Andy Langer's piece on the burial of live music in Austin ["Where Live Music Is Dead," Vol.16, No.6] points at a number of reasons as to why throngs of clubgoers aren't tromping down Sixth Street as clubowners recall they used to. West-end development of brew clubs and other music-indifferent establishments and student apathy are both viable reasons for the music-crowd slump. Langer also points to the overflux of touring acts as a probable cause, and it's my guess that the endless stream of hyped road shows contributes more to empty clubs at local shows on weeknights, as well as weekends, than any other factor. Austin is glutted with both big-name road shows and relatively unknown bands on the highway from Athens or Boulder or some other "music town."
Granted, any creative scene can stand to benefit from the stimulation of visiting artists, but what's the point of letting a lot of good-but-not-that-good road shows stifle some pretty good and sometimes great homegrown music? As manager of a local rock 'n' punk band for almost two years, I know the music is there. And I can tell you that most bands work to get the word out about themselves. We're certainly not the only band in town that runs a mailing list and puts time and energy into promotion through postering, making connections on the Internet, and by just talking to people about music whenever we get the chance. Most club personnel do what they can to help, too. And what would be really, really super neat would be if the local rag would do what it can to truly emphasize the truly local scene. For instance, how about letting the road shows' flashy, expensive advertisements speak for themselves, and devoting more of your type in the "Recommended," "Review" and other music columns to Austin gigs?
In your article "Live Music is Dead [Vol.16, No.6]," a number
of club managers/owners seem to be saying that the college crowd that currently
populates Sixth Street: A) Doesn't enjoy original, live music; B) Won't pay a
cover; C) Don't tip; and D) Won't keep their clubs open. But these same clubs
continue to book bands that seem like they might appeal to this same crowd...
Hello? Is anyone paying attention here? Try shooting for a different audience
and you just might get it. Contrary to popular belief, there are more types of
music than "blues with a beat" and neo-pop jazz. Anyone who showed up at the
Blue Flamingo for the KVRX Gothic Night would have seen a (granted, small) but
packed house on a Monday night! Hello? Is this thing on? The
recent rise of bands like 7% Solution and cling should be giving Sixth Street
clubs something to think about. I know some of these clubs have given the
occasional one-night nod to this idea, but success is nearly assured for any
club that's willing to take a chance on truly new music in Austin. Stop
pandering, start booking something new, and you just might see those crowds
you've been crying for.
[re: "Where Live Music Is Dead," Vol.16, No.6]
I am in an Austin band and I've been through the runaround of the so-called "Live Music Capital of the World" long enough to see problems on how musicians are treated. If Austin is going to call itself that, it needs to stop exploiting musicians and artists. The exploitation begins when some of the most talented bands with the best material and a decent following do not get paid squat. If it weren't for the bands playing on Sixth Street, people would just drink at any local pub, save gas, and get good parking. Also, places like Steamboat tell you to build a following to play better nights and get paid. Now, I love Steamboat, and I love to play there, but that's usually not the truth. It depends on if the club owner likes you and if the media likes you, if you're that trend they're looking for. If certain club owners and radio personalities don't support you, then you're not going anywhere. If promotion is the key, then bands and clubs need to equally do their part. I've seen Billy White on Saturdays when there's been no crowd at Steamboat. The problem isn't necessarily the band, it's that Steamboat has the same bands every single week for six months at a time. How many times has Steamboat's listings read: Seed, Billy White, Breedlove, Vallejo, Scabs, and Pushmonkey? All good bands and deserve their spots, but people like more weekly variety; especially in headliners. If some of these out of touch people in charge don't let go and open their minds to the new door opening in the music arena, some of the most talented artists and musicians may get passed over. It is a shame when people put up walls to block art instead of building bridges.
P.S.: If local licks live is truly supporting Austin's up and coming musicians, then how come all of the participants of this year's already have record contracts?
East Timor Now News
With the Nobel Committee's long-overdue recognition of Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta last week, Indonesia's deplorable human rights record has finally been forced into the spotlight of international media attention. In America, where coverage of East Timor had been virtually non-existent prior to the Committee's announcement, newspapers are flailing in their attempts to decide what spin to put on a story they failed to cover the first time around. While the "East-Timor-at-a-Glance" blurbs trickling out of the wire services may be essentially factually correct, they miss the real story: Indonesia's genocidal campaign against the East Timorese is being directly subsidized by our tax dollars.
