The Chairman Speaks
No. 37
Austin Dispatches
Apr. 25, 2002

Readers of Austin Dispatches know of my affiliation with the Libertarian Party. Yet in all this time, I never held a title. Until now.

On Mar. 5, I unanimously won the chairmanship of Precinct 269, during the Travis County LP's precinct convention at the Little Walnut Creek Branch library.

Woody Allen was right: Eighty percent of life is showing up.1  In this case, I was the sole voter from my voting precinct at the otherwise well-attended convention. Under Texas law, I merely had to present my voter registration card, attest that I hadn't participated in another party's election, and fill out some paperwork; and I attained the chairmanship and delegate status to the TCLP county convention at the Travis County Courthouse on Mar. 9.

At the county convention, we delegates elected our party officials and nominated candidates for public office after scrutinizing their fealty to the LP platform.2  We repeated the process at the district convention on Mar. 16, for offices whose boundaries extend beyond the county.3

Finally, we'll elect new state party officers and select candidates for statewide public office and for U.S. senator from Jun. 7-9 in Dallas.4  Maybe I'll see you there. Yes, the process is tedious and complicated, but it's something that has to be done, like flossing.

Meanwhile, as chairman, I will work to turn the precinct – my neighborhood – into a Libertarian stronghold within Travis County, by canvassing on behalf of the party and its extensive, impressive slate of candidates in this year's elections, and organizing street-level support for the TCLP.5

Also, I plan to use my position to mobilize grass-roots opposition to the Austin bureaucrats’ imposition of a second layer of zoning regulations upon my neighborhood.

The city's Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department mailed out questionnaires as the first step toward imposing its "Neighborhood Plan” upon the residents and businesses of what it designates the North Burnet/Gateway Neighborhood. This bureaucratically designated “neighborhood” (in reality, four disparate and distinct neighborhoods) is bounded by U.S. Highway 183 (Research), Braker Lane, MoPac Expressway, Walnut Creek, and Metric Boulevard.

  The department’s plan


After years of avoiding the South by Southwest Music conferences, I finally attended a reading by Neal Pollack at BookPeople, on the geographic fringe of that sinkhole of self-congratulatory lameness.7 Pollack read selections from his current book, where he parodies the pompous, cliched first-person stylings of magazine journalists;8 and from a forthcoming book of poetry, where he parodies the strident, cliched, first-person stylings of angry young poets.9  I laughed at his work. In the flesh, Pollack plays a cliched Generation X slacker.10  That works fine for the poetry. However, his pose disserves the prose. To optimize the journalism parodies, they should be read by a pompous, world-weary, middle-age man, not some guy who looks like Shaggy from the “Scooby-Doo” cartoons.11 Maybe Steve Martin is available.12

In SXSW’s midst, Michael Corcoran, Austin American-Statesman music critic, proclaimed Dallas the new Austin.13 Gee, I could’ve skipped the hassle and expense of moving.14  Then again, another Statesman contributor proclaimed Philadelphia the new Dallas.15  Does that make San Marcos the new Philadelphia? Perhaps Pollack can ask Philly refugee The Whiskey Rebel when Pollack moves to Austin later this year.16

Music Notes

Big John Patton died, joining Peggy Lee, Milton Berle and Billy Wilder among the recent procession of good entertainers.17  I was fortunate to see Patton with George Braith last November at The Continental Club.18 Unfortunately, I was keeping early hours for the commute to San Antonio, and I could barely stay awake after the first set. I dragged myself home, cursing at catching half of a show.

A longtime reader once accused me of “pimping for Amazon.”19 (Jeff Bezos whimpers after I put down the smack with my gold-headed walking stick. “Get back on ‘TheStreet’ and boost those quarterly estimates.”)20  Nowadays, I have a better music e-tailer to tout: CDNow.21  CDNow provides 30- to 60-second audio clips for nearly every track of nearly every release, in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats.22  In a few minutes, I can sample anything that seems remotely interesting. For example, I recently listened to early recordings from Curved Air (they sounded flat) and The New York Rock Ensemble (they didn’t rock).23

Media Indigest

Louis Rukeyser is back on television with a new show, “Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street.” His old co-producer, Maryland Public Television, threw him off "Wall Street Week in Review" because it wanted replacement hosts to appeal to a younger audience.24  What the hell were those brie-eating morons thinking? "Wall Street Week" was one of those shows that thrived on its host's quirks. In that case, Rukeyser’s incessant quips each episode. He's an inspiration to unrepentant wiseacres everywhere (and not just in business reporting).25

Elsewhere in the media circus, “Sesame Street” Muppets serenaded Dubya in the White House ("Today's episode is being brought to you by the letters D, and R, and by the number 6 trillion.").26

Industry publications are hyping wireless Internet as the next big opportunity.27  This replaces the previous next big opportunity, digital subscriber line, which in the real world meant paying for a service that combines the worst aspects of the phone companies with the worst aspects of the cable companies.28  When I worked at MCI WorldCom Developer’s Lab, even we insiders couldn’t get good residential DSL service.

The Robert Blake murder case is back in the news.29 I said all my quips last year. And you can take that to the bank.30

The Next Generation

Lastly, I welcome the new children born to Michele and Sheila Messina, and to Dave and Julie Hardy; and the birth of my niece, Natalie.


