Austin Dispatches No. 218 July 15, 2019

The Austin Chronicle’s July 12 calendar listings included a “Stand Up to Fascists” rally downtown the next day.[1] I can’t find any evidence in the local papers or online that it happened as scheduled. Yet I’m certain the local mob of pinkos and enragés that would’ve likely attended didn’t read Austin Dispatches’ previous disquisition on fascism.

Otherwise, the attendees would really have something to protest – namely, the policies dictated by our local power elite, such as environmentally impactful civic works projects like toll roads and light rail,[2] and sweetheart development deals for politically connected corporations, like the soccer stadium to be built in my neighborhood. The June 28 Chronicle inadvertently details various flaws with the proposed stadium that could scuttle its viability – but not before it’s built, operational, and inconveniencing those of us who live here.[3]

By this paragraph, those anti-fascists would lose interest. Expectedly so. Even if the critique didn’t hit too close to their professed worldview, they’re not the sort to be storming the beaches in frontal assaults against machine gun nests.[4] Simultaneously, the version of fascism I’m pointing out can’t even make the trains run on time.[5]

Moreover, if they’re interested in “thinking globally, acting locally,” to use a pervasive phrase from my college days,[6] they could protest less ideologically rigorous municipal problems, such as:

Austin’s municipal debt now exceeds $6 billion, but experts profess not to worry.[7] The Austin Independent School District raised employees’ pay by at least 6 percent.[8]

The City Council killed downtown, its clubs, and probably Austin’s claim to be “Live Music Capital of the World” by weakening penalties against panhandlers and loitering bums.[9] In the real world, police charged a street bum for fatally stabbing another downtown on July 4.[10]

On Jun. 20, the City Council eliminated property tax exemptions on Lake Austin mansions, even though police service out there is slow.[11] Let’s see if the rich pinkos are faster at reconsidering their support for the power elite’s prevailing policies that just screwed them.

In good news for a change, Austin’s red light camera enforcement ceased June 1.[12] However, motorcycle cops have orders to stop more drivers – not, the Austin Police Department insists, to issue more revenue through tickets.[13] A firefighter faces new felony charges.[14] APD fired yet another officer.[15] Another two officers are being sued in federal court by an arrestee for “excessive force.”[16] A county prison guard is under arrest for falsifying documents.[17] Drug-related deaths in Travis County increased last year.[18]

State government’s $900 million building project north of the Capitol jeopardizes the parking spots I use when I’m patronizing the UT library.[19]

Apple shifted production of its Mac Pro from Austin to China to “achieve a better profit margin.”[20] Another manufacturer is moving its facility from Austin to Hutto.[21]

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services officials reported seven motorcycle crashes during the annual Republic of Texas Biker Rally.[22] “Cooler than normal temperatures and recurring rainfall” have led to an uptick in sightings of tarantulas on greenbelt trails.[23]

Tabled Motion

If municipal reform isn’t how they want to improve the world, they can do something to benefit me personally. I could use some skull-cracking minions to do my bidding.

For most of my life, I've assumed merely having more money would ease the struggles of trying to improve my circumstances. Lately, some issues related to buying my next computer forced me to reconsider.

In one weekend, I learned that a local Internet service provider I considered doesn't service my apartment complex, so I'm stuck with AT&T for the foreseeable future. The folding table that supported my computer deserved replacement. The local stores didn’t stock what I needed. OfficeDepotMax’s Web site listed the right table, but the corporate help desk told me I’d have to call the local store, which in turn told me the company no longer carries the item. Online retailer No. 2 was willing and able to sell to me, but I’d have to buy a minimum of six.

