Readers against Starbuckfucking, violence against children and rattlesnakes, and internal combustion engines.

Defending the Towers


I am very disappointed to see that you would publish an erroneous article of the caliber written last week by Mike Jasper ["Making Waves," Sep. 10]. Besides the many inaccuracies, it was very misleading. Beth DeVictoria's opposition to the cell towers came only after her failed attempt to negotiate the purchase of a property adjacent to hers, which I purchased from the Church of Christ for the Deaf, coincidentally at the same time the second one was constructed. The two towers are 50 feet apart, parallel with her property, and the same height. I don't know how the second one could suddenly affect her view, as the article says,when the first one didn't bother her for two years.

As for a yelling match ensuing between DeVictoria and me and the air between our two properties growing "thick and ugly," as Jasper said, I never once raised my voice to Ms. DeVictoria, let alone used profanity. I too am sorry that my son, as well as hers, was exposed to her "coming unglued."

As for the affluence of the area, I am sorry that Ms. DeVictoria feels that she lives on "trailer park row." I am quite proud of the eclectic mix in our neighborhood. That is much of the reason I moved to this neighborhood. Some of the most expensive homes in the area, including Michael Dell's home, are in very close proximity to the High-Watt Broadcast towers located in the Davenport Ranch/Westlake area. As per the article, those towers give out 300,000 to a million watts, compared to the 100 watts given out by a cell tower.

Hans DeRocher

[Ed. note: The story did acknowledge DeRocher's opinion that the conflict with DeVictoria grew out of DeRocher's acquisition of some property that DeVictoria had hoped to purchase.]

Don't Blame It on Rio


To the residents near the Rio Motel ["Exile on 48th Street," Sep. 17]:

Firstly, get off Greg Ying's back. His job is to operate a business, not to enforce the use and sale of illegal drugs. If you're a witness to these activities, then pick up your phone and dial 911 like the good citizens of East Austin do.

Secondly, please don't make yourself another example of Not In My Backyard. Improving a neighborhood does not begin with sweeping the black people under the rug. You property owners must realize that closing down the Rio is no solution to these common neighborhood problems.

If the Rio gets shut down, how will it improve their lives? Maybe you would prefer a fucking Wal-Mart or a parking lot or perhaps another one of those public storage facilities instead of the Rio. It's obvious your interest in your investment supercedes any altruism or creativity you may have. This is not yet a utopia. People are still suffering every day if you see it or not. By the way, would you be so vigilant to push these people away if they were white?

I was born in Austin in the 1960s and I'm tired of watching how we Starbuckfuck ourselves to death. The Rio Motel is one of the last landmarks west of I-35 we have left. Let's not be pompous pseudoliberals by closing down businesses like this one. That doesn't help any of us. It's just one more step toward dividing the city by lines of color. Let's take responsibility and make community by building bridges, not fences.

Brett Morris

Rattled Over Snake Fests

Dear Editor,

Why does The Austin Chronicle support rattlesnake roundups? Such articles as the recent "Hissing Fits" are published regularly, extolling the hunting, torturing, and killing of rattlesnakes. The snake hunters, despite their attempt to glorify their barbarity, are cruel, not heroic. In this modern age (or is it still the Dark Ages?) of television documentaries, the Internet, and earth-reverent beliefs, even the more unaware person must know that snakes are not evil. The rattlesnake is a beneficial animal -- sure they can be dangerous, but never as dangerous as humans are to other humans.

Please do not publish any more articles on this ignorant and inhumane spectacle. I grow weary of apologizing to the world for Texan yahooism.

Mary Hendryx

Bittersweet Victory

Dear Louis:

Thank you for your July 16 story regarding the 1998 Child Fatality Review Team Report. Public information and awareness about the causes of child deaths, and how to prevent child deaths, are critical to the team's mission. Your excellent coverage of this important issue is appreciated.

It is particularly meaningful as we struggle to serve the dramatic increase in the numbers of abused children brought to the center. In August of 1998, 105 children received a variety of services at the center. In August 1999, that number increased to 396 children.

