: B7.

[25] “Now Open.” CIN Jul. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 4.

[26]  “Impacts.” Idem., 5.

[27] “Under Construction.” Idem.