Illbient for Spooky
I rarely read the music section of your paper anymore because I almost never have any interest in the music you usually review: blues, country rock, and dumb industrial bands. On running through the thing this week, though, I saw a review of the Stereolab show with Ui and DJ Spooky [Vol. 16, No. 10]. So, not having gone to the show, I decided to see what you all thought of it. Imagine my surprise at the answer: no thought at all.
The Stereolab aspect of the review was fine, as far as I, in no way a fan, am concerned. Your reviewer obviously went down to see them and did a pretty good job, in my mind, of telling what was up. But when she describes Ui only as `disturbingly noisy,' and so-called `local' Spooky's DJing as `none-too-smooth,' I start to question whether she has any knowledge of music that's not bubblegummy texture rock. Ui is a band that's received good reviews from a variety of sources for their double-bassed sound. I don't happen to like them much myself, but I might have been interested to read more than two words about their set. DJ Spooky has lately been getting massive amounts of press internationally. Two months ago his face was plastered all over the covers of several big magazines. He's from New York and is perhaps the most famous member of that city's burgeoning "illbient" scene, facts which also made appearances on the aforementioned covers. And yet Ms. Rawlins believes him to be from Austin. One questions whether she's glanced at a newsstand in the last six months, or whether a quick look through the stacks of a record store is too much to ask in the name of research and journalistic credibility.
Regardless of the quality of the review, though, it was nice to see the bands appear in the Chronicle at all. Sometimes I wonder if there isn't any music happening in Austin more interesting/innovative than the Stevie Ray Vaughan imitators and metal-funk rejects the Chronicle usually sees fit to report on. I'm hoping that you'll tighten your facts a bit and find other musicians as interesting as DJ Spooky who do, in reality, reside in the Austin area.
Editor, Moraigero magazine
I'd like to thank Margaret Moser and The Austin Chronicle for the very flattering profile in the Nov. 8 [Vol.16, No.10] issue. There are two things I would like to add....
One, for the last 11 years I've been fortunate to have Arlyn and Pedernales Studios as a home base. Freddy and Lisa Fletcher provide two great facilities to make music in and gave me the opportunity to grow.
Secondly, all I can say is... Arkadelphia.
Why is it that club owners in this town talk about how difficult it is to make money, and yet ignore the most glaringly obvious problems that stand in their way? Talk with people who have stopped frequenting the clubs here and they'll tell you that one of the biggest reasons is the smoke. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that people don't like sitting in a room that's so goddamn smoky it burns your eyes, but for some reason 90% of the club owners don't understand the word ventilation. Could one of the reasons that it's hard for club owners to make a profit be the fact that the majority don't know the first thing about customer service?
Why is it that in nearly every club in town, with a few exceptions, the music is so loud that it's distorted? Forget about a conversation unless you want to lean into someone's ear and yell. I realize that there are people who think that if they go home without ringing ears they didn't have any fun, but aren't there more people who would like to actually understand the lyrics, and maybe even hear the different instruments? Don't owners realize that patrons may actually want to carry on a conversation with their friends while they're out sampling local music?
I imagine club owners will continue scratching their heads wondering why they have such a hard time getting anyone over 30 into their club.
Dear Mr. Black:
As the end of the year and the turn of the century approaches, I cannot be but reminded of the importance of change. Change, though sometimes unsettling, can bring about progress and innovation. In Texas, we are faced with great changes in the telecommunications industry. Deregulation has left an open field of unexplored opportunities. As Texans, we need to take advantage of these changes by opening our state to fair and immediate competition.
Competition in this market promises to bring increased job opportunities and greater business activity, both of which are always needed in this state. We need large companies and corporations to invest their dollars in Texas. Our communities will be better for it. Many of these job and business openings will be going to those who need them the most.
We can either fear the prospect of a deregulated market and slow the wheels of change down by allowing barriers to competition to exist in the telecommunications market, or we can set fear aside and envision a new way to do business and improve our state by supporting competition. I hope the people of Texas realize the significance of changes going on around us and support fair and immediate competition in the telecommunications industry.
