- By Eric Webb American-Statesman Staff
Don’t have a whole lotta love for Robert E. Lee Road? There’s now a movement to give the street’s name to another Robert.
A group calling itself “Keep Austin Weird. Not Racist.” released a “peaceful video-proposal” Wednesday to rename the South Austin street for Led Zeppelin frontman and former Austin resident Robert Plant.
Following a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, calls to rename the street, named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, gathered steam via an online petition. (The Charlottesville rally reportedly began over the planned removal of a statue of Lee from the city’s Emancipation Park, which also used to be named after the general.)
On Tuesday, City Council Member Ann Kitchen said she would spearhead the Austin name-change effort, which also has the backing of Mayor Steve Adler.
Plant, the video proposal says, embodies Austin’s values better than Lee.
“Robert E. Lee Road is not what represents us,” the group behind the video said in a news release. “If anything, we’re more like Robert Plant Road. Aren’t we the ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ after all? Plus, the dude actually lived here.”
You can watch the video proposal on YouTube. There’s even a mock-up of what a Robert Plant Road sign would look like.
Recent precedent exists in Austin for renaming or removing Confederate monuments. The Austin school board renamed Robert E. Lee Elementary School in May 2016 after a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, S.C. The same event helped prompt the University of Texas to remove a bronze statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the Main Mall.
Austin and Plant, as previously mentioned, have a history. The rocker lived in the Texas capital for a time, dated Austin musician Patty Griffin and reportedly loved Fiesta Mart. And, of course, no matter the fate of Robert E. Lee Road, Austin will always love a street-sign monument to a beloved musician — remember the David Bowie Street stunt that happened after the “Space Oddity” singer’s 2016 death?
All due disrespect
Austin is well known for its protests and for its “Keep Austin Weird” motto. Those two often intertwine — one recent example is 2016’s dildo-centric campus carry protest at the University of Texas, where sex toys were proudly displayed on the school’s campus.
But back in 1993, when the Ku Klux Klan staged a rally at the Texas Capitol grounds, Austin protesters fought back by turning the other cheek, in a way. A “mass mooning” of the Klan was staged on Jan. 16, 1993. (Jan. 16 is also the day after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, for those keeping score at home.)
In addition to the bevy of bare butts that day, there was also a march by the People’s Anti-Racism Coalition in honor of King’s birthday, a city-sponsored “People’s Parade” to celebrate the city’s racial and cultural diversity and a multitude of other events citywide to honor King’s legacy, according to the American-Statesman archives.
But, back to the butts.
A video from the “When We Were Live” documentary project, which resurfaces archival Austin video footage, documents the full mooning, and it recently popped up on Reddit in the wake of the violence at the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. In the video, you can see protesters yelling at the Klan, as well as peaceful protesters standing nearby.
Oh, and you can see lots of butts. Human butts, dog butts, white butts, tan butts, bare butts, long-john-covered butts, male butts, female butts, just all kinds of butts coming together to show the racists members of the Klan the proper disrespect.
According to the Statesman archives, about 5,000 protesters showed up to counter the 40 Klansmen that arrived at the Capitol grounds. About 75 of those protesters were mooners. The mass mooning event was also written about by the Statesman’s late, great humor columnist, John Kelso.
— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff
Speaking of moons
Dallas’ Perot Museum of Nature and Science has scheduled a party for Monday’s very rare solar eclipse. One mom’s comment on the Facebook post for the event, however, drew almost as much attention as the celestial phenomenon itself.
Although the comment has since been deleted, the Houston Chronicle reports that one woman asked, “Most kids go back to school that day. Can it be done on the weekend?”
A reasonable request, really. Scientific law aside, that is.
The woman’s question drew teasing comments like, “Did this lady just ask to reschedule the sun?”; “Can we please do this during the evening hours instead?”; “I’ll just go see it yesterday”; “Does anyone know if there’s a rain date?”; and “My cat’s quinceañera is that day.”
Clear your (and your cat’s) schedule, because the eclipse is still happening at the scheduled time.
— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff
What event to be held in front of the UT Tower has garnered the interest of more than 4,000 Facebook users? Is it a massive group study bringing together dedicated young minds? Or a gathering of advocates exhibiting their support for a noble shared cause?
On Oct. 13 at 4:20 p.m., interested individuals will gather in front of the Tower and, well … the description of the event reads simply, “You already know wtf is going on.” Goku, for those not in the know, is the main character of the popular Japanese adventure cartoon “Dragon Ball Z.” When he powers up (or goes “Super Saiyan,” in the parlance of the show), he glows yellow, his hair stands on end and he screams. He screams a lot. So, hopefully this all makes sense now.
Users commented on the event post with questions, including, “Do we need our own Krillin to die for us or will one be provided?” and “What if I wanna scream like Gohan during the cell saga?” and “What level sayan Goku scream we talking about?” And, simply, “?????????”
Trust me, if you watched the show, this would make sense.
Whether you’re really into “Dragon Ball Z,” or just really, really need a release, you know where to be come Oct. 13 at 4:20 p.m.
— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff
Some of the hot celebrity gossip floating on the tide of the internet last week …
• In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth, and he also kept Bonnie Tyler in his back pocket for just the right occasion. Because it had to happen, the Welsh singer is set to perform her 1983 hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on a cruise ship during Monday’s total solar eclipse, Time reports. According to the report, the Royal Caribbean’s Total Eclipse Cruise will be positioned right in the eclipse’s path of totality for the big moment. Turn around, bright eyes.
• Get your alcohol-serving permit, print out your resumé and buy a plane ticket, because Aretha Franklin is moving to Detroit to open a nightclub. The Associated Press reports that the 75-year-old soul legend’s retirement plans include singing “from time to time” at an establishment in her hometown that she plans to call Aretha’s.
• Acrobatic pop star Pink will receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, according to AP. Past winners of the honor named after the “Thriller” singer include Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake. Fingers crossed that Pink (real name Alecia Moore) will moonwalk across an aerial silk when she accepts.