Tuesday, June 25th–
I got up around 7:30 to 8am after a night of inadequate sleep. I did my usual rituals, then called the Social Security Administration to give them my corrections, but a recording said they were swamped with calls and that I should try back later.
Someone posted this– NY morning view from a couch-crasher’s perspective.
I responded– When I first moved to Austin I was a couch-crasher.
The second couch I stayed on was that of a friend who had a long-distance romance going. He and his girlfriend were obsessed with one another, and talked every night on long-distance telephone for over four hours. Plus they exchanged cards and presents every day. One wall of his bedroom was covered with cards, letters, and deflated balloons from her.
I found it all rather ridiculous.
My friend spent so much money on this nonsense that he had to be very careful with his other bills. He couldn’t afford to run his air conditioner, which is an absolute necessity in Texas. But since I slept in the living room, I’d have to sleep with the patio door open to get any kind of air at night.
We were on the third floor. The patio windows and the balcony faced west, and I slept with my feet pointed at the open window.
At the time, Austin’s airport was just a short distance north of downtown, and as it turned out, our apartment was directly in the flight path. So every morning at 6am, I’d be rudely and frighteningly awakened by a big jet airliner roaring in, looking as if it was headed directly for our apartment.
I headed out close to 10am to go run my errands. As I approached the bus stop, I saw the # 3 bus leaving. The # 383 arrived just as I did, so I rode it over to Target, got off that one, and then got on the # 3, which was having a lay-over. Later, I rode it over to Burnet Road, got off, waited at least thirty fucking minutes in the hot sun–it felt more like an hour–then got the # 240 over to the North Lamar HEB where I filled my prescriptions.
I had lunch at a filthy, crowded, and noisy McDonald’s in the HEB parking lot. I had a large order of fries, two apple pies, and ice water. I had to ask for a plastic fork and napkins since they’d not bothered to keep up the stock out at the condiments table.
Then I had another long, hot wait for the # 1 bus. When it arrived I had one of those drivers–I recognized him–who likes to drive his bus at the leisurely crawl of a hearse. It took forever to get downtown.
During the ride I had to sit seven to ten feet behind a homeless or near-homeless person I’ve seen around on the buses for years, whom I’ve nicknamed “The Dirty Asshole,” because of the rather engrained nature of his personal filthiness, and the sour expression he always has on his face. All the way downtown he had his arms raised over his head and his filthy mitts clutching a metal pole–airing out his stinky armpits.
I was very hot and upset by the time I got to the library. I dropped some materials off, went to the DVD section, found nothing to suit me, grabbed some books on DVD, snagged some more bus maps, then hit the second and third floors for more books.
Here’s what I checked out–
+James Ellroy–The Hilliker Curse (On CD)
+Jack Kerouac–On The Road (On CD)
+Vladimir Nabokov–Lolita (On CD)
+Joyce Johnson–The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac (On CD)
+Mark Finn–Blood & Thunder: The Life & Art of Robert E. Howard
+Joris-Karl Huysmans–Against Nature (A Rebours)
+W. D. Howells–Italian Journeys
+Norman Bel Geddes Designs America–(Donald Albrecht, editor)
+Jon Thompson–How To Read A Modern Painting: Lessons from the Modern Masters
+Patrick De Rynck–How To Read A Painting: Lessons from the Old Masters
After that I had fifteen or twenty more minutes in the heat, waiting for the # 382 Express to take me home. I was so tired and out of it, that when I slid my day pass through the scanner I didn’t look to see how much extra fare I owed, and the driver didn’t ask me for it. I didn’t even realize this until I was almost home.
Belle greeted me loudly, as usual.
I was very hot, sore, tired, irritated, and dehydrated.
So fucking angry right now.
I had planned to go to bed early, but I got drawn into watching the coverage of a filibuster at the Texas State Capitol. It attracted an international audience and became quite entertaining political theatre.
This made me laugh out loud–
Can we lift Wendy Davis out of the Senate Chamber and carry her through the Capitol after she finishes like she’s the goddamn Khaleesi?
Someone posted–Texas Legislator Wendy Davis is currently filibustering one of the strictest anti-abortion bills in America. She has to go for 13 hours without stopping, sitting, going to the bathroom or even leaning. There are currently 11,000 20,000 26,000 30,000 35,000 people watching live.
Someone posted– Davis has been wearing a back brace to help her poise as she continues on her fairly aggressive filibuster. If she can keep it going, she’ll have spoken until the end of the special session, single-handedly stopping a vote on the measure—or anything else, for that matter.
I read that the entire Texas Capitol is full right now–all four floors–and it’s a pretty large building. I think it was the largest office building in the world when it was completed.
86,535 watching live feed from Austin.
Someone posted–We’re currently locked in the Texas Capitol.
Someone posted–The political savvy with which David Dewhurst has handled this filibuster explains why Ted Cruz is now a U. S. senator.
Someone posted– Weird how Texas Republicans won’t let Wendy Davis carry this filibuster to term.
Looks like the comment thread on the Texas Lege feed is at least an hour behind.
10:59 in Austin. One hour left.
Someone posted– Is Senator Watson going to try to deliver a 40 minute closing speech?
Looks like it.
Someone posted–i’m watching this texas livestream just waiting for “rains of castamere” to start playing.
