The Hurricane Blows

Austin Dispatches

No. 157

Nov. 3, 2012


Halloween, the Stateside Theatre called to tell me the Nov. 1 Jason Moran concert was cancelled because he was stuck in New York City, swamped by Hurricane Sandy.[1] Sure, Sandy killed dozens of people,[2] knocked out power for millions more, cost billions in damage and disruptions,[3] and even delayed Halloween in New Jersey,[4] but it prevented me from seeing one of the greatest jazz musicians  of our generation.[5] “Why must fate becurse me?” I mock lamented to the ticket office. The woman on the phone laughed.


On the Town


Sep. 26: “Melanie Ordones Welker” may not be eclipsed so fast. She, “Zelda Medrano” and many others  attended Rio Grande restaurant in Pflugerville for the first time, resulting in that venue’s best turnout to date. When I finally circulated over to her to say hello, she asked if I could give her a lift home. She arrived with a friend who left early. I had a meeting the next morning and had to leave early myself.  On the way to her place, she was relaxed, chatty, and fun to be around, in a way she hadn’t in months. Mind you, this was outside a salsa setting, for the first time. If Welker’d been smart enough to behave this way  toward me more often, she wouldn’t’ve ruined her chances.


Sep. 29: So I was in the supermarket checkout line, stuck behind an aging hippie  buying brown rice and organic produce. “Anything else?” the clerk asked.


The hippie requested a carton of brand-name cancer sticks, the kind that benefit big corporations and Southern rednecks. That’s how he stays so thin. The hippie still isn’t dying fast enough.


e157fig1Oct. 2: The Gracywood Neighborhood Association had e-mailed me about National Night Out, only Texas participates two months later than the rest of the country because August is “too hot.” Arizona in August ain’t exactly frigid. Also, the event was to be held between 5 and 7 p.m., when many of the adults were commuting home and everybody else could go out and inhale their exhaust fumes. Anyway, the association newsletter listed so many requirements for showing up at one of the block parties I opted not to attend. Instead, I drove to the Alegre Park – neighborhood? subdivision? section? – for exercise, starting about 7:15 p.m. Hardly anyone else was outside in the warm, sere weather at dusk, and those were people who would’ve been walking their dogs regardless of the occasion. If my observation was characteristic, National Night Out is just another stupid event that produces results opposite from what its organizers intend.


Oct. 6: A jazz festival of real jazz finally enticed me to visit Zilker Park after a dozen years’ residence. The crowds and the officious twits with their charges and rules about when and where I can park, kept me away. Also, it’s a park, and I don’t relish stepping in dog shit because too many Austinites ape foreign savages when it comes to sanitation.[6] I encountered a friend at the festival and we golf clapped through several sets of jazz standards at midtempo on a day of overcast skies  and soft winds .


Oct. 14-16: The next weekend, I enjoyed the acts I wanted to see at the ACL Music Festival without dealing with traffic, parking, crowds, variable weather, paying for tickets, or even leaving my apartment. ACL conveniently set up a streaming channel on YouTube, and KUT-FM broadcast additional shows.[7]


Oct. 17: After nearly 30 years I finally saw “Ornette: Made in America,” the documentary on Ornette Coleman’s triumphal return to hometown Fort Worth, in the ‘80s, back when some rich Texans were positioning Fort Worth as an avant-guard challenger to New York City.[8]


Oct. 22: Also nearly 30 years after I first heard of it, I attended a free showing of “New York Eye and Ear Control” on the UT campus.[9] The soundtrack is fantastic.[10] The film itself, however, was the sort of New York mid-‘60s experimentalism that gave the avant-guard a bad name,[11] and perpetrated by the sort of pretentious art frauds Don Draper would give a stern talking to  in a pertinent period episode of “Mad Men.”[12] The follow-up, “Wavelength,” was even worse. I left after 10 minutes. Both of them compare unfavorably to “Ornette.”


e157fig2Oct. 26: On the coldest night of the season, I attended Institution Theater to watch improvisation in the style of Quentin Tarantino.[13] Except the actors didn’t seem all that familiar with Tarantino’s work or style.[14]


Then I attended a Halloween  party at Esquina de Tango as Mitt Romney, by parting my hair, graying the temples with talcum powder ($1.77), and knotting the neckwear in my wardrobe closest in a pattern to a rep tie (less than $10 on eBay years ago).[15] However, my costume may have been too subtle for everyone else at the party  – probably belonging to the 47 percent.[16] I left after the band’s third song. If it’s an example of Israeli cultural offerings, Iran is justified in building nuclear weapons.[17]


Oct. 30: In marked contrast, Gilberto Gil’s performance at Bass Concert Hall surpassed my expectations. The septuagenarian sang sustained high notes without strain. His backing band included a fiddler and a guitarist doubling on five-string banjo. But instead of bluegrass, they played reggae.[18]


Halloween: I finally dined  at Rio Grande, before the salsa  dance and costume party. The food is average. The distaff attendees  continued this year’s holiday trend of copying Anne Hathaway as Catwoman from “The Dark Night Rises,” which is to say, looking slinky and feline in basic black.[19]


An exception I danced with was trying for a zombie look  but instead resembled a cheesecake model. I gave her an objectifying appraisal. “You look fine to me.”


