O Brother, How Votes Thou?

[Editor’s note: A San Antonio executive writing under the pen name Felix Culpa once again graces our blog with his take on national politics. The hits just keep coming.]

Other than the diehard partisans, everyone seems to be complaining that this year’s presidential contest forces us to choose between two distasteful candidates. Google “lesser of two evils” and you’ll see what I mean. But to me, the choice isn’t really between Evil One and Evil Two, it’s between relatively benign corruption and relatively dangerous reaction.

Or, if you’re a fan of Coen brothers movies, between Pappy O’Daniel and Homer Stokes.o brother

Hopefully by now you’ve seen, and committed to memory, the great “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (If not, you’re probably a millennial, so first, read the blog post that precedes this one, and second, download the movie on Yidio or Crackle or whatever stupidly named app you people favor these days).

“O Brother” is basically a recasting of the Odyssey into Great Depression-era Mississippi, and amid the trouble that encounters Ulysses Everett McGill – a wife named Penelope, her suitors, attackers that include a one-eyed giant – a subplot is woven: a gubernatorial campaign between Pappy O’Daniel, a good ol’ boy surrounded by incompetent sycophants, and Homer Stokes, a populist outsider who promises to “stand up for the little guy.”

Literally, for the little guy. See the movie if you don’t get the reference.

Anyway: Pappy frets that he’s too old-school, and that his patronage politics won’t survive an onslaught by the modern law-and-order message spouted by Stokes on the hot new social media of the time, AM radio. Stokes waves around a broom to show he wants to sweep out corruption.

It isn’t until Pappy stumbles upon a populist message of his own that he begins to have a chance. Stokes desperately tries to discredit that message, and in doing so reveals that he belongs to a “certain secret society” whose name he needn’t mention, but its initials are KKK. The assembled voters ride him out of town on a rail.

Literally, on a rail. See the damn movie, people!

Anyway: It shouldn’t be hard to see who in our current campaign represents the patronage and pay-for-play governing tyle of Pappy O’Daniel, and who represents the fearmongering posing as populism of Homer Stokes. Right?

And the important lesson, especially as Donald Trump screeches about “Crooked Hillary” and e-mails and foundations and so on, is that voters generally stick with the bullshit they know vs. the bullshit they don’t know.

It’s just too bad the soundtrack of this year’s presidential campaign is nowhere near as good as the one in the movie.

Effing Millennials

Killing time before the board meeting — for Worth Repeating, a Texas Public Radio storytelling project — the twenty-something next to me explained in great detail some factoid that had caught her interest. She’d researched the shit out of it online, she explained, “because, well, I’m a millennial.”

Later, I tried to remember if I’d ever explained any action of mine by saying “because I’m a Gen-Xer.” Had anybody born between 1965 and 1980 said that?

“I maintain this annoying pose of ironic detachment because, well, I’m a Gen-Xer.”

No Country for Old Men speaks to me in a profound way because I’m Gen-Xer.”

“I robbed the Seven-Eleven because I was bored and wanted to buy weed, which is another way of saying because I’m a Gen-Xer.”

Probably not. But I don’t know. Maybe.

I remember where I was when I heard Kurt Cobain was dead. I devoured the emptiness and nihilism of Bret Easton Ellis’s all-too-often crappy writing. I would never, ever, ever presume to speak for “my generation.” In fact, I would never say “my generation,” except with a smirk and air quotation marks.

This is my favorite knock-knock joke:

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Greg.

Greg who?

Greg Jefferson.

What I find most eerie about millennials is their messianic togetherness — their sense that they are part of a generation with its own values, sensibility, ethos. I’m convinced these kids have been knitted together by the Internet, like the victims in those icky Human Centipede movies.

I’m surely not the only middle-age customer who feels like they need to bring their passport to buy a latte at Local Coffee at the Pearl.

I think that’s one of the major reasons people in, you know, my age range are so down on millennials (born between 1981 and 2000). It’s true. When the conversation among Gen-Xers turns to the youngsters, you’d think their proper name is “Fucking Millennials,” and that the correct pronunciation requires an eye roll.

