The letter about what happened to the All News Mornings and News at Noon on KVET-AM was truly incredible ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.7].
Chancellor broadcasting has announced an intent to aquire KVET parent company CAPSTAR, but the stock roll-up won't occur until next year. They did not make the decision to end KVET-AM news broadcasts.
When the staff were hired, the station sought out skilled journalists, and hired the best available. People like Tom Vinger, Suzanne Chapman, Eric Blumberg, Larry Todd, Jack Williams, Mike Pirtle, and Julia Hilder joined Michelle Roebuck and Jerry Johnson. As a group they average more than 10 years of experience each, in South and Central Texas broadcast news.
An all-news format is the most expensive format in radio. It was a ballsy decision by KVET management to load it with the best people and the best features, like Paul Harvey, Dan Rather, Charles Osgood, Martha Stewart, and even David Letterman's Top 10 list. This came at a time when most AM was declining, or going dark. Who can say whether it would have succeeded, given more time. But if you were the station manager, and your station was losing money, what would you do?
KVET's programming now plays to its strengths ... Longhorn sports, the Cowboys, the Rangers, the Spurs, and professional sports nuts like Bill Schoening, Craig Way, David Anderson, John Medani, Hugh Lewis, Jim Apfelbaum, Perry Watson, and others.
I miss my former colleagues, at least most of them. ... There was this one guy who worked here ... he got SXSW credentials, but showed no interest in covering it ... I asked him to cover the Austin Music Awards, but he refused. ... Turned out, he did go to the awards, with my equipment, without asking me. He fed the network, then went home. With my equipment. Without filing a story, leaving a tape, or even leaving the list of the winners. What a wanker. We were sure glad when he quit last March. All he does now is write flaming e-mail letters to editors. The man has some issues.
P.S. I'm still here! So is Julia!
P.P.S. Can you print this next to Amy Babich? She rules!
Free the Parking
I read with interest the article about Mayor Kirk Watson ["Saturday Night Live," Vol.18, No.5]. When asked if the "Sami contingent" was all for the ideas proposed by propositions 11 and 12, he indicated that our only problem with the issue is the configuration of the parking garage.
That is certainly an issue for us but a greater issue that no one has spoken about publicly is that all of the parking will be pay parking. This is the death of free parking for the public event facilities and Auditorium Shores.
The Austin Convention Center is a great example of what will happen on Auditorium shores. The 1,500 parking spaces currently available will be replaced with only 1,000 spaces in a parking garage. In a letter from Assistant City Manager Jim Smith to me he indicates, "It is unlikely that free parking will be a feature."
I believe a lot of good can come from this project, but I am hard pressed to understand the benefits to the community of rushing into it without more thorough planning and consideration. As a longtime resident of a nearby South Austin neighborhood, I have much more at stake than just the loss of my businesses.
Sammie Gayle Dwyer
President & CEO,
Sami Arts & Craft Shows
City-Wide Garge Sale
All the Candidates
I wish to thank and heartily commend the Chronicle for listing all candidates for U.S. Congress in your October 9th issue [Vol. 18, No. 6].
Of particular note to readers/voters should be that a full 30% of incumbent seats would have gone unchallenged if not for a Libertarian candidate, giving voters a choice in these races. It almost seems that backroom deals ("gentlemen's agreements") between the Democrats and Republicans were made in Texas to not run candidates challenging these seats. In fact there are more Libertarian candidates than Dems or Reps.*
Based in sound philosophy and principles, the Libertarian Party has been around for 27 years and is a serious and exponentially growing third party in this country, with no intention of going away, despite the media turning a blind eye to its existence. It is the only "third party" on the ballot in Texas.
The list of U.S. House races was placed within the pages of your cover story of District 10 incumbent Doggett. I look forward to a story on his only challenger, Vincent May. I realize the Chronicle endorses the incumbent, whose seat is reasonably safe, but in the spirit of journalistic fairness (or is that an oxymoron?), the public would be better served if you could give the "underdog" a bit of token ink. (An amount proportionate to projected vote totals would be nice ... )
*Your list is an old one, dating back to the early part of the year, based on January filings. Brad Clardy in the 19th, unfortunately, will not be on the ballot due to a technicality, but there is a Libertarian, Stu Nance, in the 16th. I believe Tom Hall (D) had to withdraw for health reasons, and there is no replacement. This makes 25 Libertarian candidates, compared to 24 each for D's and R's. I think there may also be an error among the independents listed. I suggest you check with the Secretary of State's office for an accurate list before you print it again.