“I’ll bet,” she purred.


Nov. 1: I tried to enjoy the Polish Film Festival, but the first projectionist caught his tie in the sprockets, the second caught his hand. Then the reels ran in reverse sequence.[20]


Cultural Canapés


The holiday seasons  were out of whack on the radio. I didn’t hear Halloween songs  on broadcast stations until Oct. 15, but KAZI-FM played the first Christmas song  on Oct. 24.[21]


The Oct. 26 Chronicle reports that environmentalists attempted an enviro-themed haunted house – “Ecopocalypse,” which depicts a “near future when the environment has collapsed  and nature is back being red in tooth and claw.”[22] Wait, that’s supposed to scare us? Nature is already red in tooth and claw , as anyone knows who’s watched animals kill each other for food, defense or social dominance on nature shows, which somehow are always aired around dinner time. The truly scary enviro-themed haunted house would depict a world where watermelons gained control and shut down civilization, similar to the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia  in the ‘70s.[23] But that might expose them too much for what they really are.


October marks the 30th anniversary of commercially available compact discs.[24] I remember the early hype about them. I held off buying CDs for years for lack of money and a compelling reason to do so, until I attended the spring 1998 Austin Record Convention. All the cheap, crappy records – the career mistakes, the vanity releases, etc., that used to be in the dollar bins at used record stores  sold for at least ten times that at the convention. The good stuff sold for considerably more. The Japanese and European tourists bought up all of it the way people preparing for hurricanes strip supermarket shelves. By this time, the record industry had been pumping out comprehensive CD releases, spurred by the surprisingly brisk sales of the Robert Johnson box set.[25]


Business Roundup


Speaking of 30 years ago, Nissan Motor Co. plans to revive its Datsun brand for emerging markets in 2014. Price range: $3,000 to $5,000.[26]


General Motors will locate its new Austin IT Innovation Center in what used to be Dell’s Parmer location, where I’ve worked before.[27]


After several months’ research, I’ve concluded that newcomer Sprouts Farmers Market bests H-E-B in price on produce.[28] The Oct. 19 Chronicle lauds an explosion of Indian food trailers. The real explosion is in the customers’ colons.[29]


Austin Death Watch


Police arrested a bum for assaulting a UT coed in North Austin on Sep. 20.[30] Police also arrested three members of the dwindling Occupy Austin excrescence for trespassing on private property. If only all such statists could be summarily dispatched.[31] The police chief has fired yet another officer.[32] The Travis County attorney’s office concluded Oct. 24 that the Austin City Council violated open meetings laws multiple times, but the attorney is letting the councilmen off the hook.[33] In a similar mentality, the Chronicle feels sorry for a “mentally retarded” convict on death row for more than two decades. Note that the Chronicle doesn’t dispute that this felon fatally stabbed and strangled a woman in her apartment, or that the criminal justice system gave him due process. But he had such a hard childhood, the Chronicle weeps.[34]


The latest scheme for a MoPac Expressway toll road is to add toll lanes to the left of north- and southbound sides, from Lady Bird Lake to Parmer Lane. The tolls will change based on the speed of traffic . The Statesman reports construction will take 28 months from mid-2013, with predictable aggravation during heavy commute times.[35] Drivers on the new stretch of Texas 130 tollway, between Mustang Ridge and Interstate 10 near Seguin, have collided with feral hogs near Lockhart.[36]


Austinites must register their water wells with the city, now that the City Council voted Oct. 11 to infringe on property rights and doubtless use the registry against well owners in the future, in the same fashion that adherents of the statist quo, from neighborhood association busybodies to the jet setting globalists who meet at Davos, will use gun registration and comprehensive financial-transaction and medical data as tools to eliminate anyone they deem a threat.[37] Meanwhile, the Chronicle reports the future Water Treatment Plant No. 4, long a contentious topic in Austin politics, has already racked up $15 million in overruns.[38]


Behind-schedule construction projects, such as the new federal courthouse, are harming downtown businesses.[39] Additionally, Warehouse District businesses have expressed concern that the Austin Fan Fest, scheduled simultaneously with the first Formula One race, could gridlock downtown and hurt their revenues.[40]


