Someday I'll Overcome This Complex

Austin Dispatches No. 205 May 28, 2018


Just when I thought I was up, they pull me back down.


May 18, after a moderately successful week at work, I returned home to a notice from my landlord. My lease expires in two months. That revived a lot of unpleasant memories from last year.


I called my friend Jody Lockshin at Habitat Hunters to seriously review my alternatives to paying yet more rent in an increasingly crowded neighborhood. My dissatisfaction with my current apartment extends to the interior design. The bathroom lacks storage cabinets. The vaulted ceilings mean I must file a service request to change a lightbulb, which are the hyped compact fluorescent type that provide poorer lighting and burn out faster than incandescents. The door handles, instead of doorknobs, mean it's easier to tear clothes than hang clothes on them. The landlord even got the blinds wrong. My previous apartment, one of the last remaining units in the “classic” style, or what some Millennial chick at the leasing office dismissed as an '80s leftover, had Venetian blinds that made it easy to imagine being in a neo-noir flickespecially when things were going badly. Here, the slats are too large to create that effect.


Incidentally, a haberdasher stubbornly insisted on sending an order of dress shirts to my old address. I briefly chatted with the new resident, who’s also dissatisfied enough with the property management company to leave when her lease expires.


If only I could do the same. Like the last time I was roused to consider leaving, the apartments that met my specifications have unsatisfactory egress and ingress, particularly constantly having to make unprotected left turns against thoroughfare traffic from driveway aprons angled to gouge the underside of one’s car, in combination with increasingly heavy traffic flow. Moreover, seemingly most complexes in the Austin metro area have this problem, far more than in other cities I lived. That plus the moving, first and last months’ rent, and administrative fees, neutralizes any advantage to the $200/month less in rent the seven places I considered would charge – at least for my first year.


Ultimately, staying was the best bad option available to me.

Meanwhile in the neighborhood, SWAT officers pepper-sprayed a man out of an armed standoff in a motel restroom off MoPac Expressway on April 24.


On May 12, some SUV-driving idiot cut sharply from the inner southbound lane to the first right-hand egress at Burnet Road just south of the Research Boulevard intersection. Since this could’ve caused damage, injury or death to me and mine, I sustained my car horn at the idiot until he or she got off the road and out of proximity.

On May 22, a woman crossed the intersection of Metric Boulevard and Kramer Lane during rush hour while engrossed in her cell phone. Her body could stop traffic, but even that’s not enough protection against local drivers.


On April 30, I witnessed a bearded hipster tumble off his bicycle onto the Metric Boulevard sidewalk, probably after too many microbrews overwhelmed his microbrain. Also on April 30, KFMK-FM reported a collision at Burnet and Braker Lane. On May 14, failed traffic lights at Gracy Farms Lane and Metric snarled evening commuter traffic.


The Statesman’s Traffic Web page reported auto collisions at MoPac and Parmer Lane on March 27, at MoPac and Braker on March 28, at Burnet and Rutland Drive and at Lamplight Village Avenue and Parmer on April 13, at Braker and Kramer on April 23, on Highway 183 southbound near Burnet and at Gault Lane and Burnet on May 2, at Gracy Farms and Hobby Horse Court on May 9, at the 183 southbound frontage road and Burnet on May 11, and at Scofield Farms Drive and Parmer on May 21. It also reported a grass fire near McKalla Place and Burnet on March 26.


A rainstorm briefly disrupted power to my apartment complex and shredded the neighborhood foliage the night of April 13. The evening of May 6, I noticed a couple of vultures perched atop the clubhouse. They must be new hires at the landlord’s office.


Five businesses have opened and one has closed. District 7 councilwoman Leslie Pool criticized the City’s subsidy to The Domain again, after an audit confirms City Hall’s chumpitude on the deal. The City Council OK’d a mixed-use redevelopment of IBM’s Broadmoor Campus (a.k.a., “the Pink Palace”), including the relocation of the Kramer Lane MetroRail station.


The Long Bad Friday, and Other Observations


March 30: Traffic during commute times was remarkably light. Apparently, many in Austin took the day off for Good Friday. Perhaps there’s something to be said for keeping the Catholics down. They made up for their absence with a vengeance on Cinco de Mayo.


March 31: As someone else commented, perhaps the full moon caused the salseras at Inspired Movement Dance Studio to be noticeably more coquettish. It was a nice setting to my first social excursion in about five months because of the weather.


