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Bonkers Bunkers
May 13, 2010 11:40 AM   Subscribe

A man in East Austin, Tx was removed from his home after it was discovered that he had been digging bunkers under his home, some which were 35ft at the deepest, and included two sub-levels tall enough for adults to stand in comfortably. Though his motives are unknown, many handguns and rifles were also removed from the home, and he as been very cooperative with city investigators.
posted by fontophilic (124 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh.

That myfoxaustin link is a grammatical disaster.
posted by millipede at 11:43 AM on May 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ok, so I haven't read this yet, but a small geographic shift and this could have been me. Why is it illegal to dig bunkers on your own property and own guns? I guess I shall have to read it.
posted by Seamus at 11:45 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suppose he's just keeping Austin weird.
posted by echo target at 11:45 AM on May 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


I need diagrams!
posted by mrnutty at 11:46 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know who else was found in a bunker?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:47 AM on May 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow, it wasn't just him. He had "workers". Sweet.
posted by Seamus at 11:47 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this the 3rd "underground city" type post today? Is it underground city day? Did I miss something? Have I been... living underground?
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:48 AM on May 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


I've already decreed that today is Mole Day on Metafilter. Huzzah!
posted by echo target at 11:48 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Replace "handguns and rifles" with "Star Wars figures and Twizzlers" and this is pretty much the dream I had up until the day I discovered that girls smelled nice.
posted by bondcliff at 11:49 AM on May 13, 2010 [68 favorites]


Seamus, I'm sure it's legal to build bunkers on your own property as long as you follow construction codes. It's legal to awn firearms as well as long as you follow all rules regarding their purchase. This guy may or may not have obtained his weapons legally, but he was apparently compromising the structural integrity of his home and cutting off his neighbors' utilities.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:49 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've already decreed that today is Mole Day on Metafilter. Huzzah!

Wow, it really is. I missed that first one, too.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:49 AM on May 13, 2010


Unless there's more to the story or there is some actual evidence that the tunneling went beyond his property or is causing things to collapse, I am not understanding what he did wrong.
posted by rollbiz at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's always Viet Nam.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2010


Yeah, it's just code enforcement stuff.

Among the items recovered from the home were several weapons, inert grenades and 55-gallon barrels, which turned out to be empty, Matthews said. No charges have been filed in the case, police officials said. It was not clear whether Del Rio will face code violations, which could result in fines, Matthews said.

I bet if you inventoried my stuff, it would look pretty creepy.
posted by Seamus at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


That myfoxaustin link is a grammatical disaster.

musta been outsourced to same lot who put up The Times of India these days ?
posted by infini at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2010


Why is it illegal to dig bunkers on your own property and own guns? I guess I shall have to read it.

Not illegal to own guns. Not illegal to build a storm shelter or bunker, per se. But you do need a permit to do so, and he didn't get one. Also, his extensive illegal home modifications may have compromised the structural integrity of the house. Plus he seems to have tunneled under a neighbor's property. So they've shuttered it (and are working with the owner) to determine whether the house is still safe, and what needs to be done. They also can't just leave the guns laying around, even if he has permits and licenses. (They did remove inert grenades, too. Not sure if they're illegal to own.)

When this is all over, they'll probably fine him and tell him to either fill the whole thing back in, or fill in parts of it to meet city codes.
posted by zarq at 11:51 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


He just misunderstood all the talk on the news about his mortgage being underwater.
posted by Babblesort at 11:51 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


And because this happened in EAST Austin, we can call it Mole Day (but pronounce it Moh-lay).
posted by Seamus at 11:52 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love stories of people who dig bunkers, mazes, and such under their homes. How do they do it? I know some of them trash their foundations, but some do not. Are they just lucky? Dry, clay-like soils?
posted by adipocere at 11:52 AM on May 13, 2010


I wonder if "the sky is falling" meme hit yet?
posted by infini at 11:52 AM on May 13, 2010


Awesome! When I was 7, I tried to dig a bunker in our backyard. I had diagrams of how I would put in the supports, and how the space would be organized. When my parents found it and ordered the hole filled, I filled it with sand so that I could resume digging: an idea they liked even less.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dammit, echotarget, you beat me to it.
posted by emjaybee at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2010


