|Apr. 2, 2005
I’m still contracting at ERCOT. Three weeks ago, I moved into a new cube,
the walls of which have a pattern resembling 1950s kitchen countertops.
Different material, though. The entire move took perhaps 30 minutes, tops,
to move into a different building at the Taylor Operations Center. ERCOT’s
been moving around groups of people for months, since it opened its newest
building. But everyone else has been treating the move like the first
week of school. “Welcome to the neighborhood,” one cubemate told the
others. It’s a wonder anybody gets any work done around here.
Speaking of not getting any work done, two weeks ago I tagged
along with cubemates to Cele’s Store, a typical ramshackle barbecue
joint of the sort Texas is known for, but which I completely forgot
about,1 if I ever knew of it, and couldn’t have found
otherwise, because it’s at the intersection of Cameron and Cele (pronounced
“seal”) roads in the countryside between Pflugerville and Taylor. It was
worth the trip.2
Meanwhile, farther up the road in Taylor, some of America’s
multiplex idols are filming against the backdrop of downtown.3
My friend Wes Benedict is running for Austin City Council,
Place 4. I encourage everyone within the city limits to vote for him on
Further down the political food chain, U.S. House Democrats
and media allies are trying to ensnare Majority Leader Tom DeLay,
R-Sugar Land, on ethics violations.5 Keep in mind, this
isn’t about anything like DeLay’s dereliction of duty by supporting unconstitutional military action overseas.
Rather, this is an insider’s game involving conflicts of interest.6
I used to like DeLay, if only because he irked the right people.7
But since 9/11, he’s chosen wrongly. What’s
more, his re-gerrymandering of House districts inconvenienced my efforts
to recruit candidates for the LP. For
that, he must pay.
Whole Foods opened its new flagship store at Lamar
Boulevard between Fifth and Sixth streets on Mar. 3.8
I was impressed – once I could get inside the store itself. If
the store’s selection has a comparative disadvantage – and most supermarkets
– it’s in the prices of its deli meats, far higher
than even the Whole Foods at the Gateway shopping center.10
Getting there’s another matter. The new store is drawing more traffic
into those intersections. Usually, grocery shopping peaks between 4-7
p.m., which coincides with the evening rush hour, and also when people
are hungry for dinner. Already the local radio stations have been reporting
a higher number of collisions.
Then you’ve got to position yourself in the correct lanes
just to turn into the street-level parking lot, which, being small,
is bound to be full, or the underground garage, which rivals the Houston Galleria parking garage for always
being crowded. At least you don’t have dodge stray shopping carts at the
Galleria. On the other hand, Whole Foods has a staff in the underground
levels, inhaling exhaust fumes as they direct drivers through the rat
maze in search of a parking spot.11
I’ll hold out for the new Whole Foods planned at MoPac Expressway
and Braker Lane. Meanwhile, I’ll just patronize the same north side
stores I have since I moved here.12
Nonetheless, all of them share a characteristic that makes
me wonder: Is it really such a good idea for grocery stores to play
pop tunes on the sound system when about half of them deal with romantic
regret? Somehow I can’t see Sinatra moping by the arugula.13
Simultaneously, Half-Price Books opened a new store near Lamar
Boulevard and Koenig Lane, in what used to be a Randall’s grocery store.14
A line of customers snaked through the aisles to the checkout counter.
The Alamo Drafthouse opened a new location on South Lamar.15
There, on Mar. 12, I saw a free, but lame, Japanese-Filipino buddy-action-comedy,
“The Guys From Paradise.”16 It was my token brush with this year’s South
by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival.17
The Statesman espies a trend with this recent trio of debuts.18
The Copper Tank has closed.19 I have
fond memories of the place.20 Most notably, I attended
a mixer in 1998. In one evening, I nearly got an impromptu date, and actually
got a job interview within a week from someone who got my business card
from someone I met there that same night. And this is back when I had nothing
going right for me.
On my way to work on Mar. 24, KKMJ-FM interviewed a merchant
promoting the businesses, including his own, centered around 38th Street,
under the moniker “Midtown.” That’s the first time I’ve heard that
area called that. Heretofore, I’ve just thought of it as the Shoal Creek
or Hyde Park neighborhoods, depending on what side of Burnet Road I’m
on.21 So this makes the North Austin neighborhood where I
live … uptown! And there’s another
$100 a month tacked onto my rent.