As you can imagine, this trend is bittersweet. We are sad that so many children need our help. The consolation is that more abused children are receiving the compassionate, comprehensive services they need and deserve. With your help, the Children's Advocacy Center will continue to meet their needs.

Thank you again for being part of the solution -- to a community problem.


Sandra A. Martin

Executive Director

Children's Advocacy Center

Buses for the 'Burbs

Dear Mr. Black,

I just had a chance to read the very well-done story on The Champion Tract and the problems with traffic on 2222/360 ["Corner to Corner," Sep. 10]. I have lived in the Arboretum area for eight years and have lived in Austin for nearly 18 years. During that entire time, I have used public transportation or walked on a daily basis. I think one huge point that was missed in the story is that part of the reason there is such terrible traffic on Loop 360 and 2222 is that they have no access to public transportation. When I see a sentence like "the only way to limit the number of cars is to limit growth" it makes me furious, because that is not, in fact, the only way to limit cars. It would certainly improve the city's ozone situation if a few more of those spoiled suburbanites realized there isn't some God-given entitlement to One Person, One Car. Let's hope Capital Metro eventually provides some express routes in this area. Thank you.

M. Pederson

Hazy Coverage

Dear Editor:

I have read your recent "Page Two" pieces hoping that you would mention our deteriorating air quality and the fact that Austin violated the eight-hour ground-level ozone standard on August 16. I realize the LCRA water proposal is of tremendous importance, but so is air quality. It would be ideal if a writer would step forward and write a feature piece on the subject. Nate Blakeslee's recent article on the ALCOA strip mine ["Coal Hard Cash," Sep. 3] contained valuable air-quality information, but the subject deserves more attention. Thank you for your consideration of these matters.


Scott Johnson

Chair, Air Quality,

Austin Sierra Club

Peekaboo Pikachu

Dear Film Editor:

I was wondering why, in your autumn film guide, you employed the term "hentai" when referring to Pikachu. If you do not know the meaning of a word, it is prudent not to use it. Several million people watch Pokémon, and I would be highly surprised if anyone did so out of a prurient interest in Pikachu.


Kerry Kaszak

$18 Million Does Not a Church Make

Dear Editor,

As the granddaughter of a Baptist minister, there's nothing that gripes me more than reading about another costly church expansion in Austin, a town which is already loaded with church facilities.

In the "Off the Desk" column [Sep. 17], we read that Hyde Park Baptist church is spending $18 million to build a 40,000-sq.ft. educational center and to expand their parking garage. And this project, called "Forward Forever," promises to eventually stretch from Hyde Park to Northwest Austin.

Now, let's see. How else could a church spend $18 million? Send money to local agencies like those for battered women or the homeless? Buy clothes and food for the poor? Maybe help the disadvantaged get back on their feet? The list goes on.

The Bible message is clear. Any time even a few people are gathered together for worship, they make a church, even if they're only sitting outside under a tree.

Betty Benton

Jazz Vatos Above Reproach

Dear Sir:

After years of reading The Austin Chronicle it seems to me that your music reviewers tend to kiss up to a few acts and come down hard on the rest of the local artists.

In response to your review of Los Jazz Vatos appearance at the Elephant Room on September 8, 1999 ["Live Shots," Sep. 17], I have a few things to say to Mr. Christopher Hess. First of all, Mr. Hess points out that the band is made up of Durawa and "five white guys." Since when was it necessary to point out a musician's race? Are you also aware of the fact that a lot of "white"-looking people are in fact not Anglo? Is someone's race that important to you that you have to refer to it in a review? Let me see, I think Hess sounds like a German name, but are you "white" too?

Secondly, Mr. Hess gives special mention to Arturo Sandoval's big touring show and later in his review pans "Tres Palabres" as a "sleepy song" when this song is in fact directly from a Sandoval CD. Do your homework a little better next time, Mr. Hess.

Lastly, Mr. Hess, you mention the trumpet player and the pianist as having had their moments, but you failed to mention the rhythm section, whose world-class talent was essential in making that evening happen.

