Duff Gets Tough
Kudos to Audrey Duff for the article about welfare reform in your June 13 issue.
Over the years, I believe that Chronicle articles -- like a lot of us readers -- have gotten kind of soft. How energizing and welcome to read this strong, tough, engaged, and engaging work. Congrats and thanks to Duff and the Chron editors.
Letter to the Editor:
The Chronicle deserves a "thumbs up" for its article "Budget Blackboard" about the AISD budget [Vol.16, No.42]. The AISD deserves a double "thumbs down" for its wanton and wasteful spending. In 1985 AISD had a budget of $141,600,000: This year they propose a huge budget increase to an amount of over $457,000,000.
I am a strong believer in high quality public education. Unfortunately, it is clear to any objective observer that the people of Austin and most importantly, the students of AISD are not getting their money's worth. Simple math will show that AISD is spending an average of $5,843 per pupil per year and that there are approximately 20 students per class, which totals $116,860 spending per class. If you subtract $45,000 for the salaries of a primary teacher and non-primary teachers, that leaves $71,860 per class of AISD non-teacher spending. The people of Austin have been suffering large and chronic tax increases for the last 15 years, our quality of education is not nearly what it should be, and the relative size of non-teacher related spending at AISD just continues to grow and grow!
Listening to Cap Met
At the last ATS-PAC meeting I heard that the new Texas commuter rail district was "not in competition" with Capitol Metro. To the best of my knowledge that statement is only currently correct. Backtracking, I posted the folks at Capitol Metro and asked to listen to the audio tapes of the Capitol Metro Board of Directors meeting of March 31, 1997. On that day Capitol Metro was asked to give almost one million dollars to the Greater Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council.
That Capital Metro Board certainly did act like there was competition for $905,000 worth of Capitol Metro's tax money, on the tape is their obvious resistance. One Metro Board Member asks repeatedly if this request was "legal?" Then another voice on the tape states clearly, "technically... it's legal."
Another person more or less states, "San Antonio and Round Rock, these two cities have not paid any money into the Capitol Metro tax fund, yet mainly these two cities of the commuter rail district will benefit from this tax money." Also another voice asks, "We are being asked to fund tax money when Tex-Dot(Dept. of Transportation) has not even conducted a study on this yet!" Capitol Metro voted to accept the last motion for $500,000 only if the funds where given to ATS. This move puts the responsibility for the tax money request in the court of the ATS/PAC. Just over one month later a "certain Senator" has the "resisting" Board of Capitol Metro removed using his skills as a legislator. I'm glad I listened to the tapes for "the truth"! I wonder how much more of the Austin taxpayer's money will be going towards the "certain Senator"'s commuter rail district, now that no Capitol Metro Board will dare to oppose the ATS-PAC?
A Burger to Cry For
Of all the places in Austin to forget when it comes to a really killer hamburger, you choose to neglect Casino El Camino?? I can't believe it -- and you thought you were hip to Austin. Puh-leeze. Their Amarillo burger is an inch-thick with spicy serrano peppers grilled right into the luscious meaty patty (patty is a misnomer -- "slab" is much more fitting). If I miss a week without one, I just want to cry!
Of course, they are spicy enough to make me cry even when I do have one!
They take a bit longer to make than the average hamburger joint, but whoa, is it worth it!! All the burgers on their menu are just as gratifying. So if you've missed out, go try `em, and I promise you'll be glad you did.
Devotee of Casino
To the Editor:
Sure, everyone will criticize your "Flamin' Burgers" [Vol.16, No.42] list of great hamburger spots for leaving out deserving candidates -- like Wally's -- but to omit Mike's Pub points out what a true neophyte you are with respect to traditional Austin cuisine. Any local could have informed you that not only has this restaurant been in operation since the early Sixties at its location in the heart of downtown Austin (on 7th Street between Congress and Brazos), but also that it serves up the definition of a big, juicy burger slathered in grease. How greasy? How about: You have to blot the bun with a towel; You can write your name on the wall in grease; or you can come back to work, and everyone within a 15-foot radius can tell by smell that you've been wallowing at Mike's. If possible, the fries are even greasier. Also not to be missed is the old married couple who run the establishment and scream at the customers (when they're not hollerin' out orders to one another). Check it out!
Patrick L. O'Daniel
More Praise for Mike's
Dear Mr. Black:
I was thrilled to see the Chronicle chronicle Austin's burger eateries on the cover of its June 20th issue. My thrill was short-lived, however.
