By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

A Texas Lockdown

Wick's World


March 22, 2018

I opened my computer this morning to a nationwide news headline “Austin in Lockdown.” The headline saw no necessity to state the state. Austin, Minnesota is in an incessant lockdown just to keep in the hogs that are waiting to be turned into Spam. Meanwhile, Austin, Texas is currently a national headliner for its recent wave of bombings more befitting Beirut or Baghdad.

Normally at this time of year, headliners in Austin are musicians at the popular South by Southwest Conference and Festival celebrating the convergence of the interactive film and music industries. In my words, SXSW is the meeting place for freaks, geeks and techno nuts like Elon Musk or Bill Gates.

This star-studded cast calls Austin its home for a few weeks each year. My wife and I called it our first home. In January of 1972 we left the Mardi Gras in New Orleans and did a drive-by on our way back to Vermillion, South Dakota. We stopped for a visit at her friend's place and stayed, off and on, for the next three years.

We were part of the movement to Austin and its music scene that today makes it the 11th largest metropolitan area in the United States. We saw the population explosion coming and early on decided Minnesota would be a nice quiet place to raise a family. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. What we left behind was more than a good honky-tonk bar and mild winters. We left behind hundreds of friends; most of whom were South Dakota transplants. After I read the morning headline, I knew I would soon be talking with some of these old friends. I first called the guy that our circle of friends would agree is Austin’s town crier.

“Jaime, this is Wick. This morning is deadline day for me and I’m writing about the lockdown in Austin. What’s the word on the street?”

“Wick, I live in Georgetown and I haven’t heard of any lockdown.”

For the next 20 minutes, he proceeded to tell me every “word on the street” except about the Austin bombings. I reminded Jaime several times that I had a noon deadline.

Finally I had to say, “Jaime, I have to go … now.”

And without regret, I hung up on him. I knew there was no need to worry about offending my old friend. That is how everyone ends a phone call with Jaime.

Next I called Mary, another of the old friends who left South Dakota in the 1970s for Austin and stayed. Mary and her husband call their hometown “The Republic of Austin” in deference to it being a bastion of liberalism located smack dab in the middle of a redneck state.

“Mary, I’m writing my column today about the bombings in Austin. What can you tell me about the lockdown?”

“What lockdown?” she replied. “I’m out walking Sam (her dog) right now. I haven’t heard about any lockdown.”

“Well, you should have. Yesterday’s bomb went off in Southwest Austin near your home,” I informed her.

She said, “Oh, I did get a text alert last night and then again this morning. Right now there are choppers flying all over. Is that this is all about?”

“Well, this last bombing was a trip wire so watch where you’re walking.”

“You know me Wick, I’m still a rule breaker,” Mary replied.

Next I talked to another old South Dakota buddy who has a recording studio in Austin. He filled in a few of the blanks for me, the biggest of which was the fact that the racial aspect of the bombings started with its first target, a prominent black minister. Since then however, a Spanish-American woman was one of the next casualties and yesterday’s trip-wire bombing was a random act. It was accidently set off by two white males who were walking down the street.

As I’m writing this, Mary calls me back with an update. She tells me that the local police chief is on television explaining why there is a lockdown. He states that he has been in touch with San Antonio’s high-tech bomb squad “who are sending many agents toward Austin as we speak.”

As I piece together all of this hearsay combined with a few facts drawn from newspapers, television and the internet, I can draw few conclusions as to the who and why of it. Speculation from Texas law enforcement has switched from this being a racial hate crime to the possibility that Austin has a serial bomber on their hands, right at a most inopportune moment. SXSW has had their parade rained on before. Is our collective memory long enough to remember the shootings and the car that plowed into a crowd, killing many innocent bystanders?

We were at one time a nation that disposed its terror outside our borders. Hitler learned too late the terror the United States was capable of once it was unleashed. The Japanese Emperor, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, recognized that they had awakened a sleeping giant.

Today, the chickens have come home to roost. Most of the terror now hasn’t come from some Muslim enemy as it did on September 11th. Today’s terror comes from within; bombings, school shootings, and a massive arsenal targeting a country western music concert come to mind.


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