Fri., July 9, 1999
I enclose a recent issue of the Comics Journal in which the editor/publisher allowed me to do what you didn't think important enough to do in your own rag.
You might pass this along to Mr. Ventura so he gets an idea of what issues a review of a "graphic novel" should encompass, instead of playing god with his typewriter ["The Lost Cause," Vol. 18, No. 3].
As to whether you, as an editor, will learn anything from it about your job (calling in life?) remains to be seen.
Lego® My DAY-GLO®
We have had our attention called to the misuse of our trademark DAY-GLO in your publication referenced below [Community Listings, Vol. 18, No. 27].
DAY-GLO is a trademark registered by us with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a variety of fluorescent products.
We encourage you to properly use our trademark in your publication. The enclosed leaflet discusses the proper use of the trademark DAY-GLO. The generic name for our products is "fluorescent" or "daylight fluorescent" paints, colors, inks, etc.
The trademark DAY-GLO is a valuable asset of the DAY-GLO COLOR CORP. and we are prepared to take all necessary steps to protect the distinctiveness of this term. Avoiding misunderstanding and confusion in the minds of the trade and general public is beneficial to everyone.
We trust you will comply with our request to respect our trademark through proper use, and look forward to hearing from you, should you have any questions.
Mira L. Debevc
Sales & Marketing Assistant
Day-Glo Color Corp.
Critics Shouldn't Critique
Dear Austin Chronicle:
I rarely want to spend my precious time to respond to a critic's movie review, but I just kept wondering about this reviewer who in the same week reviews Tea With Mussolini (perhaps not a movie of interest to the "masses") and Doug's 1st Movie. Steve [Davis] gave Doug two stars and Tea one.
Perhaps it is my "baby boomer" taste of a good story, with some reasonably interesting character development, dialog, and cinematography, but I enjoyed Tea and disagree with every word wastefully and sophomorically written by Steve.
I guess a story about a crazed dictator who forms an alliance with Germany and ultimately throws Italy into a war jeopardizing freedom, people, and priceless art is not very entertaining to the current generation. TV, the Internet, and soundbite conversations seems to be enough. Few young people today, luckily, have had to live through times of the Thirties and Forties and have these kinds of stories to tell. Hopefully, in the future, they won't either.
I know that cinema is art and subject to personal taste but I would prefer if reviews were more of story content than a critical comment. Let me, the patron, be the judge.
By the way, I really liked the cinematography -- or "over-exposed" technique -- I felt it really set the tone and telling of the story which I found quite charming and interesting. I like story that tells about people who are honorable, who can and do sacrifice for important issues such as freedom and art. These kinds of movies leave us with something to think about -- and hope. I liked Zeffirelli's film -- go see it.
L. Saunders -- an avid movie goer
Rational Approach to Bikes
The transportation debate in "Postmarks" has acquired more class. For a while the only rebuttal to the charge that cars dehumanize ordinary people was something like "shut up or I'll run you over."
But one thing still bugs me in this dialogue. Many writers rush in with lots of excuses about why they just can't give up their cars wholesale. Well of course not, silly, nor could the grocery trucks, UPS, or the hospitals just surrender the keys at midnight. The real issue is how we reduce automobile use, as individuals, families, and as a society. People heaping scorn on the imaginary proposal of quitting the automobile "cold turkey" appear to be evading their real problem. That's natural, of course.
In attacking social problems, we tend to quantify the problem. We have a crime rate, a dropout rate, an illiteracy rate, an unemployment rate, a poverty line, an infant mortality rate, etc. We have this with cars, called "vehicular miles traveled" (VMT), but it is never held up in the same light as our other misery indexes. Instead, TXDoT triumphantly announces how VMT went up X-percent while highway deaths went up by a lesser percent. That's still more death and precious petroleum piddled away into pollution. No one ever goes after that number which so accurately measures the problem.
VMT is calculated from the amount of gasoline sold in an area (so guzzling SUVs count for more). So I challenge the well-meaning "I see the problem but here's my excuse ..." crowd to actually budget and ration the money they spend on gas and let their social conscious push that number DOWN. Criticize this idea if you like. Nobody is asking you to give up your keys right now, so please quit criticizing that.
