Polish Fire Drill

Austin Dispatches No. 161 Mar. 12, 2013


Jan. 11: Only two months after Hurricane Sandy thwarted my plan, pianist Jason Moran played the Stateside at the Paramount, thereby rectifying matters in record time.[1] Which is more than I can say for the poor denizens of the mid-Atlantic tri-state region, under the yoke of the hoplophobic control freaks[2] who can’t even provide the emergency civic services for which they bleed said denizens.[3]

In the Jan. 17 Daily Texan, some kraut student opined about the need for gun control, thereby showing an appreciation for the underpinnings of a free society that made her homeland such a delightful place in the ‘30s and ‘40s.[4]

How are the cops supposed to disarm the population when the media are reporting police departments are hampered by gun and ammunition shortages brought about by panic buying as a response to the American power elite’s latest efforts at disarmament?[5]

Anyway, turns out I was the best-dressed man at the venue, even better than the musicians. Waiting in the lobby before the show, the other audience members, dressed and hunched like losers, looked askance at me in my bespoke olive suit and moderne geometric necktie, like I reminded them of their bosses breaking their chops for fucking up on the job. (“We’ll have to discuss this further in my office Monday, but if your co-workers hadn’t caught your mistake after you slipped out today, it could’ve cost us the Throckmorton account.”) Or maybe it was my smirk that perturbed them. In between tunes, Houston native Moran rhapsodized about Texas food. Best of all, I found a free parking space downtown. Take that, Austin power elite bastards.

Jan. 17: “I love your cologne,” enthused my partner as I lead her by her hips and nuzzled her tresses during a slow bachata. My secret? Cheap cologne, liberally applied. In my experience, women like the sweet-smelling varieties that are nearly perfumes. You can buy them at dollar stores – no need to buy the top-price designer brands – and use the savings for shoes, where you really shouldn’t skimp on quality for health and comfort.

e161fig1Jan. 19: I overslept, so by the time I visited the gun stores on Gun Appreciation Day other customers already bought up their supplies and were waiting in line to use the practice ranges. And those were places I could find a parking space.[6] Weaponry is one of the few flourishing industries during the Obama administration,[7] which characteristically wants to destroy it after lying to the contrary about our right to self-defense.[8] The race-obsessed Obama[9] apparently has never bothered to learn enough about whites to know not to provoke heavily armed subgroups among them,[10] or what they’re capable of when provoked.[11]

However, I did discover this great little Italian restaurant, Milano Café, run by real Italians, in a South Austin strip mall.

Feb. 10: Lacking serendipity, I beckoned to a statuesque Latin brunette as she began examining her cell phone. However, she actually set her phone aside and joined me on the dance floor – which may be a global first.

Feb. 14: That was a welcome contrast to her sex’s general behavior on Valentine’s Day. Without even approaching them, I could tell the still-single women flocking to Dallas Nite Club had an attitude that the men there just weren’t good enough, which probably explains why they showed up unaccompanied in the first place. I was willing to fake the illusion of romance, but only if the chicks in my sights would play along. Perversely, “Melanie Ordones Welker” behaved most coquettishly toward me, after I’d ignored her for weeks. I appraised her up and down, focusing obviously on her cleavage. “You look nice,” I said.

In response, she simultaneously grinned and blushed Valentine cookie-frosting red. But bringing someone else a moment of joy at the end of the “togetherness holidays” didn’t quell my dissatisfaction at the occasion. She apparently figured out I was interested after I lost interest, plus I had to waste my charm that night schmoozing someone with clout in one of my social networks just to maintain the status quo.

Feb. 26: Rawshe Hookah Lounge at Lamar Boulevard and Braker Lane held a free one-year anniversary of bachata and salsa dancing, but the tobacco-scented air eventually induced sneezing.

Neighborhood News

e161fig2Some loose floor tiles in my bathroom gradually tore and chipped after 13 years' occupancy and inaction by the previous landlord despite several service requests. Sick of looking at the deterioration, I requested service again with the new landlord, which responded promptly. I thought the landlord was just going to replace the specific tiles, but an outside crew unbolted the toilet and set it in the bathtub, and moved the stove and refrigerator to what would be the dining room if I actually dined there while they installed new linoleum in the bathroom and kitchen.

On the night of Jan. 10, I witnessed a pedestrian wearing dark clothes, standing in the middle of Burnet Road as he checked his cell phone. On the morning of Feb. 21, as I left my apartment to pick up a copy of the Chronicle, a neighbor’s black cat looked up at me from sinking its fangs into a twitching squirrel’s neck. The cat backed away as though it thought I was going to seize the squirrel. On Feb. 22, I witnessed the aftermath of a collision at Gracy Farms Lane and Hobby Horse Court.

