Starbucks vs. the Chronicle: Who's zoomin' who?
I have just finished your little tirade against George "Dubya" ["Page Two," Sept. 8] and the style and content place you in the forefront of left-wing journalistic hacks who seem to be short a logic gene or two. You failed to mention that Texas follows the clean air mandates of the federal government at whose altar you so mindlessly worship. You did not mention that the proposed emission testing that would be required follow the California model, which is more of a risky tax scheme than a significant scientific model for reducing air pollution. Texas, I might add, is Californicated enough as it is. You also did not mention that this emissions testing/risky tax scheme was initiated under Ma Richards, or do you just assume that programs initiated by Libs are sound on their surface? Your weak observation about the cause-and-effect relationship between the cancellation of a contract five years ago and the reported statistical rise in urban smog is bogus. Hypothetically, that is like blaming your dose of clap on the fact that you cancelled your contract with your HMO five years ago. Read any good population influx statistics lately, Louis? Some people think that Dubya said a naughty word when he called that reporter an asshole. That wasn't a naughty name. Dubya just set the bar below which many journalists/hacks/editorial commentators can be accurately described in anatomical terms. If the shoe fits, Louis ...
Charles L. Hill
Shamed by Starbucks
Thanks for the free ad for Starbucks complaining about who-broke-up-with-who-first in your Sept. 1 issue. Your endless positioning and self-flattery continually amuse me week after week. Thank you. Your "reaction" to pull your rag a month early from all area Starbucks cafes combined with your supposed pride in announcing your satisfaction with Starbucks' decision to terminate its relationship with you only makes your zippy 'zine the more lame; so what you're saying is, you wanted out, right? Was Starbucks somehow preventing you from ending their distributing of you? Or is it simply that Starbucks is actually a valuable venue? As with all ends to all relationships there is the heartbreaker and the heartbroken; Starbucks called it quits first, and you, pining for some makeup distribution, are left holding those cheap foldout wire stands. Sad. Don't be bitter, little Chronicle, and don't worry; you'll find love again, and next time you can break it off first for real, rather than this post-relationship notion of manufactured elation.
Your favorite Starbucks employee,
One time was bad enough, but running a bigger ad a second time [p. 12, Sept. 8]? Come on, give me a break. Losing one distribution location is difficult, but the Chronicle has it so easy. Try distributing a fairly new magazine, which moves very fast, but for reasons unknown to us losing the location because management believes the Chronicle is the only magazine Austinites want to read. I could whine all day about the places where we went through just as many magazines a week as y'all, only to have the upper management pull us. But do you see me crying like a spoiled brat because we got our feelings hurt? No (well kinda).
Bouldin Creek in Da House
Sorry to hear that McStarbucks will no longer be carrying your paper. (sob) So good of them to cut off one more of their very few ties to the community.
However, in your ad announcing this event I noticed that in your list of all the local coffeehouses in Austin you left one off. Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse. We are new, we are totally local, and we carry the Chronicle. 1501 S. First at Elizabeth (formerly High Time).
Thanks so much,
Lisa Goodell and Leslie Martin,
Several readers pointed out that although they were not prudes themselves, that in the interest of the prudes among your readership, as well as perhaps adolescents (who we all know have no interest in sex), your Smut Issue [Aug. 11] should not have gone to press.
Most of those concerned readers pointed out that the Chron is an invaluable source of info and fun for them. I just want to point out that the Chron's financial stability is in large part due to the ads for adult entertainment (the sex industry) which decorate the back pages of this alternative rag. I just thought that the Smut Issue was a tongue-in-cheek nod of appreciation to those naughty guys and girls.
I would also point out that the Ken Starr debacle (I'm still as hot about it as I was last year), that is, his pointless and spiteful attack on our president, proceeded on a presumption similar to that which your protesters voiced, that there should have been a universal cry of disapproval and upheaval over the president having sex. Why would your educated readers want our community's "children" to be a part of the same false masquerade -- to pretend that they and we aren't all interested in sexy images?
It's Not You, Pal
In response to Dan Schmeidelers letter ["Cell A work of Art," in Postmarks Sept. 8]:
Please do not question your taste in movies just because your favorite movies are not Austin Chronicle-blessed. To put it into perspective, The Perfect Storm was a four-star "AC Pick." Oops.
