Turner Is Worthy
Mike Clark-Madison's article about Dorothy Turner ["Corner to Corner," Vol. 18, No. 2] spews "tasteless talk" - trash. What does he know about Ms. Turner besides that she threatens the fragile sense of white manhood he has constructed for himself? I have known Ms. Turner for nearly 20 years and have never heard her refer to herself as a "revolutionary." She identifies herself as a grassroots community activist. Her view of social change is too complex to be reduced to a buzzword. If she fails to meet Clark-Madison's standards of a "bona fide radical," who cares? The many Austinites she's helped and inspired who want Rosewood Street renamed for her could certainly care less.
As for the politics he alleges is driving the street renaming movement, the only Beckettian resonances here is the existential angst of soi-disant "white guys" like Clark-Madison. Dorothy Turner has never "channeled money and power and opportunity away from East Austin and toward the lily-white western countryside." Visit her modest East Austin neighborhood and you'd know it would never serve her interests to do that or to support Eric Mitchell if that is all he is about. Mitchell's friendships with capitalists do not necessarily make him a sellout, nor does Ms. Turner's friendship with Mitchell make her one.
Clark-Madison pits "a handful of genuine Eastsiders" against "Sister Turner," claiming she is not a "genuine Eastsider" and cares nothing about Austin's cultural history. More trash. You cannot find a more authentic East Austinite than Ms. Turner. The need to preserve the name Rosewood is not established by pointing out the many places in the community that also bear the name. Also, renaming Rosewood is not "overwriting" black culture. It is about writing new black history which is always what makes the older history relevant. Create a Dorothy Turner Blvd. and you help boost East Austin's renaissance.
Has Clark-Madison done something to preserve Austin's black history? Dorothy Turner has. Recently, she helped revitalize Doris Miller Auditorium with an African Marketplace, preserve priceless memorabilia of Anderson High School about to be thrown away, and make Rosewood Park more meaningful to the community through the creation of "Jump On It!" (a summer concert series). She has worked to keep the history, culture, and built environment of East Austin alive for Austin. What has Clark-Madison done besides talk trash? He should go back to California; here you don't mess with Texas and true Texans like Dorothy Turner.
Dr. Amilcar Shabazz, Asst. Prof.
Department of American Studies
Coordinator, African Amer. Studies
The University of Alabama
No Turner Blvd.
I agree with Mike Clark-Madison in "Street Wise" ["Corner to Corner," Vol. 18, No. 2]. I personally think Dorothy Turner did wonderful things in her community, although I might disagree with her methods. It boggles my mind, though, when supporters such as Rev. Frank Garrett, Eric Mitchell, and others who choose to live outside East Austin attempt to make changes that affect those of us who at least remained in the community.
According to one of Webster's definitions, a community is the people with common interest living within a particular area. The issue at hand pertains to an "area" that retains an historical significance to its people. When the issue of the East Austin Juvenile Justice Center was up for consideration it was those who lived outside East Austin who were most vocally in favor of it being put in East Austin.
One supporter of the facility actually said on KAZI Radio Station, "I was paid to lobby for the Center, and paid well I might add." That's selling one's people out for 30 pieces of silver, in my opinon.
It is agreed that Mrs. Turner should be recognized for her work but perhaps another way of honoring her is appropriate. Is the real issue honoring Dorothy or is it pushing the selfish agenda of a select group who seek to elevate themselves to positions of leadership? I think the latter.
Charles H. Pennie
I'm a bit bewildered by Kate X Messer's needlessly snide comments about Linda Ellerbee's October 4 talk to benefit the Breast Cancer Resource Center ["Public Notice," Vol. 18, No. 3]. Certainly, Ms. Ellerbee has star power - but equally important, she's a breast cancer survivor, which Ms. Messer failed to mention.
As long as we're speaking about star power, I'd also like to say that it shouldn't be necessary to import someone all the way from St. Louis to talk about surviving breast cancer. There are plenty of us right here in the city limits.
Clearing Things Up
Dear Austin Chronicle:
In response to David Lynch's article on Russ Smith's Chocolate Records label ["Psychoactive Sounds," Vol.18, No.1], I must first say that Mr. Lynch's description of my songwriting as "nakedly honest and humorous" was very kind; exactly how I'd describe art which moves me most.
