Scaggs Photo in Bad Taste


Kayte VanScoy and the publishers of the Chronicle should be ashamed of themselves for publishing the picture of a bloody, bludgeoned Penny Scaggs in the December 11, 1998 issue ["Murder in the Suburbs," Vol.18, No.15]. After reading the article, I failed to see what was gained by 1) the photo of Mrs. Scaggs and 2) the minutia of detail describing the actual killing of Penny: "The knife was pulled out of her neck so violently that it slashed outward, opening up her throat from right to left. She was stabbed twice above and once through her breastbone, and on all three stabs the long knife poked out of her back."

The Chronicle has definitely dropped more than a few notches in my book.

Lisa M. Quinn

Rapid Transitions

Dear Editor:

It's clear from recent events (e.g. annexations and deals with computer companies) that when our current mayor and City Council consider an issue important, they act, sometimes rather suddenly and high-handedly. Because their goals (protecting water quality and moving businesses from the edge of town to its center) are important to a great many Austinites, we don't complain too much about the high-handedness.

I think that this council would like Austin to be a great city -- with breathable air, walkable streets, interesting places to walk to, and unchlorinated outdoor swimming holes. But I don't think they realize that a change in our dominant mode of transportation is needed. We need rapid transit. We need in-city rail lines and we need to start laying track now.

If our Action Council thought that rail transit was important, the city would start laying track now for its first in-city rail line, without waiting for Capital Metro. Capital Metro can run the trains and streetcars; let the City of Austin plan the routes and lay down and own the track. We keep hearing that maybe we can have a rail line some day, about six years after that vague, distant time in the future when "Capital Metro re-establishes public confidence." Don't leave important decisions to an agency you don't trust. When you want something done right, you do it yourself.

If you agree with this viewpoint, please send a postcard (or e-mail, or a phone call) to Mayor Watson and tell him you want him to get aggressive about solving Austin's transit (or rather, lack of rapid transit) problem.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Border Raids?

Howdy Y'all

The takeover of the cultural islands of East and South Austin is in progress. Using SmartGrowth ($450-a-head gathering of "like business minds") the Austin elite begins a campaign of development.

History repeats itself. "Border Raids and Reivers" by R. Borland is most appropriate when describing this conquest (sic).

King Edward I (Mayor Watson) of England (West Austin) resolved that all the joined islands (Downtown, East and South Austin) should be united under one Sovereign (ye downtown doughnut hole).

Mayor Watson is fully convinced that so long as East and South Austin maintains their political independence, West Austin would have to reckon with powerful adversaries. If the mayor could only succeed by fair means or foul (SmartGrowth) in gaining East and South Austin over as fiefs of West Austin then the city as a whole would enjoy the immunities and benefits naturally accruing to its position as a "high-tech" island.

The object aimed at is an exceedingly desirable one. Unfortunately it is a sane policy insanely pursued.

Should the West Austin Elite be gifted with more self-restraint? Should the SmartGrowthers be prepared to wait patiently for the natural development of events, and not to strike the iron before it is hot, they might succeed in gaining their end, a result which may well change the current of Austin's racial and cultural history.

It cannot be denied that from a purely material point of view it might be better should East and South Austin gracefully comply with the wishes of the West Austin Elite.

But man (or woman) cannot live by bread alone.

There are higher and better things in the life of a people than mere material well-being, and in view of these it is well that the cultural islands of East and South Austin maintain their independence.

Best regards,

Rick Hall

Leaders' Illogic


The illogic of our political leaders is prodigious. After spending millions promoting Sixth Street as a "clean" tourist industry, our officials now are allocating more big bucks to police the monster they have fostered and fawned over for years. Had these airheads who sport themselves around town as paragons of prudent public policy poured the people's money into creating wholesome leisure-time sites like museums and participatory sports arenas (not a mega-stadium where beer-bellied bubbas and their bimbos brag about burnt orange brutishness) they would not now have to be preventing youth who think carousing with fake IDs on Sixth Street is so cool. Who do we have to blame that our youth want to live it up on this slippery strip? Max, et al. Take your bow. Like the Pied Piper, you've fashioned a trap for our youth, claiming you were creating a live music mecca. Such lack of vision! Sixth Street is a blight on Austin. String barbed wire around it and label the entry: "Tourist and Youth Trap," brought to you by pie-eyed, pie-brained public officials.

