Friday, January 15, 2016

“Look Ma! I’ve been Homogenized!”

Brushy Creek Journal:
Friday January 15, 2016
Sunny 68°F/20°C in Cedar Park, Texas 78613
Weather 48°F/9 °C in Roma, Lazio, Italia 0023
    My birthday is this weekend. Along with that wildfire on the top of the cake that my daughter is baking, I will also be observing the end of my first month in Texas. Only yesterday, I emptied the last
Things to Do in Texas
carton among the dozens that New Life Moving and Storage schlepped here from Lost Musket,
California by Steve, the moving company guy. But one month into my new adventure, I feel like I haven’t really started enjoying the “Texas Experience.” Most of the time I feel like I haven’t set foot outside of Orange County. I get cash from my bank’s ATM at the 7-11 store down the street. I’ve topped off my inventory of household goods down the boulevard at the Target Super Store. And, so help me Hannah, there’s a Big Lots right next to the Office Max where I picked up a few things for my den/office. Finally, when I asked Devin, our apartment manager for his recommendations on good local eating places, he sounded like he was reciting the names off a list of corporate chain eateries that every Californian knows by heart. And like, California, I’m going to avoid dining at these corporate kitchens with all the fervor of Syrians fleeing Damascus. Mind you, I haven’t gotten around very much since I’ve been here. I’ve been too busy getting my new apartment organized or visiting with Dana, Jason and the grandkids to really notice if I’ve really moved to Austin, Texas or are still wandering around Rancho Santa Margarita, California. What I’m getting at is this: America is beginning to look the same all over….from Sea to Shining Sea!
  When, I packed my bags and left New York for Phoenix in 1963, I knew the moment the airliner’s door opened that I had arrived in ARIZONA! During the flight, I had struck up a conversation with a well-tailored  gentleman in a western-cut suit next to me. I mentioned that the farthest west I had ever been was a trip to Indianapolis for the big race. When Texas came up in our conversation, he brushed an imaginary speck of dust from his shining western boot and drawled, son, out here in Arizona, we consider Texas just another EASTERN state! So, like other legendary geographic locations there is Texas, the geographical entity and then there is Texas, the State of Mind.  So, my first impression of the Lone Star State has everything to do with Texas as a place. And the geographic Texas, to me, at least in the Austin area, which I now call home, looks for the most part like any suburb around L.A. or most of the Silicon Valley.
  My friends back in California were kidding me about having to buy a gun rack for my Ranger pick-up. But, I haven’t seen any other pickups with gun racks in the rear window. The same goes for the rustics who wear their manhood slung over their shoulders at the local WalMart. I see this on TV news; but I don’t see any self-proclaimed militiamen wearing their assault rifles at the big grocery store where I shop now, or at the Target where I bought my shower curtains. So, I find myself scratching my head a lot. Several of my friends also suggested that I’d have to buy  a wide brimmed hat just like Walker, Texas Ranger and invest in a couple of pairs of western boots to fit into my new image. But, around here in Cedar Park, I see mostly Nikes and Adidas in the footwear category, and baseball caps, all pointing to the front. So after a month of living here in what may seem to some folks as Texi-Fornia, I’m coming to the conclusion that the entire country is looking just like this. And with the Global Economy forever gaining traction, the entire globe will be following suit in just a few decades. I can already buy accessories for my IPad or IPhone at the Apple Store in the Euroma Shopping Mall near Rome’s Fiumicino Airport or flash my Costco card in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Ikea’s Scandinavian, assemble-it-yourself furniture is sold all over the world and graces homes from Milano to Mission Viejo.
   But, I am going to leave it to minds greater than mine to cogitate on the alleged Homogenization of America! I want to learn more about my new adopted state, Texas.  I’ve already found that Texas folks are extremely friendly and helpful. They are quick to smile. At the grocery store, I needed some  rock salt and coarse ground pepper for the prime rib we were roasting for Christmas dinner. I asked one employee if he could tell me where those items were, explaining that I had just moved to
Why Move? Two Reasons
the area and was shopping there for the first time. As he walked me over to the aisle where I could  find what I was looking for, we had a running conversation about shopping in California versus Texas…where I was from and what brought me to Texas. When I mentioned the grandkids, he pulled out his wallet and showed me pictures of his grandkids. Then he took the time to give me a quick tour of the store, so I would know in general terms on future visits where the major sections were. Texans are also very polite. I’ve heard sir and ma’am, along with please and excuse me as often as I’ve heard howdy and the y’all come on back, y’hear!
  The Texas attitude about the family dog is right up my alley, too. I had left my poodle, Lola in the truck the other day while I ran into the nearby Home Depot (right down the street from Target and across from the 24-hour WalMart). Inside, I ran across a couple with a Greyhound on a leash. Somewhat surprised to see a dog, especially one this size IN a store got my attention. I had to ask about it. Aw heck, said the man holding the dog’s leash, ever’ body around here brings their dogs in the store. Home Depot, Lowe’s, you name it. A couple of ‘em even have treats for the animals right at the cash register.
  So now, I am going in search of The Real Texas, not the homogenized version. At the grocery store last night the Austin Monthly caught my eye with its cover story: The Bucket List! 36 Things Every Austinite Must Do. Since I am a new Austinite, I grabbed a copy and tossed it into my shopping cart. This morning over my granola and blueberries I dug into my newly acquired research source. On page 58, I began reading 36 Things You Must Do in Austin Before You DIE!  As I started reading, a whole new vision of my life in its third quarter began flashing brightly before. I must have unwittingly died and gone to Texas Heaven, because here’s what my new life in the Texas state capital has in store for me.
  There’s Texas two-steppin’ at Broken Spoke dance hall. (I haven’t done Texas two-steppin’ since my Dallas trip back in the ‘80s). I could go camping at Emma Long Park, known locally as the only city park in the country that allows camping. I could imbibe a Mexican Martini at Trudy’s, a watering hole that offers a loophole in it’s two-drink-Mexican-Martini-limit, by suggesting that the tippler taxi between it’s four locations around Austin. Figuring the math on that little maneuver, you get to go to four places and quaff EIGHT  Mexican Martinis! Good Luck Tuesday! On top of that Trudy’s suggests Monday nights for the tippling tour because the Mexican Martinis are on special - $5 bucks each. (Too bad my meeting is on Monday night). Austin bills itself as the Live Music Capitol of the World and boasts of being the home town of many big name musicians. This gives me all sorts of possibilities worth exploring. I’ve already mentioned how pet-friendly Texans are. Well, there’s even something special here for Lola. Every October, St. David’s Episcopal Church conducts a blessing of
Bless Me, Padre!
the animals. And all pets are welcome – “furry, feathered or fanged,” according to the Austin Monthly. Being the Texas state capitol, Austin also boasts some world-class museums with the focus on Texas history and art. The Texas State History Museum and the LBJ Presidential Library notable among them. It seems I just missed the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge at Barton Springs this year, but there’s always next January (In your dreams, Austin)! Rounding out the Austin Monthly’s bucket list is barefoot bowling at Saengerrunde Hall at Scholz Garten, getting naked at Hippie Hollow and playing a game of Chicken Sh*t Bingo at the Little Longhorn Saloon on any given Sunday.
  Finding the Austin bucket list came at the right time for me. I’ve emptied all the boxes that Steve the moving company guy piled in my living room and pretty much put everything where it belongs in my new pad. Maybe after I finish hanging my new shower curtain, I’ll grab my list and start exploring. So if you see an elderly gent with a copy of the Austin Monthly in hand walking a little white poodle, step on up and say howdy!
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© By Mike Botula 2016