I entered the race for Place 5 with three goals: to bring together a community at odds with itself, to bring more opportunities to all of Austin, and to preserve representation of Austin's Latino community. Because I have not reached my fundraising goals, I have decided not to run in the election. However, I would like to communicate to Austin voters how important I believe these issues are for our future.
Too often Austin is driven apart by debate on a single issue: growth management. While this is an absolutely critical issue for all of us -- no one wants to see Barton Springs degraded -- we are letting it push us apart instead of working together to overcome it. We must continue to push hard for environmental safeguards, but we need to broaden the focus of the Council dramatically.
We must also do better at providing economic opportunity for all Austinites. High-tech firms have driven unemployment down to 3.5% citywide, but in East Austin the rate is almost 28%. This is simply not acceptable. Our city leaders must bring the same commitment they have for attracting high-tech firms to helping local small businesses in areas we have neglected -- like in downtown and East Austin.
Finally, the Council must preserve Latino representation in Place 5. Austin is almost one-quarter Latino, and growing -- commensurate representation would probably mean there would be two Latino councilmembers, not one "Gentleman's Agreement" seat. Until another system of representation is adopted, it is absolutely critical that a Latino presence continue in Place 5.
For this reason, I am supporting Bobbie Enriquez, who is clearly the best candidate for this seat.
Oh, lucky day! At long last I achieve the martyrdom I so justly deserve. Banished from Mojo's Coffeehouse for my opinions on art, I wear my scarlet "A" with pride.
A two-year-old letter to the Chronicle drew another response ("The Day Without Art" counterpoint, December 1994). When I failed to engage an employee at this establishment (on the grounds that his manner indicated an unproductive discussion) he took away my coffee privileges. Alas, where else in this town can I get coffee?
I am not uncomfortable having enemies -- he who has no true enemies has no true friends -- but they should understand that I am unlikely to respond to taunts. Nor am I required to enter into conversation at all times and places, at the convenience of my antagonists. I suggest to Mojo's that if they begin to require all patrons to like their art and agree with their theories, they may have trouble paying the coffee man. Banishèd! All are banishèd!
Christopher House Missed
My name is Raymond Meyer (Butch), a person living with AIDS. I tested positive in January of 1989 and the horror began. I lost my lover Louis Arebalo August 2, 1990. Totally alone, scared, and broken-hearted, I felt no one could understand the pain. So I turned to prescription pain medications so that I would not feel -- totally cutting myself off from the world. I lived in horror -- alone, numbed with drugs.
Next I met a wonderful man six months after I lost my soul mate, Louis. This sweetheart named Chris tried for five years to console and carry me through my nightmare -- nothing helped. Everyone knew I was dying, one after another, so my addiction became stronger to the drugs. In and out of cold and lonely hospital stays where the nurses, who looked like something from Star Wars, feared touching me and made matters worse. I felt like I was nothing but toxic waste, and that my blood was poison, and no one was there to love me and talk to me and vent out my fears of living with this horror. A virus was eating me alive, being both mental and physical. It was hard enough to grasp that I really had this. But to start losing everyone as well as my mind, I just became numb, totally unaware of what was going on. I learned to live in major denial until it hit me, or should I say, knocked me down (with PCP).
Then I was put at the Christopher House, or should I say Heaven, where the faculty treated me with love and respect like no one else had. They were so full of love and it was very real. Just an abundance of joy, where you could put your weary, tired mind to rest and just let the love flow. Trust me it was flowing. I was lucky to have my "babies" with me, my dogs, Mimi, Chula, and Chico. That was a big burden off of me not having to worry about them. Plus, having them at my side was just a blessing. I just can't put down on paper, how incredible the staff was -- angels sent from above. The feeling of having people not afraid to touch me or love me eased my mind tremendously. These wonderful nurses loved my dogs just as much as they did me. It was an absolutely fabulous feeling and made the treatment so much easier. So why does this have to be taken away! Finally a place we can call heaven -- a place where we can feel like we are not toxic waste. Now it is gone. Why God, why?
