Austin Dispatches

No. 213

Jan. 21, 2019

e213fig2The closing holidays of 2018, if not as dead as The Weekly Standard, were much like the regular days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.[1] This was unreflective of my mood, but resulted from external factors.

Indeed, much-needed improved circumstances, and joyful Halloween celebrations, induced hope that the other locals would regain their winter holiday spirits, the better to generate new good anecdotes instead having to rely on receding stores of nostalgia. Alas, ‘twas not to be.

Colds afflicted half the family when we chatted Christmas Day, thereby eliminating any regret about not celebrating the holiday with them. The Austin metropolitan area seemed to experience a dearth of events, which were otherwise uninteresting, or above my price range, or under attended, or attended by a crowd I assessed as not worth the trouble of socializing with when I arrived, e.g., Millennial hipsters.[2]

For example, an East Austin club opted for a New Year’s Eve homage to the hit makers of 2001.[3] I could tell by the names cited in the previews that it couldn’t possibly be as entertaining as my holiday excursions on either end of that calendar year.[4] Once again, I stayed home, forlornly watching the fireworks above the skyline from my bedroom window. The next morning the papers reported that early on New Year’s Day, amidst the fog and fireworks smoke, 32 vehicles piled up on State Highway 130 near Pflugerville.[5]

Unfortunately, I derived the same impression from other cities’ calendar listings. I hope these aren’t the early days of an intensifying trend. Also, inclement weather hindered us all throughout the period.[6]

Dec. 18, I saw women wear yellow reflective vests at Metric Boulevard and Braker Lane. I first thought they were showing solidarity with the protesters in France, but instead they were soliciting for charity.[7] Meanwhile, I received a card-sized envelope from my brokerage that was empty – a fitting symbol.[8]

On Dec. 23, the Christmas lights festooned upon every vertical object in downtown Round Rock illuminated a dime I found on the sidewalk.

Dec. 26, a friend and I lunched at a barbecue place. Among the highlights of our chat: agreement about the superiority of off-brand plastic wrap sold at dollar stores to the name brands that cling to themselves too much.

Cultural Canapés

e213fig3Three separate Internet-assisted cultural browsings merged into an introduction to 1970s gialli, the heyday of a genre somewhere between psychological thrillers and horror flicks.[9] The ones I like appear to be excuses for Italian film crews to trowel on cinematic style like so many pizza toppings.[10] Indeed, more cinematic style than many big-budget serious films. Frequently, even that country’s trashiest offerings have superb cinematography, set design, costumes and soundtracks to offset scuzzy subject matter and deficient plots and acting.

After seeing one of the acclaimed giallo masterpieces, “Deep Red,” I learned many people online with opinions object to the original director’s cut that veers into romantic comedy between the two leads. These people have no problem with lurid decapitations and stabbings, but flirtatious banter is unacceptable.[11]

Political Follies

Elizabeth Warren, sanctimonious socialist pseudo-squaw who squawks with forked tongue, is on the warpath for wampum to become the Great White Mother.[12] Here’s hoping the campaign trail of tears scalps that Indian giver.[13]

Bevo and Butt-Heads

Shockingly, the University of Texas System shed 65 administrative apparatchiks as a cost-cutting measure. More job losses may follow.[14] I can’t recall something like this happening before anywhere. It may be the start of the higher education collapse various people have predicted.[15]

A Travis County grand jury indicted an ex-UT Law School official for theft and money laundering.[16] A drunken college boy crashed an electric scooter Dec. 12.[17]

Austin Death Watch

Meanwhile, a jogger who tripped over a scooter in the Shoal Creek neighborhood and wound up with $2,400 in hospital bills is suing the rental company.[18]

The Austin Police Department fired a commander, mostly for engaging in kinky sex that violates the department’s policies. At least, according to the local papers.[19] The usual suspects didn’t rise to his defense, so they must dislike him more for being a cop.

A new City audit uncovered failure in the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development office, using language worthy of Austin Dispatches to describe it.[20] Incidentally, voters approved a $250-million bond measure for affordable housing in the November election.[21] Another City audit claims an Austin Energy worker was deer-hunting while on the job.[22]

Business Roundup

The Jan. 1 Statesman reports on a “rage room” that opened in Hutto where paying customers can smash inanimate objects to vent their spleens. Incidentally, I came up with this idea decades ago, but my parents thought it was impractical. Who knew?[23]

Speaking of pizza, the parent company of Mr. Gatti’s Pizza, purveyor of one of the worst excuses for that culinary staple, filed for bankruptcy.[24] Speaking of failure, I reckon Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ recent travails are punishment enough for his company botching delivery of a Christmas gift from my parents.[25]

Neighborhood News

KXAN-TV’s traffic Web page reported two collisions at Burnet Road and McHale Court on Dec. 19. On Jan. 18, I witnessed a near-collision at Braker Lane and the southbound frontage lane of MoPac Expressway.

