In "Council Watch" by Jenny Staff [Vol.18, No.9], Gus Garcia touches on one of the most important issues on the Texas horizon, the 2000 presidential election in Mexico. Gus is correct to point out that if the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) steals another election, it may well mean revolution right across the border with enormous potential consequences. PRI power is based on patronage, not ideology. If the PRI doesn't win the presidency, they're finished as a political party. To win they will almost certainly have to cheat, as they always have in the past.
But in his paean to the potential candidacy of the PAN (Partido Accion Nacional) governor of Guanajuato, Vincente Fox, Gus ignores the legendary leader of the center-left PRD (Partido Revolutionario Democratico), Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. Cardenas, as the first ever elected mayor of Mexico City, has the largest constituency of any elected politician in Mexico outside the president. He is the past governor of the state of Michoacan, son of Mexico's most revered president of the 20th century, and has run for president himself twice previously. Objective analysts believe that he won the 1988 presidential election only to have it stolen from him by the PRI's now disgraced Salinas de Gortari. Opinion polls indicate that Cardenas will crush any potential PRI presidential candidate in 2000. Why isn't a "progressive" like Gus in his corner too? Why is Gus instead supporting the likely candidate of the most right-wing party in the race? The PAN's ideology is very close to our Republicans.
And doesn't Gus know that if he did go to work for Fox's candidacy, he would very likely be deported from Mexico with no opportunity to ever return? It is against the Mexican constitution for foreigners to participate in Mexican politics and hundreds of Zapatista supporters have been deported this year on this basis.
In any event, the potential Cardenas-Fox-PRI race will be a seminal event in Mexican history. The prospects excite me far more than the impending Gore-Bush snoozer and are probably at least as significant for us.
Baby Lucas, the cover artist who created two of the Hallowe'en mask covers mentioned in last week's "Page Two," is Daniel Traverso, not Paul Sabal.
What a Good Reason!
Thank you for printingJay Hardwig's excellent story on polka music, "America's Ethnic Music Mantle" [Vol.18, No.9]. The only thing that kept it from being perfect was the omission of what some think is the best and oldest polka band in Central Texas, the Scholz Garten Wurst Band.
It's not hard to see why the Wurst Band was not mentioned, as we play only in the summertime, and then only in May, June, and September (July and August being deemed too hot for some of our players, who also like to take vacations then).
But we've been playing polkas, waltzes, schottisches, Sousa marches, popular songs, dixieland, and classical tidbits - for free - since 1979, and only at Scholz's. That's right, we play for free (but somehow a supply of free beer for us always shows up, thanks to the generous and enlightened Scholz Garten management), every Thursday night from 8:00 to 10:00 pm in May, June, and September.
The band is made up of local folks and is led by Jim Bryan, proprietor of Alpha Music on 29th Street. He also owns the music, which consists of over 700 songs. We have a number of players from the Austin Symphonic Band, a lot of computer people, doctors (of various disciplines, including music theory and medicine), and a sprinkling of students. When we play "The Stars and Stripes Forever," one of our euphonium-players whistles the piccolo part. Our theme song is "In Heaven There Is No Beer (That's Why We Drink It Here)."
Next time you're down near Scholz's on a Thursday night around 8pm in May, June, or September, waltz on back to the Biergarten, have a beer, and listen to us play "Warum So Schnell," "Texas Fight," or "New York, New York." Polka music is alive and well in Austin and Central Texas.
Dan Augustine (tuba player)
More Love for Jay
Jay Hardwig's recent article concerning the Tennessee-Texas connection was right on the money ["States of Distinction," Vol.18, No.7]. He did an outstanding job comparing, contrasting, and generally trying to make the rest of the public understand the uniqueness and pride that transplanted Tennesseeans in Texas take for granted.
Having traveled all over the country, I find that Texans and Tennesseans are much friendlier in general and will still go out of their way to do something for you. Then, like you said, there is that pride factor. I haven't met too many people that will stand up and loudly proclaim to be a native Delawarian or Iowan, if that's what you call 'em. Of course the ones that will generally don't have a clue what their state flag looks like or what their state song is. But, the irony is this. More people in this country recognize the Texas Lone Star Flag than recognize their own home state flag. Tells ya something about that Texas pride thing, maybe most folks would like to be like those GTT Tennesseeans.
