Fifty Shades of Bray

Austin Dispatches No. 181 May 22, 2015

Whilst brooding over yet another company that rejected my services for a colossally stupid, yet novel reason – does “overqualified” mean “overqualified,” or a euphemism covering discrimination by reason of sex, race, or age?[1] – I had to console myself by remembering that at least I’m not Bruce Jenner, who’s transformed from victorious athlete to punchline.[2] I remember when his biggest public problem was dyslexia.[3]

Then the phone interrupted my brooding. A representative of the insurer providing my mandatory medical policy jabbered in my ear about scheduling my annual physical checkup, and not, as I initially suspected, because of some random billing glitch.

No, the rep was just calling to remind me about scheduling a checkup, which I should pay for through the insurer, which incidentally recommended a colonoscopy on this next visit.

“So if I understand this correctly … a stranger calls, unsolicited, urging me to schedule an appointment for another stranger to jam something up my ass, and bill it to the insurance company at a twenty to twenty-five percent markup from paying directly, so later this year the company can raise my premium for using its policy, which is already ten times what I paid when it was voluntary.”

He chuckled nervously. “I suppose so, if you put it that way.”

Fifty Shades of Mauve

The March GQ ran advice on how to handle your woman’s trick question about whether what she’s wearing makes her look fat.[4] However, the piece advised against the reply I used when the barnburner asked:

“I didn’t want to say anything, but if you’re gonna wear that around the house, you’re gonna wear that around the house.” Cue rim shot.

She glared for a decent interval. Then: “You are the rudest asshole I’ve ever met. I have never been so insulted in my life.”

“If that’s what you think, you really need to get out more.”

The Statesman will stop printing itself on site in favor of Hearst presses in San Antonio and Houston.[5] The racks at the entrance to the local H-E-B contain a new free periodical, Austin Apartment Monthly.[6]

Fifty Shades of Blue        

The king is dead. Long live B.B. King.[7] He went from singing the blues as a sharecropper to singing the blues at a diet clinic because his insurance company insisted he lose weight, although the wryness of that arc sounds more like an Albert Collins number.[8] I saw King perform thrice between 1991 and 2001, most memorably in 2000 with Miss KT on what almost amounted to our first date. Ironically, King was supposed to be the evening’s focus, but as we got to talking away from the office’s confines, he became background accompaniment – something I’m sure he witnessed or heard about afterward more than once during his career.[9]

In the April Esquire, local rock critic Andy Langer laments the eligibility of ‘90s rock acts for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, largely on grounds that the “the ‘90s were rock ‘n’ roll’s worst decade ever. Powerful labels shamelessly chased trends, manufactured hits with radio payola, and generally threw whatever worked once at the wall over and over to see what stuck.”[10] Just the ‘90s, Langer? The record industry did all that back when the music meant something, man. But now it’s all equally entombed in a museum, i.e., a monument to dead art forms, which Langer fails to acknowledge in his cri de coeur. Moreover, Langer omits a reckoning of his fellow rock critics – Beavis and Butt-head with pretentions – in contributing to what he so deplores.[11] The rock critic, of course, is a late 20th century phenomenon, motivated by what Brian Doherty once summarized as “love of an easy, sleazy way to grub a meager living licking the butts of cretins and spreading received opinions about the worst sorts of commercial tripe”;[12] also the target of Frank Zappa’s rudest song ever – and that’s saying something.[13]

"Mad Men" was good enough for me to watch for eight years, even though I agree with most of the substantive criticism about it.[14] The show was the most uneven I've seen since "Wiseguy," where the quality varied from episode to episode, and even from scene to scene.[15] In the case of "Mad Men," I think the problems were foremost in the scripts, and secondly in the budgets. With the latter, there's a common style on cable productions set in historical periods that makes every one look dingy, underpopulated, and slow.

