faces, for example, they discovered more phones then people to use them. A careful sweep through the building yielded a three-foot-high stack of phones in the corner of the front office. Over $14,000 a year had gone to cover the Bell bill alone, and another $4,200 for a Telex computer hook-up, which also was sent packing. Over all, Alrich and McCall cut overhead more than 50 percent. When they re-opened in the spring of 1977, it was with a skeleton crew and a tough budget. The austerity program returned the ‘Dillo to the slow and easy pace of earlier days and guided the way back to solvency. In 1978, the Armadillo showed an $18,000 profit, grown to $43,000 in 1979. The numbers were up again in 1980, especially during the long, hot summer, when sizeable crowds chose the ‘Dillo’s beer garden to cool off late at night and listen to the Lotions, Midnight Angels, Beto y los Fairlanes, and other of the kinds of bands for which the Armadillo had helped establish a forum. Even the cursed wisteria, which had never grown properly, at last covered the trellises of the beer garden. It was the Armadillo’s best summer ever, and helped insure the business will close debt-free. But as might be fitting to its namesake, just as the Armadillo had picked itself up and got moving again, just as it was almost to the other side of the road it got smacked by a pick-up truck. Not a pick-up, actually, a real estate deal. M. K. Hage, ever a patient and charitable landlord \(the rent only recently topreal-estate developer Jeff Simon for a reported $8 million. The Radisson chain apparently intended to manage a hotel there but now has pulled out of the deal. A replacement hotel firm hasn’t been named, but the Armadillo building is firmly scheduled for the wrecking ball in January, with construction of some hotel to begin soon thereafter. Many true believers surfaced in the final days to help Alrich relocate the Armadillo, but to no avail. Besides lacking capital to refurbish another physical plant, Alrich seems tired of the whole affair. He’s content to work with his re cording equipment, as he did before the monetary crisis forced command on him. As Fletcher Clark \(now a recording the ‘Dillo is an anachronism it outlasted its supporters. Gone now are the ringing truths, the sense of purpose that united the Armadillo generation. Gone is the desire to scream defiance, to court martyrdom. That generation no longer frequents bars and honky tonks. It left the revolution behind to get back in line. To make it. The revolution mired in mortgages, drugs, the seventies’ deadness who knows? And in the meantime, Austin has gotten fat, sniffed success. There’s no turning back. The Armadillo is history. Perhaps, today or tomorrow, you might happen to note Austin’s air-pollution index climbing. You might curse the snarling traffic. You might wonder why your rent went up again, why Austin needs a nuclear power plant, why the music is what it is and the people what they have become. You might stop and think back with kindness on that funky old hall and its rancid carpets. It served a purpose, and well. 12 DECEMBER 26, 1980
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