Nuts About Brazil
Dear Chron, Thank you for the excellent articles by Pekar and Quinn on Brazilian music and Caetano Veloso ["Blame It on the Bossa Nova" and "Vamos Caetanear," Vol. 18, No. 44]. It is a real coup for Austin to have this world-class singer, composer, and poet perform here. I will relish every moment of Caetano's show.
I do have to wonder what Pekar meant in his article when he wrote, "Brazilian vocalists sing quietly just about all of the time and don't have much of a range ..."
Surely someone as knowledgeable about this music as Pekar seems to be can't really believe that. Most of the singers he mentions in his article have plenty of range both pitch- and volume-wise.
On a purely factual note, slavery in Brazil was abolished in May 1888, not in 1889.
Bye to Bullock
Dear Mr. Black,
It wasn't until after Bob Bullock died that I became interested in him, which, I think, should be the way to deal with all politicians. Because no matter how good one's intentions are to start with, no matter what party they come from or ideology they claim to uphold, politics turns human beings into perverted animals, like some inbred Bull Terrier who would just as soon bite you as hump your leg ... whatever you're good for. Starting at the bottom of the heap with local city councils all the way on up to higher elected office, the act of having to survive in that kind of climate breeds all the qualities observed in borderline personality disorders.
So when Mr. Bullock made it to the final office he'd ever hold, I was curious about him. Sure, I'd seen his ashen-gray face and cloudy dead stare plastered on the Statesman, but I wouldn't touch that newspaper with a Taser. People I saw interviewed on television ... you know, other politicians were really pouring on the bullshit, so I figured they were still scared of him. The article you put out was brief, but had enough weird circumstances in it to keep me cynical.
Politics in a patriarchal society boils down to power, money, and control of both your enemies and allies alike. It's nothing more than a mean-spirited romp through our darkest psyches. Anyone willing to participate in that has a serious kink somewhere ... it's just a matter of time before it becomes obvious to the rest of us.
Bush No Leader
One question, Gov. Bush: "What business would you have running for president if you were George Walker, instead of George Walker Bush? Where would you be, without the help of family, friends, financiers, and Yale "frat brothers?"
America needs a strong, proven leader, who, on his/her own merit has accomplished something significant.
Let's examine your leadership record. At Yale, you were frat president. You ventured next into the "awl patch" for six years, went "busto," and were bailed out by friends. During Vietnam, you flew the friendly skies of Texas for the National Guard. Next venture was the Rangers, where your $606,302 was parlayed into $15,000,000-plus by promoting $135,000,000 in stadium bonds. Texas politics beckoned next, so you sold out for a $14,900,000 profit.
You're no John Conally as governor, and would have accomplished little without Lt. Governors Bullock and Perry. We'll best remember your illusory "tax cuts" of $10 and $60, respectively.
We need a proven leader, not a "Mr. Nice Guy," a gregarious, reformed "party animal," or a would-be "savior."
Robert P. Sindermann, Sr.
The Bush Record
Dear Voting Texans and Chronicle editor,
Here is the real question. What really happened when the Bush family was power, in the White House?
Well, wages dropped. I will give example, I used to wait tables at Ken's Pizza. I got my starting wage, and then all the tips ... I could carry home.
Tonight, I was waited on by attractive UT students, and I paid $8.75 for a Sprite and Big Burger. I have looked at these waitstaff pay checks. I was upset that for 38 hours of work, she only gained $45. I am still upset that she is supposed to work till 2 am ... and get paid only $45. You say tips, but they must pay like $200 to $300 for car to get them back home. Then $300 to $600 for apartment. Then a few hundred for college tuition, a few thousand for fees, and tons more for this perfect appearance.
I respect these girls and I don't abuse them. But have we forgotten that Republicans believe only that a few should become wealthy and most should work for low wages. I am stunned that it seems virtually every job in Austin pays such low wages, and Gov. Bush did not care. It never bothered him that people are oppressed. To me, this is mark of someone who has principles, like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesse Jackson. They appreciate the working class. I will quote what one pastor called it "Country Club Christianity." They look great on the outside, but they are playing a game.
George Bush ran us into R-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N. George W. Bush, will run us into more low wages ... as president. His family's record is horrible.
Community Through Biking
I am writing this because I am concerned about the lack of community in Austin and in the rest of the United States. We wall ourselves off from multitudes of potential friends and I feel that this is bad for the community and bad for ourselves. It is about time that people start communicating with each other more instead of just ignoring them and blocking them out from their lives. Better communication is essential to building a stronger community.
