No More Apologies
Finally, one of your reporters has the courage to identify hypocrisy on our green council when he sees it ["Media Clips," Vol.17, No.36]. Now if y'all can learn to take such courageous positions without apologizing to the subject of the article half a dozen times, maybe I'll start to take your paper seriously again. Daryl Slusher has made conscious decisions to alter his political positions from his days as a Chron columnist and as a candidate. He must now accept responsibility for these decisions. Y'all have no reason to feel uncomfortable pointing out when he flip flops on causes he's adamantly championed in the past (though you might have to expand your Politics section to comprehensively do so).
Pimping the convention center, nixing S.O.S. restrictions for the benefit of Circle C homeowners, opposing bicycle and pedestrian improvements in order to fund more car infrastructure, kissing up to the Austin Police Association while brutality incidents stack up on top of one another - clearly Slusher the columnist would never have embraced these lame, milquetoast positions. But Slusher the councilmember, running hard toward the center as most incumbent politicians seem to do, has decided to eschew his old politics and play the reelection game. Don't keep apologizing for reporting this fact - it's your job.
Save Our Swimming Holes!
Your very useful map of 101 Swimming Holes [Vol.17, No.36] contains two ecological mysteries.
First, why are there two dozen swimming holes on the 25 miles of the Colorado River upstream from Austin and no swimming holes at all downstream? The river downstream from Austin was swimmable when I first visited a decade ago but is now too polluted for everyone except the occasional drunk frat boy or desperate redneck. Since the water is pure above Austin and polluted below, the source of the pollution seems obvious: Austin, a city known to lay claim to some serious ecological credentials.
Which leads to the second mystery; why hasn't anybody noticed and does anybody care? Maybe Austin shares some of the ethical and economic characteristics usually attributed to the corporate polluters; defend the purity of what we want to use and send the bad stuff downstream for someone else to worry about.
Of course a cleaner river downstream will take sacrifices the Austin community is unlikely to accept. For the urban liberals it will mean no more dog-walking (and doggie-poo) in Shoal Creek, tax increases to treat leaking inner-city septic tanks, and inspections on all those charming old Volvos that drip the oil which becomes next week's street runoff. For all those recently annexed conservatives it will mean no fertilizer on the lawn and no new roads until the runoff from the ones they already have can be treated for pollution - and that takes serious money. Clean water also means filter screens to corral all those butts, Styrofoam cups, and McDonald's wrappers coming out of the smaller streams like Barton Creek (has the city thought to require filter screens on the new Waller Creek bypass or will it just "self clean" during each big rain?). Maybe a serious river cleanup will even mean (gasp!) growth limits in the central city.
Anybody expect to see the first beach downriver from Austin in their lifetime?
I noticed that once again you have used a white model to represent the Generic Austinite (May 15 cover). Why are you still doing this in the Nineties? Austin is not a white-only town and you are not a white-only newspaper. It is not only okay to show a Hispanic, Asian-American, or black person as representative of the Typical Austinite, it is glaring when they are ommitted continually. No longer does showing a person of color on the cover mean that the cover story is about people of color. We are a diverse city and your covers should reflect that.
Sorry, but No
I'd like to thank you for including the special "swimming hole pull-out section" in last week's Chronicle. I'm new to Austin and I had no idea that there were so many places to beat this brutal summer heat. It did bring one question to mind, however. It would seem from the photos run with the feature that the only patrons of local swimming holes are scantily clad temptresses. (Of which there are many in Austin.) How distressing!! I'd like to go out and get some sun, but it's more likely I'll come back with a complex. Might there be any places for us shy guys to take a dip?
From The Netherlands, With Love
Hello, The Austin Chronicle gives me a little bit the idea I'm still in Austin. I was there two months ago and saw some great artists: Jon Dee Graham, Michael Fracasso (at Waterloo), Stephen Bruton, Guy Forsyth, George Devore.... Again, a great website!
A Home for Music
God bless Austin. I have read about the debate whether Austin is still the Music Capital of the World or not. I am here to say "Who cares?" I can see Toni Price, Storyville, the Paula Nelson Band, and one of the Sexton brothers more than I can really get away from the kids without feeling too guilty. In the last two weeks I have taken my family to see Ms. Price for a Mother's Day concert, saw Tish Hinojosa at a fundraiser for Mr. Reid, saw Ms. Nelson for a free show off the Drag at a Homeless Art Show & Sale. Storyville and Jimmy V. are there when I really need to shake an Austin leg. La Zona Rosa, Antone's, and the Music Hall have been great to help out the local community by putting on benefits with the help of the musicians all the time. Good luck to the mayor with his plan to serve the homeless community, lets keep the Triangle green, and thank you to all the local musicians who help make our community a great place to live. Oh yes, and to the Sixth Street bars who are worried about the new homeless complex - stop worrying about the bad seeds and invite the folks off the streets who are getting back on their feet, have little money to spend, and play music! Austin has always been a safe oasis of the Southwest for peaceful liberal types. We are spread out throughout this great city and unite at the sound of music. Again, thank you to all those who play, however big or small in and for the community.
Austin Homeless Music Guild
Rose-Colored Coffee Mug
The air stinks and the sky is what I imagine nuclear winter to be. It's Saturday afternoon so Steve, my business partner and I head down to Starbucks for our weekend treat. Mine is basic. A chocolate brownie and an iced tea. His is a mocha grande something or another and an apple bar. Except today he orders caramel fudge cheesecake.
