Hysteria Doomed Plan
I appreciate the Chronicle's well-rounded coverage of South Austin [Vol.18, No.14], but I disagree with your "Page Two" claim that there has been "precious little discussion" on the "six-month South Congress moratorium." First of all, the moratorium would allow for six months of discussion and input before any final decisions are made. Secondly, this proposal originated from the Dawson Neighborhood Plan, which your paper has covered extensively.
Our neighborhood plan required a full year of outreach and participation with residents, property owners, and businesses. This plan calls for limiting only seven types of businesses which were considered either undesirable or there were already plenty of. Residents and businesses south of Oltorf on both Congress and First Street were all informed and all had the opportunity to participate in these decisions.
However, by working with other groups in the area, the list was expanded to three dozen types of businesses and the boundaries got stretched all the way to the river were there was not the same type of outreach and participation as required in a neighborhood plan. But because the proposal was simply a moratorium and not a final decision, our neighborhood supported the expanded list and boundaries.
Unfortunately, hysteria has ensued. Now Zilker residents also want South Lamar to be added to the already extended boundaries. We can't help but feel that our hard work in the neighborhood plan has been shot to hell.
Square Footage in Mouth
Erica C. Barnett in "Southern Living" [Vol.18, No.14] appears to base most of her residential rental rates information on State House Apts., formerly Jefferson on Congress. As the only conglomerate corporate apartment complex in the "hood," the State House is an anomaly and is about as South Austin as is General Motors. Yes, residential rent rates are increasing, but to say your average landlord/lady is getting $1 per sq. foot per month is, I believe, an exaggeration. As a landlady of a duplex, no way would I ask for or get that -- 75¢ per sq. foot is more like it.
I enjoyed your spread on South Austin. Thanks.
Don't Forget Voyles
I was saddened and disappointed to find that Evan Voyles, Neon Jungle owner and South Austin resident, was conspicuously absent from your "South Austin Guide" issue [Vol.18, No.14]. One has only to take an evening stroll down South Lamar Boulevard, South Congress Avenue, and Barton Springs Road to enjoy many of this talented sign artist's brilliantly lit and whimsically intelligent creations (i.e., signs for Yard Dog, Uncommon Objects, Rock & Roll Rentals, Antigua, Blackmail, Amelia's Retrovogue, Ivory Aisles, Chuy's Restaurant, just to name a few). His signs have become landmarks and showpieces of much of South Austin. Additionally, Mr. Voyles' work has been featured nationally in publications which include Harper's Bazaar and Swing Generation magazines. Perhaps an addendum to your article is in order.
Very truly yours,
Leslie A. LaGow
They Were Spice Girls CDs
I loved the South Austin issue [Vol.18, No.14], and felt compelled to tell you that even the burglars in South Austin are friendly. I lived in a great (and inexpensive) apartment on Annie Street before I got married and moved. On my last night there, I loaded every stitch of clothing I owned into my car at about 10:30pm. When I left for work at 5:30am, I discovered a smashed window and all my clothes gone. The friendly part? My CD player and CDs were still there.
Missing Austin anyway,
Abandon All Hope
Re: J. C. Shakespeare's "Awn-te's Inferno" [Vol.18, No.14]: If you are going to use literary allusions to show off how hip you are in comparison to all those crowbar-carrying "red necked peasant[s]" who live south of the river, at least get them right. Anyone who had even a passing familiarity with the "Divine Comedy" would know that the "lovely Beatrice" was not Dante's guide in Hell -- it was Virgil. The famous "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" sign is at the Gates of Hell, not down at the "boundary to level six." And what kind of wussy Hell has only six levels anyway? By Shakespeare's arrangement, we're barely across the River Styx. The sins and punishments up to there are chump change. In the "Inferno," all the really good stuff comes later, in levels seven through nine.
