Nov 06 2006

Wacky Lawns of South Austin

Lawn Humps converging upon Hether and S. Lamar, Austin TX, November 2006.

It’s always fun when nutjob fundie godbags get caught with a snootful of dope and their dick up some guy’s ass, but nothing beats the pure pop pleasure of the Wacky Lawns of South Austin.

Depicted here is my all-time favorite in the self-expression-through-turf category: the Lawn Humps. Last year I watched in amazement at the homeowners transformed their regular crappy South Austin weed-yard into the miniature mountain range of lush fescue (or whatever the heck it is) you see before you. They sculpted shoulder-high domes of dirt, blanketed them in squares of sod, watered, and waited. For a while it was touch-and-go. Some of the grass withered away and died, giving the humps the look and feel of a giant green tribble leper colony. But the visionary Hump-farmers persevered, and today the yard is a vision in lumpy verdure.

Sadly I am no photographer, and so have been able to merely hint at the true magnificence of these Humps. They’re friendly, sympathetic entities in real life (especially now that some of’em have been capped with spider grass toupees), which is why I have resisted alluding to them as Grassy Knolls, a term that, especially for the Texan of a certain age, can never be kitsch-neutral again.

I can only imagine the zeniths of creative genius to which I could ascend if I had Lawn Humps at my side. I would write My Year With The Yard Hump Tribe, paint Le dejeuner sur l’humpe, create a new Hump Dance craze.

Or perhaps in the mornings I would ascend one of the Humps, from which soaring summit — the highest on South Lamar — I would sit with a quiet cuppa and contemplate the Humpularity of the cosmos.


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  1. Reminds me of a horror film I saw as a child or something out of Dr. Who circa the ’70s. I like the ones with wigs. Is the one in shade fanning itself or just shy?

  2. “Humpularity”.

    What would I do without my regular dose of Twisty-ed wordsmithing? The above example nasally extruded diet cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper and deposited same on my keyboard.

  3. A tribute, perhaps, to Fergie’s “lovely lady lumps”?

    “My humps, my humps, my humps,
    My lovely front yard lumps”

  4. Yes, it was fun to see the evangelist get caught, until he used his “confession” as another way to spew hatred at gay people.
    Apparently he went on and on about wallowing in the dark side, and begged forgiveness to his followers for being weak and giving in to foul temptations, blah blah blah. Of course they all tearfully forgave him, and then they all did a happy dance of gay-bashing as his poor, deluded idiot wife vowed to stay by his side and presumably gaurd him more effectively in the future against the horrible demonic temptations of hot gay masseuses.
    The mute and charming grassy humps do assuage a bit, but a Twisty take-down of the evangelist idiots would help even more.

  5. Oh, Twisty — he didn’t get “caught with a snootful of dope.” He never used it, see? He just bought it because he was “curious.” But only about what the stuff looked like, or perhaps what it would feel like to piss away $200. Because he had no intention of actually using it, ever. And then he bought it again, presumably because he was still curious.

  6. “Yes, it was fun to see the evangelist get caught, until he used his “confession” as another way to spew hatred at gay people.”

    The Christian capacity for hatred is unbounded. It starts with self-hate and then spirals out to hate of everything. It starts at the core of the judeo-christian mythology, The Creation. To my knowledge, it’s the only mythological story in any of the major world religions that supposes humans to be born with a minus on the score card. Original Sin, as it’s called, is essentially the supposition that all humanity starts life with sin on its permanent record. Accordingly, the culture infers that you are to spend your life working to erase this sin, find redemption, forgivenss, and just enough grace to slide past the guard at the Pearly Gate.


  7. “Of course they all tearfully forgave him, and then they all did a happy dance of gay-bashing as his poor, deluded idiot wife vowed to stay by his side and presumably gaurd him more effectively in the future against the horrible demonic temptations of hot gay masseuses.”

    Not to be pedantic, but the problem isn’t masseuses, it’s masseurs. Extremely important distinction, at least to the gay-bashers.

