Birdcage Liner

Birdcage Liner

In recent memory, I was reading a novel that was either hardboiled, satire thereof, or, imitating the hardboiled noire kind of style. The term “Local Birdcage Liner” was used in the novel, referring to a daily newspaper that wasn’t worth its cheap ink since the paper didn’t carry much information. Like, “There was no mention of the grisly murder scene in the local birdcage liner.”

Birdcage Liner

The note was an image of a newsprint article, one in a Sunday’s business section, and the article was about how — because of Millennials — business cards have strange titles, now.

Like this is a new thing, thus sayeth,
The Fishing Guide to the Stars.

Whoa. Bet the author is a millennial, except my millennial clients would do a little more research, or give credit where credit is due. It’s so not a millennial attribute.

Which is why some print journalism is having a hard time adapting to our modern era.

Birdcage Liner

I glanced at the opening paragraph, which included “Blame the Millennials,” and I snapped a quick image, determined to set the record straight.

Birdcage Liner

Titles, like “Rocket Science,” and “Secret Agent” are so not new. My first exposure was in Austin, in the early 90’s, when Apple had a small, satellite office there. Couple of friends worked tech support, and from that, at least one of the guys was higher up the food chain, and as such, he had some kind of moniker on his business card. It was specifically chosen to keep other tech companies from poaching talented people.

And added a bit whimsey.

I recall one, “Department of Tin Foil Hats,” while another was something about “alien abductions” for a software engineer. Good coders are hard to keep.

This is from time when some of the Millennials weren’t even born yet. Therefore?

How deep is one’s computer history? The Pepsi guy who ousted Steve Jobs from Apple? That Pepsi guy, “If I can sell sugared water,” and his business card? “Chief listener.”

Didn’t work out that well, but it was of note. That’s either historical or hysterical.

Birdcage Liner

Heard if from friends, in the old ad business, back in the day, before the fin de sciéle, the front receptionist was the person who kept the whole agency running smoothly. The title, “Air Traffic Controller,” it’s not so new.

Old Austin, guess you had to be there. See footnote.

Can’t blame the Millennials

Nope, can’t blame the Millennials for everything wrong in our individual world.


Can’t blame the Millennials.


Old Austin — “Old Austin” is more myth than reality. A certain Dr. Woo, we were both there in Old Austin, similar circles, and still can’t figure out why we didn’t meet, then, but we might’ve because, it was Old Austin. I do know his name is on the liner notes for a Doug Sahm record, that counts for credentials, valid street cred.

The doorman, one night, early double aughts? One doorman — also the owner — looked at me, glanced up and down, and I was fit, tan, thin, with that lean and hungry look, and he sees me, appraising, “Yeah, the ‘good, old days’ aren’t as good as we remember, you know?”

More a statement than a question.

Old Austin was weird, but not because that was a Chamber of Commerce type of slogan. It was that confluence of art and leisure, with a dose of herbal remedies sprinkled across the top, like a light seasoning agent.

Old Austin, does anyone remember when Johnny Cash played Emo’s, a punk club downtown? Sketchy doesn’t even begin to describe what a questionable place that was.

“I always try to make everybody’s day a little more surreal.”

That’s Old Austin, the Old Austin of myth and lore.

About the author: Born and raised in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel, settled in a South Austin trailer park before trailer parks were cool. He now lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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