I appreciated Jenny Staff's coverage of the Seaholm Reuse Planning Committee's report to the City Council on Dec. 9 ["Council Watch," Vol.18, No.16]. Her recounting was incomplete in one important area, however: The committee's articulation of a combination of uses that includes performance space for Austin's arts community.
In my comments I described how, in public meetings, we heard the community say what they thought Seaholm's next best use should be: a center for arts, exhibits, and performances, or as a science and technology or natural history museum; a place for multiple and simultaneous events or activities. They said to use Seaholm's spaces to teach why things are and how things work. Other consistent themes were: Keep it, don't sell it; involve children in its reuse; and link its new life to its historic one.
What Jenny keyed on, was this: "We could accomplish this linking by creating a science and technology museum -- an exploratorium -- or simply by retaining certain of its artifacts."
What I said next is what was missing in the Chron's report: "Seaholm is so big a lot can happen there and all at the same time -- including performances involving technology -- cyber-arts -- high-tech equivalents of traditional art forms. Seaholm sits between Austin High School and the Austin Children's Museum. We heard support for tying into education, the schools, our children's future. We might recognize Austin's deepening relationship with the computer technology sector through Seaholm's next use; we heard support for a link like this from the public. When we completed our report earlier this year the committee agreed that all options had not yet been explored. With recent Council decisions supporting high-tech businesses downtown we could perhaps imagine a place where software developers alpha test their code in settings housed at the Seaholm Power Plant. Perhaps AISD students would be the testers and the activity would be part of the school district's curriculum. Science, education, arts. ... If we can dream it we can see it and, we hope, make it happen."
We're still brainstorming. Some uses are more fitting than others, given the building's size, configuration, and location, but no one has yet decided what those uses will be. I do not want to short-circuit continuing discussions by appearing to have decided the question. The committee hopes that, in working with the Council and various interest groups, we can find the right fit of uses and users for the adaptive reuse of this magnificent building.
chair, Seaholm Reuse Planning Committee
No Free Parking
Our Travis County Government is nearing completion of a new multi-level 160 car parking garage on Long Bow Drive off Congress. Construction costs (alone) are over one million dollars. Add to that land costs and maintaince. Our county commissioners are building this multi-level cement garage that was sold to them even though there are acres of open surface area and vacant lots adjoining the site.
The county government recently announced a property tax increase while previous news reports disclose budget cuts and office help being laid off. Meanwhile, property owners are footing the bill for more than $6,250 per parking slot for "free" public parking. Leave it to government to figure out a way to spend as much money as possible to park cars.
As the number of ozone air days and traffic congestion continue to increase in Travis County, the Federal EPA will mandate clean air requirements beginning with tailpipe emissions on all of our cars. When this happens here part of the blame will have to go to Travis County government.
It is time for our government entities to concentrate on services and cost-cutting and stop subsidizing private transportation. This encourages sprawl and is enviromentally regressive. Taxes, traffic congestion, and pollution are all out of control. It's time for drivers to start paying for their own parking. Furthermore, this same location is served by four different Capital Metro routes, but the transit company can't be expected to compete with "free" parking. We hear many complaints about Cap Metro, but at least they're doing something about our air pollution while Travis County squanders tax dollars on another garage.
I Love Lunch
When I moved to Austin 20 years ago, Liberty Lunch was the first live music club I visited. Back then, it was smaller and much funkier. There was no mural but some kind of old rustic scaffolding instead -- probably a holdover when it had been Liberty Lunch and Wagon Yard years before. There was also a charming pool which filled up with beer cans by the end of the evening.
In those early days, I used to go to listen to Beto y los Fairlanes, Extreme Heat, and the Lotions. The Lunch was much more accessible than Sixth Street, as it still is, and we were able then truly to dance under the stars. Over the years I frequented Liberty Lunch on a regular basis especially during my reggae music phase. The Lunch regularly scheduled groups like Culture, Toots and the Maytalls, Pato Banton, the Twinkle Brothers, and many too numerous to mention. During all those years I was a single mom who would look to the Lunch to take a break, go dance, and escape the responsibilities that were there for me all the time.
I was one of those wacky chicks you would see out there on the dance floor alone until one night about 12 and a half years ago, when I was again out by myself. My roommate was watching the kids and I slipped down to the Lunch to get a little exercise and fresh air. That was the night my life changed forever. A very tall stranger with a friendly smile leaned down and asked me to dance. It could not have been more appropriate to meet the love of my life at Liberty Lunch. This past June we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.
We still get out to the Lunch occasionally when the music is geared to "the older folks," and now it is our grown children who frequent Liberty Lunch more than we.
Liberty Lunch is more significant to me than any other place or institution in Austin. It saddens me beyond measure to think that it won't be there in its old location anymore. Another chapter in many of our lives is closing. I only hope that the city will do its part in finding Liberty Lunch a new home so that it can continue its tradition of bringing lovers together and wonderful music to the public.
Thanks Charlie, Mark, and J-net for all the wonderful times way to numerous to mention.
The Music Came First
I enjoyed the roundups of Blue Note and Delmark in your Dec.18 issue ["Identifying the Impulse" and "A Cultural Imperative," Vol.18, No.16], save for one small quibble. Jeff McCord wrote that at his first recording session in 1939, Alfred Lion "naively let the pianists run over their allotted three minutes, forcing [himself] to abandon the standard 10-inch, 78 rpm format and press Blue Note's first release as a 12-inch 78." This was indeed uncommercial at the time, as 12-inch "singles" didn't sell well (didn't sell at all to jukebox operators, for example), but there was no tape recording then, so Lion had to be cutting a 12-inch master disc. He was doing it on purpose, because the music came first.
