Extremists Not Righteous
As one of the individuals named in Dan Quinn's article "Back to the Baths?" [Vol. 16, No. 21] I was disturbed to have my attempt to establish a working relationship between ALLGO/Informe SIDA and ACI misrepresented as asking "what could be done to keep ALLGO from opposing the opening of ACI."
Quinn also neglected to report that several individuals, presumably associated with ALLGO/Informe SIDA (a United Way-funded agency, by the way) and/or Positive Threads, called the president of Huston-Tillotson College. The callers claimed that I had telephoned them in the name of Huston-Tillotson College seeking to get them to invest in ACI. This was a total fabrication and was an obvious attempt to get me fired.
Barry Goldwater once said, "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." The anti-bath crusaders have distorted this into "extreme viciousness in defense of our self-righteousness is a virtue."
With "homosexual" activists like these, we don't need enemies.
Not If You Read It Carefully
Do you Sodomites realize how stupid you look arguing over the issue of a homosexual bath house in Austin ?!? ("Back to the Baths?" Vol. 16, No. 21).
When the practice of "sexual orientation" means more then life and death, something is tragically wrong. If dying young doesn't get your attention (and lead to behavior modification) then you're just not playing with a full deck, and your "sexual orientation" might not be the worst of your problems.
Oh, did you read Consumer Reports latest finding on condom failure rates? It makes a mockery of the phrase "safe sex."
Denial is the Big Brother of sexual addiction (disease) and we're seeing the results in the Chronicle not to mention the daily obituary pages.
P.S. Did you know that the Chronicle doesn't soak up vomit very well?
Dear Mr. Black:
When I Get That Feelin'...
Arghhhh! That is the true emotion that surfaced while reading Dan Quinn's article, "Back to the Baths?" [Vol. 16, No. 21]. I don't know which frustrates me more -- the fact that members of my own gay and lesbian community still suffer from internalized homophobia and sexual repression, or the lack of objectivity in Mr. Quinn's article.
There always have been -- and, to my chagrin, I guess always will be -- people like José Orta who are "anti-sex," in both the gay and straight community. The fact is that, no matter how harshly you punish it or how scary you make it, humans are sexual beings and will express it. You would think, as we approach a new millennium, people could finally face that fact! And in some communities they do. The City of San Francisco, for example, is not debating the pros and cons of sex club existence, but how to make them into a safer environment for their patrons. Why can't Austin?
Fifteen years into the AIDS epidemic, I thought people had gotten past the "HIV is an urban gay male disease"... especially the Chronicle. But in picking on ACI, Mr. Quinn's article lacks any objective commentary on the responsibility of "straight" sex venues -- notable "pick-up bars" and the local swinger's club known as Anchovie's. This fact makes me believe that this archaic thought pattern is alive and well. The fact is that true bath house/sex clubs such as Midtowne are simply forthright about human sexuality, and are being morally responsible in how they cater to those desires. Safer sex messages and free distribution of condoms await each Midtowne member who walks in the door. Now, can you say that about each "bargain" motel, Sixth Street night club, or even each fraternity house giving a drinkfest party in Austin? I doubt it. But yet, Mr. Quinn fails to focus on that reality. (And, of course, there is always the possibility that he is talking about dirty gay sex, as opposed to straight sex...)
HIV is not, and never has been, a reason to quit exploring sex or sexuality (after all, marriage and/or monogamy alone to your first and only sex partner cannot prevent HIV infection if they have it). HIV is a wake-up call for everyone to explore and play safely. And that, dear friends is the message that we all must heed and practice. That is the message that is noticeably absent from the article. As for Mr. Orta -- thank you for your concern, but keep you puritanical beliefs and regulations off my body!
No Gay Orgy in the Streets
If José Orta wants to help protect me he can do something about the violence Vasquez-Revilla warns of ["Back to the Baths?," Vol. 16, No. 21] I'm responsible for what gets shot into my body in private but can use some help when it comes to being the target of gangs.