#the feminists send their regards
Someone posted–this may be the only time in history where texans’ tendency to speak as slow as humanly possible may come in handy
ME–This Texan says “Tee-hee.”
I wonder what Molly Ivins would’ve said about today’s events in Austin were she still alive.
Someone posted–“mr president i have an inquiry”
“state your inquiry”
“GO FUCK YOURSELF SIR”
“Senator, you must rephrase that in the form of a question.”
“Very well, Mr. President, will you please go fuck yourself, sir?”
11 minutes left.
Someone posted– “At what point must a female senator raise her voice to be heard over her male colleagues in the room”
ME– The Amazing [Me] predicts this will be THE mother-fucking meme tomorrow.
Someone posted–SHE’S STILL STANDIGN (sic) SHE HASNT (sic) SPOKEN IN LIKE AN HOUR AND A HALF AND SHE’S STILL STANDIGN (sic)
A night like tonight makes me wish I still lived in Central Austin instead of out here in the ‘burbs.
I’d love to see the crowd at the Capitol in two minutes.
Midnight in Austin.
Wednesday, June 26th–Tuesday flowed into Wednesday.
What’s that rhythmic sound outside the Texas Senate Chamber?
It sounds like a faulty washing machine, but I think it’s the crowd outside the Chamber chanting and clapping and stomping.
Someone posted–THEY ARE PUMPING THEIR FISTS ON THE FLOOR
GUYS I CAN’T THE FEELS
Texas Capitol Rotunda—right now.
Someone posted– GOP senators in the Texas statehouse are claiming that they suspended due to the disruption in the chamber, and that “time-out” allowed them to resume and pass SB5 at 12:01 AM.
This appears the go in direct violation of Texas law and state senate procedure.
I predict a lengthy court battle to decide the fate of this bill.
Someone posted–oh good lord.
Someone posted–senate computer (whatever that means) reports that the bill passed. people are being hauled out of the gallery and arrested.
Someone posted–what oh god
“WENDY DAVIS, FIRST OF HER NAME, KHALEESI OF THE TEXAS PRAIRIE, BORN IN A STORM OF REPUBLICAN TEARS, BREAKER OF PATRIARCHY, MOTHER OF FREEDOM AND QUEEN OF OUR HEARTS”—Comment on the filibuster live stream (via halfscottish)
I keep telling you people what a shit-hole state Texas is, but no one listens….
Someone posted– Aaaaaaand they’re arresting people now.
Someone posted– my greatest fear is that nothing will change, once the flash of this dies down.
ME–Of course nothing will change until there is a MAJOR overhaul of the way American government and society operate. And I don’t think most Americans are pissed off enough or strong enough yet for that to happen.
Someone posted–THIS IS THE SHIT THAT’S GOING TO BE IN HISTORY BOOKS
THE TIME A WOMAN HAD TO STAND AND TALK FOR 13 HOURS
AND WHEN THEY SILENCED HER
THE PEOPLE SCREAMED INSTEAD
Someone posted–AND WHEN THE PEOPLE SCREAMED
THEY WERE IGNORED.
Someone posted–Yeah but what type of government tries to break its own law in front of a public gallery of hundreds of citizens, surrounded by cameras, while being streamed live for 150,000 people?
ME–A government that controls the economy, means of production. law enforcement and military, how you’re educated, whether you have a job or not….
Tonight’s events reminded me of an old movie I’ve not seen for many years–“Blossoms in the Dust.”
Starring Greer Garson, it was based on the true story about a woman who opens a home for orphans and illegitimate children. At one point, she campaigns to have the term “illegitimate” removed from birth certificates in Texas, and appears before the Texas State Senate to argue her cause.
Many of the Senators don’t want to hear her, because illegitimacy had such a huge stigma in those days. There’s a lot of harumphing and cat-calls. And right before she begins to speak, the President of the Senate calls a ten-minute recess, then adds, “Go ahead, Mrs. Gladney….Members of the Senate may walk out…if chivalry is dead in Texas.”
Naturally, the Senators can’t handle being shamed in that way, and they all stay, hear her out, and vote in favor of her proposal.
Which just goes to show the difference between movies and real life.
Someone posted–Close to 50 arrests already. DONATE TO BAIL FUND HERE
Donate to the bail fund for protestors arrested in Texas.
Someone posted–Every single one of my friends is up late on a Tuesday night watching a livestream of the Texas legislature debate points of policy. Do not fucking tell me my generation is apathetic you baby boomer assholes
Someone posted–Pretty much. My entire dash is filled with it.
Well, I’m sure glad I didn’t go to bed early tonight the way I’d originally planned.
Did anyone else notice a few hours before the Texas filibuster drama ended, there was a brief period of chanting from the gallery? I don’t mean the long burst of chanting right before midnight.
Anyway, right as that was happening, President of the Senate David Dewhurst looked out, as if getting the attention of security in the back of the room, and did an elaborate gestures in the air with his hands. If you watched the pattern he traced you could see he was telling security to enter the gallery from every direction, and sweep the onlookers and protestors out of the room.
Now they didn’t clear the gallery for another couple hours, but there was something in the way he made that gesture that was chilling and unsettling.
