First, the good news ...

McConaughey, Defender of Justice

Dear Editor:

I hope Matthew McConaughey not only prevails in his legal fight with Austin police, but also pursues damages against them for their blatant violation of his constitutional rights. A civil rights lawsuit over his false arrest is also in order. Apparently entering someone's house without permission is standard procedure for APD. Last Halloween I attended a party at which APD arrived, entered the host's home without asking permission, then told everyone in attendance they had to leave. Those of us who did, but questioned their authority to force us, were threatened with arrest when we stepped outside the front door, because then we were allegedly guilty of "public" intoxication. When we told the police that they had asked us to step outside, an officer said, "you shouldn't have listened to us." If we as citizens don't start demanding our rights, we are going to lose them. Not everyone has the means to take on Big Brother when he crosses the line, so I hope Matthew will, for all of us.

Jeff Rojas

Forgione Conclusion


Fullerton's interview to AISD superintendent Mr. Forgione in Oct. 29 issue was well-focused, clean, and relaxed. Getting himself flung from far-off Washington by the Great Shovel on top of our dreams was not. Enter his compadre Joy McLarty from Iowa as deputy and Nancy Doorey from Delaware as "facilitator" for a meeting with the school board in late September, by his will, and you have a discriminator and a well-spoken team that can appease an angry parent whose little loser walks to school every morning, carrying in his backpack not just the first books, but also dreams of an education to open doors of opportunities in Austin. If Mr. Forgione is planning to focus on the school-to-work program and lead young heads to stir concrete or nail boards, we know how to do that without his help. If a principal's academy is to be opened on the Eastside, try locally raised and schooled teachers, not privileged swingers, and if his plan to coordinate their advancement with UT works, it wouldn't get a leaky merit if the board of regents succeed in bringing an Israel man as Larry Faulkner's successor, pushing us farther back. And finally, according to Michael Ventura's "The Numbers" ["Letters at 3AM," same issue], Mr. Forgione has to be among the wealthier 1% for the wad of money he makes, sweeping under the rug of servitude so many Austinites, consequently, driving the human qualities so much down, while this city's worth is 300% higher from seven years ago. So what we're left with is that little kid walking to school at dawn every morning, wishing that "an urban superintendent" had seen him/her growing up like this.

Paul Aviña

Gotham Complaints Shaky


I find it quite ironic how the arguments pertaining to the proposed Gotham project have fluctuated so much. First the argument was zoning, but that was shortly dismissed when the scrupulous Austin Planning Commission approved the zoning changes. Then it was this misinformed "concrete canyon" effect that the Gotham would create. This argument was shortly dropped after the opposition realized almost every tract of land west of Gotham is protected by the city and the Parks & Recreation department, and will be devoid of future development. Again to the east we find the same situation, except for the land used by our American-Statesman. Therefore, we all concluded that this small tract of privately owned developed land would not set a precedent for future Town Lake development.

Then, the most ironic argument surfaced. Local neighborhood groups decried that the project was infringing upon their neighborhood; and overall the project lacked style, taste, and was altogether tacky. What neighborhoods are they talking about? When I drive by the proposed Gotham site, I do not see one single family house a half-mile away. And is it not in some of these same neighborhoods that we find non-manicured lawns, dilapitated houses, and broken-down cars in their yards? I find it quite preposterous for some of these same people to be judging taste and architecture in this city. I think we all agree that Gotham needed to be toned down and redesigned. And the developer has done this and will continue to do this to find a happy medium. I think the facts speak for themselves and the arguments have been answered for allowing Gotham to proceed on. We live in a free market (even Austin), and this is privately held land allowing the owner to build whatever they choose as long as they adhere to all the rules and regulations. And this is what the developer Randall Davis has done. More importantly, 56 people and then some are willing to spend what has been highlighted as ridiculous amounts of money for this quality urban-housing development. Enough said!

Dave H. van Heuven

Downtown Resident

Keep Downtown Smart

Dear Editor,

At the Gotham public hearing, Randall Davis said he spent a year and a half looking for a downtown site for his residential project and turned up nothing. There are still dozens of empty or barely used properties downtown, yet even builders of million-dollar condos apparently can't find sites. The mayor's Smart Growth initiative must be in big trouble.