The tendency of the U.S. government to conveniently look the other way when corporate interests conflict with human rights may come as no surprise to those of us who have been following the Freeport-McMoRan controversy in West Papua. However, in the case of East Timor, our government has not merely ignored the Suharto regime's abuses, but has actively assisted Indonesia in the continuing rape, torture, imprisonment, and slaughter of the East Timorese.
Post-Nobel coverage has consistently depicted East Timor as a "tiny," "backward," "politically immature" flyspeck on the global map, while studiously avoiding any reference to the rich oil fields lying just south of its coast (conveniently near Australia, the only nation that has recognized Indonesia as the administering power of East Timor). In order to ensure that American corporations receive their "fair" share of these oil reserves, the U.S. government not only gave an implicit green light for Indonesia's brutal invasion of East Timor, but also supplied the Indonesian military with an estimated 90% of the equipment used during the invasion.
Those of us concerned by the issues surrounding Freeport-McMoRan's West Papua operations should also be sensitive to East Timor's ongoing struggle for self-determination, and make the necessary effort to become informed about the situation there, despite the current information vacuum in the corporate media. (A good starting point would be East Timor: Genocide in Paradise by Matthew Jardine [Odonian Press, $6]. Introduction by Noam Chomsky -- need we say more?)
Martin D. Seay
Ventura Up With Masters
This week's piece by Michael Ventura on hunger ["The Evil of Two Lessers," Vol.16, No.6] was one of the most compelling, gripping, damning pieces of writing I have ever read. Right up there with Jonathan Kozol and Dickens.
Ralph Nader: El Jefe
Until I read Michael Ventura's "The Evil of Two Lessers" [Vol.16, No.6], I was still deciding who to vote for on election day. Ventura's article has the cement block of consciousness smashing on my head to confirm the candidate for president that subconsciously I knew was the best: Ralph Nader.
Now, as a card-carrying Democrat, I know the party line is to re-elect Clinton so that he can spend his second term cleaning up the messes he made when he sold out. Every issue the man theoretically stood for --equal rights for gays, protection of the environment, campaign finance reform, protection of poor children -- have all been sent down shit creek without a paddle. Oh, and let's not forget immigration, too. The only issue on which he has not yet sold out is choice -- and I'm not going to sit and wait for him to start interfering with a woman's right to determine what to do with her body -- even if some overpaid egoist consultant/pollster tells him to.
The only candidate that good liberals (not an oxymoron!) should consider is Ralph Nader. I know that it is the only way I will be able to live with my conscience. Thanks, Michael, for sharing such a personal experience with us. Let's send Clinton a message.
I Heart Nader
Thank you for being here in Austin... for your excellent newspaper.
Since the Sixties, I have loved Ralph Nader. I have read his books and have followed his actions. He stands out in my mind as a man of integrity... a man who practices what he preaches.
Ralph Nader has been drafted to be President of the United States of America. He stands ready to take the oath of office as America's 43rd President.
He is a registered write-in candidate for president. He is not on the ballot. A piece of paper with his name on it is available upon request. A registered voter can simply bubble in... Ralph Nader. He is an independent candidate in the State of Texas.
Ralph Nader's running mate is Winona La Duke, an American Indian activist. Both Nader and La Duke have degrees from Harvard.
I am tired of paying high income taxes! I am tired of looking at the Clintons and Doles! I don't like the fact they wear such expensive designer clothes. One thing that means... the air conditioning must be turned up. Most scientists agree that excessive air conditioning is not good for the environment.
I am tired of people in Washington, D.C., sitting in plush offices... talking about saving money. Ralph Nader doesn't have plush office suites in Washington, D.C. He practices what he preaches.
I am the Austin contact for the grassroots Ralph Nader campaign for President of the United States of America.
I urge you to dump both Clinton and Doles. Ross Perot is a nice man... a man of integrity also... I have known him personally through the years.
But Ross Perot is not what this country needs. This country needs a president who is tough, brilliant, and humble... a man who practices what he preaches. That man is Ralph Nader.
Call 888/Nader96 or 202/GoNader
Heart of Coverage
I was surprised and disappointed at the lack of coverage the Chronicle provided of this week's Austin Film Festival, in contrast to the Statesman which provided substantial coverage of this major event.
