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AFTERWORD Austin AT THE TURN of the year, I moved downtown. It now takes me six minutes to walk to the Capitol in the morning, nine minutes to walk to work. But sometimes it takes me longer. Lately, I’ve been coming across points of interest that were not on the route when I got about by car. There are, for example, signs of God to be found on, of all places, the grounds of the Texas Legislature. I’m speaking here of the Tyler Rose. A memorial garden describes the miracle of hybridization that led to the Tyler Rose. The resultant beauty is “an example of what happens when God and Man work together.” So it says in brass. Less successful was God’s collusion with Texans at the Alamo; nevertheless, that is memorialized too. Along with the names of the fallen dead inscribed upon the cenotaph marked HEROES OF THE ALAMO is the resolute motto “God and Texas, Victory or Death.” In fact, God was in on Texas from the start. When the Republic declared independence in 1836, the issue was committed “fearlessly and confidently” to “the supreme arbiter of the destiny of nations.” So it says in foot-high letters inscribed in granite at the state archives. Other partnerships seem just as improbable: the Supreme Court Building, according to the cornerstone, was “Leveled by the Grand Lodge of Texas, AF & AM.” The Boy Scouts fit in here somewhere; they have a special message buried on Capitol grounds, to be opened by Boy Scouts in 2076, should anyone still be scouting at that late date. For a Midwesterner who has had brief flings with the cities of Chicago and Detroit, as I have, the south side of the Capitol is full of wonder. Let it be noted here, as it is noted on various plaques there, that the architect who is responsible for the pinkish dome under which our laws are concocted was E. E. Myers, of Detroit. And further, that the contractors were from Rock Island, Illinois, and that the financing was provided by Chicago bankers. And never does such a Midwesterner of Yankee heritage feel so firmly planted in the South as on the southern side of the Capitol \(the north side is the neglected back yard; the Goddess of Liberty, of course, points south, and so DIED FOR STATE’S RIGHTS it says on the monument to the Civil War dead. THE SOUTH, ANIMATED BY THE SPIRIT OF 1776, TO PRESERVE THEIR RIGHTS, WITHDREW FROM THE FEDERAL COM-PACT IN 1861. THE NORTH RESORTED TO COERCION. THE SOUTH, AGAINST OVERWHELMING NUMBERS AND RE-SOURCES, FOUGHT UNTIL EXHAUSTED. There doesn’t seem to be anything written about slavery here. Among all the green men with rifles and green men on green horses one begins to get the feeling that Texas has been consistently on the wrong side of history, despite God’s part in it. The Alamo, the Confederacy, the ignoble uses of the term “state’s rights” this is a history one ought to be leery about building on. * * The one place that has been most consistently out of step with the worst strains of Texas is Austin. It was a planned city from the first a government-made city, not a tycoon’s town. It stood against secession when the rest of Texas voted 4 to 1 in favor. One secessionist denounced the city as “Yankeefied and Union-loving.” It was a New Deal town in the 1930s, voting 6 to 1 for Roosevelt. It was liberal, not merely Democratic. A New Deal structure the University of Texas clocktower became a cherished landmark. The University of Texas became, in the 1960s, a place to question established wisdom. The question one can’t avoid when walking through Austin today is this: is Austin in the process of being Texified? That is, has the conquer and plunder mentality begun to predominate, even here? The word goes out in the business press that the unfriendly forces have been tamed and the city has emerged from its “Rip Van Winkle trance.” We are said to be a city of the future. Now things are beginning to happen that seem a mite Houstonian. Nothing could quite match yet the recent referendum in Houston, in which the citizens turned out with zeal and sport to smite the homosexuals. But on that same weekend in January, Austin citizens engaged in a mean-spirited little vote against a plan to increase minority representation on the city council. One sensed that as soon as the plan became known as a plan “for the minorities” it became doomed for minority support. Three doors west of my house grows a structure to be named “The Meridian.” It is now in that stage where clusters of steel rods protrude from blocks of concrete, some rods protruding horizontally like frayed wires, others spiralling toward the sky. The bottom level is dense with timber supports. The company sign informs us, in proud and dignified lettering, that what we have of “luxury office space.” Executive Plaza. With two levels of parking. I think the principal boast of this project is found, however, by reading between the proud and dignified lines. I don’t think it is named “The Meridian” in honor of the imaginary circles that pass through the earth’s geophysical poles. “The meridian” is also defined as “the highest point or stage of development of anything,” and I think that’s how some people see luxury office buildings. That’s the kind of pluck that is making our city what it is today. * * The house I moved into is up for sale. The landlord will get a better price by waiting until a buyer is found for the entire block. The chiropractor next door says he’s not selling, but the problem with that is that he is getting on in years. I imagine by the time a new office building goes up where I now hang my hat most of the sidewalks in the city will be paved. But will anyone be so whimsical as to want to take a walk? Will there still be magnificent Live Oak trees to behold, and limestone mansions a hundred years old? Or will the city of the future pave over its past? Oh well. There will always be the Capitol, with all its history already made up and made over, and made ready to build on. By Dave Denison THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23