Downtown Austin will never be built out as long as builders know they can get the City Council to suspend the rules on much cheaper land elsewhere. If the council really wants to see housing downtown, they will uphold the existing zoning alongside South Congress and Town Lake. Then the mayor can put Davis together with the Downtown Alliance to find an appropriate downtown site for the Gotham. It would make an excellent replacement for any of the parking garages along the edges of the Capitol complex, and since those garages represent a drain on the state treasury, the state should be even more eager to strike a deal than it was on the Triangle property.

Sincerely yours,

Lorraine Atherton

Black-and-White Photography

Dear Austin Chronicle,

Conspicuous amid the typically white faces staring up at me from the pages of The Austin Chronicle last week, was the stock photo accompanying your article ["Eve of Destruction?" Oct. 29] about the city's upcoming A2K event.

Was it just coincidence that, in an article discussing the possible dangers of roving "gangs of hoodlums" on New Year's Eve, you chose to run a photo, the focal point of which is a young black man on Sixth street, standing next to a group of young black men? In fact, most of the faces in the crowd are people of color. I wondered if there was some point you were trying to make with the selection of this photograph?

I hope we don't forget, in reading that article, that New Year's Eve is all about welcoming a new year into our lives and welcoming each other as well. That's why we can always come together, have fun, and party together.


Ellis Garvin

Auto-Free Millennium


I am happy to read about the planned New Year's Eve creation of a downtown car-free area ["Eve of Destruction?" Oct. 29]. I know it's only for one night, but it's good for people to see things like car-free areas first-hand. People have something to point at and say "yeah, that ... more of that, please."

While we're planning the glorious celebration, how about running the regular buses all night? (One night per century is a start.) We'd be like the other cities on the planet. Another fabulous idea is if we dropped the hint that everyone should take a one-evening vacation from the car, just to show that there will be hope in the next century. Next century, let's let people cross the street without fear.

Mike Librik

The Right of Way Radio Show, KOOP 91.7 FM

Bush League

Dear Parents and Editor,

My lack of being impressed by Gov. Bush continues.

However, I did in all fairness bother to read his Web page, and Al Gore's ( Gov. Bush claims, "Texas leads the nation when it comes to improving public schools." Then I pick up the San Antonio Express and read, on the front page, "Two of every five students who enter Texas high schools never receive a diploma" in Saturday's edition. If that is leading the nation, what does he consider to be failing the nation?

No confidence in Bush,

Frank Bartlett

The Bush Witch Project


I rented The Blair Witch Project yesterday, to see what all the hoopla was about, and came to this spooky conclusion: The similarities between Blair Witch and the Bush Campaign are frightening.

First and foremost is the obvious -- both projects are results of masterful marketing efforts. Secondly and most unfortunately -- Blair Witch and George W. both lack any substance whatsoever.

Other similarities:

  • They both feature college kids so stoned they can't find their way out of the woods.

  • The movie made a big deal out of prearranged rocks, the campaign a prearranged Bush.

  • The movie was shot on video to save money -- Bush can't debate so he sends a video response.

    Here's a spine chiller: The Blair Witch Project ended abruptly by ambush in a white house! The list goes on and on.

    Lyall Persons

    Kings of Crap

    Greetings Marjorie Baumgarten,

    I feel that I must take issue with your Oct. 1 review of the film Three Kings. As I watched this film I tried to reconcile what I saw on the screen with the four-star rating that you assigned to the film. This was just another stupid Hollywood movie that seems to take great pleasure in showing the great America (Satan?) as the all-knowing godlike father who will save all the peoples of the world from their own stupidity. Throw in a few oddly angled, slow-motion scenes to placate the underage wannabe art film students and some strangely humorous torture parts and presto you have a four-star film. As I was watching this silliness I really did wish that I had rented Kelly's Heroes and was watching Eastwood/Savalas instead of George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube. There was absolutely no chemistry among these three yahoos. Their parts could have been shot separately and collaged together. So they get shot, tortured, screwed, whatever ... who cares? I didn't. Your comparison of this film with Apocalypse Now is just plain nonsense. The first time I saw Apocalypse Now I was shocked and deeply moved. I realized that I had just seen performances of a lifetime, because the uneasy relationship Americans have with its Vietnam nightmare made the film all that more powerful and relevant. It supported the suspicion that there was a madness behind the pile of bodies that I saw every night on the evening news. Apart from a few strategy buffs, few people care about the Gulf War and to try to use it as a vehicle to justify some moral high ground in Three Kings is a severe missing of the point (if there was one). I want my money back; do I ask you or the theater?