Hope and love,
Kurt Klux Klan
Regarding Kurt Standiford's hate mail to the Chronicle: I think it only fair that the paper also print letters submitted by skinheads, Jew haters, and other extremists. C'mon! Let's let everyone have their fair say! Would a letter from a "nigger hater" be out of the question in these days and times? How about a neo-Nazi? Then why does the Chronicle continue to be a sounding board for Mr. Standiford? Maybe to show your readers what a misguided human being he is? And where does he get off with the arrogant assumption that we're all Christian? Doesn't he realize that the Bible is not a work of God, but a work of man? Why, it's the most human book of all! And though it is a great book of philosophy, poetry and virtue, it also contains many prejudices of the human race. Mr. Standiford, the Bible also supports slavery, opposes mixed-race marriages, and emphasizes a superiority of men over women. Why should we be surprised if it doesn't condone same-sex love? And how do we know God isn't gay? Maybe he's still in the cosmic closet! If he's straight, then how come after all these millions of years he still isn't married? Perhaps, like you, he has a lot of internalized homophobia to deal with....
Kalling Kathy's Bluff
To suggest that Kathy Acker is an opportunist in regard to things like postfeminism, punk, body modification, etc., is a) an irrelevancy in the context of a book review and b) to completely confuse the chronology of her place in these cultures. To suggest that she is a bad writer simply because the reviewer seems to lack a context in which to place her work (which he seems himself to admit at several times during the article) is unfortunate. I, too, often agree with reviews in the New York Times Book Review, but rarely do I feel compelled to write two pages of worth of "yeah, me too," for public consumption. She deserves better than this.
Acker No Hacker
I probably shouldn't do this for fear of being considered someone who labels others "anvilheads" but I really must point something out to Tom Aiken. I can appreciate his frustration over the difficulty of reading a Kathy Acker book but she doesn't really write to be received, she explicitly writes to con. It's not in the story so much as it's in the telling (or as his friend suggested, in the "language"). Now while Aiken may believe he's deftly exposed some despicable poseur, he's only showed how unfamiliar with Acker's work he is. Acker herself discusses plagiarism as a creative tool. I'll concede that everybody may not "get" why it is she's doing that, but is it important that everyone should? I can't say that I get some things others find highly entertaining. But I guess what really irked me about his review is its sneering attitude towards what he sees as Acker's self-professed punk feminism. Long before anyone had trouble with the number of "r"s it takes to spell the word "girl," Acker was writing from a decidedly aggressive female perspective about sexuality and desire that rang truer than any more mannered writing ever could (see Blood and Guts in High School or Don Quixote). I'm not aware of Acker aligning herself with any of these Jane-come-lately punk gals, but if she is there's probably a history to it and it's a history worth knowing. There wouldn't be anybody like L7 if there hadn't been a congenial atmosphere created by artists like Kathy Acker. My suggestion is that Aiken read a little more before he writes Acker off entirely.
Nature a House Slave
It seems the concern of certain citizens toward the development of public land is, well, a sham. They tend to get upset when there's no public involvement in, or knowledge of, shady dealings between the corrupt city officials and those ignominious corporate mongrels.
The American public is the most complicit crowd on the planet. We are so involved in the hypertrophy of society that any form of derisory critique is severely masochistic. We love turning our heads and closing our eyes to induce the disappearance of local government. This is our wish. Those whose twisted fervor drives them to lobby their cause become political fodder -- badly needed entertainment qua Chronicle write-ups. And those who can't wait until America is void become frivolous vernacular.
I will not try to change the course of things because that niche is running smoother than ever; an abstraction of the same course. If vegans really want some kind of profound revolution they'll have to burn the seeds of agriculture and science, both of which permit you the time it takes to read this letter while your thoughts wander off to more personal and intimate things.
