The Austin Chronicle


September 17, 1999, Columns

Save Our State

Dear Louis,

Thanks for being the first publication to print information about the Texas Our Texas Heritage Program (Texas Our Texas).

While we sincerely appreciate the emphasis Robert Bryce's article placed on the need to create more parkland and open space in Texas, Texas Our Texas has a much larger scope.

Texas Our Texas funds will protect and enhance five resources. In addition to acquiring parkland and open space, Texas Our Texas is researching the need and will request more public funds for the conservation of water quality and quantity, wildlife habitat, farm and ranch, and historic resources.

If comparable to similar programs in other states, Texas Our Texas will provide at least one billion dollars in public funding in its first 10 years. While this is clearly more funding than Texas has ever provided for these resources, $100 million per year is approximately two-tenths of one percent (.2%) of the current $50 billion state budget.

We have one disagreement with Robert Bryce's article. As opposed to "lousy," we think Texas has a good state parks system that is being "loved to death" because it is significantly underfunded and already too small for our current population.

We are talking about saving the best of what is left of Texas' natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations. If not us, who? If not now, when?

We encourage all those who are interested in volunteering to help with Texas Our Texas to call 512/478-4628 or fax us at 512/478-4522.

Thanks again for your interest.


Ted Siff

Trust for Public Land

for the Texas Our Texas Heritage Program Coordinating Committee

[Ed note: This letter was signed by eight others.]

Stop Strip-mining


Thank you for your recent articles on strip-mining including the reprint from the Texas Observer about Alcoa's threat to Bastrop and Lee counties ["Coal Hard Cash," Sep. 3]. I attended Anne Lewis' films and was impressed by her ability to capture the spirit of the individuals standing up for their rights as well as the confusion of the souls carrying out the whims of the corporation. I was dismayed, however, after she had documented on film total environmental rape, more than one viewer questioned "Is strip-mining really that bad?" Take a trip to Rockdale. What's more is when the drawdown of the aquifer occurs, it will impact more than Houston toads. All livestock owners and farmers in the area will not be able to withstand the loss of water, and the existing water suppliers will not be able to service their customers.

The fact that the Legislature will pass a law that gives the county the right to outlaw mobile home parks (SB 712) but does not have the guts to ban strip-mining in Texas shows us just who's pockets they are in.What do they think -- trailer parks are more detrimental? The good news is that this is not a done deal. This project will go away if the public gets up and says "No strip-mine!" Right now Neighbors for Neighbors has a letter-writing campaign to Governor Bush to take a stand on the right side of this issue. He cannot sit on the fence any longer. Send you letters to:

Neighbors for Neighbors

PO Box 661

Elgin, TX 78621

Letters will be hand delivered to the governor with media coverage. Also, your legislators and elected officials need to hear from you, as well as the Railroad Commission and the TNRCC, who would issue the required permits. The EPA needs to take a serious look at this Milam County plant, and the city of Austin must get involved so they can reach allowable levels of air pollution standards. The only real solution here is to retrofit the existing plant to natural gas. Sure Alcoa will complain and threaten as they always have, but the fact remains that any corporation that has the money to buy Reynolds Aluminum should have the money to clean up their act.


Will Gullatt


Rock Against Coal


Congratulations on your 18th year! As an area native, I have cherished each edition through the years.

Thank you also for your political feature "Coal Hard Cash" [Sep. 3]. We and L.C. Hobbs are doing the best we can to survive out here, and informing the public is our best bet.

We want get the news out that Marcia Ball is helping us raise money for the fight. She is taking time off tour, Sep. 26, and giving us a benefit concert to raise money to fight Alcoa. The Whites at the Broken Spoke are letting us use their place free. Concert time 5-9pm, tickets available at the door.

We would really like your readers and staff to know how gracious Ms. Ball and the Whites are, and of course come party with us. For information, call 281-5398 or e-mail

Cindy Shelp


Heartfelt Thanks


Eighteen years and counting the blessings for having you guys around. Wasn't too long ago (well, only the previous eight minus the last two or so) that I was planning my life each week using only the Chron as my handy pocket guide. It had gotten to the point where I would not commit to any activities until Thursday evenings P.C. (Post Chronicle). Something had to give. I got my own life and help for my compulsion.