CONFIRMED: SB5 IS DEAD (According to Lt. Gov./President of Tx. Senate Dewhurst)
My gut feeling is that the Texas Republicans conceded defeat with SB5 not because they were intimidated by loud, but unarmed protestors, but because they realized the case for declaring the vote was shaky at best, and it would cause a big mess in the courts and make everybody responsible look like fools. Rick Perry has been pushing this anti-abortion agenda, but his political star has been on the wane ever since he made such a fool of himself in 2012. Maybe these Republicans didn’t want to go down on Perry’s sinking ship, and decided to cut their losses. Still, they’ll probably try to pass something similar in the next regular or special session of the Legislature. I think the legislators are more scared of the lobbyists and their big money bosses than anything else. But an audience of 150,000 around the world, even if it was just on You Tube, counts for something.
Someone posted–Everyone is saying take that TEXAS, take that TEXAS LEGISLATURE, take that MEN. I want us to all be REALLY CLEAR HERE. Tonight, members of the TEXAS LEGISLATURE stood up and followed proper procedure to protest an unjust bill. When the feeds were cut because the TEXAN people rose in protest, the only live footage or current correct news coverage I could find of the event was from MEN there to protest with the women. Keep the ‘equal’ in the fight for equality!
I watched maybe the last four hours of the session, and when things were really hopping, the other Democrats who helped Senator Davis were like a perfectly choreographed dance team, stepping up, making challenges, asking questions, throwing curve balls, handing off to another Senator, stalling for time, giving the Republicans as good as they got. It was amazing viewing.
Up until tonight I viewed the entire Texas Legislature as a monolith of ignorant, bigoted rednecks, but I have since learned that wasn’t entirely true.
And I also believe I saw some political stars born tonight.
On the other side of the Texas State Capitol Building, in the House Chamber, there’s a section of the gallery known as “The Owner’s Box,” because that’s where the lobbyists who work for big business interests, and who have all of the Republican in their pockets, sit.
Why can’t everybody just leave everybody the fuck alone?
Someone posted– “What you wear has the power to influence your thinking on a subconscious level. This is shown by the Standford Prison experiment.”
ME–What I don’t wear—pants—also influences my thinking. This is shown by the […] experiment.
Someone wrote– [Social media] can go from porn and fandom to serious political talk in about .5 seconds and it’s actually pretty amazing
I wrote– Yeah, first it’s all Sherlock and John anal sex fan-art, then mother-fuckers are up on the barricades calling for revolution. I’m way behind on my cute puppy/kitten/bunny pix for the day.
Someone posted–[CRASHES A CAR THROUGH YOUR LIVING ROOM] GET IN, SHITHEADS, WE’RE STARTING A FUCKING REVOLUTION
Lemme put some pants on
THE REVOLUTION DOESNT HAVE TIME FOR PANTS JUST GET IN THE GOD DAMN CAR
ME– The Revolution will not be fully-dressed.
I woke about 2:30pm or so, still very tired and sore from yesterday.
Glenn Beck Concerned Gay Marriage Could Lead To Polygamy huffingtonpost.com
Glenn Beck voiced a ridiculous “concern” about gay marriage on Wednesday.
ME– That’s pretty rich coming from a fucking Mormon.
After a long time spent on hold, I finally got ahold of someone from the Social Security Administration and asked about the corrections I wanted to make to my SSDI application. The lady was quite pleasant and helpful.
Okay, I’m not talking about any particular issue here, but it annoys me that where any kind of rights are concerned, the weak and the poor always have to ask, beg, plead, con, bribe, flatter, steal from, fight, cajole, and persuade the powerful and the wealthy for their rights, and the powerful always take the stance of strict parents: “Oh, I’m sorry. You want to have the car Friday night and stay an hour past your usual curfew? But you failed to mow the lawn exactly the way I told you to. There’s still a small patch in the back yard you missed. So, you missed your chance. And anyway, you didn’t need to go out. Trust me, I know what’s best for you.” I’m just really tired of being treated like a child by those in charge.
Someone wrote– Getting home from the psychologist’s office and realizing that you’re much more fucked up than you thought…
Someone else wrote–forward into the breach! I’m pretty much the same… sometimes it’s a bitch, but i manage most of the time.
ME– I had a therapist who said, “You know, you’ve been coming in here for months telling me the most horrific stories, but you usually do it with a smile on your face. How is that possible?”
And I said, “I don’t know. Maybe I’m just amused and overcome with disbelief that so many awful things have happened to me and continue to happen.”
Like the old cliche goes, if I didn’t laugh I’d cry. And in my case I don’t like to cry in public, in front of therapists or anybody else. I save my tears for home.
So *NOW* will you all believe me when I try to tell you what a fucked-up place Texas is?
I am not so much interested in winning as I am in seeing my enemies totally defeated and destroyed.
Someone wrote, referencing some right-wing claim that the Supreme Court today making two rulings in favor of gay marriage would lead to bestiality–Two Americans convinced their far-reaching bigotry is the work of god.
ME– Oh, in all of the excitement I forgot to tell ll of you that I asked my dog to marry me today and she accepted!
We’re registered at Macy’s, Williams-Sonoma, and Petco, if you want to buy us a gift (hint hint).
I’m the happiest man alive!
Someone wrote– human/dog marriages: actually much more stable than human/human ones
ME– And my dog also barks at me incessantly for about fifteen minutes whenever I return home from an absence of any kind, whether it lasted fifteen minutes or eight hours, so that’s a bit like having a nagging wife, though she stops eventually.