President, MC/A Architects, Inc.
Co-op not Corp-op
As a veteran member and former employee of Wheatsville Food Co-op, I was pleased that the Chronicle honored the current struggles at Wheatsville with an in-depth cover story. Ecologically awakened customers have been "voting with their dollars" for years now, and the article hinted at the importance not only of what you buy, but where you buy it and why. Wheatsville is the real thing, a place to enjoy food, but also a place to learn about the industry, government, and retail forces that sell us food and shape our ideas about health. With that knowledge, and the very idea of self-initiative that is Wheatsville, we can make the best choices for ourselves.
The problem I have with H.E.B. Central Market, besides its threatening proximity to Wheatsville, is that it is a corporation, a profit machine, The fabulous product mix at Central Market is the result of cutting-edge marketing data and massive infusions of capital. The excitement you feel when you enter there is the careful stimulation of your shopper's cortex, a pre-verbal lobe deep within your brain that often acts against your drive for personal safety and financial solvency. Clearly, the Chronicle is impressed; half the photos in the Wheatsville article depict Central Market's lavish stock.
Are co-operatives inherently more democratic than corporations? Wheatsville employees aren't just "partners," they are the owners of the Co-op along with 4,000 other member/owners. At the end of the year, the profits of the Co-op are returned to the members. No fuzzy warm corporate rhetoric can come close to that kind of relationship. That difference is palpable inside the store; no one at Wheatsville is being gouged, seduced, or exploited. The beauty of the Co-op comes from its purpose and from the energy of the people who participate. There is nothing else like it.
Maybe people have forgotten about critical issues like the ethics of ownership, but I don't think so, especially this year when Ralph Nader ran for President, a milestone for uncompromised progressive politics. Wheatsville is reviving its boycott election process, in which members decide which products and companies not to sell. (By the way, Nestle still pushes its baby formula in third world countries.) No matter what products it stocks, no corporation will ever offer the non-corporate environment and the participatory process that is the foundation of Wheatsville Co-op.
Win a Life With Teisco!
My thanks to "Dancing About Architecture" for mentioning my song's inclusion in the movie "Larger Than Life" as well as my recent nuptials. I feel compelled, however, to point out the obvious: It takes two to make a marriage, and in this case my better half is the former Adela Guzman, whom I met when Waterloo and Upstart Records had a "Win a Date With Teisco" contest to launch my CD, Music for Lovers, last March. I'd like to thank all of the guests who supplied the reception's all-star jam and also the members of Storyville, who took a day off on the road to allow my best man, David Grissom, to fly in from New Jersey. You all made the happiest day of my life even more special.
Teisco Del Rey
Don't Trust Paul
You are to be commended for shedding some critical light on Dr. Ron Paul. The real Dr. Paul is a bizarre amalgam of right-wing radical and libertarian who is masquerading as a conservative Republican for the sake of winning an election.
During the campaign, I was bemused to see Dr. Paul running a "feel good" testimonial from a woman whose baby he delivered saying this somehow made him a wonderful, caring person deserving of our support. Well, many years ago he was also my mother's physician. She trusted him then -- and probably would still -- but only as a physician. As a politician, she's never cast a vote for him and has made it clear she never would. I trust mom's judgment on that one.
No way can this man's strange philosophy, which you captured accurately, represent the majority thinking of District 14. But the ploy just might work. Indeed, it may have worked by the time you read this. If elected, expect him to revert to type.
I have become increasingly concerned about the direction of politics, particularly in Austin. What is it about people who move to this city and their obsession with changing it? Isn't it enough to be satisfied with the way things are? After all, isn't it Austin's charm that attracted you in the first place? Give me a clue because I see no logic or rationale in all the changes that have taken place here over the past five years. Austin is increasingly becoming a cess pool for aggressive, greedy, generic, predictable, and dull suburbanites, whose only objective is to destroy the very charm they once sought out so desperately but lost due to their ignorance. Just look around.