Nevertheless, I would feel less complete as a person not having had the adventures and experiences as a result of following your suggestions, nay, oftentimes mandates to get out "there" wherever "there" was. So it is with sincere gratitude that I thank you for what you do and for being there for myself and countless others, week after week. -- It's nice to have something consistent to count on in this volatile city, especially in your positions concerning those things that we hold deep in our hearts.

Long may you print,

J. D. Richardson

Notes From the Underground


Re: Louis Black's "Page Two":

There is to be a bitch contest in hell, and I am Carole K. Rylander's campaign führer.

Judging by the way she gets elected by so many surface-of-the-earth voters, I think all the evil-doing-but-knowledgeable voters down yonder will make her a shoo-in.

Don't wait to climb aboard this bandwagon.

Further, Mr. Black fears C.R. will be given a place in a Bush administration. Will we look back on her taking over the Texas undertakers' outfit as the quid pro quo?

S.G. Huskey

Fashioning the Masses


Thank you so much for "After a Fashion --" I love that column; it's about time fashion sense is brought to the masses.


Erica Marchand

Minor No "Mack"

To the Editor:

In the Sept. 10th edition of your publication, Paul Minor was referred to as a "mack." That was totally fucked up.


Justin B. Andrews

Delightful Orgasm Review


I read your review of The Technology of Orgasm [Sep. 10] with great interest and delight.

Near the end of the article, we are told that Ms. Maines has serious doubts about the connection between the female orgasm and procreation and I would like to recommend that she read Robin Baker's "Sperm Wars" for a studied opinion on that subject.

While Baker's work is, by his own admission, a working hypothesis about the evolution of the human reproductive mechanism, I find his description of the human female orgasm (both coital and masturbatory) as a powerful tool by which a woman can choose the father of her child or prevent conception entirely to be very convincing indeed. One can only reel at the thought of how much of our religious and societal dogma was built by men in an attempt to overcome the biological fact that Girls Rule.

John Thompson

Randy Review


Is Jeff McCord's keyboard sticky? I can only assume masturbation was involved in his gushing, sycophantic five-star rating of Randy Newman's latest album ["Record Reviews," Sep. 10]. Doesn't the Chronicle know better than to let a rabid fanboy of a particular artist (and with Newman I use the term lightly) review that artist's work? No one wants to read a blistering album review by someone who actively despises a band, but we certainly don't need a stroking manifesto by the president of the local Randy Fan Club.

McCord gushes, "If the world was fair, Newman, who has never sold huge numbers of albums, would be widely acknowledged for his genius." If the world was fair, Randy Newman and other no-talent hacks like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rob Liefield, and Robert James Waller would all be tied to the same rock and dropped in the mid-Atlantic.

This is the same gomer who gave us crap like "I Love L.A.," which features the immortal lyric, "I love L.A. ... We love it!" repeated about a thousand times. Disney desperately tried to ruin Toy Story (which they did not make, by the way) by wedging in three completely unnecessary Randy Newman songs, and it came close to spoiling the movie. His whiny voice, inane lyrics, and endlessly repetitive songs sure as hell don't rate five stars. What's next, Vanilla Ice gets the Chronicle's first six star rating?

Jason Meador


Artful Dodge


A recent review of The Thomas Crown Affair stated: "Brosnan plays Thomas Crown, a phenomenally wealthy New York investment banker -- to raid MOMA one afternoon instead of the SEC -- since MOMA and her contemporaries are naturally wary about having stray bits of gaffer's tape affixed to their charges. -- To be fair, the final, elliptical chase through MOMA, based on an all-too-familiar Magritte artwork, is an inspired, playful bit --"

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I believe that was the Metropolitan Museum (not the Museum of Modern Art, or MOMA).

Aina Dodge

Ripping on Rover


I never write letters like this, but I just had to reply to your article in The Austin Chronicle ("Bad Dog," Sep. 10).

You are so off-base thinking people are angry at you because "a stranger let her dog do the thing that I cannot -- run free."

They are angry at you because you let your dog run free!

A deer??? Do you let your dog chase them???

And it sounds like you do not carry a pooper-scooper -- you seem to enjoy the idea of fresh dog dung. Sorry, honey, but accidentally stepping in dog poop is a whole lot different than stepping in bird droppings!