That’s not true of everybody in my age range, just as it’s not true that every millennial is a smiling agent of gentrification. Some Gen-Xers bought into Whitney Houston’s dangerous belief that children are our future. Others are age traitors who get super-psyched trying to figure out the best way to sell goods and services to these youngsters. Still others feed vampirically off the life force of the young. I recently saw a guy in his late-forties or early-fifties skateboarding at the Pearl. Vans, cargo shorts, tight fashionable tee, and a strong aversion to garlic and wolfsbane.

Then there are the ones who find Gen-X too barren, you know…. spiritually, I guess. Whatever.

When the conversation among Gen-Xers turns to the youngsters, you’d think their proper name is “Fucking Millennials,” and that the correct pronunciation requires an eye roll.

I assume it’s mostly Gen-Xers — the youngster wannabees, detractors, and defenders — who are commissioning and conducting the many tons of research on millennials. On their spending habits, why and how frequently they vote, their views on LGBT inclusion, their love of mass transit (of course), their rejection of organized religion and embrace of magic, etc., etc. Here’s some of the latest research.

As an aside, self-absorbed Baby Boomers didn’t want to know much about Generation X, though after we began taking over the financial markets, they probably wondered how deep our greed and selfishness ran. Answer: see The Great Recession. (Worth noting: the highest goal of the Gen-X protagonists in The Big Short, both the book and movie, was to make money off the housing bubble, not to protect ill-informed, semi-delusional homeowners.)

Anyway, I’m glad we’re learning everything we can about millennials. For their part, they’re not at all surprised the world is endlessly fascinated with them. Their parents made clear to them just how special they were. So they’re going to answer every survey question put to them, for the good of us all. Which works out beautifully. We need to know what we’re in for as they seize power in business, our civic and educational institutions, and government.

Leonardo-DiCaprio-and-Kat-009
Rose was a model Gen-Xer. She could have shared the door with Jack — it was big enough — but she didn’t want to.

It’s already happening in San Antonio.

After an extensive nation-wide search for a new CEO, the directors of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation selected a 29-year-old executive from CPS Energy. Tech Bloc, which represents S.A. technology companies, which means speaking on behalf of a bunch of millennials, is establishing itself as an agenda-setter, starting with its role in bringing rideshare back to San Antonio. The youngsters are also raising their hands for appointments to government boards and commissions and nonprofits, and running for school board seats.

We’re not talking generational warfare here. People my age, by and large, never enlisted. With San Antonio’s Old Guard of business, civic, and political leaders either leaving or preparing to leave the stage, the question asked incessantly is who’s going to replace them, besides maybe Graham Weston (who technically lives in New Braunfels) and Lew Moorman?

We don’t really buy into the whole idea of “community” or believe much in the possibility of “improving” said community.

Millennials believe in both, and they feel entitled to lead.

I guess I have to resign myself to following because, well, I’m a Gen-Xer.

 

 

 

Dude Doesn’t Get Conservatives

 

11.12.15

 

Richard,

First let me say I love you, man, and I’ll always think of you as my mentor. You taught me how to do campaigns. You saved me years of trial and error and a shitload of losses. And I truly appreciate you thinking of me and sending work my way.

I know you know there’s a “but” coming. Here it is: But there is no way I can take on Congressman Burke as a client.

I want to be straight with you – it’s not because I’m already overcommitted (has a consultant ever even said that word?) or because we couldn’t agree on the size of my retainer. It’s because I’m convinced he’s going to get killed in the primary, and no consultant on this planet can prevent it.

Ed – excuse me, Edmund – Burke is just too out of step with conservatism.

I met him at a diner in Bristol earlier this week. Caught him on a very bad day. On the drive over, I flipped through the talk radio shows. The hosts were eating him alive, and the callers – my God, haven’t heard anger like that since Bruce Jenner came out as a woman. Worse, from what I heard not one surrogate of Burke’s called in to defend him. And I checked later, no counter-messaging at all on Twitter. Nothing, like maybe his campaign doesn’t have a social media director.

The headline in the morning paper was pretty bad, too. “Burke: Don’t Tell Me How to Vote – You’re Just Bristolians!” And what did he say when the reporter called him for comment? “Please refer to the text of my speech.”

The speech was the fucking problem!

Since you probably haven’t seen the clippings – yet – Politico is about to jump on this story – here’s some of what he told the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

[Constituents’] wishes ought to have great weight with their representative; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

I know – just take a few seconds with that. He might as well send out a flyer to every R household in the district that says “I’m better than you in every way.” Unbiased opinion, mature judgment, enlightened conscience? Jesus! When was the last time you ever heard a pol who won a seat in Congress claim any of those things?