The connection that started back before the Alamo continues today. The latest high profile addition to the Texas family, The University of Texas family that is, is Coach Mack Brown, a Cookeville, TN native.
Jay, you summed it up very well. In Texas, we know we are better than everyone else and we'll tell 'em that, flat out. In Tennessee, we all know that we're better, but we really shouldn't brag about it. But we do know how to say: GO BIG ORANGE!!!! but we have had to add to our vocabulary: Hook 'em 'Horns!!
Keep those intellectually stimulating articles flowing.
A transplanted Tennesseean
CPT, US Army
Jumping to Conclusions
This is in response to Herbert Evans' letter about Marion Bloss' "racist" campaigning ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.9]. I first want to point out that I am not a Republican, and will rarely ever vote for one anytime in the near future.
Herbert, did it ever occur to you that campaign ads usually include a picture of the opponent, no matter what color or sex they are? Usually the format is, "Here's a picture of me. Here's a picture of my opponent. He (or she) sucks. Vote for me." That's the way it works.
I wouldn't worry about it, Herbert. Most people know that Judge Flowers is black. The majority voted for him in 1990, and he's been there for eight years. It's the opinion of many that he has done a fine job and should serve another term ... not because he's African-American, but because he's the most qualified candidate for the job.
Granted, I don't know for sure what Bloss' intentions were ... but neither do you. You just jumped to that conclusion ... and that makes you kind of prejudiced yourself, doesn't it?
Austin Energy Blues
The public utility department in the city of Austin known as Austin Energy is discriminating against the poor in Austin.
Recently, the city of Austin and Austin Energy announced the utility department would not turn off power to households who couldn't pay their high electric bill for any one of the summer months (mine was turned off in July, and a second man was found dead in East Austin when his electricity and water, like mine, were turned off by the city), but this is not the end of the story. I contacted Austin Energy most recently to inquire about their 12-month, interest-free deferred payment plan, announced on TV by the mayor and the ABC affiliate KVUE news, and was told there was no such program by a woman named Olga and that the office memo handed down from Austin Energy Admin. allowed only three- and six-month deferred payment programs and to qualify you must have one third down. With most utilities at $500-700, the math isn't hard to figure but the ability to pay is. Last year I went on a deferred program with nothing down and 12 months to pay.
When I questioned the employee Olga, she spoke to her supervisor, then told me that they would let me do the 12-month program since I had mentioned it, but it was not offered to everyone.
This is wrong and discriminatory against the poor in Austin and to anyone who did not see the news that night or have the presence to push the issue. I hope you will help me and the rest of Austin's impoverished with this injustice.
Joseph W. Harrison
Disabled American Veteran
Letter From Peoria
Hello, my name is Tineshia Osgood. I am in the sixth grade at Roosevelt Magnet School in Peoria, Illinois. My class has been studying letter writing. In order to practice this skill we decided as a class to write to many different states. We hope that the people of Texas will write to us and tell us about their state.
I live in Illinois, "The Land of Lincoln." Illinois is famous for the Chicago Bulls. Peoria, which is located on the Illinois River, is only two and a half hours southwest of Chicago. Our city is famous for its theatre - "If it will play in Peoria, it will play anywhere." In fact, I attend a school for the performing arts. Peoria is also known for its private college, Bradley University. Maybe you have heard of the Bradley Braves? We also have two minor league teams that play in Peoria - the Rivermen hockey team and the Chiefs baseball team. The Chiefs are affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals.
I hope that you will write back to us and tell us about your city and state. My class and I are looking forward to hearing from you.
Roosevelt Magnet School
1704 West Aiken
Peoria, IL 61604
Fat, Lazy Car Drivers
I'm with Amy! Her detractors are short-sighted idiots. Cars are dirty, smelly, toxic, and outdated modes of transportation. The reasons we don't have a better mass transit system are because the hugely powerful car makers squashed the idea with lots of PAC money and propaganda, and the average American is lazy and fat.
"Ozone action day" sounds like a celebration. It's Smog Alert, and it comes from cars. Have you looked outside lately? From 360, downtown is starting to disappear behind a brown mass. Anyone who says it's just haze, etc. hasn't been in Austin for more than four or five years 'cause the "haze" did not exist before then. Even with solar or hydrogen-powered cars, traffic jams will only get worse. A mass transit system and bicycles offer the most sensible means of intracity transport.
