Austin Dispatches No. 208 Aug. 18, 2018

Stupid motherfuckers will be the death of me. The evening of July 15, the intersection light at Springdale Road and Highway 290 turned green. The two cars ahead of me started, then inexplicably stopped. I immediately, loudly sustained my horn to prevent what happened anyway.

Someone hit the back of my car. Repair estimates flashed before my eyes at the moment of impact. A dumpy Latina driving her boyfriend’s Dodge Challenger profusely apologized in the parking lot of Alterius Career Colleges for “not paying attention.”

Surprisingly, my bumper sustained merely cosmetic damage. The Challenger fared worse, with a dented license plate. She and I decided not to involve insurers. Still, I could’ve ended as dead as CodeNEXT.[1] No wonder I can never get ahead. Obviously, this incident did nothing to dispel widespread negative stereotypes of women or Mexican drivers.[2] She has to go back … to driver’s ed.[3]

I said nothing the next day at work, but my officemates slunk around me like guilty dogs anticipating a beating.  

Austin Death Watch

Among the factors that lead to the City Council’s approval of a soccer stadium deal in my neighborhood, I suspect the clincher was a local LaRouchie leading opposition to it.[4] She has a near-perfect record of supporting the losing side of municipal issues while antagonizing the other conspiracy-minded pinkos of the power elite. Even the Travis County Libertarian Party’s sad sack contingent shunned her.

Austin Energy’s July newsletter offers a lot of dubious advice about lowering electric bills.[5] No, LED bulbs are crap. Moreover, it’s summertime in Texas. It’s why air conditioning is widespread. Paying more than $100 a month for physical comfort and keeping cockroaches at bay isn’t something I’d complain about. Note the utility doesn’t offer to stop charging me, despite its concern. Meanwhile, since at least July 19, the National Weather Service’s numerous excessive heat warnings advise us to stay indoors and use air conditioning if possible.

And why do Austinites endure a municipal utility? According to a new history, Austin’s first dam, in 1893, was built in a bad way in a bad location, ran 20 percent over budget, and failed to generate the amount of electricity promised. Then the dam burst in 1900. The aftermath nearly bankrupted the City, and put residents on the hook for the next three decades.[6] Some things about Austin haven’t changed.

Moreover, rising property taxes have claimed yet another venerable eatery.[7] Authorities fished a corpse out of Waller Creek downtown.[8] Two Capital Metro buses crashed into each other. Another bus caught fire. Cap Metro halted service on 28 others, and I noticed my commute was about five minutes faster because buses weren’t getting in the way.[9]

The local power elite publicly frets after a fraction of the pedestrians I see blithely crossing major thoroughfares against traffic far from crosswalks, which itself is a fraction of pedestrians doing this daily, finally got clipped, probably by the same driver who crashed into me.[10]

Austin’s Equity Office suggests renaming Austin because its namesake owned slaves.[11] In this same office, blacks and browns are at each other’s throats over an escalating workplace complaint.[12] Given the mentality of the people who run Austin, I suggest renaming the city “Stalingrad.”

Meanwhile, Saharan dust, killer bees, and West Nile virus-bearing mosquitos fill the sky.[13]

Neighborhood News

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, the Statesman’s traffic Web page reported a collision at MoPac Expressway and Loop 360 on July 23, and Aug. 1 and 13; at MoPac and Highway 183 on July 27, and at Braker Lane and Burnet Road on Aug. 17.

After more years than I can recall, workers repaved the intersection at Metric Boulevard and Lamplight Village Avenue. On Aug. 11, the traffic lights at this intersection failed.

Five businesses have opened in the neighborhood. Another three have expanded or relocated.[14] Big Lots at the Parmer Crossing shopping center has remodeled.

On the Town

Aug. 5: My odometer passed 100,000 miles. This has happened twice before, on previous cars, but the Honda I drive now is the longest-lasting car I’ve owned – no thanks to other drivers.