Community Impact News reports a new company will resume work on the incomplete pedestrian trail between Balcones District and Walnut Creek Metropolitan parks.[12]

The City Council approved $1.7 million in incentives for National Instruments to expand.[13] For that amount, I might finally meet more than one person in 13 years who’s worked there.[14]

A bar and grill opened at the former Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse in The Domain.[15] Two bars have closed.[16]

Austin Death Watch

In his Feb. 5 State of the City message, Mayor Lee Leffingwell called now Austin’s “Golden Era.”[17] I wouldn’t’ve guessed him to have a dry sense of humor.

Of course, what Leffingwell really means is that he and his ilk are spending a lot of our gold on things they want, even though they’re unnecessary or poorly conceived. To wit:

The City Council approved a $3.1 billion budget in September, but the councilmen later realized they don’t have enough money for their latest big schemes, none of which truly qualify as “urgent.”[18] However, the Feb. 1 Business Journal reports the Council’s trying to figure out what to do with an extra $14 million in revenue that city staff discovered. Everyone else also has schemes for that $14 million.[19] Both stories, seemingly contradictory, demonstrate that City Hall doesn’t know what it’s doing when it comes to finances.

As further proof that the City Council can’t do anything right, the new ban on disposable plastic and paper bags triggered reactionary state legislation and a lawsuit from the Texas Retailers Association, part of which “states that retailers will be harmed because customers will head to stores outside the city….”[20] That’s exactly what I did the first weekend the ban went into effect. No wonder Trader Joe’s is opting for nearby Rollingwood over Austin.[21] Meanwhile, the ban, based on inaccurate information,[22] still isn’t enough for the watermelons. They’re fuming the city allows stores to apply for a one-year “emergency option” to change customers for single-use bags when they forget their reusables.[23] The lawsuit, though tardy, is worthy of our support, but the real solution to this issue is to take reusable plastic bags, tie them tightly around the heads of Austin’s high-profile ban supporters, and then use their skulls like piñatas.

The Austin Public Safety Commission recommended a complete audit of Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services over risk to patients and fiscal waste.[24] Speaking of waste, the City is spending even more money to rebuild and repair an East Austin recreation center that cost millions the first time.[25] Also, the Statesman found nearly six dozen Austin Independent School District employees, paper shufflers all, earning six-figure salaries during a time of supposed belt-tightening.[26] Austin Energy increased water rates last month.[27] Cap Metro weekend MetroRail service costs more to operate than it’s collected in revenue, because hardly anyone uses it on weekends.[28]

e161fig3The Statesman has examined internal police files and found officers increasingly use physical force in their encounters with the public. The police attribute the rise to better reporting and a more aggressive public.[29] The article doesn’t address the increasing militarization of police, which nevertheless started as paramilitary units after the French Revolution to quash rumblings among the lower classes, and which have since become quasi-autonomous actors with dubious accountability.[30] Moreover, each of us can think of several people who deserve a nightstick across the skull, usually because their parents failed to tan their butts for behaving like rude little bastards and thereby impart the lesson that actions have consequences at an impressionable age.[31] Next the little bastards turn into big bastards pissing on the sidewalk while protesting corporations,[32] sneering at battle-scarred military veterans as “suckers,”[33] decrying intellectual property rights,[34] or generally making complete asses of themselves at Libertarian National Committee meetings.

The Austin Public Safety Commission recommended a ban on gun shows at the Travis County Exposition Center after the Commissioners Court decided to honor an existing contract and the law.[35] Austin continues to harass smokers, as this month the University of Texas will eliminate its remaining smoking locations on campus, and the city plans to ban smoking on patios, balconies, and other outdoor spaces.[36]

The Feb. 17 Statesman reports that more than $1 million in items have been stolen from the Austin Public Library in the last five years, including one book I was intending to read and now can’t. In other words, the detectors at the branches that somehow always go off when I’m entering the library failed to work as intended.[37]

The City Council is considering requiring a “living wage” of $11 an hour for construction workers on economic development projects.[38] Predictably, the proponents haven’t addressed why they’re stopping at a mere $11,[39] hardly even a “dying wage”[40] to live the correct, socially approved upper middle-class bobo lifestyle in this town.[41] Esthetics trump economics, unless you lack the economic wherewithal to keep up with Austin’s self-appointed esthetic arbiters, in which case you probably don’t belong here.