By the way, every time I go to the Elephant, the majority of the room is filled with large groups of friends who are talking and drinking. Can't you talk, drink, and listen at the same time? Some of us can! Just because people are not hanging on every note doesn't mean they aren't listening. Why don't you stop ragging on the local talent who are working hard to entertain the crowds and make a living?


Melinda Vague

Infidel in the Temple


After reading the review by C. Hess on Los Jazz Vatos ["Live Shots," Sep. 17], I had to take a minute to respond. It seems that you did not remove the cotton from your ears that night and probably consumed too much beer. That could be the only reason that you did not listen to the instruments and musicians that were performing. At best, one could ask a reviewer to listen and not comment on the usual inattentiveness of some Elephant Club patrons. All of the musicians that are a part of Los Jazz Vatos are dedicated and more experienced than you could ever hope to be in 10 years time. Also, I hope that in the future, your reviews do not keep comparing apples to oranges in musical styles. I don't think you have to compare E. Haslanger or O. Rajmani's combo to a totally different genre of music to try to make a point of your shortsightedness. Perhaps you should check your own musical education and try to get a dose of reality. The next time you might think of negative statements in your review; take a minute and ask yourself if you could be on stage and perform with just an ounce of the showmanship within Los Jazz Vatos. They are an excellent band composed of some of the best musicians in town.

Get a clue,

Karen L. Strot,

Dedicated music fan

Sparking Debate

Dear Editor:

Bikes are great. I love my bike. But it can't haul the heavy stuff I use every day in my part-time business and also at my job.

What does work for me is my electric car "Sparky." It's an '81 VW Rabbit conversion. It'll do about 65mph with a range of about 25 miles. It's great for around town and I can use it for about 95% of my driving needs. I didn't build it, I found it on the Internet. E-mail me if you like, and let me know I'm not the only person in Austin that doesn't equate "car" with the internal combustion engine.


Mark Witt


Born Free


Obviously people can't see eye-to-eye on this issue, but I must interject there are two sides even to the extremely negative responses that Paula James received on her piece.

Yes, dogs can be a danger to themselves and cats if off a leash. If a dog is well-trained for the most part and the owner is aware and considerate, I think the more free, supervised runs the better. As far as cat owners complaining about their horror stories with regard to dogs -- cats can be kept contained too! I have had numerous incidents with cats jumping in my vehicles and urinating on my upholstery -- if you're talking in financial terms, the cost of replacing the inside of a car is pretty intense because the smell never goes away.

I feel like Austin needs even more leash-free zones and people need to open their minds to dogs. After, we are all mammals and folks these days feel just plain above it.

As our planet changes and our city grows and destroys what was once an extremely beautiful town to live in, we shouldn't lose sight of the other living things in our world and treat them with equal respect. A little dog doo never killed anyone -- lighten up, folks!

A. Melvin

What's Your Beef?


What is it about the vegetarian lifestyle that gets meat eaters into such an uproar? If Ms. Daniels was anti-body piercing or anti-tattoos and refused to allow those businesses in her mall, would there be all this noise from the neighborhood residents? It's hard for me to understand why this is such a big deal. She owns the place; can't she refuse any type of business she wants to? Personally, I admire her for standing up for her beliefs.

This is a decision that could likely be financially adverse for her, yet she seems willing to take that chance in order to stand by her principles. Isn't that a good thing? Isn't that a value we try to teach our kids? If the neighborhood folks don't like it, well, they can stand up for themselves and spend their money elsewhere.

Kathryn Sharp

Dark Side Illuminating


Thank you very much for printing my letter to "Friends of Bondo" in your Sep. 10 issue. I got a glimpse of the "darker" side of Bondo. Strangely, it was a good thing. I feel thankful that he'd spared me some of what others went through with him -- it's also less difficult, now, to let him go. When Keith Ferguson died I was ready to remember the positives. I was perplexed by those who seemed focused on the negatives. Now I understand something more about the positive side of negatives -- !?! Positive or what -- negative or not. I like love. Thanks again to everyone who responded.

