The Austin Chronicle


January 21, 2000, Columns

The Same Mistake?


I was lucky enough to live in San Diego from 1974 to 1994 and I watched the city make several changes that smacked of long-term thinking, usually uphill and against the wind. Not everything worked as planned, but as Mr. Clark-Madison outlined in his fine article ["Bigger, Better, Smarter," Jan. 14] many of them did and they benefit both developer and resident alike. Austin reminds me a lot of my former hometown: very pretty, great weather, lots of tourists, cultural diversity, new and old money, folks concerned about their environment, some about development, and an ever-decreasing middle class. One thing spoiled San Diego for me -- it is simply too damn crowded.

Too many people competing for the same resources took the pleasure out of wanting to share in them. It's no fun going to a park, a nightspot, or to the beach when you can't find a place to park your transport when you get there. Although I've only been a resident of this fair city for a short while I can read the writing on the wall. Austin is headed in the same direction and I submit to the city planners that long-term thinking about development and conservation and travel is the only thinking that makes any sense. Austin is a great place to hang your hat. Look to the best of what cities like San Diego have to offer. Find a way for us to be able to share our resources withough straining them or making them only accessible to the affluent. And please don't let any more songwriters or guitarists move here -- I think we're full up.

Jeffrye Glenn Tveraas


Close the Loopholes

Dear Editor,

It is disappointing that a fellow Chronicle reader would come out in support of the monstrous box-on-stilts housing development that sprang up on 3410 and 3412 Speedway [Phil Sterzing in "Postmarks," Jan. 14]. The issue was not about affordable housing or multifamily units. What disturbs the surrounding neighborhood is that the style and character of these hideous buildings are totally out of sync with the Hyde Park area that adjoins Speedway.

Virtually no landscaping exists, and the bare steel girders supporting the oversized box shaped buildings are totally incompatible for a historic Central Austin neighborhood. Shame on Gary and Robyn Gill for forcing such an eyesore on the unsuspecting nearby residents. May loopholes in city building codes immediately be closed to prevent future architectural disasters such as this. Furthermore, it would be interesting to poll the tenants to determine just how "affordable" this so-called affordable housing really is.


Scott Barnes

Half + Half = Full

Dear Editor,

There has been much discussion lately of how to spread prosperity in Austin around more evenly. I think that House the Homeless' suggestion that the minimum wage be determined by housing costs is an excellent one. And I would like to make another suggestion.

A lot of people who live in Austin (especially musicians, artists, and other people with strong interests that don't pay much) would rather work two half-time jobs than one full-time job. This gives a person more variety and less stress. Unfortunately, it's very hard to make any money this way. In general, a half-time job does not pay half the salary of a full-time job.

Moreover, half-time "professional" jobs are rare. I have a Ph.D. in mathematics. I've heard that mathematics is of great use in the computer industry. But I am not interested in working in the computer industry. It pays very well, but there are no part-time jobs. It seems that, if you work in the computer industry, you must work at least 40 hours per week at the same job. And many of us don't want to do that.

In general, jobs that pay well do not have part-time versions. For example, the city of Austin hires statisticians at a high salary. A person of modest habits could live on half this salary. And it would be fun to do statistics for 20 hours per week. The prospect of doing it for 40 hours a week is less inviting, especially if you play music at night.

It would be great if business and the city and the state would offer half-time "professional" jobs with half-time "professional" salaries. That way people wouldn't have to choose between making money and having time to play music or write novels. People who don't want to work 40 hours a week at the same place aren't losers or slackers; they just want liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Half-time "professional" jobs could play an important role in spreading prosperity around more evenly in Austin.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Savlov a Bomb

Hello Marc [Savlov],

After reading your "personal opinion" about various movies, I wonder where did you gain your knowledge to critique movies? You don't discuss cinematography or plots or scripts from an objective point of view. You seem to relate the movies to your personal experiences and there is no way that you can effectively represent the general population all at once. Simply put, you must look from an objective view at all times and leave the "shock" innuendos out of your reports. I know that "critic" in itself means "judge of literature, art, etc." and a "fault finder," therefore everyone does not have to agree with you. But if you take a personal stance, people like myself who look to The Austin Chronicle for an objective view to gain insight on what's hot and what's not in movies has found that you are not on the money. This is not an attack, I am merely being a critic.

Tracy Dove

If You Believe...

Dear Editor,

Oh no. How could one movie be so misunderstood? I found Marjorie Baumgarten's review of Man on the Moon to be completely misguided.

