Keep Off Barton Creek
I was disappointed to see Robert Bryce stand against the TNC ["Environs," Vol.16, No.45]. While he apparently has a good point legally, I should think that as an environmentalist, he would have more sympathy for their position. While we may congratulate ourselves on our respect for nature and probably rightfully consider ourselves as better denizens of the earth than the orv drivers or leopard skin wearers, we must still recognize that some areas of the earth and some species demand no less than separation from all humans. This is a price we must pay for those who have screwed up, even if it isn't us. Just as affirmative action must continue because we are not a colorblind society, so locking off some parts of nature from everyone must continue because there are still too many who don't respect it and because neither we nor the animals can always tell the difference. There are plenty of other areas of Barton Creek for people to use. Can we not afford to leave this one part of it alone?
Dear Austin Chronicle,
Triangle Oppostion Large
In her letter last week [Vol.16, No.45], Jenny Hammer, the project manager for Cencor Realty Services, says there is a "small but vocal" group of opponents to Cencor's proposed strip mall project on the Triangle. Does Ms. Hammer consider the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association small? The association recently conducted a vote in Hyde Park to determine their official position on the development. The result? A whopping 95% opposed. We're talking hundreds of people in this particular vote, but the numbers are just as strong in the other surrounding neighborhoods.
Ms. Hammer also found fault with the Chronicle's cover photo envisioning what the Triangle will look like with the strip mall on it. Perhaps she would have preferred a model such as the pretty one Cencor displayed at the June "Town Hall" meeting, with all the parking spaces colored green!
May I please suggest a use for the recently contested 45th Street/Guadalupe land. My idea is to copy what other countries do with public grounds, which is to build a public plaza which is then surrounded by stores and small vendors. This is a design we are not familiar with in the U.S.
These plazas are built around a gazebo and typically feature many benches adjoining radially designed walkways. Statues of public heroes dot the area, as do a great many large, shady trees and shrubs. This approach to public space is conducive to relaxation in the shade and general enjoyment of the surrounding city in addition to commerce. Moderate-size stores surround the plaza, and vendors sell ice cream or shoe shines alongside of the amusements for children which surround the plaza. These areas are alive days and evenings, and are major attractions for families and singles as well.
We Americans have enough Target/MegaCinema/Wendy's stripmall culture; surely we can do without another blast of it in central Austin. Let's do something completely different and, for us, unique with the controversial 45th Street area.
We Flunked History
Tom Aiken's review of the new Che Guevera book ["The Myth of Che," Vol.16, No.45] provided tepid, at best, historical context of the life and times of Guevara, but nevertheless I was surprised to read that Guevara met Fidel Castro in 1962, as Aiken informs us. You'd think the two would have met earlier, perhaps during the guerrilla campaign in the Cuban countryside, or later while serving in the revolutionary government. Aiken has indeed provided a groundbreaking historical fact unknown to most scholars.
Likewise, several issues back Kayte VanScoy educated us Texan transplants that, as she put it, "all native Texans know" Mirabeau Lamar was Texas' first president. I guess I'll have to toss out all those books designating Sam Houston as the republic's first president.
All kidding aside, does the Chronicle need a fact-checker?
Films Are Not Real!
This letter is directed to Michael Bertin, who wrote the article in the July 4th issue about John Hughes' films ["Scanlines," Vol.16, No.44].
The premise that Hughes lied to the public in the making of his films is absurd. Movies fall into the category of entertainment, a broad spectrum which seeks to help people escape a harsher reality on this hell we call earth. The three movies Mr. Bertin spoke of are fiction, of course, and also pure fantasy. They were made to entertain, not shine light on the meaning of existence. Anyone who looks for and finds secret meanings in these films is fooling themselves.
Movies aren't real life!
Remember The Last Temptation of Christ?