How did this guy ever get elected in the first place?

Then he said this:

Congress is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but Congress is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of Congress. 

How do you walk something like that back?

I pull a copy of the newspaper out of my jacket pocket and I’m waving it around in front of him, throwing this stuff in his lap. And he says “the electors of Bristol” will get the “reasonableness” of what he said and “come into harmony” with his position.

I nearly choke on my coffee. Electors? He doesn’t even call them voters.

Did you know reporters were in the room, I ask. Of course, he says. Then I swear he calls me a goose.

I keep pounding away, telling him about all the polling data showing that if the GOP base wasn’t in the mood for his schtick in 2010, man, oh man – they’re downright murderous this cycle.

He just smiles this weird, kind of amused smile and stares at me. Doesn’t say a thing.

I ask is there anything else I need to know about, apart from this neutron bomb of a speech. He goes on smiling and says, still amused, “yes, I am writing a book about the revolution in France.”

The French Revolution?”

“No, the revolution in France.”

“Pro or con?”

“Con.”

Then he goes off about pruning away the dead parts of the plant – and only the dead parts – in order to save the whole thing. The plant being government.

I cut him off there, smile politely, and tell him straight out he doesn’t get the GOP base. Conservatives are about revolution. We make a few minutes of polite conversation, I pay the bill, and leave.

burke
Congressman Burke

I know this seems like a rant, but I just want to make totally clear to you how vulnerable this guy is in the primary – and to see if you want to team up to find the right challenger. I got a promising lead from one of my contacts: a fire-breathing bartender who calls in to the talk shows every day, without fail, and is a master of the Tweet smackdown.

Interested? If so, we have to move quickly.

Anyway, thanks again for the referral. Sorry it didn’t work out. But now we have a chance to put a real conservative in that seat and make a shit ton of fees to boot.

Sincerely,

Leland

Chin Up, Tech Aliens

I started this post last week. The headline was going to be “Calm Down, Tech Aliens.” My big idea was to do some counter-programming to all the excitement lately about the tech industry in San Antonio.

But then news that Rackspace Hosting is in buy-out talks with the private-equity firm Apollo Global Management screwed up the timing. If consummated, the sale of the homegrown Cloud company — the only nationally recognized technology firm based here — will alter San Antonio’s nascent high-tech community in some way, big or small. But nobody knows how yet.

exuber
Tech booster unable to contain himself during an Uber ride.

I figured it would be prudent to wait for the story to develop. But after a few days with no new news, prudence is starting to look a little moldy. Blogs need to be fed. People need new stuff to read.

Anyway, the idea for the post started with tweets from Tech Bloc, which is basically the local Chamber of Commerce for software and Internet firms, but more assertive and less politically accommodating than the other local chambers. The tweets show up on my iPhone as text messages every day, several times a day, sometimes within seconds of each other. They’re word bursts about gains made and victories won in our technology sector. Often they’re retweets of stories from the Rivard Report, San Antonio Business Journal, and Express-News.

We’ve had so many “game-changers” I’ve lost track of the game we’re playing.

I was going to start the post by pontificating that this onslaught of positivity was a good and natural thing.

Late last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that computer and information-technology jobs would be the fastest growing of all occupations, climbing 12 percent between 2014 and 2024. The income for these positions is enviable. Median pay in 2014 was $79,390 per year, compared to a median of $35,540 for all occupations.

Economic-development types would be crazy not to grab for a piece of that pie. Tech companies in SA, which are hurting for talent, would be equally crazy not to encourage the econ-dev types and their local government employers to make our city more attractive to tech workers and entrepreneurs.

Successes and good publicity breed more successes and even better publicity.

But at a certain point you have to check in with reality and its ugly friend, perspective.

This would have been the blog post’s zinger: I would’ve slyly pointed out that we need whatever good news we can get because tech in San Antonio is a sick puppy. Sick as in ill, not awesome.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks up the labor market into 10 broad categories. Its “information” category takes in most tech jobs. In June, tech was one of only two jobs categories that lost ground in the San Antonio area, shedding 3.2 percent of its jobs over the last year. The other was mining, which includes oil and gas exploration. Thanks to the Eagle Ford Shale bust, it lost 18 percent of its jobs year-over-year.