Jumping to p.36, as directed by the cover graphic, I read half way through Anne S. Lewis' interview with David Sedaris and a review of his new book Naked. Fascinating reading, but not a damn word about hamburgers. Checking the table of contents on p. 2, I learn that the Hamburger Helper article was on p. 40 and not p.36 as previously noted on the cover. (Note to person in charge of Chronicle cover accuracy: You're fired! Get out of my office! See if you make these mistakes working for the Greensheet!)
Okay, okay. So then I turned to p.40 and found the Chronicle Guide to Hamburgers in Austin. Very nice. All the expected cliches re: grease, buns, fries, etc. Mandatory use of the words cuisine and purveyor. Expert food staff plying its journalistic wares on the city's hamburgerphiles. (Note to myself: What does a woman with a name like Rebecca Chastenet de Géry look like?)
Not surprisingly the Chronicle's crack staff of culinary reporters reviews the old stand-bys: Dirty's, Dan's and Fran's, Hut's, etc. Establishments beloved by all including your humble servant who has been known to go to Dirty's and eat without even ordering (OT, p&d, tots, bullet). I know my stuff. I not only graduated from Hamburger University, but I was class president and valedictorian.
Then I noticed the glaring error of omission committed by authors Pableaux Johnson (you are kidding about that name, right?), Virginia B. Wood, Meredith Phillips, and Rebecca Chastenet de Géry (there's that name again!). It left me tremendously non-plused. Where in all of this reportage was Mike's Pub? Mike's Pub, since 1963 serving delicious hamburgers and fries (with the occasional Frito Pie) on Seventh Street between Congress and Brazos. Right there by the alley above the parking garage. Mike, who is actually George, and right hand Cindy have served thousands of Austin's urban downtowners for years. They've probably even served president's wives!
Nothing short of a lengthy retraction, a few dismissals (but not Rebecca Chastenet de Géry for God's sake!) and a personal phone call to Mike himself will right this unspeakable wrong.
D.M. Flynn, Jr.
A Most Intolerant Creature
Dear Louis Black,
Cherie Bozoudes chides me ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.42] for neglecting to provide an address to which donations to the Atheist Community of Austin can be sent. Delighted to oblige: P.O. Box 3798, Austin, TX 78764. Telephone 371-2911. Website: http://atheist-community.org E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org As to my supposed intolerance, I suggest Miss B. keep very still: The founder of the religion to which she adheres was the most intolerant creature of his time.
David L. Kent
Sermon on Space Mount
Dear Southern Baptists,
From what I have learned about Jesus, he would have never taken issue with anyone (be they gay or straight) for wanting good health (i.e. health coverage) for their loved ones. Jesus believed in bringing people together rather than dividing them. I feel sorry for the Southern Baptists and their Disney denouncement and will cry for them all the way to the Space Mountain ride...
Smells Like Stalking
Is it just me or is "Desperately Seeking Susan" and the attention he's gotten from the local media creepy to other people too?
Why is the media playing "Desperately" like he's so
romantic? Smells like stalking behavior to me, and we just passed state laws against that. Of
course, the ad has a much more charming veneer. It appeals to some fantasies we must
harbor, I suppose. Last week on
K-EYE, the female anchor talked on the phone to the dweeb and giggled, "Have any other women responded, looking for an eligible bachelor?" all titillated. (The lead story that newscast happened to be about the friendly jogger in North Austin who's approaching women in parking lots and then raping them.)
This woman dances with this guy for one evening and suddenly she's the object of a stalk that is supported by most of the major media in Austin. Isn't that cute? Not only did the guy basically inform her employer that she was partying with a customer, but he's invaded her privacy to fulfill his fucked-up fantasies. Oh, you communicated on a non-verbal level did you? In a cheesy singles bar in a Mexican resort (that has been described to me as being on par with Cancun when it comes to drunken American tourists!). Yeah, real meaningful. Please.
Women get stalked. We live in a rape-prone culture, and violence towards women is constantly sexualized. Now, this guy takes out a full page ad, mentions the woman's employer, talks about kissing and other intimate things, all after spending maybe two hours with her. K-EYE, the front page of the Statesman, and KLBJ pick it up. I call that an invasion of privacy. It's gone way beyond the messages section of the personal ads.
So here's a little message for Nick Castaneda: Hey, baby, go connect with the women you do know, not some fantasy woman who can't possibly live up to this monumental stalk.
Well, that's my rant. I guess on the anniversary of Title IX, it's good timing.
Love and kisses,
You Might Be Surprised...
First of all, I love reading the Chronicle. (But who doesn't?) Second, I love the writing style of the staff. The articles in the politics section were great! I bet y'all have a ton of fun down at the Chronicle. Judging from the writing, it seems like a great place to work.