  8. Tumuli!


  9. Lalock,

    oops, you are right. It is an important distinction. I had a vague feeling I got that wrong, but was hasty and indignant and didn’t bother checking.

  10. They are wonderful! I particularly like the way they are converging. It is nice to think that by morning, there might be a couple of hundred gathered.

    I want lawn humps.

    They are not going to work on my window ledge though, are they?

  11. saraarts.com

    That is hilarious.

    It might put the flamingo and gnome makers of the world out of business unless they can adapt to meet this new demand.

  12. norbizness.com

    Better on lawns than in the streets of expensive, trendy neighborhoods. I am sick of running over pedestrians, cyclists, schoolchildren, and squirrels while going only 20 mph; it barely does any damage at all. I had all of Travis Heights in mortal fear for years before the goddamned road humps got installed!

  13. Or you could ascend one of the humps and wait for a presidential motorcade to pass…

  14. They do manage to look as if they’re congregating or something. It’s enough to make this spinster aunt wonder what plots they may be hatching. Perhaps I’ve read too many plant-related scary stories, but despite (maybe because of?) the bright sunlight, there’s something vaguely sinister about them.

  15. It IS always fun, isn’t it?

    How do they mow them?

  16. Oh you don’t want to try mowing them. Makes them angry. The last person who tried that was encircled by 27 angry lawn humps. In the morning, all that remained was a grassy mound about six foot long. .

  17. mindspinner.net/wordpress

    I think you stretch out on the ground to photograph lawn humps, the better to capture their humptitude. From that vantage point, while squinting and pretending that you are as small as an ant, you might imagine them to be certain magnificent humpty mountains in China. It could work.

    If I were a kid again, I would build a hump for a mountain, graze my little plastic horses on it, and make them a cave to shelter in during storms. Then I’d dig a lake. Of course, having been a child who tried to dig a lake in a desert the better to water her plastic horses, I can tell you now that all the water soaks into the sand, so the humps are a better deal.

    Since I’m all grown up now and need to fold a lawn-hump-sized pile of laundry instead of making green mountains for plastic herds of wild horses, I have to thank you for the needful whimsy of lawn humps, which are ever so much more evocative and cheerful than laundry humps.

  18. alphabitch.org

    the flamingo makers are out of business, apparently. Increasing resin costs, I gather.

  19. buttercupia.blogspot.com

    i read that as “wacky laws of south austin”

    I need sleep.

  20. I think someone should stop by at night and put strategically place some political signs and in the morning call the National Enquirer with the breaking story, “Lumps go Left”.

    Hawsie, the one on the left is indeed fanning itself as it awaits the orders of the Master Hump just to the right and in the back, you see how it has the Crown of SpiderPlant and is taller than the others. It looks over its charges with matronly authority.

    “Oh you don’t want to try mowing them. Makes them angry. The last person who tried that was encircled by 27 angry lawn humps. In the morning, all that remained was a grassy mound about six foot long. .”

    Good advice, in this tumultuous time when lawn humps, considering the abysmal efforts of the traditional left of the Democratic party to overthrow the New Democrats and the resulting rightward swing of the nation. Although their movement is slow and hard to perceive at one sitting, it has been noted that their progession toward action has already outpaced most of the left leaning in the country.

  21. I’m with MindSpin–I’m getting a little teary just now thinking of what a world those humps would be for my plastic dinosaurs.

  22. faultline.org/place/toad

    My word. It’s certainly distinctive. The stuff on top of some of them gives them a certain volcanic air, and the palm trees add a certain, well, I don’t know either. Especially the one crashing up into the hardwoods. And the cane-looking stuff and the agaveyucca thing and the, good god, is that a cactus way off to the left?

    What’s that underneath them, white gravel?

    I have the strangest urge to drive to Austin and interview those people.

  23. If they are burial mounds, or barrow downs, who is buried in them? Hobbittses?

  24. pandagon.net

    Those humps are so beautiful they almost erase the song “My Humps” from my mind.