The rich, powerful and influential inhabitants of Westgate Tower, an esthetically drab downtown condominium that was Austin’s first high-rise in 1966, could get a property tax cut because the city is considering granting it historic landmark status.[41] White newcomers to East Austin are fighting a proposed “affordable housing” project in the Montopolis neighborhood, to the indignation of the established browns.[42]


The Business Journal reports a California company, ParkMe Inc. has developed a smartphone application for drivers trying to find an available parking space among the 5,200 in Central Austin. Given City Hall’s impact, such as eliminating minimum parking requirements for developers’ projects, the company should change its name to FuckMe.[43]


Austin’s creeping bureaucratic tyranny is consuming the city’s uniqueness, as exemplified by the code disputes over the restaurant Casa de Luz on the southside.[44] City meddling in the economy also prompted a payday lender to close most of its stores in town.[45]


Neighborhood News


In late September, vandals attacked the Capital Metro bus stop at Stonehollow Drive and Gracy Farms Lane. Either them or disgruntled riders.


A hobby and gaming store has opened in an unnamed strip mall off Parmer Lane, between Limerick and Lamplight Village avenues. A Montessori school has expanded.[46] A jewelry store has opened at The Shops at Arbor Walk.[47]


At the Crossroads Shopping Center, a precious metals buyer and a video game rental store have opened and Joe’s Italian Cuisine has closed.[48]



Notes in the Margins


A longtime reader was skeptical about last issue’s lead tale. Imagine that. Fortunately, he was also amused by it.[49] Perhaps as much as I was while writing an outlandish hook to save the topical political commentary afterward from irrelevance.


At least I thought it was outlandish. Five days later, Entertainment Weekly reported actress Martha Plimpton will clean someone’s house to promote her network sitcom that I hadn’t heard of before, and it’s entering its third season.[50]



[1] Trachtenberg, Jay. “Music Listings.” Ed. Raoul Hernandez. AC 26 Oct. 2012: 90.

[2] “Disaster Zone.” The Examiner – Washington (D.C.) 31 Oct. 2012: 1.

[3] Ruse, Leslie, and Cara Townsend. “Supermarkets Struggle With Outages.” (Parsippany, N.J.) Daily Record 2 Nov. 2012: A1-2; Spector, Joseph. “NYC Devastated: Costs ‘Staggering’ to Repair Transit.” The Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal 31 Oct. 2012: 1A+.

[4] Mast, George. “ ‘Outlaw’ Not Just a Choice of Costume.” (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Courier-Post 1 Nov. 2012: 1A+; Peralta, Eyder. “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ‘Postpones’ Halloween.” The Two-Way 31 Oct. 2012 <>.

[5] AD No. 119n10 (Dec. 7, 2008).

[6] “Music Listings.” Ed. Hernandez. AC 5 Oct. 2012: 74.

[7] Austin Chronicle ACL Music Fest Preview 12 Oct. 2012: 25; Curtin, Kevin. “ACL Doubles Down.” AC 12 Oct. 2012: 63; Smothers, Hannah, and Shane Miller. “Weather Doesn’t Rain on Concert Goers’ Parade.” DT 5 Oct. 2012: 1; “Statesman at ACL Music Festival.” AAS 13 Oct. 2012: B5.

[8] Applebome, Peter. “Caravan of Pipe Dreams.” TM Jan. 1984: 124+; Baumgarten, Marjorie. “American Independents.” AC 12 Oct. 2012: 57.

[9] “ ‘Wavelength’ and ‘New York Eye and Ear Control.’ ” Idem., 19 Oct. 2012: 78.

[10] Ayler, Albert et al. New York Eye and Ear Control. ESP 1016, 1966.

[11] Kostelanetz, Richard. Twenties in the Sixties: Previously Uncollected Critical Essays. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979.

[12] “Christmas Waltz.” Mad Men AMC, 20 May 2012; “The Hobo Code.” Mad Men AMC, 6 Sep. 2007.

[13] “Comedy.” AC 26 Oct. 2012: 76.

[14] Bernard, Jami. Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies. New York City: HarperPerennial, 1995; Clarkson, Wensley. Quentin Tarantino: The Man, the Myths and His Movies, rev. ed. London: John Blake Publishing , 2007; Dawson, Jeff. Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool. New York City: Applause Books. Rpt. Tarantino: Inside Story. London: Cassell, 1995; Pulp Fiction: A Quentin Tarantino Screenplay. New York City: Miramax Books/Hyperion, 1994; Tarantino, Quentin. From Dusk Till Dawn. New York City: Miramax Books/Hyperion, 1995; Woods, Paul A. King Pulp: The Wild World of Quentin Tarantino, rev. ed. London: Plexus, 1998.

[15] “Mask Instructions: Be Prince for a Night.” AC 26 Oct. 2012: 22.

