This letter is in response to last week's article about the future of Palmer Auditorium, the City Coliseum, and parkland along Town Lake ["Power Play," Vol.17, No.46]. As a resident of South Austin and a member of the Parks and Recreation Board, I believe that all plans which will improve the City's facilities and parks in this long-neglected area should be judged on their merits. This area of Town Lake should be the centerpiece of the city, with space for parks, plays, music, sports, and other cultural opportunities. Instead we have a couple of ugly public buildings and acres of parking lots.
This is a unique and critical time for Austin; the economy is booming and the public seems to support a vision for Austin that includes a compact urban core, with people living, playing, and working in the same place. Opportunities to complete projects that add to this vision, and require little public money, don't come along every day. Let's not be afraid to listen to new ideas, or to think of parkland as more than green grass.
Austin Parks and Recreation Board
Arts & Bats
In my book, the plans of the ARTS Center Stage/Ice Bats groups ["Power Play," Vol.17, No.46] sound really exciting! This is one step in helping Austin to grow in a healthy way. Most major cities have large public auditoriums that are suitable for theatre and other performance groups. By allowing the Ice Bats to provide an alternative location for the Sami and other craft shows, it seems that one problem is solved.
First, I must admit that I am a biased reader because I sing with the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus and would look forward to new facilities in Palmer. But, what many readers may not know that the University of Texas schedule for Bass Concert Hall is extremely crowded. My understanding is that the Symphony, Ballet, and Opera (that are city-based and not with the University), must push for any available slots for their seasons. This does not allow any of these groups to grow and to reach their potential.
Second, I wonder if anyone remembers listening to the Austin Symphony Orchestra perform at Palmer before Bass Hall was built. I say listening, because from the fold-up seats they used, one usually couldn't see very well. It makes so much sense to reuse a building that is not living up to its potential than to start from the ground up and spend twice as much money.
The last thing I want to mention is that the people in the Bouldin Street area do have a right to monitor what goes on near their homes, but when you live in the middle of a city, you would have to expect that, quite often, there will be some city noise and traffic. Having said that, I'm sure that the groups planning these structures are listening to the neighborhood concerns and are trying to solve the parking and traffic problems. I, for one, am keeping my fingers crossed and hope that these plans do work out. I think that the city will benefit for years to come.
911: Get Time on Our Side
Dear Mr. Black:
The 911 Combined Management Center is an issue that needs to be included in this year's Bond Election.
This group will include the City of Austin Police, Fire, EMS, and Capital Metro.
This 911 Combined Management Center will use electronic and communications equipment to monitor, analyze, and immediately react to incidents by changing traffic routing, signals, and signs and providing accurate and instant information to the public, Government Emergency Response personnel, the media, and other jurisdictions.
The common thread is time, shortening the time it takes to commute to and from work, cutting emergency response time, reducing the time needed to transport goods, all of which keeps traffic moving, improves productivity and leads to less pollution.
Now is the time to use the advances made by the American Transportation System that connects the traffic manager to the transit manager and connects them both to commuters, truck drivers, bus drivers, school teachers and hospitals.
This 911 Combined Management Center will meet Austin's mobility needs in the 21st Century, and this sustains our economic prosperity and quality of life Austin has treasured.
Member, Urban Transportation Commission
KOOP: Be Nice to the Board
Re: Picture Perfect - Letter from John "Paunch-O" Lane ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.46]:
Is one picture worth Lee Nichols' entire "Media Clips" column? Never in the 10+ years that I have been reading The Austin Chronicle have I seen a photograph so capture someone's personality as the image of KOOP Radio Trustee Teresa Taylor.
The courageous and determined gaze of Taylor looking back at me from the page was almost too awe-inspiring to look at. My compliments to photographer Jana Birchum on capturing the shot. It must have taken nerves of marshmallow.
Thanks also to Lee Nichols, whose most recent article ["Media Clips," Vol.17, No.45] was better balanced than previous ones, but who still has a way to go.
If indeed it is the community's responsibility to "take back KOOP Radio from Taylor and her ilk," that means it is the people who are calling for the Board's resignation who will need to step forward and run for those positions. So we will expect to see your names on the next ballot. If there's any justice, you'll get elected. I guarantee that, if you get elected, you will look back on this controversy a year from now and feel ashamed at your present behavior toward the current Board.