I don't believe that after ACI opens at 500 Chicon anyone will be able to tell what's going on inside, unless interested enough to pay and enter. I hardly expect to see a wild gay orgy spilling into the streets. Cortez should have no problem shielding "the curious children from the family center." Perhaps this will allow Cortez and Orta more time to teach that it's not where you have sex, but how you have sex that spreads AIDS.
Out of the Closet,
Into the Bathhouse
When I first heard that Dan Quinn was writing a story for the Chronicle about the bathhouse debate, I was skeptical ["Back to the Baths?," Vol. 16, No. 21]. After all, his "article" in The Texas Triangle several issues ago was more of an anti-sex editorial than a piece of responsible journalism. The article in the Chronicle was only marginally less biased. By my calculations, the anti-bathhouse brigade received 36 inches of column print, while the voices of reason and sanity received 12.
I have several questions as a result of reading this article. Who has authorized José Orta and Cathy Vasquez-Revilla to be morality police? Why are these people, including Jim Thurman, targeting only gay bathhouses, ignoring the "several other Austin businesses" that "are basically commercial sex establishments for straight men and women"? Why are they also ignoring adult bookstores and video parlors? These people's ulterior motives are very suspicious.
I tested positive for HIV antibodies in December of 1985. As probably all infected people do, I wondered and thought about when and where and by whom I may have been infected. I believe I was probably infected while at a bathhouse. But you know what? I don't blame the bathhouse. I really don't even blame the person whom I believe infected me. I take full responsibility for engaging in unprotected anal intercourse, and am now living with the results of that. Early on in my infection, I realized that letting go of blame is a crucial part of surviving and thriving with HIV. I encourage others living with HIV to do so, too.
In recent years, there has been much attention and energy focused on respecting and honoring different cultures. The bathhouse is an important part of urban gay male culture -- like it or not. It seems to me that using bathhouses to provide ongoing safer-sex education and support is a lot more culturally sensitive and responsible than the opposing arguments and debate.
I was recently in a meeting wherein I was quite impressed with how receptive and open Mike Zappas was to Oscar Lopez's ideas and suggestions for making Midtowne Spa as safe a place as possible. I only wish that this vocal minority of anti-bathhouse people could be as open to these ideas so that their ranting might cease. I am tired of all this bull, but will continue to speak out in favor of the beautiful thing that is responsible, safe, consensual adult sexuality.
Real S.O.S. Supporters
As many of you may recall, I was the primary spokesperson for the 1992 Save Our Springs Initiative (S.O.S.). My co-signers were key leaders in the team that helped pass the historic citizen initiative to protect Barton Springs. As time passes, however, the facts about who actually supported S.O.S. and who really made it happen can become blurry.
Kirk Watson strongly supported S.O.S., and we three are strongly supporting Kirk Watson to be our mayor.
Kirk Watson and his wife Liz were huge supporters of S.O.S. in terms of their time, money, and sincere personal commitment to the issue. Kirk has also been one of a smaller group of people who have continued to support S.O.S. since the election. Without question, Max Nofziger was a steadfast supporter of S.O.S. and should be acknowledged for his efforts.
The real issue here is that Ronney Reynolds was the chief opponent of S.O.S. He demonstrated clearly which master he serves when he ignored the wishes of the 35,000 S.O.S. petition-signers and refused to call the election. He further demonstrated his contempt when he showed up to explain why he ignored a court order to call the election and was represented in court by the lawyers of Jim Bob Moffett and Gary Bradley.
We're supporting Kirk Watson not just because he supported S.O.S. We are supporting him because we believe he will give this city the kind of leadership it desperately needs. From his work getting the Tank Farms out of East Austin to his work cleaning up our air at the Air Control Board, Kirk Watson has proven his ability to get results. He will fight to protect the qualities we love most about Austin, and he was there when we needed him on S.O.S. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Shudde Fath, co-signer
Mary Arnold, co-signer
Letter to The Austin Chronicle:
One serious error in "Cyber Swindle" [Vol. 16, No. 21] is the clumping together of legitimate multi-level marketing companies with pyramid schemes. The Federal Trade Commission has a webpage at http://www.ftc.gov/pyramid/conalert.htm that explains the difference between the two and includes a checklist of warning signs to help one evaluate the legitimacy of business opportunities. By singling out individual MLM companies as "pyramid schemes," "scam artists," and "fraudulent business ventures," The Austin Chronicle runs the risk of being sued under defamation laws. A hasty retraction is recommended.
