The question is why??? Why does the justice system keep people on death row for so many years?!?! Why not get it over with while the heinous crime is still very clear in everyone's minds? But when many years pass by and the malicious crime is forgotten, an innocent-looking person is portrayed as a born-again Christian. Too many years pass by (using taxpayers' money), but for what? I'm not a religious person, but I believe in the term, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I think that if the death penalty is going to be in effect, it should be carried out within one or two years of the sentencing, because otherwise, it's worthless.
A Process of Elimination
Last issue a grandmother wrote you, chiding Gov. Bush for teaching her six-year-old grandson about capital punishment in Texas ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.23]. If the state has taught this child that certain acts of murder here will be dealt with by execution, then so be it. To her I would say that our society has a duty to dispose of certain individuals who commit violent, murderous acts. I would also ask her to close her eyes and imagine her precious grandson laying in a pool of his own blood with a butcher knife stuck through his innocent body. Sadly, this image could become reality, because there are men and women in our world capable of such deeds with no remorse or care for the pain of others. They must be exterminated just as surely as we would kill a cancer cell or rabid animal. If we as a culture, society, state, etc. value innocent life as the most precious thing there is, then we must be willing to protect it at all costs. Executing individuals who murder violently, sometimes eagerly and with enjoyment, is indeed correct and right. Furthermore, we need an efficient and honest system for this so that the truly guiltless are spared, regardless of race, gender, class, etc. Finally, to the concerned grandmother, I would suggest that she go to San Marcos and visit with the family of the man who was stabbed to death over 40 times by this week's "Karla Tucker," then arrested here. She should take her grandson along and see what pictures he creates.
The Facts of Death
Open letter to Sue McNichol:
An important life lesson was taught with the execution of a pick-ax murderer. Since Gov. Bush is unlikely to respond to your alarmingly naïve letter, here's my answer to "What have you taught (Whit) my grandchild?"
Whit, Gov. Bush believes that your life is so rare and precious, that if someone intentionally ends it, there is a chance that the state (differentiated from the church or George Bush, Jr.) will exact that person's life as a punishment.
(Rehabilitation and deterrence are considerations in lesser crimes. Murder deserves the harshest retribution the state can mete out (short of torture), which, as bad as it is, is not a life sentence. The pick-axer, had her death sentence been commuted, would have been eligible for parole. Unthinkable!)
Also, Whit, as valuable as your life is, if you were to murder someone, there is a chance you would meet the same fate as the pick-axer.
Hard lesson? Yes. Sometimes being held accountable for your actions is. Apparently Whit will be taught the tragic error that the state should show mercy to cold-blooded killers.
Irony Not Strong Suit
This is in regard to the Raoul Hernandez review of the just-released Twenty Dollar Vibe CD [Vol.17, No.23]. As the drummer and seamstress for the band, this isn't one of those "How dare you/we're great dammit" diatribes. Any band with a release should expect a variety of critiques.
I just have to ask though, Raoul, why you seemed so personally affected by the whole thing. I could actually feel the hatred lift off the page and enter my body. (I dunno, maybe it was gas.) I mean, it's fine if you don't like the music, but I swear that nobody in the band owes you money! You're even pissed at Bukka Allen for being on the CD. He was asked to do it, and we're sorry it annoyed you so much. Certainly if we morons had been capable of such ivory mellifluence we would have done it ourselves, but we called upon someone with all 10 fingers and a majority of his synapses firing.
I wish you'd stop by one of our live shows. I'd buy you a beverage, but being an Austin musician I can't afford to (i.e. lawn maintenance with Chuck. Talk to me for an estimate). I'm sure one of Erik and Brady's sycophants would be glad to get you one. Even if you'd prefer not to listen, come see how cute we are in person.
All of you fans, mutants, and trolls check out a CD whether you want to hear it or not.
My fiancée says it makes a lovely coaster.
Dear Mr. Raoul Hernandez,
I am writing to comment on the font lashing you gave Twenty Dollar Vibe and their excellent new album, Independence Day [Vol.17, No.23]. I disagree with your review; so much that while talking with friends and re-reading it for the sixth or seventh time I began to think that maybe you were just being sarcastic; that you had gotten an esoteric burr up your ass and were pulling a "Corcoran." But no. You have made clear your opinions. I'm puzzled by your comments referring to the last three songs on the album, "...like tacking `Cryin', `Crazy', and `Livin' on the Edge' on the end of Draw the Line." I think that would make for a darn good record. Your mean-spirited narrative does not reflect an album worthy of the two-and-a-half stars. The record is a fantastic piece of work. So maybe "two guitars, bass, drums, and leather and dust vocals," isn't your kind of music. That doesn't give you the right as a journalist and Senior Music Editor to belittle your trade and resort to petty name-calling ("Twenty Dollar Vibe is just some little shit band from Austin, Texas"). In the end the numbers will speak for themselves. The album is #3 on Waterloo's sales list this week; and they've played rousing shows at both the Hole in the Wall and the Backroom. Your scathing review makes no sense.