I was very pleased to read the "Free Jazz, Thin Margin" article [Vol.18, No.7] concerning P.G. Moreno and the great concerts he has staged. Arthur Doyle blew me away. These shows are events. I most point out that the piercing horn Sonny Simmons blew was an alto, not a tenor.
Jackson Sets the Standard
It was with great sadness that I read Michael Ventura's outrageously wrong-headed and hateful review of Jack Jackson's comic-history Lost Cause ["The Lost Cause," Vol.18, No.3]. I had a higher opinion of Mr. Ventura. I didn't know he would stoop to such bile. Jack Jackson is a serious artist, his classic God Nose set the standard for all underground comics from Shelton to Crumb to Trudeau and his illustrated histories have received the highest praise from such important writers as Larry McMurtry. I have know Jack Jackson for 35 years. To call him a racist is not only morally wrong but is the lowest form of indignity. That the Chronicle stands behind such vile garbage lowers the credibility of your newspaper. For shame!
Tary Kelly Owens
More Support for Jackson
Dear Mr. Black:
I have some objections to Michael Ventura's review of Jack Jackson's Lost Cause. ["The Lost Cause," Vol. 18, No. 3] First, it reveals a complete ignorance of the graphic novel medium. To dismiss the book simply because "without pictures, the 148-page story would shrink to maybe 25 pages, if that," is to completely miss the point of the graphic novel ó that pictures can be used to tell an intelligent story and that the graphic novelist's task is to tell the story in as few words as possible.
Also, Ventura's review reads more like a personal attack than a review. Ventura is certainly entitled to his opinion that Jackson is "racist," however to use a critical forum to smear Jackson's character in this way is inappropriate, if not downright uncivilized.
Furthermore, your readers should know that Ventura's opinion is not shared by everyone who has read the book. I have read it, and so have a number of my colleagues in the comics community. No one has found the book to be at all racist. The book is, in fact, a gripping, realistic depiction of Reconstruction-era Texas; it is beautifully drawn, excitingly written, and excellent history.
It would be nice if there were space in this letter to refute all Ventura's claims with regard to the book's "racism." But the claims are so many, and the issues raised so complex, it cannot be done in a letter.
That is why Jack Jackson should be allowed equal space to respond to this unfounded attack ["Page Two," Vol. 18, No. 5].
Dear Ken Lieck,
Having read your comments about "The New Blues Revue" ["Dancing About Architecture," Vol.18, No.7], I take exception to your comment "there may be truckloads of blues musicians here in town, but are there enough quality players to supply two clubs full time?"
It's possible you may not have actually set foot on Sixth Street in your life, being that the only full-time blues club downtown (west of I-35) is Joe's Generic. As for quality players ó check out Hector Watt, Walter Higgs, Uncle John Turner, Corey & Mike Keller, Matthew Robinson, Appa Perry, Hosea Hargrove, George Rarey ... the list goes on. These guys are regulars there and bring their fair share of blues notoriety to the stage.
As for you -- you should consider changing your name's spelling to "Ken Like" -- as in Barbie and ...
Frauds, All of You!
Austin is a beautiful city populated by wonderful people who are frauds! You claim to be environmentalists. You advertise it on the highways! Yet we can't find a single place to recycle anything. We came here as visitors from the "backward" state of Missouri, and we are returning home with a trunkload of paper, tin cans, aluminum cans, glass and plastic containers that you "enlightened" people still throw in landfills. In our Neanderthal State we can recycle all of the aforementioned items at almost any major shopping center. Our daughter moved here 10 months ago. She was raised in Missouri and Iowa where we have conscientiously been recycling materials for 15 years. She has been stockpiling recyclable objects in her small apartment because she couldn't stand the thought of filling even "the wide open spaces of Texas" with materials that could be reused. We are going to go home to compile data on the cost of recycling versus the cost of creating and maintaining landfill. The Midwest people are frugal people. It took some convincing to get people to recycle. But we finally figured out that it was not only financially responsible to recycle, but also environmentally responsible to minimize the "junk" our future generations have to contend with. We loved our visit to Austin! It's a great city. Next time we will bring a trailer down so we can haul back more recyclable material to a state that understands how important it is to protect our precious environment.