KOOP Volunteer and former Board Member
Fight the Structure
So KOOP Radio is a mess. That's not news - the real story is why? And the bigger story is why are organizations on the left constantly devolving into chaotic blow-outs that cause them to lose sight of their fundamental objectives? My hat goes off to Lee Nichols for spending a great deal of time on the KOOP Radio story ["UnKOOPerative," Vol.17, No.45] but I'm afraid that the brouhaha became the story and not the root of the problem. The symptoms are much more sensational than the cause. "Poor bookkeeping" and a "lack of clerical skills"? Are these "big picture" issues that warrant turnover in management at KOOP, or are these merely smokescreens that are being used to dismiss a general manager that is locked in a power struggle with the Board? So why the struggle? Clearly, with only three years under its belt, KOOP's structure of government is still in its infant stage. Without development KOOP will continue to have difficulty making decisions as a whole. It is a sad irony that Jenny Wong, the general manager, would be cited for "personalizing" issues at KOOP. Ever since the election of the Community Board at KOOP about 18 months ago, "personalizing" issues has been the norm at KOOP and not the exception. This is a red flag that our structure at KOOP is lacking. David Barsamian, host of Alternative Radio, advises community radio stations to "develop mechanisms for dissent and debate with built-in closure and resolution" in order to avoid "internal disease." This development is obviously not in place at KOOP. Secondly, as a cooperative, KOOP must have a strong link with its membership. Without it KOOP will continue its internal focus and always be vulnerable to the will of whatever faction sits on the Board at the time. Workable, realistic policy that is built upon consensus must be put into place to focus the organization on its objective. To implement this policy KOOP must have a central link between the Board, the paid staff and the volunteers. This link is commonly known as a general manager. The decision that KOOP will no longer need a general manager but "a new position" that will focus on "development" is one that endangers what little unity is left at the station. The connection between the Board, its policies, the paid staff and the volunteers will only become more fragile. It is also an invitation for micro-management.
Ultimately, the membership is responsible for the health and well-being of KOOP - after all, they are the owners. However, it is a fanciful notion that the membership as a whole will be able to commit the amount of time needed or be able to make decisions as a whole on a monthly, much less daily, basis. The key is a Board that is elected and given direction by these members. Our current Board deserves credit - they stepped in to govern when many volunteers were complacent and unwilling to serve. However, I do not feel that a foundation for future leadership is being put in place and it's clear that the station is coming apart at the seams.
Take Back KOOP
To the editor:
Adrian Boutureira et al respond to Louis Black's plea to "take back KOOP" with the rhetorical question "Who from?" The answer, quite simply, is that it must be taken back from those who have steered the station away from the people it is bound to serve: its listeners and members.
As a cooperative, KOOP exists to serve its members. And as an FCC-licensed broadcast entity, KOOP is both legally and ethically required to serve its listeners ... to educate, to enlighten, to entertain, even sometimes to enrage its listeners. That's the grand idea behind what radio should be, and the core ideal that has rallied so many bright and hard-working people under KOOP's roof during the past few years.
The current ruling elite at KOOP has seen fit to derail its programming, alter its mission, and hamstring its operational effectiveness with an almost total disregard for either the well-being of its membership or the opinions of its listeners. To be sure, the blame for some of this can be placed on the members and listeners themselves, who have rarely shown an interest in the management structure or internal workings of the station, allowing the situation to reach the point it is at today.
It has been suggested by some on the Board of Trustees that perhaps they made a mistake in firing Jenny so hastily, but that the members should be content to work through the normal election process to effect change. In my opinion, that's just too little, too late. The die has been cast. The system is obviously very broken. The firing of Jenny Wong has dealt what may turn out to be a mortal blow to the fragile entity that is KOOP Radio. But it has had at least one positive effect. It has finally attracted the attention of the membership ... and they are pissed.
KOOP "Radiohead" member and listener
Past KOOP volunteer, Music Librarian,
Community Board member,
and host of The Wild Rumpus
Founding member of the Jenny Wong fan club
Highly Nice and Amazing
I am Abdul S. Khatri (Shan), supervisor of Monarch Food Mart. I have been at this location for almost three years. It was a wonderful and exciting experience to know and serve these highly nice and amazing people in the neighborhood. I have been involved in the convenience store business for almost six years, but me being at this location earned the most valuable experience from this neighborhood.
Not only that, The Austin Chronicle played a big role in it. I am thankful to you and Wayne Alan Brenner to take the time to write an article about the store and special thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to be on the front page.
