Hey, who put a vegetarian in my aquifer?
In the sudden flurry of excitement about film studio and production uses at Mueller, I appreciate the recognition given the neighborhoods involved in the process ("Page Two" and "Naked City," Dec. 10). Namely, that we too have been working on a vision for Mueller redevelopment, some of us for over 15 years. We are emotionally concerned about any proposal put forth to move in next door at Mueller, but we also like to think that we're a fairly rational group to deal with. We appreciate the effort by Rick Linklater to meet with us before the idea went public; hopefully that effort will set a precedent for other proposals for Mueller. That said, we recognize we're not the folks who negotiate the interim use contracts for Mueller. That would be city staff, with whom we have a good working relationship, a relationship we don't want to jeopardize. City staff and neighborhoods share the common goal of revising the Mueller master plan over the next six months.
Mike Clark-Madison wrote a good summary of the situation last week, the crux of the issues at this point seem to be the fate of the hangars themselves, the evolving definition of interim use and permanent use, and what kind of precedent is being established as we speak. I'll admit neighborhood opinion is a little divided on these issues, but I haven't seen a great reason or vision that shows how old airport hangars can be integrated and preserved as permanent fixtures, nor how we can prevent the next 50 people who covet Mueller land from wanting the same concessions we may end up giving the film people. So far the Mueller redevelopment process has been more about people communicating with each other around the common goal of making redevelopment a success and less about the political will and muscle of the various groups involved, and that's the way we like it.
Thanks for the space,
Mueller Neighborhoods Coalition
Pro Latin-American Art
Just a couple of corrections to the article in this week's issue on Denise Schmand-Besserat ["Count Her In," Dec. 10].
First off, Ken Hale is the chairman of the Art and Art History Department. There is no Art History Department, which is part of what causes our underfunding problem (in my opinion). And I don't know that the Art and Art History Department has ever had an art historian as chair, either.
Second, as a Latin American art historian, I was surprised to read that "art history is best known in such areas as Latin American art." Renaissance art, maybe, but Latin American art is best known in such areas as museums and galleries, which is why Austinites are aware of it -- because we have one of the best collections of Latin American art in the U.S. here at the Blanton, and there are gallery owners who tout Latin American artists.
As an academic subject, Latin American art history lags far, far behind other specialities. UT is the only place in the country you can get a degree in Latin American art history, and there aren't many other places you can study it in the U.S. Worst of all, the number of practicing Latin American art historians in the U.S. is less than 200, including museum curators and some gallery owners.
It's nice to be held up as an example, but I'm sorry, it's just not the case.
Doctoral Candidate, Latin American Art History
Department of Art and Art History
The University of Texas at Austin
Wexler Loved Sahm
Kudos are due for your November 26 tribute to Doug Sahm. In the midst of many moving essays on the life and contributions of one of Texas' most important musical sons, a single jarring note arose from Ed Ward's otherwise well-written piece.
I cannot speak to the veracity of the quote that Mr. Ward attributes to my father, Jerry Wexler. However, I can tell you that the truth about Jerry's relationship with Doug lies some 180° away from that quote. After recording Doug Sahm & Band in the early Seventies, Doug and Jerry remained as close as two brothers.
During the past three decades they were in constant touch, speaking several times a month. A frequent guest at my father's domiciles, Doug was welcome to stay as long as he pleased. For a couple of years now, Doug and Jerry had been laying plans for a blues album centered on the work of Guitar Slim.
Jerry's respect and love for Doug never wavered.
Paul L. Wexler
I just read your article about Austin's radio woes ["Communication Breakdown," Dec. 10]. I was quite impressed. The article was technically accurate and really got down to many of the issues. Unfortunately we're seeing yet another prime example of bumbling city management.
The city calls its radio system antiquated and is demanding tens of millions of dollars from the taxpayers for a new system. Right now the best and most cost-efficient solution for the city and Travis County is to utilize the trunked radio system the LCRA provides. For minimal money down and a few weeks to order and program the new radios, Austin could be on a system that covers from the Hill Country and down the Colorado River. They could easily communicate with neighboring jurisdictions and throw away all of their "outdated" radios.
