Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Make America Great Again: Trump in Austin (8/23/16)

Trump rally at Austin's Expo Center Tuesday night:

Press reports (Austin American-Statesman and Texas Tribune) Wednesday said line outside was "one-third of a mile" long and that estimated crowd inside was 5,000. Completely underestimated. The first daylight photo below (which I took) shows about 1/3 of a mile of people; what my photo doesn't show: at the end of the line of people that you can see, the line (which I'd just been in for an hour) stretches to the left for another quarter mile, then to the left again (in a U-shape in its entirety) for another 1/3 of a mile. As for inside the arena: The Expo Center website says that their seating in the stands holds 6,500 and the floor another 3,000. The third photo below (from Trump's Twitter feed) shows the crowd accurately--- the place was jam-packed. The Houston Chronicle estimated the crowd at 8,000. I'd say around 9,000.

I was also anticipating more protesters. Ahead of time, I checked out various anti-Trump meet-up groups on Facebook, where hundreds of people were pledging to show up. While waiting to get in (around 5:30pm), however, I didn't see a single protester. Once inside, 3 single protesters were kicked out. Afterwards, at 10pm in the car heading out, I saw a group of about 7 people with pro-Bernie signs on the street across from the Expo Center.

I mention the crowd estimates because Trump has constantly claimed for the past year that "The Media" has consistently vastly underestimated the sizes of his crowds and refused to actually SHOW the crowds. I didn't know if he was just being paranoid or mouthy... Now that I've been there in person and read the media accounts the next day: I know that he was telling the truth. Reporting a crowd as more than 40% smaller than it actually was isn't just making a simple mathematical mistake --- that's intentionally trying to sway readers into thinking that Trump doesn't have the actual support that he clearly does. Giving equal air-time to a dozen protesters when supporters of the candidate numbered in the thousands --- that's intentionally trying to sway readers into thinking that Trump doesn't have the actual support that he clearly does. Psychology is heavily involved in these campaigns. I'm glad to have been able to see the actual scene for myself.

The crowd was a vast mixture of people. Rednecks and bikers and frat boys, sure. But then plenty of couples (aged 20s to 70s) and gay guys (look up "Twinks for Trump" -- it's a thing) and middle-aged women like me and dads with their teenaged sons. Oh yeah, and blacks and Hispanics and Indians and Asians of all ages.

I went with a friend from work (last picture below; I'm very grateful to her for driving us both out there and dealing with the traffic and parking); she opted to go sit down during the rally, while I stayed down on the floor, as close as I could get, where I was surrounded by a sea of mainly TALL men in their red "Make America Great Again" caps. I was about 30 feet away from the stage, but it was hard to see with all of the big guys around me! At 51, I now wish I'd taken a seat instead --- I was TIRED (and sweaty--see last picture below) at the end of the night from standing for over 4 hours in such close quarters. I love Trump, but by the time he came on to speak, I must confess that I was too weary to feel any sort of thrill.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Not too much Change at the same time!

My current apartment lease was up at the end of August, and Texas law has required for years now that you give your landlord 2 months' notice, rather than the 1 month of yester-year.

In June, I spent some time browsing Craigslist/Austin for available places to rent, hoping for a miraculous garage apartment (no adjoining walls) or a duplex (i.e., only one adjoining wall with a hopefully unobnoxious neighbor). Everything decent was over $1300 per month, and my budget was decidedly below $1200 per month. My current place's rent was $875 when I moved in as a sublet in January 2015; my new lease in August 2015 jacked up the rent to $925; my new lease in August 2016 was now $1000 per month. Still, because I'd sublet the current place, I had no deposit. If I were to move, I'd have to put up a $1200 deposit, plus $800 or so to move all of my now-heavy furniture.

This summer, I had a financial choice: Car or Move. I chose Car. That was enough for the time being. I re-signed my lease for 1 year, at $1000 a month.

Since I moved in to this place a year-and-a-half ago, my annoyances have been: A family of 5 living in one apartment 2 doors down from me, with their shrieking kids running amock; another family downstairs, also with shrieking kids running about in the post-school hours; a motorcycle guy revving up every time he comes home or goes out; the guy below me yelling constantly (he's apparently situated himself right below my "study" --- after months of his loudness, I just gave up on that room altogether and moved my computer up front onto my kitchen table).

