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Bike Rides 103
To Everything There Is A Season

One cool May evening I made the predictable journey on my bike to Kenny’s Oak Grill and settled in for a meal. Turning the paper to the obituaries my gaze froze and then widened on a familiar face to me and at the Oak Grill. My eyes shuttled a couple of times back and forth between the paper and the empty stool at the end of the counter where I’d regularly see Larry Dixon sitting quietly.

As soon as I caught my breath I stopped the first waitress I saw and mentioned Larry’s passing.

“Yeah, it’s very sad;” she said “He was in here a lot, just a super nice guy.”

I can’t really say Larry was a friend of mine, though from what I’ve heard I’d be proud if he were. But Larry was more than an acquaintance over the last 25 years, as we shared a lot of common interests and experiences.

We first met in 1984 when I had just graduated high school and was attending the Radio and TV broadcasting course at Austin Technical College (Riverland now).

I began spinning records at the local hot spot “Bucksville Bar,” as sort of a side gig on my way to not becoming the next Casey Kasem as it turned out.

Larry was already a DJ at the popular dive and before the owner let me fly solo I spent an evening co-piloting with Mr. Dixon. Together we forged through the stacks of house 45s, mixing a potent cocktail of Madonna, Prince and Hair band rock for the house until the dance floor on the upper level of the old downtown building literally shook hard enough to skip the record.

“I’m just a gigolo
And everywhere I go
People know the part I’m playing”
-(David Lee Roth)

In the years to follow I’d occasionally see Larry around town. Both of us hopped from gig to gig as DJ’s on the local scene. But it was at the Oak Grill where I saw him most often lately, as we volleyed Twin’s stats back and forth, teased the waitresses, or complained about the weather.

Larry could be heard announcing for KAUS radio in Austin as recently as last year. In my travels I never knew he was sick as his withdrawal from the Austin scene was gradual, although now I’m told there was a fundraiser I missed. Still, it’s hard to notice when such a quiet, humble person is missing from the crowd, until you look up one day and see a certain stool’s been empty too long.

“There’s a guy that in his entire life probably never did anyone wrong,” I said to the waitress, my voice cracking a little.

“Yeah we’re really going to miss Larry,” she replied.

I was numb when I left the restaurant. It was a cold, windy, uninspiring, almost uncomfortable ride, like so many this year. Through watery eyes and a wounded spirit Austin looked different on the ride back than how it did on the ride out. I’ve watched the city change slowly over the course of many years, sometimes for better, others for worse. But occasionally there’s a loss that sort of bumps the needle of change forward all too suddenly, like a skip in a scratchy old record.

“A time to rend
A time to sew
A time to keep silence
And a time to speak
To everything, there is a season”
-(Pete Seeger)

Traffic Tip: The loudest opinion expressed is usually just that: The loudest.


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