VanScoy on Wrong Track
"Mixed Signals," declared the headline for last week's "Council Watch" [Vol.17, No.30]. Reporting on the city council's recent transportation work session, Ms. VanScoy painted an image of a city council once again pulling in different directions. I saw it differently.
Yes, council did grapple to no avail with tough issues such as redesigning the intersection of Burnet and North Loop to accommodate both traffic management and pedestrian use. But council's actions were hardly setting up a struggle between cars and people, as Ms. VanScoy reported. Instead, council's actions will enhance our transportation choices so that access to our businesses, parks, and homes will be more convenient.
Building on the Mayor's Transportation Task Force Report, Daryl Slusher spearheaded a comprehensive agenda for his colleagues. Most significantly, council formally committed to joining the Regional Rail District in an effort to spur development of an integrated system of light rail and commuter rail for the communities of the Austin-San Antonio Region. At the same time, council endorsed transit-oriented development strategies so that comprehensive planning will begin for mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly development in transit corridors and at locations that will ultimately become rail stations.
Do these actions send "mixed signals"? Hardly. For the first time since World War II, the council has formally tied land use planning and transportation together. Council has now set the stage for successful implementation of its Smart Growth Initiative. Austin will not be able to accommodate substantial growth in its Desired Development Zone unless the city has neighborhood designs and rail infrastructure that fit together.
Building on the Mayor's campaign pledge for improved urban planning and Councilmember Goodman's land development reform initiatives, the city council facilitated a paradigm shift in municipal policy about the role of transportation. Ms. VanScoy must have missed that. But I am not surprised because, by definition, most folks do not see the paradigm shift until it is complete.
Vote for Davis
The Chronicle made an excellent choice in endorsing Ron Davis for County Commissioner.
I've lived in Northeast Austin for nearly 15 years and have been involved in all the key local struggles: moving the airport, fighting the gangs, forcing the City of Austin to enforce the building codes, improving the schools and getting the same facilities in this part of Austin that other parts have in abundance.
In every fight, our neighborhood association has been able to count on Ron Davis. Each and every time. No exceptions. He was always there and was someone you could count on.
You didn't have to pay him a "consulting fee" or promise to steer business his way or go to the same church - all you had to do was give him a call and he would put his enormous energy to work solving whatever problem you had.
I have never, ever seen Ron Davis back away from a fight and I have never seen him show any interest of any kind in financial reward or personal glory. He has some big shoes to fill replacing Sam Biscoe, but I believe Ron will do an excellent job and make us all proud that he is "our" commissioner.
Siskel and Who?
Does film reviewer Steve Davis actually see the films he writes about or does he just like to contradict Siskel & Ebert? Both his reviews of Primary Colors and Niagara Niagara were not even close to the target. Learn a little about the art before you make judgments, sir. Or get another job.
Eat Dessert First
On hearing the sensational news that the Earth's demise is possibly only 30 years away, I could only sit, think, and watch as the pressures of society lifted from my mind. I can only agree with the observations in Michael Ventura's article "Asteroid Conundrum" ["Letters at 3AM," Vol.17, No.30]. Since the news I have ceased any thought of furthering my education or climbing corporate ladders, instead content to lead a life of sloth, booze, cigarettes, and general debauchery with my own demise from cardiac, or other health-related complaints, scheduled for early 2028. With the soothing knowledge that we no longer have to try, life is just so much sweeter.
Mrs. Dalloway Is Da Bomb
Dear Mr. Savlov:
Regarding your review of the movie Mrs. Dalloway: Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? I think you are! Your review demonstrates your insensitivity to beautiful filmmaking and an inability to comprehend subtlety. You represent the "modern generation" who can only appreciate movies that have fast action, loud scenes of destruction and catastrophic crashing of buildings, buses, trains, etc., accompanied by screams, shouts, and chases. It seems that if the movie doesn't have tremendous special effects like Titanic or Jurassic Park-type movies, then it is what you call "soporific." You obviously don't appreciate Virginia Woolf's writing or you would have realized that this movie emanates true radiance rather than the flashy, crude, and unrefined fare which is all too common today. It is a sad commentary on today's young television-spoiled moviegoers that they must have blockbuster, fast-moving, gun-shooting, bombing scenes in a movie in order for them to think a movie is a good one.
Beloved People, Awake!
In light of the monstrous tragedy that has taken place in Jonesboro, Arkansas, I pray that this letter, that focuses on the "school problem," will be published.
Because of the steady diet of immorality fed to our children in the public schools for the last several generations, have we become the most perverse nation in the world? Aren't we indeed a true reflection of Sodom and Gomorah?
Since every resolution brought before any legislative body has its moral facets, this insurmountable wall that is as high as the sky and as wide as the ocean that has been erected between church and state is a mirage. The two are intimately joined, but these evil ones have used this phantom to bring us all to the brink of destruction. Today it is forbidden to voice the Lord's name and tomorrow religion will be banned from the face of the earth. If martyrdom for the right be my destiny, I embrace it. I for one will fight to the death to put God back into our society and schools. Ban satanism from our schools. I would strongly urge our beloved people to take a like stance. When will our beloved people awake from their stupor?
Could it be that one of the causes for tragedies like Jonesboro is that they teach our beloved children in the schools today that the flowers and the trees and the birds and the bees are more sacred than human life?