The article asserts that the 809 area code phone frauds "started" on the Internet. I would say that what "started" the 809 area code phone fraud was a combination of a recent area code assignment, a change in FCC rules to allow forwarding to toll charges on 1-800 numbers, and a willingness of Caribbean telecommunications companies to either look the other way or actively participate while criminals used their telephone system as a base of operations. While some criminals may use the Internet to promote an 809 area phone code fraud, it is misleading and deceptive to say that "it all started on the Internet." The entire article was hysterical; it is disappointing to read such blatant fear-mongering in the Chronicle.
If your readers have a chance, perhaps they should check out sites like the National Fraud Information Center (http://www.fraud.org) and the State of Texas Attorney General's Office (http://www.oag.state.tx.us) for solid and accurate information about crime prevention techniques.
Many of your readers don't have access to the Internet, however, and rely on The Austin Chronicle as a source of information. So when I read the conclusion that a little paranoia may be a good thing, I can't help but think that knowledge and education are better things. Much better things. Please keep this in mind the next time you publish an article about the Internet.
I was kind of upset when I started reading Christopher Null's article "Cyber Swindle" [Vol. 16, No. 21]. The thought that I could call an 800 number and be forwarded to another phone number that would add charges to my phone bill without my knowledge, was distressing. But, after thinking about it, I picked up my phone book and looked at the description of "Call Forwarding". It indicates that forwarded calls are at the expense of the person who forwards them, not the original caller. I now wonder if Mr. Null was actually trying to tell his readers about the well documented "809 area code" scam, which is supposed to be an area code in the Caribbean and charges a fee for calls received without the pesky US regulation that they must identify it as such. This scam is being worked using the home answering machine, as well as the Internet, where messages are left saying that there is an "emergency" and the 809 area-code number should be called as soon as possible. So, to save me from holding on the line to ask Southwestern Bell, what is the true story here?
[Chris Null replies: The scam described is a recent variant on the "809" scam. Southwestern Bell Corp. may have policies etched in stone, but AT&T warns that the practice of rolling 800 numbers to pay lines is a common scheme. Sometimes callers are warned that the call is being forwarded to a toll number, sometimes they aren't. I suspect some lesser-known long distance companies are considerably more lax about this than the majors, but I don't think anyone is completely immune.]
Don't Cry for Me, Margentina
I am amazed at the snobbish, high-handed comments given by Marjorie Baumgarten in regards to the movie version of Evita. What are her qualifications? She obviously is not educated in theatrical performance categories. She comments: "Experiencing Evita is like watching one uninterrupted long-form music video divided only by different arias or costume changes (of which there are untold numbers). The movie is a wall of musical sound, an unending barrage of sung exposition."
Didn't anybody tell this woman that this was an opera in that there are no spoken lines? What else would you expect except wall-to-wall music? If she wanted an in-depth study of the bizarre circumstances of her death, there is a documentary on the History Channel or something. When one disparages a subject that you know nothing about, all you accomplish is to highlight your own ignorance.
This was an excellent film adaptation of the Broadway show. Madonna's performance was amazing! One forgot that she wasn't really Eva Peron after only a few minutes. Mr. Banderas was absolutely stunning. He really showed a depth that was heretofore unknown.
Clark-Madison: Hobby Journalist
I agree with Mr. Clark-Madison that flying is expensive. Most pilots aren't rich, though, and carefully save money to fly. Flying airplanes isn't only for rich, white folks. Not all pilots are white or even male, and few are rich.