A couple of weeks ago, though, a new problem arose: The guys next door had been, for the most part, quiet since I'd moved in, but every now and then they hung out outside on the walk, or in the stairwell that adjoined my apartment, at 3 or 4am. Last week, one of them came home at 3:45am and cranked up his stereo until I left for work at 7 am. I reported it to my apartment manager, who vowed the next day to give them a noise warning, but that very day when I came home from work, they were cranking up their stereo for 2 hours. That was last Wednesday. And they've been quiet in the week since. But the memory of that horror hovers... Did they listen to the warning that the management supposedly issued? When will the music start up again? I haven't been able to relax for the past week, always on edge, always waiting for the bass to kick in...

Odd that you can be paying $1000 for an apartment and STILL have to be living around lowlifes. What amount does it take to get you away from screaming kids, biker dicks, yelling guys, and loudly emoting aging club-kids?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Neutral Milk Hotel - King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3

How profound and scary to be a human.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea- Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

A song of constant goosebumps.

Gilligan's Island - The Honeybees

Like a ding-dong needs a bell.

Bewitched - I'll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind

Go, Serena!

Bewitched Iffin'


Half Price Books, 2016

I worked at the Hurst-Euless-Bedford (Ft. Worth) Half Price Books for a few months back in 1988, was a shopper in Austin before and after that time. In the '90s, my hair place was at 32nd and Guadalupe and the Half Price right next door. Every 6 weeks or so, I'd enjoy the day-long ritual of getting my hair cut at Zig-Zag and then going next door to browse for hours (usually completing the ritual by getting a Thundercloud sandwich before going home). By the 2000s, though, rent drove that Half Price out of that location, to a much bigger place further north, which I never visited at all because it was so out of the way (and also because of the advent of Amazon).

I now live north, and I now have a CAR (hoorah!), and I today went over to this Half Price for the first time ever. Half Price/Goodwill store/KFC all in the same complex! A full day, with food to take home after!

It was a big, clean store, but... Over a decade ago, Half Price changed its policy of charging half of the COVER price of the year the book was issued. Back then, if there was a book at a 1980 price of $5.00, the Half Price rate would be $2.50. Today, though, even if the book is from 1980 and there's a $5 price printed on the cover, the store will instead determine how much the same book is being sold for today and then mark it as half off TODAY's price. Which leads to many non-bargains. Which today, Amazon thankfully makes us aware of. I saw so many shitty, marked-up paperbacks today at Half Price priced ridiculously at $7.99, etc., which I know would go for .01 plus $3.99 shipping online. I liked being able to used-book shop in person, but I was also irritated by the mark-ups that went beyond the initial raison d'etre of the store.

I was, though, able to find a few things either in the "Nostalgia" (good stuff that the minimum-wage clerks didn't realize was valuable) or "Bargain" sections of the store: "The Romantic Egoists" ($9.99), a Diane Arbus paperback from '72 ($9.99), and $3 discounted DVDs of "Angels in America," "Mad Men" (Season 2), and "Rio Bravo."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I...have become... comfortably numb...

A couple of days ago, my apartment neighbor came home at 3:45 in the morning and cranked up the music. I was asleep on my couch at the time, but I--after the initial jolt awake and subsequent prowling from border to border of the four rooms in my apartment to figure out where exactly the music was coming from--finally, upon placing an ear against my bedroom wall, learned that it was the guy next door.

I was pissed at the disturbance, sure, but also curious about what someone was so unselfconsciously (i.e., drug-addledly) playing at that hour. Sure 'nuff: Pink Floyd. Once I pressed my ear to my bedroom wall, I heard every tortured note of "Comfortably Numb." Followed a half-hour later by a very loud version of Willie Nelson's "Always On My Mind." With a bunch of other emo notes in between.

How I know I'm middle-aged? I, while being annoyed at being woken up, simultaneously smirked at the emotional young man's late-night song choices: "God... Pink Floyd! Please! How 1980s!" And "Jesus... How often has 'Always On My Mind' been played when you're tortured in love? Is that all you got?" :)

The next day at work, I expressed my irritated amusement to a co-worker. He replied: "You're quite the Grand Dame!" Which reminded me of something my mother said to me a few months ago when I was expressing my political opinions: "The way you talk, you should be rich."

That I have the cool attitude with my own personal lowly circumstances is the Grand Irony, I suppose.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New bedroom set.

I thought I was an adult when I bought my first queen-sized bed a year-and-a-half ago. But, no...
You're not truly an adult until you're able to buy your first bedding. That includes more than 2 sheets and 2 pillowcases. (I.e., extra pillows, and big "European pillows" and a "dust ruffle," which I will never be able to put in place as long as I'm single because it takes two to lift the top Queen mattress to get the dust ruffle situated.)
After so many years of random beds... I like how my own chosen bed looks.