Austin Dispatches
No. 70
Aug. 26, 2004

Austin Dispatches is back (again).  I can repost to the Web, although the look of my sites will be off-kilter until I buy new Web editor software1  – yet another expense

As my computer-telephony circumstances stabilize, I can resume my job search with increasing confidence.2  Local response has been good. I think that’ll sustain until after the presidential election. The Federal Reserve System has been re-inflating, which is why everything costs more.3

Meanwhile, now that I have a new phone number, AT&T regularly calls to get me to switch service.  So why is the audio quality from its end so murky? That’s a separate problem from the solicitors, most of whom are mumbling foreigners.

Eisler’s Night at the Opera, and Other Excursions

Aug. 1: I attended Michael Badnarik’s birthday party at Momo's.4  It was pleasant enough. He's developed a slick stump speech. And, while slowly sipping a bourbon on the rocks5  (though not in a seersucker and Panama hat),6  I got to introduce my friends Chris Loyd  and Angela Keaton7  to each other.

Because of my job,8  I’ve paid less attention to his campaign than I did to Harry Browne’s in 2000.9  Yet it seems Badnarik is getting even more media coverage, and much more respectful coverage – from the mainstream media. (The libertarian press is another matter.10   I understand the once-great Reason and Liberty are merging to form a new magazine, Lesion.)11

Nonetheless, two weeks later, I attended a meeting of Badnarik campaign volunteers at Saradora’s Coffee House in downtown Round Rock. Again, because of my job, I’m constrained from doing more than placing campaign signs around my precinct, conspicuously including my living room window.  In 2002 and 2003, me and one other resident volunteer spurred Precinct 269 to the top precincts for the LP. However, that was with literature drops of brochures and flyers at people’s apartments. 

Aug. 11: Took a free salsa lesson from the good folks at Dance International at The Crossings, “a progressive learning center and meeting place” somewhere between Highway 620 and Volente.12 
I applied what I learned the next night at Pedro’s Place, the new salsa club above the Clay Pit Restaurant on Guadalupe Street that’s the direct successor to the recently closed Miguel’s La Bodega.13  My frequent turns on the floor with a succession of friendly, enthusiastic partners dispelled my doubts about Pedro’s.

The following night, I attended the grand opening of Sahara.  In fact, I was the first one in the club. The people working the door let me in for free, I later realized because they thought I was one of the musicians playing that night, all of whom turned out in black shirts. Then I spent some time talking with club co-owner Jason Lozada, whom I’d met through the Simmonses about three years ago

Clark Simmons died Aug. 9 from complications from an auto accident last month. Clark was a lifelong patriot, most recently as the 2002 Libertarian nominee for U.S. House District 31.  Anyway, our mutual acquaintance Jon Roland14 put it best: he was “a great guy who will be missed.”15

After an hour, people drifted into Sahara. Word got around. I had a good enough time dancing, when I could. Too many people had coupled off before they came in. I wasn’t the only one who suffered. Some guys I see regularly at salsa dances, really good dancers, were left standing around the dance floor scanning the crowd for partners. The next week was worse, possibly because the owners had a bunch of tables reserved for local media.

Aug. 21: On a lark, I swung by Resistencia Bookstore on South First Street for a mini-flea market.16  The organizers had the same crap you could find at garage sales in the suburbs. Inside, the proprietress gave me a hard sell on the jewelry selection. I’ll bet the Indians laugh among themselves after they unload these trinkets, made apparently of uncooked gnocchi and cigarette butts, on guilty, naïve palefaces.17  Anyway, I enjoyed the irony of a pinko engaging in market behavior. Maybe after a few more years of being slapped upside the head by the Invisible Hand,18  she’ll be ready for a real challenge to the status quo.  Then again, maybe she’ll flunk Reality 101 again and just turn into a Freeper.          

That evening, I attended “Viva l’Opera II” at the Northwest Hills United Methodist Church. I attended at the behest of Texas LP chairman Pat Dixon, who’s also a director of the Texas Choral Consort, and one of the tenors. The group performed well, but the music, opera selections from the early 19th through the mid-20th centuries, isn’t to my taste. Of course, when the featured singers went into the sustained notes, all I could think of was the Three Stooges’ reaction in “Micro-phonies.”19

Austin Death Watch

County Judge Sam Biscoe became yet just another Texas politician stopped for drunk driving.20  Meanwhile, his fellow members of the Capital Metropolitan Planning Organization, Austin Mayor Will Wynn and Austin councilman Brewster McCracken, are facing a recall effort, spearheaded by environmentalists, for approving more than $2 billion in public debt for quasi-private toll roads.21  In fact, judging from the plethora of stories in the Aug. 13 Austin Chronicle, the county’s entire ruling coalition is splitting apart over various issues.22  We may well see the coalition lose power – if we apply ourselves.23

