Mind the Bullock
Re: Robert Bryce's article about Bob Bullock ["The Last Don," Vol. 16, No. 22].
During my days as a political consultant I had the opportunity to work with more than 100 candidates and officeholders. Bob Bullock is one of the two or three who actually wakes up in the morning thinking about policy for the public rather than politics for himself. Bob Bullock is a true servant of democracy. And Texas is lucky to have him.
I support the recent efforts by certain community groups to oppose zoning the Triangle Area as a commercial space, and even to encourage a vision of the area as a park.
Why? For one thing, I'm concerned about increased flooding of Waller Creek, about small, locally owned businesses that will be undermined by the large Randall's store and chain bookstores, and about traffic in the area, which is already bad enough.
However, in all honesty, those important concerns aside, I am simply very upset by the prospect of the intrusion of a big, nasty "strip mall" into our community. They are so ugly, and the proposed businesses are redundant (there are already several nearby groceries, bookstores, theaters). Slapping down a huge 1,000-car parking lot on what is essentially our area's last remaining community green space will be a real shame, another step towards degrading the quality of life of our charming city.
I am not an "anti-development" person as a rule, not by any means. I do support the idea of developing our resources within the city rather than just creating urban sprawl. But I really feel that this particular project, on this particular site, is just not right. Contrary to the message one might get from the February 14 Chronicle ("Filling in the Blanks,") the developers haven't adequately addressed a single one of the neighborhoods' concerns -- not traffic, not flooding, not aesthetics, not the type of businesses that would be right for us. Furthermore, the current plan completely ignores state requirements (in its bid) for limiting surface parking, and promoting pedestrian traffic and larger "green areas."
I became informed about this topic through a local group, Neighbors of Triangle Park (374-4436, email@example.com) which was created to encourage alternatives to the development. I have also sent a variation of this letter to Randall's, Act III Theaters, the city council, our state representatives, everyone I could think of!
Thanks a lot,
Tasca A. Shadix
Wants Responsible Readers
I was glad to see that your "Naked City" column (Vol. 16, No. 29) dedicated a couple of paragraphs to the grassroots organization against the creation of another strip mall on what is now public green space. I must clarify something for you and your readers though. The newly formed group, Neighbors of Triangle Park, is not in disagreement with the neighbor associations that have been meeting with the developer. We have met with some of the neighborhood representatives to Cencor Realty and they are far from happy with the site as planned. They feel at a loss as to what they can do since Cencor is unwilling to budge on important issues such as the reduction of parking space and the preservation of green areas. I can tell you that the people that attend my neighborhood association meetings (North Hyde Park) are pretty much set against the proposed development but feel impotent in front of MHMR and the developers. The Chronicle so far has fallen squarely in the hands of Cencor by presenting an extremely rosy picture of the process of neighborhood consultation. What has not been mentioned is that the vast majority of neighbors are not aware of the proposed development, much less of its magnitude. This weekend I spent several hours distributing flyers inviting people to a meeting to discuss our alternatives. Most of the people I talked to were not aware of the proposed development and were disturbed by the news. Neighbors of Triangle Park met Monday evening and over 50 people showed up from a variety of neighborhoods, all very upset at the specter of a shopping mall blocks away. Obviously the opinions of these people have not been considered by Cencor or the coverage in the Chronicle. Cencor should take responsibility for funding an educational campaign directed by the neighborhood associations and Neighbors of Triangle Park so everyone in the affected neighborhoods finds out what has been proposed and voices their opinions in meetings open to the public. Then we could hold a binding referendum to make the process truly democratic. That would be real cooperation and meaningful consultation with the affected communities.
Dear Louis Black,
Thanks for mentioning us and our March 24 meeting in the "Naked City" section [Vol. 16, No. 29]; as a new community group, we appreciate the publicity and support.
One thing, though: We fear some people might get the idea from reading that piece that Neighbors of Triangle Park is working outside of, or in opposition to, our respective neighborhood associations with respect to the triangle development. That couldn't be farther from the truth. We have been working with the neighborhood associations including Hyde Park, North Hyde Park, North University, Brentwood, Allendale, Northfield, and the Highlands. We have received considerable support. They have included us in Pecan Press, have offered volunteers, and have invited us to their meetings.
Many of the neighborhood association members and representatives have serious concerns about the present development plan that have yet to be resolved. Most prominent are increased traffic, flooding, effect on local businesses, and an overabundance of parking that leaves minimal green space. It is our feeling that the "spirit of cooperation" believed to exist between our community and Cencor Realty was somewhat of an illusion based on the neighborhood associations' attempts to negotiate with Cencor, the project's previous lack of publicity, and the mistaken belief that the strip mall is an inevitable "done deal."
