Nov 23 2005

The Spring Break Apartments

The horror that is The City of Dreams

My pal Stingray is the only one of my old St. Louis posse to have finally come to her senses and decided to move to Austin. She’s staying here at the Twisty Bungalow until she finds an apartment.

Apartment hunting has caused Stingray no small anguish, for Austin, though excellent in nearly all other respects, will never win an Apartment Housing Beauty Contest. Unlike the palatial turn-of-the-century hardwood-stained-glass manses available for peanuts in the otherwise undesirable Midwest, Austin rental properties in Stingray’s price range tend to be stuffy little cubicles in blighted ghettos, called "complexes," which are long, low 2-story buildings inspired largely by 70’s-era cheap motel design, crammed with miniscule and identical "units." Typically these buildings sprawl over acres of landscape, converge somewhere on the horizon at the vanishing point of which is an algae-tinted swimming pool, and are built of spit and Kleenex. The inhabitants of the units are referred to as a "community." The units have 6-foot ceilings, beige carpeting, heinous galley kitchens the size of postage stamps, mold, and 70’s-era "design" details, such as fleur-de-lis-embossed particle-board cabinetry. It’s a good thing they’re only 400 square feet, because if they were any larger the sheer breadth of their hideosity would render the spinster aunt/aesthete unconscious.

The most vile apartment complex we have visited so far was in East Austin off of Oltorf, a nasty putrefaction of unfettered cheesiness percolating across a couple of the saddest acres you’ve ever seen. This complex was, and presumably still is, called The Metropolis, poetically subtitled on the brochure "City of Dreams." Some psychopath who has deeply misunderstood the "Keep Austin Weird" campaign has remodeled it to be "hip" by installing cheap light fixtures from Ikea (which they call "art deco lighting") and covering the exteriors of all the buildings in a sort of half-assed graffiti. I wept when I saw it.

There is a "clubhouse" dubbed "Club Met," of which we were given a tour by the 22-year-old apartment manager, a whiteboy jackass in flip-flops named Blaine of whom I immediately began to form a low opinion based on nothing but my aversion to jackasses named Blaine. Blaine showed us the "resort-style pool" and beach volleyball courts. Stingray, already somewhat pale, blanched visibly. "Everybody here," Blaine announced, to the tastefully introverted Stingray’s mounting horror, " knows everybody else, and when someone throws a kegger, pretty much everyone just shows up!"

"Bands practice here, we’ve got artists," he continued, "basically, we’ve got lots of diversity." Apparently, to young Blaine, a tribe of young white stoners constitutes lots of diversity.

Our ditzy big-haired apartment-hunting agent–did I forget to mention her? Probably that’s because she kept calling everybody "sweetie" and I had formed a low opinion of her, too– was clearly taken with the MTV allure of young Blaine and the Spring Break Apartments. She expressed to Blaine her keen interest in moving into The Metropolis herself.  "What’s the average age of the apartment dwellers?" she enquired, although I don’t think "apartment dwellers" was the exact term she used. With blazing speed Blaine gave her the once-over, correctly assessed her age at something near 45, computed her fuckability, and said, in a discouraging tone, "well, there’s one guy who’s around 50, I guess…"

Update: Stingray, I am pleased to announce, has since found suitable digs in Central East Austin, where I am sure she will be very happy, because after all, she is finally in Texas, goddammit, and I pity anyone who isn’t.


1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. laughingmuse

    Congrats to Stingray for the successful acquiring of acceptible digs.

    Jackasses like Blaine just encourage my desire to retreat from “communities” where people sprawl around and hop from kegger to kegger.

    What a dipshit.

    Hope you are feeling well, and attempting taco-vana, Twisty!

  2. Anonymous

    Couldn’t help but notice how much the graffiti-ed building (and even the concrete posts protecting that power unit) looked like a daycare center.

    Was there playground equipment, too?

    Is it possible that you had confused a daycare center with an apartment complex?


  3. liz

    Has anyone ever met a person named Blaine who was not an jackass? Just curious.

    And those apartments are truly frighening.

  4. Twisty

    Finn, as the average resident appeared to be about 20, I think the words “day care center” and “apartment complex” are interchangable in this case.

    And now, I return to puking.

  5. Anonymous

    Damn chemo. It’s shitty that you are dealing with that. Sorry to hear it.

  6. Rene

    You and Stingray need to run, run, run to the computer and order Robert Altman’s Three Women through Netflix (I hope that it’s there, although I don’t have Netflix, so I’ve never checked). The character played by Shelley Duvall lives in what I imagine to be an exact replica of the swingin’ singles complex you describe, and I think that it might even be in Austin. Anyway, it’s an incredible movie for many reasons, not the least of which is the almost unbearable greatness of its two leads: Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek.

    Maybe you’ve seen this movie before. It’s sort of like the hoosier Persona.


  7. norbizness

    Poor, misunderstood Metropolis. Just because it looks like an apartment complex who likes to listen to Widespread Panic…

    My favorite complexes in Austin are (1) the one that looks like an Ewok Village at I-35 and Woodland (2) the one called “Cypress Hill” on South 1st and Cardinal (3) the cowboy/wagon wheel apartments off of Reinli between I-35 and Cameron.

    What’s Central East? Is that the Eastern part of Central Austin or the center of East Austin?

  8. Blaine

    Twisty, I love your blog, and your new haircut, and I would so make out with you.

  9. Amanda

    Ugh, believe it or not, I used to have to go there to vote. I went to a party there once, too. Did not stay but for like a half hour. Refrained–barely–from stealing stuff.

