1970s Austin No. 17: Ken Capps responds creatively

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Austin and Andy Capps

We asked thoughtful locals why the 1970s left such a lasting imprint on Austin. We received many provocative answers, which we’ll share here first. 

Feel free to send yours to mbarnes@statesman.com

Ken Capps, KTBC-TV reporter 1978-1982,born St. David’s Hospital 1960,McCallum High School 1978, UT Grad 1982

Austin was to the 1970s what San Francisco was to the 1960s.

Then, we left Haight-Ashbury in the dust.

But we offered up a far more colorful culture of characters, music and politics.

The River City mixed up such a crazy cast of citizens comprised of  old-time goat ropers, real-time rednecks and extremely young, talented musicians who not only played rock n roll, but country, folk country, jazz, fusion, soul and R&B.

It was the hair.

Really, it was the hair, folks, the hair.

Willie had collar length hair, and the longer his hair got, the greater the Austin legend grew.

Caps

Austin and Ken Capps

And here in our great city, Texas Big Hair and Progressive Long Hair lived together in relative peace and harmony and that led to the economic, technology and UT-boom to come.

Austin also was about access.

Anybody could go just about anywhere (even us high school knuckleheads) if you had the chutzpah and maybe a couple of bucks to walk in.

Most places you just walked in for free.

The drinking age was 18. That allowed even more mingling and mixing.

The original hippies in this city must be laughing their butts about all the different colored lanyards for access and priority and territory needed now for SWSX and ACL.

True power and freedom meant no identification at all.

It also led to a Austin-born style of equality unmatched since.

You could talk to the Mayor and council folks – even the Governor or Travis County Sheriff.. because you might be sitting next to them at the Armadillo, Antone’s,

Soap Creek Saloon or the Split Rail.

Or sampling the canned meats at Spam-O-Rama.

Wheatsville Co-op employees indeed worked barefoot.

D.E. Crumley’s store did exist and Mr. Crumley ran it.

Manny Gammage was the Mad Texas Hatter.

Crazy Carl was in his youth.

Keeping Austin Weird wasn’t difficult.

Hard to believe: Austin’s big Achilles’ heel is it yearns to be somebody else.

It curses Dallas and Houston but then builds fancy condos and ultra-rich restaurants to compete with the big boys.

Remember the cranes of 1986? And what happened next?

Now the economy and the pressure to compete on a big-scale is back for this once ‘small town.’

Say what? The population the Austin Metro rises past TWO million.

The cranes are back in full force.

And while Austin talks a big game about preservation, the very places that made Austin weird in the first place seem to be fading away.

Unmercifully.

The Broken Spoke is now surrounded by condos like the 101st Airborne was surrounded at Bastogne.

Muny golf course may go away.  Less greens, more concrete?

Is this honestly the way we want our beloved city and my beloved hometown to go?

I named my son Austin before it was cool to name your son, daughter or dog Austin.

I am proud of be from here. Always will be.

There’s still time to save what’s left of the old-time Austin we love.  But who will lead the charge?

Find the old turntable and crank up Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi.

The old hippies will remember, smile. And know.

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

Index

1970s Austin: No. 1 Elizabeth Christian
1970s Austin: No. 2 Forrest Preece
1970s Austin: No. 3 Eddie Wilson
1970s Austin No. 7: Fern Santini
1970s Austin No. 8: Rick Lowerre
1970s Austin No. 9: Sherry Matthews
1970s Austin No. 16: Bobby Bridger

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