June 21, 2004
I’d like to think my appointment was from useful service to the LP, or my keen devotion to the American republic, but I really became an elector because I showed up for convention business on Sunday morning and wrote my name on a list being passed around. Once again, 80 percent of life is showing up. Still, it’s something of an honor for the grandson of an immigrant who came off the boat with nothing but the clothes on his back. Even when you add up all the electors in all the states for all the presidential nominees in U.S. history, only a few thousand Americans, out of hundreds of millions, have been part of the Electoral College.
But the real prize at the convention was beating out the competition for the attentions of the best-looking attendee. A friend of a friend from Houston looked like a deer in the headlights at the hospitality suite, as the men noticed her and closed in, so I whisked her away to a little Italian restaurant nearby.
She suspected something. Fool that she was, she paid for her own portion of the meal. (Then again, she helped keep my expenses down. I spent about $94 for the entire trip. That’s everything. The other delegates envied my nose for a bargain.) Anyway, the chemistry wasn’t there. Then again, I don’t know of many seductions based on a discussion of monetary policy.
After dinner, she returned to Houston. I returned to the Hilton. The dinner gave me some status points among my contemporaries back at the hospitality suite, which TCLP Secretary Bob Ruliffson2 declared the definition of a Luceyesque sausagefest.3
Also, the convention delegates elected my friend Pat Dixon Texas LP chairman. He spent the weekend in the hotel strutting about in his Italian suits, like Pat Riley.4 Strangely, I spent a lot more time chatting with Gary Johnson. Many times, he initiated the conversation. He even cracked up at my jokes. If you know Gary, you know he doesn’t talk much.
I was pleased to learn Joe Michael Feist is no longer mismanaging The Eagle. The convention would never have been covered otherwise.5 Unfortunately, that drunken bozo has moved on to the San Antonio Express-News. Back when I had the misfortune of working under him, I turned his name into an all-purpose obscenity at the copy desk (“The feist is wrong with this feisting piece of feist?”).
Outside the Hilton, Bryan-College Station continues its slow decay, like a hot, landlocked Venice. Not that aficionados of Venice, or for that matter, the local Chamber of Commerce, would put it thusly, but what do they know?6 I lived in Bryan for a year, and in retaking measure of the place with my all-seeing eye7 that weekend, saw the same lush desuetude much as it was eight years ago. Much of my immediate environs were the same as they’d been when I left. It was like stepping back into 1996, but when I lived there, at the quotidian level, I felt like I was living in the late ‘80s. I experienced a double retrospective each time I left the hotel interior.
The Project From Hell
The local media finally picked up on Key Energy’s problems.8 The creditors smell blood. The executives are on edge.
But they took about nine weeks to finally make the decisions necessary to revitalize the KeyView project, which is supposed to save the company. Not exactly the stereotype of the hard-charging, kick-ass, get-it-done Texas oilmen.9
I flew to Midland earlier this month to meet my new supervisor. His change in documentation method sets back the work I already did to about mid-February or so. Meanwhile, the engineers are still making changes to KeyView. He told me he expects Key will cut both our contracts, because Key, understandably, is in a penny-pinching mood and wants cheaper contractors. My agency refuses to budge on rate. Of course, if they did, I'd terminate the contract.
As is, Plan b Solutions was late again with my paycheck, a breach of contract.10 This time I inquired among my acquaintances about legal action. Those of you who gave me leads on lawyers know who you are, and I thank you. Next time – and Plan b will push its luck – I’ll collect my pound of flesh.11
Don’t get me wrong. When my agency isn’t screwing around with what’s mine, the project’s slide into the toilet doesn’t faze me. However, because of the increasing work demands, plus trying to upgrade my computer and telecom systems, I have to rush this issue out, too.12
Ronald W. Reagan, 1911-2004
Former President Reagan died as I was finishing up the last issue of Austin Dispatches. That issue’s a rush job because I had to go to Midland again. So I saw more television than normal. It augumented my melancholy ambivalence at his death and state funeral.13 I’ve been dissatisfied since with the commentaries, pro and con, on the last American president – including this one.14
Liberty magazine is now thoroughly moribund. The June issue devotes pages and pages to Boomers babbling about The Sixties and How Great They Were.15 I skimmed through it. It wasn’t anything you can’t find in Rolling Stone or some other geriatric publication. Hard to believe this is the same generation that likes “The Sound of Silence.”16 As in, shut the fuck up already.
Speaking of which, Simon & Garfunkel will play Austin on July 6 at the Frank Erwin Center. In other words, Boomers will happily give up their retirement money to listen to a failed Broadway composer17 and an unconvicted criminal perfunctorily play favorites from dentist offices.
Dentistry looks to be the least of Van Halen’s worries, judging from the band’s new publicity photo. Eddie is stooped and wizened, his glasses perched at the tip of his nose.18 Sammy Hagar (how’d that happen?) looks like Val Kilmer playing dead porn star John Holmes in the underrated L.A. sleazo flick “Wonderland.”19 I guess David Lee Roth is too busy playing smaller venues and doing cameos on “The Sopranos” to bother.20
Episodes of “SCTV” are appearing on DVD collections.21
Briefly flipping through channels in my College Station motel room, I noticed movie critic Richard Roeper increasingly resembles his late predecessor, Gene Siskel. Eerie.22
Bar hopper Moira Muldoon enthuses over the Pharmacy Bar in Washington, D.C.23
The parties to the lawsuit over the city’s subsidies to The Domain project settled out of court June 8. The status quo remains intact, unfortunately.24 Several new tenants moved into my apartment building, and now the building has a higher-than-average number of attractive women residing.
The Austin Business Journal reports a planned shopping center at Farm-to-Market
Road 1431 and Interstate 35 in Round Rock could become an upscale outlet
mall. If true, it’d be closer to me than the outlets in San Marcos.25