And I would definitely freak out if a human female took a dump on my carpet. With my dog, I can take care of it.
Have we heard anything today from Victoria Jackson, Kirk Cameron, or Rick Santorum? I’m sure those fuck-wits have something quotable to say.
I discovered the secret to life and I didn’t have to spend years meditating on a mountain-top or under a tree: Follow more Corgi blogs.
I always wince violently when someone calls a group of males and females, or worse yet, only females, “guys.” To me, a “guy” has a penis.
ME–Here’s how I think things will play in Texas.
Rick Perry has already called another Special Session of the Texas Legislature for this bill. I will wager he’s got lawyers, parliamentarians, and other experts strategizing how best to head the Democrats off at the pass and make this bill become law. He will either keep having Special Sessions until he gets his way or wait until the next Regular Session in 2014. He might prefer to wait until there’s a new news cycle and the public’s collective attention is turned to other matters.
Be assured, though, that Perry will probably have State Troopers keeping spectators out of the House and Senate Chambers, and the mikes cut much of the time, so what happened yesterday won’t be repeated.
My advice to Texas Democratic Legislators: buy comfortable shoes and adult diapers. You’ll need them.
But generally speaking, once the Powers That Be, whether on a national, state, or local level, decide they want something, they’re going to find a way to get it. If they can do it publicly that’s fine, but they are not above going for it in secret.
Now I was under the impression that Perry’s star was on the wane, but a friend who follows Texas politics closer than I do thinks Perry will make another Presidential bid in 2016, and if he gets SB5 passed he will wave it before the eyes of the Christian Right-Wingers that would constitute the majority of his base like a dog owner waving a chew toy at a dog.
Of course, if he got the GOP nomination, then he’d have to debate Hilary Clinton more than likely, and that’s one show I wouldn’t dare miss.
Someone wrote– He wouldn’t try again, after the disaster that was his campaign last time? Would he?
Someone else wrote– They already tried to push through an illegal and invalid vote. They’ll stop at nothing. Prick Perry knows he’s on borrowed time as Governor – his SB5 nemesis, Wendy Davis, might damn well be his competition in the next gubernatorial brouhaha. They’ll stop at nothing to “save” pre-born people while they execute the next 500. Bastards.
ME–I would think it more likely that if any Texas Democrat from last night runs for Governor in 2014 it’d be Kirk Watson, and even then, he might hold off. He considered running in 2010. (Though the office of Lt.-Governor is actually more powerful in Texas.) If Texas turns blue in the next few years, he could become a very major player indeed. He used to be Mayor of Austin, and he could campaign on his record in that area as well as his record in the Senate.
As for Wendy Davis, that’s hard to say. Yes, 180,000 people worldwide were watching the filibuster at one point, but who constituted her audience? I would think it was mostly young people, since older people with jobs tend to be in bed early. I watched the You Tube feed, but my understanding was that the major TV news networks gave the event little attention. Plus the filibuster got buried between two days of Supreme Court decisions.
I’m not saying that Davis (and others, including Senator Van de Putte) last night didn’t become new liberal Democratic stars. I’m just wondering how well this will translate with Texas voters. She has said she’s going to run for re-election in 2014. But I wouldn’t be surprised if she eyed a statewide office, such as Attorney General, especially since the current AG, Greg Abbott, wants to run for Governor.
Still, if she runs for any major office, look for Senator Davis to be tarred as Satan’s baby-killing hand-maiden by the conservatives.
Someone wrote– Dear Rick Perry,
You are not allowed to change the rules just because things didn’t turn out how you wanted.
Someone added– ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH
Someone else added– WHAT
Someone else added– Actually this is perfectly legal under the Texas constitution.
Someone else added– seriously?! what is the point of a “democratic” process then?
Someone else added– well the idea was that since Texas elected republicans they get to pass the laws they want. Basically, screw you minorities/oppressed people.
Someone else added– Special sessions are used all the time since the Lege only meets once every two years. Typically, in the past, they have been used to pass budgets or education reform.
Perry has mostly used them mostly for pushing abortion and immigration bills.
ME– Yeah, I remember a few years ago that in the Regular Session the Legislature wasn’t able to figure out a way to finance public schools, but it did address that oh-so-important topic of sexually-suggestive high school cheer-leading routines. They actually had to have a Special Session to deal with school finance.
And let’s not forget that one at least two occasions they’ve considered allowing Texas college students to carry concealed firearms on campus for protection. The second time they did this was just a few weeks after a student went on a shooting spree on the UT campus, just a fifteen minute walk from the Capitol. (And if that wasn’t bad enough, I’ve had several friends arguing why such a law would be a great idea!)
The Texas Legislature is basically like a group of cranky, cheap old people. The members oppose any kind of progress, they use religion as an excuse to act like assholes, and they like to cut the funding for any and every program they can find.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Texas is a real shit-hole.
I wrote in response to a strange post- Masturbation feels how pizza tastes? Seriously? Either I don’t know how to masturbate properly or I’ve been eating some really lousy pizzas, because most pizzas taste like crap to me, and many give me diarrhea. I do eat pizzas, but I’ve never understood the fuss over them.
Someone wrote– “Shit ton” is my favorite unit of measurement.
ME– That is definitely a generational thing, because everybody I know over a certain age always says, “Shit-load.” “Shit ton” always sounds odd to me. And since nobody can fucking spell anymore, some people write it as “shiton” or “shitton,” which looks like “shit on” to me.