Do the Right Thing
I am appalled by the outrageous display of senseless, juvenile vandalism I witnessed at Metro cafe (located on the Drag) Wednesday evening, November 6. I am a frequent customer at this venue, and I am often accosted by the young vagrants of Austin as I make my way to the front door. I am asked to donate money, cigarettes, and even my body. Many times I have heard Metro's owner, Doug, ask these people -- commonly referred to as "Drag rats" or "Drag worms" -- to remove themselves from his storefront so that paying customers may enter the premises without hassle. I have seen violent conflicts result when said persons have refused to vacate this property. Doug has been verbally threatened as well as physically assaulted for trying to maintain a pleasant atmosphere for his patrons. The police have been called in on several occasions, but this does little to defuse the situation.
On this particular Wednesday, nerves were shattered along with one of the large windows that makes up Metro's facade. Customers watched in horror as thousands of glass particles showered the floor, luckily harming no one. It seemed as though one of the many grudge-bearing street urchins had decided to throw a rock at the window, presumably to break it. After a while, the mess was cleaned up and tension eased. About an hour after the first assault, another rock was hurled at Metro, breaking the glass door. Again, no one was harmed by the falling glass, but significant damage had been needlessly caused to the property. Several wary customers decided to leave before the next event. The police were summoned and managed to temporarily quiet the scene. Nevertheless, another rock was hurled at the building, this time towards the second floor windows. Witnesses identified one of the offenders who was then taken to jail. Finally, in a last attempt to sabotage the evening, the electricity was cut off. Total darkness ensued for about five minutes, before the lights were turned back on. At this point Metro had lost half of its customers due to these puerile intimidation tactics.
I restate that no one was physically harmed, to my knowledge, by these events. But the fact remains that all of Metro's clientele was unnecessarily exposed to danger because these kids won't accept the fact that Doug has a legal right to protect his property. On the other hand, they have no right to loiter, solicit funds, or aggravate those engaged in business there. The street does not belong to them, and no one appreciated such idiotic, immature theatrics. I hope none of Metro's patrons allow themselves to be intimidated by this incident. I will continue to go there because I receive good service and I enjoy the atmosphere. However, my tolerance for these "drag rats" and their obnoxious behavior lessens every day.
A Liberal Fantasy
Why I don't shop at Wheatsville:
After reading your article on the demise of Wheatsville, and though I would never wish financial harm on anyone, I can see why they are in such a dire situation. I have shopped at the store before, but two major problems have kept me from being a regular shopper. Firstly, I believe the service is inadequate. I have not found the staff friendly and welcoming.
The second problem is more endemic to a larger problem. Though Wheatsville may sponsor many "politically correct" causes, their own classism is clear. Let's admit it, Wheatsville is expensive! When someone only makes five dollars an hour and has two kids, who can afford an extra two dollars for a bottle of "environmentally correct" shampoo? And this price doesn't include the extra seven percent charge for non-members (and who can afford the membership fee?). Cooperatives are an egalitarian, liberal fantasy that the less fortunate of us can[not] afford. It's just another example of a larger problem in America -- liberalism is for the rich!
I keep reading in the Chronicle and the Statesman about expensive studies of Lamar Street Bridge and expensive high-tech traffic lights. These are supposed to relieve traffic congestion. Of course, neither widening roads nor installing new lights will work for very long.
Why doesn't the city promote carpooling in a big way? Carpooling can cut the traffic flow in half, and is much cheaper than high-tech solutions. There could be massive advertisement of carpooling, and how it reduces both congestion and pollution. The connection between cars and pollution could be made public and widely acknowledged. Prominent people could set an example by carpooling. The city could help people organize carpools. Perhaps an incentive could be offered, such as a special lottery only for carpoolers.
At the same time, the city could close a network of back streets to cars, for the use of those who don't drive. This would also cut the number of cars on the roads. Many people would like to walk or bike for transportation, but simply don't dare. You could have an even more exclusive lottery for non-car owners.
A third good move would be to put in more public transportation, in the form of trams (trackless trolleys that run on electricity from an overhead wire). Buses are just like cars, only bigger. They're noisy and smelly and nobody likes them. Trams are nicer. Let's get something other than internal combustion engines on the road.