I have some suggestions to make about how to break down the barriers of communication: Ride a bike with friends to your favorite hangout or ride the bus or carpool to work or any other destination you might be going to. If cars are used as the sole mode of transportation for each individual, they become both a literal and figurative wall on wheels. They may shield you from the elements but they also shield you from each other and that is a serious disadvantage of cars. One cannot carry on a conversation with the person in the next car over while one can carry on a conversation with the person next to them on a bike or on the bus or in their car. Cars may not be the cause of this lack of community that pervades our culture, but they are definitely a symptom that can be treated.
I have another suggestion for building a stronger community: Show up on the weekly bike cruise. It meets every Friday night at 11:59pm at Ozone Bikes at the corner of 32nd and Guadalupe. I have made at least a dozen new friends on this ride and I am sure I will make even more friends as it continues to grow. I think this ride would give people an idea of what the sense of community would feel like if more people would ride their bikes and get out of their wallmobiles.
I am aware that these simple suggestions are not the whole solution to the lack of community in our culture, but I do feel that this is definitely a good start and I am acting on my beliefs. There is no single cure-all that will solve all of our problems but none of our problems will be solved if we don't act to solve them.
Sincerely and with love,
Bagging the Dog
This goes out to all the thoughtless, tasteless buttheads around town who walk their dogs every day and let them crap in other people's yards. Especially the ones who do not even bother to use a leash! What is it that makes you think my yard is your dog's toilet? Ever heard of a pooper-scooper? What's the matter? Is your yard full? Flies getting to you? Or do you just want to keep your place clean at my expense? And I don't care if you live in an apartment and don't have a yard. It's not my problem! The really amazing ones will stand right in front of you and watch Spot take a dump in your flowers and act like nothing has happened. Duh!
My wife has a good idea for dealing with these idiots. If she knows where an offender lives, she'll scoop up the crap in a baggie and leave it on their porch. She attaches a note that says "Your dog forgot something." She has been known to chase down people and demand that they come back and clean it up it up. It's good for people and their pets to get out and get some exercise and fresh air, but when people let their pet crap all over the place, one has to wonder which end of the leash the animal is on!
A Sermon on a Mount
On a recent moonlit night, I made one of my periodic pilgrimages to the Holy Mountain, known in Antiquity as Mount Bonnellius, abode of the Great Austin Guru (known affectionately as Gag). I went hoping to get answers to some of Life's big questions. Upon meeting him I said: "Oh Great Omniscient One, do you have any words of wisdom I can carry back to share with the "little people"?
"You betcha!" he said, "just let me bring up the Austin file on my laptop computer. Yesss! Here we are! Go forth, my son, and inform your people, your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, that:
"This summer: Some Texans will fear ... the killer bee! George W. Bush will fear ... a spelling bee! During the campaign: Al Gore will need ... a drama coach! George W. Bush will need ... a grammar coach!"
"Thank, oh thank you, oh Great Wise One!" I said. "I shall hurry down to the market place where I shall start spreading the news! And I shall say to Bush: 'If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!' Furthermore, I shall endeavor to drive the lobbyists from the Temple!"
And so it came to pass that ... well, we will all find out next year!
In the beginning of the Kashmiri conflict, Pakistan scored an important but short-lived victory. The large-scale incursion by Kashmiri mujahedin into a highly strategic sector of Ladakh belied Indian claims that the decade-old Kashmiri "intifada," or uprising, had been crushed. In spite of deploying up to 600,000 troops and paramilitary police in the mountainous state, and years of brutal repression, India has been unable to extinguish the revolt by the Muslim majority, which demands either union with Pakistan, or independence.
But equally important, the fighting, because it threatened to ignite nuclear war between India and Pakistan, also dramatically showed that the old problem of Kashmir was very much of international concern, rather than simply an internal issue of India, as Delhi insists. Pakistan's strategy is to internationalize the Kashmir issue and call for implementation of the plebiscite that the UN originally mandated in 1949, a vote that would inevitably end Indian rule. India is just as determined to avoid ever holding a vote, or allowing any outside intervention in Kashmir. The only encouraging sign of this conflict is the fact that both countries have publicly stated that they would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.