  25. Hi. I’ve been a reader (and fan) of this blog since it began, but have never commented before (at least, not that I remember). So, hello.

    I agree with your sentiment that “It’s always fun when nutjob fundie godbags get caught with a snootful of dope and their dick up some guy’s ass.” But, according to an interview I read, it was the other way around. Your statement could read: “It’s always fun when nutjob fundie godbags get caught with a snootful of dope and some guy’s dick up their ass.”

    Link to the interview: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/11/signorile-interviews-fallen.html
    Relevant quote:
    MJ: He said he wanted an appointment with me. He came to my apartment. And the clothes came right off. The first time it was pretty much mutual masturbation, then in time oral sex. He was really pretty vanilla. Only once in three years did we try anal sex.

    MS: Was he a top or bottom? What was he interested in?

    MJ: When I was on the radio show in Denver, the question was asked: Did you practice safe sex? I said, ‘We used a condom once.” The talk show host goes, “You mean he wore the condom once?” I said, “Uh, no, I did.”

    Those Lawn Humps are mighty strange! I wonder what the homeowner was expressing. They seem almost like a barrier, protecting the house. Maybe it’s the start of a new trend, and by next year they’ll be all over Austin.

  26. reclusiveleftist.com

    Twisty, do you have a bigger picture of the humps you could post? I want to study them in detail.

  27. hattie.typepad.com/hatties_web

    I don’t trust those things not to start roaming the neighborhood.

  28. Today all my joy has turned to ashes.
    As I prepare to go to work, finishing the gardens designed by myself, that only yesterday seemed excitingly creative, visualy beautiful and astheticly fine, I am possesed by feelings of inadequacy, creative futility and visual meaningless. Bitterness at a wasted life are overwhelming me even as I type. I feel that perhaps I am more honestly suited to a career at McDonalds (at the french frier) than continuing the farce and fraud I´ve been foisting onto innocent customers.
    The humps! The humps!
    The vision!
    Despite the shining sun, the temporary retreat of both polar bears and wolves (packs of wolverines do continue to be of annoyance) and the near completion of months of work there is no joy in the heart of at least one landscaper in Stockholm today.
    The vision of the humps has changed my world view forever.
    I curse you Twisty and your thoughtless and irresponsible blogging.
    My only wish now is that you could post a more complete portfolio of the humps (How they must shine in the light of dawn or sunset!) so that my creative humiliation and spiritual awakening could be complete.
    Thank god for methaphetimine, male “escort services” and Jesus!
    May the Ice age come soon and destroy all signs of my futile vanity.

  29. jc. Do not despair. Your work will not be lost. Do not give in to the hump or tummock craze. It is a well-known fact that humps are irresistibly drawn to peatbogs and are therefore only suited to drier climates where they can congregate and dream of wetter climes. If placed in northerly climates like yours or mine, they inevitably migrate off in search of bogs. There they gather and loll about discussing world domination while getting high on tannic acid. Which means that they seem to have alot in common with fundie ministers.

  30. sparklematrix.blogspot.com

    They remind me of the ancient burial sites at Stonehenge. Sort of.

  31. They look like Sigmund the Sea Monster.

    I wish I lived in a neighborhood where I could get away with something like that, without having to listen to my tree-hating, hosta-loving neighbors bitch at me.

  32. imponderabilia.blogspot.com

    I wonder if you could jump from hump to hump?

  33. southernyanks.blogspot.com

    I, too, felt inadequate, dis-creative and mournful at the joy those humps caused in me. Why? Why? haven’t more of us joined in and produced these inimitable objects? I suspect my partner will have some going by tomorrow if he sees the picture. Of course, we live in one of those “tree-hating, hosta-loving” neighborhoods too, but the houses are far enough apart that it would take a while before anyone noticed and by that time it would be too late!!! Bwah ha ha ha! Crawl! Crawl my little beauties.

  34. Twisty

    “I wonder if you could jump from hump to hump?”