Usually when we go to Starbucks on Saturday afternoon there are one or two other people inside. Not so today. The place is packed. Hmm, I think. Usually these people would be outdoors enjoying all that Austin beauty. But today it's ugly out. Smoke is marching across continents. Across oceans. Actions are no longer isolated.
The world has become so small.
We remembered when we worked on a job up in Seattle. It was a few years ago, when Starbucks was just starting out. And although the air is for the most part clean from the frequent rain, it's pretty gray there. We started thinking. Does a dark and gloomy sky increase caffeine consumption? Was that the spark for Starbucks? Is that how we protect ourselves, keep ourselves moving? Wow, I thought. What an upside. These forest fires. Great for business. One of my mutual funds owns shares in Starbucks.
And business was great today. Even though I held my breath from the car to the front door.
Love It or Leave It
There should be some action that can be taken against people who advocate "popular insurrection" and "killing the gringos" as described by Steve Mason ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.35]. Crying "Fire!" in a crowded theatre is not a legitimate exercise of freedom of speech.
Who are those people? Americans? Dual citizens? Aliens? Noncitizens can be deported, and dual citizens might find life more desirable in their other country. The Supreme Court has held that a native born citizen of the United States cannot be deprived of his citizenship by legislative fiat, and we cannot deport United States citizens, but could they not be ordered into exile? There are many beautiful islands in the Pacific, off the coasts of Alaska and Florida, and near the South Pole where it is like Christmas even in July. There the malcontents could make fiery speeches to each other all day every day.
Also, the malcontents are free to leave the United States and look for a place more to their liking.
Rail Better Than Roads
In a recent letter ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.36], Rick Hall claims that light rail is much too expensive to be practical. Actually, rail is far cheaper than roadways for cars. Building track is expensive, but once the routes are built, rail is cheap. The beauty of rail is that, when demand doubles for a given route, you just add more cars to your train instead of building more track. You do not have to build a new bypass every few years, as you do with highways.
Another beauty of rail is that the track controls the path of the train. If you are not on the tracks, the train does not hit you. In contrast, a car or bus can hit you anywhere. Sometimes cars jump the curbs and hit people standing on sidewalks. The more cars we have, the more often this will happen.
Mr. Hall regards the overhead electric wires on which trains run as ugly. Does Mr. Hall find traffic jams pretty? One great thing about electric wires is that they don't stink and belch hot smoke in your face.
The U.S. government has just decided to cut all nondefense budget items to pay for highways. In order to placate and silence alternative transportation advocates, about $40 billion of this money will be allocated to public transit. About $175 billion goes to highways. This is not gas tax money. The state of Texas is diverting funds earmarked for air quality management to build highways.
I hope that Mr. Hall is mistaken in his assertion that Austin's bus fares will double to fund light rail. If this is the plan, then the plan needs immediate changing. In Burlington, Vermont, citizens recently voted to establish a regional gas tax to fund alternative transportation. Why can't Austin do the same?
Weeping Like an Old Woman
This is addressed to Jason Meador and peers ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.36]. I would like to respectfully submit that if you are willing to do some homework and look deeper than the surface, you will soon discover that for every horror story you hear about our government., there are 10 more that are worse in all ways of brutality, corruption, greed, and deceit. Here's one for you: Right now, the government you defend is in business with Monsanto and DuPont to genetically manipulate the foods we eat. One reason for this is to make them more resistant to the chemicals these companies manufacture and sell. There are other reasons as well, but the best is that they are genetically mutating these plants to not reproduce. No more seeds from plants, and since these clowns own the genetic patents, they own the patents to the seeds. Now, along with the USDA, they are buying up seed companies. Want to grow tomatoes? Monsanto. Potatoes? DuPont. Want to replant your own pototoes or tomatoes? Sorry, but the plants you've just grown won't do that. See Monsanto and DuPont. Copyrights to life. Pretty good huh? And here's the horror of it, the brutality, deception, and greed: Already, genetically engineered foods have killed and crippled thousands, and these are only the documented reports. No one knows the long-term effects all this could have on us and the environment.
Get on the Web - check out the Monsanto, DuPont, and USDA sites. They'll tell you what they're doing. Then check out the Greenpeace, Physicians And Scientists Against Genetically Engineered Food site and links, see what they have to say about this.
As far as the Wacos, Oklahoma Cities, Drug Wars and other such events go, I say to you, Lee Harvey Oswald. There is no law, only struggle for power. Might rules, right or wrong. Called To Serve, The Secret Team, High Treason, The Underground Empire, are just a few of the many books written by retired Special Forces, DEA, "Black Ops"-type characters. They're out there for your education if you're interested. Also on the Web.
You would weep like an old woman if you knew the truth. It is truly stranger than fiction.
Historic Irish Election
May 22 will be an historic election in Ireland. My prayers go out to all in my ancestral homeland. It will be the most substantial election on the Irish question - by the Irish - since the 1922 vote in the Republic of Ireland approving the Anglo-Irish peace treaty as a result of the Irish revolt that began in 1918.
America had a proud role to play in the process that led to the present "Good Friday" accord. We have good reason to feel grand: from the yeoman actions of former Senator Mitchell who led the peace commission, to President Clinton's 11th hour phone calls keeping all the players at the table, including Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party and Jerry Adams of Sinn Fein. I hope that the election is successful on May 22, that the Irish can use the advice that they have been receiving from around the world, including African National Congress members, and build a lasting peace.
We should all hope that the Irish - whatever their religious persuasion - can continue to learn to live together.