Brown Right To Fight
Years ago I played basketball on many occasions against Bick Brown. There is no more intense competition than Bick. The Bick I know would love nothing more than to be surrounded by quality restaurants if there was parking to support it. The area he is in lacks good parking even for his own restaurant. In this case I would not respect Bick Brown for relenting in this controversial fight over his parking.
He owes it to his employees to insure them a livelihood, which he can't do if he gives that parking to a competitor.
I eat at Hyde Park about once every six months only because it is difficult to park. Make it more difficult and I may not eat there again. Competition is good and healthy, no one knows this better than Bick and myself, but when you penalize your own staff to give in to public pressure -- this is wrong.
Bench Magically Reappears
You'll be interested to hear that after your recent article on the Hyde Park debacle, the bench magically reappeared in front of the defunct Hyde Park Bakery. Now there's a place to sit. And La Vita Dolce just around the corner has a large coffee to go for only a dollar. So there's now a place to sit and coffee. Unfortunately, there's very little flow of people with the bakery closed and Fresh Plus across the street also closed for remodeling.
What has to happen is for someone to start thinking of the neighborhood and get busy and resolve this mess.
Is Aunt Margaret Losing It?
Dear Mr. Black,
Your Aunt Margaret is losing it. (Princess of Hearts) ["TV Eye," Vol.17, No.2] Good night sweet princess? I had to check twice to make sure I wasn't reading Teen Beat.
Granted, we all have shining icons in our life, but I'm glad you kept your own blurb about Princess Diana's death down to this one story. Yes, it's a terrible tragedy, but the distribution of cheap emotion seems to equal the distribution of wealth in this society; reserved for a few. And besides, if we could ask any now-dead legend how they're doing, I'll bet most of 'em would probably tell ya, "Much better now, thanks." The back catalog sells much better in death.
Sorry... that was mean. I just think that if more celebrities died at a faster and more constant rate, we could deal with this better.
¡Dios mio! I just read Chris Downey's letter to the Editor ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.2) and felt compelled to respond. I am not now, and have never been, a Catholic, I sure as hell don't believe in "Satan," and my only connection to Lee Cantu is that I bought a piñata at his store seven years ago. I am a Mexican-American who grew up in San Antonio's "El Westside" -- a muy Chicano barrio -- and I was raised by two Catholics, my Madrina Luz Santos (yes, that was her real name, "Light Saints") and my Abuelita Carmen Rivera.
Madrina died 26 years ago, but I will always remember her as a God-fearing woman, a hardworking, loving, and helpful woman. Whenever someone gave me the "Ojo" (evil eye), Madrina would take me to a curandera who would take out a raw egg, say prayers, and then pass the cool egg shell over my fevered body. The curandera would then break the egg, pour it in a bowl, and give it to Madrina to place under my bed.
Hey, I don't know how this stuff works, nor do I care, but I always felt better the next day, and I'm still alive!
As for my 86-year-old Abuelita, she is everything an Abuelita should be -- warm, generous, loving, funny, open-minded, and she makes killer tortillas. She is very Catholic, had 14 children, and helped raise a few of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Now for 86 years Abuelita has been a role model of faith and love for God, yet one of her comadres is a curandera, and Abuelita has no problem getting advice or help from her. All my life I've seen how curanderas or curanderos have been called upon for help by my aunts, uncles, cousins, vecinos, why just about everyone in my old barrio!
So, Chris Downey, from my cultural perspective, faith healers and Catholicism have always been intertwined, and my Madrina and Abuelita taught me to respect curanderos, for they use their faith to help others.
True, I'm not Catholic and don't know much about the Catechism, but I believe "God works in mysterious ways." As it says in Matt. 7:16, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"
If Mr. Cantu is full of "evil pride," then it's God's business to have him "hewn down, and cast into the fire." ¿Verdad?
an Austin Bahá'í
Abolish Affirmative Action
I am an African American female and I want to see an end to affirmative action -- the exclusive, preferential treatment extending by white men to white men. I'm not just talking about the "good ole boy" network. I want to see an end to white racial preferences that go beyond jobs and social organizations. There is a subtle, effective acceptance extended among white males who don't even know each other, a kind of kindred connection that causes them to stick together, excluding those who don't look like them. As a person who is least like a white male, I've clearly seen the back side of this affirmative action.
