For Christmas, my niece gave me tickets to see The Mavericks with portly, but terribly cute lead singer, Raul Malo. I’ve had a crush on this talented man for years and was elated to see him in the flesh, but there was one drawback: the concert was in Austin.
I can’t reminisce about my college days in the late 70’s and early 80’s without Austin bounding to the forefront of every memory. The city played a key role in my early 20’s. But that was then. It was a time when Austin, by virtue of the University of Texas, it being the hub of Texas state government and its role in the burgeoning technology sector, was a wonderfully diverse place. Naturally diverse. Back then, it didn’t need to pay a PR firm a million bucks to come up with the trite slogan, “Keep Austin Weird”. Back then, weirdness was organic. . It was what Sustin did best. It was at a time when Austin didn’t have to try so hard.
I left after graduation. I never really went back and on the few occasions I did, I didn’t recognize the place. And when my niece and I travelled to Austin a few weeks ago, we arrived and were met by a city in what I deem to be in utter chaos. It was cramped and crowded. There was a large homeless encampment in a parking lot across under the freeway, from the Austin Police Department. Some might say, ‘well, if you have to put homeless people somewhere….’
Austin is a Liberal haven, considered by many to be a vivid, blue oasis in the middle of a very red state. Perhaps it always leaned left but I don’t remember it being this vociferously liberal. I used to be more Liberal myself. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t notice.
Political atmosphere not withstanding, returning was a sad homecoming for me. We got to the concert and it was great, but Austin is an exercise in overcoming claustrophobia. We couldn’t wait to leave the theater and the teeming humanity cramped within it.
And while there’s no love lost for the city that has become the municipal cluster fuck I feel it currently is, I hate hearing about the bombings there. Tragic, fatal and so destructive. Why? The criminal mind flummoxes me.
I was a broadcast journalist for the more than three decades and while I’m no criminal profiler by any means, I have often been able get a feel for who and what’s behind certain crimes. But not this time. The dots aren’t just not connecting, they feel elusive. Now, my general contractor is convinced the culprit is a disgruntled, middle-aged white guy. Then again, he‘s from Boston….a red blooded, ball bustin’ Southie to be exact . He thinks everyone is a disgruntled, middle-aged white guy.
If I had to admit it, the bomber is probably a disgruntled white guy, I’d have to go the route of the stereotype. Ok, if Imdo that, then I also have to say that also means he’s neat, tidy. Wears metal frame glasss, short graying hair. Thin, angular face. Doesn’t smile much, but one wouldn’t think him perpetually dour, either. It would make sense to all if he was in the military with experience in bombs and so forth, but that’s us, well me actually, trying to make sense of the senseless. He has a detached backyard workshop which nobody knows is as fortified and sound proofed as it is. He lives alone…maybe a decades old divorce on his permanent record, little to no cyber footprint, very few visitors so no one would be aware of his lifestyle or the fact that he tinkers in his workship late at night. And early in the morning. And during his lunch hours.
His motive? My contractor went for the hackneyed one: he’s an Austin native, pissed at the way the city has changed culturally, politically. Maybe, but that seems too obvious. Not only that, the randomness of the victims seems too intentional. Additionally, news of the exceleration of bombings and found devices as of late Tuesday evening, is nothing short of harrowing. People everywhere, not just in Austin are terrified. They can’t look at a brown paper packages without their lives flashing before their eyes. But then again, isn’t that logically, probably part of the plan? The intention? It’s terrorism. Pure and simple.
The Feds are being very withholding about information. That’s also telling.
This is just a hunch, but I can’t shake a certain “what if’ feeling. If asked, I might suggest someone look into Austin’s political subculture. What if this bomber…or bombers, are (for lack of a better phrase) “criminally nostalgic” and hoping to make radically salient political and social points via a redux version of The Weather Underground?
Permit me to refresh your memory. Harken back to the crazy 60’s and the Vietnam war. The Weather Underground (aka The Weathermen) was a militant, radical left-wing organization founded 1969 on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan. Anybody remember a cat named Bill Ayers and his relationship, such as it was, to President Obama? Ayers was a founding member of a faction called Students for a Democratic Society, a self-described communist revolutionary group with the intent to overthrow imperialism. Thry conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings (including police stations, the US Capitol Building, and the Pentagon) during the 1960s and 1970s in response to US involvement in the Vietnam War. They rioted, assisted in jail breaks and in 1970, issued a “Declaration of a State of War” against the United States government, claiming it had been exploiting other nations by waging war as a means of solidifying America as a greater nation.
Most bombings were preceded by evacuation warnings. Unlike the Austin bombings, there were no fatalities, but lots of property destruction. The Austin bombings at this point, seem exclusively aimed at killing and maiming. So yes, the MO’s are different, at least based on what little info the Feds are releasing, but given today’s political and social upheaval and Austin’s vast hipster climate, I don’t think considering that these bombings might be the work of a subversive group, molded straight out of the radical past, is too far removed from the realm of possibilities.
This is going to sound flippant and it’s not my intention, but if you have a generation of young people who don man buns and knit caps in 96 degree weather, and who are desperately trying to return LPs and turntables back to their audio glory of 40-plus years ago, I mean, why not put this possibility on the investigative radar???
Just a thought.