However, I'm obliged to assert that I am not an artist in Chocolate's "stable." This past spring, I had my friend who was executive producer of My Album by Me retrieve all remaining copies of it (800 out of 1,000) from Chocolate's possession. Chocolate had all but refused to market or license it - or had been too unfocused, unorganized, unmotivated, and understaffed to promote any disc. More than two of the other artists cited as having releases on Chocolate similarly bailed out or had their follow-ups released on labels which could actually do something.
I'd entered into my non-deal with Chocolate with a feeble ability to assess the label's track-record and prospects. A label run from a city which affords more awareness of the world and requires ambition and accountability would have been more suitable for my CD. Nonetheless, over two years from date of "release" is too much time to "see that recording just sit on a shelf somewhere," to borrow from your quote of Mr. Smith.
In Mr. Smith's favor, I couldn't recommend anyone more highly for CD mastering.
My intention behind the CD's release was to put behind me the life which had gone into it. I want as little as possible to do with music business, music scenes, and musicians, so that flakes, scumbags, anti-achievers, narcissists, and thieves can't kill my love of music.
I have been giving away copies of My Album by Me to strangers, but not as self-promotion. It would just be more of a waste to dump almost 800 CDs in the river.
"Wrapped in noise, smoke, smarts, and oh-so-much attitude, Salvage Vanguard Theater's Altamont Now is," fortunately, a long-awaited theatrical response to American rock culture - a world ruled by paper-thin icons whose depth and messages hardly extend past the illuminated screen on which they live and therefore permeate our lives. With Altamont Now, SVT produced a self-reflexive text which implicates this oh-so-hip theater company's complicity in the meaningless dribble that is marketing, media, publicity - the business of money in Late 20th Century America. For above the entrance to the warehouse hangs proudly, loudly, in clearly pointed ridiculousness, the banner given by The Austin Chronicle upon SVT's award of "Best Hip Drama, 1997." SVT is flagging down its audience for the inundation of "shit-mouth," or "an experience as empty as the numb hipsters it portrays," as reviewer Sarah Hepola wrote ["Exhibitionism," Vol.18, No.2].
The artistic logic goes as follows: If an audience is shown an exaggerated version of some aspect of reality, to the point where it laughs at or with that performance, that audience will then be that much closer to questioning the motivations (or lack of, whichever the case may be) of characters, the purpose of a text, the agendas implicit or explicit in that text. Is this not the aim - or rather, shouldn't this be the aim - of all theater after Brecht?
This is why I was particularly shocked at the knee-jerk review by Sarah Hepola in last week's edition. She critiques the plot as being rocky but I would argue that playwright David Bucci is aware of the plot's inconceivability and that the logical fallacies simply subordinate narrative in an era overblown with texts, subtexts, and grand narratives, emphasizing the fragmented experience of postmodern America. Hepola engages in some name-calling, which reveals that she doesn't like them.
However, the actors, director, and producers know these characters are not likeable. They hope that by leading an audience to laughter, that audience will be inspired to question these characters. Travis York's "waffling" is the schizophrenic experience of life in the late 20th century in the Western world. We live through media presentations and representations. Bucci is more than hip to this. His Altamont Now is both a hilarious celebration of this inescapable virtual reality and a critique of its depressing superficiality.
Altamont Now rocks. It is a much-needed live, rockin' hiccup in the "I'm so bored" mantra of our media-saturated, empty existence. Whatever.
UT English Undergrad and concerned citizen
Are y'all growing to the point where you're short- staffed? What's up with the Michael Bertin review of the 4/5ths Meg Ryan, Liz Phair ["Live Shots," Vol.18, No. 3]? Leave out insulting, rude and the verging on a "help, I've been dumped before and I can't get up" tone, did you have no one to enjoy and constructively critique the (too short but enjoyable) performance? Also leave the erroneous logic: She's so well-liked 'cause she's sexy and explicit as proven by the roar for "Fuck and Run." Honey, if you think that's why that place was packed with screaming women taking it up a notch for "Fuck and Run" you need to spend more time with people and less time alone. She's pop, she's a flirt, and she's a delight. It seems to us, as supportive and enlightening as the Chronicle can be musically, you could have found someone else to see the show. We loved it. Maybe you could send us to the next Michael Bolton, Natalie Merchant or Storyville gig? We're qualified - we already don't like them.