Blue Note Dead
Thanks for the story on Blue Note ["Identifying the Impulse," Vol.18, No.16]. I agree with many who feel that Blue Note was the finest jazz label ever; however, was is the operative word there. The label died with Frank Wolff. Although the "new" Blue Note has had some bright spots and Cuscuna's reissues continue to be sublime, the label's new releases just don't measure up to many pressings by independent jazz labels. This points to the reason Blue Note was so good to begin with: The bottom line for Lion and Wolff was making good records, not bringing in a profit. No matter how good Blue Note president Lundvall's intentions are, he ultimately works for a corporation whose bottom line is cash flow -- and it really shows.
Thankfully, I wasn't listening during the fusion era and have escaped the brain damage it apparently gave a lot of jazzheads. I've grown up listening to funky, organic sounds like Blue Note's and, as a result, can't accept any less than the best. If you want to hear contemporary recordings by folks who are true to Blue Note's mission, check out Texas-based Leaning House Jazz (http://www.leaninghouse.com). In the last four years, producer Mark Elliott and his partner Keith Foerster have created an incredibly swinging, high-minded collection of albums that I feel should serve as a wake-up call to the big guys.
"Wade in the Water"
KOOP Radio, 91.7FM
Rolf, Rolf, Rolf Your Notes
Robert Faires in his Dec. 4 preview of Leon Fleisher's piano concert with the Austin Symphony ["Music Recommended," 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.
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, et.al.: 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.
True Meaning of Xmas
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.
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.
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.
To the management of The Austin Chronicle, and all "makers" of The Austin Chronicle:
Guten Tag and Hallo dear Ladies and Gentlemen, a few weeks ago I asked via your Internet site for an Austin Chronicle baseball hat, and yesterday our postman brought one to me! I think you cannot imagine how happy you made me. It is really the hat from the furthest town from Germany I have in my collection!!! Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, with this e-mail I would like to say thank you very much for the cap, your kind help and your understanding. You made a great pleasure to me and I always will have fond memories to the name Austin Chronicle! I wish all the best to the Chronicle, all members of it and their families, and also a peaceful, Merry Christmas and a Happy 1999 to all of you and all your readers -- first of all Healthiness.
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.
This letter is for all the city officials, mall managers, and public domains inhabiting the city of Austin.
Why is it that in a city growing by leaps and bounds, and with an ever-increasing diversity of cultures and ethnicities, we are bombarded year after year with slogans and decorations that relate only to Christmas this time of year? I am a nonreligious Jewish woman who identifies strongly with my cultural heritage. Yet year after year all over the city -- in banks, government offices, in shopping malls and parking lots -- I am inundated with tinsel, lights, holly wreaths, and all things Christmas. Let's not forget those annoying loops of Christmas songs in every store and megamart either.
My job requires me to go to various elementary schools around town and in hallway after hallway there are letters to Santa and glittering green Christmas trees on various colored construction paper. I can't imagine every one of those children have trees at home, because I know not all of them celebrate Christmas. I know from my own experience, at elementary school, that Chanukah was never mentioned when it came to "Christmas" vacation or "What do you want for Christmas?" Due to peer pressure and intimidation of Christmas being heaped upon me (by teachers, too), as a young shy girl I felt embarrassed to admit I didn't "do" Christmas. My schoolmates wouldn't have understood, and kids can be awful cruel when one doesn't fit in.
It also concerns me that my tax money may be going towards supplying and maintaining Christmas decorations. The ones hanging over Congress Ave., Sixth Street, the trail of (Christmas) lights in Zilker Park, etc. Not that it isn't beautiful. My point is this: Communities and individuals need to be more aware of the impact that the holiday season brings to all cultures and religions. I'm well aware that we live in the Bible Belt, but as cities like Austin grow bigger they need to become more aware of the big picture. Give us all equal time and space.
Changes at KLRU
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
People Before Profits!
I realize this nation is too preoccuppied with hanging the President for sex crimes, but I'd like to relay some rather disturbing news concerning bovine growth hormone (produced by Monsanto) which currently exists in over 30% of this country's milk supply. A Canadian study has found that this "BGH" may effect humans by giving us thyroid cysts and prostate cancer. Hello? When the FDA has been queried about these findings they stand mute, or try to stand by the FDA study ... provided by Monsanto!
The FDA officials should hang for such nonsense. Never has it been clearer that profits have been put before safety. This ramshakle "study" by the company pushing the product in question is faulty, and even New Hampshire politicians are condemning the "greased chute" results. (New Hampshire cows produce a lot of milk, apparently.) The only way we consumers can right this wrong is to demand en masse that all BGH-infected milk be yanked immediately from all grocery shelves until a real study can be done on its short- and long-term effects. Also, how about lableing this type of milk so we consumers won't blindly purchase it? Got milk? No thanks!
No to Impeachment
I have a heavy heart. They have impeached my president. Damn them. As I watched the votes roll in this morning, I actually got a bit teary-eyed and found myself thinking that there's nothing I can do but resign myself to mindlessly watching the course of history on TV.
But then I got mad. I won't go into my personal beliefs about the Clinton scandal here, but I will say that I am violently opposed to impeachment.
Please forgive my imprecise language. I am no means an expert in politics. But I have a question and would like to know if you know the answer ...
Today the House voted to impeach Clinton. Then that House adjourned its session. It will not meet again. That House is over. But -- on Jan. 6th, the new House will walk a piece of paper over to the Senate with a "message" stating today's vote and asking the Senate to continue with the impeachment process. Is that legal? Can the new House pass on a vote from an old House and expect the Senate to act on that vote?
I don't think so. It doesn't sound right. But really, we have very little precedent to go by here. So I am posing the question to every person I know, and hoping that if enough of us put the question out there, something may come of it. Please forward this to anyone you know who may be interested. Thanks.
Chris S. Witwer
mad as hell