Light rail, affordable housing, and reverse racism.
Build It, They Will Ride
Ron Riley ["Postmarks," Dec. 24] says Capital Metro's projected 47,000 passengers on light rail is especially high when compared to DART's 30,000 daily light rail passengers of 1998 (which has now reached 38,000 daily). What Mr. Riley is actually doing, however, is comparing current DART light rail experience to passenger trips projected for Capital Metro for the years 2010 and 2025 when Austin is projected to grow and transit ridership would increase. One of the reasons Austin rail estimates "appear" to be high when comparing the two transit authorities is due to the fact that Capital Metro has more public transit passengers relative to population than does DART. Based on service area square miles and population, Austin has 54 riders per capita compared to DART's 31 riders per capita (Source: National Transit Data Base/Agency Profiles 1997).
The 47,000 projected passengers mentioned by Mr. Riley were part of Capital Metro's initial light rail proposal, which changed through the process. The projected first segment, approved in October by the Capital Metro Board of Directors, is 14.5 miles long from McNeil Road to the Central Business District (Red/Green Line). Projected ridership is 32,100 in the opening year of 2007, and 37,400 by the year 2025. The 20-mile initial phase, from McNeil Road to Ben White Boulevard, including an East Austin extension from Seaholm to Fifth & Pleasant Valley Road, has a projected average weekday ridership of 43,200 by the year 2010, and a projected ridership of 51,000 by the year 2025.
Dianne Mendoza Galaviz
Manager, Capital Metro Business Development & Communications Department
Fast, Pricey, Out of Control
Your story in "Naked City" ["Trojan Houses," Jan. 7] about the new duplexes built on Speedway brings into clear focus the contradictions between the power of the neighborhood associations and the need for affordable housing!
The rents and costs of housing are increasing mainly because the supply of housing has not kept pace with the growth of the population. Although the efforts of the neighborhood associations have good intentions, the net result of their power has been to almost completely stop development in the older parts of Austin -- except for single family houses and a few large high-rent complexes pushed through by large developers.
City government exists to promote available housing for all groups, not just those lucky or wealthy enough to own their single-family home. Unfortunately, there are few spokesmen for the interests of the renters.
Gary and Robyn Gill should be congratulated for adding much-needed affordable housing!
Babich in 2000
So Amy Babich is running for City Council? How refreshing for Austin politics. You must be real proud of yourselves having helped Daryl Slusher launch his political career and now Amy Babich. Who knows, with any luck maybe you can get Paul Aviña to run for the council as well. Amy will get rid of all the cars in Austin and Paul's platform will be to get rid of all the pendejos in Austin. -- That ought to get this city back to a manageable size. God I love this place!
Samuel E. Sims
Ban Racist Tripe
Anna Hanks writes [Jan. 2] of "ways we could've made A2K so much better. (to wit) 1) Fewer police officers and more drag queens. 2) Fewer -- err white people."
No Hanks, what we need is "fewer" ilk like you, race notwithstanding. Hanks should move to new digs with people more like-minded -- say, Bedlam. "Fewer white people"? Excuse me?! Hey L.B. -- How dare you publish such ignorant racist tripe?! Isn't it bad enough being a Sodomite apologist? Must you promote insidious racism?
I would like to know what Anna Hanks meant by "Fewer -- errrr, white people" ["Top 10 Y2K Top 10 Lists," Jan. 7]. Is it "white people's" fault that there were not many other ethnic groups out celebrating? Why even make a comment like that much less put it in a top 10 list of "Ways We Could've Made A2K So Much Better?" It was the largest celebration in Austin's history and what would have made it better for Ms. Hanks is fewer white people?! Sounds a bit racist no matter what Ms. Hanks' skin color might be. Let's see, could one then honestly say that The Austin Chronicle would be a better paper if there were less white people working there?
Less Talk, More Action
RE: Cliff Yates' letter of January 7th. The closing of music venues is indeed serious, but how serious is Yates' solution? He remarks: "-- I hope that the people that are 'saving the whales,' 'saving the trees,' 'saving the parks,' or whatever will realize the seriousness of these closures." I'm sure Yates means well, but he reflects a new attitude among scenesters that all you have to do to save the Lunch or Steamboat is self-righteously pop off: "Where are the activists now?"