A public advertising campaign about the need to reduce traffic flow might be very effective. For example, if joggers on Town Lake thought about what they're inhaling as they jog, they might really get behind tram service in the park and even an eventual ban on cars there.
In the absence of thought and public involvement, money, and technology will not solve our traffic problems.
My friends at the Chronicle,
Boy George as Space Ace
One more reason not to cut social security: KISS goes on a reunion tour. We can only thank our lucky stars that the Culture Club is English.
To the Editor,
Can You Keep a Secret?
I don't know what happened to TWA Flight 800, but your readers who wonder about it should be aware of the most basic definition for "Top Secret." It is "information that would cause extreme embarrassment, if released...." All classified information is provided on a strict "need to know" basis. Having worked for 3 years as a security person for a defense contractor, I know that this information is true. Many of our highly paid "civil servants" as well as most of the businessmen who profit from the $780 million (est.) a day that we spend on the military, would be extremely embarrassed if "the people" knew more of the truth.
P.S. This information about classified information is not considered to be classified.
Chronicle: That auto traffic must grow is not inevitable. Putting more people into fewer
cars reduces pollution. Staggering work hours reduces congestion. Airport
shuttles, subways, and light rail provide transportation options that move
masses. And roadbuilding has never solved any city's vehicle congestion.
The Road-Widening Cycle
The delays aren't because Lamar Bridge is too narrow. Lane mismatches cause the backups north of Sixth Street and south of Barton Springs Road. The bridge is between two traffic problems. So widening it doesn't solve the present traffic problem. It just facilitates the next road widening (S. Lamar) that in turn will ultimately attract more cars and congestion.
Small roads aren't just a "small town ideal."
Amarillo has wide roads and lengthy distances between places. Portland has light rail, narrow downtown streets; and places close together that encourage walking. And Austin has streets far wider than any converging onto Manhattan's Times Square.
The Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) has its own agenda in traffic matters. When council ordered origin and destination studies in the Lamar Bridge Report, DTPW Director Peter Rieck was incredulous. Later he presided over the issuance of a report that ignored traffic on North and South Lamar. Small wonder council told him to restudy the issue.
This year the council resolved that two-way traffic is more compatible to livability, business and safety for pedestrians. Council asked that those issues be addressed in a plan converting downtown streets from one- to two-way. About those aspects DTPW reported "no data available" and recommended against two-way for the fourth time.
Council knows we're arguing over the wrong stuff. Should we widen the pedestrian walkways or build a separate pedestrian bridge? DTPW wasted $340,000, and because of the delay, the money already provided for walking/bicycling improvements may go away.
just a citizen
ABC, D, NBC, HIJK
Nick Barbaro, in the section with election reports, wrote about Tom Brokaw trying to get David Brinkley to shut up. Brinkley and Brokaw work for different television networks (ABC and NBC respectively) and Brokaw was nowhere near the ABC set on election day. Peter Jennings did try to cue Brinkley (76 years and not quite an octogenarian, despite the story's contention) that they were on-the-air. Well, the gist of the story was mostly right, anyway...
Give Love a Chance
Would you have sent a writer who hated Steve Martin to review The Jerk? Or one who disliked Rodney Dangerfield to write about Back to School? Why, then, did you allow a reviewer who doesn't care for Craig Schumaker's "Lovemaster" routine to review his new film The Lovemaster? Did she think there was going to be something other than the Lovemaster in this movie? What did she expect? What we readers expect is an objective review by the writer, or enough professionalism to give the review to someone else if they already feel some bias against it.
"Heart holds mouth to words
For the Love of Bob
said it's gone beyond the line this time."
Thanks for spending some time with us in our little pond named Austin. It was always a wish of mine to see you somewhere in the neighborhood and maybe shoot the shit with you. I came as close as sitting next to you at the Hole once, but decided not to bother you. I figured I knew enough about you through your music and words that you had become like an old friend....
Seeing you perform on Saturday night was something that I had been looking forward to for a while. I had missed your Sugar performances and figured that I had missed the boat. But your music translated to the converted crowd in a completely personal way that has rarely, if ever, been seen, evoking the emotions in all of us who keep them so well concealed in our daily work lives.
