Sucking Us Dry
Senator Buster Brown justifies squelching the creation of 22 new groundwater conservation districts until Senate Bill 1, the state's blueprint for future water use, takes shape in January 2001, by saying that the political boundaries of the proposed districts do not correlate with the regions defined in SB 1 and hence may one day conflict with the regional plan.
The smokestack industries which dominate Brown's district and the thirsty cities who have failed to manage their water resources will now scurry about to secure contracts for every drop of groundwater in the state. When the rural areas who have not squandered their water resources are finally allowed to establish groundwater conservation districts, there will be nothing left to regulate.
Shame on you, Senator Brown, for creating a playing field so clearly slanted toward industry and urban centers, and to the detriment of agriculture and a sustainable rural economy.
When the Lost Pines of Bastrop turn to dust because our water table drops below their taproots, we will remember which legislator killed the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District so that Alcoa could sell our water to San Antonio.
Touched by an Arc Angel
Thank you Andy Langer for one of the best articles I have ever read in the Chronicle ["Living in a Dream," Vol. 18, No. 37]. I appreciate the honesty in which Tommy, Charlie, Chris, and Doyle gave it up for us. It is so good to see everyone happy and healthy and in the mood to bless us with a few performances and if we are lucky, perhaps it will turn into much more than that. I am a firm believer in the cliché that "timing is everything" and maybe this is it for the Arc Angels. Sometimes one must go through all kinds of personal hell in order to come out shining brighter on the other side. Thank you Arc Angels for the great times in the past. We know you were doing it for us during the dark times, and we love you for that. I always believed in you.
Lucy Tanner Dean
APD Doesn't Protect Victims
Based on personal experience, I would very much advocate a citizens' council created to give Austinites an outlet for voicing their experiences with the APD.
In August 1992, I was attacked by the Northwest Hills Rapist in my own home. Luckily, I escaped unharmed. But the attack itself proved to be only the beginning of a nightmare. The police who responded to my 911 call brushed off what had happened to me by saying, "You're a smart girl. You should know better than to leave your third-story window unlocked." The police waited 10 days to invite me down to look at mug shots. In the interim, I left several messages on the Sex Crimes Dept answering machine. They never called me back. Because I had such a clear visual image of my attacker in my memory, I asked to see a sketch of the Northwest Hills rapist. They never showed me one. The investigating officer was married to the woman who ran my apartment complex. Looking back, I wonder if he took the case as a means of helping his wife keep the news of my attack secret, so as not to chase off other potential renters. Moreover, the police classified what happened to me as Breaking and Entering, with no mention of rape in the charges whatsoever. By the end of the day, my case was logged away and forgotten, never to be readdressed by APD.
Some months later, when Anthony Anderson was caught, I saw him on TV, in court, being arraigned. I clearly recognized him as my attacker. For a moment, I thought of calling APD; perhaps they would add my case to the list of charges against him. But after all the indifference I had suffered, I figured, "why bother?"
Some years later I had a female co-worker who ended up being stalked by a casual acquaintance. On the two occasions I was with her when the police were called, I found that none of the officers could recite even one sentence of the stalking law. Eventually, the police chose to issue an arrest warrant for the man, but never went to pick him up. Unable to get the law to protect her, and unable to protect herself, my co-worker moved 1,500 miles away.
I would like to point out that I now have several friends who are high-ranking officers on the force, and I do consider them to be extremely intelligent, dedicated, and competent. However, in the situations relevant to my life, APD has failed miserably. I understand that in today's world many cases go unsolved or unresolved. I can live with that. But what will always haunt me is the flagrant apathy -- and lack of follow-through -- I experienced from APD in addition to already bad situations. If the creation of a citizens' council could even partially rectify similar situations for other Austinites, I encourage everyone living here to get involved and help build a force that is truly present in protecting its citizens.
Real Cities Have Cars, Sports
Every week I read the Postmarks and every week I get insanely angry at the moronic crap that Amy Ba-"bitch" spouts off. How long have you been at this? It seems like forever. I would applaud your determination if it wasn't such a futile and idiotic pursuit. I would just as soon applaud some idiot pouring out nonsense about the "evils" of electricity and how we should all return to the ways of the candle.
All of your ideas might have worked, back when Austin was first reaching a population of 100,000. With this city stepping over the 1/2 million mark, your ideas are just plain stupid. Austin is a city! Get over it! Go to Alvin or San Angelo, or even worse, Brenham, if you want the small-town feel you wish Austin still had. Austin has a pretty fantastic bus system, but I don't see you hyping that. Oh, I forgot. You don't sell buses.
