Tag Archive | Austin

Saving Us From Ourselves, One Old Bag at a Time

BagAs I woke up to the news this morning, I learned the Legislature of the State of Texas has decided to turn its attention from minor issues like education, the budget, and our water (and lack thereof) to tackle the seminal issue of Austin’s ban on single-use plastic bags.

Representative Drew Springer, R-Muenster, penned House Bill 2416 and refers to it as the “Shopping Bag Freedom Act.” If passed, it will outlaw bag bans like the one in Austin that went into effect March 1. Well, I say thank God someone is looking out for our personal freedom to pollute.

Other representatives pointed out retailers could have chosen to ban plastic bags voluntarily, eliminating the need to impose the ban on everyone. Good luck with that. I didn’t see any retailers rushing to do so before the city council’s ban.

I must state here that Bryan and I started using reusable bags several years ago, so the ban didn’t mean any great change in our lifestyle. We made the switch the first time we read that the bags, drifting across the landscape as litter like mass-produced tumbleweeds, end up in rivers, which carry them to the ocean. Once there, instead of obligingly sinking to the bottom and waiting to be encased in limestone, they float around doing excellent imitations of jellyfish. Many sea creatures, including endangered sea turtles, eat them, expecting a delicious meal of jellyfish sushi, and instead getting an intestinal blockage that leads to a slow and excrutiating death.

But then, who cares if another species in the food chain goes extinct? At least people won’t have to  remember to bring bags to the store or return plastic bags for recycling. That might take a full minute away from their fascinating lives watching “Operation Repo” and “Survivor.”

As I try to calm down, I’ll point out that the bag ban is not the first legislation we’ve had to accept to save us from ourselves. After all, builders were anxious to buy more expensive lead-free paint for their projects for the benefit of all those babies who ate it. The Food and Drug Administration, typical government pork, ignores the fact that manufacturers love listing their ingredients voluntarily, even if they are carcinogens. Besides, as an Amurrican, you have the God-given right not to buy and consume any product that’s harmful–IF you can find out about the dangers.

Seatbelt laws are unnecessary, because we need the right not only not to use them, but not to have them cluttering up our vehicles. So what if motor vehicle deaths immediately declined when the law was enacted? I’ll bet all those auto makers would have put seatbelts and airbags in their cars voluntarily anyway. Just another example of the government sticking its nose in where it doesn’t belong.

This country has a history of laws trying to save us from ourselves that is at least as long as our history of freedom of choice. When everyone in this country does what is most beneficial for himself and others around him, we can deep-six the laws that try to make us act like smart, responsible human beings.

That seems like an impossible task, especially on days when the Texas Legislature tries to derail a rare step in the right direction.



Downtown Odyssey

Some of my best adventures happen close to home. This past weekend turned out to be a keeper, having a great time and never getting more than 17 miles from home. I went downtown Saturday and Sunday, and I might as well have been in Paris—Texas or France.

The big hoo-hah parades on television during the holidays leave me flat, but I love going to downtown Austin to watch a display of Local Cool march by. Whether the Texas Independence parade in March or Chuy’s Christmas parade last Saturday, I appreciate the efforts of those who get out there and act goofy for the entertainment of others.

This year’s Chuy’s parade had an added incentive for me to drive downtown, walk farther than I should, and stand longer than I should, just to get a glimpse of my oldest granddaughter marching with Cheer Station.

A lady in front of me saw their banner and said, “Cheer Station?” I don’t know what that is.”

I immediately explained my connection, that it is where my “gkid”  takes cheer and tumbling lessons. The youngsters duly impressed the onlookers, hoisting small girls up in the air, managing to catch them before they hit terra firma. The lady I spoke to and all her relatives cheered like fiends and turned to smile encouragingly at me. I felt surprisingly validated, knowing they thought my granddaughter and her friends were terrific, too.

I chose my perch for the parade on Congress Avenue carefully. It was a short walk to St. David’s on 7th street, where I had agreed to meet my daughter at the Art from the Streets exhibit. We’ve been before, but this time was especially fun, as Megan interviewed artists and took pictures for a grad school project. After introducing herself to one of the exhibitors and explaining why she wanted to interview her, the lady exclaimed, “Oh, I love the paparazzi!”

I shopped while Megan worked, finding a couple of handmade necklaces I needed. I also bought two photographs by Sam Cole, one of Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend and one of iconic bluebonnets. I bought those for my husband’s office, which is decorated in Rustic Texan, especially when he’s at his desk. Megan and I ate lunch at Scholz Garten, and I headed home to rest up for Sunday.

Sunday found me back downtown to see “Santaland Diaries” at the Zach Scott Theatre. It has become something of a holiday tradition for us, and every year I laugh like a maniac, as if seeing it for the first time. Short-term memory loss has its benefits. This is the farewell season for Martin Burke, however, the genius actor responsible for much of its popularity. His almost one-man show was terrific as always, but I left wondering where I’d be this time next year. I can only hope Martin reconsiders and comes out of his retirement from this role. Cher does it all the time.

We usually lunch at Casa de Luz before going to a play, but in deference to friends from San Antonio who are deeply suspicious of vegetarian fare, we ate at Threadgill’s, which never fails to please omnivores, especially those raised in the South.

I was ready to rest up Sunday night, just as tired as if I’d taken in a Broadway show. At least I didn’t have to unpack. We who are fortunate enough to live in Austin have diamonds on our doorsteps, good times just waiting for us. I’ll meet you downtown.