But I’m also not a big fan of people writing “ya” when they mean “yeah.”
Someone wrote– so now that I know I’m autistic I knew to expect a severe breakdown at the wedding (45 minutes of weeping over the death of shellfish, and suicidal ideation…check!) and to expect it to take maybe 2 weeks to recover from it.
so uh, accurate so far. trying to decide how to use this information to my advantage. or, you know, stop having aftershock-like panic attacks.
ME–There’s a famous Glenn Gould quote where he speculates about the amount of solitude you need to recover from a given amount of exposure to other people.
As for me, if I have more than one “ordeal” a week it’s bad. Two a week’s really pushing it, and I seldom let myself get trapped into more responsibilities than that. When I found out last week that my doctor had cancelled my appointment for the 24th, and that I could also therefore postpone a blood lab visit last week, I was practically whistling “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” out of my asshole.
Still, this week has involved sending an e-mail for the monthly checks to my mom, and dreading her response, two calls to the Social Security Administration (one a recording, one successful), and Tuesday’s errands (picking up my prescriptions and going to the library—which should’ve taken no more than four hours, but because of the slow buses took over six). This has all proved too much. I have been sore, exhausted, and dehydrated since Tuesday afternoon, and feel as if I’ve unloaded a boxcar full of 100-lbs. bags of chicken feed. So I have decided to postpone my Museum Day Thursday and concentrate on staying cool and calming down.
Indeed, I think my stress Tuesday had less to do with being around people and riding the filthy, noisy buses than it did with having to wait around for prolonged amounts of time in the unbearable heat. It just takes too much out of me. I’ve never been able to handle this climate, though I’ve lived here almost all of my life.
I will be interested to see if the Social Security folks do indeed get me tested for Asperger’s and what the test uncovers.
Thursday, June 27th–
I think today was the day I got the latest packet of SSDI forms to fill out.
I listened to the first three CDs of “The Hilliker Curse.”
I got diarrhea….
I think it was today that I started Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel.” I also read in Fisher, Buzzi and the Blanton guide, I think.
“There is more beauty in truth, even if it is a dreadful beauty.” — John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I eat stories like grapes.” — John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Someone posted–“When people in Texas and other states complain about bad laws, the response from progressives in New York City (I use NYC only as an example — there are people in many cities that believe their city is the most progressive in the world) is that they should just pack their bags and hop the first plane to Manhattan. Instead of working to change bad policy, they should abandon their homes, lives, and friends for more liberal pastures.
For most of us, that just isn’t in the cards. My family lives in Texas and Louisiana, and I can’t imagine being far away from them. I live in Dallas, where I get the perks of a major metropolitan area, like 3 a.m. Thai delivery and excellent theatre, while simultaneously getting cheap rent and high wages. As a bonus — I get to live in a pretty progressive area full of great restaurants, urban gardens, cool bars, and best of all — great tacos.
I don’t want to leave my home, and I don’t think I should have to. Texas is a pretty great place, most of the time. I’m not going to let a couple hundred right-wing men in Austin make me leave the state I was raised in.
Progressives deserting Texas, Florida, and others isn’t the way to solve the problems of these states. More organization, more time, and more money from national progressive groups will lead to real, lasting change.”—Stop Telling Liberals and Women to Leave Red States
ME– Well, I DO want to escape Texas. Even if it were a liberal paradise, the climate is unbearable, and I am bored shitless with everything about this place. I hate the people, their values, their politics, their pastimes, their anti-intellectual bias, their bull-headed embrace of Tea Bagger stupidity, and what passes for culture. I hate the fact that my entire life has been wasted in a place that is exactly like “King of the Hill.”
The only things that have kept me in this godforsaken shit-hole are lack of money and the fact I’ve been stuck most of my life in a bad place career-wise. Never mind that I was recently told I was totally unemployable and will have to spend years in therapy trying to get my psychological problems in order so I can maybe go back to work one day, if, of course, I get approved for disability and Medicaid first, and that’s by no means a sure thing.
I hate everything about this goddamn place, but I’m terrified I’ll be stuck here until the day I kill myself, unless somebody airlifts me out of here.
RE: Paula Deen and race
When I was growing up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s, white men often used the word “n****r,” or if they were polite, “blacks,” “Negroes,” or (rarely) “colored people.” White women always used “nigra,” which seemed a strange compromise between “Negro” and “n****r.” A woman that actually used the word “n*****r” would’ve been considered vulgar and common.
I started school just two or three years after my town’s schools had been integrated, and when I was a high school senior inter-racial dating was still considered shocking and scandalous.
My father grew up on what was left of his family’s plantation in East Texas, and he was taught hunting and woodcraft by an old black man who worked for the family. After my father’s death I did some research and discovered that the old man was the illegitimate son of my father’s great-great-step-grandfather, George T. Wood, second Governor of Texas, and one of his slaves. I’m not even sure if my father knew of the old man’s ancestry.
And I knew a man, a plant nursery owner, who as a child in 1922 participated in a lynching (actually a burning at the stake) in Conroe, Texas. He said that after this black man, Joe Winters, had been captured, after being accused of raping a white girl, he’d been taken downtown and tied to a hitching post. The storyteller and a bunch of other little boys then ran around in the alleys downtown, collecting scrap lumber, which was subsequently piled up around Winters, who was then doused in gasoline and set on afire.