But this brings me to another issue I have a huge problem with. Does Motorola, the city's current radio provider, not support their products? If the city has to search in junkyards for spare parts, there is something seriously wrong at Motorola. I personally would never tolerate a supplier who abandoned me like that. We're not talking about cheap, throwaway two-way radios here. We're talking about sophisticated, multimillion dollar radio systems, Motorola's core business, and they can't provide parts? For that reason alone Austin should not even consider Motorola a contender for the city's business.
Lastly, something that often gets glossed over is that the city does in fact today own and operate a 10-channel trunked radio system. It's used solely by the Water & Wastewater Department. Why such a relatively small department needs such a large trunked system defies logic. Urban areas are going trunked to increase spectrum efficiency. Taking this department trunked undoubtedly made them more spectrum-inefficient since they probably didn't have 10 frequencies to begin with. It's a Motorola system and would easily serve the needs of the city's police, fire, and EMS. In fact, it could be linked with Williamson County's Motorola system, creating an area-wide radio network.
I doubt any reasonable, cost-effective solution will ever be reached. The bureaucrats are determined to spend our money on a bloated, digital, trunked radio system with more bells and whistles than the city could ever need. It's clear the powers that be are more concerned about their empire building than they are the safety and lives of Austin's citizens and brave men and women who protect and serve.
Barton Springs Alert
On December 16, the Austin City Council is poised to make a deal with Gary Bradley that will allow him to put 2,500 houses, a hotel, and a golf course over the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.
The plan also contains massive commercial development, although it is impossible to say how much at this point, because the final draft of the deal has not yet been written. All that exists at this point is a three-page outline, available on the city's Web site at http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/news/circle_c_w.htm.
The Bradley deal has not been reviewed by the city's boards and commissions, although that review is required by Austin's Charter and City Code.
Only immediate input to the City Council can force additional hearings that will allow the people of Austin time to analyze the impact of this plan. Phone calls and e-mail to Council members and a large turnout at council on December 16 might be enough to slow down the deal.
Misled About Mexico
Economic development, with or without globalization, is enormously complex. To justify globalization by counting shopping centers, schools, or roads without looking at their context, is to trivialize the whole concept.
However, since Thomas Groover (letter, Dec. 10) has used shopping centers, roads, and schools as proxies for development, I would like to supply a little context.
Indeed, Mexico has new shopping centers since the income for the richest 10%, or 10 million people, increased between 1986 and 1996, and presumably is still climbing. That's a lot of shoppers at the new shopping centers. However, the income of the other 90 million Mexicans declined during that period (Current History, Nov. 1999, p. 377). In a recent interview, Guillermo Ortiz, Mexico's central bank chief, bragged that a 35% decline in the buying power of Mexican wages since 1994 indicated that the peso was not overhauled. (Business Latin America, Oct. 25, 1999, p. 2).
Since privatization has swept Mexico, many new toll roads have been built by the private sector. The tolls have been set so high that only the affluent can afford them. The vast majority continue to use the older roads, which have deteriorated.
Finally, Mexico has built many schools, which have undeniably educated Mexico's children. However, to be truly effective, the students at these schools must be free from the pressure of supplementing family income and need adequate housing, diet, etc. One suspects that Mexican schools lack the conditions to adequately educate its children. The one gauge which would have allowed Mexico to be judged in comparison with other nations was the Third International Mathematics and Science Study which took place in 1996. The Mexican government did not authorize the publication of its results (IBDAmérica, Sept.-Oct., 1999, p. 1).
Director, Mexico Resource Center
Once again, in ill-informed dittohead fashion, someone attempts to defend and justify the World Trade Organization. Thomas Groover ("Postmarks," Dec. 9) suggests that we ignore the facts about Mexican wages and U.S. labor since NAFTA's inception and focus on the "economic boom" of shopping centers and similar developments just south of the border (yeah right, these are true indicators of common prosperity!).
