A Long View of a Short Move

Austin Dispatches No. 196 July 13, 2017



The day I obtained the keys to the new apartment and began moving in, a deer regarded me from the riparian strip by the parking lot. As I sweated ascending three flights of stairs in the humid, pre-thunderstorm heat while carrying my CD player that I didn’t want to entrust to the otherwise capable movers, I tried to recall whether seeing the deer was an auspicious augury.[1]


No, as subsequent weeks have demonstrated. Maybe whatever good fortune I experienced in my life has finally run out, never to return. Since Greystar forced me out of my previous apartment, everything’s gone wrong. Daily, I must contend with move-related aggravations that range from slow dissipation of past achievement to grist for stand-up material to crises. Much of the latter takes the form of computer-telephony devices that cost dearly in money and research time, requiring fixes or replacement, which also cost dearly in money and research time.[2]


These new aggravations join old problems of the last thwarting five years that remain unsatisfactorily resolved. At my age, I should have attained the posterior blessings depicted in the concluding chapter of Émile Zola’s “Fécondité.”[3] Or at least lifting nothing heavier than a $100 bill.


Instead, I still reside in a one-bedroom apartment, but instead of pacing back and forth while my life is stalled (Fig. 1), I can pace about in circles (Fig. 2):[4]




Between apartment matters, a baby-voiced representative of the eight generation or so of recruiters in my career asked me why I’ve been out of work so many months, before she mentions a three-month contract in Seguin that pays less than what I earned when I moved to Austin.


On the Town


Jun. 14: I treated my friend Jody Lockshin to dinner at in Round Rock. Jody was gracious enough to provide some advice to my lease concerns while running her real estate business.[5] I figured that deserved at least a meal.


Jun. 21: Found 11 cents at the Parmer Crossing shopping plaza.


Snide Comments About Foreign Leaders


The news regularly covers famous people enduring their woes publicly. Admittedly, a consolation thinner than veal Milanese.[6] For example, British tabloids implicate Prince William in a corrupt bargain about soccer.[7] We must, of course, consider the sources, and hew to our Anglospheric presumption of innocence before a fair, impartial investigation … but “guilty, guilty, guilty!”[8] Now, off with his head.[9] Perhaps courtesy of those dusky invaders his family let into the country.


If Russian President Vladimir Putin looks like one of the more memorable James Bond villains, Xi Jinping, Putin’s counterpart for the People’s Republic of China, resembles a Hong Kong character actor, typecast as a slick mobster or a corrupt businessman.[10] In every photo I’ve seen, Xi smirks, as though he’s realized his foreign rivals aren’t as formidable as he imagined as a young aspiring politician.


Music Notes


The music industry mines its vaults deeper for ‘80s recordings to get the box set treatment, including the revived King Crimson,[11] the late, great Allan Holdsworth,[12] and numerous jazz musicians on the Black Saint and Soul Note labels.[13] Even “Weird Al” Yankovic’s oeuvre will be compiled on a set for the Christmas season.[14] Meanwhile, Knitting Factory Records re-released Fela Kuti’s box set to include three discs of missing recordings keen-eared fans noted seven years ago.[15]


And after all this time, NPR is finally good for something. A complete Jaco Pastorius concert broadcast on the taxpayer-funded radio network is out on CD.[16]


Austin Death Watch


Because of a new state law cracking down on foreign trespassers, federal out-of-state Democrats urged the South by Southwest festival to leave Texas. This could’ve been a win-win for the rest of us. If SXSW leaves, Austinites aren’t stymied trying to get about downtown in late winter. If SXSW stays, the impresarios are just money-grubbing hypocrites who don’t care about the oppressed.[17] The impresarios chose to stay.[18]


Furthermore, some pinko in the June 15 Nokoa writes “SXSW is like the crown jewel of Austin’s ability to promote itself as the coolest possible city for talented millennials to want to flock to. The loss of SXSW would threaten its high tech and venture capital startups, which are now the main drivers of Austin’s aging regional area real estate boom.”[19]


