The Austin Chronicle


October 2, 1998, Columns

Austin Ad Nauseam

Brother, Brother:

You know I love you and yours, but man, what a mess this latest issue [Vol.18, No.4] is! I mean, I stopped reading it on page 62. Enough with the "Critics Picks" already. Not clever, not funny. Overload!!!

Nick, Nick, get a grip, "... any responses ... are welcome." I've got to believe you're gonna get some on this one. I mean, who's got the time? And really, who cares?!?

I remember when "some changes" came a couple of years ago, but is the paper really supposed to be a "nightstand" project? Jesus, I remember it only used to take, oh, say, two or three pitchers of beer to read it. I certainly never said, "Damn, I can't wait to go home and read the Chronicle for the next two or three days! Boring! And people say I get wordy. This mess shut even me down. I hate it when that happens!

Hugs and Kisses,

Flip Scanlon

Kudos From Kimmel

Louis, Staff, and Readers:

Thanks to all for the recognition and honor in your "Best of Austin" issue. As a reader, thanks, for (as usual) a fun, entertaining issue.

Troy Kimmel

Chief Meteorologist, KVET AM 1300/KASE 101
Weekend Meteorologist, K*EYE42
Television Lecturer in Weather and Climate,
University of Texas, Department of Geography

P.S. By the way, Louis, I was only kidding on K*EYE42 when I mentioned that the check had apparently gotten through to you ... you and I both know that it was good hard cash! Just kidding ... again ...

Apples and Oranges


After reading the review of the Travis Room at Lakeway in the Chronicle [Vol.18, No.3], I was a little perplexed. It seemed to me that Ms. Wood actually liked the food, in fact was very complimentary about almost all that was ordered during the dinner she described. Yet that was not reflected in the overall negative tone of the review, leading me to believe that she either already had made up her mind about the restaurant before going there (it wasn't going to compare favorably to Hudson's on the Bend) or was overly influenced by other factors (confusing or poorly lit road signs, roaming deer). Whatever the reason, I felt her review was unfairly skewed towards the "cons" of going to the restaurant, when there are enough "pros" to recommend it.

I have been to the Travis Room for the seafood buffet and for a private function, and both were delightful experiences, cuisine-wise. It's a nice place to take out-of-town guests who want the lake dining experience with good food but without the noise and crowds of places such as the Oasis and Carlos n' Charlie's that cater to a much younger clientele. I also see the Travis Room as a good alternative to Hudson's, even though both have pleasing ambiance at upscale prices. I'm not a food critic, but I know that the latter has built its reputation on adventurous cuisine (read: game and very spicy sauces) that may not be everyone's taste, so I'm glad that the Travis Room is around for those lake-side Sunday brunches or sunset dinners with older family members from out of town who don't care for venison or chipotle-laced sauces.

If Wood's primary point was that the Travis Room is not comparable to Hudson's, that's OK, but it hardly seems newsworthy. I think that her time and effort would have been better spent on reviewing the restaurant on its own terms, as it does fit a niche that some Chronicle readers/restaurant goers may be trying to fill.

Patti Tilson

Prevention Tips


As a breast cancer survivor and activist and former president of the (national) Breast Cancer Action Group, I'd like to thank you for highlighting the environmental culprits in your Sept.18 interview with Mel Bramyn ["Public Notice," Vol.18, No.3]. Here's my suggestion list to people at that $50-dollar Oct.4 champagne brunch:

A) Fund more research on "cancer cluster" cities and zones contaminated by toxic waste.

B) Fight efforts to turn Sierra Blanca into a dumpsite for a cocktail of nuclear waste from Texas, Maine, and Vermont, and sewage from New York City.

C) Advise women about the alarming side effects of tamoxifen, currently being promoted as the breast cancer prevention & chemo wonder.

D) Remind everyone that tamoxifen is produced by Zeneca, whose parent, ICI, is responsible for dumping half the toxic waste polluting the St. Lawrence river annually.

E) Encourage farmers to supply clean water supplies to farmworkers and migrant farm workers to prevent them from drinking water out of old pesticide containers.

F) Support efforts to prevent the health insurance industry from refusing to cover long-term breast cancer survivors.

G) Fund grassroots support of low-income survivors and those who lose jobs, health insurance, and life partners because of breast cancer.