A city grows. You say, "there are too many cars in Austin." Why don't you get to the point? Who drives these cars? It is obvious you want to say "there are too many people in Austin," but why don't you? Because it is a futile effort? A city must grow to thrive. There is no way to keep time still. Let Austin grow. There are always downsides to everything and progress is not immune.
Here is what is wrong with Austin. Why is there no professional sports team here? (Indoor football and minor league hockey do not count.) There are dozens of smaller cities with either baseball, basketball, or football teams in this country. Shit. Green Bay, Wisconsin, barely has 200,000 people. Why does Austin have such a horrible art museum? What about a science and/or natural science museum? What about a proper concert hall that does not belong to UT? Let's get basic. What about properly paved roads? These things will increase the quality of life here in Austin at least as much as your proposal to ban cars from downtown and create light rail lines there.
The only thing that will improve the traffic and pollution here is for the state to build a business spur of I-35 to allow most of the 18-wheelers and freight to bypass Austin altogether, thereby reducing pollution and the incredible traffic jams. The truckers would be grateful. I would be grateful. Who cares what Amy Babich would feel? Not me!
Biking is Fun
I'm writing to you because I have a point to address about biking. It is fun! I am a bicycle commuter and I have my political reasons for being one but the plain and simple fact is I ride my bike everywhere because it is an enjoyable experience for me. What a lot of people don't realize is that bikes are faster than cars. They are also slower than cars. It is all a state of mind, not a physical state. Biking is what you want it to be. Biking can be a high-adrenaline, teeth-clinchin', primal-screamin' type of experience while it can also be a more meditative, zenlike experience, sometimes at the same time.
Forgive me for this reiteration: Biking is fun! That is why I've started the weekly bike cruise every Friday night at 11:59pm at Ozone Bikes. This is not an official event with corporate sponsors nor is it in any way affiliated with the folks at Ozone. No one is making any money off of this event and hopefully no one ever will because that is not what this event is all about. This event is about having a good time and maybe building some community. There is no fixed route: We follow whoever is in the front, stopping at random places to make sure the group stays together. There is no fixed distance: We stop when we are tired. Most importantly, the only cohesive force that brings us all together is that we all love to ride. This ride is not political at all. We don't care if you ride to the meeting place or if you drive your car there with your bike in tow. As long as you come along for the ride. If you like to bike and you want to have a good ol' time, come to this ride.
P.S. Ozone Bikes is at the corner of 32nd and Guadalupe for those who don't know where it is.
Lots of Room for Housing
If Smart Growth were to make use of fairly large car-free zones (about as large as downtown, say), the problem of affordable housing could be easily solved.
Suppose that downtown (for example) were to become a car-free zone. Then living downtown would become very attractive to people who don't have cars or would like to get rid of their cars. But such people are not, in general, the very wealthy. Nor is it desirable that only the very wealthy live downtown. A lively downtown requires plenty of people to work in the stores, restaurants, and theatres, and to drive the streetcars. Such jobs are not usually highly paid. It would be a great saving and convenience to downtown workers to live downtown.
Suppose that a neighborhood becomes a car-free zone. Then we could get plenty of space for affordable housing by depaving parking lots. We need a zoning ordinance stating that reclaimed parking lots are to have their property tax rate frozen before they cease being parking lots, and that all (car-free) housing built thereon is to be kept affordable.
A lot of very essential work is underpaid. People often accept low pay in order to live in Austin (which, despite its flaws, is in many ways an earthly paradise). So, please, let's help lower-paid citizens live here. Let's have large car-free zones (with plenty of streetcars), and zone the reclaimed parking lot space permanently as affordable housing.
Yes, We Must!
Must the Chronicle run a letter from Amy Babich every week? Her psychotic babble contains no information and her entertainment value wore through long ago. If you must print letters from proponents of mass transit, at least find some who attempt to back their position with facts, though you'll be hard pressed to do so.
Babble and Bitch
I'd like to join Amy Babich and add my own babble and bitch about Austin's "carrogant carbarians." As a pedestrian for 27 years in the downtown area, I will share, but never surrender, public life to "sacred cars."
Amy has it right! Too many cars bring sprawl, pollution, deaths, uncivil behavior, and danger around Town Lake Park. S.T.O.P. (Stop Terror on Pedestrians). Give us a brake!
Voters Not Fooled
Dear Editor, Staff, and Readers,
I would appreciate it if the staff of The Austin Chronicle and some other person with more free time on their hands could check a number for me. The number is 87%. It is my understanding that around 87% of the voters did not vote in the city election.
Interesting enough ... in front of me in an article ... that was published on the front page... of The Daily Texan several months ago ... that says ... in a poll -- released by Public Citizen ... showed that 86% of Texans think campaign contributions have too much influence on public policy ... pollsters drew results from ... Texans randomly selected from March 31 to Apr. 6. (Bribes?)