The H-E-B at Parmer Square has new shopping carts and self-checkout lanes. A Chronicalista critic proclaims the Food Court at Hana World Market among Austin’s 10 best grocery store restaurants.[26] As of this issue, utility work is ongoing upon the Gracy Farms Lane streetscape between Hobby Horse Court and Burnet.

Media Indigest

Media conglomerate A.H. Belo announced layoffs Jan. 7, including two dozen newsroom staffers at the Dallas Morning News.[27]

On the Town

Jan. 15: I witnessed the aftermath of a traffic-snarling collision at Research and Lamar boulevards.

Home Archives


[1] Podhoretz, John. “The Murder of The Weekly Standard.” Commentary Jan. 2019: 1; “The Weekly Standard Ends 23-Year Publishing Run.” TNA 21 Jan. 2019: 8.

[2] AD No. 145n44 (Oct. 8, 2011); AD No. 192n20 (Nov. 21, 2016).

[3] Curtin, Kevin. “NYE 2001!” AC 28 Dec. 2018: 50.

[4] AD No. 25 (Jan. 4, 2001); AD No. 34 (Jan. 14, 2002).

[5] “No Scooters Involved.” AC 4 Jan. 2019: 4.

[6] American-Statesman Staff. “TxDOT Prepares for Icy Weather.” AAS 1 Jan. 2019: B1+; Moreno-Lozano, Luz. “2019 to Bring a Chilly Blast.” AAS 31 Dec. 2018: B1+.

[7] Rubin, Alissa J., and Aurelien Breeden. “Yellow Vests, Fueled by Discontent, Confront Macron With a New Reality.” NYT 18 Dec. 2018: A11.

[8] “Whoosh: What the End-of-Year Turmoil Means for 2019.” The Economist 5 Jan. 2019: 50-51.

[9] Hughes, Howard. Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide From Classics to Cult. London: I.B. Tauris, 2011: Ch. 11.

[10] Barrett, Liz. Pizza: A Slice of American History. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press, 2014.

[11] Profondo Russo (Deep Red). Rizzoli Film/SEDA Spettacoli s.p.a.-Rome, 1975.

[12] Allen, Nick. “Trump Mocks Warren’s Challenge.” Daily Telegraph 2 Jan. 2019: 13.

[13] White, Richard. "It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own": A New History of the American West. Norman, Okla.: U of Oklahoma P, 1991: 87.

[14] Haurwitz, Ralph K.M. “UT System Lays off 65 Workers; More Cuts Expected.” AAS 9 Jan. 2019: B1+.

[15] Reynolds, Glenn H. The Higher Education Bubble. New York City: Encounter Books, 2012.

[16] Huber, Mary. “Ex-UT Law School Official Indicted for Theft.” AAS 21 Dec 2018: B1+.

[17] Bradshaw, Kelsey. “Don’t Drink and Scoot, Police Warn After Crash.” AAS 20 Dec. 2018: B3.

[18] AD No. 211n13 (Nov. 14, 2018); Bradshaw. “Man Says He Tripped on Scooter, Sues Company.” AAS 14 Jan. 2019: B1+.

[19] AD No. 210n16 (Oct. 21, 2018); Hernandez, Nina. “Well, That Got Dark.” AC 4 Jan. 2019: 8; Plohetski, Tony. “Police Official Fired Over Sex Strangulation Admission.” AAS 21 Dec. 2018: A1+.

[20] Findell, Elizabeth. “Audit: Housing Office in Disorder.” AAS 24 Dec. 2018: A1+.

[21] AD No. 211n3; Marloff, Sarah. “Propositions: Nine Up, Two Down.” AC 9 Nov. 2018: 21.

[22] Findell. “Audit: City Worker Hunted Deer on the Job.” AAS 3 Jan. 2019: B1+.

[23] Osborn, Claire. “Hutto Business Offers Way to Smash Through Negative Feelings.” AAS 1 Jan. 2019: B1+.

[24] AD No. 42 (Oct. 30, 2002); Hawkins, Lori. “Mr. Gatti’s Files for Bankruptcy Protection.” AAS 11 Jan. 2019: B6+; “Mr. Gatti’s Delivered to Bankruptcy.” ABJ 18 Jan. 2019: 10.

[25] Eisler, Dan. “Why We Had Problems With Amazon.” E-mail to Mike Eisler, 6 Dec. 2018; Mcniece, Mia et al. “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos $137 Billion Divorce.” People 28 Jan. 2019: 46-47.

[26] Beyda, Emily. “Top 10 Grocery Store Restaurants.” AC 28 Dec. 2018: 30.

[27] “Downsizing in Dallas.” AC 11 Jan. 2019: 6.