Tony Hearn

One Ton o' Güero's

Dear Chronicle:

I'm amazed and impressed with the extent you explored South Austin in your Dec.4 issue ["South Austin Guide," Vol.18, No.14]. Perhaps unmistakingly (some prefer to keep it a secret) there was no mention of the party every Sun. 3-6pm at Güero's Taco Bar. Countless people have commented to me that it trulyis the spirit of South Austin. I can think of no better way to start/end the week!

Thanks w/all due respect,

Conni Hancock

Another South Austin Business


Here's another South Austin business to add to your list ["South Austin Guide," Vol.18, No.14] -- the Texas Highways Gift Store. Along with copies of Texas Highways magazine (both current and past issues), you'll find scenic Texas prints, notecards, calendars, and historic map prints. And it's the source for "Don't Mess With Texas" bumper stickers and trash bags, which happen to be free, and some other Texas travel-related literature. The Texas Highways Store is at 150 E. Riverside, in the TXDOT building, (right behind Diamond Shamrock). Hours are Mon.-Fri. 8-5, phone 486-5899. Hope this helps with someone's holiday gift list, and thanks for the plug!

Jane Wu

Art Director,

Texas Highways magazine

Urban Elitist


As a former South Austin and current Crestview neighborhood resident, I am proud to be among the "Urban Elitists" referred to in your pages recently by Mr. Hall ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.14]. I love this city and everything it stands for -- that's why I applaud the recent direction the city has taken when it comes to revitalizing our neighborhoods.

It is ironic that after years of hailing the "compact city" philosophy as the answer to our environmental and economic problems, some local activists are now throwing around incendiary accusations of elitism and gentrification, when instead they should be celebrating one of their greatest victories! The recent elevation of issues like the South Austin zoning district and the downtown development initiative is evidence that after years of frustration, the politicians and chamber interests are finally getting the message.

They are hearing the awakening masses, willing to keep their roots (and money) in town instead of pulling up stakes for vanilla-flavored "commute from hell" suburbs like Round Rock and Cedar Park (or some other suburban boomlet waiting to spring up in the hill country or over the aquifer). This is a major, forward-thinking shift in the cultural landscape which other U.S. cities -- rotting from the inside out -- would love to achieve!

Now that we have enticed people to keep their digs in the city, we must also give them more reasons to stay put. It doesn't take long for any committed neighborhood resident to see the damage caused by a long history of "afterthought" zoning and lax code enforcement. I don't know about Mr. Hall, but most of us don't want to live next door to the strip clubs or porno theaters of this world -- much less the guy whose front yard doubles as an auto body repair shop! Tougher zoning and development initiatives are really the only weapons we have in fighting to repair such damage.

The fact that core urban neighborhoods are demanding action on these quality of life issues, and are finally beginning to see results, should be applauded and actively supported by all. Don't we all deserve to live in neighborhoods with less crime and cleaner streets, where public property is respected and urban blight kept to a minimum? If believing in this basic right makes me an elitist -- then I wave the banner without hesitation!

Ed Scruggs

Down to the Bone

Hey Chron Gang:

Thanks a bunch for all the kind words in the South Austin issue [Vol.18, No.14], it is muchly appreciated.

Really dug the Mr. South Austin/Ponty Bone story!

Y'all have a terrific Texmas. Come and see us when you can.

Danny Roy Young

Texicalli Grill

What About ... ?


The South Austin Guide [Vol.18, No.14] was well-done, but how could you include City Market without including Phoenicia Bakery (2912 S. Lamar) or Sun Harvest (4006 S. Lamar)? Both are north of Ben White & south of the river and were two of my favorites (though I liked Sun Harvest better when it was on Ben White -- more bulk cookies then). I lived on Congress, S. First, Manchaca & others during my 10 years in S. Austin and y'all did a good job of capturing where to go and what to do when south of the river.

Sadly, I've been outcast to northeast Austin for the last two years.

Todd Hart

SEU & S. Austin Alum

Tevye's Tummy Torture


I had to laugh when your reviewer of Jewish Cooking in America said the recipes she'd tested didn't work ["A Culture Through Its Food," Vol.18, No.15]. She should thank God! As a Jew of Eastern European origin who has great admiration for both my religion and ethnicity, I can say in all sincerity that Jewish cooking from that region is some of the unhealthiest in the world. I grew up on it (but jumped on the wagon just in time). Do you know what the Jewish after-dinner mint is? Tums!

