Politics & music & the politics of music.
Call of the Wildly Inaccurate
Please check for accuracy the author's assertions about the ownership and control of Stratus Properties Inc. ["Stratus Flows Downhill," Dec. 1] (It is a public company and as such this information is readily discernible with a modest effort.) I suspect you will be surprised.
One accurate assertion in the article was that I did not return that reporter's call. The lack of accuracy in the article reinforces my unwillingness to cooperate with him.
Richard T. Suttle Jr.
P.S. I got the hint in Erica's article about Hyde Park ("Suttle's ability to throw his considerable weight around ...") ["Naked City: Nowhere to Hyde," Dec. 1] and am back on the Atkins Diet. Thanks again.
Attn: Jerry Wexler
I was deeply flattered to read in Raoul Hernandez's story ["A Man and a Half," Dec. 1] that you remembered me. Not only that, you've even kept up with where I am. You're right, I'm in Germany.
But ... "some kind of eccentric?" Like you're not eccentric? Like that's a bad thing? Like it's not eccentric to turn your back on a nice business career and college and all and hang out till all hours of the morning with black people listening to weird music and then get so deeply into it that you go into business with a couple of -- god help us -- Turks just so you can subsidize your growing fascination with this stuff?
It would have been too boring for Raoul to have reprinted the whole e-mail I sent him, but although I'm almost sure you said what you said, when I lined up the chronology, it didn't look right. But hey, I'm a Doug Sahm apostle too. I really loved the guy. That despite the fact that he tried to kill me one time by chasing me with a car down the sidewalk in Sausalito, Calif., (passing right by the front door of the post office, no less, so I wasn't the only one in danger), and the fact that he led the "Dump Ed Ward" campaign when I moved to Austin, a joke that some people took a bit too seriously. Stuff like that happened, you'd take a deep breath, and you found he was maddeningly easy to forgive.
But speaking of forgiveness, what's this about not giving this "bum" "house room?" A strange phrase, especially from one whose eloquence is legendary (not that there was much competition among your peers in the music business, of course). Come on: If you were to show up at my front door, you'd be welcome to my home, small and humble as it is. Naturally, I'd try to talk you into staying at one of our better hotels, and I'd even offer to pay for it, but you'd be welcome here.
Of course, you might be one of those people who thinks Germany is teeming with Nazi skinheads (although I'd like to think you're better-informed than that) and so maybe you think I moved here to hang with the anti-Semites, when in fact I live half a block from a synagogue and even led a movement in the press five years ago to get some decent bagels in this town (it succeeded). What you probably don't know is that for four years I had a very popular radio show in Berlin on which I played tons of your productions, and always mentioned your name, so that now a lot of people who might not have heard of you have heard of you and know actual concrete things you've accomplished.
There are a lot of them, as you know, and I respect you for that. Jeez, Jerry, I'm over 50 and you're over 80. I don't want to fight with you, one bullheaded goy against a cantankerous old Jew! You think I'm that stupid -- or hard up for antagonism?
Come on, it's the holiday season. Let's shake hands here and put this stupid thing to rest. My pal Mike Goodwin used to say "Respect the elders of the tribe and learn from them even when they piss you off." I internalized that message a long time ago. A long life and good health to you, Gerald Wexler! May you be cantankerous for a long time to come.
An Important Query
Dear sir or madam,
Can it still be called "Page Two," since it is no longer on page two?
SOS Opposes Secret Negotiations
Thanks for the excellent cover and coverage on the pending city of Austin/Stratus Properties development deal and an alternative potential swap of Mueller land ["Paradise Lost" stories, Dec. 1]. The articles were in-depth and accurate on all but a couple of minor points, and the maps and aerial photos were extremely helpful.
To clarify our position, we oppose the secret negotiations that both led to the current proposal and which are apparently continuing. We also oppose secret negotiations with Stratus on a Mueller swap. The environmental and neighborhood consensus recommendations call for a public and comprehensive planning process with full participation by neighborhoods and environmental groups.
On the potential Mueller swap, while we support a fair system that encourages Barton Springs watershed developers to bid for Mueller development opportunities we oppose giving Stratus insider status. The best value for Austin taxpayers -- and the most amount of development transferred out of the Barton Springs Zone -- will come from an open and fair bidding process where other BSZ landowners are encouraged to bid as well.
As for the minor corrections, SEC documents do not show Tom Hicks/Olympus Realty owning "majority control" of Stratus but only a significant minority of stock. Second, having described city efforts to oppose Stratus you cannot then say they have done "nothing." The city has made significant efforts to oppose Stratus and protect Barton Springs, which makes it hard to understand why the proposed deal is even on the table. Sadly, however, the green Council has, like past councils, spent far more public funds on building freeways, convention centers, hotels, and other booster projects that you can find in any generic city in the world than it has on saving the soul of Austin. What we need now is a clear and unequivocal commitment from the council to save Barton Springs, and not another development deal.