Current opposition to affirmative action for blacks and others comes from the same white men who have practiced affirmative action among themselves for centuries. From the inception of this country, the most privileged group has been white men, and they passed the legacy on so strongly that they are effective in defeating the slightest attempts by others seeking to gain opportunity.
People with true historical perspective understand the nefarious nature of white affirmative action -- from slavery to Jim Crow to social and economic injustices of today. When I hear arguments against opportunity for the disenfranchised, I wonder at the audacity of heirs of slave owners who refuse to recognize the historical effects on our present conditions. White men will deny the ramifications of slavery on African Americans, but they won't deny claim to any property, money, status or legacy inherited as a result of their ancestry.
In the discussion on affirmative action, everyone should have a clear understanding of slavery, segregation and the socio-economic system that moved the majority of African Americans from plantations to ghettos while keeping white men in power and on top.
In an editorial on September 14, 1997, Austin American-Statesman editor Richard Oppel said that University of Texas professor Lino Graglia is "not a racist" and is "a rational and respected teacher." I find this incredible. Is it "rational" or "non-racist" to say, as Graglia did, that failure is not a disgrace in African-American or Hispanic culture? Or that because minorities are "lower classes," the effect of integration will be to give whites a bad opinion of them? These remarks are irrational over-generalizations and racist stereotyping.
I am Hispanic. I went to college after raising three children and graduated. My children are all college graduates. For them, the question was not if they went to college but when they went to college. For all of us, failure was not an option. I am sure that there are whites who have the same view of life. Whether people tolerate failure is not a question of culture or color. It is a question of character.
Maybe the Chronicle should reconsider its admiration for Richard Oppel in light of Oppel's apparent admiration for Lino Graglia.
Soledad Flores Worley
Just in case there were still those in Austin and America who are unsure of what is meant by blatant racism, may I please suggest that they read the comments made by University of Texas law professor Lino Graglia.
It truly comes as no surprise, to me and other African-Americans, that within the educational system in this country there are those who view us and other minorities as less than able students and they offer no apologies for that view. In fact, many in the African-American community, myself included, have said that racism touches almost every aspect of our lives. Yet, to voice that opinion is to be labeled, by many, as paranoid and a preacher of conspiracies.
Mr. Graglia said that "blacks and Mexican Americans are not competitive with whites in selective institutions" and that we come from cultures in which "failure is not looked upon in disgrace." He is even quoted in the Austin American-Statesman as referring to us as the "lower classes."
Now, I consider myself to be a reasonable person and I do not think this is an example of a conspiracy. Regents Chairman Don Evans of Midland, in fact, said, "What he has said is insulting, it's disgusting, and it in no way represents the mainstream of the UT System or the values of this great state." However, if you want to know what African-Americans mean when they say this is a racist society, with racists individuals in positions of power, you need not look any further than the UT campus.
If Lino Graglia is allowed to remain a tenured professor, I say shame on the University of Texas, shame on Austin, and shame on America.
Too Few Guns in Cowtown
With a manager named Jesus and a council who invoke an imaginary deity before every meeting, we might expect something of Austin. But alas. Instead, I am left to compile a list of the top ten reasons Austin has reverted to the cowtown backwater it was in 1950: 1) Children told they're not to be trusted: it's called a curfew. 2) Adults told they're idiots: it's unconstitutional censorship of Bill Clinton satire in city library computers. 3) Bicyclists told they're irresponsible: it's called a helmet law. 4) - 10) No good; I need space to explain. For example: We know the City of Austin aggressively promotes rape and assault. For the slow of mind (e.g., city bureaucrats) who cannot figure this out for themselves, I must mention the stripping from every person waiting at a bus stop of the right to pack heat in self defense. That is a fact taken advantage of every single day in this lovely city. Hordes of cop platoons to the rescue, I am sure. Social fabric, my hind end. Garza should get the hell out of this town, while there's any town left, and take his cronies with him. I should pay $125,000 a year for his kind of integrity?