For those of us looking in from the outside, it's very sad to see that two of the poorest countries in the world are wasting their precious little resources on nuclear and biochemical arsenals, when they know very well that too many of their people go to bed at the end of the day on an empty stomach.
Zafar S. Choudhury
I propose that at the heart of both sides of the current national debate on the "right to bear arms" there lies the same issue: We all, as a people, want a freedom: the freedom to feel safe. In our homes, our country and ultimately, on our planet.
The debate has polarized into whether safety from each other and oppressive governments is found in the accumulation of weapons or the eradication of weapons. I venture the idea that safety lies not necessarily in either.
Historically it has been shown that the most important factor in ending oppressive governments and violence has been people's ability to unite with one another, trust one another, and work together. When people unite in this way they become invincible, whether they are armed or not.
We all seek the safety of unity with a group, whether it's with other sports fans, other artists, other Christians or Muslims, other gays or straights, cowboys or punk rockers, etc. However, times they are a changin'.
As the world becomes more and more interconnected we are all being challenged to include more and more people into "our group." The walls between us all seem to be dropping away. The question remains: Will we let the walls fall away that we have built up inside our own hearts and minds?
I am an attorney who used to live in Dallas. In Oct. 97 I filed a child support enforcement action pro bono in the 302d District Court for a New York City working mother trying to raise her teenage son in New York. Her New York divorce decree was registered for enforcement in the 302d because her ex-husband lives in Dallas. The Texas Attorney General registered the divorce decree, but it did little or nothing to actually enforce the order.
I agreed to represent her. The enforcement motion was filed 10/97, and the father's Jaguar was levied by the Dallas County constable to pay a child support judgment. The father got a restraining order without notice, and the judge ordered the constable to give the car back. The father sued everyone, including myself. We won the jury trial last 4/99.
The kicker is that the judge reset the child support motion several times from its original setting of 12/8/97 until she finally heard it on 5/11/98. The judge refuses to rule on the motion, as well as a second contempt motion heard 4/99, so the father is basically free to do whatever he wants. He can pay his child support or not pay it, the judge does not seem to care.
I filed a mandamus against the judge with the Texas Supreme Court on 6/7/99, case no 99-0523. The court has not ruled on that motion.
The AG still has done basically nothing. Because this is a Texas AG case, the Texas Family Code requires the judge to rule on the motion within one year of service of process on the child support obligor. He was served 11/97, so the case is well over 18 months old.
The Dallas County case number is 96-17243.
Bring That Board Back!
Now that the oppressively protective helmet law has been retrenched, city officials and unofficials -- ever vigilant about the remote possibility of an injury or injury lawsuit -- are devising new ways to control the contingencies of living and to prevent people from having any fun. Years ago the high diving board at Barton Springs was removed, and periodically the one-meter low board has also disappeared for one ostensible reason or another.
On a recent Saturday I went to Barton Springs for the first time this season. There were lots of people: the usual clusters of sunbathers, mostly young people, displaying their bodies and tattoos, chatting and smoking, reading, baking away their pallor. A few serious swimmers stroked patiently along past floaters and timid waders and those standing knee-deep or thigh-high in the chilly waters, hesitating before managing to take the courageous plunge. But an eerie quiet reigned over the pool area, its cause no mystery. You didn't hear the familiar sprong and flutter of the diving board with people of all ages lined up taking turns bouncing into the pool. There were no squeals of delight, shouts of encouragement, no hearty (sometimes sadistic) laughter at the endless variations of airborne grace and incompetence. Even for those preferring to remain on the sidelines, as it were, something had been lost: an entertaining and lively spectacle and source of commentary.
To the paternalistic (or is it "maternalistic"?) authorities who determine what activities remain permissible at public facilities: Enough with the rules and regulations already. During the many years I've lived in Austin and frequented Barton Springs, never have I seen anyone (or even heard of anyone) injured on the diving board. I have seen a couple of near drownings. We haven't, however, eliminated swimming altogether. Why then prohibit diving at public pools? No, it isn't perfectly safe -- nothing is, including a jog on the hike-and-bike trail or climbing trees or playground equipment. So how about some reasonable risk assessment? Most diving accidents occur in private pools or in too-shallow, unsupervised areas, from rocks and bridges. At Barton Springs, water depth under the board is 12 or 13 feet -- it's virtually impossible to hit bottom, except deliberately. So lighten up, chill out, and bring the board back to Barton.