((Woe in Stereo))

Austin Dispatches No. 180 Feb. 10, 2015



‘Twas the season of Christmas, and throughout my flat,[1]

I could hear the disc skipping – I really hated that

The factory-sealed CD failed 15 seconds in

I considered the possibilities, and my patience wore thin

This bum gift from relatives – how predictably shitty[2]

While no one deigned fix my model in this bleak city[3]

Then calling the Sony “help” desk left me feeling eager

To refight World War II – at least the Pacific Theater

“Sayonara, you bait-eating bastards,” I growled

Visions of mushroom clouds while the Internet I prowled[4]

And what to my astounded eyes should I find:

Still deeper proof the music industry’s declined

Sony stopped making the CDP-CX455

And most other players, but that doesn’t jibe

With the millions of discs sold and in use

As a business decision it seems rather obtuse

Not to mention the new box sets for Yultide release[5]

Unless that’s mere trickery intended to fleece

We fans who still buy music in physical state

Regardless of how youths consume it of late[6]

Such as Sis’ kids, Mom said, as she guffawed at my plight

(Women’s interest in music tends to be slight)

Bad enough my accounts bleed from ObamaCare[7] and moochers’ greed

Only to discover at year’s end that I still need

To replace consumer items I already bought[8]

I ordered replacement only to be caught

Between landlord and post office, each of whom claim

The other has the package, and therefore’s to blame

Much as I’d like, I can’t make them squeal

Two hundred fifty bucks I’m out on this deal


In non-distich developments, Christmas morning, I watched 10 minutes of “The Interview” online before the strained humor squelched further interest.[9] The surrounding story would make a better movie than the actual movie,[10] partly since Kim Jong Un – North Korean dictator and pint-size try-hard tough guy wannabe, last seen at this Web site threatening to nuke Austin – somewhat resembles a young Sammo Hung.[11]


Elsewhere in cinema, surpassing the journalistic “rule of three,”[12] seven worthy 2014 releases, domestic and foreign, were set in the ‘80s, and even got the period and subperiod look and mood right.[13]


On the Town


Nov. 28: I wore a bespoke black suit, a white dress silk shirt from Hong Kong, a vibrant necktie with a chrome art deco tie clip, and cap-toe oxfords. I thought I'd make a suitable impression while I was out on the town, since at 45 I can't credibly play the ingénue anymore. Also, dressed like that, I might've picked up an envelope or two intended for someone else.


After a lot of consideration, and an inability to make a reservation by phone since no one answered at my first four choices, I defaulted to Bartlett's. Because of the waiter's recommendation, I ordered the prime rib broiled instead of grilled. It was the best prime rib I've ever eaten, even by the exceptional standards of that restaurant.


Then I drove to The Aristocrat on its opening night. The former Poodle Dog Lounge may have remodeled, but I could tell by the people staggering out that the tavern's retained its original scruffy clientele. So I returned home.[14]


e180fig1Dec. 16: Christmas came early for District 6 as Don Zimmerman eaked out a runoff victory to serve on the newly expanded Austin City Council.[15] I’ve known Zimmerman dating back to my early involvement with the Travis County LP, and his guide to campaigning at the precinct level is one of the best books of 2010.[16] So it was a pleasure to attend the election night rally at his headquarters in a generic strip mall off Anderson Mill Road and see a hardcore patriot triumph in the face of opposition from the GOP establishment – hence his narrow loss in Williamson County – and the Austin power elite.[17] Implicitly, Zimmerman’s victory, in fact and style, is also a slap to the drooping jowls of Rock Howard, who reacts like a vampire to the true cross at the notion of Libertarians campaigning for aldermanic seats or running as themselves, instead of watered-down pinkos. And that’s what inside-the-box politics is really about: sticking it to people who annoy you. If you want to solve problems, like self-righteous welfare parasites, you have to eliminate most of government. At the very least, the next Council won’t be dull.[18]


Austin Death Watch


Overall, the results from the Austin City Council runoffs satisfactorily agitated the Chronicalistas.[19] In late November, City bureaucrats declared a two-year moratorium on granting permits for new events downtown, years after I pointed out what a problem that was.[20]