    Larry Goode

    Wake Up and Smell the Hip-Hop


    The review of the Isotope 217 show in the October 22 issue of the Chronicle is just one more example of why this small Texas town will always be 10 steps behind the rest of the world. For a guy who uses words like improvisation, irregular, adventurousness, and innovation in your article, it seems like you might have missed the first part of the show. Maybe you were standing there with your arms crossed scowling and making comments about how "this guy sucks" instead of paying attention. What CX was doing was the definition of improvisation. Everything you heard that night was nothing that he had ever done before. Maybe I should have your job because at least I took time to talk to the guy and find out what he's all about. Dan Bitney brought him on the tour to allow him to perform this unorthodox, amazing style of DJ work, and to complement what Isotope 217 is all about. Too bad you failed to see any of that because you might have learned something about (your words) adventurousness, and innovation. Are you still confused as to why he made fun of all the cool Austinites? I'm not. You described Freedom Sold's style as mild at best. That's brave. Maybe you would like to get on a filthy stage and perform experimental hip-hop music in front of a bunch of white people who heard Thrill Jockey bands are really cool. I doubt it. Why don't you use your next paycheck to buy a couple of turntables and try to use them. When you discover how extremely difficult it is maybe you can look back and understand. Next time a performer makes fun of a crowd that you're in, don't look at them as the idiot, look in the mirror. Maybe your boss will let you review the Luscious Jackson show and maybe even the Promise Ring. Oh wow! That will be fun, finally some music you understand.

    Thank you,

    Chris Lanier

    Revising Ventura


    I enjoyed Ventura's notes. However, from his "Letters at 3AM," I believe his list of inventions [Oct. 15] should have begun with the light bulb and the telephone, making many of the other inventions possible.

    David Beck-Brown

    Palestinian Solidarity


    In 1948, the Zionist movement captured 78% of Palestine after the British withdrew and expelled 726,000 inhabitants who had possessed 94% of the land. More than 400 towns were destroyed. This is how Israel was founded and the source of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Later, in 1967, Israel attacked its neighbors and captured the remainder of Palestine as well as some other territories. Israel embarked on a policy to build Jewish-only settlements there and displace the Palestinians, in defiance of world opinion and numerous U.N. resolutions.

    This process continues today in spite of the peace process, because the two sides are so unequal that Israel feels no need to make concessions. Israel still controls about 90% of the 1967 occupied areas and continues to build settlements and seize land. Travel and economic activity are difficult or impossible for Palestinians and settlers and soldiers continue to murder, torture, detain, and harass Palestinians with impunity.

    The Palestine Solidarity Committee is pleased to present two talks on these topics. The first is by Palestinian media activist Ali Abunimah, at 7pm Thursday, Nov. 4 at CMA 5.160 on the UT campus. The second is by Kathy Kern, a member of Christian Peacemaker team, Nov. 11 at 7pm in Bass Lecture Hall. More info is available at


    Edward Qubain

    Calling All Vets


    Veterans Day in our United States of America is just around the corner (esquina) 11 November, '99, Thursday. On this memorable day, "friends who still care and remember" will pay homage (homenaje) to GIs of Mexican descent from the Austin area, who served and fought in World War II on behalf of their beloved country.

    Site of the Patriotic Ceremony will be Plaza Saltillo on Fifth and Comal streets. Y'all come!!

    Help is needed pronto (ASAP) with names*, etc. of relatives or friends who answered the call to arms in WWII (*living or deceased).

    Contact Mssrs. Alvino Mendoza Sr. 385-2778, Moses P. Saldaña Sr. 444-3038.

    Semper Fideles

    Moses P. Saldaña, Sr.

