The Starbucks Showdown continues; and readers voice their opinions on last week's Best of Austin issue.
Distinguished Ladies Distinguish State
To the Editor:
Thanks for the beautifully written story about Liz Carpenter, a true Texas institution ["Miz Liz," Sept. 15].
I've been fortunate enough to have met her a number of times; and Margaret Moser did a fine job of capturing the beauty, wit, humor, and, yes, piss and vinegar, that is Liz.
We have to find some way to honor crusty, outspoken grande dames of Texas like Liz and Lady Bird Johnson and Ann Richards who so magnificently evoke the true spirit of our great state and set it clearly apart from the others. Whatever your political bent may be, these tough yet utterly charming ladies are our most endangered species. Once they are gone -- God forbid -- Texas will be just another boring place, much like anywhere else, USA.
Claude M. Gruener
Not With a Whimper, but With a Bong
As a founding member of the aging and greying Uranium Savages band, I was happy to be named as a winner in your "Best of Austin 2000" issue.
I never dreamed that the Uranium Savages had a chance to win in the "Best Proof Drugs Don't Kill You" category. To me, this category has always been dominated by Keith Richards.
With copious thanks,
Concerning your "party wrecker" bit in the 8/25/00 issue:
Michael Maye died of cancer a few years ago, after returning to the D.C. area in the early 1990s. He hasn't been a part of the Austin scene in a long time. I would think you would know that and I suspect you do, but for some reason, chose to use his name as an inside joke. It is a bit unfair to insult the dead. Insult someone who truly deserves it, like your pen pal Huey Meaux.
[Ken Lieck replies: As was stated in the column, the "inside joke" in question was a reprint which originally appeared during Maye's heyday in Austin. I have nothing but respect for the late author of the classic song "B-E-E-R-R-U-N"]
Sex Surgery Not Dope
Re: Last week's letter "Shooting Down the 'Dope'":
I realize transsexuals are convinced they are living in a body of the wrong sex. It doesn't naturally follow that surgery is a good solution. Judging from the medical literature -- you can read the same stuff I did -- there is a high rate of unsatisfactory results, and under the best of circumstances you wind up with a crude imitation of the genuine article. Make no mistake, this is mutilating surgery. Free country, your money. But I think it's preferable to play the hand you got dealt.
"The Straight Dope"
Practice What You Preach
Oh the irony, oh the bittersweet irony of it all. For several weeks you have run an "ad" with your "proud" announcement that Starbucks will no longer make the Chronicle available. You fail to mention that about three years ago you cleared your lobby of all of Austin's alternative free publications as well as posters and fliers. Did you forget that Mojo's runs Star-"bashing" ads (which I love)? Starbucks seem to have a pretty good reason for rejecting your publication in cutthroat business terms, which I believe were the reasons for your cleanup as well. By the way, Starbucks rejected my "Directory of Events" and the various season guides (Austin Lyric Opera, Austin Ballet, Paramount Theatre) and local zines that I carry from placement there as well.
Over the last 10 years various businesses have "cleaned up" their digs by removing most of the free mags and handouts that proliferate in Austin though they will often leave the Chron alone because it is in such demand (Barnes and Noble being one of the most recent). I think it is ironic that you chose Starbucks as the one you single out, especially after making the same cleanup move yourself.
Perhaps you should open your lobby up to Austin's free alternative press, i.e. Propergander, Austin Daze, Working Stiff, etc. That would really show that Starbucks how to be. You know, by modeling proper behavior rather than just giving it lip service.
aka Fritz the Motorblade Poster Dude
Austin Ads Awarded
Art is long, life is short. If there is a more compelling argument for careful design, I'm hard put to imagine it.
"Life's Enriched Pageant" [Sept. 8] was funny and illuminating, and gives hope to those of us who want to believe that "Great Design Can Save the World."
Austin is a hotbed of creative design talent. In the 2000 ADDY Awards, Austin entries won 25% of all awards in the four-state District ADDY Competition (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisana). In other words, Austin kicked butt, beating out major ad markets like Dallas and Houston. Those winners went on to compete at the National ADDY Awards where GSD&M, Human Code, and The MAD House won five of only 105 National ADDYs. This is serious, in-your-face advertising with funny, smarty-pants concepts and cutting-edge design created by some enormously talented graphic designers.
The Austin Ad Fed will show the National ADDY Awards video at a luncheon Wednesday, September 27 at the Hyatt on Town Lake. Please visit www.austinadfed.com for more information.
Scott Van Osdol
President, Austin Advertising Federation
Rats Rendered to Verse
"The Rat That Roared"
How about those bureaucrats;
Are they really dirty rats?
Aren't they the guys who do toil
In that foreign Washington soil?
Now why would W. want to be
With such beastly company?
And is he sure he wants the job
Working with that major-league mob?
Hyde Park Haiku
The web worms are back,
Infesting Hyde Park branches.
Cindy: still puzzled?
Kinks in BOA Logic
Kinko's as Best Copy/Print Shop ["Best of Austin" issue, Sept. 15]. Okay, Austin. So, let me get this straight. By the same logic, Starbucks at Sixth & Congress and its 2,000 or so local outlets should be the winner of the poll for Best Coffeehouse.
Never mind that Kinko's, like Starbucks, has about as much interest in Austin culture and creativity as ExxonMobil does for our local environment. Never mind that, in a city that prides itself in heaping adoration on our homegrown businesses, you go and pick a copy and "printing" shop (Kinko's does no actual ink-and-press-based printing, as far as I know, instead farming it out) that is the very epitome of what we supposedly hate about Starbucks -- blasé hegemony, the realm of the corporatized, standardized, and monopolized experience. And never mind that when it comes to printing and copying, Austin is home to more shops who pride themselves more in their craft and customer service than their corporate-ness and cash.