Aug. 14:  Found a dime outside the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Media Indigest

I met the recently deplatformed commentator Alex Jones through mutual acquaintances about 20 years ago, when he was becoming locally famous.[15] In conversation, he didn’t know who H.L. Mencken was, so I didn’t take him as seriously as his Chronicalista detractors, for example.[16] Within six years, he’d developed a national reputation. On C-SPAN, an author of a sociological analysis of conspiracy theory fielded many call-in questions about him.[17]

The Statesman’s new owner will axe its Spanish-language counterpart in October.[18]

Business Roundup

Midmonth, I watched the landscape crew at the office blow the leaves from the lawn onto the parking lot in the morning, and blow the leaves from the parking lot back onto the lawn in the afternoon. A coworker explained I’m just supposed to notice them looking busy.

Notes in the Margins

My high school class was supposed to hold a reunion August’s first weekend, but as with five years ago, I couldn’t find any evidence online that it actually happened. Maybe it didn’t.

Home Archives


[1] Barbaro, Nick. “ZAP!” AC 10 Aug. 2018: 12; Jankowski, Philip. “Suddenly, CodeNext Is Code Nixed.” AAS 2 Aug. 2018: A1+; Marloff, Sarah. “So Goes CodeNEXT.” AC 10 Aug. 2018: 18.

[2] Demaris, Ovid [Ovide E. Desmarais]. Poso del Mundo: Inside the Mexican-American Border, From Tijuana to Matamoros. 1970. Rpt. New York City: Pocket Books, 1971: 40-41.

[3] Jha, Lalit K. “Trump: All Illegal Immigrants in U.S. Will Have to Go Back.” India – West 4 Mar. 2016: A20.

[4] Barbaro. “Major League.” AC 17 Aug. 2018: 14; Hernandez, Nina. “Throwin’ Shade.” AC 17 Aug. 2018: 16; Lyttle, Kevin, Jankowski, and Chris Ellis. “Austin City Council Votes ‘Yes’ to MLS.” AAS 16 Aug. 2018: A1+; Salazar, Daniel. “Austin Agrees to Work Out a Deal With Precourt.” ABJ 17 Aug. 2018: 4; Sanders, Austin. “ ‘Now, We Play Soccer.’ ” AC 17 Aug. 2018: 16; Sanders. “Transfer Fees.” AC 3 Aug. 2018: 14.

[5] “Enjoy Summer Savings.” PowerPlus July 2018: 1.

[6] Clare, Elizabeth H. Images of America: The Austin Dam Disaster of 1900. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2018.

[7] Barnes, Michael. “After 65 Years, Frisco Shop Will Soon Be Closing Up Shop on Burnet Road.” AAS 20 Jul. 2018: B1.

[8] Bradshaw, Kelsey. “Man’s Body Found in Waller Creek.” AAS 26 Jul. 2018: B3.

[9] Bradshaw, and Mary Huber. “Buses Sidelined After One Catches Fire.” AAS 1 Aug. 2018: B1.

[10] Bradshaw. “Pedestrian Deaths Renew Warnings.” AAS 28 Jul. 2018: A1+.

[11] Jankowski. “Report Raises Idea of Renaming Austin.” AAS 28 Jul. 2018: A1.

[12] Tuma, Mary. “The Ethics of Equity.” AC 17 Aug. 2018: 15.

[13] AD No. 145n10 (Oct. 8, 2011); Bradshaw. “Fourth May See Relief From 100s.” AAS 3 Jul. 2018: A1; Laughead, Laura. “UT Needs to Be Careful.” DT 24 Jul. 2018: 4; “2nd West Nile Case Found in Travis County People.” AAS 26 Jul. 2018: B1.

[14] “Impacts.” CIN Jul. 2018, Northwest Austin ed.: 6-7.

[15] Foster, Daniel. “Against the Rage Machine.” NR 27 Aug. 2018: 56.

[16] Mencken, H.L. The Days Trilogy, 2nd rev. ed. Ed. Marion Elizabeth Rodgers. New York City: Library of America, 2014.

[17] Barkun, Michael. A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America, rev. ed. Berkeley, Calif.: U of California P, 2013; Washington Journal. C-SPAN, 12 Mar. 2004.

[18] “Gutting Our Daily.” AC 17 Aug. 2018: 12.