The Chronicle, both in its recent anniversary issue and on a recurring basis, trumpets a strong interest in coverage of the arts, in particular music and film. Why no coverage of the movies, panels, and participants of the Austin Film Festival?
Does the Chronicle only cover Chronicle-sponsored/affiliated film events, such as the SXSW film festival and the recent Austin Film Society screenings? I hope you do better next year.
[Editor responds: In the Oct.4, 1996 Austin Chronicle, there was an article on the Austin Heart of Film Conference and a film festival schedule. In the Oct. 11, 1996 Chronicle there was a film festival schedule. Film editor Marge Baumgarten and writer Marc Savlov made a concerted effort to get an advance phone interview with Tobe Hooper to run in that issue in conjunction with the Conference, but it never happened. In this issue of the Chronicle is a wrap-up of the Conference. In the issue of Oct.25 we hope to run an interview with Wes Craven, Conference panelist. And throughout the year, Jen Scoville has carried information on AHFF in her "Short Cuts" column. There's probably always more we could do, but we're certainly trying.]
Letter to Editor:
In my opinion Theresa Doggett's repeated attacks upon the character of Lloyd Doggett seem draped in the traditional GOP mudbath; when you have little or no qualifications, take the low road. Here we have Teresa looking around a skeleton, telling us what an "empowered" female she is, and how "liberal Lloyd" has no backbone, blah-blah-blah. Somehow "Ms." Doggett has failed to inform us that she is "Mrs." Doggett, wife of John Doggett, he of the dirt mentality that the GOP gang sicked on Anita Hill, during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. I find it interesting that the Doggetts, Teresa, and John, have gone out of their way to avoid this exhumation of their past affiliation with slime tactics. In contrast, Lloyd Doggett may be a liberal Democrat, but at least he's our liberal Democrat, and his record is clean of corruption. Note to Haley Barbour and Tom Paulken: voters are sick of your mind-wallowing tactics and have been for some time! See you at the voting booth, "Mrs." Doggett: You underestimated the intelligence of Travis County voters.
To the Editors:
Republicans Try to Be Hip
This is in response to Teresa Doggett's political ad (Vol. 16, No. 6, pg. 27) in the Chronicle. We are both registered voters and politically active. Collectively, we are members of several political organizations and have participated in numerous political activities, ranging from campaigning for the President to interning for a congressman to working on a national bill.
We are both seniors at the University of Texas at Austin and found the advertisment exceptionally insulting. It is geared towards college-aged students, or Generation Xers. It makes reference to Wonder Woman, alternative rock, and beer ads; assuming that we can only be appealed to by catchy phrases and slogans. Nowhere in the ad could we find any mention of her position on school funding, balancing the budget, or taxation. Her article expresses our assumed inability to understand and formulate educated opinions on public issues. By Doggett's ad, we learn nothing of her policies and platforms, only of her ignorance and inability to reach many of her potential voters.
To the Editor:
Get Out of My Bike Lane
I'd like to acknowledge the city's recent display of concern for the well-being of the skulls of its biking contingency.
May I suggest the next step in keeping us "safe"? Please clear the bike lanes of things that are tricky to ride over (such as rocks, glass, and those large bumpy things, what are they called again? Oh yeah... cars! Surely parking in the bike lane is a ticketable offense.
You can start on Duval and Speedway.
[Ed. note: Actually, parking in a bike lane is 100% legal. Kinda makes you wonder why they call them bike lanes, doesn't it?]
Letter to the Editor:
D.A. in Denial
La Cresha Murray, a 12-year-old black child, was convicted of murdering a 21/2 year-old black child, although there were no witnesses, and there was no evidence, and no motive. District Attorney Ronnie Earle felt she should receive 20-40 [years] incarceration because her needs were not being met (whatever that means).
Cesilee Hyde, a 23-year-old white female, convicted of murdering a police officer, plenty of witnesses, and evidence, and motive (drunk), received five (5) years, and the District Attorney's Office is satisfied with it because "It sends a strong message that you should not drink and drive" (what else is new?).
1) La Cresha Murray had no prior record. Cesilee Hyde had 10 moving violations, involved in two collisions, and failed to appear in court 3 times.
