Around the house I wear gym shorts that are getting a little ragged, but out in the world I wear a pair of jeans with suspenders [what my British readers likely call braces] attached, and that's how I dressed for my mission to the UPS Store. I go there when I need to print a document. I have a printer at home, but I use it almost exclusively as a scanner, so I don't usually replace exhausted ink cartridges. I did buy one black cartridge to spare me from running errands like this one, but it dried up for lack of use. I think I printed two or three documents, maybe fifteen pages, before it stopped working. That discouragement put me back firmly into the private scanner but public printer camp. In the process, I have defeated the printer industry scam of selling printers cheap so that you'll buy their criminally overpriced ink cartridges. In this day and age, with all the technology that we have in our hands, and with the rain forest getting systematically chopped down for my paper habits, we should scan our past—digitize everything and keep it that way—and never print our future. I sent the file I needed printed to the UPS Store attached to a message: "Hello. I will be by your store around 3 pm to have you print the attached document for me. Thanks."
Just as I was getting everything together for my walk, my cousin texted: "Heading over." I responded, "OK. I have to go to UPS Store on Burnet Rd. Should I wait for you?" "Sure. Wanna ride?" "That would be great. I'll be here at house then. 😊" So she showed up a few minutes later, and off we went.
I was pleased that the UPS people, for the first time since I've been doing this, had already printed my document, and my five pages cost me only sixty cents. Sure, it's a bit of a hassle going to the UPS Store, but I'm convinced that this is cheaper than printing at home, especially when my ink cartridges dry up from lack of use. The only time I need to print is when papers require signatures, and even signatures get done electronically these days. Signatures are going the way of checks, traditional letters, and even cash. My papers—except for papers like birth certificates—don't get printed; they get scanned and shredded. So that stop took us five minutes, then we were off to try Twisted Root Hamburgers for lunch.
Twisted Root is a new burger place from the Dallas‑based chain imagined by chef Jason Bosoon. It's on Burnet Road, the ugliest street in the universe. Beef and lean and tasty ground buffalo are available all the time, but according to season you can substitute venison, elk, lamb, ostrich, boar, gator, rabbit, camel, duck, beaver, kangaroo, or emu. The burgers themselves feature a wide variety of bizarre names like The Kevin Bacon, Enough Said, The Spicy Goat, and In the Buff, which is what I had—a basic buffalo burger with grilled onions on whole wheat bun. There's a leaf of lettuce and a slice of sweet onion on the side. The full menu is here. I had a tangle of tasty fries that were cut to be not much bigger around than shoe strings.
|Pedestrian's eye view of Burnet Road. ©2016 by author.|
Burnet Road north of the H-E-B was two-lane blacktop. We moved here in February 1961. Kennedy was president. In shopping centers you could see traveling expositions of bomb shelters for your back yard. When the Cuban Missile Crisis hit in 1962, I was certain that my father had missed an opportunity to buy one but now we would, when the moment came, be fried to a crisp. The Beatles were unknown in the U.S. Patsy Cline was falling to pieces. Roy Orbison was "Cryin'" and "Running Scared." Del Shannon was in love with a little runaway. As a kind of foreshadowing of the Beatles trip to India, Lawrence Welk had a hit called Calcutta. Ray Charles was begging his chorus not to send him out on the road. Ricky Nelson declared himself a Travelin' Man.
The Shirelles dedicated their hit to "the One I love" and asked if he will love them tomorrow. ("Will You Love Me Tomorrow," by the way, was written by songwriting team Gerry Goffin and Carole King, who were married at the time. Encouraged by her protegé James Taylor in the 1970s to record her own songs, King included "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" on her Tapestry album.) The Negro Sound, as it was called back then, was sanitized for its white audience—in the market system of the music industry, a black audience did not even exist. The business still lived in Donna Reed's world. The adage that if God hadn't invented records it would be necessary to go down to the saloon and make your own music explains why black music, once it was let out of its ghetto, proved to be such an overwhelming force. English rockers like the seminal version of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin devoured every record by a black artist they could find, so the roots of rock are simultaneously influence and theft.
Popular music involved crossovers between genres. Many pop songs were performed by orchestras with the piercing soprano of violins. All kinds of music, not just country music, was often saturated Nashville sound of melodramatic retards huddling around and hooting into a microphone—the bass resonated a with such seriousness that to laugh would seem like laughing in church. In short, the music had died, and the only living music was sealed off in ghettos and repressed. Ghettos, as long as people in them weren't starving or being killed, have always been places of great creativity. This is why American music was reinvented in ghettos. This is why endless Talmudic study in the Jewish ghettos of Medieval Europe produced a powerful Jewish intellectual tradition. This is why Bohemians in their inner city garrets write the greatest stories and poetry. This is even why the Beatles, sequestered with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at Rishikesh, produced the two-disc White Album, which wasn't the first double album in rock—Bob Dylan did that two years earlier with Blonde on Blonde—but, like everything else the Beatles did, it set a precedent that compelled everyone else, by fashion if not by their record company, to follow.
When I was a kid listening to Beatle music, I had no car of course, so when I went somewhere I walked, and the only place close enough to walk to was Burnet Road. Around 1970 the street was widened to two lanes in each direction with a shared central lane for left turns. After all this time, I see the place with the added dimension of time—I see what is there, what was there, and I see the tsunami of the future rushing northward from 45th Street.
|Burnet Road by night, cabled together by power lines that drive the illumination and the blaring signs scream at motorists passing by at 50 mph. Ichiban, ahead on the right, is a splendid Korean Japanese restaurant. ©2016 by author.|
|Inside the Alamo Drafthouse. ©2016 by author.|
In Austin, where the Drafthouse originated—sometimes keeping a city weird leads to some cool innovations—they have four theaters, but the Village is in walking distance, and the others are farflung and beyond the reach of public transportation. The Drafthouse often has special events—I really wanted to attend the special showing of Goodfellas during which they served a seven-course Italian meal replete with Chianti. They also have a lot of free screenings for members (i.e. users of their app). More often than not the special events I want to attend are at one of the other theaters outside my range and domain. I realize that my local Drafthouse is shackled by market forces and demographics beyond the company's control—but the Village theater seems to be the lost little brother among Drafthouses, starved for parental attention. Oh, I wrote to the Drafthouse, let the Village be the prodigal son, welcome him back to the fold, and slaughter the fatted calf! I know I'm just a voice crying in the wilderness, but I can see that tremendous wave of gentrification washing over the Brentwood and Crestview neighborhoods. A wave of upscale classy commercial development accompanies the gentrification up Burnet Road from 45th Street.
But when my cousin and I finished our hamburgers we went not to the movies but to H-E-B. Still, a good time was had by all.