I am the daughter spoken of in the letter above, and I am still stockpiling recyclable material because I still cannot find anywhere to recycling. I have asked all my friends, called every recycle business in the phone book, and even drove to BFI in East Austin to try to recycle (they only do bulk deliveries)! I can't stand it any longer! I come from a state that most people don't even know how to locate on a map, much less spell, but anywhere you go you can find a recycling station, for everything! I know homeowners can pay to have their recycling picked up at their home, but what about apartment dwellers? We probably make up half the town, that is a lot of unneccesary material going into our landfills! Why? And don't tell me cost. Money cannot buy back precious fertile land.
Pay Your Workers, Austin
How interesting to see the business community damn themselves with their comments on the living wage issue ["Pocketbook Politics," Vol. 18, No. 5]. So, Mr. Garey, you see no one making the minimum wage in Austin. Well, excuse me, but that's not the issue. Plenty of people, myself included, are making less than the living wage, and would benefit by the raise being advocated by the living wage coalition. And you say those with families should plan ahead, as if anyone can plan for all of life's uncertainties. I'm certainly glad you could always adjust to a layoff, a catastrophic illness, or the death of a partner, even possibly more than one of those at a time. And Mr. West, the business community believes that the less regulation of wages the better; of course, how else could we have executives making tens and hundreds of millions of dollars, while some full-time workers still need public assistance? I guess let them eat cake was already taken.
Prop. 4 Vague
I have carefully reviewed the 12 propositions for the November 3rd Austin bond election and find them generally clear and understandable, with the exception of Proposition #4.
This proposition asks for about $41 million to, in effect, construct/improve "libraries, museums, and cultural centers." My first reaction was its inconsistency and vagueness. Why are the plurals "museums" and "cultural centers" used when only one museum and one cultural center are buried in this proposition? Why are libraries put in the same proposition with obviously unrelated museums and cultural centers? To vote for libraries I must also vote for a museum and a cultural center ó no option. Strange? Deceptive?
When voting for candidates for public office I get a choice. I'm not required to vote for candidates I don't want in order to elect a candidate I do want. Also, why the vagueness? What museum; what cultural center; how many and for what purpose? Where located? How much for each facility? We are not told. Why?
The record will show that the city council purposely put the museum and cultural center in the same proposition with libraries as they know Austinites would support libraries and would also be forced to vote for a cultural center, purposely unidentified; a project previously rejected by the voters! Isn't this a violation of your voting rights?
I believe, like many Austinites, we need libraries in the near future, but there is a principle involved here, so I urge all voters to reject Proposition #4 and send a message to this city council: Your distrust of Austin voters is unacceptable. We will not buy your bait-and-switch tactics to promote your private agendas. We will wait and elect a city council which will give us the opportunity to support libraries on their own merits and submit a proposition stripped and unidentified baggage.
J. Frank Hill
Joe's the Real Deal
In response to the oblivious question asked by Ken Lieck ["Dancing About Architecture," Vol.18, No.7] "Are there enough quality players to supply two clubs full-time?": Ken neglected to mention a club which Rolling Stone Magazine ("Best Blues Clubs in America, Issue 787) dubbed as "Sixth Street's Home of the Blues." This unrecognized juke joint goes by the name of Joe's Generic Bar. Not only is Joe's the only club which offers blues seven nights a week; it is also called home by many of Austin's most gifted blues musicians.