First, she writes "The movie provides little but dead-on imitation --" Isn't this technique what Kaufman used as well? He perfected each character technically, making them believable for a mass audience. To reach the most people, one needs to have a recognizable face, accent, some catch that can be remembered.

While I do agree with Baumgarten's comment about Courtney Love, faring less charitably among the cast, the review again lets the real movie slip by as it describes Forman and Alexander and Karaszewski. I'm glad "Andy Kaufman is as much an enigma at the end of Man on the Moon as he is at the outset"; it would be a shame if he wasn't.

What makes Kaufman extraordinary and what keeps him alive today is his mystery. The filmmakers never claimed the movie would explain the ins and outs of the Kaufman puzzle because they respected Kaufman and his artform. Kaufman as an artist strove to baffle. Even in the movie itself, neither Carrey nor Giamatti's characters care what the audience finds funny. When he needs their help, yes, Kaufman did appeal directly to his audience, but his allusive genius was never to be explained.

I recently came across a quote:

"Augustine said to a group of people, "We are talking about God.

What wonder is it that you do not understand? If you do understand, then it is not God.'"

-- For the Time Being, Annie Dillard

So, maybe Andy Kaufman isn't God, but he certainly cannot be completely understood.

Sara Bremen

Which Witch Is Wiccan?

Dear Editor,

Concerning Sarah Hepola's write-up for Dark of the Moon [Theatre Listings, Jan. 14], I must protest. First of all, "The Ballad of Barbara Allen" was not written by Edgar Allan Poe. It is a traditional work, which means no one knows who wrote it. Perhaps you were thinking of "The Ballad of Annabel Lee"? But more importantly, the reference to John the witch boy being "Wiccan" was way off and a bad slip. You clearly have no idea how hard the Wiccan community has to fight against these stereotypes. 1) The word "wiccan" was not in common usage until after the publication of Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon. I know for a fact that the word "wiccan" does not appear anywhere in the script. I was in a production years ago. I seriously doubt that the word was used in the promotional literature from the State Theater. 2) Calling John the witch boy a wiccan is philosophically offensive. It is analogous to calling Amos and Andy civil rights leaders and Uncle Remus a civil rights icon. Would you call the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz a wiccan? I suspect not. But in this case, you have made virtually the same error. Dark of the Moon is a fairy tale, none of the people are or (probably) ever were real. Wiccans are real people and are going to send you really angry letters. I wince at the thought of what some of them are going to say to you. I hope you understand that I am just trying to enlighten you as to why you will be having a new rectum installed. For what it's worth, I will still read the Chronicle as it is worth every cent I pay for it.

Blessed Be,

Geoff Beardsley (a.k.a. Rev. Wyrdsli)

Get Drunk With the Chron

Dear Chronicle:

If I had more time, or was inclined to dream up a beer-drinking game, I'd suggest this: Let's all open up our weekly Chronicle, get a yellow highlighter, and see how many references we can find per issue to "the way things used to be in Austin." It seems to be a continuous, boring theme. Let's look at history -- has any civilization ever gone backwards, and returned to what it was? No. What makes us think Austin will, or should? Whether you've lived here six weeks or 60 years, the absolute best time in life is right now. Sure, the past was fun. No, Austin isn't like it used to be. But neither are you, and neither am I. We all grow and change. Change is the only constant in life. Think of Austin like a family - it will never again be the way it was when you were a small child, a teenager, or a new parent. It's a cycle, and can be enjoyed much more by living in the present instead of moaning about the passage of the past. There are such wonderful things to enjoy right now, but a lot of good people are missing them because they're so intently staring backwards. Enjoy the now. It's where all the fun is.

Susan Laxton

A Savage History


Re: "Too Dumb to Die," [Dec. 10] about the Uranium Savages. I'd like to respond.

I was a member of the Uranium Clods, the Sons of Coyote, and the Gypsy Savages: The True Spirit of what evolved into the Sons of Uranium Savage came mostly fom the Uranium Clods.

The Clods were: Bob and Steve Gay, Pat Reynolds, Bill Ellison, and myself. We were good friends and frequently got together making music and laughing. Songs like "I Gotta Headache" and "I Fell in Love With a Ten Year Old" (J.W. Dant Weeskie)(from Steve Gay), "Why Don't You Bring Me My Taco?" (co-written by Bob and me) and many more.

