Last week's Summer Smut Issue gets a whuppin' from some prudent readers.
From Issues to Irrelevancy
Maybe I'm just getting old, but having grown up on the Chronicle, it seems to me that a sea change has occurred with our local alternative weekly. Reading autobiographical sexploits -- all of which end in happiness (unlike real life, where the clap, HIV, and broken hearts are realities) -- seems so irrelevant to a weekly which is (was?) supposed to cover politics, culture, and all that is so vital to this city in which there is no shortage of newsworthy issues. Who cares who Margaret Moser "fucked"? Is there no other relevant news in our city -- or country, or world, or universe, for that matter -- than a story about Spike Gillespie swallowing sperm? A "lust for life," and subsequently what lusty life may actually be, has never been presented in such a monochromatic and fictional fashion.
Geez, what a waste of paper, ink, and time. I guess fictional sex in its basest form -- like cigarette ads and all the fiction they sell -- are part of the new Chronicle's vital life. You call this socially responsible journalism??? I call it irrelevant, irresponsible, self-indulgent, and stupid. Wait a minute ... that's your complaint about the Statesman ... go figure.
Manuel Martin, M.D.
Smut Issue Just That
I don't think you care much about criticism, but your paper just became a fish wrapper after your cheap sex issue of Aug. 11. It'll take a lot of gradual intelligent input from the readers, especially in the "Postmarks" section, to bring it back to a level of taste again. To promote a sense of all-out party and stupidization on eroticism toward the concoction of pendejos that Austin is, the Chronicle was the closest shot to do it, but it wasn't fair. We have to deal every day with the absolutism of a designed town and the consequences of having the right people positioned on education, law enforcement, and politics expanding ever more, so too with their preferences, always pervasive to our minds, and suffer from frustration, after understanding that their ways came to stay, and our kids will be as ignorant as we are. Now, as reality breaks through and food runs short and water for industrial use recedes in every country, you should play your role and educate the masses of marijuanos and drunks to learn what is happening outside their air-conditioned habitat, so the pull for survival would not be as heavy for all, if the time comes. Historically, people don't react to economic pressure as they do to psychologic crush. You could start by reporting on the deaths by heat, the fires on the Sierras, etc., and the effect of these events on the world's economic system. I think you should.
Smut Issue too Shallow
Sorry guys. The wiener analogy was not very creative. It was first presented to me by a male classmate when we were in seventh grade. Inside your smut issue, your writers consistently followed that same shallow, immature, and male-oriented take on sexuality.
From a mental health perspective, you projected ignorance of sexual addiction. Read some of Chalotte Kasl's work to understand the connections between our capitalist and consumption-oriented society, patriarchy and addiction processes. Read some of Peter Carnes' work to get the facts and distress of sexual addictions. Get to know some of the self-help groups in Austin that focus on recovery from sexual addiction or recovery from the horror of being partnered with a sex addict. Read about the connection between those who have been sexually abused as children and those who go on as adults to perform debasing sexual acts for others.
How many Austinites consider this issue some of the "best" of the liberal side of Austin? If liberal means unbridled and anything-goes regardless of analysis of the effect on the human spirit, count me out.
Settle down, take a deep breath and feel your deeper connections.
Stop the Smut!
[Ed. note: A reader forwarded the following e-mail to The Austin Chronicle.]
On my trip to World Gym today, I learned something that requires ACTION as soon as possible. The Austin Chronicle Summer Smut Issue hit the newsstands today. And it's available for free at your local grocery store, library, gym, etc., usually out in the front lobby in large stacks.
I am asking you to approach the manager of the store where you find it and ask him to (1) Remove it from free distribution or (2) Distribute it from behind the counter. To a secular mind, I would explain that the stories inside are pornographic in nature and not suitable in a FAMILY STORE for free distribution. I would not want my middle school or high school child to read it.
The outside cover looks like a brown wrapper, much like what you would find on a porn magazine at 7-11 [Ed. note: 7-Eleven does not carry pornographic magazines]. When you turn the page, the inside "real" front cover is a picture of a hot dog, fully dressed in front of a man who is not. You can guess where the hot dog is placed.
Across the top is a large logo proclaiming "Summer SMUT Issue." The teasers at the bottom of this are:
Sodomy in the Courtroom!
Confessions of a Porn Pusher!
Suckdog in the House!
Sexy Film Scenes: Coming Soon!
