Austin Dispatches
No. 83
Sep. 7, 2005
I was right. I regret writing about my new job.  It’s over.

The vice president of Operations told me the bad news Aug. 26, barely a month after I’d started. The company’s small staff is swamped with the accompanying demands of growth. The executives prioritized – and they deemed they could temporarily shelve documentation.

As an ironic compliment, the veep told me they couldn’t keep up with my output. Three internal procedure manuals, seven Web pages, six white papers, and an order form remain unreviewed in his inbox. I had more on the way, too.

The execs hope to work with me again, soon – possibly within 30 to 60 days, albeit part time. But I could tell, reading their eyes, that it killed them to envision a top-notch professional slipping away from them. Just as I envisioned my gains and joys of the last several weeks slipping away from me.

Even a dog gets a warm piece of the sidewalk.1  Jobs this good don’t come along often enough. The work was interesting. I got to write a little of everything I’ve ever written before professionally, and then some. My ad copy will appear in a supplement to the September issue of Mobile Enterprise magazine. Unfortunately, everything else is covered under the non-disclosure agreement I signed. Unfortunate, because what you can’t read is some of the best technical writing I’ve ever done.

Now I have to scramble to maintain my financial momentum, which determines everything else, including my general mood.

Excursion Highlights

Aug. 21:  I attended the Ijagbemi-Garcia wedding in Garland. It was a lovely affair. I drove up leisurely, changed into formal attire at the church, and still sweated through a brisk, 70-minute service. "You had to make it an August wedding," I ribbed the groom. 
Labor Day:  I eschewed a semi-salsa cruise on Lake Travis to play for free at the Bluebonnet Hill Golf Course. From the gently rolling, manicured vistas, I could see the Decker Creek Power Plant to the west, the cluster of cell phone towers to the east, and the mixed commercial-light industrial-zoned corrugated metal buildings along Highway 290 to the north. Unfortunately, dozens of other men had the same idea as me. Most resorted to zipping from hole to hole in golf carts while the loudspeakers at the clubhouse exhorted everyone to play fast so they could finish their rounds within four hours. So much for genteel leisure. Especially with a game that requires patience. One golfer behind me said, “Tiger Woods ain’t helping me, and taking the day off ain’t helping me. I might as well’ve gone to work today.”2 

I played until sweat streaked my lenses. It was a cue to head indoors. But in my short time of play I reduced my strokes, even with the putter, where my game usually falls apart. Imagine the improvements if I actually had time and money to play every day. However, my worst experiences dancing are still better than even my best day on the links:
Après Moi, Le Deluge

On Sep. 3, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera described post-flood New Orleans as a “cesspool.”3  In this, Rivera, whose life and career have been something of a cesspool,4  mimicked experts who worried that Hurricane Katrina would turn New Orleans into a “vast cesspool” tainted with toxic chemicals and human waste.5  Well, to hear and read others describe it over the years, New Orleans was already a vast cesspool, one where one trod through other people’s vomit on the streets and passed by public blowjobs during Mardi Gras.6  My brother,  who hasn’t visited, once speculated the city must be the sleaziest place on earth, “because it combines the two sleaziest cultures: Southern and French.” I haven’t even touched on the natives’ propensity for occult practices,7  or its infamous political corruption,8  from the pickpockets it sends to Congress9  to the cop on the beat, who’s just as likely to rob and murder you as give you a ticket.10 

Maybe it wasn’t such a hot idea to build a major city below water level on a swamp.11 But why didn’t the authorities deploy bags of rice to soak up the water? Then they could’ve sold it to tourists as Cajun dirty rice.

In related developments, Fats Domino turned up safely after concerns as to his whereabouts. I was vaguely under the impression he’d died years ago. Sorry, Fats.12 

Austin Death Watch

At least New Orleans has force majeure to explain its woes. What’s Austin’s excuse?

Environmentalists ensconced in the Texas bureaucracy have imposed emissions testing on drivers in Travis County, even though Steve Ravet, chairman of the of Texas LP’s Transportation Committee, has pointed out that “program neglects to test diesels, the dirtiest part of the vehicle pool, and puts an undue burden on individuals, often those with low incomes, even though much of Austin’s pollution blows in from places like Houston.”13 

Speaking of emissions, Austin’s smoking ban in bars and restaurants went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sep. 1.14  However, the Austin Police Department isn’t enforcing the ordinance or writing citations.15   Instead, City Hall is putting the onus on the bars to enforce the ordinance, under threat of hefty fines.16  As a result, attendance and receipts are down, at least among the taverns along Sixth Street and Red River.17 The law has hurt dives the worst.