Remember the Lone Star
Re: Jerry Renshaw's review of Kevin Fowler's album Beer, Bait and Ammo:
Boy, where have you been? We have a radio station with the requisite cojones -- Mr. Fowler's title song is in regular rotation on Lone Star 93.3, as are songs by other "Lone Star Locals" Pete Benz, Pat Green, Chad Austin, Chris Wall, Roger Craeger (sp?), the Derailers, Charlie Robison and others. It's through gutsy stations like Lone Star (and its local rock/alternative/blues equivalents) that we "mainstream" listeners who can't get out to the clubs on a regular basis get introduced to some of the wonderful talent that Austin produces, and I, for one, am deeply appreciative. Keep up the good work (and good music)!
This is the second day of the UT sickout. I have several friends who work for UT, and I just wanted to show my support for their cause. It's fucked that UT seems to have all the money in the world to devote to the "God Almighty" football and other competitive sports programs, but none to pay their staff a living and competitive wage. I thought college was for getting an education, not a multimillion dollar pro football contract. Faulkner delaying his $262,000 pay raise is so sweet of him -- while he's chopped dental out and raised medical benefit rates. I don't understand why he deserves a housing allowance, a car allowance, and $35,000 membership(s) to several snotty country clubs when he makes over $600,000? Just what does this man [and the] regents get paid for? Why do all the coaching staffs (some making $900,000 a year) deserve the same "cushy" setup? UT officials have said they must be competitive to attract top candidates for coaching and top administration positions. That's very true, but that same philosophy should also apply to staff and it doesn't. That's why the turnover is 30%. For $600,000 (or more) yearly you'd think he and the rest of the board would get off their fat asses, forego a few rounds of golf with Mack, and cut some of these bullshit allowances and country club expenses out. Maybe he'd then be able to at least give staffers their dental coverage back!
Good luck staffers! Right on!
David R. Durham
PS: I have a suggestion -- take all the money the sports programs make and, instead of building new stadiums and such, dump it into the general university operating fund where it can help the entire university. Oh, but that would probably take an act of those "fat asses" over in the Legislature who have special boxes and parking spaces in the new stadium.
Shooting Down the 'Dope'
I was offended and saddened by "The Straight Dope" column concerning transsexuality. There were some awfully shaky and arbitrary statistics, but what really saddened and angered me was the last two paragraphs (seven and eight). I quote: "When looking at pictures of M-to-F sex reassignment surgery in progress, one's first thought is: No way would I ever do this." Well, that would depend on whether "one" were a transsexual or not, wouldn't it?
The author goes on to say (attempt at humor?) that one's second, third, and fourth thoughts would be the same. Same comment.
But the final and worst blow was the ending. "Not to make light of the situation, but what's so bad about being male?" This kind of thinking helps perpetuate the misunderstanding of transsexualism and maintains an atmosphere where transsexuals are ridiculed, discriminated against, and physically harmed. There is nothing wrong with being male if you are a male. There is nothing wrong with being female if you are a female.
Okay, class, in a very small nutshell: Gender identity does not always coincide with physical appearance and sexual equipment. Most of the time it does, sometimes it does not. Identity is who we are and cannot be changed, except perhaps by lobotomy or death. No one would choose the former, but far too many unhappy and frustrated trannsexuals choose the latter. The only way to remedy this mismatch between brain and body is to change the body and the role in the world to more closely match the person's identity. No healthy male would want to turn his penis into a vagina. No healthy woman would want to turn her clitoris into a penis. But a M-to-F trannsexual is not a man, she is a woman. And a F-to-M transsexual is not a woman, he is a man. So in reality it is quite simple and makes a lot of sense. It is just not understood very well by this culture.
Thanks for the chance to respond.
Molehills are often mountains up close and personal,
Needed: Design Help
I think it's ironic that one of your main articles in the Sept. 8 issue is about talented local graphic designers ["Life's Enriched Pageant"], when your in-house design team continuously lays out great content in a confusing and haphazard way (in particular, the movies and music listings). How about hiring one of the wizards you featured and giving the Chronicle a much-needed makeover ... please?