The reasoning behind the origins of these foods was sound: fatten up the kids, you never know when the next famine or pogrom will hit and they'll have something to live off of. But those days are (I hope) history -- and many Jewish recipes should be, too. You want to relive your traditions? Go see Fiddler on the Roof. Leave your stomach out of it, or someone will soon be adding another yahrzeit date to their list.

I'll leave you with the following anecdote (I forget the source, but it's legit): During the early years of this century, a gentile actress was appearing on Broadway with a mostly Jewish cast. After each show, they'd drag her to their favorite deli on the lower East Side. The fourth night she finally got up the courage to ask the waiter, "Excuse me, have you any ... vegetables?" His sneering reply: "Vat's a matter, lady, pickle ain't a vegetable? Sauerkraut ain't a vegetable?"

Arthur Rubin

T-Shirt Politics


Re: "Dia de los Gringos", Lisa Byrd et al. ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.15] So "white" people try to dress like "people of color," and they need to stop that and "come to terms with who [they] really are." Attempts to wall off a culture based on skin color provoke a question: How does the color of the skin reflect the culture? Sally Hemings' descendants look white. Are they people of color? What about people with each foot in two separate ethnicities? I have cousins who are half Hispanic, yet one has bright red hair and skin whiter than mine. What's his color? Does he have a right to wear a Dia de los Muertos T-shirt without recrimination, or can he only wear half of one because he's only half-Hispanic and thus half-aware?

Anyone with a normal human intellect is capable of understanding and appreciating to some extent the culture and symbolism of others; attempts to do so have nothing to do with politics, skin color, or working for the Peace Corps, but a whole lot to do with human curiosity and our search for common ground. This search can often have something to do with the quest for self, but the supposition -- based on skin color -- that white people don't know who they "really" are is an arrogant and strangely eugenic assumption. Must we be pure in blood somehow before we can truly know ourselves?

Despite the disgust of some, people of any color wear pretty much whatever they want to in the U.S. of A. Busta Rhymes can dress like a twisted Spanish troubadour, anyone can wear plaid without angering Scottish-Americans, and hippies still wear tie-dye. I don't look at someone in a U.S-flag T-shirt and judge their right to wear it; I never look at Asians celebrating Christmas and doubt their ability to understand its meaning. To do so would be presumptuous, as is any snap judgment based on superficialities. And nothing in human relations is more superficial than judgments based on skin color -- except perhaps judgments based on T-shirts.


Emily Willingham

Langer's Ignorance


This is about Langer's ignorant remark in the last issue about Godzilla Motor Company being "perhaps the only Austin metal band that really matters" ["Music Recommended," Vol.18, No.15]. What? Have you heard of Averse Sefira, of the Fallen, or Endymion? Does anyone outside of the Back Room know about Godzilla Motor Company?

Yours Sincerely,

U. Amtey


Coming to Terms


Finally, someone admitted it. Lisa, Teresa, Lorrain, et al, state that they don't want "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" ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.15]. Through no fault of mine or theirs, some white people did some really awful things to some non-white people years ago. I wasn't one of those white people. They weren't one of the non-whites. I don't appreciate being held accountable for things I didn't do, as I'm sure they wouldn't, either.

Perhaps if I researched long and hard, I could find a thief, murderer, or worse in the lineage of each of the folks that signed that letter. Should I insist that they "come to terms with who they really are" because of such a discovery? I think not.

Let's do the "personal responsibility" thing instead. You pay for the good and bad you've done, and I'll do the same for me. You didn't suffer like your ancestors did, so don't try to cash in on it.

Thank you,

Susan Laxton

P.S. How does a person "of color" dress, anyway? And what do we do with people of mixed race? Are they only partially responsible?

Rolf, Rolf, Rolf Your Notes

Robert Faires in his Dec. 4 preview of Leon Fleisher's piano concert with the Austin Symphony [Vol.18, No.14] discusses the artist's longtime debilitating condition of his right hand and his recent return to two-handed playing. Two clarifications are needed: First, what Mr. Fleisher had was not technically a carpal tunnel syndrome problem but another type of repetitive motion injury in the upper extremity. And two, therapy didn't cure him, in fact therapy didn't even help him. Rolfing is what cured his condition and allowed him to function again. Rolfing can help alleviate many repetitive motion injuries because while they are usually diagnosed as muscle or nerve problems, the truth is that most of them are connective tissue problems. Thus rolfing's connective tissue approach is often the most appropriate and effective intervention.
Randy Mack,
Advanced Certified Rolfer

Can't Use Spanish?