When I was in high school, a girl attending a volleyball game at Conroe High School (the same town that was the site of the 1922 lynching), was raped and murdered. The school’s janitors seemed the most likely suspects, and a Texas Ranger said to them, “One of you is going to have to hang for this,” and turning to janitor Clarence Brandley, who was black, “Since you’re the n****r, you’re elected.”
Brandley did not get a fair trial, and spent several years on Death Row before he was exonerated and freed. He tried to sue the state for wrongful imprisonment, but his lawsuits were turned down. The State of Texas didn’t even give him an apology.
So no, the “old days” were not so long ago.
Some might think it’s a shame that a woman who seems like everybody’s aunt is losing her career for using racial slurs, while elsewhere politicians, business leaders, and other power brokers are getting away with amassing millions and incredible power by oppressing and even killing minorities. But let us not think Paula Deen is merely a quaint, if embarrassing holdover from the past, a “product of her time and culture,” that in a few more decades people who think like her will die off and we can settle into having a “post-racial society.”
The lynch mobs still exist, even if they haven’t seemed especially active in recent decades. We have only to study recent American political discourse to see that. Just this week Jim Crow sat up, and rubbed his eyes after having a long nap.
Keep in mind the words of Mr. Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Friday, June 28th–
I spent a few hours writing this for [a follower who is a photographer]:
Now that I’ve reread your original post I see you’re coming to Austin in a couple of weeks, though not necessarily staying a couple of weeks. I was going to say that unless you came down for SXSW or something like that, you’d probably run out of things to do after about a week. But yes, having relatives here and having visited before will help.
I used to be the Food Editor for […], and I had a newspaper column on Austin history (since turned into an as-yet-unpublished book), so I know the town pretty well, even if I haven’t been out-and-about much lately.
If you have time I would recommend a day or two spent in San Antonio, which is about a 90-120 minutes drive south. SA is older, more historical, with more interesting architecture, more museums, lots of cool old churches, and, in the city center at least, is more culturally rich and has less of that generic suburban American look than Austin has.
But let me start with downtown Austin and work my way outwards. Sixth Street is over-rated. Some think it’s Austin’s answer to Bourbon Street, but it’s mostly just frat boys, sorority girls, tourists, homeless people, and cover bands. Don’t bother.
Crossing Sixth, close to I-35, is Red River Street. For a couple of blocks north of Sixth there are several clubs. It used to be a good place to hear music, but I don’t know what it’s like now.
One of Austin’s most important venues, Emo’s, moved over into East Austin. Stubb’s is still there, though. It has an outdoor area for mostly traveling acts, and a barbeque restaurant where President Obama recently ate.
Congress Avenue is the main downtown street. The Capitol is worth seeing, and there are lots of statues on the Capitol grounds. AMOA/Art House at Jones Center is a small space that houses changing exhibitions. (The Austin Museum of Art has no permanent collection.) The Paramount Theatre is an old movie palace that has theatre events, but in the summer shows classic films.
West of Congress, you should check out Second Street, now named in honor of Willie Nelson. It has lots of chic shops, cafes, restaurants, and such. The newish City Hall has exhibitions of work by local artists. Austin City Limits has its studios on Second now, and there’s also a statue of Willie, unveiled last year on 4/20. I just learned that Toy Joy, an Austin must-see, has moved from its long-time home near campus to Second.
From Second up to West Sixth is the Warehouse District, with clubs, bars, and restaurants that tend to cater to a post-college crowd….
West Sixth has more bars and restaurants, as well as antique stores and art galleries.
At Sixth and Lamar are at least four places worth visiting. There is the flagship store of Whole Foods, which is huge, has a great buffet, and various food bars…where you can sit and watch the cook prepare your order. Book People is the largest independent bookstore in Texas (new books only), Waterloo Records is considered one of the best record stores in the country, and Amy’s has amazing ice cream.
South of Town Lake there is the Long Center and Palmer Events Center close to the shoreline. There’s a reflecting pool in front of Long which is good for setting up shots of the skyline.
Southwest of there is Zilker Park. It includes a miniature train, Barton Springs Pool (a spring-fed swimming pool and a location in “The Tree of Life”), a botanical garden (which is best-known for its Japanese Garden), and nearby, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden.
Also down south–South Congress, a very funky, if chic shopping and dining district, and a good place to see hipsters. You’ll find Jo’s Coffee Shop, with its famous “i love you so much” graffito, and the Austin Motel, with a neon sign that looks like an erect cock and balls. The Continental Club is one of the most famous in town. A few miles down from there is the campus of St. Edwards University, which has a Victorian Main Building and good views of the skyline.
Parallel to South Congress is South First, best-known for its excellent Tex-Mex restaurants, although I’ve heard “End of an Ear” is a good used record shop. South Lamar used to have some cool shops, but some of it is being developed and rebuilt right now. One landmark there is the old-time honky-tonk “The Broken Spoke.”
South Austin has a lot of the sleepy, old hippie vibe that used to exist all over town.
Outside of town, to the southwest, is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and beyond that, Radha Madhav Dham, the largest Hindu temple and ashram complex in the US.