It is not necessarily illegal to build bunkers under your home or to own guns, but either of those can be illegal under certain circumstances. Construction projects require permits and have to be done in accordance with building codes in order to be safe. An amateur, unlicensed construction of bunkers underneath a house could very well cause that house to collapse, which is not only dangerous to anyone who might be in the house or in the subterranean bunkers, but which also presents a danger of damaging pipes and wires connecting the house to utilities, which in turn can case flooding, power failures, etc. As for guns, while Americans have a general right to own them, there are also various restrictions for some people, such as those with criminal records. It is also true that a person who builds underground bunkers without a building permit and who also owns guns, seems to be preparing for some kind of seige, which suggests that something dangerous is in the works. It is reminiscent of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas.
posted by grizzled at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, the officials cut off the utilities, the excavation did not cut off the utilities. It's a very poorly worded sentence.
posted by 517 at 11:54 AM on May 13, 2010


Can't say I'm surprised. Cue Tim O'Brien's "The Nuclear Age."
posted by mrbarrett.com at 11:55 AM on May 13, 2010


Don't tell this guy. [previously]
posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:55 AM on May 13, 2010


If there's one thing survivalist bunker-building gun weirdos are known for, it's being very cooperative with investigators.
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Plus he seems to have tunneled under a neighbor's property.

Which would be a huge problem if his neighbors are also digging 35-ft-deep bunkers. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be? Like wearing the same gasmask to a John Birch Society milita-mixer. On the other hand, it would make it easier to borrow a cup of sugar on a rainy day.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:55 AM on May 13, 2010 [17 favorites]


I know some of them trash their foundations, but some do not. Are they just lucky? Dry, clay-like soils?

God, the soil up here (DFW area) is so bad foundations shift if you so much as look at them the wrong way. I know it's a lot better down around Austin though. I don't think my parents ever had to have foundation work done.
posted by kmz at 11:56 AM on May 13, 2010


Oh great, so now it's illegal to LARP Dwarf Fortress? Not everyone can learn the interface, so digging an awesome cavern is the closest thing some people can get to the experience. And dwarves with guns are something everyone wants!
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:56 AM on May 13, 2010 [16 favorites]


You know who else was found in a bunker?

Archie?
posted by jonmc at 11:57 AM on May 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


The soil in that area wouldn't be dry. He is a few blocks off the lake.

The ground itself seems to be an alluvial deposit over the old coastal plain, so probably not as bad to dig in as my yard (about 4 miles southwest).
posted by Seamus at 11:58 AM on May 13, 2010


This is inspiring for my very ambitious Nethack larping plan.
posted by everichon at 11:59 AM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, right. Where are you going to keep your bobbleheads -- above ground? I don't think so.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:59 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dread the thought of someone hitting oil
posted by infini at 12:00 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am the underminer! I am always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me!
posted by tspae at 12:01 PM on May 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


Our shifting ground isn't as bad as DFW, but most slab houses in this town either need, have had or will need leveling. You'd think they would figure out a way to build a slab/pier hybrid.
posted by Seamus at 12:01 PM on May 13, 2010


That's pretty awesome. If I lived in a stick house, I'd want a secret underground bunker full of weapons and supplies.
posted by Malice at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2010


I dread the thought of someone hitting oil

White gold. Texas tea.
posted by DU at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


White gold? WTF.
posted by DU at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


So really, the only question is if he's working for GI Joe or Cobra, right?
posted by yeloson at 12:04 PM on May 13, 2010


Dude you've struck lard!!
posted by Babblesort at 12:04 PM on May 13, 2010 [24 favorites]


White gold is ethanol.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:05 PM on May 13, 2010


DUde, that's just discriminatory... what about yellow or red ? huh? huh?
posted by infini at 12:06 PM on May 13, 2010


It is also true that a person who builds underground bunkers without a building permit and who also owns guns, seems to be preparing for some kind of seige, which suggests that something dangerous is in the works. It is reminiscent of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas.

This is a pretty huge logical leap, given what we know about the story. A single man who has a personal amount of legal weapons and builds a safe-room (or a storage cellar, bomb shelter, homemade basement, dirt-themed guest house, or whatever this guy intended this to be) may or may not be "preparing for some kind of siege", which may or may not "suggest that something dangerous is in the works".