All told, San Antonio ended June with 21,500 jobs tied to Internet and software development, or 2.1 percent of the area’s entire workforce.

Which essentially means we have nowhere to go but up.

That’s what I would have said anyway, pre-Rackspace news. We’ll have to see if even that’s too optimistic.

GOP, Here’s How to Derail the Trump Crazy Train

[Editor’s note: Once again, the following post comes to SanAntoniomizer from Felix Culpa. The person is real, but the name is fake, obviously. It’s the blogger equivalent of a stripper’s stage name. Felix is an executive at a San Antonio company we’d all recognize.]

 

If you’re a sensible, clear-thinking Republican, the events of late July-early August should have made it clear to you that Donald Trump’s candidacy is doing more harm than good to the health of your party.

Pick any of the following: Trump called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, continued to trade barbs with Ted Cruz mere hours after preaching party unity, wondered aloud why we aren’t eager to use nuclear weapons, and doubled down on his pissing contest with the parents of a dead Army captain. All while squandering chances to nail Hillary on the lackluster economy.crazy train

Any of those should have convinced you that Trump is tipping over the port-a-john while you’re still inside, and the stench will only get worse if he somehow manages to win in November.

Because, ironically, a Trump victory isn’t the best-case scenario for you, given that he’s not exactly a standard-bearer for your ideals and that the voters he attracts won’t support your down-ballot congressional or gubernatorial races.

No, the best-case scenario for Republicans is a Trump loss, while still holding on to both houses of Congress and a majority of the governorships. That way, you get to flush the crazy from your system while still limiting the damage from a Hillary Clinton administration, and it gives you four years to come up with some Debbie Wasserman-Schultzish skullduggery to quash the demagogues emerging from the Tea Party you’ve been brewing up the past decade.

But how to finesse an outcome to keep Trump’s short, vulgar fingers off the nuclear codes while still turning out the Republican faithful for the other races?

You have to find someone from the party’s brainpower to run as an independent against Trump.

If the race remains a Trump-Clinton dichotomy, you run the risk of smart Republicans staying home on Election Day. But if you give voters a third choice, it would quash the Trump demagoguery while boosting turnout for down-ballot races.

It would have to be done strategically. You’d want someone who can siphon off at least one key state from Trump’s Electoral College tally. Florida, Ohio, or Pennsylvania should do it. It would be great if you could knock Texas off the list, but to do that you’d need Ted Cruz to jump back in, and he isn’t about to do that.

You’re sacrificing a lamb here. He/she has to be someone with big enough name recognition and respect to attract people, but also someone who has no ambition to ever run again, and doesn’t mind being a pariah to the nutjobs who infect your party’s base.

Because, let’s face it, if you aren’t having a crisis of conscience now, you must not have a conscience. You certainly have a crisis.

So who? It’s too bad Arlen Specter is four years dead, because he’d be just about perfect. John Kasich could tip Ohio for you, but he probably wants to run again. Jeb Bush could deliver Florida, but would he do it? Maybe Mitt Romney? John McCain?

It’s really for you to decide, not me. Maybe you could cut a back-room deal with Hillary – you know, we’ll botch Trump for you, you put someone acceptable on the Supreme Court, that kind of thing.

Just do it quick. Your lamb has to be in the race by Labor Day to get on the ballots and have a chance of derailing the Trump crazy train.

If you’re a sensible, clear-thinking Republican, the events of late July-early August should have made it clear to you that Donald Trump’s candidacy is doing more harm than good to the health of your party.

Pick any of the following: Trump called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, continued to trade barbs with Ted Cruz mere hours after preaching party unity, wondered aloud why we aren’t eager to use nuclear weapons, and doubled down on his pissing contest with the parents of a dead Army captain. All while squandering chances to nail Hillary on the lackluster economy.

Any of those should have convinced you that Trump is tipping over the port-a-john while you’re still inside.

The stench will only get worse if he somehow manages to win in November.

Because, ironically, a Trump victory isn’t the best-case scenario for you, given that he’s not exactly a standard-bearer for your ideals and that the voters he attracts won’t support your down-ballot congressional or gubernatorial races.