East Austin used to be home chiefly to blacks and Hispanics, but it is becoming gentrified and filling up with hipsters, bars, clubs, shops, and galleries. I haven’t seen much of the new stuff over there apart from Domy Books, which is now Farewell Books, and houses a bookstore, art gallery, performing space, coffee house, tailor, and in back, a food truck! But there you’re also less than five minutes away from crack central.
The State Cemetery is cool, with some nice monuments, but Oakwood Cemetery is even better, with Victorian monuments, and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
As for West Austin, just west of North Lamar (the main street for the whole city, whereas Congress is just the main street of downtown), on a hillside at 1100 Baylor, is the Austin Graffiti Park. (Do a tag search for “Austin Texas” and I guarantee you’ll see pictures of it.)
The story is that some developers were going to build condos there, poured a foundation, but ran out of money, so the foundation walls serve as an outdoor graffiti gallery. And it has excellent views of the skyline.
Just above it, on “Castle Hill,” is a castle-like structure now used a a law office.
This neighborhood just west of downtown is called Clarksville, and has a lot of craftsman bungalows and a few Victorian houses. Nau’s Pharmacy is basically a 1950’s time capsule, complete with soda fountain. It is a hugely popular filming location.
North of Clarksville is Pemberton Heights, a very nice old money neighborhood, with mostly historical revival-styled houses built between the 1920s and 1940s. It appears briefly in “The Tree of Life.” There’s a castle there as well, which was built as a model home when the original developers were trying to sell lots in the neighborhood.
West of this, and west of Mo-Pac, a terribly crowded, freeway-like street, is Tarrytown. Old money, newer houses. Writer James Michener died there. Matthew McConaughey lived there at the time of the naked bongo incident. On the western edge of this is Lake Austin.
Looking out over Lake Austin is Laguna Gloria, a former estate with an Italianate villa that houses temporary exhibitions for AMOA. The woman who built it said the site reminded her of Lake Como. It has lovely grounds, some landscaped, some not, as well as outdoor sculpture, and a small art school.
Right next door is the relatively unknown Mayfield Park, another former estate, with a sprawling white bungalow, very nice gardens and ponds, and strolling peacocks.
Not far from this is Camp Mabry, a National Guard encampment. It features a cluttered military museum with some exhibits that are fascinating and others that are laughably amateurish in their design and execution. Outside are plenty of tanks, howitzers, and aircraft.
Also close by is Mount Bonnell, the highest point in the county, located up a flight of steps.
Now we head back downtown.
A few blocks north of the Capitol, set amongst a bunch of ugly State office buildings, is the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum. It’s very flashy, and the only time I went there it took me over four hours just to make a fairly speedy trip through the three floors.
Across the street, on the UT campus, is one of my personal “don’t miss” sites: the Blanton Museum of Art. With 17,000 items, it’s supposedly the largest university art museum in the country, but only a small percentage of its holdings are on display. I recommend it, and you can see everything in just a few hours, without getting museum fatigue.
You can easily spend a day on the UT campus. In recent years they’ve been installing a lot of contemporary art on campus, indoors and out. Architecturally the campus is mostly a mixture of Spanish- and Italianate-Revival, Brutalist, and Regional Modernist styles.
The Harry Ranson Humanities Research Center has two photography exhibitions going now; they recently closed an excellent one on the work of Arnold Newman.
On the southern end of the campus is the elaborate Littlefield Fountain, with winged sea horses, a torch-bearing Liberty figure, nude men, and all sorts of other oddities. North of this is the South Mall, which is lined with statues of prominent Texans and Confederates. At the head of that is a statue of George Washington with one hand resting on his sword’s hilt. If you look at him from his left, he appears to be masturbating.
North of George is a plaza. To the west is Battle Hall, the Architecture Library, designed by Cass Gilbert, architect of the US Supreme Court Building and the Woolworth Building. The Reading Room is gorgeous. To the east is Garrison Hall, where the History Department is housed. It’s notable for the Texas-themed architectural details on the facade, including brands of the most important cattle ranches.
To the north is the Main Building. It mostly consists of offices, but the Life Sciences Library is monumental and lovely. The Tower, is of course the place where Charles Whitman had his shooting spree. Tours of the Observation Platform can be arranged by appointment. The north, east, and west sides of the Tower are decorated with alphabets of various languages because the lower floors house library stacks.
The Littlefield House is a red brick and sandstone Victorian mansion. I don’t think they allow the public to explore the restored ground floor any more, but you can take photos in the yard and on the porch to your heart’s content.
In the northeastern corner of the campus are the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, the Texas Memorial Museum (natural history), and the Visual Arts Center (which shows student and faculty art work). All are free, but the VAC is closed in the summer. The LBJ has an impressive fountain in front of it, and that whole complex is long, modernist, and covered with creamy travertine marble.
The Latin American Library, also in the complex, has a stack room that is so long it looks like it’s going on for infinity….
Just to the north of the UT campus are two little Gothic churches–one Episcopalian, and the other, across the street, a chapel for a Presbyterian seminary. The seminary also has a delightful little Neo-Gothic library.
Just to the west of UT, from about MLK to 29th Street, is “The Drag,” which is lined with shops, bars, and other businesses that cater to students. It’s worth a look, but isn’t as hopping as it used to be when I came to Austin during the “Slacker” era in 1989.
Most of the local businesses have been replaced by national chains, and the homeless people and gutter punks are mostly gone, as is the old egg roll stand that used to double as a drop-off point for the fencing of stolen goods.