    New Austin Rant


    Ah, nepotism, the things you can get through your friends. The Terminal 46 review ["Texas Platters," Oct. 1] was a prime example of that. The "buzzsaw guitar" and screaming vocals are all stolen from countless Trent Reznor wannabe bands with talentless lead singers who can't carry a tune. Their days are over. I saw the performance at the Atomic Cafe and Terminally Lame 46 played to a crowd of 20. I counted, out of sheer boredom. Whee ...

    Now, The Voluptous Horror of Karen Black was fun! If only there were more bands in Austin who put that much effort into a stage show like the New York scene. And there soon will be! There is a need for crazy shows with props and eye-popping antics.

    Since the place we all knew as the Austin of the Seventies and early Eighties is gone, well ... we have a responsibility to create a big kink in the direction of the New Austin (a Houston-boutique Hell populated by Dallas Assholes). Do a little something in the spirit of spite! If people want to make Austin into a big city, well, we'll need freaks in the open. I support the image of Leslie in front of Starbucks!!! Scared, you bastard yuppies?

    The next two years are fundamental in the outcome of Austin and people don't have to go along with the master plan. Fuck the 56 families-of-four who might be moving into the godawful Gotham, right next to the Congress bridge! Why there, for the bragging rights? Hey, move'em on in! If they can't take the honking at all hours and objects thrown from cars, too bad.

    Before I go, would the Chronicle please give the reviewing of anything remotely dark to someone other than the token alt.Goth, Marc Savlov? See how Raoul Hernandez does such a great job with the punk reviews! Give us a fresh perspective. Hell, I might even do it!

    Chingas a todos los pinche Dallas gueros!

    James Allan

    Mitsubishi vs. the Whales

    Dear Chronicle:

    When I was eight years old my family went on a cruise down the Baja peninsula. On this trip, we had the privilege of visiting Laguna San Ignacio and seeing the Pacific Gray Whales. They were incredibly friendly and trusting. It was an unforgettable experience that I will treasure all of my life.

    Now I'm reading that Mitsubishi wants to build a salt factory in the Pacific Gray Whale nursery of San Ignacio. This lagoon is the only place the whales have left to give birth to their young. Mitsubishi claims that this enormous industrial project can be built right on top of this last refuge without disturbing the whales. What's interesting (and predictable) is that it's only the scientists in the employ of Mitsubishi who make such claims. All others with knowledge of the area and the proposed project have stated in no uncertain terms that the building of this salt plant would have catastrophic consequences on the Gray Whale population. This salt plant could hurt the Gray Whales even more than a full resumption of legal whale hunting on the open seas, because this project would attack the whales when they are most vulnerable, in their infancy.

    The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that Mitsubishi plans to go ahead with this salt plant despite over one million letters of opposition from people all over the world. Regrettably, it seems that the only way to get Mitsubishi's attention is with a boycott of their products: Don't buy Mitsubishi cars! For more information on this outrageous project call 1-877-88WHALE or visit


    Chris Jones, Austin

    A Bridge Too Political

    Howdy y'all,

    Since "perception is reality," Austin's media sources have endeavored to make reports of the development planning process as real as fictitious gets. Currently, the goal of the media is to build Central Austin into "The Castle Manhattan."

    We deserve better.

    Not too long ago Capital Metro held a light rail workshop; "invited" were 15 light rail experts. These national "experts" were manipulated and constrained to the Lamar/Guadalupe/Congress route by a restrictive parameter laid down by Capital Metro from the very beginning. The "experts" were told to run the light rail on the surface streets which had the highest trip count. And so the Lamar/Guadalupe/Congress light rail route was born.

    The chair of Cap Metro then threw out the one constraint and forced the "experts" to design an extra rail route to run through East Austin to the new airport. There was no vehicular or ridership count to justify such planning. The chairman of Cap Metro silenced the resulting protest from the workshop and announced he could summon a representative from the mayor's office to back him up. As stated, in less than 30 minutes the mayor's representative appeared.

    Recently the media spin came out that the bridges of Congress and South First couldn't hold the weight of a light rail line. Odd to think that those 15 light rail "experts" missed that problem, don't you think?

    These "experts" did not decide to use either of those two bridges for light rail. The "experts" did plan and establish the cost for a separate bridge just west of the Congress bridge to carry the light rail. Somehow in the time between the "experts'" planned light rail bridge and the current plan to build a "Gotham Towers" at the end of the Congress Bridge, the "experts'" planned bridge was politically evaporated.