Thanks for reading,
Don Brode and Susan Terrell
No Pedal to the Metal
In the second paragraph of your very nice article on the Panhandlers ["Forsaking the Spotlight," Vol. 18, No. 3], you identify Chris Miller as playing the "pedal" steel. This is incorrect. Chris is one of a handful of steel players here in town who eschews the modern pedal contraption in favor of its forefather, the table, or console, "non-pedal" steel guitar. While this may seem a nitpicky detail to you, it is, I assure you, an important distinction among steel players and Western swing aficionados. Other notable Texas players who have shunned the pedals are Cindy Cashdollar of Asleep at the Wheel, Tom Morrell, member of the Western Swing Hall of Fame and leader of North Texas' Time Warp Top Hands and Don Edward's Band, and the legendary Herb Remington of Houston, former Texas Playboy and also a member of the Hall of Fame (although Herb does sometimes play a pedal model but not in the Nashville style). Local legend and former Chronicle employee Herb Steiner (Texas Pedal Steel Guitar Player of the Year, 1997) also played a non-pedal steel on Wayne 'The Train' Hancock's first album.
You have made a common mistake. It is one that I constantly try to educate people about. It is a very important detail in this instance since the Panhandlers are authentic to the roots of Western swing right down to the vintage instruments they use.
aka Dr. Dobro
[Ed. note: Due to an editing error, "pedal" was inserted into the aforementioned sentence. The Chronicle regrets the error.]
Just a quick personal note to thank the Chronicle for your support of the People's Community Clinic benefit featuring Tish Hinojosa last Sunday. This year over 15,000 Central Texans will use People's Community Clinic as their primary source of health care and health education. Like most community organizations without huge marketing dollars, PCC relies on word-of-mouth exposure from concerned individuals and companies, like the Chronicle, for its survival. Thanks for recognizing that PCC is an Austin treasure and that its mission to help provide every Austinite with affordable, quality health care is critical to the vitality and strength of this city.
Waterloo Ice House/Iguana Grill
Dear Mr. Pants:
Re: Your August 7 column stating "a toaster oven uses about as much power as a motor boat" ["Mr. Smarty Pants," Vol.17, No.48]. Put away your water skis. A 1,500 watt toaster oven consumes the equivalent of two horsepower; 746 watts=1 h.p. You could be referring to a small trolling motor, which propels a small rowboat at a really slow speed, but not a "motor boat." A motor boat has an engine in the range of 15-300 h.p.
Blues for Jazz
Jazz is taking it on the chin in the "Live Music Capital," on the airwaves, anyway. During my morning drive in to work, last Friday, the (commercial FM station) K-jazz morning team abruptly reported that it was to be their last show and that at noon, the station would change to "new and exciting format."
So let me guess, more screaming angry twenty-something grunge, more homogenized classic rock pap, more droopy "soft rock", more sleepy long hair music, more scatogorically driven "shock talk" drivel? No, its more twangy, cryin'-in-your-beer, pick-up truck drivin' country/western music! As if the dial isn't already full.
K-jazz never really represented themselves as a "mainstream" jazz venue (they never said that they were), but the station offered a much-needed alternative and in a small way contributed to the possibility of opening the door for more exposure to America's true contribution to the music world, jazz.
The letter "Adios Jesus" ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.3] was merely heretical until you titled it, at which time it took on a blasphemous air. Shame on you naughty boys and smack, smack to your naked buttocks.
I truly meant no disrespect to Jesus, whose significance is figuratively evident with the date September 25, 1998AD, and probably will be in the year 2998 as well.
But the crux of that letter, obviously, was that Ken Starr is a slime-sucking scum, far below in the oozy muck than all the players in his sordid little debacle. No concept of duty. No sense of justice. No dick.
I won't read the Scarr Report or watch Sinton's "secret" Grand Jury testimony; but I would like to watch Hillary, in full dominatrix regalia, take a big 'ol leather strap - until he squeals "oinkle" - to Starr's shapeless, fat dough-ass.
Why So Mad, Eddie?