The Steve Miller Band headlined the Lance Armstrong victory celebration, for which security goons shut down Congress Avenue between Seventh and 10th streets.24  So much for a smooth commute. I only mention this so I can pass along my former colleague Tom Bennett’s bemused dismissal of Miller as a nostalgia act, one day before Miller publicized his new album because he didn’t want to be mistaken for a nostalgia act.25  Of course, that was nine years ago, and it’s been twice as long since he had a hit, so Bennett’s assessment stands.26  And what the hell is the “pompitous of love,” anyway?27

Speaking of oldies, in October, One World Theatre will feature Gabe Kaplan as Groucho Marx.28  Sorry, Kotter,29 this town’s already had its fill of Groucho, thanks to me.

Music Notes

Rick James also died.30  He muscled his way onto the pinnacle of pop music at its coke-snorting decadent zenith. Yet it took more than 48 hours before even one of my acquaintances, spanning the generations, commented to me about it. Fleeting fame, indeed. None of which should detract from the musicianship.31  Maybe a comprehensive box set’ll come out of this.

Speaking of CDs, Texas bluesmen Johnny Winter and W.C. Clark released new CDs. Winter’s voice sounds weak, nothing like the sandpaper-gargling growl he used to have. He should’ve either let someone else do the singing, or recorded an instrumental album.32  Meanwhile, W.C. Clark’s product, “Deep in the Heart,” is not as good as its predecessor, which had strong tracks throughout.  The new CD is only as good on half the tracks.33

3rd Coast Music reports that comsymp34  Woody Guthrie sued his co-writer and cousin over the royalties to a song that Oklahoma inexplicably declared the official state folk song. What happen to share the wealth, brother?35  As I once asked of Garrison Keillor, how do you respect someone who’s a pinko and a hick?36  Guthrie’s crimes extend beyond tunelessly praising “Uncle” Joe Stalin while he and henchmen worked to death the inhabitants of the “workers’ paradise” in the mines of Siberia.37  Guthrie also influenced Bob Dylan, whose entire no-talent career is proof that not everything the Jews do turns to gold. You can’t polish a turd.38 

Neighborhood News

Whole Foods plans to move its North Austin store from the Gateway shopping center to MoPac Boulevard and Braker Lane, between The Domain and the Shops at Arbor Walk mall projects, possibly by next year.39  The move would put Whole Foods closer to me. I might patronize it more often, despite my reservations.  The parking’s got to be better, although you’ll still have to be on guard for careless yuppies barreling through in their SUVs.40

Furniture Warehouse off Burnet Road is holding a retirement liquidation sale.

Business Roundup

Farther south on Burnet, the stretch between 45th Street and Justin Lane is slowly gentrifying, with upscale retail, according to an Austin American-Statesman feature.  Boosters claim the area could become the next South Congress Avenue, once they can get rid of the “nondescript” appearance.41  I disagree with the description. “Bourgeois-bohemian” fits better, even at this early stage, especially when you include the distinctive restaurants nestled along the leafy side streets.42  The good news is this redevelopment is being handled between private parties, without city officials butting in and mucking up traffic for 10 years or collecting quid pro quos from politically connected developers.

A group of Mideast investors is starting a new consumer electronics retail chain, Best Bahai.43 

Political Follies

Joe Piscopo says he’s being asked to run for New Jersey governor, to replace the fag incumbent.44  Outré proclivities are too much, even for the cesspool that is Jersey politics.45  God knows where Jim McGreevy’s hands were before they were caught in the till. So why not Piscopo? After all, he’s from Jersey.46

Media Indigest

The July GQ has a brief article on the return of tie clips, in this case priced between $65 and $265.47