However, a UT business professor told the Business Journal that tech manufacturing jobs have declined in Austin, and the increased cost of living here, including real estate, erodes Austin’s competitive advantages.[20] The same increased cost of living adversely effects the local cultural offerings, i.e., what you can do when you’re not working, which in turn erodes Austin’s competitive advantages.[21] For example, the June 9 Chronicle reports a profusion of local restaurants along Highway 290 between Oak Hill and Dripping Springs, because the rent costs and bureaucratic red tape make opening eateries in Austin increasingly impossible.[22] The July 7 Business Journal reports local wages have declined the past 10 years once rising rents are accounted for.[23]


Meanwhile, the developers sell the people still moving to Austin on a simulacrum of its once-effervescent social and cultural opportunities that meddling and expense are driving away.[24]


Don’t look to Austin’s current power elite to fix these problems it created. Its members share ossified thinking. For example, local architects have expressed concern that the City’s proposed new land-use regulations are rigid and “ ‘incompatible with Austin’s large variety of lot sizes & shapes, dramatic terrain, and cherished urban forest,’ ” among other problems.[25] On the plus side, the new regulations threaten the Austin Chronicle’s office.[26]


The power elite also share an aversion to anyone who thinks differently. The City Council shot down a councilwoman’s nominee to the Bond Board, a black businessman who’s a Republican and a gun rights advocate.[27]


After harming small merchants with their Highway 183A toll road project 10 years ago, transportation officials plan to do it again with a toll road expansion project between MoPac Expressway and Rach-to-Market Road 620 lasting until 2022. Presumed cost: $650 million.[28] A new report confirms people avoid downtown because of a parking shortage.[29] The June 26 Statesman reports hardly anybody uses the $14 million Barton Creek bike bridge.[30]


Neighborhood News


On June 8, I witnessed an SUV-driving woman nearly become an 18-wheeler’s roadkill when she tentatively tried to switch to a left turn lane at the MoPac southbound frontage road and Duval Road. On June 28, I witnessed a near-collision at Gracy Farms Lane and Stonehollow Drive. The Statesman’s Traffic Web page reported a collision at Burnet and McNeil roads on June 9.


Workers are renovating Sunrise Mini-Mart at Gracy Farms and Metric Boulevard to become a 7-Eleven. Ownership of a dentistry practice has changed hands.[31] Amazon.com bought Whole Foods.[32] Another brewery has opened along Metric.[33] The June Tribeza carries a feature on residents of The Domain,[34] where eight businesses have opened and three have closed.[35] The local H-E-B carries Bola Pizza in Aisle 12. The pizza’s hardly worthy of the name.


Business Roundup


Nestlé considers selling its sweets division, including famous candy brands.[36]


Home Archives


[1] Fletcher, John. Deer. London: Reaktion Books, 2014: Ch. 5.

[2] AD No. 180n8 (Feb. 10, 2015); Eisler, Dan. “I May Be on a Fool’s Errand....” E-mail to Austin Tech Writers, 26 May 2017; Eisler. “Seeking Repair Technician Recommendation(s).” E-mail to Austin Tech Writers, 21 Jun. 2017; Fingleton, Eamonn. In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999: 65.

[3] Zola, Émile. Fécondité. Paris: Charpentier, 1899. Trans. and Ed. Ernest Alfred Vizetelly. Fruitfulness. New York City: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1900: Ch. 23.

[4] Eisler. “Floor Plans.” E-mail to Corey Bjerregaard, 24 May 2017; Oppenheimer, Jerry. Seinfeld: The Making of an American Icon. New York City: HarperCollins, 2002: 145.

[5] AD No. 195n12 (May 7, 2017).

[6] LaFrieda, Pat, and Carolynn Carreño. Meat: Everything You Need to Know. New York City: Atria Books, 2014: 24.

[7] Gysin, Christopher, and Arthur Martin. “William Dragged Into World Cup Storm Over Cameron’s ‘Secret Hotel Room Stitch-Up.’ ” Daily Mail 28 Jun. 2017: 5.

[8] Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Ed. M. Keith Booker. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2014: II, 557.

[9] Carroll, Lewis [Charles Lutwidge Dodgson]. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 1865. Rpt. Boston: The Barta Press, 1897: 54; Laughland, John. A History of Political Trials: From Charles I to Saddam Hussein. Oxford, U.K.: Peter Lang, 2008: Ch. 1.

