Humanizing VanScoy

Dear Editor:

I feel lucky to live in a city with such a dynamic Mayor as Kirk Watson. I imagine Mayor Watson arrived home after a Saturday night on the town with Kayte VanScoy shaking his head in amazement. The questions posed by the Corpus Cristi policeman were more lucid than the ravings Ms. VanScoy presented him with ["Saturday Night Live," Vol.18,No.5].

I doubt the Mayor realized his Judeo-Christian beliefs would be tested on this journey. Ms. VanScoy doesn't want the rich or the poor living downtown. She advocates booting the homeless off to the Reicher Ranch (out of sight, out of panhandling range) and ensuring that the housing constructed in the urban core is more affordable. The Mayor even quizzed her on her duplicity and she accused him of "lawyering" her. I would say the mayor was "humanizing" her.

Ms. VanScoy is also, admirably, up on her property values. I would suggest that if she is worried about the homeless, the Triangle property, and downtown that she get with the Chronicle's publisher's wife and see if the homeless shelter can't be located on the Triangle property. That would solve everyone's needs, wouldn't it?

Unfortunately, I've come to expect about as much from the Chronicle in the past several years. Those halcyon days of 250,000 people, mostly university students, are long gone. The Chronicle publishers, who are raking in much money now thanks to all the growth, really are caught between a rock and a hard place. But to hate both money and the downtrodden seems wrong. Pick one to champion.

Stick to meeting coverage, Ms. VanScoy, where you do a passable job. Keep your social policies either to yourself or on the editorial page (where you can sound a lot like Mr. Oppel of the Statesman).

Warmest regards,

Mark Hager

VanScoy: Bad Date


I certainly hope, as it says on the promo for the article, that Kayte VanScoy was being the devil's advocate in the article she wrote. I got infuriated reading her insane comments and questions to Watson. From listening to her, I think what her ideal vision for downtown is to have no one live there so we can have plenty of parking for all the suburbanites who want to listen to live music. And not wanting to lose [the Electric Lounge]'s city-owned parking lot because not only is it used for parking, but once a year it is a venue for SXSW, is ridiculous. And being fearful that if people live downtown they'll start forming neighborhood groups who will no doubt oppose outdoor live music stages at downtown clubs is so silly it almost doesn't deserve comment. And even complaining that most of the downtown apartment construction is for upscale housing is petty. Luckily Watson didn't just walk away from her and actually made some very intelligent responses to her questions. Perhaps she was trying to look stupid so that Watson would look that much better, but it seemed like an odd way to conduct an interview.

So what if the first wave of downtown housing is upscale? At least it's downtown housing, and as Watson pointed out, once you get a critical mass downtown and you get stores downtown, people of all income levels will move downtown, and that is really what we want. If that means that clubs will have to give up their free parking, and give up their outdoor stages, that's a very small price to pay for a vibrant downtown. If people live downtown, they won't need as many cars and parking will become less of an issue, not more of as issue as VanScoy seems to think. Once more people live downtown, we will be forced to have a more efficient mass transit system, so even those who don't live downtown will be able to more easily get downtown and back, and parking will become even less of a problem.

I've heard of people not particularly wanting downtown housing, but I've never heard anyone actually opposed to it, like VanScoy was. I sure hope we don't have to suffer through another article like that one. It's the last thing I expected from the Chronicle. Way to go Watson!

Joe Blubaugh

Standing Up for Jackson

Dear Sir,

The eye-gouging, groin-kicking, hate-crazed assault on Jack Jackson and his book Lost Cause by Michael Ventura ["The Lost Cause," Vol.18, No.3] was not a legitimate review. It was an attempt at assassination. I say "attempt" because Ventura shot himself in the foot with his own blunders, such as his absurd assertion that there were no repeating rifles in 1857. What about the Henry, manufactured from 1850 to 1866 (obviously the rifle depicted by Jackson, which Ventura singled out as a "goof" by the author)?

The real cause for Mr. Ventura's vicious libels against Jack Jackson shows clearly through his malicious diatribe. He denounces the author as a "racist," in today's multicultural, diversity-demanding totalitarian mindset, the unforgivable sin of sins. Has he read the previous works by Jack Jackson? Comanche Moon is from the Indian point of view (thus, presumably could be considered anti-white racism) while Recuerden El Alamo glorifies the controversial Juan Seguin (this is suspect as anti-Anglo racism). Lost Cause tells of the injustices suffered by whites in Texas following the un-Civil War -- and thus Mr. Ventura interprets those truthful revelations as unacceptable "racism" (he obviously belongs to the mindset that pretends racism begins and ends with the White race, which is about like believing the world is flat).

Equally repulsive is the sidebar article "The Wrong Cause" by Jesse Sublett. Particularly offensive are its vulgarisms which demean Sublett and the Chronicle, such as: the subtitle "Hardin: the behind behind the legend" and the beginning and ending, "John Wesley Hardin was an asshole" and "John Wesley Hardin died like an asshole." Such foul-mouthery doesn't belong in a legitimate publication. For every smutty word or phrase there is an equivalent, usually better, in decent language. When a writer, or someone who claims the title, degenerates to filthy talk, he demonstrates his bankruptcy in use of the English language.