I was amazed by your skill, passion, and intensity. you are indeed a man who cares about what you do. It shows. Austin will miss you and remember you. Good luck in the big city.
"Don't you know. Don't you know I need a place
Don't forget, you can always have a place to stay...
Chris Burton, peter lorre quartet
Will Cooperate for Food
Reading a little here about Wheatsville and its troubled times prompted me to add my two cents. I've lived in many areas of the country and have always belonged to co-ops. Love 'em. The ones I have belonged to, however, have been working co-ops, not just money changing hands. That, for me, has always been the attraction. I looked into a Wheatsville membership when I first moved here because I loved the market and the people and the scene there. But because they were not interested in my time, but rather my cash (which as a painter I have little of) I did not get a membership, did not join and instead shop at the little health food store near my house. Perhaps Wheatsville would benefit from researching the methods of other long-standing co-ops such as Harvest Foods Co-op in Boston, MA, Amigos in Taos, NM, and any of the great co-ops in San Francisco, CA, and Portland, OR. Sharing information is part of good co-op partnership and I am certain there is a wealth of wisdom out there to help Wheatsville if they seek it. I'll stop in and buy a sandwich this weekend just to say "Go, Go, Co-op!" Thanks for hearing.
Gramm... The Other
In all due respect to the electorate of Texas, why did they re-elect Phil Gramm? We had a candidate that represented every aspect of the Republican agenda... smaller government, didn't accept special interest funds, balance budget, family values, government of the people, endorsed by the Reform Party... and Texans still went back to the King of Special Interest. Isn't this hypocrisy? California has long been considered the barometer for change, why not Texas? We had a chance to show the nation that Texans could discard the comfortable partisan vote and challenge the rhetoric. For a state that prides itself in accepting a man's word as his honor, we voters need to re-evaluate whose priority comes first. When the national focus is on family, education, entitlements, government, term limits, and special interest, Texas voters continue to believe that the "Fat Cat" factory will continue to feed them the other white meat. When we, as voters, continue to vote by partisan affiliation rather than for the candidate that manifests those ideals through example and not talk, we give up our right to point the finger of blame and are committing the fundamental step in a hypocritical society. For a state with so many cows, how come we continue to eat so much pork?
Dear Amy Smith and Editor:
Thanks for the supportive and sympathetic coverage of Wheatsville Co-op's current plight ["Keep On Shoppin'," Vol. 16, No. 10]. The piece was interactive and well-researched, presented with historical accuracy and humorous pathos. As a member of the co-op, I too was disturbed when I received the recent letter (mentioned in both editorial and article). My reaction was not so much: "What? My co-op is asking me for money?", but rather, "They're asking me for money?" After I finally got a free membership by saving all my years' receipts and being a student, I do shop there almost exclusively even though prices are often higher than my budget will stretch to include. I'm probably in the lowest income bracket one can be in and still somehow manage to live in Austin. Yet I love the store, feel so at home with its size, organization, friendliness and convenience (I'm car-less and usually bike home with groceries after school or work) that I would really be at a loss if it were to go under. I'm willing to do whatever is necessary, given my limited material resources, to keep our co-op going (in the black).
So I have a few suggestions, since I'm sure that there are many people out there like me, members or not, who share my concern and aren't willing or wealthy enough to abandon the community store and shop at the super-hip new Whole Foods (referred to by my ex as "Whole Check"!) or Central Market. Which, by the way, I do feel very uncomfortable in. Don't even let me get started on that!
1. Volunteer! Ask for Susie Maclay (Tuesday-Saturday); she's the volunteer coordinator. You might have fun, you'll definitely make some new friends, and all you need is time. Or, if time is scarce, even a small donation/investment will be appreciated.
2. If you must do some of your daily/regular shopping elsewhere, fine; try to purchase bulk and dry good items like vitamins, incense, soap, shampoo, etc. at the co-op. The selection and integrity of these items is exemplary, the prices are competitive (even lower than other health-food purveyors in some cases), and the displays are much less confusing. Items and their ingredients are clearly marked and listed.
