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For the Sake of All Things Austin, Stop Operation Shade Elm!

12 May

by Roger White

 

Now, ye who know me understand that I’m not of the alarmist ilk; neither am I a hardline skeptic, a delusional “truther,” nor a conspiracy buff who spies shadowy figures behind every knoll, grassy or otherwise. But I have to admit, after observing all the brouhaha stirred up by our dear governor over the U.S. military’s lurking around our sovereign Lone Star lands (see Operation Jade Helm), my suddenly sensitive radar picked up on some very peculiar activities ’round these parts lately.

So I did some investigating, and I found that what’s taking place as we live and breathe is much more peculiar—and dastardly—than you could ever imagine.

At first, I began to notice an unusual proliferation of Williamson County Sheriff’s Department vehicles in and around Austin. Have you seen them, too? Then oneRepub Donuts day, I happened to be in the parking lot of one of our very own Austin Java coffee shops when I saw two rather rotund middle-aged white men in checkered polyester suits, white shoes, and black sunglasses, standing beside two nondescript black sedans. So what, you say? So this. They were munching on donuts—from a Round Rock Donuts box that was sitting on the hood of one of the mysterious sedans. Round Rock, mind you. Checkered polyester suits. White shoes. Middle-aged fat white guys. Don’t you see? They were not at all Austin-like. Blatantly so.

I sidled up, nonchalant, and overheard the following:

“Perfect spot, don’cha think?” said the more corpulent of the corpulent ones.

“Yup,” said the other, wiping his chin on a polyester coat sleeve. “Sheriff Wilson says the green light for Operation Shade Elm could come before the summer’s out.”

Operation Shade Elm? Sheriff Wilson? Round Rock Donuts? Polyester? Holy Conservative Coup!

On a hunch, I texted my hacker friend Eric and asked if he could do some digging—namely for anything named Shade Elm coming from Williamson County.

Eric called me two days later.

“You ready for this?” Eric said breathlessly. “I found one document, in a file folder marked for deletion. OSE. Operation Shade Elm. Williamson County is on the front line of something big. Something most of the rest of the state is on board with—especially Dallas and Lubbock.”

“What?!” I practically screamed into my phone.

“It’s a takeover. They’re gonna turn Austin red, little by little.”

“How? What? How can they do that?”

“Subtle things, man. First, they’re gonna close down all the Austin Java shops and reopen ’em as Round Rock Donuts. Then, get this, Magnolia Café…”

“No.”

Repub Barrel“Yeah, they’re gonna be Cracker Barrels.”

I shuddered.

“They’re gonna attack on the clothing front, too. Men’s shops first.”

“Not polyester.”

“Yup. All the name shops in Austin—Wally’s, Service Menswear, Stag. Gone. Gonna move in Dickies, Walmart Fashion Outlet, Porter Waggoner Line, that kinda stuff.”

“I’m gonna be sick.”

“That’s not the half of it,” Eric continued. “The Austin Car2Go program…”

“You mean all the little Smart Cars the city lets you use?”

“Yeah. They’ll be gone. Gonna replace ’em with Ford F-150 Super Cabs. With gun racks and naked lady mudflaps. And every month will be Truck Month.”

Repub Mudflap“O.M.G.”

“And Cesar Chavez. Once the takeover’s complete, they’ll rename it the Ronald Reagan Liberty Plus Freedom Memorial Drive.”

“We have to stop this,” I muttered.

“Yeah, I know. Look, you write a column. Get the word out, man.”

Sweet Ghost of Ann Richards, Eric’s right. We have to marshal resistance—before summer’s end. We MUST stop Operation Shade Elm. Mayor Adler, Councilman Renteria, City Manager Ott, Wastewater Commission Chair Gray, Sixth Street Dude Who Plays the Trash Cans—We Must Do Something! Call out the Travis County Guard! We must keep Austin weird. Or at least polyester-free. I see them coming! The brown Williamson County vehicles! Here they come! The white shoes! The Rush Limbaugh t-shirts!