So maybe your dog comes when you call it. Maybe it is the best-behaved dog in Austin. It must have been some other dog that was allowed to run free one night, free to run to my house and kill my cat, leaving the bloodied carcass for me to trip over in the morning.

Maybe your dog can wander harmlessly -- where I come from, wandering dogs can be shot on sight.

Charlotte Criste

Running Dogs


I have to respond to Paula James's piece about dogs running free. Let me open with the disclaimers: First, I am an animal lover, owning both dogs and cats, and, second, many of the major decisions of my life, both public and private, have been in favor of maximum freedom for the individual. Two years ago my 18-year-old cat, who always stayed in the yard and never bothered anyone, was attacked by a dog. Twenty-four hours and $500 later I had to make the unpleasant decision to euthanize her. All because some jerk wanted to let his/her dog run free. That is what my anger is about. Responsibility is the counterweight to freedom. People are responsible not only for the actions of their animals, but they are also responsible for the animals' well-being. A dog running loose is at risk for some bad fate, most likely from a car. Not to mention the possibilities of being poisoned, shot, or meeting the inevitable bigger, badder dog. Seeing a dog running free is a joy. But there are places to do it, and places not to.


John M. Moore

Thanks for Bucking Up

Howdy Louis,

Many thanks for the generous help with the Buck Owens Birthday show. Your involvement helped make it a hit, which translates into more money for Children's Advocacy.

Thank you,


To Cajole a Thief


Are you the thief?

Were you the one who broke out a window in my van in the parking lot of the Red Lion Inn the night of Sep. 6 and stole two suitcases?

I knew I was in trouble when I rented the van at the airport and found the good people of Austin so badly needed my support that they stole an extra 15% (tax) of my charge and then I realized you folks where really in trouble when you took another 15% (tax) at the motel. While I realize that that "legal" robbery is the price one must pay for living in a "free" country, I would have thought that some of that would have bought a police drive-by so as to deter such a criminal as you. Well, what did you get for all your hard work -- some used rolls of film (lots of our memories) -- some kids' costume jewelry -- really not worth all your trouble.

Well, here is a deal -- send all that you took back to me C.O.D., and it's worth $50. I will send you the money no questions asked -- no cops -- just me and you. That's a better deal than you can get there and that's better than I will get from the "legal" theft.

Gene Hacker

Washington, Ill.

Choking on the Irony

Dear Editor,

Austin's air is now so dirty that Austin will probably be classified next year as a city which violates federal air standards. This means that the Austin area will not get federal funds for new highway projects. Only projects already under construction by next year will be funded.

This summer CAMPO, the regional transportation planning body formerly known as the Austin Transportation Study, received an unexpected $57 million in federal highway money. Fifteen percent of such funding is supposed to be spent on pedestrian and bicycle facilities. But CAMPO has decided not to spend this money on non-motorized transportation. The rationale is that construction must begin now on as many highway projects as possible, so that highway construction won't slow down just because the air is dirty. This highway construction, says CAMPO, is so important that facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists must go unfunded for the time being.

Thus, as our air quality worsens, we will keep spending money on highways but stop funding sidewalks and other projects to help people get around without cars. One good use for 15% of highway funds would be to build a wide sidewalk along each new highway (with at least 10 feet between highway and sidewalk), so that non-motorized traffic can use the new roads. If you disagree with CAMPO's decision, please send a letter or postcard to CAMPO, PO Box 1088, Austin, TX 78767. They can also be reached by e-mail.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Please Hear Us Out


I have been trying to ensure the City Council makes the correct decisions tomorrow regarding the Airport Noise Program, and I have been asked by council staff to provide detailed changes to the proposed plan. I expect the council to carefully study the results of the noise study, but I realize they are unable to read the hundreds of pages of attachments. The FAA has established minimum guidelines for creating noise exposure maps and a noise compatibility program, and the airport staff have created a misnamed "fly quiet" plan which is inadequate for protecting the environment of the neighborhoods near the airport.

