I stopped in Sam’s BBQ on East 12th street today for a late lunch. Sam’s is a gritty Austin BBQ joint in the heart of East Austin. I still had an hour to kill before picking my daughter up from Kid’s Acting on E. MLK and I was hungry, so I stopped in. I ate some great BBQ, drank some iced tea, read the newspaper, and watched some of the Longhorn’s basketball game while there.
As I departed, just before 3PM, a large group of about 8 or 10 Hispanic men were eating on the outside patio. As I started across 12th Street to my truck, a late model BMW with a mountain bike mounted on top, and being driven by a young Anglo man, turned into Sam’s BBQ driveway.
At that moment, one of the men barked, in a voice that could have been Cheech Marin’s, “there goes the neighborhood”. This was followed by boisterous laughter, me included. I gave the guy a lookback and a big grin with one of those “dude nods” of acknowledgment, that silently says “good one, man”.
The timing of the remark and the accompanying upscale imagery was impeccable. But contained in that 4 word wisecrack was a succinct commentary on the gentrification of East Austin.