Many new customers came from different parts of the city and asked so many questions which was very exciting. I feel good about it and willing to serve this community for a long time. Great appreciation to you and your staff.
Abdul S. Khatri
Punks Protest Rape
I was really disappointed by the Chronicle's coverage of the July 3 protest against the River City Rapists in "Dancing About Architecture" [Vol.17, No.44]. It's disgusting to me that a purportedly "progressive" paper would joke about the event as a encounter between a punk band and a group of silly, militant feminists when, in actuality, the protest that occurred was a long-overdue dialogue between the members of the punk community about rape culture. As an organizer of the event I can comfortably say that the 30-some-odd kids that showed up to demonstrate at Bates Motel July 3 were not calling for censorship and not asking the "Rapists" to be more politically correct, but to raise awareness amongst our own community about our own subconscious participation in the rape culture which pervades our society. Perhaps the Chronicle should consider investigating both perspectives next time you write an article rather than dismissing one viewpoint in favor of kissing up to a local band and venue.
Racism Can End
While I agree with Jeff Burke's assertion in his letter to the editor ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.46] that "Making a color-blind society won't end racism and discrimination because classism, politics, and religion are also contributing factors to these problems," I think it a little naive to claim "Racism is color-blind." Especially in light of recent events in Jasper and the horrible, though not deemed a "Hate Crime," crime committed here in Austin a while ago with the death of two men in the trunk of a car that was pushed in the lake.
While I agree that wealthy blacks and whites discriminate against those who are not as well off, it is also true that many with wealth use that power and influence to uplift a few. Whether it be a community center in East Austin or a guest membership at a country club in West Austin, all look after their own. That's just the way it is.
Yes, maybe some form of classism or discrimination would still remain if racism came to an end. Maybe. Still, it sure would be nice to have that scourge gone. The rest we could face head on later or, quite possibly, be diminished by the end of racism.
All the Pain Money Can Buy
To the editor:
Recently a friend of mine who cannot afford health insurance experienced an injury. She went to a local emergency facility, told them she needed to negotiate a fee, was treated superficially and given no pain medication or follow-up care instructions whatever. Several weeks later when she still had not improved, she called them, was routed to three separate people and told someone would call back. They did not.
Since my schedule is more flexible than hers, I offered to help by getting a list of low-income medical facilities from United Way First Call. Calling and visiting these produced the following results: 1. It was too close to closing time. 2. They were not accepting new patients. 3. She was told to call back in two weeks, when she was told the clinic lacked a suitable doctor. 4. A repeated request for a referral was ignored, then one was furnished which proved to be bogus. 5. Another had hours too restrictive for her work schedule.
One of these facilities recently had a public relations piece in the Statesman. Another was recently the beneficiary of a concert. Is this what photo-ops and volunteerism are doing for the medical safety net? Is there truly a medical safety net for low-income people, or is it simply a piece of feel-good mythology?
This incident has illustrated the need for a decent system of health care for all. The basic flaw of the so-called "Points of Light" approach is that one so often fails to appear when someone really needs one. What would things be like it we tried to run other basic things like sanitation, roads, etc. by relying on volunteerism and goodwill donations? Continued refusal to deal with the problem may make hospitals the next place where people decide to "go postal."
Nuke Light Rail
All this talk about the "Light Rail White Elephant" reminds me of another white elephant - the South Texas Nuclear Project which was foisted on us by our city government in much the same way as the light rail is now. One of the main reasons for our high cost of electricity is that we are still paying for this fiasco. This is why old people are dying in the heat rather than use AC - because they can't afford the electric bill. Big construction companies and their attorneys are the only ones who profit from these projects - which take forever and continually go over budget. But as long as we can keep annexing then I guess we can afford these "pyramid schemes."
Shooting From the Pseudo-Hip
Dear Michael Bertin,
Not all "dates" (women?) regard Tori Amos' overwrought, mutant Joni Mitchell flailings to be relevant to them. There are plenty of us who consider one Leone or Peckinpah film worth a thousand pretentious singer-songwriters, and wouldn't dream of dragging a poor, put-upon critic away from his "guy" pleasures.
Could you leave the gratuitous, shoot-from-the-ass remarks in the first draft ["Summer Film Revivals, Part 2," Vol.17, No.46]? They have nothing to do with the movie, and reveal a dopey self-indulgence trying to be humor. Or, you could team up with your colleague Mr. Savlov for a shared column, just for laughs. Electronica/Goth meets Real Guy cynic wisdom. Heady stuff ...