Chron Too Easy on Ex-Pogue
To the Editor:
I recently attended the Nov. 25 performance of Shane MacGowan and the Popes at La Zona Rosa. After spending lots of hard-earned money on imported Pogues and Shane MacGowan CDs, including a copy of his pre-Pogue band, the Nips, I was truly crushed and disgusted by his opening slur knocking those he termed "Mexicans and niggers." I left the show a few minutes after that. That disappointment, however, paled in comparison with the one I felt due to the treatment of the incident by Christopher Gray in the "Live Shots" section of your Dec. 1 issue. It is obvious that this gesture of racism does not seem that important to Mr. Gray. I am not closed-minded, and to be honest, I don't care what Shane's personal views are, but I think the drunken bastard should keep them to himself. As a religious reader of the Chronicle, I need to point out that your publication has failed to mention that Shane owes a big apology to the Latino and African-American community, and that those who did not walk out on the show that night should be very, very ashamed.
What You Didn't Learn in High School Civics
Last week, you reviewed The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands, and supplemented it with recommendations of three excellent books by or about Franklin himself.
However, no Benjamin Franklin reading list is complete without mentioning his redoubtable work Fart Proudly. In it, other than the titular call to arms flatulent, the elder statesman offers advice "On Choosing a Mistress" (older is better, he asserts), gives the "Rules on Making Oneself Disagreeable" (I'm improving every day), and argues for "The Encouragement of Idleness" (hear hear!). I am cheered that one of our nation's wizened founders took the time to write essays on topics near and dear to my heart. Er, some of them, anyway.
Editor, History House
Ref. "Miss Nina Messed Up" ["Postmarks," Dec. 1]
My comment to Lance Davis: Stay your narrow behind at home next time.
Barton Creek is dying the death of a thousand cuts. There is already far too much development on Barton Creek. Not only do we need to stop building more, we need to shut down what's there. Stop using it, even if it's convenient. Don't shop at Barton Creek Square mall, drive over the aquifer, or vote for roads over the aquifer. And we may have to start lying down in front of bulldozers.
No one who is building a housing project, road, or office park over the aquifer will ever blame himself for its death. He'll tell himself that too much development killed the aquifer, but that it would have died even without his contribution. Because no one person will have poisoned the aquifer single-handedly, no one who profited from this will ever feel the least bit responsible.
The world's atmosphere is dying the death of a billion car tailpipes. The United States insists on the right to keep polluting the air. Ordinary U.S. citizens contribute enormously to world air quality destruction. They do this by driving cars everywhere, even for distances of a few miles.
Several people have told me that they don't even think about reducing their personal greenhouse gas production, because they just can't believe that their one little car makes any difference. Two hundred million American car drivers tell themselves the same thing, and the U.S. continues to be the world's biggest air polluter. The car companies happily dream of exporting American car addiction to China, the world's biggest untapped car market.
What you do matters. Immanuel Kant once proposed the ethical principle: Act in such a way that you can hope that everyone else will do the same. When you are one of a population of six billion people, it makes practical sense to think this way.
Two-Steppin', Singin' Spirit
Living so far away (Italy ... Texas, that is!), I don't get a chance to view a timely issue of the Chronicle, but after reading and seeing the fantastic photos of Texas' own "Honky-Tonk Heroes" (Nov. 17), I just had to write to say thanks for featuring the deserving musical artists of our great state. John Carrico has a great eye for photographing the personality of each one, but I have to disagree with the cutline he (or was it Jerry Renshaw?) wrote about James Hand: "Haunted honky-tonk troubadour James Hand leans against a Cadillac and reflects outside a familiar south Austin establishment." Well ... James Hand may be "spirited" but "haunted" he is not! After seeing him perform at a local charity benefit last weekend, I could certainly see a spirit work around the dance hall and haunted it was not! The spirit was alive and shaking -- lots of two-stepping and singing along with this Texas legend. And his voice -- it's the purest I've heard. Hope to see much more on James Hand in the future. I have heard he is writing songs fast and furiously these days and the subject matter is not in the least haunted -- just unforgettable! Thanks again for the great coverage of some truly deserving artists.
The Shrub Is a Brat
Some time ago, I had a job interview in which I was assured employment from various inside sources. As a result of this information, I informed a bunch of friends of the new job I was about to acquire and arranged a small victory party at a local pub. Much to my surprise, I didn't get the job. I had a bar full of friends and supporters and no good news to deliver. The last place on earth I wanted to be was there, to wallow in my disappointment in front of my people. However, I owed it to them. They were there for me. I in turn felt an obligation to be there for them. I attended and we all got ripped and my failure seemed to be overshadowed by the warmth and support of my loved ones.