Zzz. sssSSNORT. Whew. What a dream. That’s the last time I eat donuts before bed. ’specially Round Rock Donuts.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

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Huzzah for Hard Line on Hardheads with Handhelds! …Huh?

16 Sep

by Roger White

 

Normally, I’m not one to send out hearty huzzahs to governmental entities for actions they’ve taken, and this is likely because governmental entities these days rarely take any action at all (unless it involves evasive action from pursuing police cars, gaggles of reporters, or issues of real import). But I must say that I feel a robust huzzah coming on for the gallant move the Austin City Council made in August. The council types put their pointed noggins together and approved an ordinance banning cellphone use while driving within the Weird City Limits. So here goes. Let’s hear it: Huzzah!

 

Carl, I didn’t see you huzzah-ing.

 

I imagine that this new law, which goes into effect January 1, 2015, will be called by some shorthand name like the DWP law. Driving While Phoning. Or maybe DWT—Driving While Texting. Or we could simply stick with the term DWI and call it Driving While Intexticated. distracted dudeRegardless, label me a cappy hamper. It’s about time we put these handheld monsters in their place. I mean, crikey, time was when you saw a car weaving all over the road and sideswiping lampposts it was usually 2:30 in the morning and the driver had a handful of cheap hooch. Now, any time of day or night you can easily spy a meandering motorist, but these days he’s got his head down, engrossed in his handful of high-tech hosannas. Holy high-speed highjinks!

 

Alas, too, in the olden days, the term “distracted driving” meant that a guy was accidentally steering onto the sidewalk on Guadalupe Street because he was ogling a crowd of college coeds walking down the drag. Nowadays, it usually means somebody put his Dodge in a ditch because he was watching a Vietnamese potbellied pig play the harpsichord on Youtube. It’s insanity, man.

 

So I not only applaud the council for standing up to the mobile madness, I say we take it a few steps further. I vote we enact stiff fines, public shaming rituals, and/or jail time for the following:

  • WWT: Walking While Texting
  • WMWT: Watching a Movie While Texting
  • IYPWT: Ignoring Your Parents While Texting

And, of course:

  • CWRLPWT: Conversing With a Real Live Person While Texting

 

WWTYou’ve surely seen the videos out there of those unfortunate saps who’ve strolled into mall fountains or off sheer cliffs because of their single-minded attention to their devices. And I suppose some of the yahoos in these videos were actually watching videos of other yahoos walking into fountains or off cliffs. Gads. It’s a glimpse of infinity—the fractal geometry of the absurd. Don’t you see? Where was I?

 

Oh. Get this. The Chinese, recognizing the inherent dangers of WWT, have actually devised an urban solution. The city of Chongqing has decided to parse its sidewalks into normal human walking lanes and cellphone user lanes. Apparently, the cellphone lanes have warnings painted onto the pavement about such things as the fact that the sidewalk is ending soon, there’s a naked lady walking right next to you, and your neck could stay permanently frozen in that position if you don’t stop gawking at your phone.

 

I would guess that such walking lanes might need rumble strips or warning buzzers for the hardcore cellphone addicts who refuse to tear themselves away. Such measures may have saved WWT2the tourist in Melbourne, Australia, who walked right off a pier into the frigid waters of Port Phillip Bay recently. According to news reports, the woman thrashed about in the sea for about 20 minutes before being rescued. “There will be no need for a lost property report as the woman kept hold of her mobile phone throughout the entire ordeal,” said a local police officer. The woman’s child and two dogs, unfortunately, were never found. OK, I made that part up.

 

So, anyhow, here’s to our intrepid city council for taking a swipe at all the app-addled addicts out there. I’m with ya, pointy-noggin council types. Is it so hard for people to PUT THE PHONE DOWN? My hope is that once we move into the second phase of our fair burg’s sanctions—the laws against WWT, WMWT, and the like—that eventually we’ll develop edicts against the more grievous mobile device offenses. Such as SWT. You know. Nudge, nudge.

SWT

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.