There are a few murals here and there, the most famous being the “Hi, How Are You” Jeremiah the Frog mural by Daniel Johnston, at 21st and Guadalupe. There’s a now-mutilated mural of iconic film images on the former Varsity Theater at 24th:
Near campus? Well, West Campus and North Campus are neighborhoods filled mostly with students and some permanent residents. Spider House is an old-style Austin coffee house in North Campus.
If you can, try to get a tour of the Old Main Building of the Austin State Hospital. I visited there in 2005 for an article I was doing, and saw some fascinating, creepy, decaying stuff. They were okay with photography so long as I didn’t take pictures of patients….
Near there is North Loop, a small hipster enclave with a 24-hour coffee house, vintage stores, a left-wing bookstore, and the like:
Architecturally-speaking, Hyde Park and Clarkville are neighborhoods with craftsman bungalows and Victorian houses. Travis Heights has bungalows. Shoal Creek, Allandale, and Crestview are Mid-Century Modern. (I think Brad Pitt’s bigger house in “The Tree of Life” is in Shoal Creek.)
Hyde Park is lovely and shaded. The Elisabet Ney Museum is the castle-like former studio of an eccentric Victorian sculptress, and is surrounded by a small park.
Just east of this is the Commodore Perry Estate, which has a large Italianate mansion. It would be a superb place for a photo shoot, but you would have to book the venue and pay them a rental fee for it.
The further north you go, the less interesting Austin gets. Burnet Road used to have some cool shopping, but that seems to be dying off. Chinatown is still getting organized, and is still part-ghetto. Mueller is a planned community on the site of the old airport. It includes a movie studio (where, among other things, “Sin City” was shot), but parts of it are still under construction.
The Domain is another planned shopping/office/housing mini-city. It’s attractive enough, but if you’ve seen the sort of upscale shopping centers/districts where they have Apple Stores and Neiman-Marcuses, you probably wouldn’t need to see The Domain.
I live nearby, close to The Arboretum, which used to be the hoity-toity shopping center before The Domain opened. The most photographible features there are a watercourse that leads to a fountain, five marble cow sculptures, and, at the bottom of a wooded hill, a pond containing ducks, geese, and swans.
North of The Arboretum are mostly more strip centers, office parks, apartment complexes, and subdivisions.
Austin has a great many parks, wilderness areas, and greenbelts, and from what I’ve seen of your photography, those would be the best places for you to go. One such park, Great Hills Park, is a few blocks from my place, and has limestone boulders, rough cliff faces, a sort of limestone hole lined with moss, cedar brakes, and other hard-scrabble features.
Other parks include Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Barton Creek Greenbelt, McKinney Falls State Park, Westcave Preserve, and Wild Basin Preserve, among others.
West of town are a chain of lakes, the closest being Lake Travis, although several years of droughts have really brought the water levels down….There’s a number of wineries in the area that are open for tours, but since you’re under 21, that won’t do you much good.
You might want to check out Enchanted Rock State Park, which is about two hours away from town in the Hill Country, and centers around a huge granite dome. It’s so popular for hiking and camping that you have to call ahead to reserve admittance.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is in the county, but I think outside of the city. The pool is a sort of bowl located fifty feet beneath a waterfall that flows over a limestone lip. There is a sort of cave underneath this lip. Do an image search for “Hamilton Pool Preserve” and you’ll see what I mean.
Forty-two miles southeast of town is Smithville, a charming village that was the principal location for “The Tree of Life.” Indeed, within an hour or two of Austin you can find all sorts of small towns, both thriving and dying, which I would think would provide rich photographic subject matter.
These are the main points I can think of to tell you. If you have any other questions or need clarifications, please let me know.
One of the sites on the links I included has a section for arts events. If you give me a time-frame I can keep my eyes open for upcoming happenings. Failing that, you might want to check the site of our alternative weekly, “The Austin Chronicle.”
I managed to read some in the Blanton guide before going to sleep in mid-afternoon….
I got up at 11:22pm.
Saturday, June 29th–
I think if gay marriage is ever made legal in all fifty states, the law should should require that the very first couple that is allowed to marry after the law goes into effect, be named Adam and Steve…you know, just to fuck with people.
I had an online chat with a friend and former co-worker whom I’d not talked with since she got married last year. I listened to the last two CDs of “The Hilliker Curse” and the first two CDs of “On The Road.”
I went to bed sometime in the afternoon and read in Plath, Buzzi, Fisher, the Blanton guide, and Wright. I’m sure it was after 4:30pm when I retired.
Sunday, June 30th–
I woke around 1:30am.
Not having the money to do the things that are important to me is killing my soul.
Monday, July 1st–
I woke up around 3:15am.
I listened to the last five CDs for “On The Road,” worked on my SSDI paperwork, and farted around online.
Someone posted– MARRY THE BEAST AND GET THAT LIBRARY.
ME– One of these days someone is going to realize that about me, that despite the fact I’m ugly and out-of-shape, I DO have a 10,000-volume library.
Someone posted–do you ever just sit there and lovingly caress the pages of the book you’re reading
ME–That depends on the paper. But I sniff them quite a bit.
I finally finished Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel,” but I didn’t understand most of what she was talking about, and was rather glad to be done with the book. I also read in the Blanton guide and Fisher and retired about 8:45pm.