Police arrested two Austin Energy employees for stealing $100,000 worth of copper wire.[21] The Feb. 8 Statesman reports that Austin Energy also has unpaid bills in the eight figures. This raises the question of why I bother paying this government utility promptly.[22]


Police also arrested a man for stealing more than $2,000 worth of brisket from groceries stores the past six months. A municipal judge sentenced the thief to two days at 700 degrees. Meanwhile, another thief ripped off a custom barbecue pit belonging to the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers’ local. He must’ve looked for the union label.[23]


Lady Screeches the Blues


A local public relations firm attracted opprobrium with its name, Strange Fruit, after a Culture of Critique song about a black in the South hanged because he didn’t have a shyster from the ACLU or the Communist-front National Lawyers Guild to spring him on a technicality so he could commit more felonies against disfavored groups.[24] But the real travesty is a group of flacks were so tin-eared as to name their firm in connection with Billie Holiday, whose voice sounds like nails on the chalkboard.[25] Given the often dissonant or even atonal music I listen to, that’s saying something. It’s not well-known, but Holiday’s responsible for the rampant heroin addiction among jazz musicians from the ‘30s through the ‘50s, because they sought to numb themselves from her voice while accompanying her on recording sessions and got hooked. Still, Holiday sounds better than Janis Joplin.[26]


AT&T opened a retail store in East Austin it proclaims is the “store of the future.” In the photos, the merchandise looks like a lot of useless junk, probably expensive. So the future of retail is a mom-and-pop thrift store?[27]


Trader Joe’s created a brown rice-and-quinoa spaghetti, so you can eat like a peasant slob and still be pretentious.[28]


Neighborhood News


e180fig2In November a car smashed into the Folio fence near the corner of Stonehollow Drive and Gracy Farms Lane. On Jan. 16, I witnessed the aftermath of a collision along Gracy Farms. The Statesman’s Traffic Web page reported traffic incidents at Cedar Bend and Alderbrook drives on Dec. 9, at Parmer Lane and MoPac Expressway on Jan. 5, at Lamplighter Village Avenue and Metric Boulevard on Jan. 22, at Kramer Lane and Parkfield Drive on Jan. 24, at Braker Lane and Metric on Jan. 27, and at MoPac and Capital of Texas Highway on Feb. 6. On Jan. 22, KGSR-FM reported a collision at Highway 183 and MoPac.


The Chronicle civics calendar mentioned a Dec. 24 rally at The Domain to “[s]tand in solidarity with activists, organizers, and people across the country in the fight for black lives.” A worthy sentiment, but perhaps last-minute Christmas Eve shoppers weren’t the most receptive audience.[29] Meanwhile, The Domain now hosts another clothing store and a cupcake trailer.[30] An eye surgeon and a racing gear store have also opened in the neighborhood.[31]


The Folio landlord’s office has moved while workers renovate the leasing office and clubhouse. Unfortunately, this move permanently eliminates the leasing office’s night drop.[32]


A crowded court docket is delaying the suit over Weirdo’s shutting down.[33] The Jan. 29 Statesman reports that construction complications will delay MoPac toll lanes until year’s end.[34]


Tentacles of Empire


The Statesman reports a human rights group is trying to get authorities to strip the license of a local psychologist associated with CIA torture practices.[35]


The U.S. Justice Department has charged a local real estate developer with financing an attempted coup d’etat against Gambia.[36] Incidentally, this marks the first time I’ve encountered Gambia in the news since it confederated with Senegal in 1982.[37]

Home Archives


[1] AD No. 88n1 (Dec. 23, 2005).

[2] Haden, Charlie. The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note. CAM Jazz BXS 1001, 2010.

[3] Chang, Julie. “Forecast Freezes Out New Year Bash.” AAS 31 Dec. 2014, final ed.: B1; Eisler, Dan. “L.A. Stereo Repairmen.” E-mail to Rob Eisler, 19 Jan. 2015.

