Faces: Joe and Pops

29 07 2008

We decided to get back on our bikes for a cruise around the East side. We brought along our trusty Canon in hopes of capturing some of East Austin on a lazy Saturday.

Joe greeted me as I rode my bike down the street. He was outside of his house, the very one he was born and raised in, with his life-long friend Pops. I asked if I could take their picture and Joe joked that he was wanted by the FBI. I guess it’s not very often a guy roles by on his bike wanting to take a picture of two old guys chatting it up. I told him it was for an East Austin blog and he started to tell me about how much this area has changed in the last few years. He pointed out that they have set the stakes for more construction across the street from him. He faces the rear of the enemy… two of the new condos that have sprung up on East 6th street. The Este who is about to open its doors soon and the Pedernales, which was one of the first on the scene. There is a giant plot of land between them and they told me how that used to be their park. I said ” I didn’t know there used to be a park there” and he said “no… it wasn’t a park. It was OUR park. We made it our park.” He then pointed out where they used to play football, baseball and soccer when they were kids. “Now this is probably going to be more condos for more people” he said. He told me how his property taxes have increased to five times what it used to be and that he can’t do anything about it.

These guys have been here a long time… probably more then some of us transplants put together. They have seen it change from a place where soldiers riding the trains would throw them liters of soda pop as they rode by on their way to the train depot that used to be down the street from them, to a place where the only people coming through on a train are downtown business people riding the light rail from the suburbs. For what I can tell… these guys aren’t planning on leaving anytime soon.

I guess in a way we are part of the “gentrification” movement that is changing this part of town, and, in many cases, driving up those taxes and maybe pushinig out residents like Joe and Pops. We have a lot of mixed feelings about it. We like a lot of the old East Austin, but, admitedly, we also like a lot of the new East Austin. We’re not politicians or urban planners, so we don’t really know what the solution is that could strike some sort of balance between the two, and we know some people out there don’t think there should be a balance at all — that old East Austin should just stay the way it has always been.  What we do know is that part of the reason we decided to move to this area in the first place is because it reminded us a bit of home — the “old” East Austin reminds us of the neighborhoods we grew up in — and then grew out of. But whatever happens in the coming years, we hope that at the very least, we can all remember where we came from and preserve as much of that history and culture that East Austin has been known for as we can. Change is inevitable, but planning, consideration, and respect can channel that change into something positive, which is what we hope will happen to our neighborhood.

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4 responses

29 07 2008
John

Well Austin is a good place for biking. Try it out.

30 07 2008
dani

i always see these guys outside when i pass on my bike! have always wondered about them! thanks! 🙂

30 07 2008
JF

awesome… they are there all the time. I may swing by and say hi to them every once in a while then. They kept telling me to take pictures of the house three houses down from them. Apparently they think her house (and all of her lights and nicknacks) is hillarious. Thats where this picture was taken.

Sights of East Austin

BTW..have you heard anything about the Lance Armstrong bike lane? I have heard rumours but can’t find much else.

14 08 2008
dani

JF, i know what little house you’re talking about… it’s amazing!! soooo much cool stuff outside!

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