Not much later (we're talking 1975-76), the Uranium Clods, the Gypsy Savages, and the Sons of Coyote joined together and became the Sons of Uranium Savage. Pat Reynolds ("The Shadow on Your Eyes," "Texas Skies," and "Stranded in the Sixties") was lead guitar, Pat Hargadon ("Idi Amin Is My Yardman") was a great drummer, singer, and songwriter. Mark Schaeffer was as good a bass player as Jack Cassidy. Sonny Carl Davis, who did the funniest monologues and had unbelievable stage presence, Bill Ellison (we co-wrote "On The Bayou" and The Booze Brothers Act, and who could forget his famous Ed Dylan and "If Not for Jews"?) was one of the original front men. I played rhythm guitar and wrote songs and parodies. And oh yeah, there was Kerry "David Byrne at Art School" Fitzgerald, who later chaged his name to the hilarious "Kerry Awn" (ha-ha), who did free posters for us.

This current band should be called the "Awn-Off Band" since David "Boss Man" Perkoff and Kerry Awn are the "leaders of the group."

And, contrary to what Mr. Fitzgerald represents in your article, I have written many original songs. To name a few: "White and Fat and Forty-Five," "Why Don't You Leave Us Dead Guys Alone?" "Nazi Polka," "Flashin' Beer and Wine" (with Slappy Gilstrap), "College Party," "Communist Plot," "Gates of Gold," and "Taco," co-written with the Gay Brothers.

And as for parodies, I wrote many of the audience favorites: "Chicken All Over," "Back in the MHMR," "I'm Willie," "Walkin' the Drag," "I Snort the Line," and many more.

Around 1981, Bill Ellison and I were kicked out of our own band by majority vote (including mercenary musicians who had just recently joined the band, and Carlyn Majer, who had decided to become our manager and Mean Mama.)

Then a coupla years later, Charles Ray suggested a Reunion at Spamarama. He said Kerry wanted to make up. (Maybe the band wasn't getting booked anymore?)

But after a few years, egos overcame friendships, I left the band because of personal differences with Fitzgerald and "Boss-man" Perkoff. When I quit, Kerry and I made a deal: I could book gigs as the Uranium Savages and choose who would play in the band; Kerry had the same deal.

Well the next gig I booked as the U.S. was at one of my Spamaramas. Two weeks before the event I received notice from a lawyer that if I used that name, they'd sue me and shut down Spamarama with a court injunction, and call all my sponsors and tell them I was a bad guy. So we became the Plutonium Savages (a little further out than Uranus, and Plutonium is rarer and much more powerful than Uranium).

Margaret, you did a great article on a difficult and complex 25 years of Savagery.

Bottom Line: These guys may still use the name, but they're nowhere near what the real Savages were. Mike Love still uses the name Beach Boys, but what are the Beach Boys without Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson?

I appreciate the space you've allowed me to use!


David "Sweathog" Arnsberger

What About Us?


I'm an easygoing guy. I may have the longest fuse of any person you'll meet but really, enough is enough. Your jolly endorsement of the National Arbor Day Foundation's "tree giveaway" chaps me [Community Events, Jan. 14]. The organization I work for has been toiling away in anonymity (Chronicle anonymity, that is) for 10 years, planting trees in parks, schoolyards, and median strips all over Austin. We send you guys a notice about a tree-planting or some other local event, and if it gets printed at all, it's a verbatim repeat of our press release. Never anything to indicate that anybody at the Chron might find something as mundane as improving the environment that we all share interesting or relevant.

I was willing to chalk it up to the fact(?) that it's much more "hip" to report on people protesting what they don't like about developers, school administrators, or politicians than it is to expose people who are actually out quietly doing something positive. But then along comes a national organization that never planted a tree within 500 miles of us with a slick four-color promotion offering 10 "trees" the size of pencil leads, eight of which just won't grow in Austin, and you treat it like the second coming.

Interested in trees? Join TreeFolks for $25.00 a year. You'll get a cool T-shirt, our newsletter with good local information about trees and tree care, and whatever's left over, we'll use to keep planting trees (big ones, not pencil leads) and educating the public about how and why to have an urban forest.

Scott Harris


Ed Response. Between our Community listings and "Public Notice," we try to cover as many events and volunteer opportunities as possible each week. Of course, much of this coverage is subject to the timeliness of the event and regular deadlines. Should you experience problems (I wrote about the "Releaf" program in Oct. 1998, and do not recall seeing items from TreeFolks since), notify either the Community Listings Editor or myself. To best ensure that your press release gets attention from a human, follow the instructions under each column. You might be amazed to learn how many people think that we can get something in for them on a Wednesday before the issue comes out. -- Kate X Messer, editor, "Public Notice"

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