Austin's music and political "scenes" once were more closely aligned. Many politicians got their cards pulled when they railed against "longhairs," and "knuckle draggers." Stronger renters' rights, longer club hours, relaxed simple possession enforcement and "the greatest city imaginable" came about largely from grassroots politics. Today, activists face wise-ass comments for merely speaking out. Performing artists still donate free shows for various causes, but much of the audience has conformed to the national pall of ad copy irony and numbing cynicism: tough talk, rebel fashion statements, super self-awareness, but no political cajones. I mean, what would your friends call you? Politically Correct?
Democracy doesn't mean Dial-an-Activist. If club closures are a real problem then why farm it out to the overworked, beaten-down, and decimated ranks of aging "[save the] whatevers?" They face burnout, years of lost income, and jokes that were never funny. The real problem is not activists but a lack of activists. Especially those who can carry a tune.
Stephen W. McGuire
My Girlfriend Thinks So Too
To whom it may or may not concern:
For more than a year or so now, I have referred to the Chronicle for weekend events, exhibits, and movies in Austin. After reading the January 7 publication, I have decided I will no longer use the Chronicle as a movie reference. My reason being that after reading this week's movie reviews, I have found that I not only disagree, but I am also disappointed with the thoughtlessness of the critic. Specifically the review of Any Given Sunday by Marc Savlov. I personally enjoyed the film. I do not mind if the critic did not enjoy the movie or does not like Oliver Stone films; however, I am very surprised at the seemingly sexist comment that "women will probably just shake their heads and sigh." Does this mean no women enjoy football, no women enjoy testosterone-filled movies? I saw this film with my girlfriend, who also liked the movie and thought it had one of the better plots for a football film. As for the other film reviews, I do not understand how anyone could give The Green Mile almost the same low rating as films like Mystery Men, Galaxy Quest, The Best Man, and Bicentennial Man. I believe The Green Mile is one of the best films I have seen in years.
I feel compelled to defend Marjorie Baumgarten's review of Mansfield Park, in part because I took issue with her some years back about the TNT adaptation of Heart of Darkness (the one with the monkey, remember?).
Jessica Arntson's comments ["Postmarks," Jan. 7] about the novel, the film, and the review puzzle me, not least because Mansfield Park is the subject of a large part of my doctoral dissertation. So yes, I have read the book, quite thoroughly. No, the movie is not a good adaptation. The original novel is already a forceful statement of the rights and strengths of women, and it deals explicitly, and liberally, with the issue of a woman's voice. It does so through the character of Fanny Price, an anxiety-ridden, repressed, and decidedly un-Austen-like heroine, who is one of that author's most brilliant fictional accomplishments.
Ms. Arntson does not distinguish between what makes a good movie and what makes a good adaptation. Perhaps that, too, is "irrelevant," though I have taken more than my share of criticism courses at UT and have never discovered that this is so (UT also offers excellent courses on Austen in which students can read, learn about, and discuss Mansfield Park). Let me explain why the distinction is important: If a Hollywood screenwriter was asked to adapt Uncle Tom's Cabin for the big screen, he or she might well decide that the main character was too unpalatable for today's tastes. Perhaps the screenwriter would replace the original Uncle Tom with a character similar to that portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
While this might indeed result in a very interesting movie, it would not tell the same story that Harriet Beecher Stowe was trying to tell in her bestselling novel. I don't care how subtle the acting might be. This is exactly what has been done with Mansfield Park. I think it's wonderful that Ms. Arntson enjoyed the film as it is, but she should understand that in "adapting" it, the screenwriter has altered the story into something very different from what Austen created (though apparently not too different from Ms. Arntson's grasp of the novel). This fact is entirely relevant to a film review. Baumgarten's statement that the film "only serves to cloud the whole field of Jane Austen studies" is not unwarranted, though I would perhaps say instead that the film clouds popular perceptions of Austen, and simplifies her into an authorial one-trick pony, which scholars of Austen know to be far from true. I for one appreciate a film critic who is willing to look beyond the Hollywood version of Jane Austen.
Vote for Partnership
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage the citizens of Pflugerville to vote for the continued success of the Pflugerville Capital Metro Partnership. This will insure that transportation will keep our communities connected for the future.
Pflugerville receives the following services for their sales tax contribution:
PISD has grown from 8,282 students in 1993 to 16,428 in 1999. The city of Pflugerville has grown from 9,120 citizens in 1993 to a total of 18,788 citizens in 1999.
Your vote will ensure that critical programs including transit, sidewalks, streets, and roadways continue to grow along with public demand.
Capital Metro Advisory Committee