  10. Carol

    Just fer shits & giggles, wouldn’t it be funny to have a sample from the community swimming pool analyzed by the health department?

    Er, maybe that would just be depressing.

  11. Miranda

    Heh, true diversity is attained when you have white stoners with and and without visable tattoos and piercings – or at least that’s what they think in Royal Oak, MI, GenX mecca north of Detroit.

    I used to have a friend in one of those community things but I only had to visit once and it was at night. I want to say it something to do with palm trees or flamingos but that could just be the memory of the rampant bad smell emanating from the place.

  12. Ancrene Wiseass

    My cultural contribution to this thread will be to quote from a John Hughes film:

    “Blaine? His name is Blaine?! That’s a major appliance, not a name!”

    Props to Duckie (even if he was much too Pepe Le Pew for my taste).

  13. fayrene

    Aaaah, Central East Austin – where the sun always shines and the living is easy.

    I look forward to spotting young Stingray at the Carousel Lounge – is she living in the City Lights Apartments?

  14. Ron Sullivan

    That’s, that’s, extraordinary, that’s what that is.It’s almost amusing, but I suspect that’s because I’m looking at a three-inch high building on a flat computer screen. I refuse to imagine, I mean vizzzzzyewalize it in its real size. Ow.

  15. emjay

    I thought you’d visited my east coast apartment complex, except for the graffiti. And I have a whopping 520 square feet, not 400. Thankfully I’m far enough north that mold isn’t a problem. And though I am not thankful every month when I pay $231 more a month than I did when I moved in five years ago, the rent increase has actually brought diversity to my complex. Now instead of the 20-something stoners, we have lots of young professionals of all different ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately it also brought my loud downstairs neighbors and their shrieking children, but with any luck they will be thrown out of here before too long.

    I’m so sorry you’re still puking, Twisty. I hope you feel better soon so you can continue to entertain me. I check about five times a day to see if there’s an update. I feel like an addict, needing my Twisty-fix.

  16. chessie

    Er.. UM… AHHH…. TEXAS?
    I’m very happy here is the land of sun, beach and mountains. Californya is the place to be, not is LA or Fresno but a small coastal beach town.
    Austin is a Rose in the middle of a redneck, Christian right wing, bigoted, well you know the rest

  17. nopityneeded

    If you’ve only lived in Texas and Saint Louis, I suppose Austin would seem nice enough. But I can think of several far more interesting, habitable spots, even in this cockamamie evil country.

  18. ae

    The hideosity of the “design” elements of which you speak, Twisty, are in full bloom here, too: the so-called crown molding (known as “trim”), the dingy, yellow linoleum, and the (O Death) fluorescent lighting in as many places as they can cram it. It’s almost as if the builders want to kill the spirits of the dwellers. What gives?

    I am grateful to have left our sizeable apt in a “community” (do words have meaning anymore?) modeled after someone’s vision of a 1970s nudist colony — all cedar and angles and nooks, facing a swingin’ clubhouse and oft-used pool. Tolerable ONLY because there were no nudists, and it wasn’t the 70s.

    “Art Deco” at IKEA! Har.

    P.S. Welcome, Stingray!

  19. Twisty

    Rene, I love “Three Women” enough to own it on DVD. And it is an excellent suggestion for a Thanksgiving day lump-out on the couch, since I doubt I’ll be eating much or watching much foosball.

  20. Amanda Marcotte

    Anyone who can’t see why Austin is possibly the coolest city in the country probably wouldn’t add much to the city anyway, so it works out well.

  21. kathy a

    my goodness, such selling points! demented paint jobs, keggers, AND bands practicing! i can almost smell the hipness from here.

    congrats to stingray. twisty, hope you’re feeling better.

  22. Chris Clarke

    Okay, out of curiosity I looked up the Metropolis’ ratings here.

    Looks like Stingray dodged a bullet.

  23. TimT

    Stingray, I am pleased to announce, has since found suitable digs in Central East Austin, where I am sure she will be very happy, because after all, she is finally in Texas, goddammit, and I pity anyone who isn’t.

    Good to know, but you can’t really say that about Texas until you have experienced the joys of living in Balranald, central western NSW, Australia.

  24. TimT

    (I typed that last comment with a straight face, btw. No, seriously. Can’t you see? :-I)

  25. biosparite

    Re analyzing the swimming pool water, you don’t need the health dept. if what I understand about the color of the water is correct. In a community pool with little kids (or adults who don’t want to stop partying long enough to get to the bathroom), the urine content determines how blue the water appears upon reacting with the chlorine content. Very blue means no one is using the loo.

  26. Sylvanite

    Late to comment, but the question about people named “Blaine” brings to mind one of the chronic junkyard owning environmental violators in my region of PA. Even though Blaine sounds like the name of a twenty-year-old (or a scion of a Northeastern old-money family), our Blaine wears coke-bottle glasses, is best described as “wizened” and is obsessed with what he views as illicit homosexual activities going on in a park near his fetid junkyard.

  27. Kristen from MA

    hi Twisty,

    love your blog, but i hafta disagree about texas. granted, austin a cool, funky place, but you’re surrounded by right wing loonies!

    i’m in sweet massachusetts, scourge of the christian right. our own governor hates us! ;D

  1. Happy Furry Puppy Story Time with Norbizness


    Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve got food in my mouth! I’m thankful that I’m currently #3 for people searching for the term “Paris Hilton Pikachu,” and doubly thankful that a CNN page is #2. I’m thankful that I have so many…

Comments have been disabled.