I just read the review of the Twenty Dollar Vibe CD by Raoul Hernandez [Vol.17, No.23], and I have a few remarks to make. Although I respect that Raoul expresses his opinions with fervor, I was taken aback by some of his remarks. I've lived in this town for 17 years, and I've seen many great performances by such bands as Storyville, Guy Forsythe, Joe Rockhead, and Johnny Law. Of course, Raoul seems to think that they can't have talent, 'cause after all, they are "just little shit bands from Austin." Yeah, Austin bands don't always have the Bon Jovi production bucks, but as far as I'm concerned, money and backing don't translate into good music. In reference to Independence Day, Raoul writes "Who needs rock & roll like this?" Well, let me tell you: Those of us who are looking for something that is as emotional as it is sincere. In a business where it's safer to jump on the what's-popular bandwagon to make a buck, it's great to see Twenty Dollar Vibe standing apart in a smoky bar playing real music with genuine passion. Independence Day is a heartfelt CD full of honesty and emotion, and I only wish we had more music like it.
I have one question for Raoul Hernandez: Which member of Twenty Dollar Vibe ran over your dog? Mr. Hernandez's review of the new TDV album Independence Day was more like an attack. He refers to TDV as "some little shit band from Austin." Not only does he trash a great band and a great new album, but he starts taking cheap shots at producer Dan Baird and guest musician Bukka Allen. Who the hell does this Hernandez think he is? Maybe Mr. Hernandez should put down his poison pen and take up a career that is better suited to his temperament, like executioner.
[Raoul replies: One of the things that's great about the local music scene is no matter who's being reviewed, someone always stands up for them if there's the perception they've been unfairly maligned. Unfortunately, this isn't one of those times. Despite knowing some people wouldn't "get it," I took it as a good sign when Andy Langer, author of the feature on Twenty Dollar Vibe, read the record review in question and said, "It's supposed to be ironic, right?" Correct. The exact word I had in mind when I wrote it. A tipoff might have been the star rating - 2.5 out of five. With a three-star rating "good," two and half means "pretty good, but fatally flawed"; I quite liked the album, but thought it needed a stronger edit or better sequencing, hence the complaint about the three songs after "Austin Homesick Blues." Had my review really been as venomous as some obviously thought, it would have been tagged with "no stars." The ironic tone of the review is a comment on the music industry's current disregard for the good old fashioned FM rock & roll its author grew up with.]
Oversexed Kids Need Smokes, Too
News flash... a cigarette company reveals a new truth in advertising marketing strategy. Instead of the tough, cool, hip, romantic, oversexed, young, smart, happy, fresh, carefree, "full of pleasure" caricature that is typically used to sell their dirty products... finally, a true representation of their target audience. (See advertisement in the last issue).
Oh, the irony.
Christopher E. Burton
A, You Know, Travesty
I think an editor should basically, you know, consider basically crossing out, you know, basically unnecessary, you know, redundant or basically useless, you know, verbiage in basically printed text. Especially basically unnecessary are such words as "basically" and "you know." Such basically, you know, conversational mannerisms are basically useless and annoying when they are, you know, used to describe basically self explanatory subjects such as basically, you know, music, politics, and you know, sporting events. Basically, just think, you know, of all the printer's ink that could be basically saved, you know...
H. B. Dieter
Sister on the Edge
To the Editor:
A while back, I wrote a letter to you concerning the verbal abuse that we as women received at Sisters Edge by the owner. You did not print it, nor the other two letters that I sent you concerning this matter. Why, I don't know, as I was never notified. In a past issue, I read an article " Village People," Vol. 17, No. 21. In that article statements were made about how Sisters Edge owners discovered that "lesbians were not buying drinks... and that it called for a change of venue." A person opens up a lesbian bar... calls it "the best" while he yells obscenities at the women because he is the owner and you (the editor) do not even get the real facts. Read the Austin Statement. They printed the fact that there was a controversy happening at Sisters Edge, and that women were not going. It had nothing to do with lesbians not buying drinks.... Listen to the radio... check with the Queer Women's Connection when they protested Sisters Edge in October, '97. Get your facts, if you're a newspaper. I know this to be true, along with other women that worked at Sisters Edge. The owner yelled obscenities at us and said he would turn it into a male country bar because we (women) could be replaced. Why don't you have the author of the article interview me! I was there along with the other 344 women. I worked the front door the two weekends in a row that he did this, and that is why the women walked out on him and why they stopped going to Sisters Edge. For your information, Chances was not the only lesbian bar. Did you ever hear about Nexus? It just shows how much fact went into printing the article. My question is who is the person that allowed an article to be printed without getting the facts from all parties, not just men that work in these bars?
The truth would be that lesbians have never been welcomed in the guys' clubs. We have always been made to feel as if we were second-class citizens in their bars. It seems strange that you print a letter by a person who uses offensive language like the word, "sodomites," but you do not print letters that talk about what is happening in the women's community? The person that made the statement "because that's where the fags have always been?" Did you get a kick out of that? To all the women that were at the bar those two weekends I say this: Thank you for standing up to what was right and wrong and showing the owner of Sisters Edge and The Edge that we can not be replaced; it shows at the new Country Edge.