Bertin Due For Hurtin'
I just finished reading Andy Langer's cover story on Storyville ["A Piece of Their Souls," Vol.17, No.46]. I must commend Andy on a well-written and thorough inside look at one of Austin's great bands. But to my disgust, after reading the entire article, directly below it was a totally anti-climactic review by some piece of shit by the name of Michael Bertin on the same page! What's up with that?! ... I understand that Storyville may not be his bag, but surely there's a different approach to reviewing a respected band like those guys. Storyville is as Austin as it gets when it comes to showing some respect. Michael Bertin, I can assure you that if you ever write a review like that about my band after a great story like Andy's, I will come find you myself where you can't hide behind your pen and break those worthless fingers of yours and kick your fucking teeth in while I'm at it. Austin musicians work too damn hard to have some sexually frustrated hand-me-down writer like you shoot their pride and joy down like that. A word to the Chronicle: Hire individuals that appreciate Austin art. After all, isn't that what your magazine is all about?!!
A very disgusted fellow Austin musician,
Bertin II: Doggin' the Daves
Shame on you, Auschron! After enjoying a peek into the lives of David Grissom and David Holt of Storyville ["A Piece of Their Souls," Vol.17, No.46], I find it in very poor taste to slam their new release, Dog Years, on the very same page where they were just promoted. Whether or not this CD is good or bad is irrelevant. You simply do not "dog" your featured artists as an epilogue.
To the Editor:
As a new transplant to Austin, after reading Michael Bertin's review of the new Storyville [album], I have come to the conclusion that he must be deaf.
To whom it may concern:
I was really disappointed by the rating of Storyville's latest album in the July 24, 1998 edition of the Chronicle [Vol.17, No.46]. It seems like the critic (Michael Bertin) had a chip on his shoulder. He completely bashed the living hell out of the album. For anyone who listens to Storyville religiously, it is obvious that the album contains many displays of talent. I was also concerned that the criticism depicted David Grissom as a great rock guitarist, but left David Holt in the dark. Storyville is popular because of both great guitarists. Maybe Michael Bertin should have taken the time to read the article (two pages back) entitled "Piece of Their Souls." They have been playing songs off the new album for quite a while now and their shows are always packed or sold out. If the new stuff was as dull and lifeless as Mr. Bertin described it to be, then explain the massive crowds that know all these songs by heart. I think in the future it would be better if the critics would just admit that they are not fans of the band instead of tearing apart the reputations of some of Austin's best musicians.
Hardwig's Glass House
I was browsing the Internet when I came upon Jay Hardwig's review of Godfrey Reggio's Anima Mundi ["Scanlines," Vol.17, No.20]. I would like to point out two things that he is apparently unaware of.
First, the Philip Glass scores for Reggio's films were not added by a corporate higher-up or some such nonsense. They were specifically developed for the films at the request of Reggio, who felt Glass' music would provide the best aural accompaniment for his movies. To dismiss the work of Glass and praise that of Reggio is contradictory.
Secondly, the only Reggio film for which Glass used extensive synthesizers was Koyannisqatsi. Neither keyboards nor samples are listed on the credits for the Anima Mundi soundtrack. While they may have been used, the vast majority of the sound on the soundtrack is produced naturally. It may not be the bluegrass that Mr. Hardwig yearns for, but I hardly think that a local music like that is well-suited to a movie about the entire animal world. Reggio's choice of Glass as composer, who has influences from all over the world, was quite appropriate.
In conclusion, I would hope that Mr. Hardwig gets his facts straight for future film reviews. It is one thing to dislike a movie's soundtrack, but it is something else entirely to dismiss it as "god-awful" without making any apparent effort to understand it. His ignorance is a disservice to all your readers.
University Park, Pa.
Don't Dis Español
I was surprised by your response to the critiques on the July 17, 1998 cover title "El Imagen Vive" (July 24, 1998). Your title "Pardon Our Spanish" carried more than a hint of sarcasm, and Music Editor Raoul Hernandez's response "I spell bad in English, too" showed a disdain for language and careful editing. Writing "el" instead of "la" is not a spelling mistake - it is the equivalent of writing "on" instead of "in." At the Chronicle you clearly strive for accuracy when you write in English. When you write in Spanish, then, please, keep a dictionary at hand.