To my mind, a much better arrangement would be to consider all of Austin Hell, from south to north, with Town Lake as the River Styx and the Congress Street Bridge as the near-impassable Gates of Dis, guarded by the Furies, or bats. The warehouse district could then be the City of Dis, Waller Creek the River Phlegethon, Sixth Street the Wood of Suicides, I-35 the Abominable Sand, the Capitol upper and middle Malbowges (home to panderers, seducers, flatterers, barrators, hypocrites, and thieves), UT lower Malbowges (home to counselors of fraud, sowers of discord, and falsifiers), and North Austin Cocytus, where Satan (Michael Dell?) chomps on the head of the most wretched of the wretched, the traitors, in the midst of a frozen waste. "This was not life, yet it was not death," Dante says of the sight. Kinda makes you wonder if he ever visited the Arboretum.
Somewhere in the eighth circle,
but with a crowbar in my car,
I've spent the last few minutes eagerly perusing theSouth Austin Guide online [http://www.auschron.com/issues/vol18/issue14/southaustin]. Nice work! I hate to bug you with such a minute detail, but as an avid Meat Beat Manifesto fan and loyal Chronicle reader, I've got to set the record straight. Marc Savlov, in his "Live Shot" of the MBM, Josh Wink, Q-Burns show at La Zona on Nov. 20 has made an erroneous statement by describing Jack Dangers as "the de facto head of London's Meat Beat Manifesto." First, let me say that Mr. Savlov's description of MBM's music and the entirety of the show are right on. Now, Jack Dangers simply is Meat Beat Manifesto. Other folks come and go, but the group's sound is/was distinctly Jack's. Nothing "de facto" about it. The name, the group, the sound, the man -- all one in the same. Now for geography, Meat Beat was never based in London and have been working out of San Francisco since 1994. Meat Beat popped up in the late Eighties in the highly industrialized town of Swindon, England. It's like someone saying that your favorite Dallas/Austin/Houston musical fixture was from Waco, god love it. The dark, culturally stagnant nature of Swindon surely played its part in forming the early in-your-face audio cut-ups and grinding, psychedelic/hip-hop/dub/electro/industrial noise hybrid that Jack masterminded. London would have created a different animal altogether. Let me close by thanking Marc for his time, energy and enthusiasm in covering the show. I catch Meat Beat every time they come to town (about every other year) and they never disappoint. Thanks to all at the Chronicle and I look forward to checking out this week's hard copy over a beer later when this day grinds to a close.
Dia de los Gringos
We know the Chronicle thrives on its white liberal middle-class identity, struggling to eradicate social injustice. But we're wondering what kind of research, what kind of anthropological study, what Peace Corps trip informed the design of your Dia de Los Muertos Chronicle T-shirt? It's not our job to educate you about the significance and profound meaning of the images you appropriated to make a buck. But it is our choice to question your entitlement to a culture and its practices that do not reflect who you are. What it does reflect is the faulty assumption that "awareness" is ownership. The world doesn't need more white people dressing and acting like people of color. We need you to come to terms with who you really are, what your history is, and how you are accountable to your own identity. Your T-shirt is the epitome of white liberal Austin -- usually well-intentioned and a little too comfortable. We're sure you'll sell plenty.
Lisa Byrd, Teresa Camou, Lorrain Chauvin, Angel Albertti Rivera Cortés, Cecilia Cortez de Magallanes, Michael Garcia, Mario Garza, John T. Johnson, Eduardo José Martinez, Gabriel R. Martinez, Ana Luisa Perea, Francisco José Perea, Ana Ixchel Rosal, Tomás Salas, Phyllis Porreca-Slattery, Corrie Sublett-Berrios
[Editor's note: The Dia de los Muertos T-shirt design was originally the cover art for the Nov. 1, 1985 issue of The Austin Chronicle (Vol.5, No.5). It has since been through three printings as a T-shirt.]
Dear Editor and Chronicle Readers,
Last Saturday night I saw the performance art production of "If You Can't Be Still and Quiet, You Can't Stay on the Bed" at Planet Theatre. And boy I'll tell you what. That was the most awesome display of super strength! Kerthy Fix is a goddess! If you people wanna know what I'm talking about and are ready for some major thought-provoking visuals, check out the show; there's two more performances this Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12 at 10:30pm, Planet Theatre. Go see it!
Janine de Luna-Azul
Be Flexible on S.O.S.
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Forum PUD, and address some issues raised by Mr. Bill Bunch ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.13].
