The beefs this week: Chronicle reporter Robert Bryce on CNN, genetically engineered foods, Steamboat, John Aielli, Paul Minor, and more.
Well-Groomed by Chron Standards
I just saw Robert Bryce, whom I have never heard of or seen before, on [CNN's] Inside Politics. What a poor example of a journalist. No insights, only frivolous speculation. It is a shame that the limited national coverage your paper gets is wasted on such a lackluster reporter. He should learn to dress, comb his hair, and then the really tough one, do some work to present substance, not empty commentary.
Very embarrassing for a lifelong Texan to see.
Sticking up for the Little Guy
Far too many Americans have given the ultimate to protect us from the bully in the play yard. Principles that make our nation the fortress among nations are honor, integrity, valor; these principles give might to right and protect the little person. I am distressed to know that Ms. May has suffered the blow of the bully and that we, the people, entertain the thought of Mr. Bush protecting us from the bully ["Evidence Buried?" Vol. 18, No. 52]. I appreciate you for having provided us with this marvelous piece of investigative journalism. I am deeply impressed and know that our nation will be more adequately informed for your dedication to that which gives us strength -- Truth. I hope that Ms. May will find courage in her ordeal to continue to fight for that which is right. I hope that you and your news organization will follow up and keep us informed. Truly, every American should be aware of the true nature of politics in Texas, and of the politics of this one who seeks to protect the individual.
Allan R. Hogan
Education on Eating
Kudos to Virginia Wood and the Chronicle for publishing the enlightening article on genetically engineered (GE) foods ["It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature," Vol. 18, No. 49]. I am one of the many people who have only recently become aware of the prevalence of GE food in our supermarkets. I had read and heard about the phenomenon and at a visit to my local farmers market I met members of the Alliance for Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods, a group of folks in Austin who are working hard to educate the public about the current situation. Synchronistically, the Chronicle published Ms. Wood's excellent article shortly after this meeting. I am concerned about this problem and especially about the fact that many people are completely unaware of what they may be consuming. Because labeling of these foods is not required at this time, consumers are not allowed to make informed choices.
I encourage all of us who eat food to educate ourselves, talk to friends, speak to our store and produce managers, and fill out comment cards at our grocers. Write to our elected representatives, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, and the FDA. Sign on to online petitions. At the very least these foods should be labeled so that we as consumers are able to make a choice in our purchases.
I hope Chronicle readers will read and use the wealth of information in the sidebars to Ms. Wood's article. Here in Austin those who wish to know more may contact the Alliance for Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods at email@example.com or 454-2364, or visit the national Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods' Web site at http://www.thecampaign.org.
It's hard to imagine a more ignorant or deluded letter to the editor than Shawn Bodmann's "Science Is God" rambling ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 51].
The point about "Frankenfoods" is that if butterflies are dying as a short-term result, then what about the long-term results? Obviously not enough "science" went into impact studies (by the Genetically Engineered Food Developers or the FDA) on humans, or our environment. Notice I say "our" because the Earth is a closed system, and whatever effects there are, are eventually felt by all species. In the 1950s, "Big Science" told us that DDT and other pesticides were the answer to the "bug problem." Years later, these same chemicals are now banned. That's the same phenomenon that we are experiencing with Frankenfoods. The other problems include people who are allergic to a certain substance might find themselves inadvertently consuming that substance in a completely different food because of genetic engineering, or a person who has given up eating animal food, for whatever reason, might unknowingly be consuming an "animal" because of injected genetic material. Everyone has a right to know what goes into their food.
Currently, the GEFD and our government are saying that we shouldn't have the right to know what we are eating because the government has decided (via lobbyists) that the GE foods are safe. Our country is now waging economic warfare against the rest of the world until they agree with the lobbyists. Tariffs against Euro products and rioting farmers in France are only the beginning. The people of the world are speaking out and saying "no!" What "environmentalism" says is that since we humans can consciously and significantly alter our environment, then we are the custodians and must accept responsibility for the changes that we introduce -- globally and locally, for they affect not only us, but all other species of life on earth. In other words, we want more "science" to go into these projects before they are allowed to be implemented in a big way, we want to know what's in these new products, and we reserve the right to choose alternative organic products no matter what "Big Science" and the Government says.
