Monkey-brained Musings

Monday, June 21, 2004
Texas Democratic Convention

The Democratic Convention in Houston this weekend marked a resurgence of Texas Democrats. The convention had the most attendees of any of the last three that I have attended, many of them at a convention for the first time, and there was an energy and excitement present throughout the convention. When I left late Saturday evening after the platform was approved around 5:30, more attendees were present than previous conventions have had after lunch on Saturday. Many of the new attendees were Dean supporters, there to promote their ongoing effort through Democracy for Texas. Many were also the surprisingly well-organized supporters of Dennis Kucinich.

SD 14 Caucus

The contest for the female representative to the State Democratic Executive Committee from the SD 14 portion of Travis County pitted a new activist against one of the party’s old guard. Fran Vincent, an active and energetic supporter of Howard Dean, ran against the current SDEC representative Anne McAfee. With three candidates in the race, Fran won on the first ballot. The only time that happened when multiple candidates were standing for an office. Anne received a standing ovation in thanks for her service.

The contest for the male SDEC representative saw Rich Bailey who had worked on Dean’s Texas campaign running against Fidel Acevedo. Both appealed for more grassroots organizing and further efforts to bring in new voters. Rich was elected. The current representative, Frank Ortega, will continue to serve on the SDEC for the Tejano Democrats.

In the election of national delegates, the Dean supporters succeeded in filling two of the three slots for male delegates and the alternate’s slot. Update 1: Burnt Orange Report notes that approximately one-quarter of the Texas delegates to the national convention in Boston are Dean supporters. Update 2: Rich Bailey was elected as the SD14 SDEC representative.



There is an important lesson in follow-through that you need to learn, dear Capricorn. More than likely, as you strive for perfection, you get the feeling that nothing is every fully completed. Try not to be so hard on yourself. More than likely, the work you have finished so far is probably much better than what most people could ever accomplish. Put the final touches on whatever you have working, and move on.


Friday, June 04, 2004
Tiananmen Anniversary

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Chinese government’s suppression of the 1989 democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. The LA Times offered a moving tribute to lone protester who’s stand before a column of tanks on the second day of the crackdown became one of the iconic images of the 20th Century. His name and fate are still unknown. He is missing and presumed dead.

China still prohibits images of his stand from circulating. So, now my blog is banned in China.


Chronicle Restaurant Poll

The results of the Austin Chronicle’s 2004 Restaurant Poll are in. The biggest surprise seems to be that there is more competition between Austin’s sushi restaurants than among Italian restaurants. The bad news is that Uchi ranked at the top of both the readers and critics polls. We had dinner there Tuesday evening. It was exceedingly mediocre and expensive. It was also a bad sign that none of the sushi chefs was over the age of 30. Uchi clearly appeals to the trendy folks who favor Kenichi. I am more partial to the traditional style and quality at Mushashino.


Wal Mart Threat to Vermont

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has placed the entire state of Vermont on its 2004 list of threatened locations, arguing that the company’s expansion plans are a threat to the state’s distinctive small towns and their local businesses.

Vermont, though, is only one of the eleven threatened locations identified by the NTHP for 2004:

- 2 Columbus Circle, New York City
- Bethlehem Steel Plant, Bethlehem, PA
- Historic Cook County Hospital, Chicago, IL
- Elkmont Historic District, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, TN
- George Kraigher House, Brownsville, TX
- Gullah/Geechee Coast, SC & GA
- Madison-Lenox Hotel, Detroit, MI
- Nine-Mile Canyon, Carbon & Duchesne counties, UT
- Ridgewood Ranch Home of Seabiscuit, Willits, CA
- Tobacco Barns, Southern Maryland

The Kraigher House is described as “[a] little-known landmark” and an example of the work of modern architect Richard J. Neutra, which made me understand why I was not familiar with the structure.


A Walk Through Downtown

I was in Boston on Saturday and had the chance to walk along the Freedom Trail which connects Boston Common to Paul Revere’s house, the Old North Church, and other Revolutionary landmarks. One of the best things about the trail, though, was the experience of walking through the city, twisting and turning along its streets, encountering its neighborhoods, and crossing the Big Dig. We particularly enjoyed exploring the shops in the Italian neighborhood that now surrounds Revere’s house.

While walking through Boston, I thought of what it would be like to take a similiar walk through Austin’s Downtown. At first, the comparison seems silly since Boston has had more than 350 years to build its neighborhoods while Austin has had only slightly more than 150 years, and we have spent the last 50 years tearing down many of our Downtown neighborhoods. Still, it has been said that cities are like coral reefs; they are built over time and are the slow acrretions of millions of individual lives. The challenge and the opportunity that we have before us is to determine what kind of urban legacy we will grant to the future. A city is formed not only from its built environment but also out of how people relate to and interact with that environment. The idea of a historic or cultural walk through Downtown Austin may seem silly now, but that is only because we cannot now envision it. There are many sites, though, that could be linked through such a walk: Republic Square, Brush Square with the O.Henry and Susanna Dickinson houses, the forthcoming Anna Ebberly statue, the Driskoll, Scholtz’s Garden, and, of course, the Capitol, Governor’s Mansion, and old Land Office. The key is to bring these sites together in a way that links them in people’s minds as well as on the ground.


The scattered musings of Jeb Boyt, Austin Texas. A collection of the random bits that scamper through my monkey brain. This blog is my personal record. The opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way associated with any employer, board, commission, organization, or other entity that I may be affiliated with. So there.

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