Either way, this is certainly not "reminiscent of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas", unless by "reminiscent" you mean "entirely different in both tone and fact". Come on.
posted by vorfeed at 12:07 PM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


He was hauled, blinking and twitching his whiskers wildly, into the sunlight.
posted by benzenedream at 12:07 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I dread the thought of someone hitting oil

White gold. Texas tea.



Way OT, but my kid picks his nose.
I always say "What are you digging for, gold?"
He replies "No, Daddy, boogies."
I belt out "Greeeeen Gold! Texas Caviar!" in my best drawl.
When this conversation occurs in a restaurant or grocery store, people take notice.
posted by Seamus at 12:08 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was going to post how this was pretty much my fantasy, too. You know those movements where ideologically like-minded people move to the same state with the intent of taking it over? We should all move someplace geographically appropriate and go rebuild the Great Underground Empire.
posted by heathkit at 12:10 PM on May 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


I bet if you inventoried my stuff, it would look pretty creepy.

I actually worry about this; my wife is a crazy fish person, and whole portions of our house are given over to this hobby. We have metal halide lights on her reef tank identical to the ones used by people who grow pot indoors, and one way the police look for this is by thermal imaging houses looking for the hot spots these lights create. We also have a front facing room that has a constant greenish light coming out of it, and if someone were to look in, they'd see (among the racks of fish tanks) big barrels, bubbling tubes filled with strange colored liquids, a work bench covered with wires and tubes and precision measuring scales along with tons of different kinds of medical gear (microscope, slides, beakers). This room could easily be a weapons lab, or a drug production area, or whatever other paranoid out-of-context thing you could want it to be.

It's actually just the fish room where she breeds and medicates all her seahorses and octopuses and stuff.

But once the cops, reacting to... whatever was going on in there, kicked in the door, they'd find my stuff. Which includes a lot of guns. As well as random weird shit I've built over the years, some of which looks pretty scary.

I guarantee I'd make the paper.

I mean, all of it is legal and everything, but it's just odd enough that they'd probably think they hit the mother load until they discovered that I'm just some nobody, with nothing interesting going on at all.
posted by quin at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2010 [13 favorites]


White gold

White gold
posted by zippy at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is also true that a person who builds underground bunkers without a building permit and who also owns guns, seems to be preparing for some kind of seige, which suggests that something dangerous is in the works. It is reminiscent of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas.

Have you ever been to Texas? Underground structures and guns are not odd out there. I've known several relatives with combinations of the two. Also not generally fond of "permits" and "damn rules."
posted by Big_B at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


See, this rekindles so many childhood fantasies, and I've already been contemplating adding a shack in the backyard as a recording studio and wondering about noise abatement. Now I have to wonder: would I be able to legally build a studio that's underground except for (say) the top three feet, just a big concrete watertight square with electricity, with HVAC and windows and the entrance up top, so that the whole thing doesn't reduce the space I have in my yard (like, it would become a porch of sorts?)

Maybe I should ask AskMe. Heh.
posted by davejay at 12:13 PM on May 13, 2010


You'll take my shovel when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Makes sense to Father Sensible.
posted by squalor at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2010


I want to build a shed with a basement in my backyard.
Upstairs for brewing and drinking during cold and temperate months. Downstairs for storing wine, guns, and old scifi novels; where we would drink during the heat of the summer.
I'd call it my bunker just cuz I like the word.
posted by Seamus at 12:16 PM on May 13, 2010


Way OT, but my kid picks his nose.

There's this street-person/probable junkie who comes into my store every so often to sell books, who loves to sing "I love to pick my nose,...I pick my nose everyday."

We 86'd him, but not for that.
posted by jonmc at 12:17 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was going through my storage unit last night, reboxing books and generally making incremental progress at reducing the chaos, then stopped to survey My Stuff and realized that if someone stumbled in there and took a look at the scores of boxes of books, the ammo cans, and the strange items I had laying around, they would come to but one conclusion:

THOUGHTFUL MORBID LIBRARY APOCALYPSE

"Why does this person need three twenty-one inch Sony Trinitron monitors, in black? What's with all of the science fiction and supernatural horror? What possible use could someone have for a box of glow-in-the-dark paint in every possible color? Why all of the wrapping paper and boxes carefully labeled with gifts in them?"