    Clearly the transportation needs of Austin would be better served if the bulk of Cap Metro tax holdings were used to establish a complete north and south bus rapid transit system that serves all of Austin.

    Rick Hall

    Rail Taco Light


    The reason I wrote is I'd like to ask if you know how I could get a taco franchise at one of those new, million-dollar, glitzy rail stations. I want to be part of the dynamic growth and development that will be made possible by fixed guidance systems. I might try for a parking concession too. I'm a hometown boy and like cars. Do you think that will hurt my chances?

    Hope you are as excited as I am.


    Robert Gerstenberg

    Bush Untrustworthy, Stupid


    I am embarrassed for anyone who believes Gov. George W. Bush a viable candidate for President of the United States. It is a shame that this country cannot find an intelligent and articulate candidate. All we hear about is how much money he has raised. Big f**k**g deal. The guy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Not only is he not a Texan but the "yo quiero Taco Bell" Spanish he claims to speak is insulting and patronizing. At this rate, it is no wonder that people are cynical about the political system, with the exception of the middle class suburban white male. His lack of candor and vagueness, in particular his so-called "youthful indiscretions," are nothing more than a reflection of a man you cannot trust. His inability to communicate and confront his rivals is a clear indication to me that he isn't in control of his campaign. His propaganda and public relations cronies know exactly what they are doing. Ann Richards said it perfectly. If you allow him to debate the issues, he will be his own demise. He is simply unable to debate, which is why he has avoided all debates. Every time he opens his mouth, he gives one the impression that he is learning to speak. To put it another way, he has this deer in the headlight look. Imagine him speaking before the U.N or any other world event. "I would, uh ... uh ... like to thank, uh ... President Chirac of Uganda, uh ..."

    Angus Tilney

    Linguistics 101

    Eddy Tor,

    This a comment on the "Second Helpings" part of your Cuisines section of the Oct. 22 issue. The expression "ole" is strictly a Spanish, i.e. European, word. As such, it is no more used anywhere in Latin America than "jolly good show!" is used by English speakers in the U.S.

    I happen to use OLE, but only when I do drawings on my computer with CAD (computer aided drafting/design) programs. In such cases, it stands for Object Linking and Embedding. Big difference! And it's not Spanish!

    One more thing. I agree with Marc Savlov's review of The 13th Warrior, starring the Spanish actor Anthony Flags, aka Mr. Melanie Griffith, but would like to note that "cheers," "salud," "zum wohl," etc. in the Scandinavian languages is spelled "sk"l." That's an "a" with a little doughnut on top!

    I enjoy reading your paper, but please stop confusing us with Spaniards, i.e. Europeans. Hispanics, to tell the truth, can't stand our guts! When I was in Spain, a local guy with whom I had a difference of opinion called me the Spanish equivalent of "nigger!" Had I known exactly what he had said, I would have punched him on the mouth. Unfortunately, it wasn't until later that I learned the meaning of the term he had used.

    Memo Torres

    Don't Move Here

    Dear Editor,

    Lance New makes a good point in his letter of October 15. If we don't want Austin to grow uncontrollably, we should not rejoice when Austin is named "Most Livable City" or "Best Place to Do Business." A title like "Worst Place to Relocate" would serve our interests better.

    Right now, Mayor Watson, Jackie Goodman, and Willie Lewis are going to Asia to try to persuade multinational computer companies to come to Austin. This is a bad idea. Whenever we have more jobs than people, we become a population attractor. Also, it's unwise for a city to rely on one industry or on big corporations. If everyone in Austin works in computers, what happens when it's massive layoff time in the computer business?

    Austin can survive just fine without multinational corporations that pay high salaries. Many Austinites would rather have some free time than a big salary. Big companies are generous with money and stingy with leisure time. They drive out the lower key, smaller businesses and produce an atmosphere of work-work-work, rush-rush-rush, spend-spend-spend. They attract people who like this high-speed, high-dollar, resource-trampling way of life.

