The Travail of Travel

Austin Dispatches No. 183 July 22, 2015

e183fig1Recently, a prospective employer e-mailed a test. The last part requested a 100-word essay about my ideal vacation. Herewith:

Ideally, I’d like to vacation someplace I’ve never been before, with accommodations luxurious yet cheap; courteous, efficient staff; friendly locals; delicious food; mild weather; and interesting attractions. Moreover, this vacation would be devoid of the usual dull, transitory aspects involved in any sort of travel, such as waiting in traffic; waiting for confirmation of your reservations or other arrangements when you arrive at your destination; the feeling of interminable travel from one place to another; or the down time when you’re just waiting for the next scheduled event to start. Finally, my regret about the vacation should be that it’s over, instead of the vacation itself.

I extemporized under a deadline, although I’ve thought about the topic for years. Unfortunately, my ideal can’t overcome several laws of physics.[1]  

However, staying home has its own drawbacks. Memorial Day, thunderstorms briefly knocked out the power to my apartment building while I was on the phone reassuring my parents that things were OK, contrary to the news.[2] Despite the weather contradicting me, that weekend my biggest problems were a) running out of French onion dip, and b) the flower bed dirt turning into a mud coating at the foot of the stairs.[3] The landlord finally fixed b) on July 1.

Political Follies

There are weeks and sometimes months where I suspect all of existence is a conspiracy to provide grist for Austin Dispatches.

Banjo-plucking Martin O’Malley, former Maryland governor, plans to clawhammer his way to the Democratic presidential nomination with a six-string platform calculated to boost voting precinct turnout in Kentucky, Alabama and the Sawtooth Mountains. Clearly, someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah.[4]

Meanwhile, the incumbent imposter-in-chief summoned his inner Jefferson – George Jefferson, that is – and finally uttered “nigger,” some seven years after I predicted his election would make the epithet acceptable. Of course, the word exited in his usual logorrheal contempt for real Americans while on comedian Marc Maron’s podcast, so it’s doubtful many of them had the ability to sit through Maron’s nasally angst beforehand.[5] Just for costing me $5,610.98 and counting in ObamaCare-compliant insurance payments, I can think of a few more words he needs to hear.[6]

e183fig2Come to think of it, let’s make “obama” (lowercased) an all-purpose slur:

“You’re such an obama.”

“Don’t hand me that obama.”

“That son-of-obama dented my car.”

“What the obama?”

“The obama in shipping obama’d the order.”

“Obama him!”

Etc. For variety, use his other surname – “Soetoro.”[7]

A murderer killed by police in a luxury hotel downtown had filed to run for president, but couldn’t wait until in office to slay.[8]

And I thought living through the rise and peak of disco was nauseating.[9] Perhaps the most obnoxious aspect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of homosexual “marriage” is the ceaseless triumphant gloating from pinkos, many of them presumably straight, in all manner of media. They’re so ecstatic, you’d think they were the ones getting married.[10] This too shall end, if only because homosexuals, having achieved the apex of acceptability, can only become uncool, either because of something one or several of them do (e.g., raping the wrong child), or because people just get bored with them. It happened before to blacks.[11] Also, there’s too much retroactive continuity that has to be done to alter past culture, foreign and domestic, where homosexuals are portrayed as either villains, undesireables, or the butt of jokes. The sheer volume of cultural product worldwide makes that retconning a daunting task.[12]

Meanwhile, anyone critical of this homopotheosis is subject to vituperation, such as the treatment Austin’s power elite is conducting against Councilor Don Zimmerman. The weekly outrage at Don expressing one of his well-known views on any given topic leads me to wonder if the pinkos are outraged because they don’t understand his views, or because they do. The real story would be if he supported the Court’s ruling.[13]

Neighborhood News

On May 29, the U.S. Weather Service reported early morning thunderstorm winds snapped a tree at Parmer Lane and MoPac Expressway. The Statesman’s Traffic Web page reported traffic incidents at Highway 183 and Burnet Road on June 9, and at southbound MoPac and Braker Lane on June 16. On June 25, I witnessed two women drivers get into a spat in the Stonehollow Place strip mall parking lot.

Community Impact Newspaper reports that a new location of Kung Fu Saloon, serving chop sake, will open at The Domain later this year.[14] Incidentally, the saloon settled a discrimination case with the feds over dress codes bias against Asian customers.[15] But that was necessary. If some guys show up wearing black suits, dusters and sunglasses, and chewing toothpicks, don’t stick around.[16]

The Domain will also experience construction of 1 million more square feet of office, multifamily and retail space.[17] Also at The Domain, a pizzeria and a car rental agency opened.[18] A sushi franchise closed at the Shops at Arbor Walk.[19] The Business Journal predicts the Top Golf location will become office buildings in the future, now that the property’s ownership has changed hands.[20] Ownership changed at a hair salon off Research Boulevard.[21] On July 7, city workers restriped the crosswalk at the Braker-Metric Boulevard intersection. On July 22, the landlord shut off the water for repairs – again.[22]

Sometime after Obama leaves office, his administration-funded North Walnut Creek Trail project, languishing in its last mention here, may finally be finished.[23] If only ObamaCare’s implementation had proceeded as quickly.