The article entitled "Pressure Drop" [Vol.16, Ño.44] reminds me of the ugly American who goes to a foreign country for a four-day weekend and professes to "know the culture." Unfortunately, many readers expect writers to be experts on their subject matter. This article clearly demonstrated a superficial commitment to the truth by interviewing one band and one ex-promoter. The real reggae scene lays far below the shallow waters where the writer refused to tread. Great disrespect was paid to Austin reggae musicians who have spent many years fine-tuning their lyrics and riddems to a fine art. To imply that reggae needs more young, fresh blood in order to be vital is a contradiction to the maturity and professionalism that our local reggae bands have brought to the industry. Raggamassive, Root 1, Tribal Nation, Liberation, One Destiny, Bigga Riddem, Killer Bees and a few others have single-handedly created a growing market for club owners and radio deejays alike to showcase the inspirational and socio-political truths embedded in the music. Many critics seem to confuse quality with quantity. Reggae has never died. Only in the hearts of the weak. The evolution of reggae music has often been mis-overstood by the Babylon system it rejects. Reggae was never intended to be commercialized. It is inspirational, newsworthy music that educates and entertains in synchronicity. When Haile Selassie died, the Jamaican papers wrote "Rasta, your God is Dead." Bob Marley immediately retreated to his studio and wrote "Jah Lives." You can't kill Jah. He lives within us all. Reggae is alive and well. The truth is an offense, but not a sin.
Let Jah music play!
Conscious Party, KAZI 88.7 F.M.
This is Jason Demetri, the singer of soak. We are just passing through today heading to San Antonio for the rour tour. My girlfriend showed me an old Chronicle that was talking about the Rockfest and soak ["Dancing About Architecture," Vol.16, No.43]. Although the second half of the article was accurate the first half was not. Nobody and I mean nobody ever told any of us that we were not allowed to stage dive. As a matter of fact the day before when I was talking about it they were saying it was too far and that I would never make it, encouraging a challenge. And I (Jason Demetri) dove three successful times never hitting anybody. It was only John Moyer (bass) that dove and hit anyone. I just thought you guys might want to know what really happened. A lot of people on the Net thought it was me (Jason Demetri) also but it wasn't.
LETTER TO LOWLY "ALIEFIAN" heflin CONSPIRATOR-marvin olle:
Whatever You Say, Man
heflin's LOUD MOUTH, LOW LIFE, PIECE OF TRASH:
you, your CHEAP COWARDLY BAD COPS, your Alief SCHOOL PARACITICAL TRASH, your ALIEF communistic church lowly CULTISTIC MOB, your VILE scientology ANTI-CHRIST CO-CONSPIRACY TRASH, your WITCHCRAFT YELLOW BELLY POLITICIAN, AND THE GHASTLY DEMENTED REMAINDER OF your COWARDLY CONSPIRATORY heflin SALIVATING MAD DOG, LOWER THAN THE BELLY OF A SNAKE POLITICAL MOB --
FOR you TO EVEN CONCEIVE IN your own SICK LITTLE MINDS THAT YOU ARE ASSOCIATED WITH, AND CLAIM CREDIT FOR THE GARY TITUS-TEXAS HISTORICAL MARKER LOCATED ON MY DAIRY CHRISTIAN CEMETERY, EMPHATICALLY RENDERS ANOTHER heflin POLITICAL FALSE PRETENSE LODGED IN YOUR SICK LITTLE MINDS. FRIEND, GARY TITUS WAS MANIPULATED AND POLITICALLY USED CUNNINGLY BY heflin. GARY TITUS WAS THE GUNG-HO MOVING FACTOR IN THE SECURING OF THE TEXAS HISTORICAL MARKER ON MY DAIRY CHRISTIAN CEMETERY. heflin MERELY WAS THE GREEDY COWARDLY POLITICIAN WHO CHARACTERISTICALLY ATTEMPTS TO TAKE CREDIT FOR OTHER PEOPLES' GOOD DEEDS. your heflin WAS A KEY FACTOR IN SQUANDERING AND LOSING OLD ALIEF CEMETERY. (I GIVE THE devil his CREDIT DUE UNTO him) you WHO SEND AND RECLUSIVELY HIDE COWARDLY RETRACTED BEHIND YOUR OWN HAGS, HUSSIES, AND SWINE -- ALL OF YOU TRASHY LOW LIFE BUMS -- EXTRACT IT FROM your SICK LITTLE MINDS, THAT IN your own evil politically corrupted twisted TRASHY MANNERISM OF THINKING, THAT you CONCEIVE TO OWN THE GARY TITUS TEXAS HISTORICAL MARKER, BECAUSE I SAY YOU DON'T!!!!!!!
heflin republican COWARDS, you ARE MERELY "CHAFE IN THE WIND." (IN your heflin lowly TERMINOLOGY: you trashy bums AIN'T NOTHIN' BUT TRASH!!!!!!!)