The wish of Austin’s power elite and their lesser supporters to practice furtive social snobbery without anyone calling them on it probably accounts for many such economically imbecilic proposals and much else. For example, the March 1 Chronicle praises Verona Ristorante Italiano, which I’ve already patronized, and its staff as “friendly and attentive, knowledgeable about the menu and eager to please – a refreshing change from some of the city’s trendier hipster joints.”[42] So much for solidarity with the workers.

South by Southwest returns to inconvenience residents with more and longer road closures, all to promote things like a glorified View-Master.[43] And if that weren’t enough, Leffingwell is considering whether to submit Austin to bid for the 2024 Olympics.[44]

Business Roundup

e161fig4California’s new income tax hike is prompting another exodus of businesses to Austin.[45] They might reconsider if they read the “Austin Death Watch” section of this Webzine beforehand.

LinkedIn e-mailed me about connecting to various famous people in business and politics and following their thoughts. The pitch also suggests they’ll reciprocate. I’m pretty sure none of the people pictured would care for my input, even if they actually read it, or had time to, since they’ve already become successful doing things I’d advise against – see numerous back issues regarding Obama and Mitt Romney. However, I might be willing to find space in my busy schedule to tell them what’s what, for a substantial sum and ironclad guarantees against reprisals.

Whole Paycheck’s founder, attempting to burnish his image as a new type of capitalist, cowered like a corporate executive of old when the mush head pinko customers objected to his criticism of ObamaCare.[46] The Business Journal reports on a bottled water company’s plan to introduce a new national brand, American Music Water. The company gets its water from a babbling brook.[47]

Office Depot and OfficeMax will merge, fittingly, because the main difference between them is the name.[48]

Cultural Canapés

The Jan. 25 Daily Texan includes the latest reiteration of audio vinyl sales increasing.[49] The March Texas Journey declares Houston the capital of social dancing in Texas, in both depth and variety.[50]

Media Indigest

The Daily Texan will continue its daily weekday print schedule, but the Texas Student Media Board cut staff wages.[51]

Home Archives


[1] “Music Listings.” Ed. Raoul Hernandez. AC 11 Jan. 2012: 56.

[2] Bidwell, Allie. “College Presidents Push for Stricter Gun Control.” Chronicle of Higher Education 15 Feb. 2013: A13; Boles, Corey, and Neil King Jr. “Senate to Move on Gun Control.” WSJ 4 Feb. 2013, Eastern ed.: A1+; Cooper, Jeff [John Dean Cooper]. To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. Paulden, Ariz.: Gunsite Press, 1988: 16-19; Confessore, Nicholas. “Obama’s Backers Seek Big Donors to Press Agenda.” NYT 23 Feb. 2013: A1+; Davey, Monica. “Strict Chicago Gun Laws Can’t Stem Fatal Shots.” Idem., 30 Jan. 2013: A1+; Doherty, Brian. Gun Control on Trial: Inside the Supreme Court Battle Over the Second Amendment. Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 2008; De Avila, Joseph. “Connecticut Governor Pushes for Gun Laws.” WSJ 22 Feb. 2013, Eastern ed.: A3; Engler, Mark. “How Many More Massacres?” New Internationalist Mar. 2013: 35; Frosch, Dan. “Gun-Friendly New Mexico Considers Stricter Controls.” NYT 12 Feb. 2013: A14; Frosch. “Stronger Gun-Control Measures Clear First Votes in the Colorado House.” Idem., 17 Feb. 2013: 18; Kaplan, Thomas. “Gun Rights Backers, Stung by Cuomo’s Law, Push to Undo It.” Idem., 30 Jan. 2013: A22-A23; Kopel, David. The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies? Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1992; Zernike, Kate. “New Jersey Assembly Committee Approves Tightening Gun Laws.” NYT 14 Feb. 2013: A22.

