In Mike Clark-Madison's excellent article discussing light rail ["Off the Beaten Track," Vol.17, No.12], I was cited as creator of several future light rail station plans commissioned by Capital Metro a few years ago. This is not accurate. I created a booklet called A Portfolio of Transit Oriented Development for the Austin Transportation Study this summer that featured several station area plans done by other architects for Capital Metro's commissioned study, The Transit System Plan.
I did, however, include some of my own sketches in the ATS Portfolio illustrating the Seaholm Power Plant site as a major interchange station between light rail and commuter rail, and I included other transit-oriented projects done by other architects. A Portfolio of Transit Oriented Development illustrates what might be possible in terms of community planning and urban design around future light rail stations in the Austin area. It is available for purchase at the City Hall Annex in Document Sales.
Jana McCann Architects
[Ed. note: Excerpts from the ATS Portfolio can be found in this issue on page 24.]
In response to David Travis' letter, "Bike Booty" (Vol. 27, No.11), I wanted to express my appreciation for him making the effort to inform the police about stripped Yellow Bike parts on someone's personal bike. The yellow bikes are for everyone to use, not abuse. I also wanted to clear up a misconception; the Yellow Bike Project is community-based. Although we are working on collaborative efforts with the city, we (the collective) are not a city program nor are we funded by the city. YBP is comprised solely of volunteers. I'd like to add a moral to Mr. Travis' letter -- through continued community support, such as reporting misused yellow bike parts, the YBP will continue to grow. Thanks. For questions about the YBP, icluding shop hours and location or to report misused yellow bikes and parts, please call 916-3553.
YBP Outreach Representative
Feel Free to Send Money
As a transplanted Austinite of lifetime proportions, and former competition (okay, the Texan -- maybe we took it more seriously than you did. But I also slaved at the Statesman a while. Does that count? Probably not), I have to congratulate you on recent coverage (last year or so). I'm a journalist living in PA, and have very much enjoyed having access to your publication through the Web. Very good coverage of UT; it seems you've really concentrated on covering the drag area, and I enjoy it. Great opportunity to keep up with the hometown. Of course, I don't pay a cent to you, so I'm not sure why you'd care. But still. Good job; I've always enjoyed your very slightly skewed view of happenings around Austin and UT, and I'm impressed with what I've seen.
-- James E.Wilkerson
Laura Tells You She Loves You
I would like to thank all my friends and supporters from the Blue Flamingo and the Austin music scene for attending my birthday party last week, and for all their support over the years. The Blue Flamingo will live on no matter what, because it's in the hearts of the people, and the bands that they have produced.
Some time ago, I owned adult video stores in Austin. The City Council and Mark Weaver's supporters tried to change a grandfather clause in a city planning committee meeting. This would have put me out of business. This is when I met John Henry Faulk, who stood up for my rights. At the time, Mr. Faulk -- who had suffered through a witch-hunt of his own -- promised me and my friend Molly Ivins to fight for me and all individuals' freedom of speech and other civil liberties.
This is why my birthday bash was thrown -- to benefit the ACLU of Texas. I have pledged to give some of my time to the ACLU by throwing benefit fundraisers. I want to fulfill my own promises to the eloquent John Henry Faulk, who fought not only his own battles with Senator McCarthy, but helped me fight mine as well, against Mark Weaver and his supporters.
Keep your eyes open for threats to your civil liberties, and join me at my next civil liberties bash some time early next year.
Yours in freedom,
Ken Lieck Is a Journalist?
Ken Lieck said it himself: "I have absolutely no idea what's happened recently in Austin."
And yet, just about every week I pick up the Chronicle and there he goes again -- stammering on about things he knows nothing about; berating Austin Stories for the hundredth time and then saying he never watches the show. Austin Stories is such an easy target, Ken. And it might just be too big of you to actually support the show -- in turn supporting the city, and the local actors who got jobs because of it, and the local crew members who got jobs because of it, and the local businesses who got exposure from it. Austin Stories is not nor will it ever be the bastardization of this great city. In fact, maybe it'll keep the onslaught of yuppie relocation away. It might not show what a technological, computer company mecca we've become or the thousands of government employees slaving away at our state's Capitol. But who wants to come home from a hard day's work and watch more people work? After all, this is entertainment, Ken.
Like other sitcoms bearing their city's name (L.A. Law, Boston Common), Austin Stories was never meant to be about Austin, but about three friends living in Austin. However, a lot of Austin's authenticity made the show's final cut. Every single scene of all 12 episodes was shot in Austin. Every member of the cast but one is either from here or has been living here for years. Most of the crew is from Austin and have worked on other Austin-based projects such as Dazed and Confused, subUrbia, and The Newton Boys. That Spoon T-shirt you thought MTV threw on the lead character to make the show so "Austin" just happens to be one of Chip's favorite shirts right out of his own closet. The Rambler just happens to be Howard's car. Most of the actors are local and use their real names. Some had their characters written around their personalities. Not to mention the fact that critics have lauded the show, including USA Today, The New York Times, and TV Guide. It has been compared with Jim Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise and early Woody Allen.