1 Warner, Janine, and Susannah Gardner. Dreamweaver MX 2004 for Dummies. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, 2004.
2 APSB, 19.
3  “The Real Middle Class Squeeze.” BW 2 Aug. 2004: 102.
4 Dixon, Pat. “Please Show Your Support for Michael Badnarik.” AL 31 Jul. 2004: 1-2.
5 Boston’s, 28.
6 DiGennaro, Ron. “Spring Classics.” Esquire Gentleman Spring 1993: 218-219.
7 AD No.34 (Jan. 14, 2002).
8 AD No. 68 (June 21, 2004).
9 AD No. 20 (Aug. 27, 2000).
10 Bradford, R.W. “Dark Horse on the Third Ballot.” Liberty Aug. 2004: 35.
11 Annie Hall. Rollins-Joffe Productions, 1977.
12 AD No. 52n15 (July 13, 2003).
13 AD No. 50n20 (May 14, 2003).
14 Pasztor, David. “Minor Party Candidates, Major Ideas for Office.” AAS 9 Oct. 2002: A15.
15 Roland, Jon. “Clark Simmons Has Died.” E-mail to Texas LP, 9 Aug. 2004.
16 Chisholm, Barbara. “Calendar: Community.” AC 20 Aug. 2004: 78.
17 The Paleface. Paramount Pictures, 1948.
18 Smith, Adam. An Inquiry Into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations, Glasgow ed. 1789. Ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981: Book IV, Ch. 2.
19 Micro-phonies. Columbia Pictures Corp., 1945.
20 Alexander, Kate, and Claire Osborn. “Biscoe Arrested on DWI Charge.” AAS 13 Aug. 2004: B1+.
21 Clark-Madison, Mike. “Austin Stories.” AC 13 Aug. 2004: 15; Haviland, Jim. “Mayor Wynn and Councilmember McCracken Stand by Their Toll Votes Despite Recall Effort.” DP 10 Aug. 2004: 12-14.
22 Clark-Madison. “The Future is Now.” AC 13 Aug. 2004: 26+; Clark-Madison. “Money Changes Nothing.”AC 13 Aug. 2004: 15-16; Clark-Madison. “Recall of the Mild.” AC 20 Aug. 2004: 18; King, Michael. “Beyond City Limits.” AC 13 Aug. 2004: 17; May, Rachel Proctor. “Foes Emerge for AISD Bonds.” AC 13 Aug. 2004: 21; Smith, Amy. “Pain and Suffering for Hospital District.” AC 13 Aug. 2004: 18.
23 AD No. 50n62 (May 14, 2003).
24 Haviland. “Big Party for Lance.” DP 10 Aug. 2004: 3-4; Nichols, Lee. “Austin Stories.” AC 13 Aug. 2004: 15; Schwartz, Jeremy. “Yellow Fever Reigns as Austin Celebrates Lance.” AAS 14 Aug. 2004: A1+.
25 Eisler, Dan, and Pam Geddes. “Growth Prompts Addition of Reporter.” The News Guard 18 Nov. 1992: 10A.
26 Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton. Encyclopedia of Rock Stars. New York City: DK Publishing, 1996: 579-580.
27 The Pompatus of Love. BMG Independents/Counterproductions Inc./Monte Cristo International/Odessa Films/Why Note Films, 1996.
28 One World Theatre. Advertisement. AC 27 Aug. 2004: 41.
29 AD No. 50n30.
30 Holley, Joe. “Funk Musician Rick James Dies.” WP 7 Aug. 2004: B4.
31 Sager, Mike. “The Rise and Fall of a Super Freak.” Scary Monsters and Super Freaks: Stories of Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n ‘ Roll and Murder. New York City: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2004: 163-184.
32 Winter, Johnny. I’m a Bluesman. Virgin 90081, 2004.
33 Clark, W.C. Deep in the Heart. Alligator 4897, 2004; Clark. From Austin With Soul. Alligator 4884, 2002.
34 AD No. 64n7 (May 1, 2004).
35 “John the Revealator.” 3CM Aug. 2004: 5.
36 Skow, John. “Lonesome Whistle Blowing.” Time 4 Nov. 1985: 68.
37 Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties, rev. ed. New York City: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991: 304-305; Kauffman, Bill. “Come Home, America.” Chronicles Apr. 1994: 33.
38 Doherty, Brian. “The Free-floating Bob Dylan.” Reason Nov. 2001: 51.
39 Breyer, R. Michelle. “Whole Foods to Replace Its Store in North Austin.” AAS 19 Aug. 2004: C1+.
40 AD No. 17 (June 10, 2000).
41 Breyer. “Transforming Burnet Road?” AAS 22 Aug. 2004: J1+.
42 AD No. 46n18; Brooks, David. BoBos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 2000.
43 Gibson, Elizabeth, and Andrew Billings. Big Change at Best Buy: One Company’s Wild Ride Through Hypergrowth to Sustained Excellence. Palo Alto, Calif.: Davies-Black Pub., 2003.
44  “Joe Piscopo for New Jersey Governor?” AAS 23 Aug. 2004: A2.
45 Garreau, Joel. The Nine Nations of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981: 67; Kamp, David. “How the Sopranos Helped Me Learn to Love the Garden State.” GQ Apr. 2001: 117.
46 Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Ed. Michael Cader. Boston: Cader Books/Houghton Mifflin, 1994: 143.
47 “The Goods.” GQ July 2004: 20.