Inventory anyone's stuff, it's gonna look pretty weird.
posted by adipocere at 12:18 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


my childhood dream was a dome home, but half underground, with sheep grazing on the roof (don't ask, its from a photo I saw of the same in some magazine a hundred years ago)
posted by infini at 12:19 PM on May 13, 2010


Which would be a huge problem if his neighbors are also digging 35-ft-deep bunkers. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be? Like wearing the same gasmask to a John Birch Society milita-mixer. On the other hand, it would make it easier to borrow a cup of sugar on a rainy day.

"Mornin' Sam."
"Mornin' Ralph."
posted by zarq at 12:21 PM on May 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


What's with all of the science fiction
posted by infini at 12:21 PM on May 13, 2010


As a kid, I filled notebooks and notebooks with underground house drawings. These underground houses were entirely populated by plucky orphans. This thread is making me feel normal.
posted by mmmbacon at 12:23 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


White gold is the wild magic.
posted by hippybear at 12:23 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you ever been to Texas? Underground structures and guns are not odd out there. I've known several relatives with combinations of the two. Also not generally fond of "permits" and "damn rules."

Although depending on where you are in TX, building an underground structure might require demolition equipment, not a shovel. Many homes in Amarillo don't even have basements.
posted by zarq at 12:23 PM on May 13, 2010


It's no the SF you should worry about. It's the Garfield.
posted by Seamus at 12:24 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


it was a gift

*looks around rapidly*
posted by infini at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Austin is the home of the fringe InfoWars radio show on local station 90.1. It has great advertisements all the time for stuff like gold & silver dealers (for the post-money apocalypse), "survivalist" seeds, dehydrated foods, and other Mad Max lifestyle goods.

Surely had no influence on this fella, right?
posted by ejoey at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2010


After 18 years in Texas, I went into my first basement here last weekend. It's in a 3 million dollar house and the basement walls don't touch the dirt on the outside.
Basements are incredibly rare in this state.
But I want one.
posted by Seamus at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2010


Yeah, not to thread squat too much, but my take on this was less "scary gun-nut guy" and more "amazingly industrious, if not kooky, guy". I'm half-way between applauding, and picturing the nightmare it is to be this guy's neighbor not knowing if your house will be damaged.

The East Austin Studio tours are an awesome experience where hundreds of artists open their homes and studios for a weekend. Striking up a conversation with one artist I mentioned I lived in South Austin. He said, paraphrasing "I used to live in South Austin. I like it much better on the East Side. There are less rules here." I think thats a pretty perfect description.
posted by fontophilic at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


*looks around rapidly*

"Check the bookcase for an entrance to an underground lair, Johnny."
posted by zarq at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2010


I wouldn't bet on Alex Jone's influence here.
The East Side has its own, unique and peculiar influences that may have convinced this guy to build his bunker.
posted by Seamus at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2010


If a man's home is his castle, why the hell can't he build a dungeon?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


It is also true that a person who builds underground bunkers without a building permit and who also owns guns, seems to be preparing for some kind of seige, which suggests that something dangerous is in the works. It is reminiscent of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas.

No, it really isn't.

His neighbors said this had been going on for years. He gave investigators a tour of the place. Had several empty 55-gallon drums and no food or supplies stored away. Legal guns (welcome to TX,) inert grenades and no other illegal weapons. Whatever his intentions, he doesn't seem to have been hunkering down and preparing for an impending apocalypse.
posted by zarq at 12:36 PM on May 13, 2010


Or at least, he didn't seem to be terribly secretive and in a rush about it.
posted by zarq at 12:37 PM on May 13, 2010


If he tried that shit on the west side, the bunker would be about four inches deep with a nice pre-installed limestone floor.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 12:37 PM on May 13, 2010


Ah, there's the quote I was looking for.
And he who wields white wild magic gold
is a paradox--
for he is everything and nothing
hero and fool,
potent, helpless--
and with the one word of truth or treachery,
he will save or damn the Earth
because he is mad and sane,
cold and passionate,
lost and found.
And that's the end of that derail for me.
posted by hippybear at 12:39 PM on May 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


and one way the police look for this is by thermal imaging houses looking for the hot spots these lights create.