1 Cited in Strauss, William, and Neil Howe. Generations: The History Of America's Future, 1584-2069. New York City: William Morrow & Co., 1991: 282.
2 “Party On.” AC 22 Mar. 2002: 14.
3 Flynn, Eileen E. "Libertarians File for More County Seats Than Ever." AAS 15 Jan. 2002: B1.
4 Neale, Nancy. “Texas LP State Convention June 7-9, Central Dallas.” Lone Star Liberty Feb./Mar. 2002: 2.
5 Corcoran, Michael. “Takin’ It to the Streets.” XL 18 Apr. 2002: 18+; Eisler, Dan. “The View From Precinct 269.” E-mail to Michael Badnarik. 26 Mar. 2002.
6 “Planning and Zoning: A Note From TCLP Member Dan Eisler.” Austin Liberator 17 Jan. 2002: 3.
7 AD No. 26 (Apr. 27, 2001); Beach, Patrick. “Who Says Neal Pollack is the World’s Greatest Writer? Well, Neal Pollack Does.” AAS 15 Mar. 2001: E1; McCollom, Scott. “SXSW Interactive Conference ZZZZ.” AUSR Apr. 2002: 26.
8 The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature: The Collected Writings of Neal Pollack, rev. ed. New York City: Harper Perennial, 2002.
9 Pollack, and Pine Valley Cosmonauts. The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. Bloodshot Records 90, 2002.
10 Slacker. Dir. Richard Linklater. Detour Film Production, 1991; Strauss, Howe, and Ian Williams. 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? New York City: Vintage Books, 1993.
11 EAD No. 9 (Oct. 23, 1999).
12 Vague, Mike, Bruce Elliott and Noel Tolentino. “Steve Martin.” Retro Hell, 121-122.
13 Corcoran. “Dallas is the New Austin!” XL 13 Mar. 2002: 12+.
14 AD No. 15 (Mar. 12, 2000).
15 Berkery, Patrick. “Philadelphia is the New Dallas!” XL 14 Mar. 2002: 35.
16 “The Whiskey Rebel” [Phil Irwin]. Jobjumper. Philadelphia: Steel Cage Press, 2000: Ch. 16.
17 Eliscu, Jenn. “Obits.” RS 28 Feb. 2002: 24; Ratliff, Ben. “John Patton, 66, Organ Player with a Jazzy, Laid-back Style.” NYT 25 Mar. 2002: B7; Reed, J.D. et al. “Favorite Uncle.” People 15 Apr. 2002: 144; Smith, Kyle et al. “He Liked it HOT.” Ibid., 58.
18 Eisler. E-mail to Angela Keaton; Salamon, Jeff. “Recommended.” XL 8 Nov. 2001: 26.
19 Rossi, Frank. “Re: Cultural Tidbits.” E-mail to author. 9 Oct. 1999.
20 Hilzenrath, David S. “Andersen Drops Over Cramer Remarks.” WP 13 Mar. 2002: E1; Shannon, Victoria. “Loss Narrows at TheStreet.” International Herald Tribune 20 Jul. 2001: 14.
21 “CDNow Leapfrogs Amazon in Unique Buyers.” Discount Store News, 3 Apr. 2000: 19; Donahue, Ann. “A Black Day for Amazon: E-tailer Posts First Profit as Promised.” Video Business 28 Jan. 2002: 38.
22 Beggs, Josh, and Dylan Thede. A Practitioner’s Guide to Web Audio: RealAudio, MP3, Flash, and Beatnik. Cambridge, Mass.: O’Reilly & Associates, 2001; Ozer, Jan. “Windows Media Player for XP.” PC Magazine 29 Jan. 2002: 98.
23 New York Rock Ensemble. Roll Over/Freedomburger. Collector’s Choice Music 60, 1999; Nixon, Neil. “Curved Air.” Rock: The Rough Guide, 2nd ed. Ed. Jonathan Buckley et al. London: The Rough Guides, 1999: 243-244.
24 Deggans, Eric. “Rukeyser Returning to WEDU in His New Show.” St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times 23 Apr. 2002: E1; McGeehan, Patrick. “PBS Scrambles to Pull Together ‘Wall Street Week.’ ” NYT 28 Mar. 2002: C7.
25 McGeehan. "Longtime Host Says He'll Quit Revamped 'Wall Street Week.' " NYT 22 Mar. 2002: C2.
26 Milbank, Dana. "A White House Briefing that's Brought to You by the Letter W." WP 4 Apr. 2001: C1.
27 Green, Sherri Deatherage. “Wire Lessons Learned.” TT Mar. 2002: 31-32; Schonfeld, Erick. "The Island of the Wireless Guerrillas." Business 2.0 Apr. 2002: 96-101; Thompson, Jim, and Mike Woodward. “More Than Mere Talk.” ComputerUser Apr. 2002: 7+.
28 Ladendorf, Kirk. “Tied Up in DSL.” AAS 20 Nov. 2000: E1+.
29 Gilles, Darrell. “TV Cop Denies He Killed His Wife.” The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia) 24 Apr. 2002: 43.
30 AD No. 27 (May 23, 2001).