The Technical Term for It Is “Life”

Austin Dispatches No. 215 March 15, 2019

My 50th birthday coincides with Thanksgiving. Culinarily, that’s great, and simplifying.[1] But the calendrical coincidence prevents making special plans, a la my 35th birthday party, which nevertheless several invitees couldn’t attend, having already made holiday travel arrangements out of town.


Yet if life begins at conception, then my life began more than 50 years ago on an otherwise ordinary day.[2] Still, what to do?


People who inquired expected something extravagant. Trouble is, I face other demands, such as the need or desire to replace my residence,[3] car, computer, bank, and telecommunication and medical providers.[4]


I settled on dinner out. Even then, traffic, weather and a project at work threatened my vague plan.[5] Metro evening traffic is such that even if I’d been able to plan the dinner and invite friends in advance, they might’ve idled on MoPac Expressway instead of joining me. I wouldn’t wish that on them.


Ultimately, I dined at the unfamiliar Blue Dahlia Bistro.[6] The food and service both excellent – a seeming rarity nowadays. I was particularly impressed with the salad, since those don’t normally stand out in a restaurant meal.


So it was a modest celebration. The waitress asked if someone were joining me, in a way I expected was the prelude to a socially awkward situation where I’d have to account to some stranger why I’m not married at my age or even dating, but the moment soon passed. Fittingly, the waitress’ question didn’t feel like a flirtation, for those of you wondering.


The occasion coincided with the sudden death of the lean Luke Perry, former TV star and generational contemporary. Leaving aside his possible Hollywood fast lane lifestyle, I suspect if he’d ingested more bacon cheeseburgers and chocolate desserts, he’d still be alive.[7] Closer to home, I chanced across the March 10 obituary of a Pflugerville man younger than me. The obit didn’t give cause of death, but described him as a “stellar athlete” who in adulthood lead an active, even exemplary life.[8] Yet I’ve outlived him. I suppose there’s some grand lesson to impart, but I don’t even know what I’m doing right.


Looking outward, my concerns and the Chronicle’s overlap, for once, in its March 8 cover story.[9] Of course, the article draws the wrong conclusions and never mentions the policies the newspaper’s supported for decades that exacerbate, even cause, Austin’s problems and now threaten to price out the lesser members of the ruling coalition, but that’s one of the reasons you read Austin Dispatches. Mike Clark-Madison used to be a good reporter, but maybe years of being surrounded by reflexively knee-jerk anti-bourgeois pinkos have corrupted his judgment. They’re the sort who would devour aborted fetuses in public settings so long as they were served with trendy seasonings and paired with the right beverage.[10]


Nevertheless, I’m gladdened to know to I can unburden myself from many of Austin’s current and pending common problems simply by moving to the suburbs outside Travis County.


Then again, a special advertising supplement to the March 8 Business Journal, which is normally filled with upbeat copy, surprisingly carries an article full of fretting by lenders about the market being “ ‘… in the final stages of a credit bubble.’ ”[11]


Austin Death Watch


Meanwhile, the city banned scooters downtown for South by Southwest. It’s a start.[12] SXSW organizers and University of Texas officials blame each other for the festival occurring while classes are still in session.[13] After decades of realigning Red River Street, the city and UT plan to straighten it again. If they were chiropractors, you could sue them for malpractice.[14]


The Austin zoo fired three zookeepers for reported mistreatment of animals. Austin has a zoo? I thought that was City Council meetings.[15]


The March 10 Statesman tries to turn an intrafamily murder among Western Asians who don’t belong here into anti-firearms propaganda.[16]


Cultural Canapés


Appropriately, one of the actresses the FBI arrested in a nationwide college bribery scandal belongs to David Mamet’s informal repertory company.[17] While the case provides grist for his next script, her lawyers should try to blame the late Ricky Jay for her woes.[18]


On the Metro


Feb. 21: I witnessed a rear-end collision in start-and-stop traffic along southbound MoPac Expressway by Allandale.[19]


Mar. 5: I witnessed a near-collision among luxury cars barreling out of the parking garage at Westpark Square Professional Center in Rollingwood.


Mar. 9: Found a dime outside the Dance International studio off Buell Avenue.


Neighborhood News


On March 12, I witnessed the aftermath of a collision on Burnet Road between Esperanza Crossing and Kramer Lane. On Feb. 27, KVET-FM reported a collision at southbound MoPac and Parmer Lane. On March 13, KLBJ-FM reported a collision at Highway 183 and MoPac. On March 14, KOKE-FM reported a collision at MoPac and Parmer. KXAN-TV’s traffic Web page recorded a collision at Lamplight Village Avenue and Parmer on Feb. 20 and March 14, at Research Boulevard and Burnet on Feb. 27 and March 12, and at Burnet and Rutland Drive on March 5; and at Parmer near Metric and at Metric and Bittern Hollow on March 13.

Home Archives


[1] Rooney, Andrew A. “Holiday Recipes.” And More by Andy Rooney. New York City: Atheneum, 1982: 65-66; Richman, Alan. “Hold the Cranberries.” GQ Dec. 1995: 105.

[2] Kirkpatrick, Rob. 1969: The Year Everything Changed. New York City: Skyhorse Publishing, 2009; Schaeffer, Francis A., and C. Everett Koop. Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, rev. ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1983: 18.

[3] AD No. 195 (May 7, 2017); AD No. 196 (July 13, 2017); AD No. 205 (May 28, 2018).

[4] Eisler, Dan. Letter to David Morris and Debbie Morris, 1 Dec. 2018.

[5] “February Weather Was Just Wild.” AAS 5 Mar. 2019: B1.

[6] Haupt, Melanie. “Communal Ground.” AC 13 Jul. 2012: 32-33.

[7] Nahas, Aili, Elizabeth Leonard, and Myndi Milliken. “Luke Perry 1966-2019.” People 18 Mar. 2019: 40-46.

[8] “Kevin Ward Moody Obituary.” AAS 10 Mar. 2019: B5.

[9] Clark-Madison, Mike. “The Next Bust.” AC 8 Mar. 2019: 16+.

[10] Gau Ji (Dumplings). Applause Pictures, 2004.

[11] Toll, David. “Private Eye: Creditors See Yellow Lights Flashing in Middle Market.” ABJ 8 Mar. 2019: B4.

[12] Bradshaw, Kelsey. “Scooters Banned From Sixth Street for SXSW.” AAS 28 Feb. 2019: B1+; Jankowski, Philip. “Police Could Ticket Unsafe Scooter Riders.” AAS 1 Mar. 2019: A1+.

[13] King, Michael. “It Ain’t Easy Being Weird.” AC 15 Mar. 2019: 8+.

[14] Clark-Madison. “City, UT Agree to Change Red River’s Flow.” AC 1 Mar. 2019: 12.

[15] Findell, Elizabeth. “3 Keepers at Austin Zoo Fired After Report by Statesman.” AAS 7 Mar. 2019: A1+.

[16] Huber, Mary. “Police: Son’s Mental State Worried Parents.” AAS 10 Mar. 2019: B1+.

[17] AD No. 150n66 (April 16, 2012); Autullo, Ryan, and Ralph K.M. Haurwitz. “UT Fires Tennis Coach in Scandal Fallout.” AAS 14 Mar. 2019: A1+.

[18] Gates, Anita, Jason M. Bailey, and Matt Stevens. “Ricky Jay, 70, Magician Who Pierced Watermelons With Playing Cards, Dies.” NYT 26 Nov. 2018: B7.

[19] AD No. 100n6 (Sep. 3, 2007).