A Decade at Steamboat
My first stroll down Sixth Street led me to a club called Steamboat. Little did I know when I first walked in the door I would spend the next decade there, almost one third of my life.
My first year at Steamboat, Austin lost its beloved Stevie Ray Vaughan. I lost count of the number of people I met from around the world that came into Steamboat with tears in their eyes to pay homage. When people would come in for the first time I would get so excited, I knew they would be blown away by the likes of Billy White Trio, Charlie and Will Sexton, Eric Johnson, Ian Moore and Moments Notice, Joe Rockhead, Little Sister, Arc Angels, Mr. Rocketbaby, Water the Dog, Johnny Law, Pariah, Sunflower, and many more. They would leave Austin with a new perspective.
As Austin started to grow, so did live music venues. The Backyard and Austin Music Hall opened, they could afford big road shows and accommodate the larger crowds. We thought the more the merrier. We were nurturing our young bands like Vallejo, Pushmonkey, and Steamroller. We also had our home bands. Little Sister, who became Sister 7, and after Joe Rockhead our friend Bob returned with the Ugly Americans and Scabs. Ian Moore would pop in from time to time and exceptional performances by Will or Charlie Sexton, sometimes both. These bands not only inspired our young up and coming bands, but inspired the kids who were still practicing in their parents' garage and were a step ahead because they lived in the Live Music Capital of the World.
It's very sad to me that Steamboat along with Liberty Lunch (original location), Electric Lounge, and the ARC (Austin Rehearsal Complex) couldn't survive Austin's boom. Every one of these places got caught in the greed gripping Austin. It's time we start protecting what made this city "The Live Music Capital of the World."
Thank God for KUT
I've avoided this debate long enough. This is the second reference ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 51] in as many years implying that John Aielli from KUT is a self-absorbed snob that plays only what he likes. I disagree wholeheartedly. I am so thankful that I live in an area where guys like him are on the radio. Aielli, Larry Monroe, Jay Trachtenberg, and Paul Ray alone have a combined knowledge of new and long-forgotten artists that is staggering. And I happen to find John's voice to be soothing, especially in comparison to the slick-boy I'm-from-nowhere deejays at other stations!
Sure, these guys have unusual tastes at times. I personally cannot stand opera; so, when John gets onto that kick, I simply turn the station, listen to a cassette, or nothing at all for a while. I'd much rather listen to someone who plays a wide variety and is so knowledgeable than to bland crap that has been pre-programmed by market research analysts targeting a specific demographic. I get exposed to music and artists that I've never heard before, and music that is usually quite pleasant and unique.
Where else can you hear the Kodo drummers, a whole week's tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Brian Eno, Howlin' Wolf, Thelonious Monk, obscure blues artists, Duke Ellington, David Sedaris, Tom Waits, Anonymous 4, long-forgotten Forties and Fifties vocal groups, Elvis Costello, Kronos Quartet, Tibetan monks, NPR, and tree frog calls? Radio like this is a dying art in today's world of radio conglomerates serving up pablum to the cretins.
I say God bless John Aielli, Jay, Larry, and Paul! I very much enjoyed last November's article [Vol. 18, No. 10] on them, and look forward to another one on all the other fine radio pioneers at KUT -- Michael Crockett, Ed Miller, Theresa Ferguson, Jeff McCord, and Louis Harrison. These guys and gals make my day every day, and my radio rarely strays to other stations. Awesome!