Bands Who Screw!
Inside, the stories are not quite as lurid as the teasers suggest, but they are pornographic in nature and just plain nasty. I wouldn't want my 12-year-old picking this up. Or any child, for that matter.
At the gym, where 20-year-olds are usually in charge, it appears pointless to ask them to remove it. My solution is: The paper is free for the taking, so TAKE THE STACK!
The same solution must be used at the library, because Austin Public Library follow the American Library Association's guidelines that any material must be made available to any age. To restrict access in their opinion, is age discrimination. Just gather them up in your arms and leave.
I think we need to wage a quiet campaign so that the newspaper does not benefit from any publicity. And if we do not act now, what's next? A quarterly smut issue? A weekly smut issue? We need to get the message across that we WILL NOT TOLERATE pornographic literature distributed freely where our children can easily pick it up.
After picking the stacks up from a couple of places, I asked the manager of two HEBs to remove them. One said he would call his regional office and the other removed them promptly (Yea, HEB in Bee Cave!).
I didn't plan on doing this today. But usually, I find it's the interruptions to my plans that are the "real job" that God asked me to do.
Would you please:
(1) Just look for it where you shop, workout, etc. and take a few extra minutes to stand up for decency.
(2) Forward this e-mail to other like-minded souls in Austin.
Fight Sodomy Laws
Your Smut issue (Aug. 11) was quite entertaining.
In the article "In and Out," the dialogue between Rep. Warren Chisum and Rep. Debra Danburg was illuminating. I'm mad at both of them. At Rep. Chisum for being so clearly the absolute jerk of the century and for Rep. Danburg for waffling. "If my husband and I were having sex and it touched my anus ... ?" She sounds like she's found the gray area of the law, the "what if it were an accident" point. Wussy, wussy. Why not "If my husband touched my anus or any other part of me, can you explain why the state of Texas would have a compelling interest?"
I mean Rep. Chisum wants the laws of the old Texas to match those of the Old Testament, including, I suppose, stoning anyone who works on Sunday (it's in the same book and spelled out more clearly). What a jerk!
And she could have said, "And how fair is a law that is broken 600,000 or 6 million or probably 6 billion times with only one arrest?" If it was a squabble, it was sure a lame one. She did get better as it went on, but too many strong points were left out.
Hang in there Debra. You have more of us backing you on this than you can imagine. This is not an issue to pussy-foot on. You know who the enemy is, so attack! Don't spar with the guy, knock him flat!
To the Editor:
How astonishing to read that, alone among councilmembers, Daryl Slusher of all people stands up to tell Cedar Avenue brutality victims "screw you." His disingenuous complaint that only four of 12 plaintiffs applied for "scholarships"["Cedar Fever," Aug. 11] reminds one of the great line from John Milton, "They who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them of their blindness."
Slusher opposed any talk of settling the Cedar lawsuit, and prior to the settlement was fully prepared for a repeat of the disgraceful blame-the-victim legal strategy the city adopted in the first trial, an affair with an atmosphere so darkly vicious a bailiff felt free to casually talk to jurors about sticking it to the "junglebunnies." To his credit, Kirk Watson finally pushed for a settlement, but left to Daryl it would never have happened.
Most of the children (more than 30) who were maced or injured at the party were not part of the civil suit, and the vicious attack strategies employed by the city at trial proved them wise. When the city did settle, its lawyers refused to give plaintiffs money directly, but instead set up a nonprofit stacked with people who had been close supporters of the Mayor in his recent election.
To review, Slusher opposed settling or admitting any fault in the first place, felt comfortable with a legal strategy that ravaged through the personal lives of the victims, then backed with nary a complaint a rigged "scholarship" system for which no plaintiff ever asked. Now, after the stacked board created restrictions never contemplated in the settlement agreement, how much chutzpah does it take to once again blame the victims?
If the city were honest enough to admit fault in such incidents in the first place, this issue wouldn't keep coming back over and over.
[Ed. note: The following is a reply to Henson's letter. The Austin Chronicle normally does not allow replies to unpublished letters, but Henson also e-mailed a copy of the letter to Slusher, so we have made an exception.]
Mr. Henson was kind enough to send me a copy of his letter. So rather than let fabrications possibly linger in reader's minds for a week I would like to address the most blatant of them now.