Flying a small airplane at a large airport is no great threat to larger aircraft unless that small craft isn't using the federally funded ILS and Tower facilities. It isn't a luxury for the small pilot to use them -- it's a life and death matter.
Don't complain that small aircraft haven't paid their fair share. The average driver hasn't paid their fair share for maintaining the interstate highway system, originally designed for military transportation. The average driver is hogging a precious resource paid for by the commercial bus lines, federal and military funding, and commercial trucking firms. And what about those traffic fatalities?!
Most pilots were trained by the civilian general aviation community. Their training wasn't subsidized by the federal government.
If the media would report the benefits of general aviation, the community might appreciate general aviation more.
It is general aviation that provides: donor organs, transportation, air ambulances, traffic watch, disaster relief, emergency air taxi to remote sites, aerial photography, and geologic survey assistance to the police search and rescue.
These activities are non-profit and privately funded.
Now a few questions:
How many of the residents have been injured by automobiles and how many by aircraft?
Who benefits the most from the shut down of the airport and conversion to a playland? Would it be rich, white folk? Any of them involved in printing newspapers?
Finally, Mr. Clark-Madison should be glad the media corporations are willing to pay him for doing his hobby.
John B. Sandlin
Mo' Mueller Mulling
Regarding Mueller airport, your article ["Billy Clayton's Flying Circus," Vol. 16, No. 20] has loosened some thoughts. Your writer ignored something very important: There are millions of dollars in infrastructure at Mueller dedicated to aviation. Fueling systems, lighting, electronics for approaches and communications, taxiways, runways, and many hangers all uneconomical to move. Many businesses operate from Mueller besides the commercial carriers. Where is the discussion on how these establishments and infrastructure are best transitioned? Are they to be just shut down? There are many vital services that receive fueling and maintenance at Mueller including StarFlight, DPS, Austin Police, and others. I am an aviation enthusiast, a resident of Austin for 30 years, and live on Red River Street three houses from the runway approach centerline. The only bother from the airport to me and my neighbors is the noise level under certain conditions with certain aircraft. Change that and most complaints would vanish. The aircraft accident rate is pathetically small and as residents of tiny Lockerbie, Scotland can tell you, a plane can fall on you virtually anywhere. We need to make use of our Bergstrom asset for the unstoppable growth of Austin. We need to make best use of our Mueller asset too. Perhaps quieter general aviation can be accommodated as well as the redevelopment of the airport into neighborhoods and other urban use. Witness John Wayne International in L.A. for development right around an airport. We could restrict Mueller with size and noise conditions and still allow most of the businesses to continue. Helicopter traffic is a part of Mueller too and could continue easily with redevelopment of the airport. I am no expert in this matter -- I have a hang gliding school and business -- but I do recognize the value of the established businesses, hangers, and infrastructure currently destined for mothballs. There should be discussion on how aviation can fit in and benefit the redevelopment of Mueller airport.
Owner, Go... Hang Gliding!!!
No More Mulling
The recent letters opposing the closing of Mueller miss the point. The people of Austin have been involved for over a decade in crafting the plan to move the airport away from Mueller, and that plan should be followed.
Every neighborhood association in Austin was included in drafting the plan. Even airplane employees had a chance to participate. Then the City Council listened to public debate before passing a resolution to implement it. So let's not waste 10 years of careful preparation; let's execute the plan.
And let's face it. The real objection here is a few dozen people who don't want to drive 10 extra minutes to reach their airplanes. I don't think that's enough to balance the interest of the rest of the city's residents. Even Robert Murray, who described the Chronicle's article as "dumb," admits that "I can base my airplane at Mueller, Bergstrom, or San Marcos." He just feels that the other airports are "pretty far away."
Mr. Murray, that's exactly the point. Thousands of people near the airport have been waiting 10 years for Mueller to move away. So let's stick to our agreements and get Mueller closed.
Let's All Go to the Lobby...
I read with interest your recent story on the State Aircraft Pooling Board ["Billy Clayton's Flying Circus," Vol. 16, No. 20], and was utterly amazed to discover that individuals who are paid to lobby the State of Texas can be appointed to posts that control the disbursement of state money (to be read aloud with a straight face with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek).