When blues guitar great Jeff Healy completed his gig at La Zona Rosa, he strolled into Joe's Generic Bar not by sight, but by sound. The first words out of his mouth (and I quote) were, "I've been walking up and down this street and this is the only place I heard any good blues." He then proceeded to play a 40-minute set with the band. The fact that ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons spent a couple of weeks enjoying the sounds coming from this venue is proof enough that Joe's is packed with quality players.
Joe's may not be aesthetically appealing to one's eye, but the music speaks for itself. With 12 years of business behind it, Joe's has never changed ó because it does not need to. The high quality of music which is played by the high-quality musicians is all we need.
Let me ask you something, Ken. Does it take the actions of a White House intern to gain any recognition from you people? The bottom line is, Joe's Generic Bar is as close to the real deal as you can possibly get.
Christina Manoukian, Manager, Joe's Generic Bar
Tony Redman, Quality Player
In the summer of 1974, I walked into the Sunken Garden Theatre at Brackenridge Park in San Antonio to see a band called Navasota. As I waited, the first band came on but I could not figure out what kind of music they were playing. I got up to get closer and I could see the guitarist, who was wearing what looked like a colorful ruffled shirt and light yellow baggy pants standing there muscling out the greatest guitar playing I had ever heard. I know that on that day I heard a little of Mahavishnu, Jeff Beck, and Hendrix all in one. The sound just blew me away. I found out later they were called the Electromagnets. After the concert, I went straight to the Record Hole in Alamo Heights, but they did not have the record. A year later I found the album in the "import" section at the same record store. I just bought the Electromagnets on CD and it sounds great in my car. Eric Johnson is truly one of the greatest guitar players around. I now realize that the Electromagnets were way ahead of their time when they first came out. They deserve a place in history.
Give Her Some Credit
Regarding the Arts Listings in the October 9, 1998 Chronicle, the Museum of Fine Arts Austin had some information that was overlooked. The writer said, "Museums and malls don't jive. ... There's something about the name of this place that demands some scrutiny. ... Didn't we just hire some guy for $35 million to design a museum?"
Here are the true facts. The Museum idea was brought up in 1991 by Charlene Schullman who went before the City Council to propose an idea for a museum in Austin with plans drawn up by an architect. She had space at 823 Congress donated to her and was operating successfully, with the name the Museum of Fine Arts Austin. But the city saw fit to draw up their own "idea for a museum in Austin." They went ahead and leased the space, replacing her, and renamed it the Austin Museum of Art.
Was the reason because they felt threatened in some way while she was doing such a good job without them? Was it because they were insensitive to her initiative?
Even though she was out of business as soon as the city leased the space, the name the Museum of Fine Arts Austin was still legally hers. Since then, she has set up shop at various locations in Austin. The latest location just happens to be in a mall.
Give her some credit for keeping the idea alive all this time. It's more than your $35 million has done. I have yet to see this so-called museum that the city has hired a guy to design. Anyway, what is wrong with a museum in a mall? It's a fresh approach to an old idea with ample parking.
Finally, don't critique the gallery space; critique the art within that space.
Lieck Doesn't Get the Blues
I was unpleasantly surprised at Ken Lieck's narrow-minded, misinformed "Dancing About Architecture" this week. He all but stated that there is currently only one venue for good blues in downtown Austin, proceeding to imply that there is a lack of quality blues players in town ["The New Blues Revue," Vol. 18, No. 7].
As an avid lover of good blues, I try to get out and listen four or five nights a week. I find myself at Antone's once every month or so.
Mr. Lieck's comments are extremely disrespectful to the other clubs in town that have supported live blues and kept the scene alive for years. The higher budgets of Antone's or House of Blues allow those businesses to bring in out of town acts and to afford local "quality players" a decently paid gig. The local talent, however, did not appear out of a vacuum.
Ken has rudely overlooked the smaller places where so many fine musicians cut their teeth, hooked up their bands, and played not for the money, but for the passion and love of the blues. There is a truckload more of excellent players in Austin than there are well-paid gigs and even another high-paying joint won't put a dent in the situation. Every night you'll find quality players in clubs downtown, relying on audience tips to pay rent!