When I read the section about a person's "right" to buy potentially tainted milk as a "necessary component to democracy" I laughed. Who taught this guy? That nontenured ex-professor Dick Armey? He then dimwittedly describes the WTO as "economic acts between consenting adults." Any person who considers a 12-year-old Indonesian girl chained to a sewing machine a consenting adult -- apparently this guy does -- is one sick fuck.
W. B. Malkus
Writer for the Ages
I have yet to experience a writer so in touch with what is going on in our world nowadays and who was so able to express his feelings into words that will come across to a broad and uninformed audience such as Michael Ventura did in his second article on the coming millennium ["Letters at 3AM," Dec. 10]. His series of articles, definitely written from his heart, touch the thoughts and feelings of so many of us. He is able to put into words what so many of us are unable to comprehend, and much less able to say. I believe he summed it up by saying that technology has not heightened our ability to make the world a better place, but limited our ability to communicate as human beings. In his first [Nov. 26] and second articles on the millennium, he brings the reader to a realm that allows them to really think about what progress we have actually made with technology. In the face of all the material that is out there, the fact is that technology could have been used for benefit had it not revealed the true psyche of human beings in general. In short, that we have not progressed as human beings with technology, yet only revealed our true nature. The writer reveals that he is one of us who would have hoped that the new technology would have been a bridge of information and a viable link to new education. Instead it has been a revelation of the inner most souls of man by offering an anonymity to do so, and therefore, instead of encouraging progression, focused only on these matters alone. Only the very things that fuel human desires seem to come into play, not the needs of our communities and the valuable links that this technology could have provided.
It has only been, as the writer states, an exterior focus of our many shortcomings as human beings, not a source of evolution as human existence is concerned. I applaud him for writing with his heart and look forward to his future articles.
Sir or Madam,
I read "Postmarks" with some regularity and I find myself compelled to complain bitterly. The smarmy, half-baked, and deeply naive notions that I see in these pages are, I can only hope, the products of 22-year-old minds and not grown adults. I categorically denounce the city of Austin as a pack of frauds. As Frank Zappa observed, a hippie is just a person in sandals who thinks the same thing as the person next to him.
I used to be "liberal" -- but the querulous, puerile likes of Paul Avila and the narrow-minded, supercilious, bigoted ilk of Bill Threadgill [both Dec. 3] have since disavowed me of this youthful conceit. Mr. Threadgill goes so far as to equate the Hyde Park Baptist Church with the Inquisition! Here's something to chew on, Mr. T: That peculiar breed of intellectual fascists known as "Scientists" -- not Baptists -- are responsible for the nuclear bomb. Ergo, by your own adolescent reasoning, you, sir, are a mass murderer. And does Mr. Avila really perceive that UT or civic posts are "off limits" to people of color? Just because you feel righteous saying it doesn't make it so. As for minorities' egregious underrepresentation in sports, gee, got me there.
Confidential to entire city of Austin: Get off this fatuous, store-bought liberalism. We all want the Moral High Ground -- a place so much the cushier, I suppose, if you're in Austin, the City Without Negroes. (Oh sure, there are, what? -- three dozen poor black families in East Austin. And I'll guarantee all these reggae-listening white boys lock their car doors when they pass through.) Do you really buy our own line of bullshit? I'm afraid I'm forced, without cavil, to add self-deception to your long list of failings.