If you have pets and are concerned about their health, consider doing your pet food shopping at Wheatsville. They have good bulk dry food at a reasonable price, and they carry vitamins, flea products, snacks and canned foods of good quality at only slightly inflated costs. (Sure, its cheaper at the supermarket, but did you watch the pet food exposé this week?) Wheatsville carries the Wysong line, which my vet (alternative practitioner Dr. Will Falconer) swears is the only "live" dry food on the market. My older cat loves the Wysong cat treats, too, he goes nuts over them.
Coffee! There's always a weekly special of superior quality, more often than not an organic bean. I only use dark roast and I never have any trouble finding a new one to try. Get your coffee-card punched and you'll get a free pound someday!
3. Enough about staples already. Here's a thought: beer and wine. Ever buy it? I thought so. How much do you pay for a premium ale or just a bottle of Merlot at any supermarket in town, at a convenience store, or at either of the so-called alternative groceries? It tends to be outrageously priced. I'm not knocking the selection at any of those stores, and you can always drive down to the Whip In, or try to make it to a Fresh Plus before nine. On the other hand, Wheatsville is open until 11, and you have a chance to support your local co-op while you can still afford to drink.
4. (Vegans need not read this part!) Organic, free-range meats. They have 'em! Why pay $7-$8 per pound elsewhere? I personally can't afford this luxury very often, and anyway rarely cook with meat, but when I do, I like to buy a small amount and I want it chem-free. (Not to mention steroids, antibiotics, and so on: well, you know!) Buy it from the co-op. And while you're in the store, do some comparison shopping. If time is money, the extra amount you spend standing in line at HEB could be put to better use elsewhere. I've never had to wait in line at Wheatsville for more than a few minutes, and those minutes passed quickly due to a spirited conversation with an employee or fellow shopper, or while I enjoyed pleasant vibes, browsing through the objects at the checkout stand. Don't we all care about quality time? The point being: exercise your choice while you still have one. Then you can thank yourself while reminding all those who sneer cynically that at least you are not lining corporate pockets. Just don't let your karma run over your dogma, as the hippies used to say. And, yeah, the music's better too. Do the right thing.
Thanks for listening,
Thank you for the recent article by Alex de Marban on Priorities First! efforts to secure a place on the ballot for "A Little Less Corruption" aka campaign finance reform -- limiting contributions to city council candidates to no more than $100 ["Council Watch," Vol. 16, No 9].
I have worked on political campaigns throughout the country over the last 20 years. I thought I had seen it all, including an election that was stolen by the Bronx political bosses in New York (their corruption is legendary).
I must say, however, that the Austin City Clerk has taken the cake on the hatchet job his office conducted on 30,000 petition signatures we filed last month calling for a charter election on a campaign finance reform effort we fondly call "A Little Less Corruption." The amendment, among other things, would limit contributions to council candidates to no more than $100.
One example of the clerk's (and bosses') continued political arrogance concerns the signature of former Austin American-Statesman writer Roxanne Evans, who was interviewed in your article. Ms. Evans signature was disqualified by the city clerk, along with some 12,400 other voters, most of which for no good reason. When we called Ms. Evans, she pointed out that she had just early voted in this last election, and has been voting in Austin, uninterrupted, for some 13 years. We went back to the clerk with this information and further pointed out Ms. Evans had signed her name legibly and gave the exact address at which she is registered to vote. What's more, we told the clerk that she is in their computer as registered to vote at that address. What did the clerk then do? He again disqualified her signature for absolutely no apparent reason!
The ACLU is now on the case. If the city doesn't back down, we will sue the city shortly. We will win. And we will be on the ballot. Austin voters should also know that the city's continued actions are placing further liability on the city by adding yet another example to its history of attempts to violate the voting rights of its citizens. They did it with SOS, then to the so-called "emergency baseball stadium," and now again, with campaign finance reform. When will they ever learn?
An insincere thanks goes to the clerk, and whoever is directing him, to make a much stronger case as to why we so direly need "A Little Less Corruption."
Co-Chair, Priorities First!