The City Council also decided to screw up the roads on either side of the Colorado River downtown. Cesar Chavez Street will turned into a two-way thoroughfare between San Antonio and Brazos streets; Riverside Drive will be narrowed from four lanes to two; and South Congress Avenue will be torn up for repairs between Barton Springs Road and Bouldin Creek. Official cost: More than $1 million a month.18
Neighborhood News

The Statesman reports that Endeavor Real Estate Group is buying the rest of the property next to its Domain shopping centers project, between MoPac Expressway, Burnet Road and Braker Lane, for $45 million.19  Endeavor envisions the Domain as Austin’s answer to Houston’s Galleria.20 

La Mamma Pizza opened at the Metric Place strip mall, which has been nearly deserted in all the time I’ve lived here. On Aug. 31, KAMX-FM reported a collision at Highway 183 and Braker.

Business Roundup

Delta Air Lines now offers non-stop flights from Austin to New York City.21  The newest addition to the San Marcos factory outlets opened Sep. 2. One of the new outlet stores is White House/Black Market. (Insert political joke here.)22

arthur magazine has a feature on the indigenous entrepreneurs of Peru who have become rich supplying naïve, post-Enlightenment Westerners medicinal potions of dubious effectiveness at extravagant prices.23 

E-mail: austindispatches@swbell.net Home    Archives   


1 Hendrickson, Robert. New Yawk Tawk: A Dictionary of New York City Expressions. New York City: Facts on File Books, 1998: 170.
2 Pierce, Charles P. “The Man. Amen.” GQ Apr. 1997: 196.
3 Fox News, 3 Sep. 2005.
4 Queenan, Joe. “Geraldo Exposed.” TAS Oct. 1998: 64.
5 Crenson, Matt. AP. “ ‘Absolutely Worst-Case Scenario.’ ” DT 29 Aug. 2005: 1A.
6 Dr. John [Mac Rebennack], and Jack Rummel. Under a Hoodoo Moon: The Life of the Night Tripper. New York City: St. Martin's Press, 1994; Holt, Chad. “End of the World Type Shit.” Whoopsy! Sep. 2005: 30; Leonard, Elmore. Bandits. New York City: Arbor House, 1987; Mead, Walter Russell. “Dancing the Bamboula in Old New Orleans.” GQ Feb. 1993: 164; Trillin, Calvin. “The Town That Practices Parading.” Time 22 Aug. 1988: 30.
7 Reed, Ishmael. Title essay. 1977. Shrovetide in Old New Orleans, 1st ed. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday,  1978: 9-33.
8 Gold, Victor. “All the Duke’s Men.” TAS Feb. 1992: 36; Truscott, Lucien K. IV. “Hate Gets a Haircut.” Esquire Nov. 1989: 174; Warren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men, restored ed. Orlando, Fla.: Harcourt, 2001; Wills, Garry. “David Duke’s Addictive Politics.” Time 1 Oct. 1990: 43.
9 Cook, A. “ ‘Goodbye to Me, Hello to We.’ ” Esquire Mar. 1991: 98; Draper, Robert. “Elegy for Edwin Edwards, Man of the People.” GQ July 2000: 160; Gold. “American Hayride.” TAS Mar. 2000: 34; Gold. “The Coonass King and the Guru.” TAS Oct. 1991: 14.
10 Gwynne, S.C. “Cops and Robbers.” Time 20 Mar. 1995: 45.
11 Kelman, Ari. A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans. Berkeley, Calif.: U of California P, 2003.
12 Coyle, Jake. “Katrina Felt Across Entertainment World.” DT 2 Sep. 2005: 1C.
13 Mottola, Daniel. “New, Pricier Car Inspections Start Today.” AC 2 Sep. 2005: 22.
14 Barnes, Michael. “Austin Kicks the Habit This Week, and It Probably Won’t Hurt.” XL 1 Sep. 2005: 4; Callahan, Kevin M. “No Smoking in Austin.” AS 1 Sep. 2005: A1-2; Price, Asher. “One Last Drag as Clubs Go Smokeless.” AAS 2 Sep. 2005: B1+.
15 Covici, Adam H., and Adrienne Lee. “Police Department Lax on Enforcement of Smoking Ban.” DT 2 Sep. 2005: 1A.
16 Stevens, Darcie. “911, We’ve Got a Smoker.” AC 2 Sep. 2005: 56+.
17 AD No. 29n54 (Sep. 4, 2001); Gray, Christopher. "Red River Valley." AC 22 Jun. 2001: 60+.
18 Wear, Ben. “Council Signals Change of Lanes.” AAS 2 Sep. 2005: B1+.
19 AD No. 56n49 (Oct. 1, 2003); Novak, Shonda. “Endeavor Buying 170-Acre Domain.” AAS 7 Sep. 2005: C1-2.
20 AD No. 71 (Sep. 15, 2004); Novak, op. cit.
21 Hawkins, Lori. “City Gets Nonstop Flights to New York.” AAS 1 Sep. 2005: C1+.
22 Friedman, Alan. Spider’s Web: The Secret History of How the White House Illegally Armed Iraq. New York City: Bantam Books, 1993.
23 Reeves, David. “Tropic of Cancer.” arthur Sep. 2005: 34-36.