Finally, I'd like to mention that I witnessed at least some payback for Mr. Lieck's audacity on Saturday night at a downtown blues bar, where a packed house cheered and applauded as his article was ridiculed on-stage. With any due respect, I suggest that Ken Lieck either do some research and get informed about Austin's blues scene or let someone else write about it.
In his mean-spirited attack on Jack Jackson's Lost Cause: The True Story of Famed Gunslinger John Wesley Hardin reviewer Michael Ventura makes an historical gaffe in falsely accusing Jackson of making one ["The Lost Cause," Vol.18, No.3]. According to Ventura, "on page 13, in a scene set in 1857, his riders are armed with what looks like Winchester-style repeating rifles. ... There were no such rifles in 1857. Until the Civil War ended in 1865, rifles were long-muzzled and had to be reloaded after each shot, which usually meant running a rod down the inside of the barrel." All wrong. Send Ventura back to New York. The weapon shown in Jackson's artwork is a Henry. According to the catalog of Navy Arms (which makes replicas of the Henry and other historic arms), the Henry was produced "between 1850 and 1866." Thus it was well within the time frame depicted by the author-artist. The Henry was used during the Civil War, and also the Spencer, incidentally, another breach-loading repeating rifle. Your reviewer has done a disservice to both author-artist Jackson and to the Chronicle as well, in claiming Jackson's "goof" shakes faith in his work ó when in truth it is Ventura who is the historical ignoramus. He owes Jack Jackson an apology; and if he is not man enough to do it, the Chronicle should make their own apology for using a vicious-mouthed Yankee boob to defame a truly fine and multitalented Texas historian.
With the storms last weekend, my friend's small business suffered a lot of damage, and if it had not been for her ability to move the clothes out quickly, she would have lost far too much to continue in competition with the larger businesses. They are not only prepared for such losses with insurance, but can actually "write off" others as expenditures necessary for the maintenance of that business. Thanks to all the folks who so unselfishly turned out to help clean up the mud and silt from the overflowing creek; the storm has passed, but we are left with the reminder of nature's fury as we struggle to clean and return to "life as we knew it" before on Ninth and Lamar.
Waiting to Exhume
I assume that the following question for the Attorney General candidates would be of great interest to the people of Texas. Now that the evidence is available and the fact that there was never a Texas Grand Jury investigation, as a matter of fact, the body was taken out of Texas illegally, if elected, will you convene a Grand Jury to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy?
Be Very Ashamed
Dear Mr. Black,
I started following a recent thread on an international discussion group known as Comix@. Their address is email@example.com. There are a great many aspects of the international comics world analyzed and dissected on this list by comics readers in more than 50 countries. The tone of your reply letter to Jeff Williams was rather insulting to insinuate that letters are arriving at your e-site commenting on Ventura's review of Jack Jackson's newest graphic novel ["The Lost Cause," Vol. 18, No. 3] as merely "friends of friends." I have never consciously met most of the many people on this list. I am writing you a letter of comment. I have been a full time seller of comics from around the world for more than a quarter of a century. One of my comic book stores was a backdrop in the critically acclaimed Crumb movie. Back in 1973 on the UC-Berkeley campus I co-hosted the first Comics convention devoted to creator-owned comics known as Berkeleycon 73. I have tracked the lives of well over 10,000 different comics creators for many moons now and make my living from selling the better ones. Jack Jackson is one of those better ones. Alternative papers have been with us since before the Founding Fathers established our Constitution with its Bill of Rights. Those Rights were abrogated for a short decade stemming from anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s. My main comic book store established back in 1972 was just a few blocks away from where the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement took root and spread across the land. One of those places was Austin. Maybe before you were born. Jack "Jaxon" Jackson was at the forefront of much of the establishment of "alternative" communication of which your paper is in a "Next Generation" phase. You owe him a debt of gratitude you obviously know nothing about. I never read a more biased, uninformed "review" by this Ventura fellow of Jack's newest effort delving into what we call these days "graphic novels" in my life. To not allow some one who fought for your right to be able to say what you wish a chance at a rebuttal is despicable. Your answer to Jeff William's query was even more so. You should be ashamed.