No, the best-case scenario for Republicans is a Trump loss, while still holding on to both houses of Congress and a majority of the governorships. That way, you get to flush the crazy from your system while still limiting the damage from a Hillary Clinton administration, and it gives you four years to come up with some Debbie Wasserman-Schultzish skullduggery to quash the demagogues emerging from the Tea Party you’ve been brewing up the past decade.

But how to finesse an outcome to keep Trump’s short, vulgar fingers off the nuclear codes while still turning out the Republican faithful for the other races?

You have to find someone from the party’s brainpower to run as an independent against Trump.

If the race remains a Trump-Clinton dichotomy, you run the risk of smart Republicans staying home on Election Day. But if you give voters a third choice, it would quash the Trump demagoguery while boosting turnout for down-ballot races.

It would have to be done strategically. You’d want someone who can siphon off at least one key state from Trump’s Electoral College tally. Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania should do it. It would be great if you could knock Texas off the list, but to do that you’d need Ted Cruz to jump back in, and he isn’t about to do that.

You’re sacrificing a lamb here. He/she has to be someone with big enough name recognition and respect to attract people, but also someone who has no ambition to ever run again, and doesn’t mind being a pariah to the nutjobs who infect your party’s base.

Because, let’s face it, if you aren’t having a crisis of conscience now, you must not have a conscience. You certainly have a crisis.

So who? It’s too bad Arlen Specter is four years dead, because he’d be just about perfect. John Kasich could tip Ohio for you, but he probably wants to run again. Jeb Bush could deliver Florida, but would he do it? Maybe Mitt Romney? John McCain?

It’s really for you to decide, not me. Maybe you could cut a back-room deal with Hillary – you know, we’ll botch Trump for you, you put someone acceptable on the Supreme Court, that kind of thing.

Just do it quick. Your lamb has to be in the race by Labor Day to get on the ballots and have a chance of derailing the Trump crazy train.

If you’re a sensible, clear-thinking Republican, the events of late July-early August should have made it clear to you that Donald Trump’s candidacy is doing more harm than good to the health of your party.

Pick any of the following: Trump called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, continued to trade barbs with Ted Cruz mere hours after preaching party unity, wondered aloud why we aren’t eager to use nuclear weapons, doubled down on his pissing contest with the parents of a dead Army captain. All while squandering chances to nail Hillary on the lackluster economy.

Any of those should have convinced you that Trump is tipping over the port-a-john while you’re still inside.

The stench will only get worse if he somehow manages to win in November.

Because, ironically, a Trump victory isn’t the best-case scenario for you, given that he’s not exactly a standard-bearer for your ideals. And there’s this — the voters he attracts won’t support your down-ballot candidates in congressional or gubernatorial races.

No, the best-case scenario for Republicans is a Trump loss, while still holding on to both houses of Congress and a majority of the governorships. That way, you get to flush the crazy from your system while still limiting the damage from a Hillary Clinton administration, and it gives you four years to come up with some Debbie Wasserman-Schultzish skullduggery to quash the demagogues emerging from the Tea Party you’ve been brewing up the past decade.

But how to finesse an outcome that keeps Trump’s short, vulgar fingers off the nuclear codes while still turning out the Republican faithful for the other races?

You have to find someone from the party’s brainpower to run as an independent against Trump.

If the race remains a Trump-Clinton dichotomy, you run the risk of smart Republicans staying home on Election Day. But if you give these voters a third choice, it would quash the Trump demagoguery while boosting turnout for down-ballot races.

It would have to be done strategically. You’d want someone who can siphon off at least one key state from Trump’s Electoral College tally. Florida, Ohio, or Pennsylvania should do it. It would be great if you could knock Texas off the list, but to do that you’d need Ted Cruz to jump back in, and he isn’t about to do that.

You’re sacrificing a lamb here. He/she has to be someone with big enough name recognition and respect to attract people, but also someone who has no ambition to ever run again, and who doesn’t mind being a pariah to the nutjobs who infect your party’s base.

Because, let’s face it, if you aren’t having a crisis of conscience now, you must not have a conscience. You certainly have a crisis.

So who? It’s too bad Arlen Specter is four years dead, because he’d be just about perfect. John Kasich could tip Ohio for you, but he probably wants to run again. Jeb Bush could deliver Florida, but would he do it? Maybe Mitt Romney? John McCain?

