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Austin Dispatches
 No. 57
 Oct. 25, 2003

One of these days I’ll learn to keep my mouth shut.

Occasionally, when I recount my travails, I add “The only I haven’t experienced is a death in the family.”

As of Oct. 3, I have.

My Aunt Rosemary died that day in Santa Monica, Calif. It shocked everyone in the family. Ironically, she was a health and fitness enthusiast.

That night, I attended a salsa dance at UT. I’d planned to go well advance of the bad news. Also, I couldn’t do anything to help two time zones away. Mostly, I thought the dance would distract me from the sadness. My plan almost worked. I actually managed to have a good time, although Rosemary’s death stayed on my mind throughout. The novices thought I was an instructor, the experienced dancers thought I danced well, and the hardcore dancers thought I’d improved since last time. I danced more than ever before in my life. I hoped to tire myself to sleep well. But I still slept fitfully.

We’re still sorting through the aftermath. The widower wants to spread the ashes around my folks’ place at Thanksgiving. But there’s no upside to all this for me.

But Seriously, Folks…

The Daily Texan reports 290 student groups at UT Austin have tumbled into inactive status, including the Sex Club.1  These kids today.  In a related story, researchers now believe marijuana use slows sperm during reproduction.2  Tommy Chong was unavailable for comment.3

The Straw Bale Association of Texas needs an editor for its newsletter. It’s a part-time position, so anyone who accepts the job will have to make hay while the sun shines.

Entertainer Jennifer Lopez has inked a deal to promote a new food product: J.Lo brand gelatin.4  Thanks to the artificial colorings and preservatives, it’ll last longer in the fridge than her movies do in the multiplex.5  It’s the biggest development of its kind since the ancient Greeks figured how to use yogurt-slathered meat patties for commercial transportation, and called it the gyroscope.

Business Roundup

A new Wal-Mart supercenter opened at 12900 N. Interstate 35, near the intersection with Parmer Lane. It’s the closest Wal-Mart to me but still far away enough that I’m unlikely to make it a regular shopping site. Moreover, the grocery prices at best match the H-E-B in the Tech Ridge shopping center across the freeway, where I seldom visit, either.6  The same applies even more at the SuperTarget across the freeway from Wal-Mart. I tried the fruit samples. The pear had the consistency of plywood, and the caramel-chocolate coated apple had the consistency of wax.

The Arbor 7 movie theater reopened.7  There, I saw “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” but I’ll withhold judgment until the second half’s release.8  I have no such compunctions about “Prey for Rock & Roll,” a cliched film about a lame L.A. all-woman rock band that wonders why it can’t get a record contract.9  Rob Eisler was unavailable for comment.10  The movie does accomplish the difficult task of making Gina Gershon look unattractive.11

Cultural Canapés

KOOP-FM devoted its airwaves Oct. 12 to “indigenous” recordings, intended as some sort of slap against Columbus.12  What the station should do next is a day of “indigent” programming, where people like me come in as guest DJs and play recordings, with an emphasis on musicians we couldn’t afford to hear live, and in some fatal cases, will never get to hear.

The September issue of arthur carries a feature on the rise and fall of the L.A. Cacophony Society. These Southern California fringe pranksters, generational contemporaries of mine, had a good, if highly self-regarding time until one member died in an auto collision after a late-night prank. In other words, it was funny until somebody got hurt. In the aftermath, its leader, Al Ridenour, reconverted to Christianity, provoking the group’s bigotry. In general despair, Bruce Elliott, a witty contributor to the “Retro Hell” cultural encyclopedia,13 hanged himself. Ridenour subsequently wed Margaret Cho, a reputed comedienne.14  The world continues.15


1 Brulliard, Nicolas. “Inactive Groups Must Pay $10 Fee to Activate.” DT 17 Oct. 2003: 7.
2 AP. “Marijuana Use May Slow Sperm’s Journey to Egg.” DT 17 Oct. 2003: 6.
3 Smith, Jordan. “NORML: Free Tommy Chong!” AC 24 Oct. 2003: 25.
4 APSB, 109; Duncan, Patricia J. Jennifer Lopez. New York City: St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1999.
5 “Media Watch: From Script to Stars, Media Batters ‘Gigli.’ ” PR Week 18 Aug. 2003: 8.
6 AD No. 34 (Jan. 14, 2002).
7 AD No. 45n29 (Jan. 5, 2003); Salto, Stephen. “Remaking a Landmark.” DT 8 Oct. 2003: 15.
8 Love, B. “Under the Influence.” ISM Oct. 2003: 24.
9 Prey for Rock & Roll. Prey LLC, 2003.
10 AD No. 50n41 (May 14, 2003).
11 “Lips Like Mating Snakes.” Esquire Sep. 1999: 160.
12 Sale, Kirkpatrick. The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy. New York City: Knopf, 1990.
13 Retro Hell: Life in the ‘70s and ‘80s, from Afros to Zotz. Ed. Darby Romeo. Boston: Back Bay Books/Little, Brown & Co., 1997.
14 “Cho, Margaret.” alt.culture, 38.
15 Noxon, Christopher. “When Good Pranksters Go Christian.” arthur Sep. 2003: 6-8+.