Neighbors of Triangle Park
Dear Mr. Black:
Councilmembers attending the National League of Cities Conference earlier this month learned that cities all over the country are under serious stress. Some cities support metropolitan areas of millions of people but have only a few hundred thousand inside their city limits and also inside their tax base. Here are a few examples:
City pop. (1994) Metro pop. (1994 est.)
Atlanta 393,923 3,333,000
Cleveland 506,616 2,897,000
Boston 574,280 5,769,000
Miami 373,000 3,406,000
Austin 560,000 966,000
The Planning Commission approves of the extension of wastewater service to the Davenport Municipal Utility District contingent upon the District becoming part of Austin. As one Commissioner said, in effect, "Extension of the city services and the city limits are in my mind, married. They should be together."
Remember that the Planning Commission has a wide angle lens and is recommending what is best for the city as a whole over time. The city will be much better off, according to our recent cost/benefit analysis, to keep service extension and city limits extension concurrent.
The Davenport proposal presents the opportunity for the City Council to provide clear policy direction. Extend city limits along with city services.
Mayor Pro Tem Gus Garcia &
Councilmember Beverly Griffith
And Busing for All
You guys had me worried. I've been reading in your paper about urban sprawl, and all the traffic problems I've been causing when my girlfriend and I commute from Burnet County. Hell, I was ready to sell my house and 40 acres, stop paying school and property taxes, and rent an apartment in Austin. My driving experience over the past "Spring Break" week changed my mind. My driving time was cut in half when all the ACCers and UTers left for Steamboat and South Padre. Barely tapped my brakes between Georgetown and Riverside. Sure, a few mommies and daddies took off to be with their kids. But that's nothing compared with the tens of thousands of students who deserted Austin. Don't get me wrong. Their break was a huge break for me too. I arrived at work a happy and relaxed individual this week. What I really wanted to say was, get off my hard-working, property- and school tax-paying back, and put the kids on the bus.
Re: "Happier, Healthier, & Better in Bed," [Vol. 16, No. 29]
I have to respond to the numerous letters to the editor in which bicyclists complain about the helmet law and automobile traffic in general. First off, let's make this point very clear. The roads on which you bicyclists ride were paid for by gasoline tax dollars as well as registration fees and all the regulatory duties mandated on vehicular traffic. As soon as there is a $300 a year registration fee on bicyclists then you can share the road with me. As soon as there is a mandatory bicyclists education course in all schools then you can share the road with me. As soon as there is a mandatory bicycle operators license then you can share the road with me. As soon as there is a mandatory liability insurance requirement on bicycles then you can share the road with me. I can not count the number of times a bicyclist has placed themselves in jeopardy by not following the rules of the road. You are not special or invincible. What I don't understand is why I have to share the road with you. Motorists paid for it, you didn't. How about sharing the cost?
Steve M. Knickerbocker
Dear Editors of The Austin Chronicle,
Props From Da West
Thanks for running the series on the epidemic of murders of gay men across Texas [Vol. 16, No. 29]. These things are starting to happen everywhere.... Texas isn't the only venue. It's time to start pointing the ugliness out everywhere. You will inspire editors in other states to have some guts.
Patricia Nell Warren
Beverly Hills, CA
Hate Crimes Kudos
Dear Mr. Black:
Thank you for you thoughtful and provocative article on the extreme side of anti-gay violence ["The Hate Crimes Debate," Vol. 16, No. 28]. The only way we can stop these hate crimes is to inform the public, who will in kind inform their legislators that they will not be tolerated and laws should be passed to punish the perpetrators. Thank you for humanizing the issues which will cause people to take a stand.
Humanizing Victims of Hate
By humanizing the issue of hate crimes and the real cost to society when such legislation is not passed, Smith's articles [Vol. 16, No. 28] illuminate the central role that homophobia plays in both these murders and the lack of punishments to fit the hate-motivated crimes.
Thank you and Ms. Smith for the provocative and thoughtful stories on the extreme side of anti-gay violence.
To the Editor:
Arbiters of Hip
We were pleased that our weekly hip-hop party was acknowledged in the "Club DJ or Dance Club" section of the 1996-97 Music Poll: 9. Nasty's [Vol. 16, No. 28].