It’s really for you to decide, not me. Maybe you could cut a back-room deal with Hillary – you know, we’ll botch Trump for you, you put someone acceptable on the Supreme Court, that kind of thing.

Just do it quick. Your lamb has to be in the race by Labor Day to get on the ballots and have a chance of derailing the Trump crazy train.

I Live in SA’s Hollywood ‘Hood

I’m one of the luckier homeowners in my Northwest Side neighborhood. At least my star is still lodged in the collective memory.

I live on Cary Grant Drive.

My less fortunate neighbors’ houses sit on Ernie Kovak Drive, Edie Adams Drive, and a dozen or so other streets named for actors only senior citizens remember.

But the neighbors who have it the worst are the ones who live on streets named after TV and movie characters, instead of the people who played them. As an exercise in empathy, imagine having to say, “I live at  1234 Gomer Pyle Drive” when a clerk asks for your address at the bank or the DMV.

The very worst? Charlie Chan Drive.

My subdivision, Oak Hills Terrace, was built around 1974. If the developer had waited another three years or so to break ground, my family and I could have lived on John Travolta Drive or Darth Vader Drive. Then again, it could as easily have been Telly Savalas Drive or Bo “Bandit” Darville Drive. There’s a lesson here for our city about renaming streets or public facilities for people with a shaky claim on posterity.

But I don’t really think much about that. I’ve lived in San Antonio for 16 years, but as a native midwesterner, I still have a hard time getting excited about clashes over local history and street and building names.

Instead, I’m preoccupied with the feeling that San Antonio’s long, complicated, sometimes violent, always fascinating history ended with my neighborhood. Developers took over from there.

Overly simplistic, sure. But the last I checked, the world revolved around me and, by extension, my neighborhood.

Oak Hills Terrace materialized a little north of Loop 410 as the South Texas Medical Center, which is a mile or so to the east, took off and just six years after HemisFair touched off the city’s downtown transformation.

The Med Center is my marker when describing to people where I live.

Every morning, when my wife and I walk our two dogs, we arrive at the top of the hill on Cary Grant Drive. In front of us, the hospitals and medical office buildings that make up the Med Center float over the cluster of trees that separate our subdivision from the next one. As we descend the hill, the buildings sink into a green ocean.

When I tell people about my neighborhood, that’s my mental image. They, in turn, probably picture boxy little houses on the lots that are a sliver of an acre. Which is correct but deficient…  Mofo.

Not that it could be otherwise; the Jefferson-Van Dusen homestead looks from the outside like thousands upon thousands of others. I have a strong feeling that nobody is going to study San Antonio’s residential architecture of the early-to-mid 1970s.

The city’s political and cultural scenes were something else.

Describing San Antonio in 1974 as dynamic is like calling Donald Trump a bit nutso. The Good Government League, the Anglo business-civic group that had run the city for nearly two decades, was splintering and sputtering, well on the way to its collapse two years later. Chicano activism was blazing. Communities Organized for Public Service was beginning to raise hell, fighting for historically neglected neighborhoods’ share of city resources.

The developer of Oak Hills Terrace turned his back on all that. He created an oasis of reasonably-priced housing on what was then the far North Side, and named its streets to remind buyers of frothy moments in movie theaters or in front of the TV, which of course could’ve happened anywhere. (I’m waiting for the developer who will name the streets in his subdivision after porn stars or YouTube celebrities.)

He tried to build a comfy harbor for white flight, though it didn’t hold up over the years — my neighborhood is fairly diverse. Maybe the cheesy street names also made newcomers to San Antonio feel more at home, or the place at least less foreign.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather live on Cary Grant than Whispering Oak or Whispering Elm or Whispering Hackberry or Forest Breeze or Gentle Field of Flowers. At least Cary was real, as far as I know. But clearly none of these names have the weight — the baggage and the cachet — of a Guadalupe or Commerce or Walters.

Sometimes I think of San Antonio as two crates, one stacked on the other. They kind of form a whole, like the North Side and the rest of San Antonio form a whole, but they’re not connected. The crates have a hard time relating to one another, and only on very rare occasions do the crates visit one another.

San Antonio’s balkanization stemmed from a lot of the overlapping factors — the highway system, Anglos’ exodus from the center city and a troubled SAISD, available land on the North Side, the political influence of developers, and infrastructure spending that encouraged sprawl.

This, too, and everything it implies:IMG_0838