If approved, the PUD would be expected to meet or exceed the expectations of the S.O.S. ordinance. What the PUD is asking council to do is amend the definition of site permitting an allocation of impervious cover between non-contiguous tracts. Since this issue ultimately hinges on whether the PUD can achieve S.O.S.'s goals, they propose to disallow increases in pollutants leaving the site, and set aside nearby developable land in the recharge zone at a rate of approximately six acres for each additional acre of impervious cover.
Mr. Bunch asks us to believe that current zoning is immutable, remaining unchanged throughout time. This is uncertain, and begs the question whether single-family development is the desired alternative on these tracts. Also, note that the additional 6,000 trips per day associated with single-family development(s) would create more traffic at precisely the wrong time -- the commute to and from work or school. This situation could aggravate congestion problems and necessitate further road building.
Mr. Bunch also asks us to believe that council "set aside S.O.S." during their recent deliberations, when in fact S.O.S. requires a supermajority before it can consider developments like the Forum PUD. Mr. Bunch's comments seem to trivialize the importance of the two preserve tracts. Preserving these two tracts would save approximately 350 acres of land and reduce impervious cover to no more than 15 percent. The cave tract is by some estimates the largest and most sensitive undeveloped tract remaining in the city and recharge zone. The other preserve tract drains to a nearby creek feature that has a known and direct link to Barton Springs. Allowing residential development on these sites rather than no development at all, as is proposed, offers little assurance that water quality will be protected. One need only look at the enthusiasm with which homeowners attempt to enhance and maintain their lawns.
It is time to reconsider the value of the low-density urban sprawl as envisioned in Mr. Bunch's comments. The Forum PUD represents an alternative to how we might grow, and an opportunity for the city to protect water quality, the scenic value of southwest Austin, and preserve open space, undeveloped and in perpetuity. Rather than diminishing the S.O.S. ordinance, the Forum PUD attempts to set a higher standard that subsequent development would be expected to follow.
Robert B. Botto
Environmental Board member
Take It to the Streets
I think it's great that the Barton Springs Salamanders are now a little more aware of the people who have died or are suffering because of AIDS.
Maybe next year we can go back to raising AIDS awareness in humans.
Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
Cars Are Life
You people and your bicycle fetish. How am I supposed to get to my job (at 183 and MoPac) from I-35 and Riverside? How am I supposed to do that in a starched shirt, slacks, a tie, etc.? Am I going to ride a bicycle to make two weeks' worth of grocery purchases? Why do so many of you cyclists own cars/trucks with sweet little racks on them when, as you say, you can ride your bike? How can anyone pick up their kid from daycare on a bicycle? How about taking a group of friends anywhere? You stupid fucks. In an emergency will you let your wounded, sick, pregnant, or dying friend/spouse/neighbor ride on your handlebars as you take them to the hospital? Am I supposed to feel safe getting money at the ATM on my bike? Mr. Jack Armstrong stated that automobiles are outdated. What has come along recently, that I've apparently missed, to surpass the automobile and make it outdated? Why should bicyclists get special privileges on top of the ones they already have? I do not live in Austin to "breathe the air," and, when in a car, the air still comes from outside, you moron. The stupidest most, impractical statement I've heard in a while is the one by Mr. Armstrong about dedicating a central downtown street or two for cyclists. What good would come of that?
"Oooohhh! I can ride my bike up Sixth Street and there are no cars! Wow!"
Too bad for stupid fucks like you that there are people like me who do not give a fuck what bicyclists say because, no matter how much you deny it, an automobile means freedom. Sure, it sounds trite, but I would never have been able to go to University, get married, and move here without an automobile. The sooner you "whole-earth" hippie fucks move out the sooner I can take over. If you feel like leaving, go ahead. Pack all your shit into one giant bundle and carry it on your bike somewhere else. Oh, and do not forget your family, pets, furniture, etc.! Here's hoping you die.