Spare me the banality of shrieking at buildings where nature stood the day before -- where we used to go jogging to rid ourselves of high blood pressure. Nature within a city is constantly abused outside of the somewhat harmless physical intrusions. Run, you little margarine sticks! We give off the impression of loving and doting on her as if she were our only child, yet her position is that of a house slave with special privileges. Humanity works the fields. These days, nature's closest kin is the coloring book.
I'm all for the transmogrification of Austin's inner core. The more people, traffic, billboard signs, condominiums, malls, tourists, the closer I feel to God. Amen.
Onward Lesbian Soldiers
Please thank Kurt Standiford for me, for his tiresome diatribes against homosexuality. Since he referenced the Old Testament chapters of Leviticus, I read them and found the descriptions of men having sex with men as "disgusting." But there were no rules against women having sex with women! So lesbians can rest assured that they're not violating any old Jewish customs. But we really need to do something about all these people having sex with a woman during her monthly period. Morality police, that's your calling.
It's Deep Man
I am presently directing Eric Bogosian's original stage play subUrbia for The Company here in Austin. The play will open March 28 at the Planet Theatre. In Marjorie Baumgarten's interview (Vol. 16, No. 25), film director Richard Linklater is quoted as saying "...That's another thing you can do in a film that you can't do in a play: You can really define these relations [sic] and thus Bee-Bee can be that much deeper as a character...." Everyone knows the book is usually better/deeper than the movie. Since when can this not be done in a play? Bogosian's original script very clearly "defines relations" all by itself, even without actors saying the lines. The words Bogosian carefully chose for the characters to say reveal volumes about them, their "relations" to one another and their world view -- you can get it just by reading it. I don't believe an audience needs a close-up of Bee-Bee in order to make her character "deeper," not if they are paying attention.
An audience watching a film gets a two-dimensional view of something that happened months ago, with a point-of-view controlled by the film's director and the limitations of a camera lens. An audience in the theatre will see all of it, while physically present in the very space and at the very moment it actually happens. A film audience is passive and detached, while a theatre audience is actually a participant in the theatrical event. It's the difference between watching and doing. Richard Linklater is a film artist, so it's understandable that he sees his art as superior in its ability to move an audience or reveal more about a character. But why don't you all come see our production and find out for yourselves? We'll show you some depth.
Thanks for the space and time,
Dear Austin Chronicle,
Hunka Hunka Toxic Fumes
While personally I do appreciate Mr. Hicks' musings on the pros and cons of an allegedly deceased Elvis Presley ("Postmarks," Vol. 16, No. 25), I must say that as the actual U.S. PIRG Campaign Director, we hold no official stance on his demise. In fact, at U.S. PIRG, we are non-partisan. This charter statement wouldn't allow us an official position on the "King." Unless, of course, he opposed the community's right to know about toxic chemicals, which is our current campaign. Since we are working to ensure that all industries report their toxic use and emissions to the community, I doubt Mr. Presley would be much of an opponent. Now, Jim Morrison, that's a different story.
Austin Campaign Director, U.S. PIRG
To the Chronicle and its readers:
Episode IV: Uncle Paul Loses Faith in the Justice System
Here I am, brand new to your beautiful town (not city) barely two months and already I am becoming disheartened about the music scene here.
Episode I: New Year's Eve. I'm enjoying raucous noise at Blue Flamingo. Fuckantones even let me open for 'em. Later on, I go to the head, come back out and promptly get attacked by a mob who almost break my arm when I try to grab my guitar as I'm wrestled out the door. Some girl said I did something which I never did find out, nobody else seemed to know either.
Episode II: Chance to sing for someone who has laryngitis on some Fifities tunes at Hole in the Wall. He's screwing up pretty bad, makin' it impossible to sing, due to some personal problems he has, he decides to use me for his verbal punching bag. No big. Bad timing on my part.