So, since 86 to 87% don't trust the government ... maybe 86 to 87% don't choose to vote for people running for government. (Gosh, that is even more people who will be standing in line for Star Wars.)
Maybe, just maybe ... the majority really does ... intimately understand ...what is "really going on." I guess we are not as dumb as they think. "We won't get fooled again"
Oh, supervise the police department. Damn it, supervise the police department. Damn it, supervise the police department.
Ventura Shoots Straight
Can Ventura be a little more truthful about the Columbine High School shootings? No. Of all the articles I have read on the subject (not a great many, but more than enough), he has clearly and succinctly captured the cause and effect relationship behind such actions. This article should be read by both adults and children. Teachers should read this to their students. Readers should pass it along to friends. I asked my 11-year-old to read it. When done, he looked at me wide-eyed and simply said "Wow!" My sentiments exactly. The simple yet explosive sentence "Stop living your lie" is a chilling request to take a look at ourselves. Not often asked of us, this request is both difficult and necessary, and not just in times of tragedy. Thanks, Ventura.
Gregory A. Vargas
Got a Better Idea?
Michael Ventura's column on Kosovo was thoughtful, trenchant, and brave. It does, however, leave me with one huge question: If sending in NATO was clearly wrong, what would've been a better response to the reports of horrific murder, torture, and "ethnic cleansing" in the region? With similar reports appearing from all over the world in recent years, we urgently need to know.
Mill Valley, California
A Few Questions
Why has the NATO air campaign made life worse for the people NATO is supposed to be helping? Why wasn't NATO prepared to house and feed these refugees? Why does this administration believe it must stop the "immoral" ethnic cleansing of the Albanians by the Serbs but this administration supported the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs by the Croatians in Bosnia in 1995? Why are Milosovic's policies immoral but the same policies followed by the leaders of Turkey, Israel, and Indonesia (all U.S. allies/buddies) are not? Why has Congress relinquished its constitutional right to declare war? Why, when religious fanatics bombed the World Trade Towers, it was called an "act of terrorism," but when NATO bombs a civilian hospital and marketplace it is called "collateral damage" and an "unfortunate error"? Why is it "immoral " for the Serbs to kill innocent ethnic Albanians but it's not immoral for NATO to bomb and kill innocent Serbian civilians? Why do we pay close to $1 million apiece for "smart" bombs that in at least two instances completely missed the entire country of Yugoslavia and slammed into another country, Bulgaria -- a NATO ally? Why, when Russia invaded Afghanistan, did we boycott the 1980 Olympics if it is OK to invade a sovereign country? Why has the stock of Raytheon, makers of the Tomahawk cruise missile, gone up 17% in the last several weeks? Why have General Motors, Ameritech, Honeywell, Boeing, Motorola, and other big military manufacturers paid, in some instances up to $250,000 each, to sponsor NATO's 50th anniversary celebration in Washington? Why did three days of "talks" result in the release of the three U.S. POWs while three weeks of bombs and threats did not? Why did President Clinton, in a speech delivered after the tragedy in Littleton, say that we must teach our children not to resolve conflicts with violence if he did not mean it?
Stop NATO Terrorism
The American-led NATO war against Yugoslavia is a cold-blooded terrorist action that reflects a totalitarian mindset. President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Tony Blair of England, General Solana of Spain, and all the other minions of the Power Elite who have orchestrated and presided over this atrocity have insisted that whatever terrible deeds are done by NATO -- the bombing of hospitals, schools, apartment houses, embassies, and civilian trains which have killed hundreds of innocent woman and children -- is fully justified because Milosevic refuses to surrender his country's sovereignty. This reflects the modus operandi of a terrorist: "Do as I say or I'll kill innocent citizens -- and you will be responsible."
Most citizens of this country are truly unaware of how effective the elite-owned media manipulate the thought and consensus of our people. However, any independent research and thinking will show that this war is being waged so that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank can take further control of Eastern European economics and that NATO and the United Nations can take political control of Yugoslavia. Ask yourselves, do we want the American legacy to be remembered as an aggressive, imperialistic nation? For those of you who have even an ounce of idealism still floating around in your consciousness about truth, justice, and peace -- get off your duffs and demand from our elected leaders, starting with Lloyd Doggett, that we stop this terrorism!
Rules for Living
Dear Mr. Black:
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the class of 1999 from our local high schools and universities. Before you leave you may want to take a moment to thank your parents and your teachers. Let me offer you my own Top Ten pieces of advice for the graduating class of 1999.
Number Ten. Face reality. When your alarm goes off at 6:30am, it's not a nightmare -- it's a job.