On the Town

Deer frolicked in the front yards of the Northwest Austin neighborhood where I took my evening constitutionals in the late spring.

Jun. 5: I tried to participate in National Doughnut Day but was unwilling to wait in line at the stores along Highway 183 for fried dough.[24]

Jun. 17: I patronized Windsor Park, the one remaining Austin Public Library branch I hadn’t visited. Later, I noted with astonishment that a mediocre Chinese restaurant had actually shut down. Maybe we are heading for a depression.[25]

Media Indigest

The June Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience reports the brain’s at rest during socialization. So that explains the lack of results from networking all these years.[26] The Statesman acknowledges that shifting its printing out of town will affect its nightly press deadlines and inclusion of late-breaking stories.[27]

e183fig3Austin Death Watch

A new municipal study of the Austin music scene confirms that City policies are helping to wreck said scene – something Austin Dispatches has pointed out for 15 years.[28] Moreover, the spread of anti-intellectual property sentiment has extended to Austinites’ aversion to paying cover charges at venues.[29] However, the study didn’t dare suggest that the music scene is waning because the musicianship isn’t that impressive, compared to years past. I first visited Austin in 1994 and found the audiences in the bars on Sixth and Seventh streets easily impressed with bands flailing on three-chord ditties and grimacing expressions out of music videos. Apparently, even those audiences finally wised up.

New case in point: The owner of Austin Music Hall downtown plans to raze it for an office building. I seem to recall visiting it once for a free Christmas fair, but otherwise the parking, cost and choice of artists kept me away. Now the Statesman reports the venue was also plagued with bad sound and sightlines.[30]

The Austin Police Department suspended a cop and his boss after the former committed a hit-and-run on a civilian’s car.[31] The department suspended another cop for being rude to a crippled bum, and fired yet another for being a scumbag.[32] The department also fired a cop for the second time in two years.[33] Meanwhile, relatives of a man killed by another car while crossing the street are suing the City because a streetlight was out.[34] Police found a cross-dressing freak floating dead in Lady Bird Lake and issued it a citation for not wearing seasonally appropriate attire.[35]

The May 17 massacre of bikers in Waco and local inclement weather didn’t stop every middle-aged executive who’d seen “Easy Rider” too many times from clogging Austin’s roads May 11-14. Of course, Austin’s power elite and its busybody myrmidons, who normally seek to fearfully ban even inanimate objects like refined sugar that might cause self-harm – permitted the Republic of Texas Biker Rally once again.[36]

Even the Chronicle had to admit that bureaucratic mishandling of funds has jeopardized affordable housing projects.[37] In a later issue, the weekly reports the Depression-built county civil courthouse at 10th and Guadalupe streets is plagued by vermin. There’s also a problem with rodents and bugs.[38] MetroRail operating costs are rising.[39]

Cultural Canapés

The July 22 Daily Telegraph reports Frank Sinatra is the subject of a multimedia stage show playing into October in London’s theater district.[40]

Business Roundup

I bought a pen for the first time in 20 years. Or rather, pens, because the neighborhood retailers bundled the single retractable red pen that I really wanted with other in black and blue.

Bevo and Butt-Heads

The Daily Texan reports the UT’s Facilities Services is sticking with one-ply toilet paper to save about $300,000 a year.[41] The school’s diplomas would be even cheaper – for the university.

Home Archives


[1] Feynman, Richard P., Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew L. Sands. The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I-III, 3rd corr. ed. New York City: Basic Books, 2011.

[2] Barbaro, Nick. “Remember Memorial Day.” AC 29 May 2015: 12; Barbaro. “Soccer Watch.” Idem., 41; Jankowski, Philip. “Rescuers Busy as Storms Slam Austin.” AAS 26 May 2015: A1+; King, Michael. “It’s Rainin’ Down in Texas.” AC 29 May 2015: 10+.

[3] Eisler, Dan. “Re: How're you faring on the roads after this weekend?” E-mail to Chris Loyd, 26 May 2015.

[4] EAD No. 9n48 (Oct. 23, 1999); Noble, Phil. “Martin O’Malley for President?” Bluffton (S.C.) Today 31 Dec. 2014: 13A; Fritze, John. “O’Malley Begins Presidential Bid.” The Baltimore Sun 31 May 2015: 1+.

[5] “The Jeffersons.” Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network & Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present, 8th rev. ed. New York City: Ballantine Books, 2007: 694; Shear, Michael D. “Making a Point, Obama Invokes a Painful Slur.” NYT 23 Jun. 2015: A1+.