Bruce Marshall


Lieber Chronicle Redakteur!

Pableaux Johnson (Vol. 18, No. 5) begins his Oktobeer Festschrift: "This month in Munich, locals and tourists alike will descend on the southern German town for Oktoberfest, the Bavarian capital's world-famous festival of frantic fluid fun." Herr Johnson seems to be unaware that in Germany, Oktoberfest traditionally begins on the second-to-last weekend in September, running for three full weekends (this year it was September 19 through October 4). If you're planning on jetting over to München for some bier and gutes essen, you'll still find it (I'm partial to the Hofbrauhaus myself), but the hijinks at the Theresienwiese are over until next year. To see what you missed, check out

Auf Wienerschnitzel,

Pamela C. Patterson

Banking on Eastside

Dear Editor:

Liberty Bank, an Austin-based institution, would like to respond to last week's [Vol.18, No.5] letter to the editor entitled "Eastside Needs Banks."

We couldn't agree more! We are pleased to inform you that Liberty Bank has recently received regulatory approval to open a full-service banking facility in Southeast Austin.

Construction has begun at the corner of East Riverside Drive and South Lakeshore Boulevard, where our new facility will include full lobby services, student loans, a three-lane motor bank, and a drive-up ATM.

Liberty Bank looks forward to serving this overlooked community, and hopes to open by January 4, 1999.


Edward Z. Safady

President and Chief Executive Officer

Just as Gourmet


How can tamales that say "100% Fresh" on the label, yet get frozen right after cooking, be considered the best gourmet tamales in Austin? Seems to me like some Old El Paso microwaveable tamales would be just as gourmet and just as fresh.

Jason Kirk

Personally Attesting


If The Austin Chronicle decides that Hot Damn Tamales are the best tamales in Austin, I can find no reason to dispute that. However, the fact that the tamales are labeled as "fresh" is a misrepresentation, as I can personally attest to the fact that Hot Damn Tamales are frozen and rethawed before they are distributed to local retailers. I am sure Hot Damn Tamales are equally as good as any commercial brand of tamales, but they are not fresh due to the fact that they are frozen. Isn't this false advertising?

Paul E. Suffridge

Platypus Poison


Platypusses (correct plural -- not platypi) have no fangs ["Mr. Smarty Pants Knows," Vol.18, No.4]. They (males) have a spur on their rear legs, connected to a poison gland. So while they may give you a fierce gum, watch for the roundhouse kick. Glad to be of assistance. Keep up the good work.

Aleks Ozolins


Smooth Jazz 24-7

Fans of smooth jazz,

Fret not, Cheryl Youngberg ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.5], you don't have to move from Austin to enjoy smooth jazz. It will, however, require an investment. The simplest thing to do is purchase a DSS (Digital Satellite System). Make sure your service includes a package of music channels. When the technician installs it to your TV, also have them connect it to the auxiliary input of your stereo. Go to the channel in your guide marked Contemporary (Smooth) Jazz. Now you can enjoy 24 hours a day of commercial-free, digital quality smooth jazz. Record some cassettes and take them wherever you go. The other option is to purchase/upgrade a computer with a sound card, good speakers (subwoofer recommended) and an Internet connection. Your computer can also be connected to your stereo's auxiliary input. Once online, go to There you will need to download the latest version of RealPlayer. I also highly recommend software called iQ. There are many options of smooth jazz being broadcast over the Internet. The audio quality will depend on the quality and speed of your Internet connection. Time Warner's Roadrunner Internet service sounds exciting for Internet audiophiles like me. If a person is willing and able to pay for DSS or Internet service, then there is a wider range of music available than currently offered by local commercial or public radio stations. The information revolution may be occurring, but it has its price.

Not missing KAJZ,

Willy Snell

Just Now Noticed

To Whom It May Concern:

I am an Austinite of 33 years, and I am "disgusted" with your Chronicle publication!

It is such a shame that such good, informative material is infiltrated with such filth and pornographicads that put it into a category of white (and black) trash!

You are not only demoralizing yourselves, but also our youth!

Thank goodness XL publication has the same informative material without the disgusting, X-rated filth (that only corrupts our society)!

You have lost five readers!

no name

Dumb Growth

Howdy Y'all

More people means more pollution, not less. The more people you find in a denser "residential" downtown north of the river, the more you will see congestion and pollution/ozone, not less. If city hall is allowed to overdevelop south of Town Lake, the more people you will find there. More people south of the river, then you will again find more congestion and more pollution.

The more traffic slows down, say from congestion and traffic calming, the slower the cars will operate. Pollution controls on cars do not work well when making cars go from normal speeds to slower speeds and then back again, over and over. This happens with traffic congestion and now from traffic calming devices, especially if the devices are located on hills. It is a fact the EPA has stopped funding a traffic calming project in Portland because the traffic calming caused more pollution/ozone, not less.