I’ll be 50 soon, and every standard milestone I’m supposed to have achieved by now could’ve been done in half that time, but for other people. What’s this world coming to when they thwart me even when I’m trying to spend money?

e218fig2Bicentennial Bookend

One minor accomplishment: I finally read a history of the American Bicentennial, “The Spirit of 1976” by historian Tammy Gordon. Despite a few passages that read like she included them to satisfy the pieties of academia, Gordon writes in a suitably bemused tone about bureaucratic wrangling and hucksterism. She’s also a generational contemporary and remembers the run-up to Independence Day 1976 itself as I do: an 18-month barrage of hype, commercialism, and merchandising, unprecedented – though we’ve since exceeded those benchmarks.[26] In fairness, Gordon merely reaches the same conclusion as Mad magazine.[27] By July 5, everyone had enough – more than enough – and moved on, which probably accounts for why Gordon’s book may be the only one of its kind on the topic.

e218fig3On the Town

June 7: Disconcertingly, several salseros also sported tropic print shirts at Esquina Tango’s monthly social.[28] More so than a Hawaiian party at Oskar Blues Brewery the next night.[29]

July 5: A birthday gal at Esquina Tango proclaimed me “hot as fuck” as we danced. “What do you think of that?”

I smirked. “I think you’re right.”

Cultural Canapés

A reviewer for the June 7 Chronicle pans a feminist stage show for being tedious and dated – much like feminism itself, but she lacked the guts to spell it out.[30]

New Orleanians conducted a second-line funeral parade in honor of native son Dr. John the Night Tripper, who left the stage of life June 6, age 77. Officially, he died of a heart attack, but I suspect he really died of anguish upon divining that a Millennial friend of mine didn’t know who he was.[31] This, despite reading about him in Austin Dispatches.

Media Indigest

Speaking of Mad magazine, this major influence on Austin Dispatches will cease publication soon.[32] Ownership of eight local radio stations and Texas Monthly changed hands.[33]

Neighborhood News

Three units at an apartment complex off Metric Boulevard burned June 20.[34] The night of July 13, I witnessed the aftermath of a vehicle disaster along the northbound frontage road of MoPac Expressway by The Domain. On June 8, traffic lights on Burnet Road from Rutland Drive to Longhorn Boulevard malfunctioned.

Thirteen businesses have opened.[35] A brewery filed for bankruptcy.[36] The July 5 Chronicle includes a feature on 25 eateries at The Domain.[37] The July 12 Business Journal profiles Charles Schwab’s chief information officer, who works at Schwab’s North Austin campus.[38]

Home Archives


[1] “Civics 101.” AC 12 Jul. 2019: 8.

[2] Clark-Madison, Mike. “Long Hard Road.” AC 21 Jun. 2019: 16+.

[3] Sanders, Austin. “Shoot Your Shot.” AC 28 Jun. 2019: 16+.

[4] Harrison, Gordon A. Cross-Channel Attack. Washington, D.C.: Dept. of the Army. Office of the Chief of Military History, 1951. Rpt. Cross-Channel Attack: The Official U.S. Army History of the Operation Overlord D-Day Invasion of Normandy. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Red and Black Publishers, 2013.

[5] Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties, rev. ed. New York City: HarperPerennial, 1992: 100.

[6] Keyes, Ralph. The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When. New York City: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006: 78-79.

[7] Jankowski, Philip. “Austin’s Debt Tops $6 Billion.” AAS 26 May 2019: A1+.

[8] Taboada, Melissa B. “Austin District’s Employees to Get at Least 6 Percent Raise.” AAS 14 Jun. 2019: A1+.

[9] Sanders, Austin. “No Longer a Crime.” AC 28 Jun. 2019: 12-13.

[10] Bradshaw, Kelsey. “Man Charged With Manslaughter in Fourth of July Death.” AAS 6 Jul. 2019: B3.

[11] Jankowski. “City Council Repeals Lake Austin Tax Exemptions.” AAS 21 Jun. 2019: A1+; Jankowski. “Police Response Lags for Exempt Lakefront Homes.” AAS 20 Jun. 2019: A1+; Sanders. “Lake Austin Waterfront Tax Break Dries Up.” AC 28 Jun. 2019: 15; “Tax-Exempt Lake Austin Homes May Begin Paying City Property Taxes for the First Time in 33 Years.” CIN Jun. 2019, Northwest Austin ed.: Jun. 2019: 15.