On the evening of November 7, I was reminded of this story. Outside of the Capitol, thousands of Bush supporters braved the cold wind and rain to show their support for their candidate. No rain or wind could damper their excitement and they waited to see the man they elected. And they waited. Through Jimmie Vaughan. They waited. Through the whitest gospel choir in history. They waited. Adding insult to injury, they were subjected to Wayne Newton and Bo Derek. Wayne even sang a bit. They still waited. Dubya never showed. He was having a tantrum a few blocks away. His daddy even had to remove him from the hotel and bring him home. "Daddy, I wanna WIN!!!!!! I wanna be president!!!!!!!!" My point is, when are people going to realize this "man" is without character? He is not a decent man. He's a little rich kid who could care less about the welfare of others. He can't even honor thousands of his supporters with an appearance. Sure they're a flock of lemmings, united in their ignorance staring at a big TV on a cold Texas night, but they're his people. I hope they brought along their mittens cause little Georgey is going to leave them and the rest of us out in the cold for the next four years. Thanks, Dubya!
Justin B. Andrews
A Few More Words on Ralph
To expect Ralph Nader to have delivered his voters to Al Gore is unrealistic. After all, he spent much of his time during the campaign trying to differentiate himself (and the Green Party) from the Democratic Party. How disingenuous it would have seemed to endorse Al Gore in the final weeks before the election. Everyone who voted in this election knew of the potential consequences. Has anyone (who criticizes Nader) ever considered what Green Party voters would have thought of Nader had he endorsed Gore? I just don't think Nader could have done that without seriously compromising his message.
Another reason not to endorse Gore is that [Nader's] message could have appealed to Republican voters in the future. That may sound a bit strange, but his message really is a populist one. I think a lot of Republican voters just never hear about the things Nader talks about, and I think many of them would flip if they really knew exactly what Republicans in Washington do.
In the end, I think it was Gore who drew more voters away from Nader than vice-versa. Instead of pandering to the voters and telling them what he thinks they want to hear, he showed us exactly what he really thinks. Agree with him or not, I think he ran the most principled campaign (possibly excluding other third parties) out of all the candidates. He didn't campaign all those months to endorse a party that's part of the problem, but rather to help establish a viable third party. And what could Al Gore expect after helping to shut him out of the debates, effectively shutting down any real impact Nader's campaign could have?
Nobody for President
Do we need a president?
I'm beginning to think not. Anyways, this country is really run by a corporate oligarchy and the ideal of "government for the people and by the people" is nothing more than a myth. I'm sorry to say that folks, because like you, I believed in that myth for many years. Why do we keep that political dinosaur like the electoral college, that relic from slavery days? Popular vote my ass!!! It is government for the good ol' white boys by the good ol' white boys, everyone else can just go suck on it! Or, if they're submissive to the white boy power structure, they can have a few scraps of money and power "trickle down" from the good ol' boys table. Oh, by the way, I'm a white boy myself, but I also work with my hands for a living and I happen to have a naïve belief in justice and fair play.
Let's have a real change for a change, if we need a figurehead, a leader, why not have a woman or someone from a different ethnic group? Why is it always a white-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant man? (We had an Irish Catholic once but look what happened to him.)
And all this talk of George Bush's descent from British kings -- I thought we were finished with "Bloody Kings" over 225 years ago. If the WASP power elite are that nostalgic for royalty, then I suggest they go back to England. Much to their dismay, they will find the demographics of jolly ol' England changed as well.
This last election is proof that Amerika is ready for some real change, so change already, dammit!!
Gregory J. Gauntner
Forget 102 -- Try One!
This holiday season, with the popularity of the movie 102 Dalmatians, many parents may be tempted to give their children Dalmatian puppies as a gift. Real Dalmatians are not a Christmas toy. They are living beings that come with a great deal of responsibility.
Many people do not know that Dalmatians can be difficult to train and may not respond to conventional obedience school. Dalmatians were originally bred to be coach dogs. They ran under or beside carriages and guarded the horses and parcels aboard. This means that these dogs are extremely energetic and alert. They need a large yard with plenty of room to run. They are also prone to barking and aggression. Dalmatians shed constantly and can chew and claw you out of house and home. Animal shelters across the country have recorded large numbers of Dalmatians being dropped off after owners became frustrated and fed up.
Because of the increased popularity of this breed, "puppy mills" have been producing dogs without concern for the animals' health. Unscrupulous or uneducated people have overbred dogs, causing problems such as deafness, hip dysplasia, skin problems, and urinary system disorders.