The NFL suspended quarterback Tom Brady for playing with deflated balls – something I thought would be obvious for anyone shacked up with a Brazilian supermodel.[16] Elsewhere in the wide world of sports, I finally read Jack Nicklaus’ guide, “Golf My Way,” decades after Dad received it as a birthday gift. My impression of Dad’s impression of Nicklaus’ advice turned out to be correct: Beyond standard best known practices to get the maximum results from your game, to play golf Nicklaus’ way exactly – your tee stance, your grip, your swing, etc. – means you’d have to be Jack Nicklaus, including an identical physique.[17] In fact, one of his sons took a shot at professional golf without comparable success.[18] Thus you have to adjust the BKPs to what works for you.

The April 14 Statesman reports a growing bluegrass scene in Austin.[19]

Fifty Shades of Fuchsia

Governmental females fumed about the City bureaucracy holding a training session on dealing with a 70 percent women City Council. These women are particularly incensed because the training’s assertions are true – everything the black out-of-state city manager said about How Women Think, I’ve noticed in and out of the workplace dating back at least to watching my parents argue about money when I was a toddler. Furthermore, How Women Think is supported by social science research, confirming most Hollywood scriptwriters, stand-up comedians, blues singers, and paperback romance novelists. Even the women’s reaction to this training was predictably intrinsic. Stereotypes exist for a reason. The real story is that the pinko statists in Austin’s government have to go through formal training to overcome their willful ignorance about matters like sex, race, and ethnic differences.[20]

Note the women are in a snit over this, and not meddling yet unresponsive City Hall,[21] crumbling infrastructure,[22] violent crime,[23] the government-exacerbated rising cost of living or doing business in town,[24] the government-exacerbated demise of Austin’s unique culture,[25] or increasing pedestrian deaths.[26]

Instead, the Austin power elite is pushing back against Councilman Don Zimmerman’s nominees to various civic commissions, most of which shouldn’t exist. The elite know how the game is played. It’s how they or their predecessors came to dominate Austin. That’s why they’re fighting ideological diversity on these commissions so intently.[27]

Unfortunately, the same muddled mindset exists outside City Hall. For example:  

Lustful, diseased faggots are responsible for the rise in reported venereal cases in Travis County, although you have to trudge through many paragraphs in the Feb. 23 Daily Texan and the May 22 Chronicle stories to reach the true ledes buried within. [28] That’s irresponsible journalism. Meanwhile, image the awkward social possibilities at their weddings.[29] It’s a bad sign when the real world starts to imitate the premise of an Anthony Burgess novel.[30]

Relatedly, the Chronicle’s March 13 edition included a thumbsucker piece on last year’s South by Southwest fatalities that tried to insinuate blame on unofficial events – i.e., SXSW events not controlled by the same people who own the Chronicle – without being too obvious about it.[31] It’s part of what a letter-writer termed the “clash of corporate interests.”[32] For example, McDonald’s replaced Subway as the main food sponsor of SXSW. Think of that the next time Louis Black extols his event, or his Chronicalista employees criticize business interests.[33]

The Feb. 20 Chronicle laments a new Tex-Mex restaurant that appropriates “Slacker”-era Austin esthetics for its retro décor, because the restaurant deploys “Slacker”-era Austin esthetics as its retro décor theme, which means that esthetic and its supporting social ambience, which despite its local champions had its charms, is well and truly dead.[34] This has been a minor motif among the Chronicalistas for several years: stuck in the past, aging in place, and turning into their parents without ever acquiring the wisdom that’s supposed to accompany age. Otherwise, they wouldn’t espouse the views they do in that rag.

