Change is Bad.*

*This post is not about Obama -- but incidentally, have you been to The Obama Store on East 11th yet? Heaven is a place on Earth!

No, this post really isn't about Obama, I promise. It's about the new Monarch Apartments. Or condos, I really don't get what the difference is these days. If you aren't familiar with the building, it's the halfhearted one to the west of the Middle Finger Building (360) and looks like it has a giant, glowing maxi pad on top of it. I'm told that's supposed to represent the building's wings, keeping with the butterfly metaphor, but again -- when was the last time you heard about wings when you weren't watching a Kotex commercial?

Even with the terrible, bloated architecture of the building, I'd be able to ignore it if the wings stayed the same color. But they don't. In fact, they change colors con.stant.ly. The other night I was at a party at the Headliner's Club (dreams do come true!) fielding questions about where I was moving to and faster than I could down a glass of free wine, the wings would change from white to pink to blue to turquoise.

I don't always mind Austin's growth -- in fact, I rather like the expanding Austin skyline and I can't blame people for wanting to move here. But I can't stand that the Monarch makes the skyline constantly different -- one minute it's that orange building to the left and the next it's the blue one. How can you have a famous, recognizable skyline if one building is constantly changing every twenty minutes?

Red, white and blue on July Fourth? Fine. Orange on UT Gameday? Makes sense. But the rest of the time, the Monarch needs to commit to a color for its rooftop Always. Period.
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It's not quite impeachment, but I'll take it.

Thanks to my new personal hero, IraqiMan, for doing what I can only hope I'd have the courage to do if I ever found myself in the same room as post-9/11 GWB.

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Recession on 37th Street

Call me Scrooge, but in the dark, candy cane cavities of mind, I'm content that it's turning out to be such a hard candy Christmas this year. People are suddenly feeling the crunch, many of the same people who didn't care when their State Representatives (and potential future Senators) were supporting Bush's war in the House in 2003, and didn't care when Bush won reelection in 2004.

But it doesn't make it any easier to watch Christmas fade away. After a very short, uninspiring walk down 37th Street Sunday night, it occurred to me that while the world markets might rise and fall based on the US economy, the famous light display on 37th Street shines its own local light on the country annually.

This year, the outlook is dark.

A westward-facing shot of 37th Street.

In 2004, the street was traditionally and glaringly bright. The street's hot-topic political statements were exactly as the spin would want you to believe: Osama Bin Laden, George Bush and Martha Stewart's jail time. Remember the good ol' horse and buggy days, back when Bush was relevant, Bin Laden was the root of all our problems and insider trading was the worst corporate sin for your money? Them were the days.

37th St. circa 2004 - from here.

What a difference four years makes. The infamous volcano house sits dark and undecorated. Lockboxes on doorknobs and multiple FOR LEASE signs indicate a dim housing market. Overgrown yards with skeletal, unlit angels make weak, energy-saving efforts. Local Yelp chatter about 37th Street seems to have ended with the start of the recession in December of 2007. The one yard that did go all out (ironically the "Monopoly yard") has a banner strung from the porch reading "It's a Wonderful Life," with golden parachutes lit by twinkling yellow lights streaming down from the trees. Front and center, our President-elect makes his 37th St. appearance, dragging the country and its crashing economy on his back, his persistent, wide smile on his still on his face.


The Ghost of Christmas Past would remind us to see what's behind the shiny packaging and pay more attention to what matters. For now, we've got the Reality of Christmas Present and the Hope of Christmas Future to contend with. May we all be merry -- and bright.
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The New Phonebooks Are Here!

Is it just me or are the Yellow Pages a complete and total waste of paper and plastic? Mine got dumped off at my apartment in Borneo late last week and I promptly carried it back downstairs with the Thursday trash. My neighbors phone books are still littered throughout the hallways, a little yellow graveyard of an era that has ended.

If you're still using a phone book, cease that immediately. And if you're still paying to advertise in the phone book: yo -- get thee to the Google.
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An Open Letter to Rep. Elliott Naishtat

Dear Rep. Naishtat,

I know I've written to you before, as a non-constituent, however I am writing to inform you that as of December 23, I will be a constituent living in your district in the zip code of 78701. In my excitement to research my new potential state legislator, I went online to learn more about you but much to my disappointment, I couldn't find your website. I did notice that some of the blogs mentioned you were working on one. How is that coming along?

I'm looking forward to being your constituent, and eagerly awaiting your new website.

Regards,
MR
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