I am the Amazonian customer
P.S. Coming soon... Video tape of the protest and more on your local PBS station.
One piece of information that should be added to Amy Smith's Enviros article on county judge candidates ["Not Keen on Green," Vol.17, No.23] is that Valarie Bristol took an out-front, aggressive position in helping to get funding for mitigation for the Williamson Creek freeway drainage tunnel that could pollute McKinney Falls State Park.
The problem with The Austin Chronicle's coverage is that none of your regular environmental writers are aware of any details of this important precedent to protect all watersheds in our area from poorly designed freeway construction. Nate Blakeslee is the only writer your weekly has that knows anything about the $1.2 million funding that was secured for this water quality mitigation. You need to let Nate write more often!
Commissioner Bristol toured the construction site for the Williamson Creek Tunnel and visited East Bouldin Creek to educate herself on environmental problems associated with freeway drainage. Neither location was in her precinct but she was out there to help us anyway!
Thanks for doing an article on R.O.C. ["Women Who Run..." Vol.17, No.23]! She truly is a local hero in a sense and very `Austin,' if you know what I mean. Just keep the info coming, we Texas fans are very grateful!
Dear Film Editor:
I think Russell Smith should pay me $1.75 (half the price of my admission) for encouraging me to see Great Expectations via his three-and-a-half star review. Half the fault is mine for listening to a reviewer who maintained such facile, glib distance toward Dickens. Whether Smith likes Dickens or not, he should understand him.
Smith praises the film's "stylishness." He doesn't mention its one-dimensional characters, one-note plot (get Estella), treacly voice-over, or recurring substitution of soundtrack for scenes. The character of Estella is a total jerk, which makes Ethan Hawke's character seem like an even bigger jerk for loving her. But the worst thing is that the movie guts Dickens' story of its biting social commentary. In the novel and in David Lean's 1964 adaptation, the story exposes certain materialistic illusions of "having it all" that underpin a 19th-century British society whose class conflicts still have lessons for us today. Dickens' Pip grows up with great expectations of both Estella and of being a "have," not a have-not. That's why his rich old siren is named Miss Havisham. "Have is Sham" is the lesson that Pip learns too late in life. Cuarón's "stylish" film excises this troublesome idea, which might have required real thought and character development (and fewer Gwyneth Paltrow navel shots). The script renames Miss Havisham "Miss Dinsmore," symptomatic of the overall evasiveness toward social issues. In the end of Cuarón's two-hour music video, the main character gets it all - fame, money, the girl, even several years of romantic exile in Paris. Along the way he hardly suffers at all, certainly not enough to question his own ethics or those of the world around him. Here, Have-Is-Good, Have-Is-Goal. The film is sham.
It is not surprising to discover that Governor Bush promotes the cause of private property rights, that squelches any governmental oversight, only when it does not affect him directly. In reference to the enlightening article "Governor Deadbeat" [Vol.17, No.19]the condemnation process of land, which can infringe on private property rights, appears to be overlooked when it involves influential people.
I firmly believe that George W. Bush ran for governor because he needed money. His puny 2% interest in the Texas Rangers has been leveraged into tens of millions of dollars in profit from the recent sale of the club. Our governor climbed over the backs of Arlington, Texas taxpayers to become rich.
Bush was quoted by The Houston Chronicle in 1993 as saying "When all those people in Austin say, `He ain't never done anything,' well, this is it," referring to the ballpark at Arlington. Well if that "back room deal" is his proudest achievement up to that time and I know what little he has done with regard to social, health, and environmental issues since then; Garry Mauro certainly has my vote for governor.
Rights vs. Wants
The passion with which the debate over affirmative action rages is counterproductive to effective discourse. Both parties must agree to suspend emotion with the intent of having an intellectual dialogue. From the Chronicle's accounts of recent events, there seems to be more suspension of intellect in favor of emotion when it comes to the concept of rights.
Golfer Casey Martin claims a "right" to affiliate with an association despite his inability to meet that association's criteria for membership. An unnamed student claimed that minorities have the "right" to attend the university of their choice. There seems to be a belief that a want is equal to a right. First of all, only an individual can claim a right, a right cannot be extended to a group. When a group claims a right they instantly abridge the rights of the unfortunate few who do not belong to said group. If an environment exists that results in the preference of group A over group B, it isn't morally correct to rectify the situation by preferring group B over group A from now on. The only way to assure equal opportunity is to judge a person as an individual and not as a member of a group.
The statement "UT can get back to the business of salvaging the enrollment of minority students and redoubling efforts to ensure their academic success" implies that the resources of a university should be at a greater disposal to a protected class. This sounds more like equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity. Since when is anyone assured of academic success? This condescending statement all but states that the underprivileged cannot compete on their own merit and will always need the assistance of a paternalistic group. The way to improving minority representation without infringing upon individual rights is to try to correct the problem in the front end and not with a make up call at crunch time. Sure, you won't have an immediate impact on enrollment stats, but you will have a greater number of able students across the demographic spectrum and minority representation in areas of society by individuals who earned it like everyone else.