Get well soon,
Please allow me to alert my listener(s) that the New American Roots Music radio show heard on KOOP Friday mornings at 9am for the past three and a half years has been removed from the airwaves. Some of you may have wondered where I went, since there have been stretches of dead air on that frequency at that time the past two Friday mornings. I arrived home, after vacationing the week of Thanksgiving, to find a certified letter from the Board of Trustees of KOOP, stating that I had been "suspended" for "defacto non-compliance with the radio station's pledge drive policy." I have no idea what this means, other than I had been taken off the air. I sensed this was coming, as I am a white male who has been vocal about the stupid people that have taken over KOOP. Nearly every other white male who has expressed dissatisfaction with the ignorance of the Cadre and the harsh treatment they impose on innocent people has also been removed from the air at this point. The letter also stated that I could "request a hearing," if I so desired. I did no such thing. I had already been found guilty without one. I saw that I was being treated in the way this oh-so-politically correct group always treats their enemies. Democracy and fair play have never been part of their agenda. When I joined KOOP, I thought that I had a great deal to offer the station as I have more than 25 years of noncommercial radio experience. Eventually I saw my knowledge as handicap when dealing with this empty-headed group. I couldn't be bossed or bullied and they have no use for someone who has actually been involved with the day-to-day operations of a radio station of the sort they are trying to somehow keep afloat. I am in the process of locating a new home for my radio show on the Austin airwaves; until then, I'm glad to be rid of KOOP. I find humor in the fact that its demise is imminent and will gleefully dance on its shallow grave.
Sources of Riffage
While I certainly appreciate the kind review of the Texacala Jones & her TJ Hookers CD on Honey Records by Christopher Gray ["Texas Platters," Dec. 3], I must point out that Jeff Smith's switchblade guitar appears on only two tracks. The remainder of guitar sounds were supplied by Mick Buck and Roger Prescott.
Henry V. Fitzgerald Jr ["Postmarks," Dec. 3] took it upon himself to nitpick the article on the Great White North, but failed to catch himself in two errors that he made.
No. 1 -- Nunavut is not a new province. It is Canada's third territory; the other two being the Yukon and Northwest Territories. So there are still only 10 provinces.
No. 2 -- He listed Newfoundland as a province. It is not! It is part of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. And they didn't decide to let Canada join them until 1949.
The answer to his language trivia is New Brunswick, with the policy of having two official languages, French and English.
After reading Amy "ain't got no car" Babich's latest in a seemingly unending series of letters, it occurs to me that she spewed more noxious gas in the actual creation of this mindless drivel than has my Miata in the last six months. Oh, I'm sorry, not my Miata. My "two-ton gas-burning tank."
Ms. Babich, if you expect the city of Austin to change zoning laws in an effort to cater to your insatiable ego, then you are indeed in for a great amount of disappointment in this life. I'm not just talking about the disappointment of not being able to afford a car, but the disappointment of not being capable of achieving desired results because you depend on a bunch of politicians to do the right thing.
My mother taught me that if I want something in this world, I have to ask for it. Ms. Babich seems content to sit behind a desk and write her little letters to the editor, pointing accusational fingers at everyone while secretly vindicating herself. Ms. Babich, if you want car-free zones, do the rest of us heathens a favor and take decisive action. Do you think the city of Austin is going to happen upon your letter and change the laws because you're not happy? I can see the zoning hearings now.
"I move to change the zoning laws, I read this letter to the editor in the Chronicle last week, and this girl Babich isn't very happy."
Dream on. Perhaps you would prefer some other hapless fool appear before the City Council with a half-baked proposal entailing car free zones? Again, not likely.
If Ms. Babich is not willing to take action in an all-out effort to reconcile that which appears to her a serious problem, then she is as guilty as she accuses us of being. Of course, if Ms. Babich would prefer to continue cowering behind the printed word, accomplishing nothing with her tiresome complaints, then here's some more advice from my mother: If you don't like it, you're free to leave at any time.
Don't let the door hit you on your way out.
Cars vs. Cows
I was reading the "Postmarks" in the latest Chronicle and I came across a letter that I found most perplexing. In "Veggie Hypocrisy" [Dec. 3] the writer seems to find it odd that people who have "meat is murder" stickers on their cars would violate traffic laws. Furthermore, a person (I assume other than the writer) found this act worthy of being called hypocrisy. So, if I may be so bold as to bore the writer and whoever titled the letter with a few definitions:
1.Vegetarianism -- The practice of or belief in in eating a diet made up chiefly of vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and occasionally dairy products, as milk and cheese.
