|No. 30||Special Edition||
Sep. 11, 2001
|As the nation reels from today's attacks,
I thought I should quickly wrap up my notes for the next Austin Dispatches
I was planning in calmer times, before they become too outdated to publish.
If the follow seems frivolous in the wake of recent events, remember what
I'm writing about is frivolous.
I also urge all of you to guard against
your ancient, Yahweh-given liberties against encroachments by enemies foreign
The Last Dispatch of an Era
Thursday, I showed up for the block party and open houses of the Electric Avenue Arts and Business District, nestled along Lamar Boulevard and West Avenue between Third Street and the railroad tracks. The succession of trendy art galleries and furniture boutiques on the ground floor of a really expensive apartment complex provided enough free hors d’oeuvres and booze to keep me fed. The whole event was like something out an advertising spread in Wired or a similar “hot” media outlet we'll associate with the Clinton years: exquisite European designs, DJs playing Brazilian club music, pouting vixens in cork-soled heels, clingy dresses, and dead, wary eyes. The esthetic details don't belong to the “standard” Austin party; in another decade, they'll seem hopelessly ridiculous, like avocado-green appliances or shag carpet, but I was glad to catch an inside glimpse of this particular Zeitgeist in its twilight evanescence.2
The Austin Chronicle published its 20th anniversary issue Sep. 7. If we never hear another word about the Chron’s glorious, ramshackle past again, it'll be too soon. The staff goes on and on. OK, we get the point. Y'all were a wild and wacky bunch that had a lot more fun when Austin was a smaller, funkier town with fewer job prospects. Now, let it go. You've been harping on this since last year, and possibly since the 1999 Best of Austin issue. How many more retrospective issues are you going to publish?3
The Austin Javelina, a monthly tabloid put out by a bunch of commies (really), reports Patterson Park has a city ban on soccer.4 Others can rant exclusively about the really big issues, such as whether the city has the authority to ban specific sports from city parks, and, better still, whether municipalities ought to be managing common areas like parks to begin with.5 Instead, I commend the anonymous bureaucrat who took a much-needed swipe at such an annoying un-American sport.
Soccer – or football, as foreigners repeatedly persist in calling it – became a noticeable feature of suburban life sometime in the ‘70s, along with widespread divorce, asocial children, psychobabble, Renaults, and a host of other ills perpetrated by people embarrassed by or disdainful of American life.6 Real football, played by steroid- and coke-addled bisexual rapists in padded shoulders and crash helmets, may be just as annoying, but at least it's an annoying American sport, one with point spreads worthy of the bookies that made Nevada great.7
What's more, the pseudo-Americans who impinged upon our lives by foisting this joke sport even managed to make … soccer even more annoying than it already was. The foreigners at least use soccer as an excuse to brawl in the stands and streets, as a break from sitting on their asses collecting welfare checks.8 What has … soccer given America? The soccer mom – the direct descendent (and I do mean descend) of H.L. Mencken’s “booboisie” – seen yapping on a cell phone as she recklessly plows an SUV through any suburb, U.S.A., to get the psychotropic prescriptions to dose her spawn because she can't “cope” otherwise.9
XLent, the Austin American-Statesman’s entertainment supplement, reports that France and California are being eclipsed by other regions in the world of wine.10 How many bottles did the copy editors consume to come up with the headline: “Planet of the Grapes”? Yuk, yuk, yuk. Yet another “Apes” reference.11
If 20th Century Fox had let me, I could've
re-made the flick for about $50,000: Put a bunch of chimps and orangutans
in costume, dubbed in the dialog, and licensed Michael Franks’ “Monkey See-Monkey
Do” as a theme song.12 No special effects, no temperamental actors.
The studio would have less to recoup and thus earned more profit. And Hollywood
would get a good lesson in how to make entertainment product cheap and quick.
(For my next lesson, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” where an Italian officer
sells his instrument to a G.I., who sells it to Bill Monroe, who appears
with The Bluegrass Boys in a succession of concert footage.)13
1 Barthel, Manfred. What the Bible Really Says. Trans. Mark Howson. 1982. Rpt. New York City: Wings Books, 1992: 28-29.
2 Gilberto, Bebel. Tanto Tempo (+3 Bonus Tracks). King KICP-5004, 2000; Lois, Kim. “It’s Not Just Furniture – It’s Art.” Austin Magazine Summer 2001: 34-36; Vance, David. “Recommended.” XL 6 Sep. 2001: 48.
3 “Voxpartizan.” “Soccer Collective Gets the Boot?”Austin Javelina 15 Aug. 2001: 7.
4 AD No. 20n30 (Aug. 27, 2000).
5 Poole, Robert W. Jr. Cutting Back City Hall. New York City: Universe Books, 1980.
6 Frum, David. How We Got Here: The 70's – The Decade that Brought You Modern Life – For Better or Worse. New York City: Basic Books, 2000; Retro Hell, passim.
7 Pileggi, Nicholas. Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
When I lived in Nevada in 1994-95, local bookies would give odds for high school football teams on the public access TV channel.
8 O’Rourke, P.J. "Among the Euro-Weenies." 1986. Rpt. Holidays in Hell. New York City: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988: 186-203; Sassoon, Donald. One Hundred Years of Socialism: The West European Left in the Twentieth Century. New York City: The New Press, 1996.
9 EAD No. 7n18-19 (Aug. 1999); Holtz, Gregory T. Welcome to the Jungle: The Why Behind “Generation X”. New York City: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995: 80-88.
10 Mackay, Jordan. “The Dawn of the Planet of the Grapes.” XL 6 Sep. 2001: 14.
11 Gross, Joe. "Allegories in the Mist." XL 26 Jul. 2001: 16-17+; Planet of the Apes. 20th Century Fox, 2001.
12 Franks, Michael. “Monkey See-Monkey Do.” The Art of Tea. Reprise 2230, 1975.
13 Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Free Range Pictures/Le Studio Canal+/Universal Pictures/Working Title Films, 2001; Rosenberg, Neil V. Bluegrass: A History. 1985. Rpt. Urbana, Ill. U of Illinois P, 1993.