You Do the Math
Motorists of Austin,
The letter by Art Quinn headlined "This Road Is My Road..." [Vol. 16, No. 42], gives me a chance to write a letter I've wanted to write for a long time.
Mr. Quinn complains that bicyclists on Old Spicewood Springs Road often cause him to have to drive his car at speeds as low as 10mph. Let us treat this situation as a story problem, and determine the extent of Mr. Quinn's loss at the hands of a selfish cyclist. The time (in seconds) to travel N miles at a speed of V miles per hour is given by the formula (N/V)x3600. We can calculate the amount of time added to Mr. Quinn's commute by the presence of an unpassable bicyclist. I am not familiar with the road in question, so I have made a table showing the time it takes to travel 1/8 or 1/10 of a mile, at speeds of 10, 30, 40, or 50 MPH:
10mph 30mph 40mph 50mph
1/8 mile 45 sec 15 sec 11 sec 9 sec
1/10 mile 36 sec 12 sec 9 sec 7 sec
For example, if the speed limit is 40mph, and Mr. Quinn is stuck behind the cyclist for 1/8 mile, then his trip will be about 35 seconds longer (45 - 11 = 34). I think this is a very generous estimate: 1/8 mile is 220 yards. If the road is so tortuous that he can't pass a bicycle for the length of 2 football fields, then the speed limit is probably lower than 40mph. From my own experiences biking to work on Burnet Road, I suspect that slowing down to pass a bicyclist rarely adds more than 10 seconds to the time of a trip.
Now, Mr. Quinn, in your letter, you wrote, "This would equate driving my car on a road exclusively built for bicycles and traveling at speeds greater than the bicyclists could handle. Seems fair!" Maybe to you it looks like some kind of rock-paper-scissors game between cars and bikes, but it is no laughing matter. The reality is this: You could kill a real person with your car. How many seconds is it worth to you?
Babich Denies Curse
I did not put a curse on Melissa Woodall's car ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.42]. If I had the power to stop cars, I'd stop all the cars, not just one. And if I could only stop one car, it wouldn't be Ms. Woodall's. I'd rather stop the car of one of those men who uses his car to threaten women on foot.
I made the acquaintance of these car bullies two years ago, when I injured my shoulder and became temporarily unable to ride my bicycle. I got around mostly by walking for about a month. I was amazed at the frequency with which grown men in cars and trucks would try (usually successfully) to scare me. I don't get so much of this as a bicyclist. I guess a woman on a bicycle doesn't look as vulnerable as a woman on foot with her arm in a sling.
The car culture encourages these bullies, and that's a good reason not to support the car culture. There are plenty of reasons. The oil and car companies lobby ceaselessly to get rid of all non-car transportation. They also work to get rid of air quality laws. They spill oil all over the world. The United States goes to war to keep its drivers supplied with cheap gasoline. They're using up all the oil in the world as fast as possible. When all the oil is used up, nuclear power plants (the ones whose construction Ms. Woodall spent her youth trying to prevent) will get instant mainstream acceptance in the U.S. They will be needed to supply enough electricity to run the several hundred million private cars that Americans can't live without.
Meanwhile, cars are choking our city streets, running over old people and children, and polluting our air. They are making our city uglier. Our city is still so beautiful that it's a terrible shame to make it ugly.
Public transit would use much less power than all these cars. The main reason that we don't have a good transit system in Austin is that the system we had was taken apart by the car and oil companies.
They want transit to be very inconvenient and cars very convenient. They have succeeded. But another reason why we don't have buses that run until 3am is that, instead of putting pressure on the city to provide such service, people just get in cars.
The car and oil companies are so rich and so powerful that it seems as if there is nothing we can do to stop them. And yet, if we just stopped driving cars (or even just drove cars a whole lot less), there would be nothing they could do about it.
Girls Like This Hate
Guys Like You
Who is the rollerskating waitperson on the cover of your June 20, 1997 Chronicle [Vol.16, No.42]? She is so cute and should be recognized. I remember when I first came to Austin it was for girls like this and the cheap pot. Also, I would like to comment on a few parts of your paper. I like all the sex ads in the back pages. I never read any of the stuff about art and literature, what a waste of ink. I do like the letters and think it is fun to read when somebody has a real big bug up the butt. The movie reviewers come across as real stuck up snots, thus nobody listens to a word they say. Overall, I think your competition the XLent is a better paper because they have "Too Much Coffee Man." The only reason I read your paper is because it is free. Sorry.