Whether or not a real conflict of interests exists, this practice certainly has the appearance of impropriety.
How, as a lowly citizen, could one go about getting such a practice abolished?
I do enjoy the Chronicle's coverage of issues like this, but I am left feeling empty at the thought that there is little that I can do about it. The journalistic credo of fighting corruption by exposing it to the light of day is fine and good, but I would appreciate it if you would also make an effort to educate us on what we can do once the dirty linen has been aired.
Mike Clark's inability to research everything in the article ["Billy Clayton's Flying Circus," Vol. 16, No. 20] completely undermines any true [sic] he may have to relate.
Suggest you find a professional writer.
Age Old Problem
Language resonates from the heart and mind of each participant. It oozes up at the requirement of people to communicate. Through that action, the foundations of communities are formed. Language transcends attempts at political definition as rivers transcend mountains.
Don't believe me? Just surf the Web and click on MTV.com.
Why is it such: A generation speaking in abbreviations is viewed as progress; a community seeking to find and build traditions is viewed as a threat?
To the Editor:
Nyuk! Nyuk! Bruce!
There are three people on the City Council who are stand-ins for the Three Stooges. Eric and Ronney represent Moe and Larry respectively and then we have the Mayor.
This same trio of morons are also represented in
L. Frank Baum's allegory, "The Wizard of Oz." Most Baum aficionados know that the Scarecrow represented farmers, as the Tinman industry/business and the lion unsuccessful enterprises. Baum uses Dorothy as the trusting face of every citizen. By using Baum's characters, we can draw a parallel between Eric (if he only had a heart) Mitchell and the Tinman, Ronney (if he only had a brain) Reynolds with the Scarecrow, and the Mayor as a craven failure like the Cowardly Lion.
Kudos to Karen Madden and Robert Singleton for calling the mayor on his consistent blunders regarding the rules and ethics of the City Council. His procrustean tactics in banning Karen Madden and Neal Tuttrup from speaking at City Council meetings bordered on fascism.
As much as I like and respect Mr. Tuttrup, I did not approve of his outburst concerning [Freeport-McMoRan] during the infamous City Council meeting in February, 1995. His points are well taken. The only concern I have is that in addition to the Three Stooges, the unsuspecting public at large will accept the Mayor's neo-fascist tactics at face value.
Racism exists. It is an ugly fact of life. Whenever anyone (and this is not to be taken personally, Moe/Mr. Tinman) cries racist wolf when thwarted, they are negating legitimate claims of racism. I am a member of more than one minority group, and I do not feel unduly persecuted. I resent people using racism as a dodge and ploy instead of facing issues.
Daryl Slusher earned his stripes and the unflagging respect of his supporters when he had the cost of the lawsuits against the Mayor publicly announced at the January 16, 1997 City Council meeting. Bravo, Daryl!
Richard Trachtenberg once again earned the steadfast, ardent support of his peers, elected officials, and private citizens alike. He presented a logical argument against the Mayor's cowardice in facing his opponents and the double standards he [the Mayor] employs. Mr. Trachtenberg was to be commended for pointing out at the January 16 City Council meeting that the Mayor is lenient towards developers, yet takes a harsh stand against his opponents. Mr. Trachtenberg maintains his stand with dignity and aplomb. His comment about "not swearing" and being "brought up to show respect" is a paean to diplomacy. He is correct when he pointed out that the Mayor tolerates obscene gestures and expressions from developers. Such conduct from a person in the Mayor's position makes it necessary for the rules concerning conduct to be made public. Hats off to Karen and Robert for consistently reminding the Mayor of these rules!
At present, we have Larry, Moe, and the Mayor on the City Council. Fortunately we have Gus Garcia, Beverly Griffith, and Daryl Slusher to act as logical antitoxins to the hollow rhetoric and idiocy of the Three Stooges. That soitanly is a fact, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!