But, it actually doesn't even matter if you hate the show. You're a journalist and it's a show based in the city in which you live. Watch it and then write about it. Stop writing about it if you don't watch it. Is this the ultimate postmodernistic journalism -- write about stuff you don't know anything about? You were so worried about supporting the local bands playing the Sports and Music Festival, but what about all of the local artists associated with Austin Stories and its success? MTV may not be the Dobie Theatre of the networks, but it was the catalyst for a lot of local talent to further their dreams and careers without having to leave the city they love. That is what makes this city so great; that we are open enough as a community to allow for such opportunity, and we support our artists. So what the hell happened to you, Ken?
"Chloe" on MTV's Austin Stories
You Eat With That Mouth?
Dear Witless Moron,
Get bent. If you hate our style of music so much, why didn't you give the record to someone who would give it a fair review? [Stimulus review, "Texas Platters," Vol.17, No.10] You are a second-rate writer working for a second-rate newsrag. Congratulations on your career choice.
At the very least, thank you for not offering a critical analysis of the composition and production, since it is obvious you don't know what the fuck you are talking about.
Up yours, spineless peon.
What's with Michael Bertin? [Stimulus review, "Texas Platters," Vol.17, No.10) Did his mommy beat him with a synthesizer when he was a child? This is the most biased review I have ever seen.
Mr. Bertin, there are people in this city who like music outside of your personal tastes. You should keep this in mind unless the goal of the Chronicle is not to be representative of its readership. And please dispense with the psuedo-intellectual references to mythology, because you aren't fooling anyone. You are an idiot.
A Priceless Photo
Dear Mr. Black and Mr. Hernandez:
Front Room Music would like to thank The Austin Chronicle for your coverage of Jim Stricklan's ninth album, Universal Sigh, in "Bonus Tracks," Vol.17, No.10. Unfortunately, Mr. Hess incorrectly states that the women pictured on the jacket are Ms. Maryann Price, who contributes harmony and duet vocals on this collection. As noted inside the jacket under photography credits, the striking cover photo by Mr. Tomas Pantin is of Ms. Neely Alhmun, who happens to be the graphic designer for the package. It was Neely's concept for the lovely young model, Ms. Leslie Nelms photographed by Mr. John Juntgen, to grace the package and help us convey the joyful quality of the project. In both cases, the visual reference is to the traditional use of the symbolic image of a woman to represent the universal spirit of the Muse, which inspires the artist, particularly the enigmatic, inward looking gaze on the cover. Though Ms. Price is a woman of equally universal beauty, she found it amusing that Mr. Hess felt her contributions to the album did not warrant her visual presence when, in fact, the women on the jacket did not sing at all.
Having clarified the artistic issues of the graphic component of this project, perhaps Mr. Hess yet might attempt to actually say something about the "upbeat and maddeningly lighthearted" musical component that goes beyond his apparent distaste for the sunny side, to show that he has considered in some thoughtful way the message of the words, the quality of the melodies, the production arrangements, the musicianship (such as the lighter-than-air clarinet solo by Joey Colarusso), let alone ask himself the obvious question -- how can a veteran artist have such a positive outlook on life after so many years in the music business?
Front Room Music
Dogging the Curb
Last night during rainy rush hour traffic, my dog and I could have died on the Lamar Street bridge over Town Lake. We had run the Austin High loop and needed to cross Lamar to finish, and after we were about 15 feet into the bridge, my medium-sized dog freaked out from the cars flying by at 40mph within two feet of us.
I could hardly hold her steady, as she wanted to jump into the traffic (that is the only direction to go on that bridge), and I sat on top of her to hold her down as she had wriggled out of her collar. However, the two-and-a-half foot width of the sidewalk was hardly room to keep even me, sitting down, from sticking out into the oncoming traffic.
Cars continued to whiz by, with no one stopping or slowing down, some nearly brushing my back as we hid our faces away from the traffic to keep from totally panicking and passing out. It took about 10 minutes before there was a break in traffic sufficient for me to jump into the street to run back to the grass with her, and even then a car was coming straight at me.
I have seen other people carrying their dogs across that bridge, and runners jumping into the lane to pass parents with strollers taking up the width of the sidewalk. Is someone going to have to die before something is done about that bridge?
Other partial solutions exist (apart from rebuilding the entire structure), for example, building a pedestrian walkway such as on the First Street bridge or MoPac bridge. Even less costly would be lowering the speed limit, adding a flashing yellow light, and signs saying "Watch for Pedestrians." This is one of the more heavily used park areas in the city and one of Austin's great assets -- it is more than reasonable to slow down speeding motorists who endanger the lives not only of park users, but of commuting pedestrians and bicyclists as well.
The bridges are few and far between for pedestrians and bicyclists (especially if the Lamar bridge is off-limits). If, as the helmet law suggested, the city is so concerned about lawsuits from collision-injured non-car commuters, perhaps they should take immediate action to remedy the severe danger of the Lamar Street bridge.
Glad to be alive,