2) La Cresha Murray was found guilty on Wednesday, August 7, 1996, sentenced on Friday, August 9, 1996, and shipped out three (3) days later on Monday, August 12, 1996, to begin serving a 20-year sentence. Cesilee Hyde was sentenced on Tuesday, September 24, 1996 and went home, and there is a strong possibility that this is where she will remain.
3) District Attorney Ronnie Earle asked for and got a capital murder indictment against 12-year-old La Cresha Murray.
The killing of a police officer is a Capital Offense, but the District Attorney's office did not pursue that against Cesilee Hyde.
Is something wrong with this picture, Ronnie Earle's perception, or is District Attorney Ronnie Earle so blatantly racist that he is in total denial to the fact that his Justice System is for them and to hell with us?
Black Citizens Task Force
Turn On to Twisted Genius
Bravo to Ken Lieck and his article on the late great Bill Hicks. As a longtime fan, I was elated to see Bill's shining face on the cover. I hope the cover story turns more people on to the amazing talent and twisted genius of Hicks' scathing social commentary. Hey Ken, can you print up a comparison of Bill's jokes to the ones Dennis Leary ripped off from him? Just a thought.
Comfy Chair Concerns
I just finished reading Ventura's article, "The Evil of Two Lessers [Vol.16, No.6]." Wow, what a strong message! I was very fortunate to grow up in a home where there was plenty to go around. However, like a lot of people in my situation, I tend to shut out and ignore the reality of poverty around me, while at the same time believing that I am a "good" person. Michael's article is an excellent slap in the face for armchair do-gooders.
P.S. Can you give me some info on worthwile organizations and volunteer opportunities geared towards fighting poverty? Thanks.
[Ed. note: Check out the Chronicle's "Public Notice" column. It regularly spotlights such organizations and opportunities.]
You Don't Know Nuthin'
Re: "Lambo's" letter [Vol.16, No.5] concerning REI
I have been a member of REI for more than 30 years, before REI had retail stores (it was then only mail-order from a loft in Seattle), having joined when I was living and working in Alaska. My co-op number (42-259) ranks me in the first one-percent of REI members, back in the days when REI sold down-filled sleeping bags for $30, backpacking tents for $30, exterior frame nylon backpacks for $20, and Svea stoves for $6.00 (I still have the latter two, as well as one of their black and white, half-page, line-drawn catalogues).
I wouldn't still be buying at REI if I didn't believe they are first-class. (I have also owned equipment from Sierra Designs, North Face, Eastern Mountain Sports and half a dozen others that Lambo probably has never heard of.)
On Friday afternoon, October 11, I took a Tekna-Lite underwater flashlight (which I bought from REI about 15 years ago and which REI stopped carrying many years ago) to the Austin REI store customer service counter in the hope of locating the manufacturer. Sarah Hudgins, sales rep., got on the case immediately, making several long-distance calls. It seems the company had gone out of business and had sold out to a national manufacturer. Rick Tucker, operations supervisor, then called the heirs to Tekna-Lite. Unfortunately, it was 4:50 p.m. Friday afternoon. Rick called me Monday morning, said he had contacted the people who had bought the parts inventory, and asked me to bring in the flashlight, explaining REI would ship it out and have the innards replaced for me. The light has been shipped out.
Can you top that for service?
Werner J. Severin
Get a (Better) Job
In response to David Conrey's complaint that
$2.13/hour isn't a sufficient wage ("Postmarks,"
[Vol. 16, No. 6]:
1) I have a simple solution. Get a better job or move (preferably back to California, but that's another matter). 2) You said you were wondering about two things, but you only listed one. Try to fix this problem before you take the advice in item 1) above.
Lance E. Ellisor
What I Stand(i)For(d)
My brain began to cramp up as I read "About AIDS" p. 98, Vol. 16, No. 6. My first thought was "Well, so much for AIDS not being a homosexual disease." But now there is a support group for homosexuals and bisexuals (no straights allowed I guess) who are HIV negative and are suffering guilt because of their negative status?!? Just when you thought a problematic lifestyle couldn't get more schizo. My grandfather used to say "why bitch about a broken plow when your mule is dead." These cries of homophobia are nothing short of hanging the straw-man that was built by the hanging committee. What does the red-herring homophobia have to do with AIDS? Would homosexuals with AIDS be any less dead if homosexuality were viewed as a positive social norm?
And how many so-called homophobes ever infected anyone with HIV?
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.