Michael R. Chase
I would like to thank John Aielli of KUT for singlehandedly pushing me farther into the Austin radio aether a few years back so that I might discover the delights of KOOP and KMFA. I'd listened to and enjoyed Eklektikos for many years and John turned me on to stuff I might never have heard otherwise. Alas though, as the music decreased and the talk increased, I wandered and rediscovered classical music (KMFA) as the good lord intended; without someone interrupting a piece to tell me to pay special attention to the next passage "cause its my favorite" and why! Then with the discovery of KOOP and its varied fare I was liberated at
last from Mr. Aielli's hypnotic hold. So, thank you, sir, and keep those narcoleptic interviews flowing; languidity is its own reward.
Mel "Bud" Brown
KUT's Four Horsemen
Re: "Aielli Does Great Radio" ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 52]. John Aielli and Larry Monroe's radio programs have often been excellent and brought me to tears at times. I have also heard music I would never hear anywhere else and they do a great job of featuring live local artists and promoting upcoming shows. My beef is with the management of KUT. How can they call it "community" radio and let the airwaves be dominated by only four men (Aielli, Monroe, Paul Ray, and Jay Trachtenberg)? The whole country is talking about affirmative action, but turn on our "public" radio station at any time of day and you will most likely hear one of four male voices (did I say white?).
I listened to a recent edition of Access where the featured guests were managers from KUT and their ignorance made me wonder if they care at all about the specifics of KUT's programming. A listener called and complained about Louis Harrison's delivery on American Pop (Sundays, 2-4pm). I thought the complaint was unwarranted, but I was more distressed that the managers couldn't figure out what show it was (the listener didn't know the name of the show or the deejay)! American Pop is a great show that only happens two hours a week and Harrison is a unique deejay who can't be mistaken for anyone else. Apparently the managers were only familiar with the deejays who are awarded 15-25 hours a week.
Also, say what you will about 590's commercial approach to programming, at least they regularly broadcast local Austin news, while KUT plays NPR news about 28 hours a week, Prairie Home Companion four hours a week, and Car Talk two hours a week. I like all these programs and all these deejays, but I would like to see KUT embrace diversity and make an attempt to represent the community of Austin.
Keep Us in the Dark
I almost always disagree with that other paper's film reviews, and although I frequently look to the Chron's ratings (as they so often mirror my own), I was highly peeved when you gave away the ending to The Sixth Sense. Your initial write-up revealed an early scene and a plot point which could've been left out of the review (and in subsequent hard-copy editions has been), then it referred to a "twist -- that will have viewers --" -- I'll spare would-be viewers the rest, and warn them to avoid the unabridged version online.
Before I saw the film last Friday, I thought, "I really hope I'm wrong, and what I think happens doesn't happen so I won't have to write a letter." But it did. You could've left out said scene, or added a disclaimer like everyone did with Blair Witch articles. I know, it's only a movie, but my girlfriend hadn't read anything about it, wasn't looking for a "twist," and was fortunately surprised. I'll never know if I would've been.
Justin Don't Take No Mess
In the August 27 edition of your publication, Paul Minor was referred to as "the James Brown of Austin." That was really fucked up.
Justin B. Andrews
Buon giórno, I am an Italian student. My name is Max. I ask STOP-DEATH-Penalty.
City of Huntsville=Morte.
I am a friend of Texas.
I would like to share the following information regarding air quality:
1) Travis County violated the eight-hour ground-level ozone (smog) standard on Monday, August 16.
2) None of the counties in the Central Texas region have been designated as non-attainment yet. Non-attainment status is designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Our status will be determined in the midsummer of the year 2000.
3) The eight-hour ground-level ozone standard is still in effect even though a federal court case, brought by a national trucking association, limits the ability of the EPA to enforce it.
4) The Central Texas region has been breathing unhealthy air in recent weeks. Human health is negatively affected at levels equal to or even below the current ozone standard of 85 parts per billion, according to peer-reviewed air quality studies.
5) It is very beneficial for health and economic reasons that we reduce or at least reduce the growth of our air emissions because this region will be evaluated annually to determine our air quality status relative to the ozone standard.
Please limit physical activity on predicated high ozone days (called Ozone Action Days), particularly for children, the elderly, and those with heart/lung disease.