April 4: I witnessed a near-collision at the eastbound frontage road of 183 at the Interstate 35 intersection.


April 13: At the intersection of Metric, Thermal Drive, and Howard Lane, an idling motorcyclist wrecked his carefully cultivated image of a devil-may-care free spirit after he held up traffic while checking his cell phone, oblivious to the light change, then looked sheepish despite his visored helmet and fumbled to repocket the phone before scrambling away.


April 25: I witnessed a near-collision on eastbound 183 at the I-35 exit.


May 14: A rabbit bounded amid the office walkway shrubbery. Sensing my presence, it pivoted onto its haunches expectantly. “What’s up, doc?” it asked.


May 15: A search for pants brought me to visit Pflugerville’s Stone Hill Town Center for the first time. I opted to dine at a Mexican restaurant to wait out the evening commuter traffic, and serendipitously encountered a friend and former co-worker.


May 27: Smoke from a fire at Southwood Shopping Center obscured my visibility along West Ben White Boulevard.


Austin Death Watch


An assailant stabbed a local comedian in Southeast Austin. So far, it appears to be a case of random street violence, unless the stabber had seen the comedian’s last set. Had the comedian been aware of his surroundings and armed, in the aftermath he could say truly that “he killed.”


State police arrested Travis County Tax Office employees for racketeering and theft of more than $1 million in state taxes. The Austin Police Department fired another cop.  Attendees of the annual Eeyore’s Birthday Party discovered a corpse at Pease Park.


Locals honored Keep Austin Beautiful Day by driving out inhabitants with bad dye jobs, facial piercings and thrift store dorkwear, as well as the remaining hippies.


The power elite constantly laud alternatives to the automobile, but its members also attacked local scooter rental companies because they didn’t ask permission from the Austin Transportation Department. Remember, before you defy industrial civilization to “Keep Austin Weird,” you must first fill out the proper paperwork in triplicate and pay hefty fees to the local bureaucrats. Similarly, the April 13 Business Journal contains two stories about the power elite stymieing developers’ projects.


Bevo and Butt-Heads


Police found a goatee-sporting UT pharmacy prof and convicted assailant dead in his house, although the Daily Texan story didn’t reveal whether he used his knowledge to off himself. When I was a college newspaper reporter, we’d have uncovered details like that. The so-called Revolutionary Student Front jeering at an oppressor’s death reminded me of a superior story from my alma mater decades ago. Some Marxoid professor killed himself after the exposé of him sexually harassing a coed. “He figured she had abilities, he had needs,” quipped the fellow alumnus who told me the story.


In similar vein, the March 30 Chronicle asks “Why Aren’t UT Students Getting Rape Kits?” but doesn’t once mention tuition.


An irate teachers’ union forced the local school board president from office. The same newspaper story reports the school district’s budget has a $30 million deficit.


Cultural Canapés


The April 6 Villager reported on a “Beards and Bowties” fashion show. The photos prove my contention that since Humphrey Bogart died, only Murray Rothbard managed to look credible wearing a bowtie when not part of a tuxedo ensemble. Everyone else just looks prissy or priggish. 


A jury’s conviction of Bill Cosby for sexual assault leaves one question unanswered: How will this impact the likelihood of another “Electric Company” DVD release?


Fail Britannia


My aforementioned problems aren’t the worst fate to befall someone. Harry Mountbatten-Windsor, a.k.a. Prince Henry Charles Albert David, Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton, Baron Kilkeel, and Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, wed a Hollywood actress from a flaky, dysfunctional family. Seemingly everyone on the Internet has coldly, cruelly assessed the marriage and pronounced it doomed. I wonder if he knew:


“Oh, Jeeves.”


“Yes, milord.”


“What are the common people saying about my impending nuptials?”


“Well, er….”


According to the Internet consensus, he’ll soon get royally screwed outside the boudoir. For once, Harry’ll have something in common with the average Brit.


Business Roundup


What used to be an Irish pub downtown is turning into a Mexican restaurant. The sociodemographic implications hardly need to be elaborated.


Media Indigest


One of my instructors appears on the Spring cover of Waterways magazine as the winner of a dance contest.


Notes in the Margin


Once again, some no-names e-mailed the wrong address about a high school class reunion. My attitude remains the same, but the list of worthy artefacts from 1987 and 1988 has grown.


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