Of the estimated 1,000 new people moving here each month, it is probable that 90% will not want nor could afford to live downtown. Newcomers will need to live out in "sprawl" land, the new suburban neighborhoods. More people in suburbia, more congestion, and still more pollution.

Regardless of the new building restrictions in "sprawl" land. Who would not want to pay extra to live out near beautiful green spaces? Places for parks and to jog, spaces for the children to play in. What a nice deal for the developers too.

Could city hall be lying? Don't the light rail plans promote suburban living and promote a denser buildup of the downtown?

Won't Austin soon look like Dallas or Houston? Should our politicians just change the town's name to Duston?

Smart Growth: just another way to promote denser development, more people, and more pollution. Duh!


Rick Hall

Suburban Assault Vehicles


It has become evident over the past several years that there are far too many individuals obsessed with cars moving to Austin. The most recent edition to this brat pack is the obnoxious and decorative grill found on most Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs). It is also quite apparent that these SUVs, with their ostentatious grills, serve no other purpose than to make a statement. What purpose could these grills possibly serve in Austin? I am not aware of any stray wildlife in Austin that could potentially endanger the livelihood of these callous morons. Unfortunately, I am yet to comprehend the mentality of these individuals who must maneuver their SUVs, like attempting to emulate some pathetic commercial, through residential neighborhoods, oblivious to squirrels, kids, and pets. To top it off, most of these individuals are on their cell phones, engaged in what appears to be a genuine conversation. Please, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Mansfield, spare us your ignorance. If both of you are sincerely concerned about subsidization, try contacting General Revenue. You will be glad to learn that the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) is biggest winner of the socialization project. It would be one thing if our infrastructure was solely funded by the gasoline tax, but it isn't. If it weren't for people like Amy Babich, impervious cover would be the norm and your fascination with your boxes on wheels would be reality.

Angus Tilney

Babich's Vita

Dear Editor:

I don't know why anyone should care about my education, but for the record, I hold a Ph.D. in mathematics and an M.A. in Latin, both from UT. As a mathematician, I'm aware that problems that no one has solved yet can sometimes be solved by someone who's willing to think independently, rather than merely repeat what other people have said. As an admirer of physics, I'm aware that questions about real life (e.g., the viability of public transit and intercity bike paths) can only be decided by experiment. I teach mathematics classes in the evenings, do odd jobs for textbook publishers, and run a small recumbent bicycle business with my husband. I also write novels, but so far this isn't profitable.

It is perfectly possible to carry three bags of groceries on a bicycle or other human-powered vehicle, especially if you use a trailer. In cities that run more on public transit than on private cars, people usually shop at small stores close to where they live and buy less than three bags of groceries at a time. Shopping habits depend on the transportation system.

Population density is not a given that controls transportation; transportation affects population density. If people weren't planning to go everywhere by private car, they wouldn't want to live at the fringes of town. If people thought at all about saving fuel, they'd more likely choose to live near where they worked.

While I think it would be great to rid Austin of most of its private cars by 2000, I doubt that this is feasible. By contrast, 2020 is over 20 years away. It is quite possible that people's minds can change, through debates and experiments over 20 years.

We need to plan calmly for the future, not rave about loving our cars.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich



I just moved to Austin so I could go to St. Edward's, and I have to wonder what exactly Amy Babich is on to suggest moveable parking lots. Is she insane? Does she honestly believe that the City of Austin would waste the resources and manpower needed to move parking garages to other parts of the city?! They have other things to spend their money on. Trivial things, like education, which Amy seems to have overlooked in her spaced-out, hippie-dippy-do world. This is not an episode of The Jetsons, Amy. This is real life. No one in their right mind is going to tell a bunch of TXDoT workers that their job is to move a garage from one place to another. They have other things to do, like fix the roads and expand the freeways. Another minor detail which Ms. Babich conveniently overlooks is the fact that a traffic jam will result no matter where you put the garage. If it's moveable, the problem is worsened because people are driving around looking for the damn thing. Furthermore, what does she have against cars in the first place? I lived and worked in Houston for seven years and without a car, I would have been screwed. People need to be able to get around so they can go to work and build lives for themselves. Get your feet back on the ground and your head out of your ass, Amy. Your ideas are impractical and they don't work.

Letitia Gutierrez

Dereliction of Duty

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

On ABC, the FAA's ignoring of the problems with Kapton insulated wiring is an absolute scandal, and represents the kind of dereliction of duty which the Congress and Senate should be going after, instead of the private problems at the White house.

I am also an accomplished automotive tech writer. It really seems to me that if the FAA knew about this problem 21 years ago, then it should be considered partly responsible for not preventing at least some of the air tragedies which have happened since then, economics of wire replacement or not.

Is it because the Republican Majority would lose campaign contributions from the producers of this deadly wire, should hearings go forward with an investigation? This would be another scandal that is partly responsible for more deaths.

In Austin, Texas, nine people have been charged with first degree murder for allowing a defective carnival ride to be operational, causing the death of a girl, and injuries to others when a latch failed.

It is most certainly no different when the FAA as well as other responsible parties allow us all to ride dangerous aircraft, economic factors of wire replacement or not!

Thank you for your concern!


Dan Petit

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