Regarding the criticism of the Dia de los Muertos T-shirt design ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.15] by Lisa Byrd, Teresa Camou, Entitlement to a culture? Does that mean that I can't use any Spanish (or Mexican) words since I'm Anglo? What sort of clothes are you wearing? "Ethnically pure designer"? I've lived in Austin for almost 30 years; are you co-opting my culture? Keep your arrogant racist crap to yourselves.

You stupid Nazis.

Most sincerely,

Stuart Hillyer

True Meaning of Xmas

Dear Editor;

I enjoyed walking through the trail of lights on opening night. Banning vehicles for all event nights is an idea that I support. However, staring at a neon sign for Dell Computer Corporation at the entrance of the event struck me as crass commercialism. Has the event been renamed the "Dell Trail of Lights"? There are opportunities for more tasteful promotional opportunities along the trail itself.

Some affluent corporations and individuals anonymously donate substantial amounts of money to worthy causes, for their own reasons. Let's promote reasonable standards for corporate participation in public events so we do not compromise our principles and help keep in mind the true meaning of Christmas.


Scott Johnson

Handling Your Manhood


My heart goes out to the victims of abusive or neglected childhoods. I feel sad when people who have passed the voting age are intellectually damaged and emotionally retarded.

Roberto X. Torres-Torres' letter ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.15] prompts me to write. I suspect that Mr. Torres-Torres' nonexistent self worth is caused by the lack of any masculine role model in his childhood. It is sad that someone who is not a man is expected to hold a job and handle an automobile and take on the responsibilities of education.

Mr. Torres-Torres, you have every ounce of my pity. I, too, commute to work every day. I wear a starched shirt and slacks. I attend classes at the university, I am lucky that I can wake up every day without wishing ill will on anonymous people. I'm sorry that your disastrous unpreparedness for the adult world wafts about you like the aroma of baby powder.

There is help. For anyone out there who, like Mr. Torres-Torres, is afraid of men, there is help. There's counseling or therapy, affirmation seminars for men, or even and especially the good counsel of wise friends and interested citizens.

As a functioning member of this community, I hope that anyone else who gets to contribute to my community feels whole, happy, and well adjusted. Mr. Torres-Torres, you feel impotent. And as you are not yet a man, you are denied a potent presence in our rich world. I encourage you, and anyone else who feels that small in our big, scary, grown-up world, to seek help. Look in the Yellow Pages or drop me a note. I'd be happy to help you find trained profesionals willing to help you grow into manhood.

Zack Hyde

P.O.Box 650133

Austin, TX 78765-0133

More On Torres


In response to Mr. Torres' comments in the Dec. 11,1998 issue of the Chronicle ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 15], I'd like to say first off that many, if not most, bicycle commuters are research scientists, engineers, state office workers, and bank employees, not "Hippie Fucks" as Roberto so delicately puts it. If Mr. Torres wants to know how to get to work on a bike from one place to another, he should learn how to read a map. If he wants to be lazy and only go to the grocery store once every two weeks, a trailer for bikes has existed for decades. The reason so many cyclists have vehicles with racks on them is so they can get away from the rude city drivers and enjoy a peaceful ride without some discourteous person in an oversized vehicle for their needs trying to run them off the road. Roads that we cyclists pay taxes to support as well as drivers. Automobiles don't mean freedom any more than a hammer does. Cars are merely a tool, and like all tools they can be used well or abused. As far as moving away, I have lived in Austin for 22 years and it has only been in the last 10 that I have seen the kind of intolerance Roberto exhibits. Be assured that myself and many like me will make sure Mr. Torres never takes over. In fact, we'll do all we can to ensure his continued misery. The intolerant comments made by Mr. Torres sound just like many of the bigoted things -- that I don't like -- that have been made about various peoples of color, like those of Hispanic background. Some of us want the children of tomorrow to have a natural and clean world to grow up in. It is shame upon Mr. Torres that he does not.

Robert Durci

Biking Across the (Sar)Chasm


Sure, Amy Babich is a fruitcake and evidently lives in a magical world where Noam Chomsky and Newt Gingrich walk merrily hand in hand through a landscape of fairies and talking trees, where overweight Viagra-gulping bureaucrats voluntarily bike from topless bars in Austin to topless bars in San Antonio and park in giant, migratory car lots. But on the other hand, all of you pedestrian-hostile car supremacists out there are equally nuts if you think you'll stop us. I am the bicycle rider who gives all bike riders a bad name. By the same social-Darwinist standards that the motor vehicle segregationists uphold, I and bicycle riders like me are responsible for countless inconveniences to automobile drivers through our irresponsible and extravagant demands to exist on the same roads.