[16] Salam, Reiham. “Who Are the 47 Percent?” NR 15 Oct. 2012: 18-20.

[17] Waltz, Kenneth N. “Why Iran Should Get the Bomb.” Foreign Affairs Jul./Aug. 2012: 2-5.

[18] Fawcett, Thomas. “Gilberto Gil.” AC 26 Oct. 2011: 90.

[19] The Dark Knight Rises. Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment/Legendary Pictures/Syncopy, 2012.

[20] Lewis, Anne S. “No Hollywood Fluff, Please – We’re Polish.” AC 2 Nov. 2012: 51; Weshinskey, Winnie, and Bruce Elliot. “Polack Jokes.” Retro Hell, 163.

[21] Egner, Jeremy. “KAZI Radio Raises Its Voice for Summerfest.” XL 29 Aug. 29, 2002: 5.

[22] Whittaker, Richard. “Ecopocalypse Is Here.” AC 26 Oct. 2012: 28.

[23] Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties, rev. ed. New York City: HarperPerennial, 1992: 654-657; Rand, Ayn [Alissa Rosenbaum O’Connor] and Peter Schwartz. Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, 2nd rev. ed. New York City: Meridian, 1999.

[24] Gruss, Mike. “On Its 30th Birthday, the CD Still Knows How to Rock.” The Virginian-Pilot 10 Oct. 2012: E1.

[25] Eisler, Dan. “Dribs ‘n’ Drabs.” E-mail to Frank Rossi, 19 Mar. 2000.

[26] Dawson, Chester. “For Datsun Revival, Nissan Gambles on $3,000 Model.” WSJ 2 Nov. 2012, Eastern ed.: A1+.

[27] “In the News.” CIN Sep. 2012: 5.

[28] Gaar, Brian. “Sprouts Emerges in Growing Field.” AAS 6 Sep. 2009: D1.

[29] Pailes, Kenny et al. “Indian Explosion.” AC 19 Oct. 2012: 46-49.

[30] Maly, David. “UT Senior Attacked by Transient.” DT 25 Sep. 2012: 1-2.

[31] Maly. “Police Arrest Protestors.” Idem., 8 Oct. 2012: 1+.

[32] George, Patrick. “Officer Fired for Shooting at Car.” AAS 13 Oct. 2012: B1.

[33] Coppola, Sarah. “City Council Won’t Face Charges.” Idem., 25 Oct. 2012: B1; Kanin, Mike. “Open and Shut.” AC 26 Oct. 2012: 32+; King, Michael. “The Law Is an Ass.” Idem., 17-18.

[34] Smith, Jordan. “Two More in Line for Death Penalty.” AC 19 Oct. 2012: 28.

[35] Wear, Ben. “Toll Lanes Coming Soon to MoPac.” AAS 1 Oct. 2012: B1.

[36] “Drivers Hitting Hogs on New Tollway.” Idem., 27 Oct. 2012: B3.

[37] Price, Asher. “Owners Must Register Wells.” Idem., 12 Oct. 2012: A1+.

[38] Kanin. “WTP4: Running on Overruns?” AC 19 Oct. 2012: 22.

[39] Grattan, Robert. “Construction Projects, Especially Those Behind Schedule, Taking Toll on Frustrated Businesses.” ABJ 19 Oct. 2012: A3.

[45] Garza, Vicky. “Concerns Among Owners in Warehouse District About Fan Fest Leads to Meeting With Organizers.” Idem., A3.

[41] Bell, Brenda. “Condo Owners Could Get Property Tax Cut.” AAS 14 Oct. 2012: A1+.

[42] Pagano, Elizabeth. “Montopolis Battle Lines.” AC 26 Oct. 2012: 26.

[43] Calnan, Christopher. “Parking by Smartphone.” ABJ 26 Oct. 2012: A2; Grattan. “Parking Downtown? That’s so 20th Century.” Idem., A1+.

[44] Ulloa, Jazmine. “Casa de Luz Dispute Pits Old Against New.” AAS 27 Oct. 2012: A1+.

[45] Gaar. “Citing City’s New Rules, Payday Lender Closing Austin Locations.” Idem., 3 Nov. 2012: B5.

[46] “Impacts. CIN Sep. 2012: 4.

[47] “Relocations.” CIN Oct. 2012: 5.

[48] AD No. 145n53 (Oct. 8, 2011); “Impacts.” CIN Oct. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 4-5.

[49] Ijagbemi, Bola. “Re: Austin Dispatches No. 156.” E-mail to Eisler, 2 Oct. 2012.

[50] Bierly, Mandi. “Raising Hope’s Plimpton Is Ready to Clean Your House.” EW 5 Oct. 2012: 36.