The Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival is not sexist; the city/Bradley settlement bodes poorly for Barton Springs; golf courses pay their way; and more reader mail.
Festival Not Sexist
To respond to your accusation of sexism by the board of directors for the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, I would like to add some facts to the "bees buzzing in your bonnet" ["Food-o-File," March 10]. Included please find a copy of the Festival's voting procedures, master list of restaurants, and a sample ballot. I specifically designed these rules to limit the amount of nepotism invariably present during such a selection process. You will notice that the restaurants are listed by restaurant name, not by chef. Restaurants are selected in order of preference by city, and then given a numerical value. Each restaurant's points are totaled, and the highest-scoring restaurants for each city are invited. If any of these restaurants decline to attend, the restaurant with the next-highest point total is automatically invited. Catering companies, grocery stores, and bakeries are not normally considered for Friday night due to the fact that they do not maintain a wine list to complement their menu. That being said, past participants in the Friday night event include Rebecca Rather, Danielle Custer (one of Food & Wine Magazine's Top Ten Chefs in 1998), Janet Chaykin, Kelly Biggs, Kathyrn Mathis, Lisa Balliet, Monica Pope (who participated once and canceled at the last minute the following year), Faye Greenberg, and Pearl Lanum.
I was a member of the board in 1995 when the Festival presented its all-women chef's lineup for our Saturday night event. To my knowledge, we were the first high-profile festival to do so. I also recall that the Festival actively publicized the recently formed International Association of Women Chefs and Restauranteurs during that year's event.
That same weekend at Zoot, I hosted the inaugural meeting for the Austin Chapter of the IAWCR with Barbara Tropp, Susan Spicer, Mary Sue Milliken, and you.
That weekend was a huge success and put the Festival in the black for the first time in its history. Five years later, we are one of the preeminent Wine & Food Festivals in the country, with glowing reviews from every major national industry publication.
The Festival, as a nonprofit organization, has over the years poured tens of thousands of dollars back into the Austin community. Beginning in 1999, the Festival established its own Foundation, which among other promotional activities will provide scholarships statewide, to anyone pursuing a career in food or wine.
The Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival is Austin's festival, and we are always open to working with anyone who is committed to making Austin a first-rate wine and food city. My hope is that the food press in Austin will be responsible enough to research and print a more balanced and accurate assessment of the Festival's remarkable success.
Our board (40% of whom are women) works year round, without pay, to ensure this success. They do not deserve to be the target of false accusations printed as truth. Sour grapes and selective memories are poor motivation indeed for the soapbox you happen to be sitting on.
2000 Friday Night Chair
Member, Board of Directors
Chef at Brio Vista
Bad Deal for Barton Creek
Thank you for your coverage of the proposed city/Bradley settlement. As one longtime and extremely involved advocate for protecting Barton Springs, I believe there are a few key points that should be made clear. At its core, the proposed deal would repeat the mistakes of the past by extending public roads, utilities, and other subsidies in order to speed, not slow down, new development in exchange for a legally unenforceable promise to protect the environment. The deal would not comply with SOS impervious cover limits, as some claim. The only "certainty" provided is that we will get 3,000 more homes and a giant hotel/golf course/conference/restaurant/resort complex on the Barton Springs Recharge Zone, along with tens of thousands more cars on MoPac and other roads.
When all the roads, schools, utilities, and other needs are added in, taxpayers will pay much more than if the land were simply purchased for protection. The town bully and debt-dodger gets rewarded with subsidies and other competitive advantages. Once again, the Austin Tomorrow Plan, the Scientific Consensus Plan, and voters will get ignored. And Barton Springs gets more fertilizer, petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides, algae, etc.
Where the Sidewalk Ends
On March 17, the Chronicle printed a letter in which I stated, incorrectly, that the new city hall would cost $90 million, with $45 million for underground car parking. This was the plan at last year's bond election, but it has been changed since (perhaps due to the CSC deal). The new city hall will cost $34 million, with $9 million for underground car parking. The city is also planning several new downtown parking garages. I don't know what the current downtown car parking budget is, but it is probably at least $45 million. Meanwhile, $5 million per year is considered plenty for sidewalks citywide.
The point remains that the city is spending much more on parking private cars downtown than on sidewalk projects for the whole city. And even the small sums allocated to sidewalks are often spent on something else.
If Austin is ever to be a great place to walk around, non-car transportation must succeed. If we continue to spend all our money on cars, this will never happen.
Please, let's have a car-free downtown with great tram service. (Trams are what the 'Dillos are pretending to be.) Then we can divert the huge car-parking budget to sidewalks and bikeways. And then people's transportation habits will begin to change.
It Was My Idea!
While doing campaign work for Amy Babich's City Council bid, I have heard some comment about the "movable parking garages" idea, mentioned by Babich in a Chronicle letter from September 25, 1998. This idea produced some sniggering at publication time, and later, in the Statesman article about Babich in February 1999, and I feel compelled to set some issues straight.