But then again, what else could I expect from residents who also voted Blockbuster as the Best Video Selection and Old Navy as the Best Clothing outlet?
Network Plumbing Foreman
Ginny's Printing & Copying
Bring Back Dare to Dance
The Dare to Dance program, directed and created by Rodolfo Mendez, will forever disappear from the schedules of the recreation centers because the director of Austin Parks and Recreation Department failed to understand the importance of the dance program to the children of Austin. My children have participated in this program for many years and have thoroughly enjoyed the teaching, the concern, and the final production the instructors and Mr. Mendez always present in a very professional level. I am totally baffled by the insensitivity of the Austin Parks Department and the total lack of support for Mr. Rodolfo Mendez by the Austin community. Mr. Mendez has worked very hard to keep our Mexican culture alive and important to the different generations for the last 23 years. His removal by the director, Jesus Olivares, from the Metz Recreation Center should outrage the entire community and should stimulate questions about the focus of Mr. Olivares, the Parks Department, and the powers that made such a decision without neighborhood input.
Ms. Mary Villareal
A Welcome Kiss-Off
Dear Chronicle Dudes and Dudettes:
Unlike some of your other postmarkees, I was ecstatic to see your "Best Rejection" ad in which you proceeded to list all the "little people" who still cater to your "little chronicle" (ahem, ô la Jean-Paul). Do we really want those who frequent Starbucks reading your publication anyway? Do they really care? Obviously, no. Our society saddens me more each day as I see the number of closed-minded freaks that are still out there increasing. So in the immortal words of our beloved Mojo's: "corporate coffee sucks!" And ... oh yeah -- fuck censorship.
Your faithful friend,
Thanks From SoCo
How can I tell you the pleasure and thrill that ripped through our place when we read the current "Best of Austin" and saw our motel honored in this way. It at least "feels like" Academy Award time. This is so special. Our thanks go to you and your staff for making these awards matter because of your own dedication to excellence. The issue, itself, is beautifully designed. We loved the photos and the articles. We were delighted by the little alien to introduce the section and heartily agree, "Austin, you are out of this world!" Who may I thank for that wonderful photo taken through our upper courtyard? What a brilliant idea.
While I am at it, I also thought your summer issue centering around South Congress ... including other summer ideas, was fantastic. I was out of town when it came ... but had copies saved for me. By the time I returned and got caught up with the mountain of work growing on my desk in my absence, it seemed too late to write, but I appreciated very much your editorial valuing this unique neighborhood. The photographs of our pool were spectacular and we loved seeing it in full color on your cover. I would like to thank the photographer who did such a good job on those photos as well.
Again ... many thanks to you and your staff for your excellence and we appreciate and are honored to be a part of that. Many good wishes and blessings to all of you.
Dottye Dean, The Austin Motel
P.S. We are also enjoying your nickname of "The Austin."
Get a Life, Too
To Whom ...
Again in response to Jean-Paul Villere ("Shamed by Starbucks," Sept. 15) ... Shut up already! Starbucks' decision to stop distributing the Chronicle is understandable; but the fact that Starbucks is no longer distributing the Chronicle won't hurt the paper one iota. At Little City, where I work, we can't keep enough Chronicles around to please the readers. Mojo's gets an extra delivery early in the week. Get over yourself and your puffed-up pride in your bad-coffee-makin' corporation. Working at a coffee shop is a really decent gig, but your job is not what makes you a cool person. Sorry to break it to you so bluntly. I hope in the future you learn to get your kicks from something a little more meaningful. Try volunteer work. It's really rewarding.
Not Starving for Praise
To the incredible, wonderful staff of The Austin Chronicle,
What can I say, y'all rock!!! Oh my gosh, I saw the Critics Picks today in the Arts and Entertainment section and wow!!!! That was one of the most wonderful things I have ever read about both Liz and my work (and creative award title, too)! I still can't believe it. Critics Pick! That's better than Readers Poll, in my humble opinion. We all trust the Chronicle to give us the very best in information and entertainment, and this vote from y'all truly made our day (and year!). We are eternally grateful to the Chronicle for the support you have given both Liz and I during this first year of the "business." With your constant coverage of Liz's shows, wonderful articles, and now this award, we are sure to continue plugging away to kill the dreaded ol' "starving artist" tale!
Thanks again, we love you guys!
Michelle Reeves, Art Management
Elizabeth M. Guenthner, Artist
A Paper for Austin
Dear Austin Chronicle,
As an Austinite, I believe our local businesses kick ass. I love Thundercloud Subs, the County Line, and, well, check your advertisements. I didn't hate many of the corporations that are moving in. I thought they added variety and proved Austin was becoming a larger city. That was then and now is now. I used to visit Starbucks once in a while, but I will never visit them again. The New York Times may give free advertisements to corporations and have a sizable readership ["The Hightower Lowdown," Sept. 15], but The Austin Chronicle is special. Our Austin Chronicle supports events unique to Austin. Some events The New York Times wouldn't dare touch, because it might not be in the taste of a few readers. The Austin Chronicle is not a paper for Dallas or New York, but it is definitely a paper for Austin. I support the art of words The Austin Chronicle produces. The New York Times ain't got nothing on you.
Keep up the great work!
Devout Reader and Admirer