Some do-gooders are still pushing to open Community First! Village outside Austin this summer for bums to live in “fully furnished RVs, teepees and micro-homes.” The April 10 Daily Texan feature makes the project seem like a microcosm of all that’s wrong with the Austin mindset: The city’s stymied the encampment for four years because of “zoning issues” (natch), and “[d]uring high-capacity events in Austin, such as ACL and South By Southwest, the RVs will be marketed toward visitors as an alternative to hotels.” Because tourists will clamor to rent a vehicle that’s been occupied by a homeless guy.[35]

Originally, organizers and event planners intended various foot races and the motorcycle competition in Elroy as separate the weekend of April 10-12. Then they combined the events into in one death-defying race as runners tried to stay ahead of bikers, from the construction-torn downtown streets to the Circuit of the Americas racetrack.[36] Thunderstorms forced cancellation of two-thirds of the annual Austin Reggae Festival the weekend of April 17-19. Or to render the account in island patois, erryt’ing no irie, mon.[37]

A bohemian wants to raise funds for a statue of the late Leslie, transvestite street bum, Austin celebrity, and frequent candidate for local public office.[38] Fittingly, the statue would be at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue, where you can be accosted by panhandlers – assuming you can first find a parking spot.[39]

Meanwhile, the GOP-dominated Legislature is failing to correct an egregious municipal inconvenience: Bills to repeal Austin’s bag ban are languishing in committee.[40]

Fifty Shades of Gestapo Black

Officials’ explanations for military exercise Jade Helm 15 have done nothing to assuage Texans. If anything, the background context tends to confirm their concerns.[41]

The local maker of printed gun parts is suing the U.S. State Department for trying to quash his operations with bureaucratic obfuscation.[42]

Fifty Shades of Ochre

I had the opportunity a few years ago to meet presidential candidate Rand Paul, when he was still an aspiring U.S. senator from Kentucky. But I didn’t want to brave the tangled, narrow roads of the West Hills at rush hour on a Friday, just so an office seeker could solicit contributions, whether I was impressed or not (“Give you money? You’re not the man your father is.”).[43]

Rand’s rival, foreign-born hot-tempered spic Rafael “Ted” Cruz, is running for president only because he can’t be editor of Austin Dispatches.[44]

Confirming stereotypes all around, Barack Hussein Obama gave a mealy mouthed answer about legalizing marijuana in response to a Rastafarian’s question at a press conference in Kingston, Jamaica.[45] I’ll bet the Rastafarian has more sensible economic policies, too.

Fifty Shades of Green

A Feb. 13 Business Journal feature, pegged on Texas’ $95 million filmmaking incentive budget, mentions in passing that San Antonio faltered as the former hub of filmmaking, while Houston’s now the capital of car commercials.[46]

Starbucks turned into a punchline, as Internet mockery and puns rendered the company’s “Race Together” campaign scorched and bitter, like an order badly prepared by a nose ring-sporting barista when the stimulants wear off at the end of her shift.[48] Not that I’d fully know – I’ve only patronized the corporate simulacrum of the bohemian coffee house twice in my life; both neighborhood locations, and then only because a recruiter wanted to meet there. So despite the acidic coffee, we managed to have substantive discussions, but about money, not race.

Even without the pinko hectoring impetus behind the campaign, the Starbucks setting and clientele were unsuitable for a conversation on the latter. Furthermore, authentic coffee houses, at least back to my limited recollections from the mid-‘80s, that encourage people to linger over pseudointellectual discussions, couldn’t handle a real conversation on the topic any better than the culture at large, where unpopular views can lead to social ostracism, financial hardship, and even government prosecution.

Meanwhile, a report of worker complaints about conditions at Wheatsville Co-op makes it sound like just another predatory capitalist enterprise. Or maybe an organic, macrobiotic diet encourages discontent.[49]

Fifty Shades of Colonial White

My landlord notified residents on Feb. 23 of a burglary.[50] The Statesman’s Traffic Web page reported traffic incidents near Highway 183 and Burnet Road on Feb. 11, at MoPac Expressway and Capital of Texas Highway on Feb. 16 and April 21, at MoPac and Parmer Lane on Feb. 20 and March 5, at Helen Milton Smith Way and McNeil Road on Feb. 23, at southbound MoPac and Waters Park Road on Feb. 25, at Kramer Lane and Metric Boulevard on Feb. 26, at Donley Drive and Metric on March 26, near Burnet and Saunders Lane on April 15, at MoPac and Gracy Farms Lane on April 20, at Burnet and Braker Lane on May 2, at the MoPac northbound service road and Highway 183 on May 15, at MoPac and Cedar Bend Drive on May 15; and at Esperanza Crossing between Alterra Parkway and Rock Rose Avenue on May 19.