    It's time to slow down, think small, and become less attractive to outsiders. There are now six billion people on earth, consuming away like mad and destroying other species. Every city considers growth a sign of health and prosperity. But this is a mistake. Now that it's clear how catastrophic growth and overconsumption can be, let's slow down. Let's encourage local businesses, not multinationals. Let's stop closing local music clubs. Let's stop building and widening roads to facilitate mindless zooming. Let's restrict development to land that's already developed. And let's make centrally located housing affordable, to keep Central Austinites from moving to the city's periphery. Really Smart Growth is slow growth. Let's slow down and let Austin breathe.

    Yours truly,

    Amy Babich

    Atomic Ruminations


    Letters such as Pat Crews' ["Postmarks," Oct. 22] should be on the comic page. We had a good laugh reading it, and I'm sure Jesse Helms and three white guys in Mississippi would have agreed with his assertions and spin on the truth. The letter starts out with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, then wanders hysterically all over the place.

    The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty merely ratifies de facto agreements among the leading powers regarding testing and proliferation. It is good faith -- not a piece of paper that binds nations together in reaching common goals. The Senate vote could shatter other countries' trust in our motives. Our friends and allies throughout the world were dismayed and confused by this vindictive vote.

    Republican senators have been frustrated by President Clinton's enormous popularity and support throughout the world and sought to embarrass him rather than take the responsible course of action. Let's hope that George W. can summon a more responsible group of Republican candidates that can bring credibility and respect back to a once-honorable party.

    Cliff Rierson

    Rider Revolt


    As a frequent bus rider and friend of bus riders, I have experienced my fair share of disservices and heard other people's shares as well, like the time a bus driver waved cheerily at me as he drove by me without stopping because he was 20 minutes late. Or the two bus drivers who regularly speed on the way to campus in order to gain extra time to stop at a particular stop to take an extra smoke break. Or my personal favorite: A friend of mine was on a bus that was just leaving a stop when he saw a person running to catch up with him. The driver drove a little away and stopped, waited for the guy to get closer, drove a little away and stopped, waited for the guy to get closer, drove a little away and stopped, and then drove away.

    We all have to take this kind of abuse from the drivers every now and then, but I have to tell you, it gets very tiresome.

    On October 21, I got on the No. 8 bus out of Northcross at 10:46. The bus was supposed to arrive at 10:46 and leave at 10:56. The bus was on time. The driver got off the bus to talk to the driver of the No.3.

    When 10:56 rolled around he was still talking.

    11:00 ...

    11:05 ...

    At 11:06, when the bus was now 10 minutes late, I got off and complained. The driver said "Yeah, we'll be leaving in a few minutes."

    11:09 ...

    11:12 ...

    At 11:15 the driver got back in the bus and we drove out; the bus arrived at Northcross on time and left 19 minutes late.

    Did the bus break down? No. Did a person in a wheelchair delay us? No. Was there a drunk on the bus causing problems? Not that I know of. No, we left late because the driver of the Govalle bus #1107 wanted to shoot the breeze and didn't feel like doing his job at that particular time. This is the kind of exemplary service I've come to expect from Capital Metro. Thank you, Capital Metro, thank you!


    Samuel Craig,

    A man who has received all the convincing necessary to buy a car

    Nostradamus Sold His SUV


    Our leaders are assuring us that the effects of Y2K will be minimal. But locally, what about PGL? Permanent Grid Lock Traffic experts, together with a small, but reliable, number of seers and wizards, predict with amazing accuracy that on February 3, 2000, all vehicles in Austin will stop forever. This will occur at exactly 5:32pm. The congestion will peak, simultaneously, at the intersection of W. Sixth & Lamar, and the HEB parking lot at Oltorf & S. Congress. Within minutes -- nay, seconds -- it will spread to the outer reaches of Travis County.

    Be prepared to walk home or spend the rest of your life in your car, P/U, or beloved SUV.

    Beware PGL!

    B. Coleman

    What a Dump


    I have never lived in a city that had so much litter strewn about. This town is truly trashed. Across the street from every store, gas station, and construction site are piles of plastic, cans, bottles, and cigarette butts -- good god, the cigarette butts! It's starting to look like Manhattan Island in Escape From New York. Save the planet! Death to the Slobs!

    Brian Gleason

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