The Eyes of Evil MoPac Are Upon You

Austin’s favorite anonymous Twitter account is the city’s newest podcast phenom

Art by Zeke Barbaro / Getty Images (MoPac photo by John Anderson)

The voice isn't quite right.

Then again, there wasn't a voice-voice at the start. Not one you could literally hear. Not at first.

But when Evil MoPac – the sardonic Twitter/X account run by either a sentient piece of Austin's most annoying road not named I-35 or a guy who wanted to cosplay tweet as same – jumped from everyone's favorite hellsite to the wide world of podcast, Evil MoPac gained a voice. A little bit Elvis, a little bit street (as it were).

In a brief period of time, Stuck With Evil MoPac has become a welcome, almost comfy addition to podcasts covering Austin. Guests have included Doctor Strange screenwriter C. Robert Cargill, noted Go-Go Kathy Valentine, Bob Schneider, and Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver, among others.

But on the phone, the self-described pro-gridlock activist sheds his Elvis and sounds like, well, a middle-aged white guy.

"Do you want to chat as me or do you want to chat in character?" he says.

Let's see where we go, E.M. Is this a good time?

In character: "It's rush hour on a Wednesday, so I'm a little busy."

Not in character: "Yeah, man!"

The artist concurrently known as Evil MoPac and NAME REDACTED started tweeting as @EvilMopacATX back in 2016. "For most of the time that I've been doing the account, I've had a fairly traditional day job in the sense that there was a commute involved, so that was part of the impetus to begin the account."

E.M. recalls that there was a section of MoPac that was blocked off with very little notice, perhaps shutting down one of the lanes near Enfield, something like that, he doesn't exactly remember. "It was a shitshow and I didn't even go to work because I knew how bad it was." The idea for a Twitter account had been kicking around and he just went for it: took a screengrab of an all-red-everywhere Google traffic map, signed up, came up with the name out of nowhere and just started tweeting as MoPac that morning. "The character has evolved a bit," he says, "but in the beginning it was like, 'I am the MoPac and I am in control now.'"

It was kind of a chuckle for a few people that morning, but E.M. kept at it. He found a voice pretty quickly – scathing, swaggering, scatalogical, satirical – but there weren't that many followers at first. Dude just stuck with it, which is the way to establish anything on the internet, and eventually it caught on. His regular targets for merciless ribbing resonated locally: BMW drivers, Steiner Ranch swingers, Californian carpetbaggers, Austinites panicking at the first sign of rain, and that second-rate parking lot, I-35.

Is Evil MoPac an Austin native? There's a pause.

"I am never sure how to answer that one," he says. "Texas native? Yes, that is deep in my blood. Did I see Willie in '74? No. Have I been here long enough to know when someone just got here? Absolutely. Am I one of the five people still in Austin who was born here? That must remain a holy mystery."

The account has evolved as Austin has, perhaps as Evil MoPac itself has, from being your basic, snarky, Austin-based Twitter account to demonstrating a greater care and feel for the city and the state. "I have a lot of Texas pride," he says. "I wouldn't say I pushed it into a political realm because I don't consider it a political account, but it has made me more conscious that I have a significant audience and if I have something I feel strongly about, I'm not afraid to say it."

Most of the initial reactions, he says, were enthusiastic. "When I didn't have that many followers and I wasn't in the public eye, most of the responses were real positive." But as the account has become more a part of the fabric of Austin (the original account currently sports about 58,200 followers), the fabric of Austin has become more complicated: endless development, the pandemic, a governor really into special sessions, the culture of Elon Musk and Tesla, the culture of Joe Rogan. You get the idea.

The more Evil MoPac took sides, the more detractors appeared. "Nothing like if I were an elected politician or something, but there are definitely people who hate the account, especially the last couple years." He says he's more into ignoring and muting than blocking, but you will not catch Evil MoPac getting into exhausting debates on social media: "No matter how logical you make your case, you are never going to change their mind. So why am I wasting my time and cramping my thumbs up?"

At one point, in about 2021, there was an evil version of just about every major roadway in Austin. But it's harder than it looks to do a humor account, to keep at it, to have the wherewithal to keep doing it and to be good at it. "I've obviously connected with people, and a lot of them just didn't have the stomach for it."

When you talk to a roadway, you might as well talk about traffic. "My exhaustion with Austin traffic, and terrible drivers in particular, long existed before me hopping on Twitter as Evil MoPac, and it will long exist after I'm done doing Evil MoPac," he says. "But I think after the pandemic, something shifted in people. It's not just more traffic, it's just how mean people are and how they value their time so much more than they value anyone else's."

Then again, there are only so many ways you can tweet out that 5:30 traffic is bad before it starts to get repetitive. So E.M. decided to go in some new directions: a podcast and a Substack newsletter, Under Construction (the latter with the bio, "Pro-Gridlock Activist: I love Bon Jovi, Willie Nelson, and Scooter Elijah Wood").

That expansion has resulted in a less traffic-oriented, more pop culture-facing Evil MoPac, not to mention giving the roadway a chance to, ahem, stretch out. Recent topics include: "2033 Austin According to A.I.: Yeah, it's going to be a lot worse than you think," and "The Texas Horror Movies That We Love."

"I do some of the very same kind of stuff thematically, roadwise," E.M. says, "but there's also pop culture stuff, and what do the House managers during the impeachment look like, politically. I do some of that on the Twitter account – the Substack allows me to have more words to do it with. It's not the rush of tweeting stuff out, but it's been really fun."

The podcast E.M. started just for the hell of it. "I thought I could do a fun one, I wish it was more than that," he says. "Maybe I just love to hear myself talk." And he acknowledges that podcasts are not for everyone. "A tweet is 280 characters, then a Substack letter is about a five-minute involvement," he says. "These are 35 minutes to an hour. It's a huge investment, but I think I got a nice stable group of people who like it and hopefully that'll continue to grow."

And like all podcasters, he was faced with the reality of podcasting: "I had to readjust my expectations a little bit, and I don't think this was any sort of weird ego thing, but I kind of thought it would really take off and become this super popular thing. And then I quickly realized it was just going to take some time to earn that audience and to just enjoy myself with it and have fun with it for what it is."

The trick is to have Austinites from all walks of life, which Evil MoPac has done. City Council folks, musicians, screenwriters. "It's a little tricky in the sense that most podcasts are focused. 'This is a Texas Longhorns podcast,' or, 'This is a straight comedy podcast.' This is going a lot of ways. I think I'm making different audiences."

"Evil, why don't you like F1?"

Y'all think I'm going to be hyping something where super rich dicks drive incredibly expensive cars like psychopaths all day?

I already have a toll lane

9:53 PM · Oct 22, 2023

Blue Bell is trending in Texas, I hope everyone is on the right antibiotics 🙏

11:38 AM · Jul 5, 2023

I'd rather drink warm White Claw streaming down the asscrack of a Steiner Ranch swinger

3:18 PM · Jul 5, 2023

I just saw a BMW tailgating a Camry going 49 in the fast lane

Nature is healing

9:53 AM · Feb 2, 2023

"Yes, I'd like to report a BMW 7 Series with a USC license plate tray using a blinker to change lanes on MoPac SB near 45th. This is VERY suspicious, please hurry"

9:10 PM · Jun 7, 2022

"It's time for a Special Weed Session, nerds."

10:23 AM · Nov 8, 2023


The only items left at HEB are...

*Yak Steaks

*Otter Jelly

*Peenie Guards

*Mink Nuggets

*Diet Salt

*Burnt Soy

*Kale Wipes

*Ferret Jerky

12:05 PM · Oct 29, 2023

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