In response to Eddie Pruitt's letter in Vol. 18, No. 3, I have one word for him: unclench! The last I had heard, an "R" rating for a movie meant that no one under 17 could attend the film without being accompanied by an adult. If a father feels that his son can handle the content of a specific film, then he is well within his right to take his son to said film. If Mr. Pruitt disagrees with that he's certainly entitled, though I would recommend that he take some Metamucil and mind his own damn business.
Are all motorists really rushing around in cars so they can get home to watch network television? Are "sodomites" really the scourge of the universe?
These are just a few of the questions that have come to my mind in my recent readings of the "Postmarks" pages; jarred out of me by the shrill, uncompromising invective that passes for opinion.
Solutions can be found through debate and the exchange of ideas, but nothing is ever solved by a screaming match.
Isn't it time we paid more attention to those who present ways to better our community (and, like it or not, we all - car owners, Christians, atheists, vegetarians, gays, etc. - form this community)? Is there any reason to print another letter from Kurt Standiford other than to insult a portion of our population or to fan the flames of misunderstanding and hatred toward those with religious beliefs? Isn't it about goddamned time we stopped shouting at each other and tried - just once - to listen to each other?
I know that what I am seeking is a pipe dream. But I will take one pipe dream over a thousand pipe bombs any day, and much of what I read in these letters is just that: a short, compact instrument designed to maim or kill those toward whom it is lobbed.
Until we understand that we are all worthy of life and entitled to our thoughts, habits, and beliefs and that not one of us has the answers to everything, we will be in sorry shape. If we cannot truly listen to each other and share ideas instead of platitudes, it won't matter how many cars there are, who sleeps with whom, or who runs KOOP. This city and this world will be a terrible place to live.
In My Own Defense ...
In my own defense, if you had read the letter a little more closely, Jacob ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 3], you would have seen that I did no whining, I merely stated facts based on my experiences and knowledge.
As for your suggestions, I already have a job (in accounting, not Book People. Neat how you assume that all musicians work slacker jobs) that I actually like and I play music too and have for over 15 years. In addition, I have been writing songs for 12 so it's not for lack of effort (would you like a copy of my catalog?). And if our tape truly "sucked" would it have gotten played on KLBJ? Or would we have played sets at least 10 clubs and numerous parties in this town and Houston and Dallas? Or would we be on a compilation album?
I already know what it's like to be underpaid and unappreciated but if I were as whiny as you claim, there would be tear stains on the Chronicle. I keep on persevering though because I believe in myself and my band that much.
Also, if you read the letter a little more carefully, you will notice that it was mostly a letter of appreciation directed to those people who have given us support without hardly knowing us at all. My values dictate that I say thank you to someone who has done me a favor. That's not ass-kissing, it's called manners. You might want to try some.
So the next time you think about spewing forth your verbal venom, Jacob, take a second look at things and read what's there, not what you perceive is there. Thank you.
P.S. Oddjob plays the Steamboat on Thursday, October 1 at 9:30pm. And none of us have English degrees!
My Favorite ...
My favorite letter in the September 18, 1998, issue was from Ken Kennedy ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 3].
Ol' Ken pointed out that part of the breakdown in Christianity results from the end of Biblically approved slavery by the eighth amendment in 1865. Silly me! I thought it was the 13th amendment that abolished slavery. Anyway, me and ol' Ken are going to set those pesky folks straight who devilishly insist that the 8th amendment abolished excessive bail.
My hero, Ken, also inspires us with the news that the Piscean Age ends December 31, 2000 [aka "The Millennium"]. Don't let the servants of Satan [over-educated professors and the like] lead you astray by their claim that some early-Church cleric made a mistake in arithmetic and started counting years from the wrong date!! Some of these so-called bible scholars even have the audacity to suggest that the Roman records establish that baby-killer Herod died in, by today's Gregorian calendar, 6 B.C. It ain't true!! Two thousand years from the birth of Christ did not happen in 1994. So, we aren't in the Age of Aquarius for another 27 months, or so.
Ken was too modest to tell you, but we need to know what a true hero he is: Ken has ancestors who were slaves, and he is so deeply committed to slavery that he is volunteering to place himself into involuntary servitude at the earliest possible moment. What a guy!
Just Don't Forget Where You Parked
At first glance, building several huge, expensive parking garages in Austin seems like a waste of money. But maybe it could turn out to be useful.
