Adventures in Parmer South

Austin Dispatches
No. 21
Oct. 1, 2000

Autumn arrived in Austin with the precision of a Broadway tango. On cue, leaves fell, temperatures reclined, and clouds monopolized the sky after Labor Day.

The change of seasons also marked a change of locations for me and my co-workers in Dell's Information Development division. We moved into Parmer South ("PS2"), the new Dell property near Parmer Lane and Interstate 35, off Exit 425.1 Everybody's adjusting to going from actual offices ("Braker C") to a giant cube farm out of "Office Space."2 The flu that hit the division the first week in the building, which we mistook for office-related allergies, probably didn't help. On the plus side, the building gets lots of natural light and the cubes have more desk space.

The property surrounding the complex is slated for development, a characteristic shared by the frontier of north Travis County along I-35.3 A new shopping mall opened two weeks ago at I-35 and Farm-to-Market Road 1325; several motels and apartment complexes are being built in the area between Parmer and Round Rock.4

Meanwhile, the Sep. 18 issue of The New Republic contends that Texas is becoming more like the rest of the United States, instead of a bastion of rugged individualists. That's a good thing, according to author Benjamin Soskis.5 He seems to think high-tech foreigners and "Yankees" will turn Texas into another New England or Northwest, but his evidence is scattershot and insubstantial.6 Moreover, most people I've met in Texas who moved here from elsewhere did so because they see it as a bastion of rugged individualists (Now you can also get a good corned beef on rye).7 That's true even in Austin, which Soskis holds up as a "good" example to the rest of the state (I know because I moved here). Soskis' article is the best piece of fiction I've read in The New Republic since it fired Stephen Glass for making up stories.8

Arizona Follies

Meanwhile, the renegade Arizona Libertarian Party picked science fiction writer L. Neil Smith for president, instead of national nominee Harry Browne, according to Ballot Access News.9

Smith couldn't sell ice water in the Sahara, judging by his non-fiction writings and campaign statements.10 To balance the ticket, I suppose, his running mate is Vin Suprynowicz, editorialist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I met Suprynowicz nearly a year ago at the Borders bookstore in Mesa, Ariz., during his book tour.11 Suprynowicz, incidentally, works with Don Ham, my former boss at the Nevada Appeal.12

Browne lost his lawsuit to appear on the Arizona ballot in November as an independent, according to Ballot Access News.13

In other news from Arizona, The Meat Puppets, Phoenix's biggest contribution to '80s hardcore, now reside in Austin, according to the Sep. 7 Phoenix New Times.14

Music Notes

For the Labor Day weekend,  I attended the Austin Salsa Festival in Waterloo Park (not to be confused with the Hot Sauce Festival from the previous week).15 It was like a little bit of The Bronx transplanted to my hometown. Puerto Ricans and Cubans do not constitute the normal demographic of central Texas.16 I consumed shaved ice and watched the astounding, sultry dancers amid a profusion of tropic print shirts, gold jewelry and platform heels. I also heard some fantastic musicians.

More recently, I saw the vibraphonist Stefon Harris and his band in East Austin.17 The set was modern jazz at its finest: angular, 64th-note flurries; complicated chord progressions; dissonance; polyrhythmic, odd-meter shifting tempos; and also a lot of emotional joy and beauty.

Last but not least, I'd like to note the birth of my new nephew, Hayden Michael.
No. 19
No. 20

1 Hudgins, Matt. "Dell to Add More Space." ABJ 14 Jan. 2000: 1+.
2 Glanton, Eileen. "Cubicle Culture Club." AP. WTH 26 Feb. 1998: 8A; Office Space. Dir. Mike Judge. 20th Century Fox Film Corp., 1999.
3 Hudgins. "Industrial Space on the Way." ABJ 24 Mar. 2000: 1+.
4 Smith, Cheryl. "No Man's Land." AC 9 June 2000: 24+.
5 Soskis, Benjamin. "Lone Star Joining." TNR 18 Sep. 2000: 23-27.
6 Cohn, Jonathan. "The Granite Shifts: New Hampshire Learns to Love Government." TNR 7 Feb. 2000: 23; Egan, Timothy. "Portland, Seattle: Go Away, We're Doing Fine." NYT. AAS 9 Nov. 1997: A25; Garreau, Joel. The Nine Nations of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981: 14-48, 243-286; Moore, Stephen "Is the Northeast Necessary?" TAS 1997: 36.
    On the misuse of "Yankees," see Mencken, H.L. "Why Are We Yankees?" New York American 7 Jan. 1935. Rpt. The Impossible H.L. Mencken: A Selection of His Best Newspaper Stories. Ed. Marion Elizabeth Rodgers. New York City: Anchor Books, 1991: 484-486.
7 Opler, Lorne. "Noshing Kosher." AC 29 Sep. 2000: 62+; Pack, M.M."Cuisines." AC 29 Sep. 2000: 64+; Postrel, Virginia. "The Region Bashers." Forbes 30 Oct. 2000: 98.
8 "The Editors: To Our Readers." TNR 1 Jun. 1998: 8.
9 Winger, Richard. "Arizona Libertarian Party Picks L. Neil Smith." BAN 1 Oct. 2000: 6.
10 Smith, L. Neil. "Robert Heinlein Remembered." NOMOS Fall/Winter 1988. Rpt. in Lever Action: Essays on Liberty. Las Vegas: Mountain Media, 2001: 415-416.
11 Suprynowicz, Vin. Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998. Las Vegas: Mountain Media, 1999.
12 Eisler, Dan. "New Business Editor to Double as Copy Editor." Nevada Appeal. 30 Oct. 1994: A2.
13 Winger. "5 Ballot Access Wins, 5 Losses, 3 Still Pending." BAN, 1 Oct. 2000: 1.
14 Bass, Shermakaye. "Master of Puppets." PNT 7 Sep. 2000: 101-102+.
15 "Happenings." XL 24 Aug. 2000: 20; "Music." Ed. Christopher Gray. AC 1 Sep. 2000: 108; Walsh, Robb. "Gathering 'Round the Flame." 2000 Hot Sauce Festival Guide: 1.
16 Hardwig, Jay. "Rhythm is King." AC 25 Jun. 1999: 54+.
17 Salamon, Jeff. "Ears Wide Open." XL 14 Sep. 2000: 12.