We were very disappointed that the Chronicle listed us by the wrong name. Nasty's is a bar. It is a fine establishment, but it is not a dance club. Blow Pop is a weekly Monday night party held at Nasty's. Got that? Only on Monday nights is it a party. The omission is particularly disturbing in light of two facts:
1) We have been around for eight months on a weekly basis, we draw larger crowds than most of the "live" musicians mentioned, and yet the Chronicle, that self-designated arbiter of hip, has chosen to ignore us out of bias against any kind of music that doesn't include a guitar.
2) You ought to know who we are because we've been paying you $25 a week for a band ad since last July. That adds up to over $700 total, you ungrateful morons.
Rachel Sorkin and Tiffany Passmore
Chronicle music people:
Like Nyquil Cupcakes
Your SXSW "Picks and Sleepers" section motivates me to air a beef I've had with your paper for a long time. How can NYC's Company Flow, the very definition of "indie" in every respect, not score one speck of print? I understand this is Austin and bullshit like Retarded Elf and Ugly Americans (?!!?) are gonna score in the Best Hip-hop readers' poll category, but in dissing acts like CoFlow and Hobo Junction who come to Austin to play SXSW, you neglect what the conference is supposed to be all about: Spreading the sound of dope music that wouldn't otherwise get heard. I wouldn't be pissed if you presented yourselves as you are: Advocates for select genres (punk pop, alterna-country, and morose singer-songwriters). But when you front like you represent all Austin music and the Austin musical environment in general, you diss all hip-hop heads who read your paper because you don't cover our shit. In the last year and a half you have slept on shows by Common Sense, Beatnuts, Alkaholiks, Mobb Deep, Black Moon, Artifacts, Aceyalone, and Project Blowed (undoubtedly some of the most revolutionary, most gifted artists to visit Austin in its entire history; check the All Balls Don't Bounce LP if you have any doubts), and the Roots, among others. These are major hip-hop artists; some are major label acts with worldwide fans and distribution. If you can't recommend them, you can at least print them in the "Roadshows" section! As if all this weren't enough, Austin played host last year to two of the major camps in Bay Area hip-hop: Hieroglyphics and Hobo Junction. Saafir is right up there with Aceyalone in the "ill MCs only" section and his show at Voodoo Lounge last April got slept on like Nyquil cupcakes. Heiro's Opio and Phesto got so much love at their show they came back and played another one a few weeks later! Please, Chronicle, either start checkin' for Austin hip-hop, Texas hip-hop, fuck it, hip-hop in general, or stop fronting like you represent the entire Austin music scene. My people and the music we make and love remain invisible to you. Props to Ben Plimpton for trying, and peace to those keeping the vibes flowin'. 5,000.
Davíd Ramón Saldívar
Keep wondering why we never see anything in print about Monte Montgomery. Why is that? Without question, he is the most talented guitarist around! Have you not noticed? Wake up!!! He plays the early set on Tuesdays at Saxon Pub and La Zona Rosa on Wednesdays -- make it a point to get there! Would love to see a review in print. His compositions are great and the kid has "paid his dues!"
Lee & Laury McCullough
Still Home of the Blues
I just wanted to rave about the new and improved Antone's. It is great to have them downtown again. I want to thank Clifford for bringing together the best of old Austin and the best of now.
The people that work at Antone's are some of the nicest anywhere. From the smiling waitress bringing me a glass of water to Harold, the back door man, getting me a cab. Not to mention the beautiful Angela Strehli as great and soulful as ever, bringing back a flood of wonderful memories of my youth. And I must say that watching Guy Forsyth play harmonica is a truly moving and inspirational experience. Makes me proud to be an Austinite. Long live Antone's!
Go East on I-10
Partly inspired by the Chronicle's features last spring on food and music in Cajun country [Vol. 15, No. 34], I took a trip to Southern Louisiana over spring break, accompanied by my teenage daughter. We were actually headed for New Orleans and didn't have much time, but we managed to stop at Miller's Cafe & Barbecue in Lake Charles, one of the eating establishments recommended in your article. I'm glad we did.
Imagine two rumpled, wind-blown white females walking into a room full of black strangers. I suddenly became keenly aware that we were now in the South, and it is different from Austin, Texas. Putting our faith in the Chronicle, we sat down and ordered, and everybody went back to their business. I pored over a map of Louisiana as we waited for our food, and one man who entered after us asked if we were lost. I said no, but I think he meant it humorously.