David L. Kent
Posters Are The Music, Too
Dear Mr. Editor:
Kudos to The Austin Chronicle and Marc Savlov for a well-researched, accurate overview of the history of Austin music posters ["Violators Will Be Punished," Vol.17, No.2]. These artists were drawing upon the same creative impulse that Austin musicians were, but they expressed the spirit of Austin music in a different, non-audial form -- the music poster. Through the use of posters, the spirit of the music spread to the streets and wall around town and added greatly to the cohesion of our music community, eh?
Nels Jacobson, who did his poster art using the name "Jagmo," has just published a long essay with lots of illustrations called "Armadillos, Peccadillos & the Maveric Posterists of Austin, Texas" in a new book put out by the Texas State Historical Association called Prints and Printmakers of Texas. He points out that Austin's poster artists have been "graphically documenting the spirit of their age with a powerful and unique vision."
The City of Austin touts the local music industry as an asset; it is puzzling why the city would actively discourage propagation of the graphic visuals that help support music events.
The authors of Austin's Land Development Code, section 13-2-864 seem to have been both dandiacal and pixilated.
Free Zilker Park!
When I heard about the hair-brained notion to start charging a dollar entrance fee to Zilker Park I was enraged! Wait a minute guys! Aren't our parks here for everyone to enjoy? Where else in nature can we go to physically escape the hectic world we live in? Shouldn't we rather be encouraging families and friends to spend time together instead of penalizing them? Mustn't we encourage exercise and better health in this day of junk food, obesity, and Internet surfers (who rarely see the sun)?
Then why did this lame idea surface? If you think charging a dollar is a small fee and won't make a difference you are wrong! By charging a fee you are especially discouraging lower-income people, youth, and the elderly (who are generally the citizens with the most time and the least amount of money) to enjoy the parks. Charging any admission is a terrible idea and must not even be considered.
What are we thinking, people? You have a right to go to the park even if you don't have a dollar and so do I. Let's realize what a bad idea this is and nix this thought right now!
Thank You for Jarring Me
Last week on the way to my daughter's orthodontist appointment, driving through work-hour traffic, just like everyone else, a little too fast and panicked, I got caught at a traffic light at Brodie and Lamar. Across the intersection was a piece of rural Mexico neatly cut out and inserted into the hyperdrive of Austin, 1997. A father was taking his young son to school on a bicycle, bouncing along an improvised path through one of the few areas still undeveloped. The little boy was holding on tightly as the two headed towards Sunset Valley Elementary.
I wanted to thank the father for jarring me with the juxtaposition.
Too Much Driving
Dear Mr. Black,
That "City staff drives the city" is a big problem. 10,000 more cars on the road. Maybe if they received free bus passes, they might walk the city. And maybe if the helmet law were repealed, they might bike the city. Seeing the council drive back and forth between City Hall and Council Chambers (6 blocks!) shows me they lack the vision to fix Austin's transportation problems.
That your big transportation complaint is that "traffic is a mess" shows me you also lack that vision. You could lead the way by offering your employees free bus passes, free helmets emblazoned with the Chronicle logo, and "bicycle allowances."
Every city has gridlock, but some cities have mobility -- they had the foresight to have a good bus system, light rail, and dedicated bike routes. Our bus system is half what it needs to be, but this year's budget increase is going into the Pave Greater Austin program for car drivers. Light rail is still being resisted by the Chamber and even some homeowners (whose cars are a much greater nuisance than light rail will be). Bike lanes are still filled with parked cars. Bicycle commuters are still treated as second class citizens by the police. There is still no serious discussion about bicycle boulevards.
And then there's the proposed State Freeway 130. TxDOT contends that this freeway won't increase gridlock because the streets will already be saturated. We need to resoundingly defeat the county road bond package in November.
Enjoy the drive home.
Yours in compactness,
Thanks to Gerald McCleod for the interesting piece on Texas/Mormon history, via the Internet no less! (Book review of Hill Country in Day Trips)
But in Gerald's account of Mormon Lyman Wight's effort to establish a colony in Texas, why did he eliminate the words "Jesus Christ" from the name of the "Mormon" church: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"?
Many people believe that the Mormons (initially a pejorative given them for their embrace of the Book of Mormon) are not Christians, which could not be further from the truth.
The Book of Mormon is an account of a group of sixth-century-b.c. Israelites who made their way to the western hemisphere and established a civilization located primarily in Central America. Much archaeological evidence suggests that these ancient Israelis were the origin of the Mesoamerican peoples.
