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by Rich Oppel

New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg's Sunday piece was headlined, "Lawrence Wright Saw a Pandemic Coming." It was a fine column about an impending book—and one written by one of Austin's finest authors.

Wright is a long-time resident of West Austin. His new book, "The End of October," comes out next month. As Goldberg reports, it is about a devastating illness that races around the globe, leading to apocalyptic upheaval.

This is not the first time Wright has been prescient.


He co-wrote the screenplay for "The Siege," a 1998 movie that foreshadowed 9/11. "The End of October" describes an epidemic that begins in Asia and spreads worldwide. America had plenty of plans, but health officials weren't given the resources to carry them out. There was a shortage of ventilators, syringes, diagnostic test kits, gloves, respirators and antiseptics—"all the stuff we need to treat patients and protect ourselves," said a character in this novel.

As Goldberg writes, the president in Wright's book is "almost entirely absent from the debate about how to deal with the contagion, except to blame the opposing party for ignoring public health needs before he took office."

Just before President Trump's news briefing yesterday, I emailed Wright with my compliments and a couple of questions:

Q: Would you describe how the president in "End" compares with President Trump in their respective handling of the epidemics?

Q: You've now effectively forecast two catastrophes, 9/11 with "The Siege" and the COVID-19 pandemic with "End." Have you begun working on still another book about impending disaster in the world's future? If you can't or won't say, could you mention 1-2 possible large-scale threats that we should be worrying about?

Twenty minutes later, Wright messaged back:

"Rich, thanks for the good words. It's going to be interesting to see what happens when the book comes out. There's a lot of interest, but there are also obstacles—bookstores shuttered, no author tours.

"As for the president in the novel, let's just say he's one of a kind.

"I'm not writing another book about the future, at least not now, but I've received quite a lot of suggestions: a world in which we solve the climate crisis, elect a woman president, etc. The general sentiment is: please don't write about another catastrophe. Even my wife is on that page."

Count me with Roberta Wright when it comes to predicting more catastrophes, but I'll definitely read "The End of October." And I hope Austonia readers will as well.

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The long-awaited day is here; Austin FC takes the field with LAFC. (Austonia)

It's matchday! Austin FC—Austin's first major league sport team—kicks off its debut season in Los Angeles today after years in the making. We know how much this means to our beloved city and are taking you along with us as we journey to LA!

Austin FC writer Claire Partain and I are excited to bring you game-day coverage straight from the City of Angels. Check back here for updates, and visit our socials: @austonianews for the latest.

5 p.m: Kickoff!

It's finally here! Claire will be updating Austonia's Twitter account live. And we'll post her game recap after the game. Best of luck Verdes!

4:40 p.m: Excitement radiates back home

Watch parties are in plenty supply back home. Austonia's Laura Figi visited Circle Brewing Co. and found a crowd of excited supporters.

4:20 p.m: Austin FC supporters are in the stadium

Although the Banc of California Stadium is hosting the match at limited capacity, we see some green in the stands ahead of kickoff. Just moments away from the Austin FC's debut!

~3:20 p.m: Austin FC's team bus enters the stadium grounds

With a warm welcome from Los Verdes, Austin FC players were welcomed into the Banc of California Stadium.

~1 p.m: Los Verdes in LA

(Rigo Rodriguez/Los Verdes)

Austin FC supporters are making their presence known in LA, including the Los Verdes group.

Los Verdes members started having match-day fun around the area this morning with brunch. We'll be joining them about an hour before the game outside the stadium to share some of their excitement. We'll post immediately to Austonia's Instagram.

11:45 a.m: We landed!

View from hotel room where we're staying; the stadium digital sign can be seen in the right corner. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)

Switching over to pacific time, we're here and it's almost like no time went by. It's 9:45 a.m. here.

We've been in contact with Los Verdes, an Austin FC supporter group, who is also here in LA counting down to kickoff.

8:20 a.m: LA bound

Like many of you, we've been looking forward to this moment for, let's just say, a very long time. Today, we woke up bright and early, headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and hopped on a flight to LA.

A gloomy day in Austin with a very quiet airport, we're headed to sunny skies in California.

As we wait for the game to start at 4:30 p.m., check out Claire's preview of the game with a predicted lineup and timeline of the long journey to get here.


Ingredients:

  • 750 ml Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 16 oz strawberries

Directions: Drop sliced strawberries into glass container filled with Tito's Handmade Vodka. Let sit in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Once desired flavor is reached remove fruit. Enjoy!

Years before the city of Austin went Verde, thousands of the city's soccer fans formed a supporters' group—MLS in Austin—for a team that didn't even exist yet.

Now, as the team's catchphrase suggests, those same fans are #LISTOS as they prepare to see their team on national television at Austin FC's debut on Saturday.

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