Firstly, it was I, not Babich, who first proposed modularly designed parking structures that could, theoretically, be disassembled and moved at less cost than demolishing and constructing new ones from scratch.
Second, the context of the idea was overlooked from the start. Urban planners claim that one component of successful car-free areas (like a car-free downtown Austin) is available parking around their perimeter. The problem is, what happens should we choose to expand the car-free area? Not only would new garages be needed, but the old ones would be rendered inaccessible. So why not move them? I am not an architectural engineer, but one look at a parking structure suggests a modular design that would reduce the cost of converting more of Austin to car-free areas.
As the basis of this idea is to provide parking for private autos, it should have been obvious that this was not Babich's idea in the first place.
Thanks, but ...
Dear Corrections Staff:
Thank you for mentioning Mountain Stage® in the article in the February 25, 2000, edition of The Austin Chronicle. However, in the article titled "The Right Profile" by Christopher Gray, the reference to Mountain Stage® as a National Public Radio program is incorrect. Public Radio International (PRI) in fact, distributes this popular program.
Linda Sue Anderson
Assistant to the Sr. Vice President of Marketing,
Public Radio International
The Busybody Agenda
Sir, Miss, or Madame,
If most in the U.S. feel politics is rather disgusting then persons 25 to 45 might feel no reason for four- and five-year-olds not to be home with a nanny if 20 to 40 years ago at age five they were home with a nanny.
Others if 20 to 40 years ago were in some private kindergarten at the age of five might feel that is perfectly satisfactory.
Otherwise, whether beer should sell at $4 plus beer price, or $5 a can may be seen like maybe perhaps weak-minded religious persons poking their nose into other people's business.
Mrs. Alice Spooner
Get Used to Golf
Regarding the letter printed March 10 titled "More Water, Less Golf" by Roger Kew, if I was his boss I would have fired his sorry ass by 8am Monday morning after his letter was printed. He's a manager at Radiance Water Supply Corp., and he says that "delivery of water to existing residents by pipeline or private well is unsure or cost prohibitive."
First off, how does he know that private wells are "cost prohibitive"? What's "unsure" about delivering water "to existing residents by pipeline" -- that he doesn't know how to make a buck off it? What a freaking NIMBY!!! The Austin metropolitan area is growing by a couple dozen people a day, and many of them are golfers like me. Twenty-four golf courses for approximately three quarters of a million people doesn't even come close to meeting the demand that exists today. The Austin area needs another 20 or more courses right now, not a frozen status quo.
Just because golf courses use water for their landscaping and grass, Mr. Kew thinks they should be banned because we live in a "desert nature of our region." Well then, Mr. NIMBY, why don't you move to some other state and take a few thousand of your fellow NIMBYs with you? That way, you and your fellow NIMBYs wouldn't be wasting water by running your lawn sprinkler systems, watering your landscaping, washing your car, filling up your neighborhood pools, and a thousand and one other ways you suck the aquifer dry.
Instead of just shooting off your mouth without engaging your brain, try talking to the USGA, the PGA of America, the Audubon Society, and the Sierra Club for starters. They can tell you how they are all working together to minimize water, pesticide, and fertilizer usage at well-managed courses. Many courses throughout the country have been honored for their reduction of chemical and water usage while preserving wildlife natural habitats. And considering that an average golf course is 100-150 acres in size, that's 100-150 acres that is preserved as open green space. Bottom line Mr. Kew: Golf courses pay their way in this world -- do you?
Like a Virgin
Greetings from Pittsburgh, Pa. (not the live music capital of the world).
After a 24-hour recovery period, I feel the need to let the Chronicle staff and its readers know that you helped put on one hell of an event this past week. As a SXSW virgin, I had no idea what to expect as our group of six touched down at Bergstrom. But from the initial contact with an Austinian(?) on the Super Shuttle to the final contact -- the same Shuttle driver-- I have nothing but great feelings of your fine city and the Conference.
I was really impressed with the many genres from which to choose, and more impressed with the fact that almost everything was on schedule! Kudos also go out to the many stage/venue managers and their fellow techs who changed sets efficiently and with quality (change from Cypress Hill to the Jayhawks in 15 minutes ...Wow!).
The staff and volunteers at the Convention Center were all very pleasant and accommodating, as were the on-site workers (thanks for not confiscating my camera and giving me just a warning).
One other group of people that stand out in my mind are the fabulous cab drivers of the Yellow Cab Co. They were some of the coolest cabbies in the country -- and they all seemed to know their music!
In closing, I would like to offer just one suggestion for future SXSW's -- to have more venues with shows starting on the half-hour so us wanderers can explore other types of music or just some other acts.
Thanks again, and we have already tried to reserve the Driskill for next year.