Number Nine. Be decisive. As Yogi Berra liked to say, "When you come to a fork in the road -- take it!"
Number Eight. Be diplomatic. When your parents ask you how long you'll be living at home after graduation -- lie.
Number Seven. Listen to voices of experience. Lily Tomlin once said: "The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat."
Number Six. Don't procrastinate. Order your Longhorn season tickets now because they are going all the way.
Number Five. Be patient. Wait at least 24 hours after graduation before asking your parents for money.
Number Four. Be loyal Americans -- vote, pay your taxes, and above all else, always beat the Aggies.
Number Three. Be honest. When relatives ask you what are you going to do the rest of your life, tell them the truth: You have no idea.
Number Two. Be succinct: When asked what the Texas chess team has to say to the Aggie chess team, give just one word: Checkmate.
My number-one piece of advice for the class of 1999 is: Believe that you can make a difference. Above all, believe in yourself.
Finally, congratulations to the class of 1999, and the best of continued success.
Dear Robert Faires,
Bravo! "Risen From the Ashes" [Vol. 18, No. 29] is a brilliant article on Austin Ballet choreographer and dancer Stephen Mills. Please continue this type of coverage of choreographers and dance in Austin. After reading your article, I will be attending A Midsummer Night's Dream. If I could go back in time, I would greet Mills and dancers at Robert Mueller Airport with flowers and cheers when they returned from France last spring. Bravo Mills! Bravo Faires!
Carol M. Lewis
I was outraged to discover that Marc Savlov had given a favorable review to the teen horror atrocity Idle Hands. After what happened in Littleton, Denver, and Salt Lake, and Alberta in the past weeks you'd think that he'd have to have some sympathy and sense. How many empty-headed teens do you think are going to start flocking to see this filthy example of German culture after reading that review? In fact, how many are going to become crack addicts after seeing this movie? If Marjorie Baumgarten or Russell Smith had reviewed the film, I'm sure they would have squelched it as deserved. Is Savlov a hack critic almost like the LA Times' Kevin Thomas? Although I'm sure that both have given excellent reviews to some films (such as The Last Days and Office Space), they have also wrongfully gushed over garbage movies like Wing Commander and a number of atrocious of Jean-Claude Van Damme pics. Sure, I've gotten angry whenever Thomas gushed over Van Damme, but seeing Savlov's review was the last straw.
Tea Just Fine, Thank You
Dear Steve [Davis],
After seeing Tea With Mussolini last night I had to write and give you my opinion. Granted, after covering such stellar screenings as Doug's First Movie and Baby Geniuses, it's easy to see how your tastes could be skewed. However, I am sorry for you if you cannot enjoy a film strictly for its entertainment value, to say nothing of the performances of the three leading ladies of British film. The fact that Cher receives top billing in your review (which, admittedly, may not have anything to do with your choice) speaks volumes about what expectations might be for this film. But to deny this film even a glimmer of positive light (World War II not "realistic" enough? ... have you seen Life Is Beautiful?) seems unfair. Pyrotechnics, special effects, body count, and gratuitous sex scenes have been replaced by a charming depiction of such unbankable concepts as friendship, loyalty, appreciation of beauty, and a refusal to let the horrors of war deny you the simple pleasures of daily life, such as a good cup of tea while the bombs are going off.
I recognize your right to express your point of view and am happy that I do not allow one person's opinion to color where I spend my entertainment dollars. While others are baking in the sun in the Star Wars lines, I'll be happily ensconced in air conditioning, munching popcorn, viewing films that care as much about beauty as they do "box office."
Hey, how come Tea With Mussolini only got one and a half stars? Plus, I'm still annoyed about the crappy ranking y'all gave Mrs. Dalloway, which was a great Marlene Gorris film.
In case you can't you find any reviewers who actually like little old lady movies, here are some guidelines:
Add these to the score: Award 1 star for casting more than one actress over age 35. Award 1 star if there are no car chases and nobody gets killed or tortured on-screen. Award 1 star if the main point of the movie is people loving each other in nonsexual ways. Award 1/2 star if there is at least one lesbian in the movie. Award the other 1/2 star if there are at least 2 lesbians. Award 1/2 star if the director is a woman. Award 1/2 star if the movie is beautiful.
Then subtract these from the score: Remove 1/2 star if there is any bad acting in the movie. Remove 1/2 star if there are too many coincidences, historical inaccuracies, or playing fast and loose with literary texts. Remove 1 star if there is racism, nationalism, pro-colonialism, or corporate logos showing. Remove 2 stars if the movie is religious. Remove 1 star if a young heterosexual couple is onscreen together more than 12% of the time.
Based on this surefire rating system, Tea With Mussolini gets 3 stars. Mrs. Dalloway gets 4.