And the Book of Mormon includes an account of Christ's visit to these people after his resurrection, the establishment of his original church among them and his subsequent dealings with them for another 400 years.
Mormons embrace the Christian Bible as well as the Book of Mormon, both as witnesses of Jesus Christ, and are thus at least as Christian as any other religion.
How About Rainbow Tacos?
Re: Jon Miller-Carrasco's letter asking about pink taco bumper stickers. The stickers are part of a juvenile and homophobic advertising campaign by radio station KLBJ-FM. Straight men are supposed to "prove their masculinity" by putting pink taco stickers on their cars. Likewise, straight women are supposed to put pink hot dog stickers on their cars.
I am boycotting KLBJ as a result of this stupid promotion (and am listening instead to gay-friendly 101X). I hope that other gay and lesbian Austinites will do the same, and will let KLBJ's management know their opinion of the sticker campaign.
Paul K. Smith
Just to say how much I appreciate Ventura's column in the Chron. I would gladly pay to read him. Would say as much directly, but trust you will pass it on should the opportunity arise.
Continue to Cover Homeless
Please continue to cover the homeless issue in Austin. After reading the Statesman's articles, it appears to me and many others that the Statesman has become a water carrier for the Downtown Austin Alliance of businesses against a homeless facility or improving Austin's inadequate homeless services.(The Downtown Austin Alliance is opposed to the Facility because, in classic nimby fashion, they think it will be Downtown.) I have suggested to the Statesman that they should identify their articles about the homeless with something like "Downtown Alliance Mouthpiece" or "Distorted, Heartless Viewpoint". While accurate, I am not holding my breath.
Dank Reek of Opium
I am writing this e-mail to inform you of true talent on your staff. The videotape reviews put out by one Christopher "I wear all Black, but I am not as cool as Johnny Cash" Null have been underplayed for far too long. I cannot believe you all foolishly allowed him to move to San Fran, have you all lost your minds? Limiting him to video, instead of first runs? Is the dank reek of opium creeping out of your management's office and truly blistering the minds of the real decision makers at the Chronicle?
What talent, what vision, what insight, etc., Mr. Null shows in his weekly ramblings. The man is a genius, and you let him go! Mr. Null, the Chronicle's answer to the Sourpuss of the Statesman, the always angry, yet possible hetro Ann Hornaday. True, in a head-to-head battle, she might have him on smell, she might have him on weight, but never on judgment.
I am afraid you will slowly lose a true gem in the crown of the Chronicle. Not only should you pay him more, but also consider hiring a prostitute to regularly apply "oral minstrations" as to reduce any possible pressure on Mr. Null's brain, further freeing his thought process, allowing him to write more, more, more.
As demonstrated last night on eMpTV's Austin Stories, there truly are very few creative writers in this town. Why, that bit of broadcast tripe & drivel almost forced me out of my complacent seat of uncaring, and onto the floor to heave huge chunks of Tex-Mex flavored stomach stew. It was just horrible.
And why? Because the writing staff did not come close to being worthy of carrying Christopher Null's bedpan.
Please, do not let the Chronicle fall into total disrepair. Keep Null available at all times, at any cost. San Francisco is no place for a honest Austinite. Do whatever it takes, dispatch horses immediately if required, Bring him back.
lunatic at large
Here we go again! Our esteemed senator is blaming others for his failure to write responsible legislation. The law re-organizing the Metro board was done out of malice -- it was a money and power grab for the highly thought of senator. He merely wanted Metro's 1/4 cent for ATS and consolidation of control over local transportation issues.
If the honorable senator wanted true accountability on the transit board, it would have been more democratic and representative to elect seven people from seven same-size districts in terms of geography and have the chair be initially elected from the new board. After the first term, the chair would go to one of the board members running for office. The cost to the electorate can be held down by holding the vote on an established election day.
The senator's legislation is so full of holes it makes Rep. Wolgemuth's mammoth bill-killing spree a rank amateur. Perhaps it is time to reconsider who our state senator ought to be: someone of haughty arrogance or a person who understands the greater Austin areas needs.