[4] Blivens, Bruce Jr. From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa: The War in the Pacific, 1941-1945. New York City: Random House, 1960.

[5] Berry, Chuck. Any Old Way You Choose It: The Complete Studio Recordings Plus. Bear Family 17273, 2014; Blackwell, Ed. The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note. Black Saint/CAM Jazz/Soul Jazz BXS 1030, 2014; Captain Beefheart [Don Van Vliet]. Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972. Rhino 0349790555, 2014; The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61. Mosaic MD5-258, 2014; The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions. Mosaic MD9-260, 2014; Hamilton, Chico. The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note. Black Saint/CAM Jazz BXS 1029, 2014; Holland-Dozier-Holland. The Complete 45s Collection: Invictus, Hot Wax, Music Merchant 1969-1977. Harmless HURTBOX 006, 2014; Lynn, Barbara [Barbara Lynn Ozen]. The Complete Atlantic Recordings. Real Gone 400297, 2014; Lyons, Jimmy. The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note. Black Saint/CAM Jazz/Soul Note BXS 1028, 2014; Miles at The Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 3. Columbia 543381, 2014; Satriani, Joe. The Complete Studio Recordings. Sony Legacy 88725418422, 2014; Soul and Swagger: The Complete “5” Royales 1951-1967. RockBeat 3101, 2014; The Soul of Designer Records. Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum BLM0289, 2014; Step Inside My Soul: Rare ‘70s and Modern Soul. Bear Family/Cree 1202, 2014; Sun Ra [Herman Blount]. The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note. Black Saint/CAM Jazz/Soul Note BXS 1031, 2014; The Sweet Inspirations. The Complete Atlantic Singles Plus. Real Gone Music 400263, 2014; Warwick, Dee Dee [Delia Mae Warrick]. The Complete Atco Recordings. Real Gone Music 6400277, 2014.

[6] Smith, Ethan. “Music Downloads Drop as Streaming Expands.” WSJ 2 Jan. 2015, Eastern ed.: B2.

[7] AD No. 169 (Nov. 22, 2013); AD No. 179 (Nov. 26, 2014).

[8] D. Eisler. “More Assorted Crap.” E-mail to Angela Keaton, 13 Mar. 2003.

[9] Snider, Mike. “ ‘The Interview’ Won’t Change Way Movies Are Released, Analysts Say.” USAT 2 Jan. 2015: 3B.

[10] Bennett, Cory. “North Korea Blasts US Over Sanctions.” The Hill 6 Jan. 2015: 14.

[11] O'Brien, Daniel. Spooky Encounters: A Gwailo's Guide to Hong Kong Horror. Manchester, U.K.: Headpress/Critical Vision, 2003: 27.

[12] AD No. 147n67 (Dec. 16, 2011).

[13] Cold in July. BSM Studio/Backup Media/Bullet Pictures/Paradise City, 2014; Days and Nights. Art Cine Productions, 2014; Electric Slide. Di Bonaventura Pictures/Killer Films/Media House Capital/Myriad Pictures/Outpost Studios, 2014; A Most Violent Year. Before The Door Pictures/Washington Square Films/FilmNation Entertainment/Participant Media/Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ/Old Bull Pictures, 2014; Muerte en Buenos Aires (Death in Buenos Aires). Cine Argentino/Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA)/Distribution Company Sudamericana/Cinear/Filmsuez/Picnic/RGB Entertainment/Utopica Group/Bestia Films, 2014; The Mule. 4Cows/Cherub Films/Screen Australia, 2014; Rob the Mob. The Exchange/RTM Film, 2014.

[14] D. Eisler. “Appearances can Be Deceiving.” E-mail to Corey Bjerregaard, Rob Eisler, and Chris Loyd, 28 Nov. 2014; “Reader’s Picks.” ABJ 5 Dec. 2014: 2.

[15] Lim, Andra, Lilly Rockwell and Marty Toohey. “Voters Pick New Council.” AAS 17 Dec. 2014: A9.