Well they're not supposed to...
Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001), held that the use of a thermal imaging device from a public vantage point to monitor the radiation of heat from a person's home was a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and thus required a warrant.
I too dread what the police would make of of the things found in a search of my house. Subversive books, loads of suspicious/hazardous chemicals & materials used for various hobbies and heck I've even got a mostly built suit of Brotherhood of Steel power armor standing in the corner of my computer room.
posted by Tenuki at 12:41 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


My first thought was "which crazy caver was this?" (I know a couple who have built their own, but out in the country, and not under their houses. Still.)

he kept to himself and seemed harmless on the surface.

Oh, I SAW what they did there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:43 PM on May 13, 2010


Everybody knows that homemade bunkers are for good, clean, innocent fun.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:45 PM on May 13, 2010


You guys, there's nothing wrong with proper preparation for the zombie apocalypse.

::digs faster::
posted by sararah at 12:47 PM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thirty five feet deep and two sub levels? No mere shovel could ever have been responsible for such mayhem.

It could only be the handiwork of the ... Chinese-Military-Shovel-WJQ308!
posted by digsrus at 12:53 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


THOUGHTFUL MORBID LIBRARY APOCALYPSE

Just make sure you include a few extra pairs of glasses.
posted by inigo2 at 12:55 PM on May 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I live in a part of the world where it is theoretically possible for me to buy an abandoned copper mine and -- again, theoretically -- build a house over it. I'm pretty sure there are legal reasons that one of the other would wind up being impractical, but it doesn't keep me from dreaming.
posted by Shepherd at 12:56 PM on May 13, 2010


It could only be the handiwork of the ... Chinese-Military-Shovel-WJQ308!
posted by digsrus


O I SEE what you did there...
posted by infini at 12:57 PM on May 13, 2010


He had come far, far. He had climbed higher and ranged further than any other scout of the People in long generations. He had fought his way through the Bad Levels, where the worm-things still hunted the People relentlessly. He had stalked and slain the glowing killer mole in the crumbling Middle Tunnels. He had wiggled through dozens of unmapped and unnamed passages that hardly looked big enough for a man to pass.
posted by honeyx at 1:04 PM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dungeons & Dragons.

If you build it, they will come.
posted by yeloson at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Guns and grenades? ...Not weird. Lots of people own guns.

Digging your own underground bunker? ...Not weird. Lots of people have basements.

55 gallon drums?

Thank god they were empty!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2010


honeyx, what is that from?
posted by zarq at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2010


O I SEE what you did there...

If only you could see what I've seen with these eyes under my house.
posted by digsrus at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2010


You guys, there's nothing wrong with proper preparation for the zombie apocalypse.

Digging is never proper preparation for the zombie apocalypse. I don't know how many times I have to say this: Second floor apartment, destroy the stairs.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


More people will be building hiding places in their homes, small refuges that are undetectable except by sophisticated devices.
posted by umbĂș at 1:15 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Second floor apartment, destroy the stairs

fill fridge and cupboards first, buy a sack of rice and some lentils too - they last forever
posted by infini at 1:15 PM on May 13, 2010


More people will be building hiding places in their homes, small refuges that are undetectable except by sophisticated devices.
posted by infini at 1:17 PM on May 13, 2010


Right. A ladder is good to have so you can make supply runs (if necessary). The key point is that the last thing you want to rely on for security is a door, be it standard or trap-.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:19 PM on May 13, 2010


Austin has never had a problem with zombies, has it?
posted by Seamus at 1:25 PM on May 13, 2010


I'm pretty sure this was an episode of the Simpsons. That or King of the Hill. Or maybe Hogan's Heroes. Whichever it was, I bet it was funnier then.
posted by scalefree at 1:25 PM on May 13, 2010


When my mom was a teenager living in Universal City, TX, one of her friends was the oldest kid in a large family with a small house. So her parents turned the tornado shelter (a bunker of sorts) into a bedroom for her and somehow ran electricity out to it. She could stay up as late as she wanted, play her records as loud as she wanted, all that sort of thing. My mom seethed with envy and I kind of do, as well.
posted by orrnyereg at 1:30 PM on May 13, 2010


honeyx, what is that from?

Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels
by George R. R. Martin
http://www.johnjosephadams.com/wastelands/?page_id=16
posted by inigo2 at 1:34 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, inigo2. :)
posted by zarq at 1:35 PM on May 13, 2010


i felt like I'd read it but was distracted by that zombie discussion and food supplies, thanks Inigo2
posted by infini at 2:17 PM on May 13, 2010


i honestly had to read the article to make sure this wasn't my ex-stepdad.

if most of Texas didn't have limestone six inches down, I guarantee there would be bunkers all over the place. of course there would also be guns, because it's texas. we like to shoot things.
posted by jnaps at 2:18 PM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Neither he nor the officers had any idea how deep the problem would go.
huh huh. "deep," 'cos it's a hole. I get it.

White gold? WTF.

Sure, White gold - jump off, brain, Texas milkshake, Boston drizzle, New York schpeckle, raw sizzurp, knuckle mustard, ball butter, man jam, the baby gravy, the chowder, mecos, skeet - you need it for any nappy dugout.

A neighbor, Mary Montoya, said her family had seen Del Rio take away barrels of dirt in trucks for the past year. One of the holes from the digging reaches into her yard.
"We knew something was going on, but I never thought it would be something like this,


They knew something was going on?
Barrels of dirt in trucks, utilities going out... what, he was building a personal mass driver? Hey, we all thought maybe he was just lowering his back yard 70 feet and the fact our power went out was a coincidence.
Who would have thought barrels of dirt being hauled away by the truckload = hole in the ground?
You people need f'ing Steve McQueen to jump over your fence on a motorcycle? Del Rio has to come up out of the ground in your yard with a jointed flashlight and a .45 to put 2 and 2 together there?
Digging holes creates a lot of dirt. Whoa, yeah, who could see that one coming?

I can see not caring, or saying "We didn't know what was going on, but I didn't want to get too near the guy."
But why do people feel the need to make some pretense to being in the know. Just say "I didn't know wtf the guy was doing. I'm at work all day. The power goes out, I call the power company. Who suspects the guy across the street has the kind of time to dig a giant hole under my house?"
posted by Smedleyman at 2:31 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


the plucky orphans is so going to be my band name when i get around to learning how to play triangle
posted by emilyd22222 at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2010


. . . my wife is a crazy fish person . . .

I believe the more polite term is "mermaid".
posted by The Bellman at 3:03 PM on May 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


I've always liked you quin, but now I like you more. 'Cause I like crazy fish people.

Sell the metal halides and go LED. Expensive to start with, but you'll make that money back selling the lights. And the usage is nothing compared to the mh. Depends what she's keeping, but the aquaray tiles are good enough for nems and LPS.
posted by Elmore at 3:28 PM on May 13, 2010



See, this rekindles so many childhood fantasies,


This *is* a very common childhood fantasy - I had a fantasy of an entire underground palace - common enough to make me link that man descended not from apes but from burrowing under-monkeys.
posted by The Whelk at 3:54 PM on May 13, 2010


also, as someone with agoraphobic tenancies the idea of living in a maze of twisty passages all-like sounds like heaven.


damn you venice why are you so far away and impractical to live in - it's like visiting a D&D campaign but with real ale! argh - dream pooping.
posted by The Whelk at 3:58 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Digging is never proper preparation for the zombie apocalypse. I don't know how many times I have to say this: Second floor apartment, destroy the stairs.

Great. So where were you last weekend when this advice could have come in handy?
posted by krinklyfig at 4:06 PM on May 13, 2010


For some background here, the article goes out of its way to mention this happened in EAST Austin - which is because the "east side" is different from the rest of the city. It's starting to gentrify now, but for most of the time I've lived here it's been the "poor part" of the city and largely Hispanic. This dude is not likely to be some tea-bagger, I would guess.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:25 PM on May 13, 2010


Oops! Whenever they whip out that word 'bunker', you know they disapprove. Never heard of a fallout bunker.

The Philadelphia MOVE bunch had a 'bunker' on the roof; on this date in 1985 they got a bomb dropped on their 'bunker'. 61 houses burned.
posted by Twang at 6:02 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tenuki: ... and heck I've even got a mostly built suit of Brotherhood of Steel power armor standing in the corner of my computer room.

THAT IS SO AWESOME.

UM, CONTINUE.
posted by Rumpled at 6:23 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If he tried that shit on the west side, the bunker would be about four inches deep with a nice pre-installed limestone floor."