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

[7] Corsi, Jerome R. The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality. New York City: Threshold Editions, 2008: 50-59.

[8] Jankowski. “Hotel Gunman Ran for Office 4 Times.” AAS 8 Jul. 2015: B1+.

[9] Haden-Guest, Anthony. The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco and the Culture of the Night, rev. ed. New York City: It Books, 2009; Stillman, Whit. The Last Days of Disco, With Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards. New York City: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000.

[10] Tuma, Mary. “Marriage for Everyone.” AC 3 Jul. 2015: 22+.

[11] Mailer, Norman. Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968. Cleveland: The World Publishing Co., 1968: 41.

[12] Tupper, E. Frank. The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1973: 100; Zhi Fen Shuang Xiong (Pantyhose Hero). Bojon Films Co., 1990.

[13] Hernandez, Nina. “Zimmerman Not Celebrating Marriage Equality.” AC 3 Jul. 2015: 17.

[14] “Coming Soon.” CIN May 2015, Northwest Austin ed.: 5; Kroon, Richard W. “Chop-Socky.” A/V A to Z: An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Media, Entertainment and Other Audiovisual Terms. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2010: 139.

[15] Dinges, Gary. “Feds, Kung Fu Saloon Settle Bias Against Accusation.” AAS 2 Jul. 2015: A17-18.

[16] Ying Hung Boon Sik (A Better Tomorrow). Cinema City Co./Film Workshop, 1986.

[17] “Breaking Ground.” ABJ 12 Jun. 2015: A9; “Editor’s Picks.” ABJ 12 Jun. 2015: A2.

[18] “Now Open.” CIN Jun. 2015, Northwest Austin ed.: 4.

[19] “Closings.” CIN Jun. 2015, Northwest Austin ed.: 5.

[20] “Readers’ Picks.” ABJ 3 Jul. 2015: A2.

[21] “New Ownership.” CIN Jun. 2015, Northwest Austin ed.: 5.

[22] AD No. 181n51 (May 22, 2015); Hanlon, Erica. Letter to Folio residents, 21 Jul. 2015.

[23] AD No. 144n35 (Aug. 6, 2011); Toohey, Marty. “Optimism Lingers Over Languishing Trail Project.” AAS 4 Jul. 2015: A1+.

[24] Krondl, Michael. The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore From Boston to Berlin. Chicago Review Press, 2014: 53.

[25] Bitros, George C. “Thinking Ahead of the Next Big Crash.” Cato Journal Winter 2015: 67-93.

[26] Spunt, Robert P., Meghan L. Meyer, and Matthew D. Lieberman. “The Default Mode of Human Brain Function Primes the Intentional Stance.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience Jun. 2015: 1,116-1,124.

[27] “To Our Readers.” AAS 8 Jul. 2015: A1.

[28] Curtin, Kevin. “Austin Music Scene.” AC 5 Jun. 2015: 54; Swiatecki, Chad. “Report: Austin’s Music Scene Is in Disarray, Economic Jeopardy; Here’s How to Fix It.” ABJ 5 Jun. 2015: 6.

[29] Toohey. “Music Census Sparks Talk of Bolstering Opportunity.” AAS 20 Jul. 2015: A1+.

[30] Dinges. “Offices to Replace Music Hall.” AAS 8 Jul. 2015: A1+; Pope, Colin. “How to Save the Austin Music Hall.” ABJ 10 Jul. 2015: 27.

[31] Hoffberger, Chase. “APD Officer Unfairly Punished?” AC 19 Jun. 2015: 16; Plohetski, Tony. “Austin Officer, Manager Punished.” AAS 10 Jun. 2015: B1+.

[32] Hoffberger. “Cops Behaving Badly.” AC 19 Jun. 2015: 16.

[33] Jankowski. “Fired in 2013, Reinstated Cop Is Dismissed Again.” AAS 22 Jul. 2015: B1+.

[34] Chavez, Nicole. “Daughters Sue City, Driver After Fatality.” AAS 11 Jun. 2015: B3.

[35] Hernandez. “A Death and Unanswered Questions.” AC 19 Jun. 2015: 17.

[36] Jankowski. “Police Beef Up Security for ROT Biker Rally.” AAS 11 Jun. 2015: B1+; Jankowski. “Waco Carnage’s Shadow Chills 20th Biker Party.” AAS 12 Jun. 2015: A1+.

[37] Tuma. “Affordable Housing in Trouble?” AC 19 Jun. 2015: 14.

[38] King. “Courthouse Campaign Takes Shape.” AC 26 Jun. 2015: 20.

[39] Wear, Ben. “MetroRail Operator Given Big Increase.” AAS 23 Jun. 2015: A1+.

[40] McCormick, Neil. “Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back – for Good.” The Daily Telegraph 22 Jul. 2015: 27.

[41] Wang, Jackie. “University to Keep One-Ply on Campus.” DT 6 Jul. 2015: 3.