To the Editor:
It's really no surprise that kids are trying to solve their problems by violence. They have enemies, and they deal with them the way we adults and our rulers deal with ours, by violence. Throughout our history the government and the media have drummed into our minds and established into the culture the hatred of enemies near and far and propagandized us that the only way to deal with them is violence. In the Sixties, we were told that our enemies were Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong. The very few of us who said "No, they are not my enemies!" became enemies. The unleashing of our hatred and violence sent a tiny country back to the stone age, killed more than two million Indo-Chinese people, killed 58,000 American troops, and the minds of those who were sent there were so messed up that, up to now, 60,000 of them have committed suicide.
Since then our government, Democrat and Republican, has preached hatred and violence against Arafat, Castro, Koresh, Adid, Hussein, Noriega, and Gaddafi to name a few. The resulting military actions and embargoes have been equally counterproductive and in fact criminal. And we are still teaching our kids that violence is the wave of the future. Now, Clinton has gone to South Africa with the same message to Nelson Mandela. However, Mandela angrily objected in no uncertain terms, saying "The enemies of the United States are not my enemies!"
I believe that the only way we can save the children, the nation, the world, or our own souls is to emulate Mandela. We need to repudiate leaders who dictate who our enemies are and how to deal with them. We need to abolish war and adopt a better nonviolent spirit in dealing with our problems and our adversaries.
Jewel R. Johnson
Is This a Curse?
For most people the Bob Marley festival was a huge success. The weather was perfect for mashin' it up to some serious reggae music. Beer, ganga, and great vibes were in abundance, or so we thought!! Sometime during the festivities an unknown culprit made off with the SPINNER'S disc. People, we must unite and find this scoundrel. Spreading the majic of Spin was this man's reason for living. Until we find the spinning machine, a black cloud will plague the City of Austin.
The Spinner's Avenger,
The Sodomite Stomp
Was that utopia or just the 11th Old Settlers Music Festival that rolled into Central Texas last weekend?! It took all the restraint I could muster not to whip out a blues harp and leap on stage to jam with the Derailers and Vassar Clements, but Saturday night in a Round Rock jail was a given for such a lack of restraint, a VIP tag not withstanding.
My highlight of the day came when the gospel group, the Fairfield Four, hit the stage with the power of the Holy Spirit, and Sodomites in the audience scrambled for the exit like rats in a firestorm. Until then I was wondering how I was going to get a front row seat to see Vassar. Thank you Lord, and thank you Fairfield Four (...all six of 'em).
The Politics of Fandom
Re: The recent Hagfish concert at Liberty Lunch
Open letter to Hagfish: Calling me a dick does not make me want to dance. Referring to the crowd as a lame bunch of losers does not inspire loyalty. Does my standing in a crowd of people, specifically next to one yo-yo-wielding psychotic female shaking sweat onto my arm at every bounce, just to get a better look at you make me a dick? No dear sirs, these are your fans. Fans who stand and wait through the shitty first acts (that aren't usually so bad) to get the "good seats." My reaction to this concert after your "long lost Oasis Gallagher brother" diatribe was to be pissed off. Were it not for the saving grace of Monique from Save Ferris, this concert would have been all but ruined for me. You see, even though ska, and punk, and reggae are all derived from the same basic genre, people who come to see ska and want to dance usually do not want to kick people's teeth in trying to be punk. Whatever Hagfish wanted, it certainly didn't get, I won't discount this. However, even after your verbal abuse, not one person walked away from that stage. Why? Because they still liked the music, but were there for fun and dancing... not moshing and ass-kicking. If moshing and ass-kicking is what you aspire... tour with NoFX.
P.S. One might also look into some personality and stage presence tips from Mo. One helluva performer.
Earth Loves a Green Fork
Dear Austin Chronicle,
Earth Day is April 18th and if you care about the environment, you already "Reduce, Reuse & Recycle"... But did you know that your fork is also one of the most powerful tools you have for saving the planet?
* Every year in South and Central America, 5 million acres of rainforest are felled to create cattle pasture.
* Fertilizers, manures, and agricultural chemicals washed from the Mississippi have created a 7,000 square mile lifeless expanse at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico called "The Dead Zone."
* Managing livestock manure is becoming a big problem. In 1995, for example, holding lagoons spilled more than 40 million gallons of hog manure into North Carolina state waterways, about double the amount of oil lost by the Exxon Valdez.
What can you do?
Shifting toward a diet full of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes makes better use of our valuable resources and preserves our delicate ecosystem. The good news is that the same foods that heal the planet also heal and protect your own body.
To find out more contact EarthSave, Austin Chapter at 347-8054 or ESAustin@aol.com for a free copy of our brochure, "Heal the Environment at Every Meal."
EarthSave educates, inspires, and empowers people to shift toward a diet centered on fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes - food choices that are healthy for people and for the planet.
Help Save the Earth One Bite at a Time!!!!
Austin Chapter Chairperson
And S is for Smartass
Tonight I went to the 7-11 at 51st and Lamar at about 3:30 am to get a sandwich. While I was paying for it, this dorky-looking, MTV-type guy came in and said to me and the two clerks, "You guys look like freaks. Does one of you have some buds you could sell us?" So I said, really loud, "No sir, Mr. Officer, sir! I do not know the whereabouts of any suspects from which to purchase narcotics in this vicinity, Mr. Officer, sir!" I went out and got in my car and Mr. Grungeclone came out and said something about how one of the clerks was about to sell him something until I said that. He got in a van with two other alternative types and I asked them, "Are you guys in town for South By Southwest?" They said yes, so I said, "Do you know what a wanker is?" They said yes, so I said, "That's what the W stands for in SXSW!" and drove off.
So, am I a bastard or what?