Limestone, as rock goes, is fairly easy to quarry. A few pneumatic hammers and picks and you'd be good to go.
posted by Mitheral at 6:46 PM on May 13, 2010


Mitheral : Limestone, as rock goes, is fairly easy to quarry. A few pneumatic hammers and picks and you'd be good to go.

Easier than that, if you don't want to make enough noise to raise the dead and don't mind going (somewhat) slow (which apparently this guy didn't, if he dug it by hand)...

Buy muriatic acid (HCl) by the (now empty?) 55 gallon drum, it comes really quite cheaply. Just paint it on and watch the limestone vanish like magic. Good ventilation recommended.


Aside from that - What gives with all the permit Nazis? In a lot of places (arguably most of the country in terms of land area, through probably not in more urban areas), you simply don't need permits, period. And in many places where you do need permits for home improvements, you don't need them for anything not visible outside the house - Which I would expect includes an underground lair.

Crossing the property line, somewhat more of a problem, though I would expect up to the neighbor to complain, not the city.


Mostly, this sounds like it boils down to a simple matter of "Big Brother is Watching (and you've made it difficult)". How dare you have a secret lair without plans on file in triplicate complete with a back door for the FBI to break down in a pre-dawn raid?
posted by pla at 8:10 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


And in many places where you do need permits for home improvements, you don't need them for anything not visible outside the house - Which I would expect includes an underground lair.

Right. If they're non-structural, digging a bunker under your house is structural.
posted by atrazine at 11:36 PM on May 13, 2010


if you don't want to make enough noise to raise the dead

Man, keep up with the thread. The dead have already risen.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:43 AM on May 14, 2010


Since there have been several rebuttals to my previous comment I would like to reply. First of all, if I had known how many other people were more or less simultaneously posting explanations of why it might be illegal to dig bunkers underneath your house, I would not have bothered to do so. Secondly, I was not claiming that because this person wanted to have subterranean bunkers and lots of guns he must have been preparing for a Waco style seige; I was explaining that the police might be concerned about the possibility that this person might be planning for a seige. I don't know what this person's specific motives were, nor would I object to either home renovation or gun ownership if they are done in a legally prescribed manner. The lack of a building permit was the only actual ciminal offense, and that has to do with concerns about the stability of the house, rather than concerns about an incipient armed uprising. The guns just made the police a bit more nervous about the situation.
posted by grizzled at 6:58 AM on May 14, 2010


"Buy muriatic acid (HCl) by the (now empty?) 55 gallon drum, it comes really quite cheaply. Just paint it on and watch the limestone vanish like magic. Good ventilation recommended."

I thought about that too but I wasn't sure what the by products would be and if they wouldn't turn your bunker into a toxic waste dump. Also rather than dissolving the entire volume of the bunker one could take the concept of EDM and use directed etching to carve out blocks of limestone. You'd need less acid and the blocks could be used for many things like retaining walls, a castle or even the best driveway ever.

grizzled writes "The lack of a building permit was the only actual ciminal offense,"

Is lack of a building permit criminal in Texas? Around here it's a civil infraction.
posted by Mitheral at 7:53 AM on May 14, 2010


We need pics of the bunker and the well-made engravings.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:22 AM on May 14, 2010


In reply to Mitheral's question, "offense" and "infraction" are synonymous terms. I was not trying to make a fine legal distinction, merely to describe the situation. Exactly how a prosecutor in Texas would describe that activity, I cannot say.
posted by grizzled at 8:38 AM on May 14, 2010


Yeah, as a Texan, I've coveted a basement my whole life. Stories set in places where people have basements seemed like magical fairy tales to me.

Now I live in a mobile home and I have fantasies of doing this.
posted by threeturtles at 11:36 AM on May 14, 2010


I've coveted a basement my whole life.

Basement, hell. I can't even bury small pets in my yard.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:51 AM on May 14, 2010


That's cause you live on the Devil's Land Chris. Wouldn't want any more ...accidents
posted by The Whelk at 11:54 AM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry about all the zombie hamsters, folks!
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:27 PM on May 14, 2010


The City of Austin Tuesday released photos of the web of tunnels a man dug underneath his East Austin home. Under the yellow home are three stories of tunnels. For at least two years, neighbors suspected owner Jose Del Rio was up to something strange, but had no idea just how busy he'd been.

posted by zarq at 12:50 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Photo Gallery from KVUE is here.
posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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