Since this was my first trip to Louisiana, I ordered shrimp gumbo and iced tea. The brewed tea was delicious. Then the gumbo came, with rice on the side. I dipped my spoon into a greenish-brown, muddy broth that reminded me of the Gulf of Mexico, put it into my mouth, and poetry came to mind. I believe that if you could take everything good tasting from the sea and distill it into its essence, it would taste like that gumbo. Not a drop was left.
When we went to the counter to pay the bill, the owner asked where we were from. I said Austin and mentioned that we'd read about Miller's in the Chronicle. His face immediately broke into one of the most beautiful toothy smiles I've ever seen. He said he'd kept a copy of the article on his wall for months after it appeared. He invited us back again.
Thanks for the recommendation. I hope other readers will try Miller's. When you get into Lake Charles, take the Enterprise exit off I-10, go left under the bridge, hang a left to the access road, and you'll see a sign on the right pointing to it. Closed Sunday.
Mary Ann Reynolds
Outpost Tar Heel
I just read your page on Austin's street kids and I thought it was great. I lived in Austin, on the Drag this past fall. I never spoke with any of these kids, except to tell them to quit bothering me for money. I never felt easy around them and maybe that is what they wanted. At times I even felt that they were just nuisances that no one should deal with. Than I figured that's probably the same way there parents felt about them. Its seems sad to live a life like that, but apparently it's a choice and I won't deny them that. Life isn't easy for everyone, and one should do whatever they have to do to get by. But at the same time, just as I have to learn to live with them, they should learn to live with us. No one can tear down a system they are not part of. Well, these are just a few of my thoughts. By the way -- great paper -- I really miss it now that I left Austin.
Knapp, North Carolina
Props From Da East
Hi. I just wanted to send you along a note from the cold confines of New England to let you know I thought you did a fine job on the South by Southwest website. The coverage was detailed, informative, and not too bogged down with crap that I couldn't scan through it to get to what I wanted to know. Too many websites are loaded with stuff no one wants to know, but your site here was a step in the right direction. Keep up the good work and send along thanks to the writers.
Longnecks & Ventura: Only in Texas
By way of introduction, my name is Richard Ferguson and I am a musician/writer living in Los Angeles. I recently got e-mail and Internet capabilities installed at my workplace (as I don't have a computer at home) and immediately did a search for everything I could find on Michael Ventura.
I'm not quite sure of the exact nature of the politics involved, though I am very sorry that the L.A. Weekly did not have the good sense to give Mr. Ventura whatever was necessary to keep him on staff as a contributing writer. I have missed his "Letters at 3AM" very much.
Although, in the same breath, I can't think of a better city than Austin to get him (aside from us, that is). I have been to Austin a number of times (I'm a musician and have performed at SXSW, etc.) and it holds a very special place in my heart. Mr. Ventura, once again, has displayed his good taste and wisdom (along with The Austin Chronicle) in creating such a wonderful match.
Things are a little bit lonelier here in the Silicone Wasteland without Mr. Ventura's brilliant, to-the-point, often humorous, often horrifying insight. Though, I'm glad I now have access to his thoughts, not to mention everything else The Austin Chronicle has to offer. All my best to the fair Austiners under that beautiful Bluebonnet sky....
Dear Austin Chronicle guys:
Just wanted to leave a note to let you know how much we appreciate and enjoy your paper every week. If we don't make it to Austin, we go to Marooned Records in College Station to get the Chronicle. Thanks for the great entertainment coverage. Jet Li, Chris Duarte, Richard Linklater, Soulhat, The City of Lost Children, the Dobie Theatre, and the Student Union Theatre, among others, all rock!! (By the way, if you talk to Richard and/or Quentin, tell 'em we said "How tha hell are ya?!" Special kudos with sprinkles to Quentin for distributing the greatest Martial Arts film ever made, Fist of Legend.)
Anyway, better let you guys get back to work.
Keep it up. Check ya later.
From Cameron, TX,
Ozzy, Benn, Spookie, Trey, and Joel
To the Editors:
Votes For Sale
I was greatly saddened to learn of the defeat of the Hollings amendment in the Senate yesterday. Despite the mess of foreign contributors, PAC abuse, and treating the White House like a bed-and-breakfast, the Senate has refused to take a substantial step in restoring some semblance of dignity and fairness to our democratic process. Allowing the amendment would have levelled the field and made it impossible for big business to legally buy the votes of our leaders. This would also have the blessed effect of making it nearly impossible to supersaturate the media with propaganda during elections (Does anyone want more mudslinging ads on TV?). But it is not to be -- the Senate voted overwhelmingly to let the gravy train continue unabated, putting their own interests above that of the American people they represent and the democracy they are sworn to uphold. Worse yet, both senators from Texas aided and abetted in this betrayal. They wouldn't vote for us -- should we vote for them?
