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Sunday Ramble: Why Is Everyone in Austin So Cold?

It sure ain't the temperature! The Texas sun's commenced its annual attempt to boil the brains of any Austinite foolish enough to expose their cranium to its killer rays. We're not in sidewalk egg frying territory yet, but Healthy Pet is stocking-up on neoprene mesh dog booties.

At least I'm hoping that's what they're for. Anyway, no 'bout a doubt it: the heat is on.

DISCLAIMER: this post has nothing to do with Ross Gelbspan's riveting page-turner: The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, The Cover-up, The Deception.

Why would I subject my starter set of faithful readers to "an ominous foretaste of the gathering threat of political chaos and totalitarianism"? Unless there was a professional wrestler named Ominous Foretaste, which there damn well should be.

Nor do I mean to evoke memories of the once and future now dead Eagle guitarist Glenn Frey's 1985 hit The Heat is On.

That catchy little ditty reached Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, aided by its inclusion in Beverly Hills Cop, denied the top slot by the birth of political correctness. (We Are the World? FTS. Who I gotta to kill to be Number One?)

I led with the Texas heat because I used to believe Southerners were friendlier than New Englanders because the former enjoyed better weather than the latter.

Victoria Osteen

Putting a smile on your face during the miserable indeed interminable New England winter requires a level of positive thinking even Joel Osteen can't fake. Lord knows he tries. Which reminds me...

I dated Joel's wife when we both worked at CNN Atlanta. We were an item for about an hour-and-a-half. Long enough for Victoria Iloff to grill me about my family's financial status, examine recent bank statements and discuss my future earnings potential.

To the point where I could've sworn Vicky was Jewish (her maiden name suggested Russian jewry). Can I say that? I'm Jewish. I can. Anyway, Victoria and her Hurricane refuge-denying husband have a combined net north of $100m.

Coincidentally, Vicky shares also ran status with Glenn Frey. Her 2008 tome Love Your Life: Living Happy, Healthy and Whole peaked at number two on The New York Times Bestsellers List. As Maxwell Smart (a.k.a., Agent 86) used to say, missed it by that much.

Back to the Galactica...

Reading the New York Post op ed Why is everyone in NYC suddenly so rude, I learned that Big Apple denizens' legendary unfriendliness is worse than usual. One theory: it's down to long-COVID agoraphobia or psychopathy.

Mind you, those are two very different conditions. One of which my mate Monica AI calls "a complex and controversial topic in psychology and psychiatry, with ongoing research and debates surrounding its diagnosis and treatment." In other words, only safely applied to Donald Trump.

If COVID caused rudeness, public-facing crankiness should be rearing its ugly head nationwide, right? Yup, says NYP Op Ed writer Chadwick Moore.

The crash in basic decency is playing out all over the country, not just in totalitarian Democrat fiefdoms like New York where there’s a higher percentage of anti-humanists still scuttling around with their little masks on, grasping for a return to more restrictive times.

Mr. Moore drops his mask, takes his tongue out of cheek and gets to the meat of the matter: it's the government's fault.

The rudeness free-for-all is a product of living under leadership that blithely humiliates and deceives the people they’re elected to govern.
What is uncontrolled spending on foreign wars, stagnant wages, a preoccupation with DEI, and the migrant crisis — with its billions of dollars shelled out to criminal aliens committing asylum fraud — if not a clear message to taxpaying citizens that you do not matter... 

That, combined with bail reform, wastelands of homeless encampments in our cities, and an unchecked fentanyl epidemic, delivers the same pronouncement: if the government so clearly doesn’t care about its people and their basic wellbeing, why should anyone else?

I'm a small "c" conservative to my core, but I'm not buying that for a dollar. People get the government they deserve (#victimblamingftw).

Austin's blue-island-in-a-red-sea city government doesn't answer to that description and the capitol city's resident have moved along the spectrum from friendly to rude. Apologies to The Incredibles, they're now in the Frozone.

Bob's Your Uncle

Walking to Bob's Chop House to enjoy a Judge cigar and a Hemingway margarita (#judgarita), I passed a dozen people of various ages, I smiled at all of them. Nary a nod did I receive.

How different from when I landed in Austin 15 years ago; when I had to resist the temptation to ask smiling strangers "do I know you?"

I took to it like a fish takes eating other fish (or something like that). I learned The Four Ways to Tip Your Hat. I held doors open for people 100 yards away. Learned to drop the "ing" and the word "good" from "good morning/afternoon/evening." I M'amed my little heart out.

I still do all those things. Thousands of Austin immigrants – mostly California Tech Bros refugees – don't. They walk with earbuds, talking to whomever about whatever looking wherever. But definitely not into the eyes of passing strangers.

Those who share my Texan politesse and disappointment at the changing culture now call Austin LA Lite.

A couple of days ago, I plunked my helmet down at the breakfast counter of a local diner chain called Kirby Lane.

An attractive waitress put her elbows on the counter, leaned forward, pad in hand, and gave me a smile that said she was genuinely happy to see me. That we were both on the planet together. That she was about to feed a hungry human she'd never met before.

"You're from Texas, aren't you?" I asked.

Well of course she was. And of course I'm leaving Austin for... somewhere friendly.

The Importance of Being Earnest

I can't begin to tell you how important it is – for me at least – to live somewhere where people don't see life as a burden to be endured, although that's true enough. Where people live by the Golden Rule, and don't want to be treated like a potential spree killer.

I can't begin, but I can end with this quote from YA author Wendy Mass: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

Ms. Mass lives in New Jersey, of all places. Her book The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase – a semi-riff on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – reached Number 1 on The New York Times best-seller list. FWIW.

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Unknown member
May 19

Good luck finding a place where people are generally friendly. I suspect that the universal reach of the internet has infected everyone with terminal grumpiness.

May 22
Replying to

"Everything in life is luck." – Donald Trump

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