Roberto X. Torres-Torres
I Saw the Light
We're constantly being told about the serious problems in this community and how we need more money and more police. Well, here's one good example of exactly why we seem to be unable to get a grip on serious crime in this town, and how our police can and do harass ordinary citizens. Around 10:30pm Thanksgiving night, as I was driving near my home on a lightly traveled road in a quiet neighborhood, an Austin police officer pulled out of a residential subdivision and stopped me because I had one headlight out. I said I knew it, but I guessed it had just happened that day because I'd realized it while driving when the reflection showed it, and I guessed it must have a short since I'd just recently put in a new bulb. Now, I wasn't speeding. I had a valid license with no warrants, current insurance, inspection and registration, all of which was verified. But aha! I knew the headlight was out, you see. I suppose I should have pulled over the instant I saw the lopsided reflection and sat there until it got light outside? The officer, apparently frustrated at finding nothing else, gave me an $82 ticket which, even though I don't intend to pay, will nevertheless cost me plenty in lost time, inconvenience, and inevitable expense to contest. And I ask, how many drunks, how many gangsters and drug dealers, how many robbers and rapists, how many real criminals at that moment were getting away with real crime while that officer was occupied on Thanksgiving night with handing out a citation to a stone-cold-sober and otherwise perfectly legal grandma for a broken headlight?? Is this really what we're paying our police to do?
One of Jeff's Kids
Last Saturday (Dec.5), I was fortunate enough to drum at the Hole in the Wall's annual Blue Santa benefit hoot night. This year's featured artist: Iggy Pop. The Hole's Jeff Smith hosts. The place is packed tight. Everyone is full of Xmas Stooge cheer. Jeff is onstage introducing a band, when he looks out the window and sees my truck getting towed. I'd parked at the Jack in the Box next to the Hole. My bad. They'd never towed me the other million times I'd parked there. Jeff, and Melissa from the Shindigs, then passed the hat for me and collected the $91.24 I need to get my towed, impounded S-10 out of jail.
Keep in mind that this is already a benefit gig for the Blue Santa Kids. These folks attending have already paid five bucks each to get in, plus drinks ...
Anyhoo, dear Editor, this note is a heartfelt, very appreciative thank you to the most generous live music capital people of Austin, TX, the bands that did Iggy Stooge more than proud, and the fine folks at the Hole in the Wall.
And a Merry Freakin' Christmas to J&J Towing.
You know I've had it in the ear before
Bashing the Homeless
The recent statement regarding racism in our city and society was quite welcome to me. For over 10 years I have worked with many of those most vulnerable to racism in our society, homeless and jobless people in Austin. Like many of us, I had certain prejudices toward these people, choosing to believe they chose their way of living. I was relieved of that notion by the stories of the people themselves. Most of these brothers and sisters are people of color; they tell stories of institutions which failed to educate or train their students for trades, of court systems which wield severe punishment to those who cannot afford a good lawyer, and alternative punishments for those who can. It is true that racism consists of prejudice and power working against significant numbers of our population.
Therefore, imagine how appalled I was to learn of Mayor Watson's plan to wield the power of the city against these very same people. They are not included in the new plans for downtown. Indeed, the Austin Resource for the Homeless is scheduled for demolition, with no real alternative for the future. Sounds like power-mongering to me.
Let's stop talking out of both sides of our mouth here and provide resources for all our citizens.
Mary House Catholic Worker of Austin
Honored to Serve
I want to thank the people of Texas for the great honor and privilege of serving in the Texas Legislature, as Railroad Commissioner, and finally as Comptroller of Public Accounts. Ours is a unique and mighty state that is special in every sense of the word.
Those of us who have had the privilege of running for and serving in statewide office have a special appreciation for the diversity, beauty, and majesty of the Lone Star state.
You have given me the opportunity to make a positive difference in this state and I will always be thankful for that. Although my race for Lieutenant Governor was not successful, it does not diminish the thankfulness and appreciation I have for the people of our great state.
On behalf of my family and myself, I thank you all for the opportunity you gave me to serve Texas.
Comptroller of Public Accounts
J.C. Shakespeare, in his enjoyable December 4 piece on South Austin either had his tongue in his cheek or put his foot in his mouth. As the elitists of North Austin know, it was the noble Virgil, not the lovely Beatrice, who pointed out the sights of the Inferno to Dante.