If you are interested in Dalmatian as a pet, please do some research. They are wonderful dogs, but they require a lot of attention and work. Consider adopting an adult dog. Many rescue organizations take in unwanted Dalmatians and train them to make them more attractive to new owners. For more information, contact your local animal shelter or the Dalmatian Club of America at www.dalmatians.com/dca/rescue.htm or 540/349-9022.
Attorney at Law and proud Dalmatian owner
Grating on Our Nerves
It's old news that Floridiots are too drugged to vote and too stupid to count (thanks, public education). It's also old news that liberals are not accountable for their own actions and all of their problems are a result of the vast right wing conspiracy (thanks, bitch). But a special posthumous thanks to liberals who thought they were not responsible for their sexual transgressions. They blew the election for Albert the Grate (not Great) because the dead can't vote. ("Compassionate conservatism" was just a euphemistic ruse, trust me.)
The crows have come home to roost/roast for Goremongers who lampooned Bush for lack of intelligence. Gore the Grate wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in hell if not for the illiterate and semi-literate vote in Floriduh. Many near-literates insist that if the "shoe was on the other foot" Bush would be doing the same thing as Gore. Well, DUH! ... and Gore would be doing THE SAME THING as Bush! So what's their point?! The debate (and the courts) will not suffer red herrings, a common play of liberal dogma. Their spin-doctors weave such a tangled web of red-herring bones that the "enfranchised" minions get lost in the hysteria. Well, now you've got four years of something to be hysterical about! Don't forget to breathe.
Dear Editor and Voters:
I am in 100% agreement that extreme level of building around Barton Springs on MoPac has left trash and tar runoff that pours into Barton Springs ["Paradise Lost" stories, Dec. 1]. I have even spent some time picking up some of that trash for free, to avoid swimming in it. Obviously, the members of the City Council ignored the laws, and I hope when they leave office, members of the community refuse to hire or do business with them, since they are untrustworthy.
But Paradise, or a supportive community, is being Lost in even worse ways. Obviously, when people vote, their votes should be heard. According to CNN, over 10,000 votes have never been counted in Florida. Note that Republicans appointed most of the Supreme justices, and if they do not order a complete vote democracy no longer exists in America. Obviously, according to CNN Bush first had 1,700 votes and after recount it is 500. This is a 70% drop. Obviously, the counties that are not counted are strongly Democratic. Obviously, according to Shrub, an excellent source of Bush's background, this is a person who promises everything, and delivers absolutely nothing he promised. The governor position in Texas is extremely weak, but the U.S. presidency is overwhelmingly powerful and the Chronicle was absolutely right: The Black Cover with W. is almost an understatement of what Bush Jr. -- who has [done] less than any other Republican who held that office -- will do to America.
I abstained, but obviously Bush needs to be investigated and stopped by the national press now, before this con gains him the most powerful position in America.
Paradise Is Being Lost,
Every Vote Counts -- So Long as It's a Vote For Me
Vice-President Gore has recently been involved in several national elections ... he and President Clinton's victory over President Bush, and their re-election four years ago. In both of these cases, as in this year's presidential election, the many differing automated counting methods used throughout the country failed to count votes ... a lot of votes. I suspect that Vice-President Gore was aware of this fact. Oddly enough, when he and President Clinton were victorious, Vice-President Gore made no attempts to "make sure that every vote was counted" either in Florida or anywhere else.
For the past eight years, Vice-President Gore has been in a relatively influential position in our national government. He certainly possessed the opportunity to bring attention to the "shortcomings" of our automated vote-counting systems. Vice-President Gore chose to become an advocate of "every vote must be counted" at a curious time ... after President George W. Bush's victory on November 7, 2000.
Thanks for your attention,
Good Candidates Are Like Parking Spaces --
Where are all the good candidates?
It's truly a sad day in American politics when the only type of people that are interested in running for office are narcissistic, self-righteous, unethical individuals like George W. Bush and Al Gore. Both men are putting their self-interests above the American people's interests by allowing the continuation and escalation of the election saga. Both men should be held equally responsible for the present dilemma in the stock market and the ever-growing division among the American people.
We as Americans, however, must also take responsibility for allowing the press to take advantage of our emotional vulnerability. Many press associations inflate present and past news events as if they were Jerry Springer episodes and not real historical moments in time. What drives the press to report such garbage as the so-called "Clinton Scandals" is the American public's insatiable desire for more and the reporters' desire to make a buck. How the press can be paid money and not report the highlights of a great president's career and only concentrate on the man's personal problems is a crime in itself. This type of news coverage is what has helped to keep good potential candidates from running for office. As long as we the American people manifest ourselves in such trash TV and slimy news articles, politics will keep producing only those winners that thrive on it.
Jean Clare Law