'About AIDS' Part II
In recent weeks I have written providing my opinions on the so-called "facts" that Sandy Bartlett brings across in his "About AIDS" column. In getting an e-mail from Mr. Bartlett, he told me that if I ever come across some pertinent information he would like to see it. Well I recently came across a disclaimer that a manufacturer (Abbott Labs) of the ELISA test gave, which I thought the readers would like to see: "There is no recognized standard for establishing the presence or absence of HIV-1 antibody in human blood." Just thought I would pass along the information.
Truth or Dare
Dear Mr. Black:
I am asking that you please publish my name and address, and my request to the general public of Texas to write and tell me if Gov. Bush is telling the truth about his leadership down there, since he was elected to the office of governor.
Charline M. Fleck
109 Washburn Rd., Apt. 204
Deerfield, WI 53531
The cartoon showing an empty HOV lane reminds me that in Northern Virginia, on the road leading to Washington DC, there is a place for commuters to pick up extra passengers looking for rides, so that they can then enter the HOV lane. I hear some drivers have picked up the same riders for years.
During the 110-112 degree days, I had a vision of all the cars in a traffic jam, each with its internal combustion engine under the hood, as a row of fires flowing down the road. Driving and asphalt, followed by air conditioning, are the main contributors to higher temperatures in town. If you think it doesn't matter, leave your windows rolled down as you drive from the city into the suburbs and then the countryside.
By the way, anyone who thinks rail mass transit won't work should go live in Washington or New York or San Francisco or Vancouver (to name a few) for a while. You can live great without a car in all those cities. The one extra thing Austin needs to make its transit system (including buses) work is shade. I agree with the previous letter-writer who suggested spritzers at the bus stops, too.
Light Rail Can Help
In the Sept. 1 "Postmarks," ["On Roads and Rail"]Robert Gerstenberg pays homage to our roads, stating, "roads are our lifelines, a very real and critical part of our transportation system." I agree with this statement. However, I disagree with his assessments in multiple past issues that light rail has no place in Austin's transportation system.
The problem with our current development pattern is that everyone is forced -- by neighborhood design -- to use cars for very non-lifeline-like activities. I would argue that hundreds of thousands of adults -- each slogging around in three tons of steel to carry a quart of milk or a nine-year-old soccer player -- sort of get in the way of all the "lifelines" that Mr. Gerstenberg listed (delivery trucks, fire trucks, ambulances, school buses, postal trucks, etc etc). Building more roads and ignoring these neighborhood design flaws will only force more and more people onto the already packed roads. The new roads will soon be overflowing just like all the previous "new" roads that all too quickly seem old and insufficient.
Light rail will serve two very important roles in slowing the expensive and inefficient road-building cycle:
1) It will serve as a catalyst for more traditional neighborhood developments, in places other than just the central city, that will allow a meaningful reduction in the number of car trips that we must take.
2) It will get automobiles out of the way of the "lifelines," allowing them to operate more quickly and efficiently.
member: Light Rail Now!
In response to Ms. Delonay's incredulity over Guy Forsyth's lack of TV savvy ["Chron's Ethical Error," in "Postmarks," Sept. 8]: Dear Kelly, there are people who do not rely upon commercial sources for information and entertainment. Starting 17 years ago with not wearing a watch, I also no longer use TV, newspapers, magazines, or cars (putting me in contact with, gasp, people). I do read editorials, leading me to your letter.
How on earth do I get my news? You may want to sit for this. Ready? I do two things: 1) I pay attention. For weather reports, I go outside. If the air feels denser than yesterday, it'll likely be hotter; if it feels lighter, it'll likely be cooler. For the economy, I notice that my friends and I have to work harder for the same lifestyle as last year, and that we've been outpriced at all of our old hangouts. (NB: The Austin "boom" has totally f*cked over non-white collar and non-trust-fund folks. This is the real news about our economy.)
