Hey Austin! Us Nutria Ain’t Your Problem

Don’t you go an’ act so surprised to see me. I been quiet lately – I didn’t even come outta my hole when those crooks at the Wild Life & Fish Department back home in Loozyana went after Neuty the Nutria, or tried to.

What people dunno is his name isn’t Neuty. He lets ’em call him that because they fattened him up and gave him a pool to swim in. His real name is Clarence.

Anyway, I don’t post much on here these days because like everybody else, I loaded up the U-Haul and hit the road outta the Bayou State after a year or two puttin’ up with John Bel Edwards’ dumb act. Me an’ the brood are livin’ in Austin now.

But trouble follows us nutria everywhere we go, it seems. There was this…

Y’all Austinites who pride yourself on “keepin’ it weird” looked mighty shocked when I showed up in your town bayou…um, river – or is it a lake? – last Friday. A video of me — and it ain’t even my good side — was plastered all over the news. Like I’m some alien from outta space instead of just one more transplant in the Lone Star State.

My cousin T-Bro lives in Odessa an’ he works rigs in the Permian. Whaddya think when they see him, huh?

Some of y’all started screamin’ bloody murder at the sight of an uninvited critter invadin’ y’all’s urban paradise. After all, they say dogs and swamp rats haven’t exactly been the best of pals, and you people sure have your share of Man’s Best Friends! And yeah, they say we nutria are vectors for wildlife diseases like tuberculosis and septicemia and people, pets, livestock an’ yadda-yadda-yadda sometimes get that, but hey.

COVID. And so’s ya mama.

But I’m looking around and seein’ y’all got dead human bodies floatin’ around in Lady Bird Lake over the past couple of weeks. The same lake where I got filmed without my express written permission or even a call to my publicist. Four dead humans found, in a town where homicides were once unheard of. Y’all voted overwhelmingly last year to support a goofball regime that cut one-third of your police force — so much that state troopers are having to do the job. I hate to tell you this, but we nutria aren’t your problem.

It ain’t even Loozyana people who’s your problem.

That unauthorized video of me – sorry, but Imma hold a grudge, you stalker so-and-so, you – was taken without haste to the experts at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and they confirmed that, yep, I am indeed a nutria, not a small beaver or, like, a wayward ring-tailed cat. A born and bred Loozyana rodent, at that, from Jefferson Parish. Laissez les bon temps rouler, as we like to say.

They coulda just called back home in Barataria. My uncle T-Claude woulda told ’em. “Hell yeah, dat’s Oscar,” he woulda said. Probably woulda told ’em to remind me about that two hundred bucks I owe him on the Saints-Rams playoff game from a few years back. I ain’t payin’ up because we wuz robbed. But that’s neither here nor there, and T-Claude bettin’ against the Saints is just unconscionable besides.

But you know this is a different kind of laissez that brought me here. I’m all about a laissez faire economy and goin’ where it makes good financial sense to be. Allow me to explain, since apparently Karen and Chad are gettin’ all wee-wee’d up over a few buck-toothed fur-bearin’ neighbors joinin’ the influx up here in CenTex.

First of all, I got an environment to consider. Ever notice that Tornado Alley has moved east, lately? That’s one consideration as nutria habitats get easily displaced by high winds. I won’t be stickin’ around for that plus El Nino and hurricane season, sorry. Some of mine back home got wiped out by Ida. Not me, bubba.

Plus, y’all got a delicious and damn-sure abundant supply of aquatic plants in your lake. So much that your City Council has kept a ban on people swimmin’ – live people, apparently, but not the stiffs – in place since the ’60s as those leaves or whatever get tangled in swimmers’ legs. Y’all are keepin’ this dammed-up stretch of the Colorado River pristine for the Chamber calendar, and yet it’s gotta be politically acceptable to even the most radical environmentalist granola-eaters, and that’s made for a veritable buffet line for nutria like me. Nom-nom-nom, I ga-ron-tee!

Now some of that algae isn’t helpful and I won’t eat it, an’ that’s what’s killing your dogs. Not me. I don’t mind a good dog. Now – them yappin’ SOB’s who can’t shut up? That’s a problem. I think it’s the owners. Talkin’ ’bout you, Karen. And especially you, Zoey.

(Side note: Everybody’s worried about dogs dyin’ from toxic algae in Austin while hardly anyone says a word when dog and homeless-camp poop plus summer heat equals a toxic gumbo for humans, and the do-not-swim warnings get issued. But I digress.)

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Maybe a little more activity in ol’ Town Lake wouldn’t be such a bad thing to keep the algae bloom down. I can do that for ya in spades. And I got friends I can bring along whenever you’re ready to stir things up. We work cheap.

Secondly, it ain’t just the algae blooming, but the economy. Everyone is movin’ down South, which includes Texas, I guess. Accordin’ to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the South added more than 1.3 million human residents in 2022. You’ll have to forgive me as my forepaws are designed for tearin’ out roots an’ rhizomes, not for turnin’ the pages of big ol’ federal reports. But it looks like the Northeast region lost 460,736 human beings to domestic migration, the Midwest lost 174,049, and the West (including California — surprise-surprise) lost 233,150 bipeds.

Would it hurt y’all to add one single nutria inside the Austin city limits? Who could blame me for bein’ a trend-follower? Austin is still the Live Music Capitol of the World, ain’t it? Even though things are lookin’ and soundin’ a little more like ’80s Dallas these days. Again, I digress.

Then there’s the sucky economy elsewhere. While I hate to bag on my home state, there is a clear Texodus taking place, even among the Southern states. They’re bustin’ out to Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston, and also Nashville, Miami, and Jacksonsville. You’ve heard enough about that in The Hayride.

But I saw a disturbin’ trend during my last swim around the mighty Colorado, and which brings me to my third point: I’m feelin’ a sense of purpose being here, as well as an opportunity. I’ve been called a prophet before, so hear me out.

Empty office towers are everywhere in what should be the center of this here Southern economic haven. Google built a whole fancy skyline-alterin’ office tower that it will never move into. Office leases are flatlining everywhere, turnin’ Austin’s skyscraper renaissance into a scary glass-front graveyard. People aren’t partying downtown as much as they used to for fear of getting mugged, tech workers aren’t going out for lunch, iconic businesses are shutting down or moving to the ‘burbs, state bureaucrats continue to dine on meals hauled in by government-funded and corporate lobbyists, and the college crowd is too busy eating kale and lentils while starin’ at their phones. Somehow the population continues to grow, but perhaps it’s a last resort for many.

Take it from ol’ Oscar: I dig around a LOT of trees. When an old sycamore starts to die, some funky looking, towering mushrooms start to grow, such as morels. Sought-after delicacies¬†as they may be by foodies, it’s not a good sign. Maybe Austin’s tower boom ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, either. According to some economists the bigger they are the harder the economy is falling elsewhere in our national root system.

I still got big dreams for this town, such as opening a semi-pro nutria hoops league (if soccer can make it here, why not?). But your fear is eatin’ me alive! It pains me to be the target of the frustration you’re feeling over the massive economic shift you’re noticing before your weary eyes. Maybe take it out at the ballot box next week and vote out some local school board and city council members? That’ll put the fear of the voter back into Austin politics!

Speaking of, I hear rumors of some funny business in your local elections. Can nutria vote in a Democrat-dominated city and county? I’ll find out and let you know.

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