Chair, Air Quality
Austin Sierra Club
It's an odd thing to me: The same GOP that decided that someone caught with a joint was more dangerous to society than someone convicted of assault, the same folks who backed utterly ridiculous mandatory minimum sentences for drug use, now want everyone to forgive and forget all that about George W. Bush.
Frankly, I couldn't give a damn whether Bush did cocaine in his wild youth. But I do care very much about people who did the same thing and were sent to prison in such numbers that the system began releasing violent offenders early to make room.
This is the bed you made, GOP -- now you get to sleep in it.
Chronicle Saves the Day
It's 3am here too -- and I am reading the Chron, thanking my two true best friends for getting me a six-month subscription (which I fear is running short).
There is no disrespect intended toward all of the other fine columns you provide, but even if your publication contained nothing more than "Life in Hell," "Dancing About Architecture," "Postmarks," and "Letters at 3AM," it would be worth more to me than a full seven-day-a-week subscription to that other paper.
Do you mind if I indulge in a wee bit of Statesman-bashing? Good. Now, I admit to having a personal vendetta regarding that daily piece of trash -- good for little more than lining the litter box with -- but that does not color my opinion of the Tuesday editorial entitled "In the Shadow of the Drug War."
I would prefer to send a letter to the editor there, but I am certain they would not print it. Luckily, Austinites have the Chronicle as a badly needed foil to the slanted crap the Statesman prints. I find consolation in knowing that you would never run a piece such as the one in question. McCaffrey obviously had their editorial writers eating out of his hand. How else to explain them printing "honest dialogue, not cheap and easy law and order rhetoric should be the cornerstone of that effort" while keeping a straight face? Those writers obviously would not know a cheap and easy rhetoric if it had 18 wheels and hit them head-on at 70 miles per hour.
Robert S. Moore
It is ironic that Allen Varney ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 52] uses "Hindu fatalism" (whatever that may be!) in the context of environmentalism. If anything, in all the epics and sayings, the Hindus treated the forests as sacred, and always adapted to it wearing clothes fashioned out of bark and using only nature's resources to protect themselves: Witness the 14-year exile of Ramayana.
They never hurt mother nature, recognizing gods in rivers, trees, mountains -- a stark contrast to the tenets of Christianity, which literally asks man to prosper at nature's cost, subduing bird and beast and by extension their habitats. This attitude of holding nature to be a mere convenience is the chief cause of all our current environmental problems.
Of course, having said this, I must hasten to observe that in present-day Third-World countries, pressures of population and living up to global economy has resulted in great havoc to the forests and rivers, which would require much dedicated work to reverse. But that feat is made potentially much easier by the basic reverence the poor, who benefit directly from nature, accord its treasures.
Physics grad student
Suburbs Need an Airbus
Dear Concerned Citizen,
Two recent articles in Austin News confirm the fact that our bus system, Capital Metro (CM), has grossly failed our community in taking cars off our streets and highways. Our air commuters in North Central and far North Austin and the 10 north suburban towns are very anxious for scheduled buses to Bergstrom Airport. CM should easily be able to take thousands of vehicles a day off of our roads and highways across central Austin; CM has the ideal situation of park & ride (P&R) lots for pickup and drop-off on Hwy 183 at Hwy 620, Pavilion, Lamar, and if practical, a stop on Airport Blvd. closer in. Airport Blvd. is an ideal route to S. 183 as it avoids congestion and backup on I-35 and Hwy S. 183 beyond Lamar P&R. This route has been proposed to CM for two years because it can be implemented immediately. However, they have been spending money and the majority of their time on light rail, which at best is eight to 10 years in the future. Also, CM needs to know whether Austin and suburban commuters are willing to abandon their cars to public transportation for pollution control and many other benefits, especially safety. Being a simple and efficient route that can be implemented very quickly (60 days?). Austin can reap its benefits and CM obtain an accurate survey of local behavior -- not other cities!