ALWAYS AT YOUR TRASHY DISPOSAL,
CHARLES W. KRUSE
DAIRY CHRISTIAN CEMETERY
It's a Thought
Everyone is concerned about the recent spate of carjacking. Surely auto dealers can devise a way to unlatch the trunk lid from the inside.
Political Correctness Defined
This is in response to letter in the 7/11 edition from Alice Spooner ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.45]. I suspect that Political Correctness (if the term means anything anymore) has origins that far predate kindergartens, probably back to the first human rulers that allowed others to participate in authority. In modern usage, it seems to mean keeping the public as poorly informed as possible so that we cannot participate in the decision making process in any meaningful way. This is done by dumbing people down to the point that the general public cannot even discuss most issues and concepts in a coherent manner by, among other things, imposing restrictions on what journalists, politicians, and others in the public forum can and cannot say without jeopardizing their careers, incomes, or in extreme cases like some Latin countries, their lives, and by insuring that we are tuned-in to entertainment programs with zero intellectual value. In the U.S., for example, we're led to believe that ours is a classless society; that everyone is equal. Usage of the word "class" is politically incorrect, even though there's a bitter class war going on every day. Witness recent debates about social welfare, but an almost complete lack of mainstream discussion about corporate welfare. It's a perverted twist on the kindergarten concept of teaching people to be good little boys and girls, and it works by diverting attention toward rhetoric and nonsense and away from actual events in order to manufacture consent for outrageous and often cruel political decisions. It's not hard to imagine how this could have worked for the ancients before there was even such a thing as formal education. Perhaps one or more ancient rulers came up with the idea of lessening their administrative burden and extending their influence by (as biologists might say in the context of the first life forms) making crude copies of themselves.
The Audience is Listening
So Ruth E. Davis didn't like the storyline of Funny Face shown at the Paramount, so she yelled an obscenity and ruined it for everyone else who paid to enjoy the movie ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.45]? Ruth, from now on, do us all a favor and rent your movies where you can watch them in the privacy of your own home. That way, you can yell obscenities until you're blue in the face. But at least you won't be ruining everyone else's movie.
More Praise for Mike's
In reference to your "Flamin' Burgers" feature article [Vol.16, No.42], I have some problems with your reviews, or rather failure to review.
First of all, one of the finest burgers in Austin can be found at Mike's Pub -- a small place open only for lunch located in a parking garage next to a Thundercloud Subs (I'm sure you can find it if a Thundercloud is nearby). I realize Mike's Pub is not an advertiser in your weekly paper, but the burgers speak for themselves -- no advertising is needed for this mom & pop operation. The place has been owned by the Lavas family since it opened some 25 years ago -- Jim still runs the grill, Cindy still takes the money, no "slacker" teenagers here.
Although I find it funny that you criticize people for hiring "slackers," I'm sure you are not silly enough to overlook the fact that these jobs usually don't pay well and hardly inspire pride in one's job. Jim & Cindy and the little hispanic man that fills the ice tea or pours the beer are the only employees this place has. Granted Mike's Pub is only open a few hours a day, but how can you ignore a place that Austin legend Earl Campbell describes simply as "damn good." Maybe The Austin Chronicle should take a wider range of burger joints the next time around, not just their advertisers, or maybe Mike's Pub is the best-kept secret in Austin. Forget I even sent this e-mail.
P.S. The Tavern doesn't use processed cheese -- ask a waitperson next time you have a question, or did you get the burger from Take-out Taxi?
I have a friend who sometimes buys the National Enquirer. He and his family take turns reading the articles and laughing until the tears roll down their cheeks. If he lived in Austin, I know he would do the same with the Chronicle, a tabloid apparently aimed at mildly retarded sophomore drop-outs from ACC and UT. The "Real Astrology" column pretty much says it all. None of that phony, entertaining astrology for you -- you offer the real thing. Maybe you should add "Real UFOs," "Real Crystal Healing," and "Real Tarot Card Reading."
