ustxtxb_obs_1971_10_08_50_00010-00000_000.pdf

Page 19

by

street city state [ Check enclosed zip ] To be billed 10 The Texas Observer The Balcony Fraud Enter a 1-year subscription, at $7.35 “… always impious. We recommend it.” I. F. STONE’S BI-WEEKLY, May 31, 1971. “I think The Observer ranks with The Progressive as one of the two most useful papers in the United States.” JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH, Sep. 16, 1970 “The Observer rates high among my favorite reading.” ARTHUR SCHLESINGER, JR., May 18, 1970 “One of the best publications in the country remains The Texas Observer.” THE NEW YORK POST, Dec. 18, 1969 “.. . probably as close as any publication in America to the high European standard of informed reportage and commentary.” THE SOUTH AND THE NATION by Pat Waters A journal of “considerable influence in Texas public life.” THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, Oct. 22, 1967 With “influence felt far beyond the state borders.” TIME, Sept. 27, 1968 “The conscience of the political community in Texas . ..” THE NEW REPUBLIC, Nov. 20, 1965 “A respected journal of dissent.” THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, March 2, 1969 41. . that outpost of reason in the Southwest …” NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, April 11, 1968 “. . that state’s only notable liberal publication . . . ” THE WASHINGTON POST, Nov. 25, 1968 “. . . delights in exposing the peccadil loes of the Texas establishment …” THE PROGRESSIVE, November 1968 I “Time and again since its first appearance in 1954, the Observer has cracked I stories ignored by the state’s big dailies and has had the satisfaction of watching the papers follow its muckraking lead.” NEWSWEEK, March 7, 1966 IMO OM MINIM MI NM I By Herve Chatz Washington, D.C. Marianne Ogren is a pert little secretary who works for a Washington law firm. She makes a nice salary and can afford her own one-bedroom apartment in Arlington, Va., near the Pentagon. The furniture is fairly new and carefully selected, mostly blues and greens. “I took the most time choosing the carpet,” Miss Ogren says. It’s a shaggy wool with a lot of blue and green and a dash of yellow. Obviously expensive. The apartment is very neat and you would assume that Marianne Ogren is a wonderful housekeeper until you look at her balcony. The only piece of furniture on the balcony is an old aluminum chaise with a green plastic cushion. The metal is coated with rust and the cushion with soot. The chaise is lying on its side, surrounded by a torn garden hose, a two-foot length of metal pipe, 14 empty beer bottles and an old Ben Barnes campaign poster. Miss Ogren blushed when she saw me looking through the glass doors. “I don’t know where that campaign poster came from,” she said, obviously agitated. I nodded and asked her if she ever went out on her balcony. “I used to sunbathe out there all the time,” she said. “Then I began to notice that the hi-rise next door blocks out the sun until about five in the afternoon. Besides, the guys in the apartment over there moved out. It all seemed so futile.” WHEN IT COMES to balconies, Marianne Ogren is hardly unusual, at least not in Washington. Take Arnold Schwab, a 28-year-old bachelor who works for a stockbroker firm here. His apartment in Southwest Washington is fantastic: deep carpets, low furniture, beautifully stained wood, African spears and shields. A stereo system takes up an entire wall. I commented on how neat the apartment seemed. “I have a maid service,” Schwab explained. “Four or five people come in here three times a week, tear the place apart, clean everything, and put it all back together. It costs a bundle, but it’s worth it.” Schwab lit a pipe and leaned back against a zebra-skin pillow. “You know,” he mused. “At one time a bachelor was supposed to have a messy pad, throw-together decor and dirt under Herve Chatz is a 33-year-old French writer who has spent the last four years in Washington writing books and magazine articles under various pseudonyms. In France, he gained fame as an investigative reporter by solving the famous Lisa Roue murder case in 1959, three years after the erroneously-convicted Leon Merde was guillotined for the crime. Chatz is said to have popularized the proverb: “Better late than never.” everything. Girls loved it. It gave them a chance to show what kind of wives they would make. That’s all gone now. Girls see pictures in magazines of these cool bachelor pads and they expect you to have the same.” I didn’t see a balcony, so I asked if he had one. The question startled him. “My God,” he said. “There was one when I moved in here last year. But I’ll be damned … maybe it’s over here.” He squeezed behind his stereo. “It is here,” came the muffled voice and I followed him through the glass doors. My feet made a loud crunching sound. The floor was covered with about two inches of broken glass. “Liquor bottles?” I asked. “I don’t think so,” he said. “As I recall, my dishwasher went on the blink for a week and I stacked my dishes out here. There must have been a storm. Wait. I do see part of a liquor bottle.” He picked it up. “Johnny Walker Red,” he said, shaking his head slowly. “Since Joe Namath I wouldn’t dare drink anything else. You know these chicks.” V. W. “Baby Bill” Paxton, the former congressman from Texas who now owns a discotheque here \(The Depletion an apartment, but he remembers his balcony. “Twenty bucks a month extra,” he recalls. “That was my balcony. When we came to Washington, we just had to have one. You know? So we got this place with a balcony and I’d walk out on it every day. If I’d forget, then my lovely wife Andrina, she founded the Texas A&M chapter of women’s lib, you know, she’d say: `Darling, have you gone out for your walk yet?’ and I’d drop what I was doing and go out on that damn balcony. And when Mike Makris, the oil lobbyist, came over for a drink, I’d see him eyeing that balcony and thinking about that twenty bucks extra he sort of went 50-50 with me on the rent so I’d have to rave about the balcony and feel like a damn sell-out. It was disgusting.” IWENT TO see Helmutt Stelle, the New Braunfels architect who now teaches in Philadelphia. Steele designed many of Washington’s new hi-rises. His office is the size of a large living room. The floor is transparent and beneath it are tubes of flourescent light. All the furniture is made of clear plastic. The only things of substance in the room besides myself were Dr. Steele and a large Ben Barnes campaign poster on one wall. He saw me looking at the poster. “My daughter gave it to me,” he explained. “She’s one of the founders of the Ben Barnes Groupie Club here.” I nodded and asked him why he designs all his apartments with balconies. Steele leaned back in his plastic chair and ‘THE TEXAS OBSERVER. 600 West 7th Austin, Texas 78701