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End of Austin

A city writes its history in the dirt. As occupants we are all fortunate scribes with daily-ways like dusty-lines. Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys. Traverse the urban waterways to find that sense of place in the jungle metropolis. capital of texas…bee caves road…kids eat free…odds and ends…my 9 month pregnant wife visited this location several weeks ago… And everything is dying. Everything is ending. But the dead keep us alive, kick us awake, tickle our feet as we walk over their graves. The city is breathing both ways: in and out daily, along and back the major and minor rush-hour arteries; then from the core to the fringe over generations. Birth and death lie along the extension or retraction of each respiration. reverb(eration) is decay: the speed and distance at which austin (and all its tangled threads of sound and light and sewer and industry and and lore and government jurisdiction) fades to silence, to imperceptibility—the pregnant point at which the echo (the re- in reverb) begins. Seething city, you break down and build up within spitting distance—hip to your own demise, you bear witness to the futile beauty in our attempts to reclaim, rebuild, remain. Will we hear the end? An end of spirit? Of music? Of the green? Of the weird?

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For those who’ve met their end in Austin…

A bright day in Evergreen/Highland Cemetery. Although the cemetery began in 1891, the southwest corner is primarily populated by the more recently deceased. The restrooms seem to be out of order … Robert Piper, died 1969. Only a few square inches of his headstone retain the the colorful, glassy stone mixture that was glued onto it. The rest has been worked into the surrounding soil … A very recent burial, the soil is still dark with moisture and packed loose. Tire tracks suggest that a truck was used to help tramp the dirt down … The grave farthest back in Bethany Cemetery. In a secluded alcove of trees, this grave seems visited more often than the rest, possibly because of the privacy. Scattered around are candles, a prescription bottle, dried flowers, feathers, a condom wrapper, a bra, a smashed plate, and an old office chair …  A short obelisk has cracked in half, the base rests on its side. “Not forgotten” … Going up the street that divides Oakwood Cemetery from the Oakwood Annex, the tall lights of Disch-Falk Field loom large and threaten to light well the crumbling and toppled headstones. Why not await some silent recognition under 200,000 candle-power? … And as I sat in the car, pulled over, wondering what I should be looking at, a man sidled across the street and through the cemetery gates. He walked from grave to grave, reading the headstones intently, glancing over his shoulder as I watched from a distance. I realized, watching him,  I was very scared to be seen stalking through the graveyard … If “Disneyland exists because America does not,” what does Mickey’s cheeky death mask mean for passersby? Does he do anything to divert or reroute the suction of intensities from the terminal whirlpool he guards? … “Invest in taxes, there [sic] sure to go up,” among others … Many of the older graves in Oakwood have stalky bushes, maybe roses, planted in front of the headstones, but they were all cut off at the base. If the roots reached too deep, would the flowers be too haunting? … The Kreisle crypt. The most eye-catching part is the Master lock securing the gates; no in or out … The northeast corner of Oakwood is at the busy intersection of Comal and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. If you catch yourself speeding by, take a breath and “don’t be in such a hurry.”

historical cemetery info: save austin cemeteries

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