Um ... No.
And here I thought the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema was in the mid to late Eighties when La Bamba and The Three Amigos hit the box offices ...
Constitution Before Bible
My profound apologies to the editor of the "Postmarks" section, but I feel compelled to point out something that seems to be missing from the Don Cool controversy [Vol.17, No.44]: it makes no difference to the governance of this country what the Bible says about anything. The Constitution gives it no primacy in moral/citizenship regulation and the writers of the Constitution were mostly (oh yet again!) Deists who were heavily influenced by Roman law, Greek philosophy, English Common Law, and the French Enlightenment (certainly not the American one).
A Christianazi like Cool can rant all he wants and his detractors can do the same when it comes to biblical exegesis. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and if the Bible warriors need it pointed out to them once and for all, billions of people throughout history have led lives of decency and moral integrity without once being exposed to the arcane mayhem and lunacy of the Christian manual. I'll put my faith, if you'll excuse the term, in the Bill of Rights.
Pain in the Butt
In reply to Kurt Standiford's odd letter ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.45] ... It is interesting that Mr. Standiford apparently bases his judgement of gays on an uncomfortable prostrate exam he recently underwent. (If that's his logic than it must be a terrible sin to have a baby, as that's a pain men can only dare imagine.) Also, Kurt, what's your gripe on the "un-naturalness" of lesbian lovemaking, which is quite tender, romantic, pain-free and sure to satisfy? Or so I've heard.
I agree with Curtis Rendon that Don Cool was most un-Christian in his hateful ranting ["Postmarks," Vol. 17, No.44]. As a follower of Jesus Christ, it was painful for me to read Cool's letter because I knew that it would reinforce pre-existing negative stereotypes about Christians. It only takes a few rotten apples to give the whole bunch a bad rep. However, I would also like to clear up a few things for Mr. Rendon. In his letter he asserts that those of us who believe Paul's writings to be God-inspired scriptures are not Christians and worship Paul rather than Jesus. He claims that while the gospels were written by those intimate with Jesus (true), Paul was an interloper and destroyer filled with hateful teachings that have nothing to do with Jesus.
To point out the errancy of this assertion, I'd like to refer to the book of Acts. This was written by Luke (the same Luke who wrote the Gospel according to Luke) and it chronicles, in its ninth chapter, the conversion of Paul from a murderous Pharisee into a man who sacrificed everything for the sake of the message of Jesus. Furthermore, in Paul's letter to the Colossians (chapter 4, verse 14) we find that Paul became a dear friend of Luke.
Next, look at 2 Peter 3:15-16 for confirmation of the spiritual validity of Paul's writings. This was written by Peter, one of the first disciples called by Jesus (Matthew 4:18-20). In this passage Peter tells us that Paul's wisdom is from God, though some of his sayings are hard to understand and have been twisted by ignorant people, just like other parts of Scripture. Here we also see Peter, someone who knew Jesus intimately, calling Paul a "beloved brother."
I believe that a serious look at the writings of Jesus' disciples will provide quite a contrast with Rendon's description of Paul as a "strident, hate-filled individual." Rather we will see Paul as a servant of God, filled with the Holy Spirit of the Christ who radically changed his life. Thank you for your time.
Not Using My Bible for a Roadmap
To the Editor:
I once heard it said that religion is the tracks where something alive once passed. If the tracks can serve to inspire one to seek truth, then they are to be honored and by all means followed to their source. Sadly, for various reasons, many of us seem to become prisoners of dogma. It's as if, following a map on wild and beautiful terrain, we begin to confuse the map for the terrain itself. This is being truly lost. It kills any possibility of genuine spiritual discovery. Who is the one reading the Bible? The Koran? Or studying the Sutras? This question, I believe, is what all genuine spiritual paths lead to and must answer at the deepest possible level. Clearly Standiford, Cool, and Bradshaw haven't yet discovered what the answer is. I say that it is clear because they're seriously not asking the question; who is the follower of Christ? Find that and I believe you will discover that you are not separate from those you condemn. Anyone who truly believes that it matters who one genuinely loves, that is that it could possibly be wrong to love the same sex, opposite sex; whatever, has not met their own spiritual maturity - stop clinging to maps like terrified children. If you want to discover truth be still and look inside, that is where you will find God's reflection, not in words or maps.