June 5, 2004
Now I really regret having to skip the Libertarian national convention. On May 30, the delegates in Atlanta nominated my friend Michael Badnarik for president.1
My financial situation didn’t turn around fast enough for me to obtain delegate status and lock in good deals on travel and lodging before the registration deadlines. It’s a byproduct from my years of struggle, which put me behind where I ought to be financially. The local libertarians (and pseudo-libertarians) I met before I moved here did nothing to help me, even though I explicitly offered quid pro quo deals.2 In other words, it’s all their fault I couldn’t attend. Instead, I had to monitor the proceedings from afar (with help from Paul Farris) while subsisting on a holiday diet of beer and barbecue (or as a college classmate termed it, “brew ‘n’ ‘cue”).
Anyway, Badnarik is not just the better choice against his establishment, “realistic”3 rivals: President George W. Bush, U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; and Ralph Nader,4 professional pest,5 multimillionaire shyster,6 and “suicide bomber.”7 These rivals only look good compared to each other, and then only for distinctions of personality, since each represents factions that support the basic premises of the corporatist warfare-welfare state.8
Badnarik was also the best choice among the competition in Atlanta, in the most dramatic nomination since 1987.9 Gary Nolan, of Lebanese descent, was stopped by airport security while trying to get to Atlanta.10 That might've undermined his chances at the nomination. On the campaign trail, he and Badnarik became good friends, and spoke publicly about running as a ticket.11 So it’s understandable that after the second ballot, when Nolan was cut from contention according to party bylaws, he’d throw his support to Badnarik. From the delegate accounts trickling out during the convention, Aaron Russo undermined his chances by behaving like a stereotypical Hollywood asshole.12
The Austin American-Statesman fumbled its early coverage of big “local boy makes good” story. Badnarik announced his campaign at the Texas Capitol in February 2003 and the paper buried the coverage deep inside the next day’s issue, among the news briefs.13 Bet we’ll get some coverage now. The Statesman has a history of embarrassing itself over the TCLP. In 2000, LP presidential nominee Harry Browne made a major appearance in town; both Austin Dispatches and The Austin Review scooped the Statesman on coverage by months.14 Such editorial decisions make Austin’s daily “newspaper of record” appear as out of it as it really is.
But then, what do you expect from a Cox publication?15 That company was founded by James Cox, 1920 Democratic presidential nominee, of whom H.L. Mencken wrote:
Cox is quicker of
wit, but a good deal less honest. He belongs to the cunning type; there is
of the shyster in him. His chicaneries in the matter of [P]rohibition, both during the convention and
since, show the kink in his mind. He is willing to do anything to cadge votes, and he includes in that
anything the ready sacrifices of his good faith, of the national welfare, and of the hopes and
confidence of those who honestly support him.16
More recently, the top newsroom staffers collaborated with federal agents in the 1993 Branch Davidian massacre.17
Elsewhere, Badnarik’s nomination merited respect from an unlikely source. The Austin Chronicle reported his victory without the usual condescension.18
(In more good news from the convention, Geoff Neale is no longer chairman.19 The delegates replaced him with Michael Dixon, whom I’ve met.)20
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…
Dubya’s daughter Jenna Bush graduated May 22 from UT with a degree in English.21 It’d be nice if somebody in that family could speak it.22
Tokyo by Night
Speaking of dimwits, after many years, I finally scraped together enough money to buy a new turntable. The manufacturer should’ve hired me to write the owner’s manual. I had to assemble the components. The manual omitted so many key steps that I called Sony’s help desk.
The good news is I got a live American on the phone. But he sounded like a stoned Californian, and what’s more, had a hearing problem:
“Is that ‘F’ as in ‘Frank’? ”
“No, ‘S.’ ”
“ ‘X’ ?”
“No, that’s ‘S’ as in ‘shit.’ ”
If he could see, the call would be unnecessary. Anyway, I finally got the turntable assembled.
On the Town
May 23: Saxophonist Hamiett Bluiett played with Tina Marsh and the Creative Opportunity Orchestra at the Laguna Gloria Museum of Art.23 Bluiett’s performance almost compensated for the heat, insects and hard, stone seats of the auditorium. Hey, it’s the artists who are supposed to suffer for their art.
May 25: I skipped most of the final STC meeting of the season24 to attend a dating event at The Lounge25 in the Warehouse District.26 It was canceled. So I ate tenderloin medallions in a demi-glace at Truluck’s27 before I ambled to Oslo,28 the trendy new club that replaced the District Bar & Grill. The décor was done in Late ‘60s European Space Age. The only thing missing was a large black monolith.29 A DJ was supposed to spin appropriate music for Brazilian Night, but he cancelled. The place was nearly deserted. I talked briefly with the head chef at Salt Lick 360.30 He was deep in his cups.31 I ordered a “bling-bling” (champagne, Stoli raspberry, a dash of bitters, and a sugar cube). It tasted like cough syrup.
May 31: I played video games for the first time in 21 years. Afterward, I felt kinda nauseous. Not from blowing away a dozen trigger men in the New York subway and frisking their bloody corpses for extra weapons, but from so much shifting point of view with the console features. It makes me wonder how much extra time I want to spend in front of a new personal computer just to master the games that interest me. (Although I was starting to get pretty good by the end of my hour at LAN’s Edge, just by copying James Caan's practices in "Thief.")32
LAN’s Edge is located in Northcross Mall, which will be revamped, according to the Austin Business Journal.33 I’ve been to that mall since about 1996, and it’s always seemed like it’s on the verge of going out of business, a quiet, perfectly preserved corpse of mall style, circa 1980.
June 1: I visited the Paramount Theater for the first time to see a screening of the original “Solaris,” the Russian answer to “2001.” “Solaris” managed to impress me in spite of its budget constraints, slow build-up (it's a major event when a character changes the expression on his face), and Soviet imprimatur – although the last part is thankfully barely noticeable.34
June 2: Saw the Texas Eastside Kings at the Hole in the Wall, as part of the club’s 30th anniversary celebrations. It was my first visit to the club, and the name is apt.35
I’ll Take Austin
The May 24 New York Observer reports a new spike in the cost of living in New York City, about two-and-a-half times what it costs to live well in, say, Dallas.36 Even though seemingly every person I know thinks I should be living in New York, financial aspects make that a remote daydream. I’ve said before that I’d have to be rich enough not to work to properly enjoy New York’s offerings. As opposed to, say, a Forbes reporter. Why would I move somewhere just to spend all day hunched in front of a computer to pay three sets of income taxes, drag myself back to my apartment, too tired to go anywhere or do anything if I did have money?
The Austin Arts Hall of Fame announced its 2004 inductees on June 3. And people complain Badnarik is obscure.37 Not only do I not recognize any of this year’s winners, I only recognize one name among the entire hall of fame since it started in 2002.38 So either I’m really out of it, or the whole arts scene is more marginal to Austin’s existence than the local boosters would have you believe.
Speaking of Hollywood assholes, sleazoid screenwriter Joe Eszterhas mentions
in his new tell-all memoir that, back when they were on speaking terms, he
and Sharon Stone were going to collaborate on an adaptation of “Atlas Shrugged.”
Later, Eszterhas decided “[l]istening to Sharon Stone pontificating about
Ayn Rand seemed like a vision of hell to me.”39