If you're still conscious, here's step two: I talk to people. I ask what they think. Then I listen as they tell me. Get out the smelling salts. Here's how it works: For national news I e-mail and phone friends nationwide and ask them what they've noticed and what they think about it. Same with world news. And not one of us is being paid to say the things that we are telling each other. Imagine that! It's just people paying attention, thinking, and freely exchanging information. Eek, how abnormal.
Semi-Luddites unite (I'll never give up my computer)
PS: I, too, do not know the name of any Guy Forsyth songs, but one of my fondest memories is this: Eight years ago at Joe's Generic this gorgeous guy in a half-buttoned red shirt comes swaggering into the bar crooning the blues a cappella as he slowly makes his way up to the stage. It was Guy, and there wasn't a jaw in the place that wasn't wide open and drooling. But -- oh no! I didn't get the name of that song! Sorry to shake up your tiny little world, Kelly, but we're not all fact trappers, some of us just rely on good old-fashioned firsthand raw experience to get by. Eek again.
Don't Throw Rocks at
Dear Chronicle Readers:
I write this letter out of anger, fear, disgust, and frustration. Last Sunday night my best friend called me, very upset. She had been biking home, minding her business, when an SUV full of guys drives past her. One of the guys hangs halfway out the window and hurls a rock directly at her head. Thankfully, the rock missed, but only just barely. The culprit laughed loudly as he and his accomplices sped off. My friend screamed and cursed them. Then, fearful that they might come back around the block and, who knows what, throw another rock? Run her over? She biked home as fast as she could.
These kind of things simply should not happen. I wonder and I worry, what kind of place is Austin becoming? I feel powerless over these kinds of things happening again. What can I do? I make it a point to smile at car drivers everywhere I go on my bike. I say hello to the other bikers. And when I drive my car, I smile at the bikers. If my windows are down, sometimes I'll say hello. Because guess what -- we're all people. And most of us are just trying to be good people.
It Was A Speaker Thing
I was at the Shore Thing concert Friday night. I arrived just as Vallejo started their set. I wasn't too far from the mains (big stack of speakers), and the sound was thumping. It was great and so was Pushmonkey's set. But while changing band's gear to bring on the Toadies I heard one godawful pop. Needless to say, when the Toadies started it was like listening to an AM radio. Toadie frontman Todd [Lewis] remarked about the technical difficulties. Toward the very end of their set the subs started trickling out a tiny bit of thump but that it. And it sucked from then on. At least as far as I know, I left in the middle of Big Head Todd's set. Then today (Sunday afternoon) in the review in the Statesman, they claim to have held the volume down because of noise restrictions? Somebody give Oliver Stone a call. I smell a cover-up.
More TNRCC Troubles
The TNRCC has been caught with its pants down when it comes to their outright lack of response to the evidence submitted by citizens of Texas witnessed, documented, filmed, and videotaped violations of environmental laws! The public is not fooled by the tactics that field operations employs to hamper, hinder, and outright dissuade the public from being an active, contributing partner in the enforcement of our environmental laws.
In my opinion, Mark Vickery of the TNRCC is 100% wrong when he says that the PRW report on enforcement is very critical ["Naked City: Hear No Evil" Sept. 8]. He is trying to make excuses for the dismal performance of his department -- field operations. The report is factual, and that poses a problem for the TNRCC.
My opinions are based on my personal, three-year "Odyssey" with the TNRCC regarding the experimental spraying of elevated, unfiltered waste water next to Lakeway Elementary School. This experiment ran for five years without any form of final approval from the TNRCC. Perhaps the agency should have fined itself for this blunder?
Citizens filed several public nuisance complaints about the Lakeway experiment. Convenient how the Region 11 Field Operations Office could never re-create a violation and never issued an enforcement order. In 1998, Region 11 blatantly refused to investigate the overspray of a troop of Brownies. The Region 11 director refused to even respond to this complaint until I involved Mark Vickery directly. Even then it took four months' time for the complaint to be documented. Of course they concluded: no violation!
The fact is: TNRCC, it is time for you to stop protecting the polluters and start protecting public health, public safety, and the environment in Texas. The Sunset Commission has a unique opportunity and a moral obligation to recommend a serious revamping of the TNRCC so that the agency can do its job. Let's never have a repeat of the Lakeway free-for-all.