Your "Off the Desk" exposé of Place 5 City Council candidate Bobbie Enriquez's lack of a claimed college degree used the term "fudged" to describe the situation. The more accurate term for what Ms. Enriquez did is "lied." She falsely claimed a college degree to get a city job she was not qualified for. This was not a "mistake" on her part. She wanted the job and was willing to cheat to get it. If another applicant who worked to get the required education got shafted in the process -- too bad.
I wonder if Enriquez actually voluntarily "fessed up" to her supervisors at the City as she claims. A much more likely scenario is that her bosses, while checking references, were unable to get proof of the claimed graduation. Her confession was likely prompted by the knowledge that the proof of her dishonesty was about to surface.
Being a member of the City Council is a position of public trust. What else has Ms. Enriquez "fudged" along the way? I don't want to find out the answers to this question after the election is over.
The Engine Electric
Once again, I wholeheartedly agree with Amy Babich's letter, "Electric Trains, Not Diesel" ["Postmarks," Vol. 16, No. 28]. We should definitely be writing Cap Metro to push for electric. Diesel engines are partly responsible for fine particulates, which are small bits of matter that get into people's lungs and mess them up. Currently, the EPA is proposing to expand the federal Clean Air Act to be tougher on both fine particulates and ground level ozone (smog). Unfortunately, the TNRCC has come out against these new proposals, as have many of the largest air polluters in the country, even though the new regulations would save 20,000 lives a year. We need to put pressure on both President Clinton and Governor Bush to push for the newly proposed standards. Bush's office phone is 202/456-1414. Call them and say you support cleaner air. If we can get the new standards passed, maybe Cap Metro will have to go electric and pollute less.
The Way Flowers Do...
I like Janet Beinke's idea that we should strive to make Austin a more interesting and enjoyable place to live [Vol. 16, No 29]. I also share her opinion that the overuse of cars makes for boring cities. One way to help make Austin interesting is to give up your car and replace it with a decorated, cargo-carrying bicycle, tricycle, or four-wheeled human-powered vehicle.
Like Tom Bowman [Vol. 16, No 29], I have no driver's license. Unlike him, I usually ride my bicycle in the street. (Even if I wanted to ride on the sidewalk, as he recommends, there aren't always sidewalks on the roads I ride. Many Austin streets lack sidewalks.) I ride a cargo-laden recumbent bicycle with lots of glitter, lights, reflective tape, and safety flags all over it. It even has silver wings on the rear baskets. It's a really interesting vehicle. All day long all sorts of people -- little kids, old people, other bicyclists, motorists, construction workers, women in suits and high heels, foreigners, street people, pierced and tattooed people, frat boys, joggers with baby strollers -- tell me how cool my bike is. I think that this is a good thing. Not only does my means of transportation not pollute the air and not endanger other people, it actually cheers a lot of people up, the way flowers do.
Janet Beinke wants to attract interesting people to Austin. How about someone like that Welsh family that drives around in a home-built, human-powered vehicle for four called "the Snark?" And if we must have wealth-and-status flaunters, let's attract some who will buy and show off racing tricycles, rather than boring old Lambourghinis. Some day let's even have human-powered public transit. For now, let's have brightly painted (pink, orange, and turquoise, like some Mexican restaurants) electric trolleys that come often and go everywhere.
Boldly take upon your own shoulders the burden of making Austin more interesting and enjoyable. Give up your car and ride a really cool human-powered vehicle. You won't regret it. As Tom Bowman points out, it will make you happier, healthier, and better in bed.
Kurt's Bizarre Childhood
"Postmarks," [Vol. 16, No. 28] has homosexual Mike Rayburn hoping that God might be gay because he's never been married. Then "Postmarks," [Vol. 16, No. 29] has Angus Tilney describing the critics of homosexual bathhouses as "losers." (...I guess as opposed to the "winners" who have died of homosexual AIDS that were infected in the dens of iniquity.)
I had listened to such lunacy earlier in life but I couldn't remember where or when. Then it hit me; the inbred family on my paper route when I was 12 or 13. The kids of incest were stark raving mad, incapable of holding an intelligent conversation for more than a few seconds. The inbreds were very upset with "the government" because three of them died while trying to barbecue inside on a cold day. "The government" they said, "should make charcoal that doesn't put out deadly fumes!"
Thanks Chronicle, for helping me to remember such fond, almost long-lost childhood memories.