Also, the landlord-remodeled fitness center and leasing office reopened May 16. The latter looks like a finance office, albeit one with a pool table. As part of the remodeling, the landlord shut off the water several times in the last two months for repairs to the apartment complex. So I took the opportunity to visit Georgetown for only the second time ever. I lunched at this nice little Italian restaurant, Tony and Luigi’s.[51]

The May 4 Statesman reports The Domain’s owners plan to bring in more retailers with local flavor.[52] Meanwhile, a coffee shop, a jewelry store, and two food trucks have opened and a boutique has closed.[53] Parts of The Domain are for sale.[54] Landscaping and other outdoor amenities have been added to Domain II.[55]

A periodontists’ office has opened in the 12300 block of MoPac.[56] A hotel has opened at Esperanza Crossing.[57] At its Feb. 12 meeting, the City Council heard proposed zoning changes to build an apartment complex near Burnet and 183.[58] A martial arts school has moved near the same intersection.[59]

The ZIP code in which I reside has the third-highest liquor sales in Austin, according to a Feb. 20 Business Journal feature on the details of starting a bar.[60] However, Weirdo’s remains shuttered after a district court judge ruled in favor of the landlord in a lease dispute.[62]


Home Archives


[1] Penny, Carla. “Give the Long-Term Unemployed a Chance.” ABJ 17 Apr. 2015: 31.

[2] Nahas, Aili et al. “Bruce Jenner: Happy at Last.” People 16 Feb. 2015: 56-60.

[3] “Trouble With Words.” Silver Spoons. NBC-TV, 24 Feb. 1985.

[4] Choi, Mary H.K. “ ‘Yes, Honey That Does Make Your Ass Look Fat.’ ” GQ Mar. 2015: 96.

[5] Buchholz, Jan. “Stop the Presses, Start the Bidding.” ABJ 8 May 2015: 8; Zehr, Dan. “American-Statesman Will Outsource Papers’ Printing.” AAS 1 May 2015: A1+.

[6] Ballew, Scott. “The Austin Concierge.” Austin Apartment Monthly Feb. 2015: 16.

[7] Weiner, Tim. “From Plantation to Global Fame, Moaning the Blues With Lucille.” NYT 16 May 2015, late ed.: A1+.

[8] Goins, Wayne E. “Collins, Albert.” The Blues Encyclopedia. Ed. Edward Komara and Peter Lee. New York City: Routledge, 2006: 219-220; King, B.B. [Riley King], and David Ritz. Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King. New York City: Avon Books, 1996: 287, 306.

[9] AD No. 22n2 (Nov. 16, 2000).

[10] Langer, Andy. “Mind Turning the Music Off?” Esquire Apr. 2015: 28+.

[11] AD No. 147n73 (Dec. 16, 2011).

[12] Doherty, Brian. “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Liberty Sep. 1994: 61.

[13] Zappa, Frank. “Packard Goose.” Joe’s Garage Acts II & III. Zappa SRZ-2-1502, 1979.

[14] Kast, Catherine, and Emily Strohm. “The Gang Says Goodbye.” People 13 Apr. 2015: 74-78.

[15] AD No. 96n4 (Feb. 6, 2007).

[16] Dana, Rebecca. “The Women We Love to Hate.” Newsweek 20 Feb. 2012: 36-39; Gasper, Christopher L. “Brady Penalty Will Be Marker for NFL.” Boston Globe 9 May 2015: A1+; Nabuco, Joaquim. Braziliangels. Atglen, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing, 2010.

[17] Nicklaus, Jack, and Ken Bowden. Golf My Way, rev. ed. New York City: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2005: 11, 15-16.