First, I never said "screw you" to the Cedar Avenue plaintiffs, an impression that certainly could be taken since Mr. Henson put those words in quotations. I have never maintained that no member of the Austin Police Department ever engaged in police brutality, although I do believe the department is of very high caliber. I do not "frequently" talk about my wife's experiences with the police almost 20 years ago and would appreciate if Mr. Henson would leave her out of public discourse as well.
As to the contention that a settlement would "never have happened" if left to me, it was my settlement proposal to offer scholarships and job training to low-income youth that was finally accepted by both parties -- with the plaintiffs eligible. The mayor, who will confirm that history, indeed did "show leadership" and head negotiations on the agreement.
The spark for Mr. Henson's letter was my recent vote against entering mediation with the Cedar Avenue plaintiffs outside the process outlined in the agreement. I did not feel, and still do not feel, that sufficient grounds were offered for such a move. The main complaint was that the plaintiffs weren't receiving funds from the settlement. The overwhelming majority of the plaintiffs, however, had not even applied for funds.
It should also be noted that in the five years since the Cedar Avenue incident many changes have been made at the Police Department. Those include the hiring of a new police chief who has instituted a number of reforms and council approval of citizen oversight for the department. The Police Association and police management, by the way, supported civilian oversight. In closing I would like to note that a police officer was severely wounded at the Cedar Avenue incident. Every officer every day faces such danger to his or her life as they protect the public safety.
Austin City Council
Only One 'I' in 'Journalism'
I had to laugh when I read Margaret Moser's latest article on being a groupie ["Lust for Life," Aug. 11], but probably not in any way she intended. This one she offers as a memoir, but really everything she writes is a thinly veiled memoir. I've followed her over the years, and I'm always disgusted by the way she uses a newspaper as her own diary. In everything she writes, from over-the-top paeans to Princess Di to features on musicians, she can't wait to insert herself into the story and show that she's somehow important. Her latest piece confirms her connection to the scene, and I fail to see how being an easy lay makes her some type of performance artist. The one time I read an article where she didn't use the word "I," she showed a picture of herself in front of an Aztec ruin. Why is she in the picture when she has nothing to do with what she is covering? The same could be asked of her "writing." There is no "I" in "journalism." OK, maybe one.
Your "unrepentant ex-groupie" article ["Lust for Life," Aug. 11] was wonderfully entertaining and candid! All of my teenage desires to be a rock star came flooding back. I have a renewed appreciation for all the sluts I've known in my life. God bless 'em!
I have to applaud the Chron for putting out such a bold issue that will surely draw some criticicism from the more "pure" poseurs in town. You go!
Kinney Court Crisis
We read with interest and amusement the comments by Austin developer Bill Howell in "Under One Roof" in last week's issue of the Chronicle, particularly the not-so-thinly veiled characterization of our neighborhood as a slum to which he has come to rescue. We live next to the Kinney Court housing development, and for months have endured the dust, trash, tree-smashing, heavy trucks, noise, and everything else that has gone into the building of the side-by-side cookie-cutter houses. Perhaps Mr. Howell would want to take "momma" by our homes when he wheels her through his newly created suburban heaven. That way she could come in, have a cup of coffee, and see that we actually live in houses which have already been painted and in fact aren't falling down around us at all. Momma might also notice the absence of cars on blocks in the front yards, and she might even see a few mowed lawns and trimmed hedges. Mr. Howell also conveniently fails to mention that the "27 variances and waivers" he obtained were granted only through the cooperation of the Kinney Road Neighborhood Association. He agreed to do a number of things in developing Kinney Court in exchange for the Association's agreement not to challenge his variance applications. Yet he has failed to follow through on a number of his commitments.
[Ed. note: This letter was signed by 11 other people.]
Keep Wild Animals Wild
Thank you for Cheryl Smith's story "Meow Mix", regarding the big cat problem in Texas. Austin Zoo, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit rescue zoo/sanctuary is dedicated to helping as many displaced, neglected, abused, abandoned exotic animals as we have space to accommodate. Unfortunately, we are unable to take them all. Just this week we were asked to take three lions, one tiger, and three baboons not to mention an infinite number of iguanas.
Part of our mission is to not add to the problem, so we spay/neuter if necessary and do not breed or sell. We are a real sanctuary for our animal residents and have achieved national recognition for our efforts.