If the proposed garages are moveable, if they can be fairly easily dismantled and moved from one site to another, they might actually be of use in solving Austin's transportation problem.
Wherever we build an enormous parking garage - at Sixth and Lamar, for example, or beside Palmer Auditorium in Town Lake Park - severe traffic jams will result within a few years. If the garage is moveable, we can move it to a less car-clogged site, and run a rapid transit line from the new site to the old one. When the new site becomes car-clogged, we can repeat the process, always moving the parking garage closer to Austin's city limits and installing new transit lines.
Austin's traffic problems can only be solved by drastically reducing the number of cars on the roads. If we keep moving the parking garage closer to the edge of town, and meanwhile build rapid transit lines to take people from their cars to downtown, we could eventually move all the cars out of town. The cars could be parked at the city limits, and everyone could get to his or her car by rapid transit.
Moveable parking garages could be part of our strategy to transform Austin, slowly and painlessly, into a city where it's fun to walk around or ride a bike, rapid transit goes everywhere, and people don't drive cars unless they're going out of town.
Theories of Babich
For over three years, I have been reading letters from a woman who seems to be obsessed with deifying bicyclists and damning the 98% of us who depend on cars. Indeed, her obsession is akin to that of Ahab over Moby Dick. I am curious as to her education. What kind of job does she have? Does she have kids? What does she look like?
As for the merits of her arguments, rather, jihad, against private vehicles, they are weak. While as a competitive runner I am physically able to get most places by foot, what about those who depend on their cars for shopping and for their jobs? Imagine the mother of three trying to lug home bags of groceries on her bike or on a bus. As a Houstonian, I must laugh at the idea of a downtown professional riding to work in her power suit on a bicycle. Houston, like Austin, does not have the population density to justify fixed (rail) transit, given its several population and employment centers. Rail works reasonably well in compact, dense cities like New York and San Francisco; anywhere else it is a huge money-loser, benefitting only contractors, construction worker unions, and cadres of "transportation consultants." Light rail from Austin to San Antonio? Who lives in Austin and works in San Antonio, or vice versa? Yeah, right.
I cannot count the number of times I've been nearly run over by bikers while running on the Town Lake Trail, or have seen cyclists blocking traffic on major streets by riding three or four abreast. Quite frankly, I believe this lady, though probably sincere, is just another big government socialist hostile to the freedom provided by private vehicles, freedom that I will do everything I can to preserve. To all you cyclists out there, I wish y'all safe cycling, but keep your hands off my car!
Enough Is Enough
OK. I think I have just about had enough of this! I have had it with this Amy Babich and her call for all of us to simply abandon what some of us feel are the most important things we own, our cars. I read these letters from Amy and while I agree there are too many cars and people in the Austin area, I also understand most people, myself included, love their cars!
I resisted the urge to write when she came up with the idea of a bike route from Austin to San Antonio, wanting to tell her that even if it were accomplished, there would be very few people using it. A complete waste of money in the end. This week, however, I could not let it pass.
Amy wrote, "But there's a much-ignored option. We could get rid of all or most of the private cars in Austin, run rapid transit all over town, and build any new "growth" in the disused parking lots." Amy, I think you have finally lost it. My first question is, are you serious? Do you seriously believe it at all possible to "get rid of all or most of the private cars" in the area without there being any backlash? You think people are going to just give them up? Who is going to decide who gets to keep their cars? You? Please!!
People are going to go where the money is, Amy. Apparently, word got out across the state and across the country that Austin is a pretty good place to live with ample opportunities to build careers, homes, and families. The influx into the Central Texas area is, in my opinion, irreversible at this point. What we need now are creative ways of dealing with our growth, not a constant barrage of whiny-ass letters filled with ludicrous ideas and wishes.
I do not mean to come down too hard on you, Ms. Babich, but enough is enough. How can you put things like, "If we can basically rid our city of private cars, many of our problems will vanish. Let's plan to get private cars out of Austin by 2020" and expect to be taken seriously?
