This piece was originally submitted to The Daily Texan as an op-ed, but wasn’t published.
Soon, Austin voters will decide on the $720 million so-called “Mobility Bond” that promises much-needed relief for our city’s traffic woes. Though overshadowed by this year’s unprecedented presidential election, there’s plenty of enthusiasm to go around for this important local issue, too. “Vote Prop One” signs line my daily walk to campus. The Daily Texan endorsed the bond a few days ago.
Everyone agrees that something must be done about Austin’s transportation crisis. But for years, our city has lacked the political will to deploy truly efficient and cost-effective solutions. First came the Red Line commuter rail “starter line” between downtown and Leander. After several years of operation, it’s a drain on Capital Metro’s resources that carries very few riders. It’s no secret why: the line does not serve UT or much of downtown. Service is very limited, with trains running half-hourly at rush hour and hourly off-peak, and no evening or Sunday service.
Take a ride on DART route 11, and by the mere act of considering it, you feel as though you were in some exclusive club.
One glance at the schedule leaves you immediately overwhelmed. A stylized map purports to depict the general layout of route 11, but the geography is so distorted that whether the route traverses Wilmington or some vague recollection of the city, you cannot tell. The tables of departures are populated with enigmatic, inconsistent times and buses that only serve specific portions of the route; lists of cryptic destination signs for each trip add to the confusion. Reading route 11’s schedule is an achievement in and of itself.
Take a ride on route 11, and begin your trip in the desolate Wilmington suburbs. A few minutes later than scheduled, the bus pulls up. The driver is curt, but in a hurry. A display next to his dashboard reads “7 minutes behind.” Much to your surprise, he pulls away as you are still paying the fare.
The bus speeds down the narrow suburban thoroughfare, lined with humble New England homes with proud grass lawns out front and the forest looming in the back. Route 11 passes underneath the busy Interstate 95, navigates the maze of intersections between its offramps and the local streets, and turns onto the four lonely lanes of the Washington Street Extension, flanked by wilderness on both sides.
American cartoons will always hold a particular place in my heart. They defined my world when I was a kid, for better or worse, and instilled in me a penchant for good stories.
I didn’t follow any cartoon regularly; I sort of tuned in to whatever was airing and considered each episode as a standalone experience. This tended to define my impression of a given show.
Most of my television consumption occurred in the latter half of the 2000’s, and much of it was of reruns of older shows. The ones I remember most vividly included contemporary shows like Codename: Kids Next Door and Code: Lyoko as well as classics from the 1990’s such as Hey, Arnold and Ed, Edd, ‘n’ Eddy. But one show always set itself above the rest thanks to its continuous story and sheer emotional grip: Avatar: The Last Airbender. And following a chance encounter with some quotes from show, I decided to rewatch it this summer.
It was just as good as I remembered. In fact, I had an even greater appreciation for the show’s writing and production values, and of course, I was a more informed viewer.