[12] Zdun, Matt, and Jankowski. “Austin’s Red Light Cameras Shuttered.” AAS 5 Jun. 2019: A1+.

[13] Plohetski, Tony. “Motorcycle Officers Told to Stop More Drivers.” AAS 20 Jun. 2019: B1+.

[14] Marloff, Sarah. “Firefighter Faces New Sex Charges.” AC 14 Jun. 2019: 11.

[15] Plohetski. “Police: Officer Fired for Ties With Stalking Victim.” AAS 19 Jun. 2019: A1+.

[16] Hall, Katie. “Woman Claims Police Used Excessive Force.” AAS 21 Jun. 2019: B1+; Menchaca, Megan. “APD Officers Named in Excessive Force Suit.” AC 28 Jun. 2019: 14.

[17] Hall. “Officials: Jail Officer Lied About Inmate Checks.” AAS 14 Jul. 2019: B1+.

[18] “After Unexplained Dip, Drug-Related Deaths in Travis County Increased in 2018.” CIN Jun. 2019, Northwest Austin ed.: 15.

[19] Sechler, Bob. “Capitol Building Boom.” AAS 7 Jul. 2019: A1+.

[20] “Report: Apple Moves Production From Austin to China.” ABJ 5 Jul. 2019: 11.

[21] “Manufacturer to Move Operations From Austin.” ABJ 31 May 2019: 7.

[22] Garcia, Ariana. “EMS Reports More Crashes, but No Fatalities During ROT Rally.” AAS 17 Jun. 2019: B4.

[23] Wilson, Mark D. “Tarantulas on the Move in Central Texas.” AAS 15 Jul. 2019: B1+.

[26] AD No. 182n7 (June 29, 2015); Gordon, Tammy S. The Spirit of 1976: Commerce, Community, and the Politics of Commemoration. Amherst, Mass.: U of Massachusetts P, 2013.

[27] Jacobs, Frank, and Harry North. “The Bauble Hymn of the Republic.” Mad Dec. 1976: 22-23.

[28] Hope, Dale et al. The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands, rev. ed. Ventura, Calif.: Patagonia Books, 2016.

[29] AD No. 190n26 (Aug. 30, 2016); “To-Do List.” CIN May 2019, Northwest Austin ed.: 11.

[30] Graglia, F. Carolyn. Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism. Dallas: Spence Publishing Co., 1998; Jones, Laura. “Pam Who?” AC 7 Jun. 2019: 22.

[31] Edwards, Garvin. “Dr. John, of Voodoo Beads, Feathers and New Orleans Sound, Dies at 77.” NYT 6 Jun. 2019, New York ed.: A23; Spera, Keith. “Celebrating an Icon.” New Orleans Advocate 8 Jun. 2019: 1A+.

[32] Tracy, Marc, and Lee Edmunds. “A 67-Year-Old Smart Aleck Heads Toward the Pulp Pile.” NYT 6 Jul. 2019: B1+.

[33] “8 Austin Radio Stations Get New Owner.” AAS 11 Jun. 2019: B5-6; King, Michael. “Billionaire Buys Texas Monthly.” AC 28 Jun. 2019: 11; “Texas Monthly Gets New Ownership, Again.” AAS 26 Jun. 2019: B7+.

[34] Huber, Mary. “8 Displaced After Apartment Fire, Officials Say.” AAS 21 Jun. 2019: B5.

[35] “Impacts.” CIN May 2019, Northwest Austin ed.: 6-7; “Impacts.” CIN Jun. 2019, Northwest Austin ed.: 6-7; “WP Engine Expands to The Domain.” ABJ 31 May 2019: 9.

[36] Thompson, Paul. “Celis Avoids Foreclosure With Ch. 11 Bankruptcy.” ABJ 5 Jul. 2019: 4.

[37] “Domain Name.” AC 5 Jul. 2019: 34-36.

[38] Cronin, Mike. “Long Path Led Him to Schwab’s C-Suite.” ABJ 12 Jul. 2019: A16.