[3] AD No. 42n16 (Oct. 30, 2002); “Amateur Hour at LIPA.” Crain’s New York Business 19 Nov. 2012: 10; Barker, Cyril Josh. “City Residents Fighting to Stay Warm.” New York Amsterdam News 7 Feb. 2013: 3; Boyd, Herb. “Residents Impacted by Storm Reaching Boiling Point.” Idem., 13 Dec. 2012: 3; Buckley, Cara. “Storm’s Toll Creeps Inland 4 Tiny Feet at a Time.” NYT 7 Feb. 2013: A20; De Blasio, Bill. “Out of the Bunker and Into the Streets.” New York Amsterdam News 6 Dec. 2012: 12; Foderaro, Lisa W. “Hudson River Park Still Without Power Weeks After Storm Damaged Equipment.” NYT 15 Dec. 2012: 15; Hunter, Pam, and Andrew Wright. “After Storm Passes, Utility Begins to Feel Blowback.” Engineering News-Record 26 Nov. 2012: 14; Johnson, Stephon. “FEMA Defends Sandy Response Efforts.” New York Amsterdam News 29 Nov. 2012: 1+; Kimball, Roger. “This Metamorphosis Will Require a Permit.” WSJ 15 Jan. 2013, Eastern ed.: A15; Lehrer, Eli. “Dead in the Water.” TWS 28 Jan. 2013: 13-15; Lipton, Eric, and Michael Moss. “Housing Agency’s Flaws Revealed by Storm.” NYT 10 Dec. 2012: 1; McGeehan, Patrick. “Critics of Utilities Demand a Public Advocate for New York Customers.” Idem., 15 Feb. 2013: A21; Moynihan, Colin. “Community Center Says It Has Been Told to Cease Its Storm Relief Program.” Idem., 31 Dec. 2012: 14; New York Unbound: The City and the Politics of the Future. Ed. Peter D. Salins. New York City: Basil Blackwell, 1988; Paye, Amity. “Little Support for Storm Victims.” New York Amsterdam News 15 Nov. 2012: 3+; Walzer, Michael. “The Last Page.” Dissent Winter 2013: 112; Yee, Vivian. “Lower Manhattan’s Recovery Is Patchy, With People Still Barred From Their Homes.” Idem., 16 Nov. 2012: 31; Zernike. “Police Barricades and Curfews Wear on Jersey Shore Nerves.” Idem., 15 Jan. 2013: A1+.

[4] Hardt, Maria-Xenia. “Gun Control: A German’s Disbelief.” DT 17 Jan. 2013: 4.

[5] Robards-Forbes, Esther. “Law Agencies Face Weapons Shortage.” AAS 26 Jan. 2013: A1+.

[6] Harper, Marques G. “Pro-Gun Group Rallies at Capitol.” AAS 20 Jan. 2013: B1.

[7] Cooper, Michael et al. “Gun Sales Surge as Nation Weighs Tougher Limits.” NYT 12 Jan. 2013: A1+.

[8] Doherty, op. cit., 52-53; Gramlich, John. “Obama Faces Uphill Fight on Guns.” CQ Weekly 21 Jan. 2013: 172-174; Paddock, Carl. Obama: Creator of History. New Dehli: Epitome Books, 2009: 101-102.

[9] Sailer, Steve. America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's Story of Race and Inheritance. Washington, Conn.: VDARE Foundation, 2008: 4-9.

[10] Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York City: Oxford UP, 1989; Kopel, op. cit., Ch. 9.

[11] Budiansky, Stephen. The Bloody Shirt: Terror After Appomattox. New York City: Viking, 2008.

[12] AD No. 144n35 (Aug. 6, 2011); Denny, Amy. “North Walnut Creek Trail Construction to Start in March.” CIN Feb. 2013, Northwest Austin ed.: 9.

[13] Ladendorf, Kirk. “City OKs $1.7 Million for Tech Firm.” AAS 8 Mar. 2013: B1.

[14] AD No. 123n23 (April 22, 2009).

[15] AD No. 134n54 (July 10, 2010); “New Open.” CIN Feb. 2013, Northwest Austin ed.: 6.

[16] “Closings.” Idem., 7.

[17] DeCiutiis, Hannah Jane. “Leffingwell Praises Austin in State of the City.” DT 6 Feb. 2013: 1-2; King, Michael. “Busy Being Born….” AC 8 Feb. 2013: 11-12.

[18] Toohey, Marty. “Austin Initiatives So Far Lacking.” AAS 28 Jan. 2013: A1+.

[19] Grattan, Robert. “Business Leaders Offer Opinions on How to Use City’s Surplus.” ABJ 8 Feb. 2013: 5; King. “Council: Valentine’s Day Expenses.” AC 15 Feb. 2013: 22.

[20] Copelin, Laylan. “Legislator: Kill Austin’s Bag Ban.” AAS 7 Mar. 2013: B7; Smith, Amy. “In the Bag.” AC 1 Mar. 2013: 12.

[21] “Trader Joe’s Wants Into Rollingwood.” ABJ 1 Mar. 2013: 4.

[22] Grattan. “Retailers Delay Bag Ban; How’d They Do That?” ABJ 22 Feb. 2013: 1+; Manescu, Larisa. “Don’t Misunderstand Plastic Bags’ Impact.” DT 20 Feb. 2013: 4; Oliveiri, Joe. “Austin: Checkout Bags Must Now Be Reusable.” CIN 28 Feb. 2013, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+.