My favorite feature is "Postmarks." Talk about your humor. In the July 11 issue [Vol.16, No.45], Ruth Davis admits to yelling an obscenity at a showing of Funny Face. Apparently the director had never heard of feminism and failed to appreciate Audrey Hepburn as a "whole woman." Ruth, you need a little historical perspective -- that film was made in 1957, for God's sake. I hope you never have to sit through "Gone with the Wind" or "Driving Miss Daisy." You'll die of apoplexy! Oh, and Ruth -- how do you deal with the Chronicle's "Adult Services" Page -- do you suppose the folks at The Doll House, Lingerie Dreams, and X-tacy offer the services of the "whole" woman?
Dave Schroeder (same Chronicle) spends a lot of time explaining why we are doomed, paradoxically, by a combination of our love of freedom and a global fascism -- one that unexplainably hates women's liberation. (Apparently women can't be fascists. Something must have changed since World War II.) One facet of this all-male fascist plot, according to Dave, is "burgeoning populations." I would really like to know how the all-male fascists are convincing the non-fascist women to have all those babies. Anyhow, not to worry -- at the end of his letter ol' Dave tells us he is grateful and optimistic. Education, he surmises, is going to save us. (I think a good place for it to start is with the benighted letter writers featured in the Chronicle "Postmarks.")
Finally we have a letter from Alice Kennedy Spooner. I don't know what the hell she's trying to say. Like Dave, she writes long, rambling sentences with no verbs. As near as I can tell, she is convinced that Adolph Hitler is the cause of political correctness, as opposed, I guess, to NPR and the Washington Post. Earth to Alice: Hitler died in 1945. That's, like, really a long time ago, man.
Keep up the good work, editors. The world needs to laugh more, and you're doing your part.
Holly Closure Too Costly
There is an issue which is not going away anytime soon, and that is the ill-advised closure of the Holly Street Power Plant, an act pulled off by a small group without the consent of the whole populace, the only true owners of this plant.
It should not be necessary to belabor the facts, but this facility produces over 22% of our electrical generation, and it is absolutely senseless to destroy a perfectly good operating plant -- all the attendant costs of replacement, decommissioning, land acquisition, new KV lines, interest, and maintenance of Longhorn Damn (after Holly is gone) are surely going to run into the hundreds of millions, and for a city budget, you're talking real money here.
The proponents of Holly's destruction are perpetrating ridiculous cynical, outright lies about the safety of this plant, lies which must be countered before they become widely believed. There has never, ever been proven to be toxic substances affecting anyone near, or in the plant, yet this grotesque lie has been resurrected, forcing its denial, while proof of this allegation is never forthcoming. Or ever will be.
And of course, the tear-jerking plea is made about the "school children" affected, yet the nearest school is quite out of earshot -- in fact, an examination of a map of houses in the plant's vicinity reveals about only 50 buildings or residences which are close enough to be affected by the noise. It would cost only a relative pittance for the city to pay to relocate these folks.
Let's remember that Holly has been around for nearly four decades now, probably longer than the vast majority of people in that neighborhood, who knew Holly was there when they moved in.
I would like to ask some questions of those who so assiduously advocate Holly's destruction:
1) Who stands to gain financially when certain nearby rental or residential lots soar in value when Holly is gone?
2) Why does not the Holly Plant Closure Committee bring forth those people they claim are being deafened by the noise, instead of presenting themselves as their proxies in front of the utility commission, threatening lawsuits, as I once saw done? Do we need to spend upwards of a quarter billion dollars for one person? How about even 10 complaining residents who are directly affected? Let El Concilo bring them forth, if they exist. Then we can discuss who was there first, and whether simple relocation is not a better solution.
Freedom to Drink
The expression "Health Nazis" appeared in the Chronicle some years ago and I was reminded of it when I recently saw a notice posted at a Barton Greenbelt entrance of a proposal to make the area an "Alcohol-free Zone." Granted, it can be said there is a problem with public drunkenness at some party spots along the creek where things can get out of hand, but I never dreamed Austin could permit such extremist, Nazi-like thinking as to penalize the public at large for the actions of a few.
The greenbelt is not a Sixth Street situation lined with bars and thick with craziness. Why don't they just go ahead and proclaim this a dry city and be done with it? There is more than ample law enforcement personnel to handle all those nasty beer drinkers. I hope concerned people have taken the time to call the number on the notice and voice their opinion about this proposal. Perhaps the Chronicle could investigate.