Finally, advise one-breasted women to insist on half price mammography. As a unilateral, I have received half-price mamms at teaching hospitals from Cape Town, to Montreal, to Zurich. But not even the Susan Komen Breast Center at Baylor Hospital in Dallas was geared up for this. The best deal they offered was a $5 cut, insisting "half-price mammograms aren't in our computer."

Pamela Ferguson

Dean of Oriental Bodywork

Academy of Oriental Medicine

Breast Cancer Help


Thank you for helping raise awareness of breast cancer issues in the "Public Notice" section of the September 18th Chronicle. In it, you featured a breast cancer survivor who talked about some of her frustration and anger at the lack of knowledge and research into breast cancer prevention and the lack of "clearing houses for info" on breast cancer treatment. I just wanted to make sure that your readers know that in Austin, there is a clearinghouse of information on breast cancer information, resources and support -- the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin. The BCRC is a centralized source of information, education, and support that enables women to be active, knowledgeable participants in their healthcare. A nonprofit organization created by breast cancer survivors, the center exists to serve women with breast cancer, their families, and friends; women who have questions about screening and biopsy; and others in the community who are concerned about breast cancer issues. We offer peer support services, support groups, information and referrals to resources in the Austin area that provide services in breast cancer detection, education, treatment, and support.

Ms. Messer also mentioned our "Star Powered" event, a Champagne Sunday Brunch Live With Linda Ellerbee on October 4 at 11am. Linda Ellerbee, the bestselling author/producer/anchor, is also a breast cancer survivor and advocate. Her speech should be rousing, funny, and poignant. This event raises over one-third of the Breast Cancer Resource Center's yearly operating budget. We encourage your readers to attend this elegant event, the proceeds of which will enable the Breast Cancer Resource Center to continue to answer questions on our helpline (472-1710) and provide support in person over 750 times each year.

Thanks again and don't forget your monthly self-exam!

Claire Saxton, Executive Director

Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin

Lubbock to Austin


Last week, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock were inducted into Lubbock's walk of fame. There are now more folks who live in Austin included than from any other city. Ponty Bone and Joe Ely were here to cheer them on. Austin is truly the "third coast," although I was the last person expected to realize that.

Johnny Hughes

Eastside Needs Banks


Recently I moved to Austin's Eastside. I live off Riverside Drive and until I moved, I did not notice that there is not one bank in the area. I went so far as to call several banks and talked to their managers. One of them told me that the Eastside was not good for banking business because It was mainly students -- not true. Anyway, I am stumped. What to do next? Call the Mayor's Office? We need a bank on Riverside Drive. Thanks for your usual good work reporting.

Ruth Meaders

I Want My K-Jazz


Gee wilikers, JoeBob, you cain't listen to smooth jazz on the radio in Austin unless you wanna miss church ... or maybe you could figure some new-fangled way of riggin' that thar stereo of yours to tape whut you can off the remaining program ... ?

It's difficult to believe that in a city the size of Austin that the only smooth jazz station would have to die so abruptly. What are the options? There is one remaining radio station that features a short smooth jazz program during "church time" (on Sunday mornings exclusively), but it's a definite schedule clash if one wants to go to church as well. Would someone out there please explain to this mobility-impaired individual (and listener) how to hear smooth jazz without having to move or go out alone at night to some club, hoping to catch a glimpse?

Cheryl Youngberg

Driven to Poetry


A Poem

You have your needs,
And I have mine.
You have places to go,
And so do I.
Maybe we both need the same thing
At the same time
So one of us has to let it go
And that's okay.
Maybe we can work together
And both get what we need
And that could be beautiful.
But we'll never know
If you don't use your fucking turn signal.


John Ratliff

Too Much Scrutiny


Henry Cisneros, former Mayor of San Antonio and former HUD secretary, has had his conspiracy trial delayed to next spring.

Henry Cisneros' credentials look very good.

He never said, "I did not have sex with that woman." Instead, he admitted his adultery and helped his former paramour financially.

His error?

He understated the amount of aid, and failed to reveal to the FBI the total amount of his financial help to his former mistress.

Some day Henry could be the U.S.'s first Hispanic presidential candidate. He has integrity, he's sharp, and he is intelligent. He'd be an excellent president.

However, with the microscopic investigations of candidates, he probably would be better off keeping his private sector job. That's sad.

Tony Weissgarber (conservative Republican)

San Antonio



Freedom of speech is a great thing, Mr. Tandy ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.4], but get some help for that P.M.S. Jeez!

Eddie Pruitt

P.S. If you want to keep your business personal, don't put it in the Chronicle.

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!