[23] Smith, op. cit.

[24] Ulloa, Jazmine. “Panel: Audit Austin-Travis EMS.” AAS 8 Jan. 2013: B1.

[25] Coppola, Sarah. “Rebuilding Rec Center Will Cost $6.4 Million.” Idem., 11 Jan. 2013: A1+.

[26] Taboada, Melissa B. “District’s Six-Figure Earners Up 63% in Five Years.” Idem., 22 Jan. 2013: A1+.

[27] “Restructured Water Rates and Increase Coming in February.” Austin Energy Customer News Jan. 2013: 1.

[28] Wear, Ben. “Weekend MetroRail Ridership Sluggish.” AAS 4 Feb. 2013: A1+.

[29] Dexheimer, Eric, Tony Plohetski, and Christian McDonald. “Police Files Show More Use of Force.” Idem., 13 Jan. 2013: A1+.

[30] Balko, Radley. Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America. Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 2006; The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society. Ed. David T. Beito, Peter Gordon, and Alexander Tabarrok. Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan P/The Independent Institute, 2002: 481-482.

[31] AD No. 133 (May 4, 2010); “Agnostic.” “Disrespectful Kids These Days.” Dusk in Autumn 27 Dec. 2012 < http://akinokure.blogspot.com/2012/12/disrespectful-kids-these-days.html>; Dobson, James. The New Dare to Discipline, rev. ed. Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992; Stein, Ben. Tommy & Me: The Making of a Dad. New York City: Free Press, 1998: 88.

[32] AD No. 149 (Feb. 11, 2012); AD No. 156 (Sep. 22, 2012); AD No. 157 (Nov. 3, 2012)

[33] Eisler, Dan. “Re: New Poll for TCLPActive.” E-mail to TCLPActive et al., 13 Apr. 2002.

[34] Steele, R. Anthony. “Free Talk Live: IP and Disney.” Rant(hony)-ings 13 Oct. 2006 < http://ranthonysteele.blogspot.com/2006/10/free-talk-live-ip-and-disney.html>.

[35] Chang, Julie. “Panel Wants No Gun Shows.” AAS 5 Feb. 2013: B1; Mashhood, Farzad. “County Ditches Idea to Ban Gun Shows.” Idem., 16 Jan. 2013: A1.

[36] Ayala, Christine. “Campus to Phase Out Temporary Smoking Areas.” DT 25 Jan. 2013: 3; DeCiutiis. “City Considers Expanding Smoking Ban.” Idem., 25 Jan. 2013: 2.

[37] Plohetski, and Andy Pierrotti. “Library’s Missing Items Top $1 Million.” AAS 17 Feb. 2013: A1+.

[38] Toohey and Plohetski. “ ‘Living Wage’ Proviso Targeted.” AAS 4 Mar. 2013: A1+.

[39] Horowitz, Carl F. Keeping the Poor Poor: The Dark Side of the Living Wage (Policy Analysis No. 493). Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 2003.

[40] Cavett, Dick, and Christopher Porterfield. Cavett. New York City: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974: 149.

[41] Brooks, David. Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 2000; Long, Joshua. Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas. Austin, Texas: U of Texas P, 2010.

[42] Wood, Virginia B. “Verona Ristorante Italiano.” (Review) AC 1 Mar. 2013: 39.

[43] Chang. “City Slashes SXSW Security Staff, Cost.” AAS 7 Mar. 2013: A1+; Elliot, Bruce et al. “Viewmasters.” Retro Hell, 238; Renovitch, James. “Getting in the Game.” AC 8 Mar. 2013: 57.

[44] Grattan. “Lighting the Torch.” ABJ 22 Feb. 2013: 2.

[45] Grattan. “Calif.’s Prop 30 Bodes Well for C. Texas Business Recruiting.” ABJ 1 Feb. 2013: 6.

[46] Weinman, Jaime J. “Don’t Taunt the Hippies.” Maclean’s 4 Feb. 2013: 1.

[47] Garza, Vicky. “Music Water Wants to Take on America.” ABJ 11 Jan. 2013: 3.

[48] De la Merced, Michael J. “Office Supply Rivals’ Merger Leaked by a Wayward Report.” NYT 21 Feb. 2013: B5.

[49] Smothers, Hannah. “Vinyl Scratches Up More Sales.” DT 25 Jan. 2013: 11+.

[50] Wozny, Nancy. “Let Houston Move You.” Texas Journey Mar./Apr. 2013: 30-34+.

[51] Rudner, Jordan. “TSM Board Passes New Budget Cuts.” DT 4 Mar. 2013: 1-2.