Saturday, December 03, 2005

Extreme Makeover: Civic Edition, or Make Corpus Weird

Let's take on a project. Let's make Corpus Christi into the next Austin!

Why not? Austin has lost some of its wonderful Austinness over the last couple of decades. It started to go downhill with the closure of the Armadillo World Headquarters back in the 70s. Then there was the high-tech boom, bringing Californians, Dumb Growthâ„¢, miserable traffic, and high housing prices. Then there was the dot com bust, bringing a strained local economy and the removal of Danny Johnson from the leadership of the UT Early Music Ensemble. Finally, dealing the coup de grace, my family left Austin to settle in this benighted burg. What does Austin have left??*

So I've decided we need to reinvent Corpus into a new, improved Austin. Corpus has a lot of potential.

It's a strange place, if you've never been here. Although the population numbers around 300K, it feels like a small town. When I go to the store or out to dinner, I'll often bump into someone I know. It's more intelligently laid out than Austin, with the streets in a nice even grid; it's hard to get lost, road construction projects typically get finished during the lifetime of people born before the projects were even begun, traffic is generally light, the weather is very nice (if on the warmish side), there are beaches, and folks are friendly. As an interesting side note, this town has the highest number of boob jobs per capita that I've ever seen. My sister and I went to a F.U.N. party with a woman from work once, and we were the only two women in the room not packing plastic.

On the minus side, the job market is dismal, wages are low, it's flat as a pancake, the sides of people's fences that face major streets are covered with grammatically incorrect religious billboards, there's no symphony orchestra or opera, the bayfront is kind of smelly, downtown is largely vacant, and there's not a whole lot to do on a Monday night. (Or a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday, for that matter; Friday and Saturday have a few limited options.) So it's perhaps not the ideal place for a displaced Austin pinko liberal intellectual agnostic with a penchant for cultural activities and wild parties.

So let's make it over! All we need to do is get rid of about 3/4 of the current population. We'll start with whoever it is that owns the car in my parking garage with the "Visualize No Liberals" bumper sticker on it. That always cheeses me off. Then we'll import a couple hundred thousand stoners, freaks, musicians, programmers, dreamers, independent filmmakers, and other assorted riffraff. We'll tear down the Selena memorial and put up an Oat Willie statue in its place. We'll fill downtown with blues clubs and independent coffeehouses. We'll start an underground weekly. We'll run Starbucks out of town on a rail! And for God's sake let's erect a few hills over on the west side of town.

Ambitious? Perhaps. But a girl's gotta dream.


*Well, aside from the Austin Chronicle, Eeyore's Birthday Party, gingerbread pancakes at Magnolia Cafe, Sixth Street, Barton Springs, Zilker Park (and spinning around under the Zilker Christmas Tree, and taking in the summer musical at the Zilker Hillside Theater), KUT, Threadgill's, the Capitol building, hike & bike trails along Town Lake, the University of Texas, Hippie Hollow, Hole in the Wall, Mrs. Johnson's doughnuts, Flightpath Coffeehouse, the Texas Chili Parlor, the Renaissance Market, Alamo Drafthouse, peppered onion rings at Hut's Hamburgers, Amy's Ice Cream, Christmas lights on 37th Street, plus festivals for spam, puns, hot sauce, and more, flourishing head shops, live music of every imaginable flavor, and maybe one or two other things that don't spring to mind just at the moment. But other than that? Not much.



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