North Austin and suburbs is easy and best effort to determine feasibility for other areas of the city. Your concerted input is needed to put this plan in action before EPA takes control of our environment. Air commuters are depending on you.
Dear Editor, College Students, and Republicans,
According to Robert Bryce's article in Chronicle ["Cracks in the Veneer," Vol. 18, No. 52] Jay Leno told a joke about Governor Bush. In the joke, he pretended to be Bush, and said, "I'm so high, I know the hell I'm saying." There may be some truth to this evaluation and joke. Gov. Bush, one minute asks "Republican" volunteers to who ran his campaign to drop by his office, and when they ask for some percentage of the TWO billion in tax surplus to go college grants -- he later explodes on them. Of course, a governor, who is rarely seen except in TV commercials could be doing a line of cocaine once a month. Example, other Republicans like Mrs. Ford was drunk every day in White House and the press never bothered to publish this fact.
Talk magazine followed Gov. Bush around and found him saying the "F" word on the floor of the state Congress, and when someone jokingly asked him for a photo of his party days. Let's just say we elect a president, who used cocaine -- or was it crack -- how much -- and how frequently? He looks a dot on radar screen, and goes to the bathroom to do a line -- he decides the dot is nuclear missile and pushes the panic button. When in fact, it is a meteorite -- there are 500 five-inch meteorites coming down every day -- that burn up. The the entire world explodes in Nuclear Wipe Out. Bush needs to just quit running.
Although he rented 22 buses in Iowa, to bus the people, and buy them dinners -- he gained only 31% of the vote there. They distrusted him so much the majority voted for other people the press did not even bother to interview. The majority, 69% voted for other people like Gary Bauer, who the national press would not even print two sentences that he said. In fact, I spent 22 hours this last weekend trying to find two complete sentences in Saturday or Sunday's NY Times to Statesman of any of the seven people running for president. They do not exist. The press -- with the exception of Robert Bryce -- is not doing their job. And I don't expect The Austin Chronicle to fly someone to Iowa but the NY Times and Statesman could do this and record two sentences of Al Gore's speeches, or someone other than Bush.
Bush scares me,
"W." Stands for "Waffle"
The first waffling liar said, "It depends upon what "is' is," -- "I didn't have sex with that woman," and finally admitting, "but I didn't inhale." Thanks, President Bill. The new waffler said, "Ridiculous. I won't answer those kind of questions," when asked if he had used cocaine in the past. Then immediately reversed himself and said he would answer a question if it was framed in the form of the normal security clearance check of "Have you used drugs in the past seven years?" "And I'll be glad to answer that question, and the answer is "No.'" Later he said he'd go back 15 years and say "No." Then 25 years. That sure sounds a lot like the waffling and evasive, "But I didn't inhale." The new waffler goes on, "I have no personal knowledge of relevant facts of the investigation nor do I have any personal knowledge of relevant facts concerning any dispute arising from this investigation." He made two statements to the large campaign donor and CEO of Texas' largest funeral business, Robert Waltrip, being investigated by the state Funeral Service Commission and to Waltrip's lobbyist, Johnny B. Rogers, both of whom were conferring with his aides in his outer office. He said, "Hey Bobby, are those people still messing with you?" and "Hey Johnny B.! Are you taking care of him?" Those are statements you can't make without full prior knowledge of what the whole "mess" is still about and that some care needs to be taken. It sure sounds like his utilization of "still messing" and "no personal knowledge of" are a lot like President Bill's equivocating "is is" and just as mendacious as President Bill's "I didn't have sex with that woman." Thanks, Governor "I want to be President" George W. But we don't need another waffling liar president.
James Jolly Clark
He'd Snort at Such Logic
Governor Bush gets irritable when reporters ask him about his supposed cocaine use, and he arrogantly refuses to give a straight answer. Can't he see that suspicions of him are fueled by a simple but erroneous syllogism?
People who use cocaine are irritable and arrogant.
George W. Bush is irritable and arrogant.
George W. Bush uses cocaine.
This may be postmodern logic, but it's logic nonetheless.