[18] Barkow, Al. The Golden Era of Golf: How America Rose to Dominate the Old Scots Game. New York City: St. Martin’s Press, 2000: 266-267.

[19] Blackstock, Peter. “Bluegrass Is Blooming – in Austin and at Old Settler’s Fest.” AAS 14 Apr. 2015: D1.

[20] King, Michael. “Balancing Numbers and Needs.” AC 15 May 2015: 10+; Rockwell, Lily. “Focus of Training Upsets Women on City Council.” AAS 14 May 2015: A1+; Rockwell, and Andra Lim. “Official Suspended Amid Inquiry Into Training Session.” AAS 15 May 2015: B1+.

[21] Buchholz. “City’s Planning Process Oddly Antiquated for a High-Tech City.” ABJ 20 Mar. 2015: 9; Chavez, Nicole. “Austin Employee a Suspect in Waco.” AAS 20 May 2015: A1+; Hoffberger, Chase. “Waco Motorcycle Shooting Fallout.” AC 22 May 2015: 20; King. “Council: Austin Is Which Way?” AC 20 Mar. 2015: 16; Rockwell, Lily. “Zucker Report Blasts Office.” AAS 7 Mar. 2015: A1+.

[22] “MetroRail Detoured by Break in Water Main, Delaying Commuters.” AAS 27 Mar. 2015: B1+.

[23] Chang, Julie. “15 Charged in Eastside High Brawl.” AAS 1 May 2015: B1+; Davis, Wynne. “Man Knifed After Fight at Texas Union.” DT 11 Feb. 2015: 1; “Headlines.” AC 27 Mar. 2015: 10; Jankowski, Philip. “Assistant Principal Resigns After Bus Driver Is Charged in Sex Assault.” 9 May 2015: B1+.

[24] Cantú, Tony. “Eastward Expansion.” AC 10 Apr. 2015: 22+; Lim and Rockwell. “Zoning Items Heard Before Council.” AAS 13 Feb. 2015: B3; Wear, Ben. “900 More Parking Meters Proposed.” AAS 12 Feb. 2015: A1+.

[25] Christian, George S. “Stop Unlimited Penalties on State’s Environmental Violators.” ABJ 15 May 2015: A31; King. “Council: More Brisket,  More Staff.” AC 10 Apr. 2015: 12; Sengupta, Deborah. “Two Music Venues Feel Squeeze of Risings Rents.” AAS 15 May 2015: B1; Wang, Jackie. “Restaurants Face Possible New Regulations.” DT 2 Apr. 2015: 1-2; Wood, Virginia B. “Food-O-File.” AC 10 Apr. 2015: 46.

[26] Davis. “Pedestrian Fatalities Higher in 2015.” DT 28 Apr. 2015: 1-2.

[27] Cantú. “Speculation Surrounds the Cancellation of MACC Awards.” AC 22 May 2015: 20; King. “Council: The Anti-Immigrant Immigrant Commissioner.” AC 17 Apr. 2015: 16; Rockwell and Chavez. “City Council Rejects Nomination of Buehler to Public Safety Panel.” AAS 8 May 2015: B3; Roland, Jon. “Disappointed in Council.” Letter. AC 22 May 2015: 6.

[28] Ketterer, Samantha. “Travis County Sees Rise in Reports of Syphilis.” DT 23 Feb. 2015: 1-2; Marloff, Sarah. “Season of Risk.” AC 22 May 2015: 22-25.

[29] Cone, Tonyia. “Will Texas Gay Marriage Ban End With a Mazel Tov?” The Jewish Outlook Mar. 2015: 2; Dearman, Eleanor. “Attorney General Fights Gay Marriage.” DT 23 Feb. 2015: 1-2.

[30] Burgess, Anthony [John Burgess Wilson]. The Wanting Seed. London: Heinemann, 1962.

[31] Hoffberger. “What Now for SXSW?” AC 13 Mar. 2015: 22+; King. “Austin’s Ruination.” AC 20 Mar. 2015: 12+.