[10] Bordwell, David. Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment, rev. ed. Madison, Wis.: Irvington Way Institute Press, 2011; China Entering the Xi Jinping Era. Ed. Zheng Yongian and Lance L.P. Gore. Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge, 2015; The James Bond Archives, rev. ed. Ed. Paul Duncan. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2015; Lucas, Edward. The New Cold War: The Future of Russia and the Threat to the West, rev. ed. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

[11] King Crimson. On (and Off) the Road 1981-1984. Discipline Global Mobile/Panegyric KCCBX 8, 2016.

[12] AD No. 94n1 (Nov. 25, 2006); Holdsworth, Allan. The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! Manifesto MFO 46502, 2017; Milkowski, Bill. “Remembering Allan Holdsworth.” DB Jul. 2017: 22.

[13] Scheinin, Richard. “Essential Listening Jazz Jewels of 2011.” SJMN 29 Dec. 2011, Valley final ed.: 7T.

[14] Truitt, Brian. “ ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Relives His Younger Days on Screen and in Tunes.” USAT 23 Mar. 2017: 5D.

[15] The Complete Works of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, expanded ed. Knitting Factory KFR5011, 2016.

[16] Pastorius, Jaco. Truth, Liberty & Soul: Live in NYC: The Complete 1982 NPR Jazz Alive! Recording. Resonance HCD 2027, 2017.

[17] “Headlines.” AC 9 Jun. 2017: 8; “Politicians Ask SXSW to Ditch Austin Over ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Law.” ABJ 16 Jun. 2017: A5.

[18] Hicks, Nolan. “SXSW Declines Request to Move.” AAS 8 Jun. 2017: B1.

[19] Baker, Roger Jr. “A Progressive Perspective on Austin Politics.” Nokoa 15 Jun. 2017: 2.

[20] Cronin, Mike. “There’s Cause for Concern on Austin’s Tech Scene.” ABJ 16 Jun. 2017: A6.

[21] “Austin’s Retail Landscape Tight As a Drum.” ABJ 16 Jun. 2017: A17.

[22] Haupt, Melanie. “On the Edge.” AC 9 Jun. 2017: 34.

[23] Theis, Michael. “Affordability Takes Another Hit.” ABJ 7 Jul. 2017: 10.

[24] AD No. 181n34 (May 22, 2015); AD No. 189 (July 4, 2016); AD No. 194 (March 5, 2017);

[25] Theis. “CodeNEXT Shortcomings Identified by Austin Architects Worried About ‘Missing Middle’ Housing.” ABJ 16 Jun. 2017: A4.

[26] Barbaro, Nick. “Transect, We Hardly Knew Ye.” AC 7 Jul. 2017: 8.

[27] Adjavon, Tsoke (Chuch). “Austin City Council Reject Cargill’s Nomination to the Bond Board.” The Villager 16 Jun. 2017: 3; Wyatt, Tommy. “Is Our Council Broken?” The Villager 16 Jun. 2017: 1.

[28] Denney, Amy. “US 183 North Toll Project Moving Forward; Construction Could Start in February 2019.” CIN Jun. 2017, Northwest Austin ed.: 12.

[29] Theis. “490 Football Fields of Parking in Downtown Austin but Not a Space in Sight; Here’s What the DAA Wants to Do About It.” ABJ 23 Jun. 2017: 8.

[30] Wear, Ben. “Bike Bridge, So Far, Just a $14 Million Overlook.” AAS 26 Jun. 2017: B1.

[31] “New Ownership.” CIN May 2017, Northwest Austin ed.: 5.

[32] Anderson, Will, and James Rodriguez. “Welcome to Amazon’s Jungle, Whole Foods.” ABJ 23 Jun. 2017: 4-7.

[33] “Impacts.” CIN Jun. 2017, Northwest Austin ed.: 7.

[34] Sonnenberg, Brittani. “Build It and They Will Come.” Tribeza Jun. 2017: 76-81.

[35] “Impacts.” CIN May 2017, Northwest Austin ed.: 4-5+; “Impacts.” CIN Jun. 2017, Northwest Austin ed.: 7.

[36] “Nestlé Eyes Up U.S. Sale.” The Times 16 Jun. 2017: 56.