In my opinion, an enforceable no glass container and no littering ordinance would better serve our community. Impose stiff fines for violators and pay for enforcement costs with those fines. Just like they do to those friendly folk who approach escape velocity daily driving on MorePac.
Austin's unique and special areas are disappearing. Regardless of efforts to maintain its natural beauty and its culture, the open thinking and freestyle living that once prevailed are falling prey to goosesteppers and franchise operators who seem to think that Austin needs to get with the program.
By the way, I met a man while heading for the creek the other day and he asked me if there was any place down there to change into his swimsuit. I replied, "How about the woods?"
Sometimes I might want a beer,
A History of Religion
It is truly amazing how influential and political the church has become in this country. I honestly had to laugh at a recent attempt by the Baptists to boycott Disney over their gay-friendly policies. What hypocrites. Ninety percent of the time they contradict themselves on every issue. In a recent article published in The Economist, the Republican party attempted to pass legislation requiring prayer in public schools. I'm sorry, but that is the most ridiculous effort to gentrify and pasteurize our diverse nation. As we all know, church and state are separate as required by the constitution. The sheer level of frustration personified by the religious right is nothing new. It's been around for centuries and will continue to exist unless we become familiar with their agenda.
Allow me to tell you a funny story. Thousands of years ago, a few individuals were sitting around a camp fire discussing a practical joke over some weed. Naturally they didn't realize how their little scheme would backfire and continue to influence contemporary or modern man. (That in itself was a mistake and joke.) Here's what they did. "Okay, Mohammed, let's name some guy, `God', another `Jesus' and a few others, `John', `Paul', `Judas', and `Peter,' whatever." "Now let's just convince everyone that the world was created in three days and Noah saved a few animals for a little excitement." "What about a few commandments, Jihad?" Remember, we believe this stuff today. Oh and don't forget Jesus died for our sins and rose a few days later only to be seen occasionally in order to build a good reputation. Imagine this kind of story carried on from generation to generation, varying just a little so as to create a few different versions and religions along the way. As a result a few million people are annihilated in the name of God. (i.e. Hindus and Muslims; Protestants and Catholics.) I wouldn't suppose these religious institutions were keen on conformity and war, would you? Well, listen to all the fervor today about the demise of our culture and value system. It's just talk, because if the religious fundamentalists thought for a moment, they may come to their senses and conclude that these handed-down traditions and beliefs are nothing more than a cruel joke expressed by a few silly individuals sitting around a camp fire a few thousand years ago.
Dear Chronicle Editors:
Ken Kennedy begins his first letter in the July 11 [Vol.16, No.45] Chronicle by misquoting the Constitution. Then he declares that prayer before a city council meeting is "clearly not unconstitutional." I would suggest that Mr. Kennedy learn what the Constitution actually says before offering such judgements. Those who are interested in the question might like to visit the Separation of Church and State website, at http://www.louisville.edu/~tnpete01/church/index.htm.
Kennedy goes on to accuse those who oppose what he calls a "harmless ritual" of having an "intolerant disregard for the Bill of Rights." I can only wonder to what degree his understanding of the Bill of Rights corresponds with what it actually says.
Sure, prayer before a city council meeting is "harmless," in the same sense that having a baby tiger in your home is "harmless." The purpose of the Constitutional separation of church and state is to get religion out into its natural habitat before it gets too big and starts eating the furniture.
Ken did get one thing right, when he said that these rituals "reflect deeply held beliefs of a large and traditional segment of the free society." But that, of course, is exactly the point. Majority groups already have more political power simply by being in the majority. The Constitution is there to set limits on what those majorities can get away with. It doesn't matter that most Americans are Christians -- they still have no right to use the power of the state to promote Christianity.
In spite of Ken's fears, nobody who's protesting the practice of Christian prayer before city council meetings has any intention of outlawing Christianity, prayer, or spirituality in general. Not even if (like me) they think that all of those things are pretty goofy. The Constitutional separation of church and state, which the city council violates with its pre-meeting prayers, is also there to prevent people like me from passing legislation outlawing religion.
So relax, Ken.