Steve Mansfield


Enough Is Enough

Dear Editor,

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 ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.3]. 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?

Kenneth Edwards

San Marcos

Just Don't Forget Where You Parked

Dear Editor:

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.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Babich Knows Best


All Heil! Madame Babich! She knows what's best for all!

Your constant whining about cars has become tiresome. You talk about banning cars in Austin. Are you willing to ride your bike 20 miles to work, work a 12 hour shift, and then bike 20 miles home? I doubt it.

As for rapid transit, are we supposed to put it into every neighborhood? Are you willing to donate your front yard for it? Are you willing to put up with the time and money needed for the construction?

You rave about the greatness of bicycles. Do you feel that bicyclists are above the laws of the road? Do they, bicyclists, always have the right of way? Do they automatically go to the front at stop signs and traffic signals? Do they not have to stop at above-mentioned traffic signals? Are bicyclists so great that they can disregard all traffic laws?

I can guess your response, "Don't judge all bicyclists by those few who do?" And why shouldn't I? You judge all automobile drivers to be the same.

The next time you feel like whining about cars, go to your garage, close the door, start the Volvo, and sit there for an hour. Maybe that'll clear your head.


Jimmy Beitman

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.

Sincerely yours,

Scott Carlin

P.S. Oddjob plays the Steamboat on Thursday, October 1 at 9:30pm. And none of us have English degrees!

My Favorite ...

Dear Editor:

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!

John King

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.

Elaine Blodgett

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?

Dan Petit

Presidential Soap Opera

Dear Editor:

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?


Randy McCullough

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.

C.D. Womack

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

Starr Ruins Everything


After reading Starr's salacious sex report I came to the conclusion, a thought that's been there for several months but was maturing like a juicy Hill Country peach, that the whole President Clinton sex scandal was developed, distributed, publicized, and paid for by a real powerful and evil right wing conspiracy. Fortunately, the report's main witness is an individual who lacks credibility, stating several times publicly that her whole life was composed of lies and exaggerations, and from reading the report she continues to live by those standards. If the right-wing conspirators think for one minute that the American public cannot visualize a choreographic set-up from the report, the Republican Party is totally out of touch with American society, and this view is supported by the polls. I am not defending the President's actions, but these types of immoral witch hunts only create a precedent for future political in-fighting that in the long run will further deteriorate our political, social, and religious American system of government. Remember great empires were destroyed from within, not from without.

Rodolfo Mendez

Coup Attempt


Republicans have long announced their intention to dictate the sexual behavior of the nation. With the current scandal they have found the perfect vehicle to give high visibility to their dark impulses. They can vent their spleen at the President, engage in Puritan posturing, and publish pornography all at the same time.

To citizens worried that they somehow have a duty to take all this with gravity, I recommend the Justice Douglas approach.

William O. Douglas, a champion of individual liberty, sat on the Supreme Court during the time when, among other things, the Court debated questions of obscenity. This debate brought to the elderly justices a sense of obligation to view many obscene films. Justice Douglas escaped the duty by simply deciding that the Supreme Court is not the body to decide what films Americans can see.

Taking the Justice Douglas approach, I have decided that I am not the one to decide what women the President can touch. This frees me from the obligation to learn lurid details of Mr. Clinton's private life. It's similar to the way I've used movie ratings to free me from the obligation to preview every film my teenage daughters see.

Now the Republicans are wading through the muck to stage a bloodless coup. This is something citizens have a duty to stop, if constitutional government is to be undamaged.

Robin T. Cravey

Starr's Closet

Dear Editor:

Much appreciation to the Chron for the forum to vent my frustration ["Postmarks," Vol.18, Nos.3, 5] -- after not voting for Clinton, but having accepted him -- over Ken Starr's coup of the U.S. government/subversion of the democratic process, at the American people's expense.

What Starr has been granted unbridled concession to do is punish the masses, by rubbing their faces in Clinton's indiscretion, for having elected him.

I've come to realize in this dangerously overhyped scandal that the Victorian sensibility under which so many Americans operate is actually a huge closet (and the gay closet is just a resultant sub-strata). What the impeach-Clinton advocates seem to not realize is that more and more people aren't cloistering themselves in the closet anymore, that they are becoming -- gasp -- honest about human nature.

It would be so gratifying to see the Republicans expel the religious crazies from the GOP (to form their own inconsequential little theocracy party) and to embrace libertarianism in true conservative form.

Most Sincerely,

Ken Kennedy

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