[16] Zimmerman, Don. How to Swing Votes: Precinct Guide to Wining Elections. Kearney, Neb.: Morris Publishing, 2010.

[17] Barbaro, Nick. “GOP Sweeps West Austin.” AC 19 Dec. 2014: 16; Denney, Amy, and Lyndsey Taylor. “New North Austin Council Members Take Seats.” CIN 29 Jan. 2015, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+; Kamp, Amy.
“D6: Zimmerman’s Zenith.” AC 19 Dec. 2014: 24; Kamp. “Zimmerman’s Latest Lawsuit.” AC 12 Dec. 2014: 24-25.

[18] AD No. 179n19.

[19] Barbaro. “GOP Sweeps West Austin.” AC 19 Dec. 2014: 16; King, Michael “What We Have Learned So Far.” AC 19 Dec. 2014: 14+.

[20] AD No. 165n28 (July 12, 2013); Hoffberger, Chase. “A Kinder, Gentler SXSW?” AC 6 Feb. 2015: 20; Wear, Ben. “Austin: No New Fests for 2 Years.” AAS 27 Nov. 2014: B1+.

[21] Chavez, Nicole. “Austin Energy Employees Accused of Copper Theft.” AAS 17 Dec. 2014: B6.

[22] Rockwell. “Unpaid Electric Bills Are Pilling Up.” AAS 8 Feb. 2015: A1+.

[23] Toohey. “Bounty Offered in Barbecue Pit Theft.” AAS 2 Jan. 2015: A1; Wood, Virginia B. “Food-O-File.” AC 8 Jan. 2015: 40.

[24] Cofield, Natalie Madeira. “The Odd Thing About the Former Strange Fruit PR.” ABJ 19 Dec. 2014: A35; Horowitz, David. Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey, corr. ed. New York City: Touchstone, 1998: 314; Jones, E. Michael. The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History. Sound Bend, Ind.: Fidelity Press, 2008: Ch. 17, 21; MacDonald, Kevin. The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Century Intellectual and Political Movements, rev. ed. Bloomington, Ind.: 1st Books Library, 2002; Swiatecki, Chad. “Austin PR Firm Strange Fruit Rebrands Amid Racial Controversy.” ABJ 12 Dec. 2014: A6.

[25] The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959. 314 513 859-2, 1992; Holiday, Billie [Eleanora Fagan Gough]. The Complete Commodore Recordings. GRP CMD-2-401, 1997; Holiday. The Complete Decca Recordings. GRP GRD2 601, 1991; Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944. Columbia/Legacy CXK 85470, 2001.

[26] “Joplin, Janis.” RSE3, 510.

[27] Grisales, Claudia. “AT&T Bringing ‘Store of Future’ to Austin.” AAS 19 Dec. 2014: B6.

[28] “Brown Rice & Quinoa Spaghetti 16 Ounce Bag -- $2.99.” Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer Feb. 2015: 24.

[29] “Civics 101.” AC 26 Dec. 2014: 10.

[30] “Impacts.” CIN Dec. 2014, Northwest Austin ed.: 6.

[31] “Impacts.” CIN Jan. 2014, Northwest Austin ed.: 4-5.

[32] Folio Management. Letter to residents, 8 Jan. 2015.

[33] AD No. 150n58 (Apr. 16, 2012); “Weirdos Case in Limbo.” ABJ 6 Feb. 2015: 8.

[34] Wear. “Debut of MoPac Toll Lanes Likely Delayed to Year-End.” AAS 29 Jan. 2015: A1+.

[35] Price, Asher. “Medical Expert Is Under Fire Again.” AAS 29 Dec. 2014: A1+.

[36] Toohey. “Austin Developer Tied to Failed Gambia Coup.” AAS 6 Jan. 2015: A1+.

[37] Hughes, Arnold, and Janet Lewis. “Beyond Francophonie?: The Senegambia Confederation in Retrospect.” State and Society in Francophone Africa Since Independence. Ed. Anthony Kirk-Greene and Daniel Bach. Oxford, U.K.: St. Martin’s Press, 1995: 228-239.