Conni Hancock

Texana Dames

Stop Timor Massacre

Dear Editor:

Ninety-nine percent of voters in tiny East Timor braved the threat of death to participate in a U.N.-organized referendum on whether they wanted more of the brutal, 24-year Indonesian occupation. Nearly 80% chose independence. Not a surprise.

Nor was the organized viciousness that followed unexpected. The Indonesian military (TNI), and the militia thugs they organized and armed, lost no time launching their systematic campaign of massacres, expulsions, looting, and burning. The TNI's objective is nothing short of the annihilation of East Timorese society, sending a clear message to other areas of this vast archipelago that aspire to independence: "Struggle to break from the Republic and we'll hurt you; succeed, and we'll kill you."

While the carnage raged in East Timor, Washington and other power centers waited for Indonesia to invite in foreign peacekeepers -- an absolute absurdity! There are no legal barriers to sending peacekeepers -- with or without Indonesian consent: The UN has consistently rejected Indonesia's "annexation" of East Timor, just as it did Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. So why the waiting for an invitation? Indonesia is resource-rich and a major world player, while the 800,000 souls of East Timor are insignificant by comparison, and so, expendable.

On September 12, Indonesia finally accepted foreign peacekeepers, thanks to massive grassroots outrage here and abroad. However, as I write this two days later, the foreign troops have yet to land in Dili, and the murderous TNI insists (in superb Orwellian fashion) that it plans to stay in East Timor for the short term to "assist" the coming peacekeepers.

As for the tens of thousands of East Timorese that have lost family, friends, and all worldly possessions -- misery remains their lot for now.

Contact your representatives in Washington and express your concerns, please. It makes a difference.

Gordon Banner

East Timore Action Network/Austin

Solar Schools


Each year due to population increases means increase in the consumption of electricity. Plus higher prices. Not to mention overcrowding in our schools. Austin Community College and Austin Independent School District and University of Texas would run more effectively with solar technology. Putting photovoltics would save on the electric bill. The most important contribution of having schools using photovoltic systems is that it will help reduce air pollution by avoiding the use of substantial amounts of coal, nuclear, and other harmful technology. There are grant programs available. For more information contact: TSES the Texas Solar Energy Society or the American Energy Society. Locally, Mr. Garry Mauro at 477-6944. He developed the Solar Technology & Wind Farm in West Texas. Also, Mr. Mauro with TSES put a Solar Car Workshop for students in the classroom. He is very knowledgeable on all aspects of solar technology. The engineering department should become members of the Texas Solar Energy Society along with American Solar Energy Society. I would also suggest that a vocational program could be implemented where students can learn to build and install solar technology on the school buildings working with a solar industry.

I would like to recommend that the teacher, PTA, parents, and students write letters to the U.S. Congress (senators and representatives of all the states) to request that schools receive $10 billion for schools in the U.S. This will eliminate a school tax increase. Also, this money can be used for solar technology on schools. Training in vocational educational programs to teach how to install and make photovoltics for their schools, having solar industries tie into vocational education programs. This will eliminate having pollution problems throughout the U.S. and health problems. Also, this will lower the cost of the taxpayers' electrical bill that the schools use and the taxpayers have to pay.

A petition drive, sample letters addressed to various congressmen across the country telling them we want more school funding for solar technology.

Thank you.

Respectfully yours,

Mary Blumberg

Sleight of Hands


Damn Yankee spilling his guts again. Moved here in '93 from NY. First thing, I bought car insurance from Allstate. I paid $400. One year's worth. A month later another premium arrived for $70. I called about the premium. They said that if I don't pay it, I'd be canceled. I asked why. They said pay or get canceled. One more time I asked, what is this for? The agent picked up and said that he thinks I had a wreck in 1991. I asked why is that? He said that our insurance records indicate you had a wreck. I said, I never had any wreck and that you must go buy the records from Department of Motor Vehicles of New York. He said that would take 10 days to get that information and I must "pay the premium." I said I got 10 days, I got time. He said OK.