Wow! Surprise, surprise, nothing about parking in there. In addition I am also pretty confident that animal right activists don't have a stance on parking, assuming you don't park on an animal. So, why would surprised that vegetarians would park illegally? It doesn't make any sense. May be they were Smiths fans, in which case I don't know if they have a stance on traffic violations.(If they do, I respectfully withdraw my comments).
2. Hypocrisy -- the practice of expressing feelings, beliefs, or virtues one does not hold or possess.
Well, I think that now that we know that vegetarianism has nothing to do with driving. It is safe to say there was no hypocrisy involved.
Late for the Spring
Recently the Save Barton Creek Association celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Board of Trustees regrets that many of the 5,000 members and other supporters did not receive their invitations in a timely manner. We sincerely apologize for this error. The Board of Trustees extends its heartfelt thanks and grateful appreciation for your steadfast support over the years. Barton Springs Eternal!
SBCA Programs Manager
G.W. Bush recently said that his tax plan would help low-income families. In fact, his plan would give two-thirds of the breaks to the richest 10% of the people while taxpayers making less than $38,200 per year (60% of the taxpayers) would get only 11% of the breaks. The poorest 20% of the people would get an average tax reduction of $43 per year, compared to the average break for the richest 1%, which is more than $50,000 each. Evidently, most of his "compassion" is for the rich, not "the people." More breaks for the wealthy at this time would not be good. We should eliminate corporate welfare, double the number of teachers, fix social security, demand campaign finance reform, and most importantly, take a leading role in the inevitable task of eradicating hunger and environmental degradation worldwide.
I just want to send a brief but heartfelt thank you to all Longhorns who displayed such a great deal of class and compassion at such a tragic time here in College Station. I've been a lifelong Aggie fan, and as such have always joined in the rivalry between the two schools. I never would have expected such a wonderful display from the student body at UT, and my respect for those students has grown tenfold. I speak for thousands when I say thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. Your actions will never be forgotten.
Carol A. Taylor
[Read in a deep, Southern, courtroom drawl]
My friend Teddy Vuong ["Postmarks," Dec. 3] was more calm and deliberate when addressing the previous criticisms ["Postmarks," Nov. 19] of the movie review of Being John Malkovich. I cannot do the same. I was smacked by the myopic mouthings of those two movie-going Indignants. Indignants who insisted that decency demands a more drastic recourse, such as boycott. Indignants who seek knee-jerk justice for alleged exploitive and horrific images of violence against women in this great Spike Jonze movie. I ask you, can we not address our grievances with a more open analysis of art, absurdist imagery, and cognitive dissonance? Can we not discuss our conclusions with other moviegoers rather than hollering that something is atrocious and should thus be boycotted in order to stop its insidious and sticky, axle-grease-like transfer from movie image to human minds? No we cannot, bellowed Sam Grimes and Joy Williamson. Can we take a learned look at a movie that blatantly uses absurdist imagery in order to express parallel and deeper meanings? Maybe, says Nancy L. Locklin ["Postmarks," Dec, 10], but only if the film reviewer warned her fully of the nature of the imagery. I shake my head in bewilderment. Did these Indignants see the same movie I did? Does Being John Malkovich make light of or show as humorous the horrors faced by women? I would argue that those who have seen it would say, "No."
I would argue that this absurdist movie attempts to shatter conventional viewing, create dissonance, and coerce reconciliation. I am aware that it is uncomfortable to have to analyze something without the crutch of convention. I am aware that discomfort often leads to emotional discharge, in the form of anger, like that of the Indignants. I'm also aware that in others the same discharge comes in the form of laughter, and yet others grief. Finally, my good friend Genevieve Van Cleve says that she was simply disappointed that the movie's screenwriter, first-timer Charlie Kaufman, couldn't write a woman's role well, so, rather than artfully developing his character, he confines her to a cage until he can wrap the story up. I agree with that assessment. In the future I'd ask that we all, including the two Indignants, bolster our psychic defenses before going to see a movie, appreciate any artistic intent, reviewed or not, and wash our hands thoroughly when done.