    No, because “if you fell you’d go thumpity-thump,” and that degree of cuddly trochaic quaintness is not allowed.

  35. Trochaic!?! Gesundheit!

    Sing twiddle-ear, sing twaddle-or,
    The Wuggly Humps are at the door.

    They’re making an unholy fuss;
    Why have they come to visit us?


    Are the people who live there from France? Do they have pointy heads? And triffids for pets?

    yrs, B. Dagger Lee

  36. I’m howling at the comments. I too, was wondering about the logistics of mowing and the presence of “spider grass toupees” makes that even more problematic. Perhaps this is merely phase one. With a few well placed annuals they could have faces.

  37. But then they would no longer be the faceless masses.

  38. Fabulous! Keep it coming with the wacky lawns (if there are any more).

  39. Ron,
    It’s Jurassic Lawn – interpreted with some latitude, but even so, the petites collines are very reminiscent. Your observation of the limestone base kicked me into the idea.
    There is surprisingly little on the web in the way of interpretations of the jurassic landscape so this one from your place will have to do.
    The jpeg, which I can’t link directly to, is labelled jura and is part of lecture 18’s illustrations.

    The Jura region, for which the jurassic is named, has some little hills just like these too.

    So, considering the global warming parallels with the jurassic, the landscaper here has revealed an exquisite post modern sensibility. Using xerophytes to suggest a moister regime is a stroke of genius. I’m full of respect.

    Besides, I much prefer to interpret garden aesthetics than body ones.

  40. I think your basic week whacker would give the humps a decent cut. The spider plants give them a Dr. Seuss-esque quality.

    Hey, Twisty, last we knew, wasn’t Bert busily turning your yard into the complete opposite of this?

    Maybe the humps consist of everything Bert dug up.

    If you walk by with Bert and he lifts his leg on one of the humps, well, I think there’s your answer.

  41. Weed! I meant weed whacker! The week whacker will be tomorrow when Governor Ahnuld accepts his second term because democrats here in California couldn’t campaign their way out of a paper bag :-P

  42. saraarts.com

    Alphabitch (and anyone else who could possibly be interested), that is terribly sad. We got no hint of this when we saw the Featherstones at this year’s IgNobel Awards ceremony. They were dressed in matching green and pink Hawaiian shirts and leis, and she had hot pink spike pumps and a little dog with her. As I recall, they looked tan, silver-haired*, happy and relaxed, the way millionaire icons of the leisure lifestyle should, not at all stressed about the future.

    Maybe someone can resuscitate the product using plastic recycling technology.

    “I have the strangest urge to drive to Austin and interview those people.”

    Oh, Ron, please, please do!

    * She might have been platinum blonde-haired; I just can’t recall.

  43. vera.wordpress.com

    I’ve seen lawn humps just like that, on a lawn in Hawaii. They made the lawn look like a place where you’d find elves and gnomes.

    I just read somewhere that yet another godbag has held forth on the Haggard fracas, arguing that it’s all the fault of Haggard’s wife who has “let herself go” (that is, gotten older) so she is no longer attractive. No doubt he would be aggressively hetero if only his wife had stayed young and nubile.

  44. universaljellyfish.blogspot.com

    I love the humps! They are an inspiration!

    So much better than boring yards – where grass is mowed conventionally.

    May I post your photo on my blog? With credits, of course.

  45. faultline.org/place/toad

    (regretful sigh) It might take a while, Sara; I asked my H&G editor at the Chron and she said Mr. Hearst wouldn’t buy me a flight to Austin. I know without a doubt that the Planet is too cheap to send me there. Maybe if we manage a trip to Arkansas this spring I can work in a detour.

    And I’m even more regretful about the plastic flamingo people. Last time I was in REI looking for camping wotses, I saw a set of nylon flamingo flag things that inflate in the wind, on fiberglass sticks: lightweight decor designed for backpackers.

  46. flickr.com/photos/strobis

    I live four blocks from there and have never seen them. I’m on my way now and taking my camera. Thanks!

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