Williams Wimps Out
Here's my brief review of Hank III at Stubb's Friday night -- (to the tune of "Billy Don't Be A Hero")
Hank III, don't be a wussy
someone will loan you an amp
Hank III, don't be a wussy
I just got my wristband
You could have had
the whole crowd
in your hand
Hank III, don't be a wussy
make Grandpa proud
Your loyal reader,
P.S. Continental Drifters restored my faith in the concept of community and peace through passion. They rocked hard for damn near two hours, sharing the stage with many friends, and creating that warm-in-your-belly feeling that you always look for. Drift on!!!
There is an alternate Census 2000 circulating in Austin. It is the petition to include Ralph Nader and other Green Party candidates on the November 2000 General Election Ballot in Texas and it only asks one question: Are you a member of the growing family of citizens who are sick and tired of the Republicratic Party? Don't throw away your vote, voice, or future. The DemReps value $100 million campaign contributions much more than the well-being of 100 million citizens. Let's elect public servants, not corporate servants! Let's have faith in each other and emancipate ourselves from our holders. You are what you vote.
Hey Chronicle Dudes,
So the Republicans want to cut taxes and boost military spending. Well, fuck me runnin'. I ain't heard so much horseshit since they gave Dan Quayle a job in a Republican think tank. As I recall, the last time they did that, all the slingblade types were released from the nut house, we had a recession, and McDuff got a get-out-of-jail-free card. Boy how I miss those days. Why don't those morons stick to stuff they know about like chasing commies or telling us how morally fucked-up we are? And what's all this shit about George Bush being proud of his death row record? He killed a woman, an old lady, and a buncha wacks. But when it came to Henry Lee what fuckin' happened then? Well, y'all keep electing 'em and I'll keep on screwing with 'em.
Thanks for keeping us informed of Mr. K's latest dirty work ["Mr. Kissinger Goes to Jakarta," March 3]. Our Nobel Prize winner/super-lobbyist for the powerful seems never at a loss to prove his mastery of the arts of deception, and his utter contempt for democracy.
Wallace Backer, Gay Basher
George Wallace repented his sins before he died. That's more than you can say for Sodomites who parade their AIDS as some demented badge of courage. Well, payback is on the way. Come November there will be at least an eight-year moratorium on "don't ask, don't tell," and your pathetic demands for political correctness will go unaddressed. Payback's a bitch, and I hope you choke on it.
OK, so there I am perusing the letters to the Editor in the Feb. 18 issue hoping against hope that there is another letter from Amy Babich, but instead I had to settle for the one from Michael Bakunin. After reading it three or four times, I thought, Jesus, this guy needs to lighten up a little. Can you imagine my surprise (and delight), when I look over at the next page and by God there is the very ad that Mr. Bakunin so vehemently opposes? Why you naughty boys, someone ought to spank you.
Samuel E. Sims
South Falls Again
As self-proclaimed leader of Austin's Alabama-immigrant population, I must tell you that I reeled away from my breakfast table in shock and horror as I read your article touting Threadgill's as an example of "genuine Southern hospitality and down-home victuals prepared in the time-honored Southern tradition."
Threadgill's is about as Southern as Florida; technically, things look and seem authentic, but deep down, you know it's wrong ...
Consider: Where in the real South will you find a restaurant that:
1. nickel-and-dimes its customers for yeast rolls,
2. maintains a surly and ever-changing wait staff,
3. makes you wait forever to be served, and
4. keeps the A.C. pumping cold enough to hang meat even when the majority of its customers are trembling from hypothermia?
OK, I admit it, we do have restaurants like that in the South, but we call them greasy spoons, we don't celebrate them in the newspaper. And even those places serve green beans on a regular basis.
Yes, green beans. I ate green beans as a child until I was sick of them. Bear Bryant won six national championships built on green-bean-fueled teams. But try to find green beans any given day at Threadgill's.
That ain't Southern.
The thing is, I didn't always have this aversion to Threadgill's -- I enjoyed eating there when I first came to town. Then something changed, and I suspect that the owner is to blame. Friendly, familiar wait staff were gone. The menu changed, and not for the better. And that bit about the rolls -- sheesh. So penny-ante.
To give the devil his due, the catfish and cornbread are decent. And Threadgill's World Headquarters is more pleasant to eat at than the N. Lamar location (better management?).
But if you want Southern food, I suggest you tool out East on 290 to downtown Elgin's City Cafe. It's the best Southern food I've found yet in the Austin metro area.
"Loves Austin, can't stand Threadgill's"
Grindin' It Out
What I find amazing and extremely hypocritical about Mr. Villere's letter to the editor (Feb. 25) is the fact that he criticizes the Chronicle for "being neither wholly original in execution of content nor style" as "every major city has a version of you," yet he writes a letter of support for the McDonald's of all coffeehouses.
Is it just me or is advertising space just that -- space for sale? It is not the opinion of the publication that prints it. My suggestion for anyone who doesn't like the kind of truth that Mojo's is printing: "Enjoy the quality coffee (or rather lack thereof) at Starbucks. Pay exorbitant prices and receive atrocious service." Me ... I'd rather sit back with an Iced Mojo in a friendly, unique atmosphere. Because I know the truth -- corporate coffee sucks!