Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Texas Will Secede and Then We'll All Die of Swine Flu

Texas has been in the news a lot lately.

First, our brilliant governor Rick Perry made a joke (or was it more serious? I think so) about Texas seceding from the nation at large because of Obama's stimulus plan.

Despite all the bad sports references, David Faris properly assessed the situation in his op-ed piece Don't Mess With Texas--Get Rid of It. In the event that Texas does seceed and Austin stayed with the larger liberal U.S., I think I'd have to move (as much as I wouldn't want to). Options would be: Portland, Madison, San Francisco, Asheville, New York, possibly Decatur/East Atlanta.

Then there's swine flu. Good grief. I live approximately 80 miles from San Antonio, the location of Texas's 6 cases of swine flu. I'm not about to start wearing a mask, and I think this is just another example of media hooplah. But let's not forget that I'm uninsured and tend to be a conspiracy theorist.

So maybe Texas should seceed and quarantine all cases of swine flu. In which case, I'll hop on the next flight to Portland.

[If you think I'm kidding, read this: Texas Secede!]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Corner Store Characters

Anslee and I went to a birthday party Saturday night, and not to be ones to show up to a house party empty-handed, we decided to stop somewhere for a six pack of beer. HEB was closed, and most of the East Side convenience stores just seemed, well, sketchy.

Finally, we stopped at the Corner Store (that's seriously it's name) on Airport, just west of 35. While this is not quite the East Side, it's still not the nicest part of Austin, despite it's proximity to Hyde Park. But we decided to brave it anyway.

The parking spots were not clearly marked, so I drove past the gas pumps and this old man with a beer belly was walking very slowly to his car. I wasn't really sure how to maneuver around him, and then out of nowhere, a Hispanic guy on a bike rides right through the open parking spots, going about as fast as the old man on foot.

So I managed to wait for both of them and park (although the guy on a bike waved to me to acknowledge the fact that I did not run him over). We made our way inside, grabbed some Shiner, and went to the open register. A surfer/stoner-looking white guy with long, stringy hair greeted us as we came in, but he was busy talking to the bike guy in Spanish, so we went to the other register.

Anslee and I have been trying to figure out exactly where the other cashier is from. He was black and had an accent that could be: 1) West African (or maybe some other region of Africa, but my guess is West African) 2) Carribean (although probably not Jamaican) 3) Cajun/Creole from Louisiana. We could not understand a word he said. He was very friendly and talkative, and we asked him about lottery tickets because we thought it would be funny to get the birthday girl a scratch ticket. But apparently, they had run out on Friday. At least, I think this is what our cashier friend said. He also gave Anslee instructions about the debit card machine, but, once again, she couldn't understand him. I guess he has to deal with dumb Americans who can't understand him on a regular basis, poor guy, but he knew the drill well enough to direct her.

So we waved good-bye to both the stoner cashier and the African/Carribean/Creole cashier and made our way back to the car. On our way, the old guy with the beer belly was walking back into the store to buy something else (he had already purchased a case of Natty Light). The guy on the bike was peddling off, and as he passed us walking to the car, he hacked up the biggest lugy we've ever seen come out of a human being. Damn those Austin allergies.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Are You Following Jesus This Close?

My friend Sunny from New York was in town last week, and all my friends and I are trying to convince her to move to Austin. While driving around funky South Austin, we were behind this truck, which might just have the creme de la creme of Austin bumper stickers. Case and point to why she should move here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Camera Obscura. Damn.

Camera Obscura's latest album, My Maudlin Career, is so good, it's worth purchasing. But you can listen to for free a week before it's released. Thanks again, NPR.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Neko Case is Chanelling Flannery O'Connor?

I was reading from The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor last night, and I finished this one called 'Enoch and The Gorilla'. It's about a young man named Enoch who follows a traveling gorilla sideshow, and of course, the "gorilla" is only a guy in a suit. Enoch decides to steal the gorilla suit, but I'm still not sure if he killed the actor inside it.

Anyway, I've been reading these stories, and they're all pretty dark and funny, proving why O'Connor is the 20th century's foremost Southern gothic writer. I've also been listening to a lot of Neko Case lately. Well, I'm always listening to Neko Case. That's nothing noteworthy, really.

I don't know if it's just because I've been reading these stories while simultaneously digesting Case's work (including her new album) but I've drawn some paralells. Case sings in such a way -- with that raw alto voice -- that I imagine sounding something like Flannery O'Connor. I don't mean that O'Connor would sound like Neko Case. It's just that her voice seems to embody O'Connor's gothic presence. Then I look at the subjects of Case's songs: deadly car accidents, serial killers, ghost stories, finding dead birds, losing fingers in a cannery. All pretty dark, sometimes funny, and provoking in a way that makes you really think about human nature.

Sounds a lot like Flannery O'Connor's stories.