Citizen of the World
Thank you for keeping the immigration issue alive. However, since you saw fit to print replies calling me racist and xenophobic, which have no basis in any fact, as well as accusing me of attacking disempowered, disenfranchised people who are unable to defend themselves, how about giving me a little space to defend myself against lies and false characterizations?
But first, let's remember one main fact for the Chronicle's readership to ponder and address, before calling me a racist xenophobe, who needs his horizons "broadened" by the ever-increasing importation of cheap, illegal third world labor. At the current rate of U.S. population growth and over-paving, by around 2030, we will cease to be a food-exporting nation! After that, we won't even be able to grow enough to sustain ourselves, let alone be the breadbasket for the rest of the world, whose population will have doubled anyway by 2050 or so, and who surely won't be able to provide for our food needs in the future. No one I have ever talked to, from the American Friends' Service Committee to Zero Population Growth, has been able to address this fact. Especially not the AFSC, who are among the most brazen pundits of "open borders" when they think no one's looking, but slickly and intellectually dishonestly act as if they are not, when they think they are being heard.
It's too bad the right to migrate is pointedly denied to virtually all American workers, who might like to go to Paris, London, Berlin, or Venice to work in those cities' factories, construction sites, restaurants, and hotels. Otherwise, those places would be overrun with American youth, who are denied those broadening experiences. I was lucky enough to acquire as a guestworker in Zurich one year. It was as a lowly dishwasher, and I had to leave for America when my work permit expired, but I learned and saw a lot in an international city, and acquired a second language in less than a year's time. Here in Austin, I get to be called a narrow, xenophobic racist in the pages of the Chronicle, and by a bunch of pseudointellectual trotskiis, who after their semester abroad in Madrid, sit around in Quackenbush's wearing black and smoking Gauloises, O.D.-ing on caffeine while talking about Che Guevera and Hemingway, pretending they're in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, my own status as an American citizen means nothing, while a bunch of high-birthrate illegals push me to the back of the employment line using forged documents, while I get to see some Aztec dancers at UT on the occasion of a Mexican Holiday (Diez y seis) claim Texas as "Aztlan," and use this event to proclaim U.S. society as racist against the world (screaming "Viva Mexico!"). I feel so enriched. Now I'm a citizen of the world!
Thank Hard-Working Immigrants
I am writing in response to Robert P. Higley's letter in your Sept. 12 issue.
Mr. Higley asserts that "reliable sources total cost (benefits less cost) of legal and illegal immigration at 65 billion dollars annually -- and that's not just the financial cost."
I sat down and wrote a long, serious letter to refute Mr. Higley, but I think the above sentence pretty well refutes itself.
Mr. Higley, may I recommend that the next time you enjoy low-price produce at the grocery store that you thank the hard-working illegal aliens that worked for pennies a day, all day every day so that you can sit on your ass and bitch about them or would you rather just pick your own lettuce, dig your own ditches, sew your own clothes? I have never met a lazy immigrant, but I have met lots of ignorant, lazy, welfare check collecting native born U.S. citizens.
Isn't it ironic that Princess Diana's death was caused by the same relentless press that also publicized her good efforts that she was so obviously loved for? Diana used her 15 year relentless and uncontrollable publicity parade in a similar spirited fashion as John Lennon did with his fame and his peace campaign. Throughout the history of the English monarchy she'll be known for her championing of good causes -- certainly over being Charlie's babymaker.
The mass adulation exhibited from her funeral was not for her wealth, her royal position, the ostentatious ceremony, or finally, even her good looks. It had to do with her sharing the might and glory of her fame and fortune with the world's forgotten and downtrodden. Ever since she was flung onto the world's stage she deliberately reminded the powerful of the world that massive neglect of humanity has led a virtual genocide of the world's two billion poor, the millions of AIDS victims, and the children being maimed by land mines mostly made in the United States.
She wordlessly rejected the perceived position of omnipotence; saying instead that we are all human beings, no one better or worse than the other, and she was deeply loved for that. This will be her legacy but what will be our response? Will the photo market wait until the story dies down and just go about their usual predatory pursuit of fame and wealth? And what about all of us, the ones who create the demand? Will we continue to be a celebrity obsessed society or will we spend less and give to the needed right here in Austin? Princess Diana and Sister Teresa's deaths could be the spark of the long awaited new age -- where people are judged by what they give away, not what they acquire.