There, I've said it, the conspiracy is unmasked; we, bicycle riders, sold America's atomic secrets to Bolsheviks, we created gangsta rap, and we cancelled Star Trek. We peed in your Cheerios, we killed cock-robin, we rigged pro wrestling, we took the bomp out of the bomp-she-bomp-she-bomp, and forever tore the ram asunder from the a-lam-a-ding-dong.

You'll take my bike when you pry my cold dead fingers from the handlebars, and the way you drive, you just may.

Jason Trent

Changes at KLRU

Dear Editor;

Our local PBS station, KLRU, is among the finest in the nation. This fact has been recognized repeatedly throughout the years by other PBS stations as well as their viewers. Bill Arhos, who basically built KLRU into the unique and creative station that it became, cleared out his office Sunday, Nov. 15, without notice. Loyal employees that have been there for several years at below-market salaries are leaving by the day. These people did not work at KLRU for the money; they believed in what they were doing. Why are they leaving? It is important for the public to put the spotlight on the board members of KLRU and ask them why they hired a leader with no experience and apparently no management skills to care for this Austin institution. Good luck to Mike Levy, who recently rejoined the board; I hope he takes the time to review the "imaginary" budget and recent hires that have blown the lid off of nonprofit television salaries.


Monte Carter

Poetry From the Heart

To the voters and students in Texas, a poem:

"A Governor must see someone in need

in order for the people to succeed.

For four long years I've been knocking on his door

I can't stand this no more!

All our present Texas governor does is snore.

I can't stand Bush no more."

At the same time Mauro has been knocking on doors in 110 Texas cities. I need someone in the governors office who has a big heart, not a cold heart!

Frank Bartlett

Northern Overexposure


I've enclosed a copy of today's Toronto Sun editorial that you might find interesting. There are also two letters to the editor.

This delegation of Canadians in Texas trying to get a 30-day stay of execution for Faulder do not speak for me or anyone I know. The talk in the coffee shops, etc, up here is that Faulder should have been executed years ago for the brutal murder of Enez Phillips.

I hope these Canadian reps go and see the relations of Mrs. Phillips and tell them how sorry they are that a "Canadian" murdered her. These Canadian reps should stay out of Texas business.

Yours Truly

Robert H. McClurkin

Take Off, Eh?

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

So, the Canadians are telling us that "we must have our executions"?

Well why doesn't the State of Texas bill Canada for the decades of incarceration, the pain and suffering of the offended family, and a few million more dollars of time that their "outrage" on behalf of their murdered has caused us all in listening to them?

Oh, and by the way, why don't they take their tourism somewhere else ... like ... New York City or Miami.

Thank you for your concern.

Dan Petit

Tell God You're Sorry


Has the United States apologized for the bombing of the pharmacy plant as Sudan requested at the UN? I posed that question to the White House, my Congress person, and the media. They could not or would not answer, so I asked it on a Sudan Web site and immediately got the following answers from four persons.

"It does not serve our purpose to call attention to our mistakes. Just pretend it did not happen and eventually the world will forget. History has proved this over and over again."

"When we get a woman President an apology will be given."

"Still waiting! Actually we are waiting for hell to freeze over. When that day arrives an official apology will come out."

"When we get an honest and decent person in the White House. I don't know when that will be. There are, however, a few people in the U.S. working to get the truth out and the medical supply restored. Unfortunately there are a lot fewer of us than there should be."

President Clinton needs to brush up on the art of "apology." To put it mildly, he is not very good at it. He can start to redeem himself with a sincere, real apology to the people of Sudan, the ship's crew who launched the missiles at his command, the American people, and to God.

Jewel R. Johnson

Canadian Supports Texas Law


There is a Canadian in one of your prisons awaiting execution for a grisly murder in Gladetown, Texas, some years ago. A group of Canadians are down there trying to convince Gov. Bush to repeal the sentence. The Governor is standing behind Texas law. When asked what sort of message this sends to Canada, he replied, "If you're from Canada, don't commit murder in Texas." Right on, Gov.

Ian Dudgeon

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

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