Sian Ruin International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. 3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower www.rutamaya.net check our site for monthly calendar it Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation The Texas Observer is published biweekly, except during April, July, September and December, when there is a 4-week break between issues \(22 issues Democracy Foundation; Editor, Bob Moser; Managing Editor, Chris Tomlinson. Owner: The Texas Democracy Foundation, 307 W. 7th St., Austin,TX 78701. 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: Average Data Requested Mail Subscriptions Outside-County: avg. 4660, actual and/or Requested Circulation: avg. 94%, actual 99%. Signed Julia Austin, Associate Publisher, 9/29/10. exas Jail Project Party! Saturday, November 6, 2010 3209 Hemlock Avenue Austin 7pm 10pm in us for delicious food, drink and conversation with co-founder Diane Wilson and help support TJP in our efforts to empower incarcerated individuals in Texas county jails. SUGGESTED DONATION: $10J LEGISLATIVE TEAM MEMBER: $ BROWSE Daniel Johnston’s website at hihowareyou.corn Congress Avenue, from the steps of the Capitol to the river, only to see our numbers underreported and our message lost among the Free Mumia/Legalize It/ Free Tibet noise-to-signal ratio. For the froga local cause being protested by a local group of about 30 we obtained as much TV and print coverage as we’d hoped for. The stories started to fall into a “Requiem for a Frog” line on how sad everyone was that the mural was being destroyed. One protester had an idea: Instead of railing about the frog, why didn’t we call the guy who was building the Baja Fresh? JOHN OUDT STARTED the Texas Restaurant Group after selling the Barq’s root beer brand to Coca-Cola in 1995. Today his son Randall handles the day-today responsibilities of the company, but the elder Oudt oversaw the development of the Baja. “It was quite a surprise,” he said when I asked what it was like when he got a phone call informing him that a few dozen protesters were outside his building. “I thought the painting was just an accumulation of graffiti,” he said. When I spoke to him that afternoon years ago, I insisted that the mural wasn’t graffitiit was art. Much to my surprise, Oudt heard me out. “I’m not a young guy, and this isn’t my first rodeo” he said. “I’ve been involved in areas around universities before, and I knew that the attitudes that people have about you are extremely important if you’re trying to open a business in an area like The Drag.” He met us at the frog site and apologized, said if he’d known it meant something to us, he’d have found a solution. As it was, plans had been approved, and everything was underway. He was polite and sincere, and offered to see if the workers could cut the mural out very carefully, if I had room for it in my West Campus studio apartment. We shook hands, and he thanked us for letting him know about the mural. Walking home, I took the fact that he’d shown up as a victory, but the next morning, he called me. “I couldn’t sleep last night,” he said before explaining that he’d decided to save the mural. We held a press conference that afternoon, at which he said he expected it to cost him $50,000 in architect fees and lost revenue to preserve it, but that it was important to him. THE LATE HOUSE SPEAKER Tip O’Neill famously said that “All politics is local.” Most of the demonstrations held up as proof that protest doesn’t work have been about big national and international issues. A group in Toronto isn’t going to change what leaders in South Korea and Turkey and Australia decide about the G20; amassed immigrants in Chicago and Dallas aren’t liable to effect change on an issue that’s so divisive throughout the country; a bunch of people with signs down in Texas aren’t able turn heads in the Pentagon. If I were still in my early 20s, that might sound like cynicism to me. When it feels hopeless, though, I just have to go back to my old neighborhood to see that big, googly-eyed frog to remember that when you keep your focus on your immediate world, you can be a lot more powerful than you’d have thought. That afternoon in 2004, a few friends drove by while we were demonstrating. They’d been with me a few months earlier, marching through downtown to protest the war, and this time they thought what we were doing was funny”You’re going to have to get a real job sometime, frog boy!” But when they drive down Guadalupe today, that mural is still there. It means something different to them than it does to me, I’m sure. Just like it means something different to Daniel Johnston himself, or to the photography students at the University who shoot pictures of it every semester, or the guy on YouTube who put up a video of himself standing in front of it and explained that, “Standing before Daniel Johnston’s mural in Austin, Texas, was a highlight of my trip across the United States.” To me, the mural means something about the kind of difference a person can make, and that O’Neill’s maxim was right. If I’d listened to the part of me that agreed that the wrongs of the world were too big to fix, all of usmy friends and I, Daniel Johnston, the photo students and the guy on YouTubewould be walking past the building where Jeremiah the Frog used to live and wishing we could bring him back. 1:1 Dan Solomon lives in Austin. His work has appeared in the The Onion A.V. Club, Spin, Austin Monthly and Asylum.com . WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG
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