We appreciate The Austin Chronicle in helping us with our task to educate the public regarding the plight of many big cats. The more attention and education drawn to the overpopulation, exploitation, and subsequent abuse of big cats can only help. Let me add that the problem is not limited to big cats; exotic birds, reptiles, bears, and primates all suffer at the hands of ill-prepared owners.
Again, thank you for helping spread the word that wild animals do not make good pets. Instead, please consider one or more of the countless domestic dogs and cats looking for homes. It is much safer for everyone concerned.
Cindy Carroccio, RN
Exotic Pet Ownership Destructive
Thank you for drawing attention to the destruction caused by exotic pet ownership ("Meow Mix," Aug. 4). When these owners of exotic pets talk about their "rights" to force wild animals to live in an unhealthy and uncomfortable state of captivity, without even the proper, professional care that a zoo or refuge would provide, it is clear that the animals mean nothing more to them than status symbols. If you can't afford a little jaguar on your car, then keep one in a cage in the back yard.
As for all of the exotic pet owners who claim to love these animals, has it ever occurred to them that for each exotic animal that is sold in the U.S., many others had to die in capture and transport? This article was a testament to the era of irresponsibility that we live in. Exotic pet ownership should be restricted.
Short Sight on Short Film
On August 5 the Alamo Drafthouse will showcase three local independent filmmakers' work. One "Balloon Fish" and the other, "Delirium." In the last "Short Cuts" brief, dated August 4, Marc Savlov proceeded to incorrectly accredit the work of "Balloon Fish" creator Mark Miller by incorrectly attributing it to Mark Fisher. Disregarding journalistic integrity, he also left "Balloon Fish" unhighlighted, while ensuring that the other short, "Delirium" was in appropriate bold type. But then, without even a single viewing of the film, he shared this enchantingly insightful biased opinion with the readers: "Mark Fisher's 'Balloon Fish,' a short film about a girl who can sense danger with her hearing aids. 'Uh, yeah right ... '"
Mark Miller has not only received numerous accreditations for independent filmmaking, but also holds a degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He will be leaving next week in preparation for graduate school at UCLA in producing. I feel that Mr. Savlov's complete disregard for information and biased opinion in the very least warrants a formal apology for Mark Miller. "Balloon Fish" was a venue piece written, directed, and produced to highlight a young girl with a disability. Mr. Miller's efforts and pursuits in caring about media representing playful characters centered around social issues ought to be applauded. Bravo to Mr. Miller and shame on Mr. Savlov!
As the facilitator of the B. Iden Payne Awards Nominations Committee, I would like to clarify the role Robert Faires has played on the committee this year.
I explained to Ada Calhoun, as she was researching her article "Everyone's a Critic" (June 28), that Robert had been a valuable member of the committee over the past two years of my tenure; however, this year, as I told Ms. Calhoun, even though he was considered a member, he had not been able to participate due to scheduling conflicts with his activities on behalf of the American Theater Critics Association.
This year's nominations will be announced on Monday, Aug. 14. Robert did not participate at all in the committee's nominations. Robert attended only one meeting this past year -- an organizational meeting at the beginning of the season where we did not discuss nominations.
I respect Robert as a professional with much to offer all of us in Austin with his writing, his directing, his acting, and his participating on theatre-related committees. I hope that he will be able to join us again on the upcoming Nominations Committee.
Before you get any further in your efforts to balance Austin issues, like light rail, art museums, new roads, etc., would you consider our old, old concerns, so ugly, that not even cops want to live here. And they are: Alcohol, so abundant that there are eight "convenience" and two liquor stores to serve all. Two pawn shops almost side by side, traditionally linked to burglars and their stolen items. Cemented-over creek beds by the Todd administration, now full of graffiti, trash, and adventurers. Three ghettos full of black and browns in conditions worse than prison cells, especially in the summer months. Four fast food joints, all stuffed-up in a small sector. Ah, the prices! The beer might be cheap, but the groceries, ooh. It's more difficult now than ever to dodge around price tags to stretch a paycheck. City Market (formerly Food Land) is got to be like a pilot for stupids or blood suckers. Even compared with Randalls doesn't match a leak. One wonders if Coke has separate prices for pendejos and privileged, you know. And all this ambience generates anger, frustration, crime, mainly when opportunities come to you in this order: work, vagrancy, education. Where is the sense on covering the progress and physical change of Austin, if its real residents remain ignorant, poor and undereducated?