Episode III: Rushing out the door to get to rehearsal after getting back from work, my housemate reminds me that I should get my tickets to "The Musicians Appreciation Supper" which is that night. (I almost forgot!) Get ticket. Go to rehearsal. Have bandmate give me a ride to Threadgill's three hours too early. I find out there's no lounge and too many diners for comfort so's I get a quart of beer and find a cubby hole to drink and bang on my acoustic which I had with me. I'm fine with waiting 'til 10:30 until it starts drizzling on me. I go back to Threadgill's and ask a waitress if I can hang out inside even though they're closing for an hour. She says we'll have to ask the boss. I explain I'm not driving and it's starting to rain. He looks at my guitar and my work clothes (painter) and starts throwing a conniption fit about how no guitars are allowed and that I'm making a totally unreasonable request (hell, put me to work), and as a matter of fact I'm not even going to be allowed to attend the event, and to boot he's going to call the cops on me, which he did. Bad hair day? I'm ugly? I don't know. I walked home in the rain strummin' curses on my way.
So Austin, this patient person has taken far more blows than you've offered up yet, so I'm here to stay for a while. I presume from what I've read and heard that there is a flip side to this coin. We'll see.
Yours truly forever 'n ever,
Mooning for Tommi
I'm Roy Peña with the band Moonjell. The only correction that we noticed was the band name. Moonjell is one word. Other than that, everything else looks great. Wonderful job!!! The whole registry looks great. On behalf of Moonjell, we would like to thank the Chronicle for the Threadgill's dinner we ate, we drank, we had a blast.
Roy Peña, Moonjell
P.S. Who was the girl that was telling everyone to stay off the carpet, at the front of Threadgill's? About 5'6", round glasses, wearing a tan denim jacket? Man, what a beautiful woman!!
Massa Frackin' Saffa Frattin' Gul Durn Ronney!
I've been reading with interest the various articles and letters to the editor in your paper over the last few weeks and wanted to respond to some of the controversy about my running for mayor. I send my thanks for Alex de Marban's article "Three's Company" story on the mayoral campaign, February 7 [Vol. 16, No. 23], that helped stir the pot.
First, I approached Kirk Watson thinking I could support him in the mayor's race. When I learned more about him, however, I couldn't support him: He had moved to Austin only months ago; has no experience in municipal government; and he agrees with Ronney Reynolds on at least two key issues... campaign finance reform and the electric utility.
Regarding campaign finance reform, Watson is not adhering to the contribution and expenditures limits proposed in the "Austinites for a Little Less Corruption" charter amendment (nor even Brigid Shea's $250 limits), and he said he agreed with Reynold's vote to not let the citizens vote on campaign finance reform on the May 3 ballot. On the future of our electric utility, both Watson and Reynolds want the utility removed from the direct control of the citizens, to be run by an appointed board, à la Capitol Metro.
I want to say this about my relationship with Brigid Shea. This is a political issue, not a personal one. Brigid is a nice person, but we differ on fiscal policy issues. For example, I moved to provide more funding for police, fire, and EMS service, she failed to provide the fourth vote; she approved a tax abatement for Samsung, which I felt was completely unnecessary in our boom economy, etc.
Some people like Alfred Stanley, who is a highly paid political consultant for the Watson campaign have tried to paint me as "unemployed," and therefore running merely because I need a job. The truth is that although I have a job (I do PR for Hill Country Brewing, and I am a working musician with weekly gigs at Flipnotics and La Zona Rosa), I want this job. I want this job because I love Austin and after nine years as an effective councilmember I've seen the effects of big money politicos on this place we call home.
Out-of-town lawyers and land developers are buying our leaders. I have a different vision -- a vision of a beautiful, citizen-friendly Austin thriving on the input of all its citizens. I will not take steps toward giving up ownership of our electric utility by establishing an unelected board to run it. It is the property of our citizenry and they should have a say in the matter! I know campaign finance reform is a right first step towards a new vision for our city!
This brings me to my last point. The city attorney recently decided to fire their in-house attorney and hired an outside attorney to continue a fruitless effort to keep the charter amendment for $100 contribution limits off the ballot this May 3. All concerned citizens should call Ronney Reynolds and tell him to stop wasting tax dollars to impede democracy.
Thanks again for bringing the debate to the voters.