Let Bill Work
Ellen Holliday is certainly entitled to her opinion ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 3] but I must respectfully disagree. There is no reason why the president has to be the moral leader of the country. He is the political leader, elected to do a job, just as the president of a factory, or a cashier at McDonald's. The present one is doing a good job as far as I can tell. He's quite right in stating that his affairs are a private matter, as they would be for any of us. Rather than have two standards of behavior, one for us and one for public figures, I believe we should have one that's good enough for us all. Mine would certainly include allowances for what to do when we haven't lived up to those standards, as we all do from time to time, and how to get back on track and keep trying. This is what we need to let Bill Clinton do now.
Eeny, Meeny, Miiny
Which of the following judges would be willing to hear the case of Defamation of Character of the Prez. by "Judge" Starr's "meanness mob"? Judge Judy? Judge Wapner? Judge Joe Brown? Judge Ed Koch (previous mayor of New York City)?
I vote for Judge Ed. How about you?
Presidential Soap Operas
So, I guess you can figure Clinton inhaled. Do you still doubt Paula Jones? Did you ever doubt Gennifer Flowers? And now, as if that wasn't enough, it's the airhead in the Oval Office. Are you kidding me? This thing's breaking down like some ridiculous soap opera with, as main characters, the most powerful man in the world whose finger's on the bomb and his succulent bimbo perfectly willing to trade her kinky story for fame and fortune. ("Oh Ken, make me a Starr!!")
I don't know, part of me feels humiliated by living in a society that sticks its big nose in the president's underwear, but a larger part of me feels irate at our blowhard commander-in-cheek for giving us Ms. Blewinsky. My God! And now he's waggin' the dog in Sudan and we'll be lucky to make it through his second term without getting into a bloody war. Notice how Newt and the boys all applauded bombing those darn terrorists' factory making VX for weapons of mass destruction? Kinda scary, huh?
Just Can't Win
I'm more frustrated than Ken Starr's sex therapist! Get ready for a steady deluge of pompous rhetoric about "Character." Self-righteousness would be a better word - the 'sin' Jesus condemns with the most severity!
If my memory serves me well, when we had a paragon of character in the office of President, Jimmy Carter, he was roundly criticized because of it! The oft-repeated criticism of Carter I heard was that he was "too good" a man for the job. I vividly recall even the ridicule of Carter's initials "J.C." along with his religious convictions. The cartoons. For weil or woe, Carter is remembered as a less than effective President (his impeccable character a contributing factor?!)
Try as one may to tarnish Clinton's record of accomplishments - saying, for instance, that he wasn't responsible (?!) - like it or not, much in fact has gotten accomplished during his tenure as President. Apart from the mishap with Monica, Clinton's terms of office will be remembered as effective - regardless of what one "thinks" or "feels" about the person. Perhaps he should be "pool-stick beat" for what he put his daughter, (wife?), party, and country through, but he should not be impeached. I fear that some terrible precedents are being set with the office of president - namely a no-win scenario: at some point, either by "character" or "effectiveness" (domestic or abroad!), the president loses, and subsequently, so do we all.
We've Done Worse
So, Bill Clinton's made countries laugh at America? This from the average interviewed, get-rid-of-him-on-any-pretense Republican in the street. This is what has really pissed off the Republicans. That "the most powerful man in the world" (Republican phrase substitute for Viagra) has turned out to be terribly human.
But a laughing-stock? Let's see. Daily we export Sally Jessie, Oprah, Jennie Jones, et al. around the world and the world sees that as "average America." We don't elect politicians here, we conduct sainthood tests. That's what the world sees. We gave the world such cultural icons as Pee Wee Herman, Tiny Tim, WWF wrestling, and Madonna. You think the world wasn't already giggling?
Our much-vaunted political system has produced George Wallace. We set out, during the Carter administration, to emulate the Israelis and rescue "our boys" from captivity in the Middle East and you think the world didn't smile at the results? We elected a "B" movie actor as President, he conducted a secret war, claimed to "not remember" and is now revered by having an airport named for him. That must've raised a titter in Tunisia. Our next man - a Yankee who claimed "Texas citizenship" (whatever the **** that is) for political expediency, pardoned the previous one and went on to crown his presidency (??) by uttering the most stupid phrase any politician can dream up - "No new taxes"!
Bill Clinton's sex life? Well, perhaps it is making the world smile but, for my money, he's only carrying on a long tradition. The world doesn't love America (at least in the parts of the world where America is loved) because we're big and strong and we know what's best for them. They love us because we amuse them.
John A. Blackley