I previously reported to the council my detailed concerns regarding the inadequacy of the information collected to create the noise maps. A more detailed, long-term, and ongoing study of the noise issue is required to address the problems in the neighborhoods near the airport. Since the noise maps do not adequately determine the areas significantly affected by the airport noise, the City Council should increase the area considered for remedial actions. The council might consider designating specific sensitive locations identified in the study which are very close to the already designated 65 db area, or they could extend the boundaries of the noise zones by a specific distance (i.e., extending the boundaries outward 200 feet to include any structures which are sensitive to noise).

The airport staff have claimed that almost 100% of the flights are following the designated flight paths, but observations from the neighborhood indicate different levels of compliance. The City Council must ensure a strong program to ensure compliance with the plan. The council should set up an office at the airport to monitor compliance with the plan, and there need to be incentives for the air carriers to comply with the plan. There should also be a program of fees or fines for aircraft which are negligent regarding their noise problems. The council should impose additional fees on any aircraft which choose to fly during the sensitive nighttime hours.

Please take actions which will ensure the city of Austin continues to be recognized for the quality of life, and consider the adverse environmental impact of the new airport on the neighborhoods in Southeast Austin.

Glen Shield

No News Is Good News


Re: News8 -- Is this still going on? -- The summer is over (if not officially) and we're still seeing the same infomercial which is the only thing 24/7 about "News8 Austin." I've already expounded on the absurd redundancy of a another news channel in this town, let alone a 24-hour one! -- but now it's becoming annoying. -- I try to flip past but like a car wreck -- or the latest pop tune the stations force feed you 20 times a day against your better taste, I temporarily fixate on their increasingly distressing personalities. No, I'm not seeking therapy for this, but there seems to be no mention at all of News8's prognosis or relevance in the Austin community. It all seems a well-produced and coordinated promotional effort, but their characterless cookie-cutter talking heads glancing at their co-hosts at the appropriate moments like preprogrammed automatons is devoid of what Austinites value most -- individuality and originality. Did this company bother to test this market? Or is this just one more hallmark of the blind investment frenzy that's sweeping Austin via opportunists who've never been here trying to prepare for the super-infrastructure that's sure to become the Austin-Georgetown-San Marcos megalopolis? -- yeah -- right. -- Sure, we're growing -- fast! -- but the carrying capacity of this town is already exceeded and it does not look like we'll catch up (if we want to) for another 20 years (at the pace this city's public works tend to progress). I hope we all choose to support the things that will actually do us some good -- and that is the bottom line.

E. Stanaland

[Ed. note: News8 began broadcasting on Sep. 13.]

Spirit of the Season


Jeremiah 10:3-5 reads, "They cut down the tree and carve an idol, and decorate it with gold and silver and fasten it securely in place with hammer and nails so that it won't fall over, and there stands their god like a helpless scarecrow in a garden."

True, Jeremiah was a good 600 years ahead of the first Christmas, but he knew a wasted tree and a pagan idol when he saw one. I can't think of a bigger waste of trees than the use of Christmas trees, except trees made into paper for use by The Austin American-Statesman and The Austin Chronicle.

Have a gay Feast of the Leavened Merchants with your $80 dead tree, but praise God for the birthday party.

Kurt Standiford

Farr and Away


Todd Alan Smith ["Postmarks," Sep. 10] is very funny -- or at least he would be if he had a point to make. About all I could get is that he doesn't like Austin (so fine, stay away) and that he thinks vegetarians who wear leather are hypocrites. I'm a vegetarian who wears leather shoes, so I have a couple of questions for him: 1) Have you ever stepped in dog shit? 2) Have you ever eaten dog shit?

I bet the answers are not the same, because there's a difference between having something on your foot and having something in your mouth. True, vegetarians that choose their diet on ethical grounds probably shouldn't wear leather, but I'm a vegetarian for aesthetic reasons: Meat disgusts me, and I consider it appropriate food for pigs, dogs, vultures, and maggots. Sure, some meat lovers will mention lions, and tigers, and bears (insert joke here), but those animals kill their own meat. If you don't kill the animal yourself, you're just a scavenger. But hey, what do I know? I drink beer, I like to see bands, and I've even (gasp) tried to get laid before. I guess in Colmesneil there's better stuff to do -- like write nonsensical diatribes.

Max Farr

P.S. Who is the best guitarist on a bicycle drinking draft beer to vote for Gore?

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