I received an offer in the mail for a Disney Visa card. I
can’t begin to list how many ways this is wrong.22
Austin Daze has added a column, “The Worst of Austin,”
to counteract the burg’s proclivity to being “a very self-congratulating
On the way out of the Drafthouse, I picked up complimentary
copies of ReadyMade magazine, a new, professional, slick general-interest
publication that combines Popular Mechanics, Entertainment Weekly, Better
Homes & Gardens, and Consumer Reports for trustafarians24
who live in downtown lofts converted from old industrial buildings with
recycled materials,25 and listen avidly to indie pop.26
On Mar. 22, Wells Fargo Bank opened a bank branch at
1601 W. Parmer Lane, near Scofield Farms Drive.
On Mar. 18, on the way to work, I witnessed the aftermath
of a three-vehicle pileup in the inside southbound lane of Metric
Boulevard, near the intersection with Braker Lane. Minutes later,
a blonde in an SUV nearly shoved me out of my lane into the path of
18-wheeler on I-35 in Pflugerville.
1 Smyrl, Vivian Elizabeth. “Cele, Texas.” The New Handbook
of Texas. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996: II, 10.
2 Eisler, Dan. Letter to Bertha A. Eisler, 19 Mar. 2005.
3 Bland, Bobby “Blue.” “Farther Up the Road.” I Pity the
Fool: The Duke Recordings, Vol. I. MCA 10665, 1992; Garcia, Chris. “Inside
Movies.” XL 3 Mar. 2005: 36; O’Connell, Joe. “Film News.” AC 11 Mar. 2005:
4 King, Michael. “Beside the Point: City Council Notes.” AC
11 Mar. 2005: 28; Liao, Ruth, and Hallie Pratt. “City Council Endorsements
In.” DT 22 Mar. 2005: 7A. Liao. “Council Races Set to Begin.” DT 8 Mar. 2005:
5 Lindell, Chuck. “Headlines Chip at DeLay’s Armor.” AAS 20
Mar. 2005: A1+.
6 Copelin, Laylin. “Earle May Find DeLay is Beyond His Grasp.”
AAS 2 Apr. 2005: A1+.
7 Lawson, Guy. “ ‘I Look Mean.’ ” GQ Jun. 2001: 188-193+.
8 Crider, Kitty. “Whole Lotta Groceries.” AAS 2 Mar. 2005: E1+;
Feit, Rachel. “Market Study.” AC 25 Mar. 2005: 45+; Horovitz, Bruce. “A Whole
New Ballgame in Grocery Shopping.” USAT 8 Mar. 2005: 1B; Wood, Virginia B.
“Opening Days.” AC 4 Mar. 2005: 51.
9 D. Eisler. “Re: Austin Dispatches No. 57” E-mail to Chris
Loyd, 27 Oct. 2003.
10 AD No. 70n39 (Aug. 26, 2004).
11 Gallaga, Omar L. “ ‘American Idol’ Did It to Me Again.” XL
17 Mar. 2005: 4.
12 AD No. 17 (June 10, 2000).
13 Hamill, Pete. Why Sinatra Matters. Boston: Little,
Brown & Co., 1998.
14 Salamon, Jeff. “Lifting the Cover on Bigger, Better Half
Price Books.” AAS 3 Mar. 2005: C1.
15 Crider, Kitty; and Dale Rice. “Food Matters.” AAS 9 Mar.
16 The Guys From Paradise (Tengoku Kara Kita Otoko-Tachi).
Asahi National Broadcasting Co./Excellent Film/Hammers Inc./KSS Inc./Nikkatsu
17 Barnes, Michael. “South by Southwest by Everybody We Could
Round Up.” XL 17 Mar. 2005: 4; Belis, Tito. “SXSW: It Takes All Kinds.” DT
11 Mar. 2005: 1A+; Claes, Sean. “The Great Onslaught.” INSM Mar. 2005: 22-25;
“Maria Mesa’s Record Reviews.” Austin Daze Mar./Apr. 2005: 15.
18 Buchholz, Brad. “Not Your Hippie’s Austin.” AAS 15 Mar. 2005:
19 Pope, Colin. “Sixth Street’s Copper Tank Closes, Selling
Brewing Equipment.” ABJ 4 Mar. 2005: 3.
20 AD No. 43n1 (Nov. 23, 2002).
21 AD No. 76; Sitton, Sarah; and Thad Sitton. Austin’s Hyde
Park: The First Fifty Years, 1891-1941. Austin, Texas: Pecan Press Publications,
22 Schweizer, Peter; and Rochelle Schweizer. Disney: The
Mouse Betrayed: Greed, Corruption, and Children at Risk. Washington,
D.C.: Regnery Pub., 1998.
23 Mazza, Henri. “The Worst of Austin.” Austin Daze Mar./Apr.
24 “Trustafarian.” alt.culture, 254.
25 Bernstein, Joshua M. “From Icehouse to Greenhouse.” ReadyMade
Mar./Apr. 2005: 54-59.
26 “Indie-Rock.” alt.culture, 111.