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0#01-idcat Q41 gafriciaptiew, $25 It’s better to give than not to. \(DTM ti TEXAS server Please send a one-year gift subscription to: Name Address City/State/Zip My Name: Name Address City/State/Zip [71 Enter/Extend my own subscription 71 Bill me 171 Check Enclosed Your first Observer Each additional subscription is $25. This offer is good through January 31, 1998. The Texas Observer 307 W. 7th St. Austin, TX 78701 Subscribe online at or.-mail . We do not accept credit cards, so keep that number to yourself. unlit. Those that are decorated ; are decked with strings of sixty-watt bulbs, the kind you might see on a fireworks stand in July. As we shuffle into a half-time march, a trombone player nearly trips over a flutist; the entire parade plods on, the dogs still barking. The drum major grimaces in horror at the lights as if they were about to devour him, and waves at us frantically. The dulcet, warm tones of “0 Come All Ye Faithful” melt into the night. We make our way toward the park. It’s within sight now, and we’re a little more anxious to get there. It’s just up the block, past the fire station and the grease trap caf. Three years ago the park was just a grassy, curbless median that marked where Main devolved into Eighth Street. Then, the city fathers \(there are no city mothers in most and a water fountain, to which a festive four-foot scrub cedar is now lashed. The girl scouts decorated it earlier in the week with felt ornaments and popcorn balls, red ribbons and construction paper. Though it is yet unlit, it shines at the crest of the street like El Dorado, or the Lost Temple, or the North Pole. Close now, we’ve settled in to a comfortable groove, giving a powerful, yet poignant and reflective treatment to the current carol. When we reach the crescendo in the middle of the song, the dogs nearly explode. When they’re howling so forcefully that their voices begin to crack, the fire engine at the head of the parade honks like a frustrated goose and zooms up the street. It careens around the corner and out of sight, narrowly missing the Christmas tree. The shell-shocked mayor \(who’s falls to the floor of his convertible, as his driver speeds off in the opposite direction. We try to keep up with the fire truck, practically mowing down the mini-skirted, ever-smiling drill team, until we reach the park, breathless and in a uniformed jumble. Feeling like we’ve won some sort of race, we look to see how badly we’ve outrun the hind end of the parade. But it’s not there. The lawnmower brigade is idling in front of the cafe, about a block and a half back. The fire truck is at the rear of the line now, behind Santa’s truck. In the commotion, a maundering bird dog weaves in and out of people’s legs, yipping and jumping, and tiny Girl Scouts run screaming to their parents. Main Street’s intermittent strands of Christmas lights cast a dusky, dreamlike glow, just barely illuminating the figure of a volunteer fireman bending over Santa pumping on his chest. Winded though we are, we feel some sort of obligation to draw the crowd’s attention away from Santa. Several of us gather in a half-circle and strike up a rousing, percussionless rendition of “Jingle Bells.” The drill team melodramatically \(and collectively, still in forand coos, remarking on the artistry, on the even spacing of the light bulbs. But there’s not much we can do not when Santa may or may not be breathing, and the horses are trying to throw their riders, and the mayor’s probably already at home and safe in bed, and the dogs won’t shut up, and the new stoplight just keeps on turning green and yellow and red. The sweating drum major brushes a stray branch of Christmas tree out of the water fountain and takes a long drink. Someone else finds the end of an electric cord and ceremoniously plugs it in to the outlet under the picnic table. The listing cedar lights up, felt ornaments and bagworms waving slowly back and forth in the humid breeze. Austin writer Amanda Toering is also the Observer’s indispensable business manager and web editor. ANION. Labor Intensive Radio Radio of the union, by the union and for the union. Hosted and produced by union members dedicated to bringing the voice of labor to the Austin airwaves. Tuesdays 6:30-7:00 p.m. K0.017 91.7 FM Box 49340 Austin, TX 78765 DECEMBER 19, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31