Bicycles should have special traffic privileges. After all, cyclists are doing us all a giant favor. They help to filter the brown smog with their pink lung material. They also save energy that would otherwise be used to propel another two ton anchor over pavement. I bet that since bicyclists are so fit, they make fewer health claims and save us all on premiums for insurance. ... All you lard-asses in your cars can breathe easier, but maybe people married to their cars don't breath outside air much. If that's the case, why are you in Austin?
If you thought Amy's suggestion(s) got you steamed, try this one: Austin should dedicate a central street or two (Lamar, Sixth ... ) to cyclists and pedestrians only. A city of cyclists would come out of the woodwork that otherwise are afraid of being run over. What a great move away from Austin's present course of becoming just another San Diego, Los Angeles, Denver, or the like. If you think Austin could never be another San Diego, etc., ask a Californian what San Diego was like 10 or so years ago. Then ask them why they left.
The letter from my former co-worker, Bob Crowley, regarding KVET-AM's erstwhile news format was a nice press release ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 8]. It listed all sorts of cool stuff that wheezing format pumped into the airwaves. I find it hard to believe that even a staunch company loyalist like Bob seriously believed that this dog, given enough rabbits, would one day learn to hunt. I'm also grateful to him for going out of his way to keep my name out of his letter. There were some talented, hard-working people on the air at KVET, and Bob gave 'em their props. I appreciate that, and I'm sure they do too. But as I have already said, they were undercut by the Keystone Kops they worked for. My e-mail box and my call notes indicate I was neither the first, nor sole former (or current) KVET employee to understand that. I count about a half dozen so far.
Let's get this straight, Bob. Nobody in that building, nobody, had ever run or even worked at an all-news format before except Suzanne Chapman and myself. KVET hired a know-nothing hayseed news director from Temple who promptly quit three months in because he was homesick. KLBJ, at least, had the good sense to hire a news director from a major market with a substantial history of success. KVET had no money, no experience, and not even the good judgment to hire or defer to someone who had done this successfully in the past. The whole thing sounded and operated like what it was: small-town radio done by the damned Longhorn Club. In the end, it was a disaster both journalistically and financially because you can't buy or fake experience, programming skill, and integrity. Simple as that. Journalism, Bob, is not an assembly line of sleepy press conference dreck, rewritten Statesman stories, and morning show hijinks and you should know better. I'm saddened that after all you've gone through, you've failed to reach that conclusion. Honest, I am. But, it proves my point: Some people learn nothing from abject failure and are thus destined to fail again.
former KVET -AM "news person"
Don't Condone Hatred
Thinking about the death of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, I am filled with such a profound sense of grief, fear, anger, and (this is difficult to admit) relief that it wasn't me or one of my friends. It easily could have been.
I wonder what he was thinking about during that horrific ordeal. Was he conscious? Did he cry for his mother? The media are calling his death a lynching but in reality it was something much worse. Every man and woman in this country who has clucked their tongues at Ellen, participated in a Disney boycott, referred to a homosexual as a fag or sodomite, voted against discrimination laws protecting gays, picketed a pride rally, or disowned a gay child had a hand in that young man's murder. Anyone who has to avert their eyes at the sight of two men holding hands, anyone who thinks gays need to be "cured," anyone who gripes about gays getting "special" rights or opposes the legitimization of gay marriage or adoption unconsciously participated in Matthew's beating.
Consciously or not, the abominable hatred and intolerance that killed him has been spread and passed on and nurtured by this country for centuries. I am sickened by those who spread this bile while cowering behind the word God to justify their own ignorance. I don't care what verse you point to to explain your views or how you beautify your message with words like love, compassion, or redemption. You are helping to prolong the persecution of every homosexual in this country and as far as Matthew Shepard is concerned, you might as well have helped tighten the ropes.
The fact that all of this is done under the guise of Christianity is evil and an insult to all of the people in this country who truly walk with God. For God's sake, people are dying and by looking the other way or practicing your "compassionate ministry" you are helping!! There is nothing in the Bible that can justify that. We can argue about hate crime laws or genetics vs. choice but that is missing the point entirely.
Despite my anger and fear I do not hate you. If any gay person allows that emotion to creep in, then we are no better than those who oppose us. We are fighting a battle for our lives and the only weapon we have is our capacity to love each other.
Matthew's face will linger in my mind for a long time. I urge everyone who sees this letter to do your best to ensure that what happened to him does not happen again ... ever.