[32] Bowman, Tom. “An Austin Perennial.” Letter. AC 20 Mar. 2015: 8.

[33] AD No. 156n66 (Sep. 22, 2012); Swiatecki, Chad. “Mickey D’s Hearts Hipsters at SXSW.” ABJ 6 Mar. 2015: A3.

[34] Watson, Brandon. “Slacker.” AC 20 Feb. 2015: 45.

[35] Lewman, Olivia. “Homeless Village Provides Housing, Community.” DT 10 Apr. 2015: 6.

[36] “Sports.” AC 10 Apr. 2015: 45.

[37] Beach, Patrick. “Storms Cause Blackouts, Wash Out Reggae Festival.” AAS 20 Apr. 2015: B1+.

[38] AD No. 96n16 (Feb. 6, 2007); Beach. “Film, Statue Planned to Honor Austin’s Ambassador of Weird.” AAS 4 May 2015: B1+.

[39] AD No. 165n23 (July 12, 2013).

[40] Whittaker, Richard. “Anti-City Push, Bill Limiting Police Filming Dies, Senate Passes Budget, and More….” AC 17 Apr. 2015: 18.

[41] McSwane, J. David. “The Human Domain.” AAS 10 May 2015: A1+.

[42] Ulloa, Jazmine. “Maker of 3-D Printed Gun Sues U.S. Over How-To Ban.” AAS 9 May 2015: A1+.

[43] Antle, W. James III. “Rand Paul, Hawk or Dove?” TAC May/Jun. 2015: 12-15.

[44] Eisler, Dan. “Re: Cuban Newsletter.” E-mail to Lillian Martinez Simmons, 30 Mar. 2015; Garvin, Glenn. “Ted Cruz: Loose Cannon or Libertarian Reformer?” Reason Feb. 2015: 18-24; “News Makers.” Maclean’s 7 Jul. 2014: 25-26.

[45] Kuhnhenn, Jim. AP. “Jamaica Showers Obama With Love.” The Virgin Islands Daily News 10 Apr. 2015: 10.

[46] Reeves, Kimberly. “Texas Poised to Go After Filmmakers.” ABJ 13 Feb. 2015: 10-11.

[47] Abel, Allen. “A Grande Race Problem.” Maclean’s 6 Apr. 2015: 25-27.

[49] Kamp, Amy. “Is Something Rotten at Wheatsville Co-op?” AC 22 May 2015: 14; Theis, Michael. “Wheatsville Staff Go Public With Pay Complaints.” ABJ 22 May 2015: 3.

[50] Hanlon, Erica. Letter to residents. 23 Feb. 2015.

[51] Folio Management Team. Letter to tenants, 21 Apr. 2015.

[52] Dinges, Gary, and Shonda Novak. “Endeavor Seasoning Austin’s Domain to Local Taste.” AAS 4 May 2015: A1+.

[53] “Impacts.” CIN, Northwest Austin ed. Mar. 2015: 6-7; “Now Open.” CIN, Northwest Austin ed. Apr. 2015: 4.

[54] Novak. “Part of Austin’s Domain Project Goes Up for Sale.” AAS 11 Feb. 2015: B7.

[55] Dinges. “Domain II Complex Adds ‘Great Lawn,’ Revises Look.” AAS 9 Apr. 2015: B6-7.

[56] “Now Open.” CIN, Northwest Austin ed. Mar. 2015: 6.

[57] “Now Open.” CIN, Northwest Austin ed. Apr. 2015: 4.

[58] Lim and Rockwell. “Zoning Items Heard Before Council.” AAS 13 Feb. 2015: B3.

[59] “Relocations.” CIN, Northwest Austin ed. Mar. 2015: 7.

[60] Swiatecki, Chad. “A Handy-Dandy Guide to Quicker Liquor Profits in Austin.” ABJ 20 Feb. 2015: 4-5.

[61] AD No. 150n58 (April 16, 2012); Pope, Colin. “Readers Keep It Weird.” ABJ 24 Apr. 2015: A3.