An artist brought to my attention Michael Ventura's review of Jack Jackson's Lost Cause: The True Story of Famed Gunslinger John Wesley Hardin ["The Lost Cause," Vol. 18, No. 3]. Is this the same Michael Ventura who used to write for the L.A. Weekly in the late '80s/ early '90s? If so, I'm saddened to see the work of a man I used to read and respect hit such a level. In particular, Ventura's understanding of the term "graphic novel" is hideously ill-informed. It is not that "Jackson [has] abducted the word just because he has a story to tell and he can draw better than he can write." The term has been around for many years, used by publishers, booksellers, artists, and writers who wish to produce works in the graphic narrative format and not have them merely dismissed as "comic books." Ventura treats the term as if Jackson himself had personally invented it, which alone shows an ignorance of the form so significant as to render the rest of his article suspect. Indeed, his odd questions and suppositions about the nature of the novel and a novelist ("A novel presupposes character development; in fact, it presupposes characters" for example, being the sort of thing that readers of, say, Alain Robbe-Grillet or Samuel Beckett would find ignorant and ill-conceived) seem like the sort of defensive blanket statements that a music critic who was a heavy proponent of classical music might write about jazz music at the crucial beginnings of public awareness ("the term 'music' presupposes structure, and I certainly don't hear any of that here"). Ventura's defensiveness of the term "novel" even hastily invokes a pantheon of storytellers that "are the standards you invoke when you use the term novel." In fact, it is precisely Ventura's suggestion that we look at Jackson's work as "a personal expression" and "one man's outlook " that he comes closer to a good definition of a novel or work of art, but this positioning of the work by Ventura is done merely to set up arguments for Jackson's accountability of the work while wishing to deny it the inherent merit of the term "novel" or even "art." I can only entreat the editors of this paper to offer up a chance for Mr. Jackson to respond to this review or, at the very least, another review of this work by someone more educated about the form in which Mr. Jackson chooses to work, so that those of us who have not read the work can make an educated choice as to whether the work is worth reading and purchasing. Although I have not read The True Story of Famed Gunslinger John Wesley Hardin, I cannot help but think a grave disservice has been done to Mr. Jackson; certainly one has been done to the serious artists who struggle to bring new readers and new standards into comix and graphic literature, a field fiscally impoverished and in need of serious ó not spurious ó critical attention. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Beyond His Ken
Dear Mr. Black:
It saddens me very much that something like Michael Ventura's review of Jack Jackson's Lost Cause ["The Lost Cause," Vol. 18, No. 3] got past the editors. It is most unfortunate and embarrassing, as even the barest amount of research would have revealed that it is littered with inaccuracies and ad hominem approaching slander; even a superficial reading of the "review" should have made obvious the bile and bias which fairly drips from its every sentence. It is painfully apparent that Mr. Ventura has never encountered a graphic novel before, knows nothing of the abundant literature concerning them, and is wholly ignorant of three decades of this man's work. I should think it would be in your best interest to refrain from publishing reviews of graphic novels if you can't find someone capable of reviewing them. However, I recognize that these things do slip by, in a busy world, and that is comprehensible. But it is incomprehensible that you are unwilling to let Mr. Jackson defend himself from such flagrant abuse. That, I'm afraid, is beyond my ken.
Give Jack a Chance
Dear Louis Black,
Michael Ventura's review of Jack Jackson's most recent book, Lost Cause ["The Lost Cause," Vol. 18, No. 3] was brought to my attention. First of all, I would suggest that a reviewer take a careful look at the work and conduct some background research on the medium reviewed before writing a critique; this would have prevented several errors in Ventura's piece (e.g.; his statement about the visual stereotyping and his embarrassing comments about the "graphic novel"). Secondly, after a piece that borders on slander and libel, it seems only fair that Mr. Jackson have the chance for a rebuttal. Unless your publication is alternative for the ultra-right crowd. Jack Jackson is a well-established historian and one of the early pioneers in the underground comix movement of the late Sixties. He was involved in the liberal press when the terms "liberal" and "alternative" actually meant something. By allowing Mr. Jackson a voice, you will, to some degree, regain credibility as an alternative press that was lost due to Ventura's uninformed and biased review.