I wrote a letter to Ann Richards. I told her what is going on and she replied that she was handing it over to the Texas Department of Insurance. A commission set up by Ann Richards. Ten days later, a secretary answered the phone and said you're all clear Mr. Mulligan. I have your record and there is no wreck to report. "You don't have to pay." I received a letter from the Dept. of Insurance and they said they are glad I brought this to their attention. Allstate will be fined if caught doing this again. I say, hang them now.

I received another letter from Allstate, stating how they are sorry for this big mistake. We hope that we can continue doing business. The reason I am writing this now is because of the stupid advertising they are using with all the serious heart-strung music. It is there to make us feel that we are in good hands and that the insurance industry is on our side. What a joke!


Brian Mulligan

Points to Ponder


Those who campaign for national office need to clarify their views on issues that concern a majority of voters. National polls consistently show a majority of the electorate want candidates to explain how they will work to achieve the following goals:

1) Meaningful campaign finance reform. Voters want their vote to count and influence legislation without being dominated by money from big businesses and their lobbyists.

2) Universal single-payer health care. Most people want a system that will promote comprehensive medical care without the added cost of dividends to stockholders and huge salaries for executives. Private "for-profit" insurers spend 24% of premium payments for advertising, administrative salaries, and dividends to stockholders. Public "nonprofit" systems like Medicare only spend 6% on overhead. America is the only modern nation that excludes millions of its people from adequate health care. The health insurance industry prohibits nationwide health care because they prefer profitability over public health.

3) Reduce the national debt. Any budget surplus not needed for Social Security, health care, education, or emergencies should reduce the federal debt because the interest payments don't provide public services necessary "to promote the general welfare."

4) Stop corporate welfare. Citizens don't want $125 billion of their annual taxes to subsidize profit-making businesses.

5) Expand and enforce environmental protection laws. Degradation of the ecosystems and extinctions of flora and fauna is accelerating. We owe our children a healthier world. Businesses that violate environmental laws should be prosecuted like any other thief. The three strikes and you're out is appropriate in both instances because it is the same crime.

We should expect Bush, Gore, Bradley, Forbes, et al., to answer.

Wilson Wade

Shoving It Down Their Throats


Governor Bush recently promised Midwestern farmers that if elected he would "get tough" and put pressure on the Europeans to accept U.S.-grown genetically engineered crops. Since this statement, Great Britain has passed a law mandating the labeling of ingredients of all foods, including those prepared in restaurants, with strict definitions of what can be called organic. (Is the rest of Europe soon to follow?) For years our citizens have been sold vegetables and grains that include genes from fish and insects -- how long will it be before mammalian genetic material is used? Most of the non-Christian religions of the world have some sort of proscribed foods: pork for Hebrews and Muslims, cow for Hindus, animal flesh for Buddhists, even Catholics forego meat for fish every Friday. Is it only Protestant Christians who lack these taboos, and isn't it the height of pride and arrogance that makes Bush want to force others to risk breaking their religious restrictions for the sake of our economy? And who believes they would accept this? Would we? The recent World Trade Conference ended in a stalemate because the U.S. refuses to label and regulate the use of these same genetically engineered foods and the use of steroids in beef. Hide and watch or get involved!

Jeff Burke

Won't Be Assimilated


Help! The Cable Nazis are after me!

OK, I confess! I do not have cable service. OK. But that does not mean the only alternative is that I steal it!. I won't have it in my house.

Not only is Time Warner running television ads warning against stealing cable, they are mailing cute little pieces out that say cute things like "Don't get caught, Get cable." Oh please. They also warn that "In the next 30 days, we'll be starting a house-to-house audit. Call us today to order cable and watch our installer come to your door, instead of the police." Absolutely unbelievable!

The last time they did a house-to-house "audit" I had some guy trespassing in my back yard, while I was home. When I confronted this criminal to ask him why he was on my property without my permission, he proceeded to try to sell me cable service!

I have called Time Warner to inform them that they must set up an appointment with me in order to enter my property to perform any so-called auditing. I encourage everyone who does not have and does not steal cable to do the same. I will be glad to share any information regarding the fines and penalties regarding property trespass with anyone who needs it. Call the cops on these trespassers.

That bizarre satan-eye-logo is looking more demonic all the Time Warner.

James Bell

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