Our readers talk back.
Think Globally, Gripe Locally
Wow, that Amy Smith is some writer! Her article about Mr. Sanchez ["Looking for Tony," Dec. 8] was filled with really important information, especially about a possible chief executive of the State of Texas!! We read about how much money Mr. Sanchez is worth, how big his house is, how old his house is, how old his neighborhood is, how much his neighbors' homes cost. Is this what they teach in journalism school these days? Another string in her gossip column was also tripe: "... and although he is in the oil and gas business and sits on the board of directors of Conoco, Sanchez is said to fancy himself as an environmentalist." How much of a dipstick do you have to be to think that people in the oil and gas business cannot be concerned with the environment? How dumb? Right now, Exxon is donating tens of millions of dollars to help save Indian and Siberian tigers ... wonder how much Amy has donated to that cause? And I bet she fancies herself an environmentalist. I dare her to do a story on how "the oil and gas business" has destroyed the environment anywhere in the world. I wager we would know all about how much people in the industry are paid, what their parents did, and how many square feet their homes are.
The Model of Self-Restraint
In his December 1, 2000, column in the Chronicle, Jim Hightower wrote of his distrust of the FBI and the program "Carnivore," which the FBI uses to execute court-ordered searches of e-mail communications between criminals. Mr. Hightower says that the FBI "is not an agency with a reassuring record of self-restraint." Well, Mr. Hightower, how about having hundreds and thousands of bullets fired at you, as FBI agents did during the Branch Davidian siege, and never once returning fire? How's that for discipline and self-restraint?
For the edification of your readers, why don't you list for them in your next column the last time an FBI wiretap was suppressed because the FBI didn't follow the law? (Readers -- don't hold your breath waiting on this one!)
Chris Just Didn't Get the Joke
I never thought I'd be the one to defend Shane MacGowan's honor, but, here we are ...
Chris Gray wrote in his Popes show review ["Live Shots," Dec. 1] that he was unsettled by Shane's "racist" comments. In the next issue, some puss was so upset by Shane's zingers that he left the show in tears, hugging his dolly ["Postmarks," Dec. 8].
Jesus Christ God Damn! He was joking with the crowd, you mopes! Everyone there, both of you, and me, was wondering how Shane would look, what he'd say, what he'd do. We expected -- nay, demanded -- wicked, unholy, outrageous, intolerable words and actions from him.
After the "I hope there are no niggers or Mexicans here" remark, he said something like (here's what you missed): "Oh, you know we love you." That sort of gets him off the hook. We wanted piss and bile? We got just that. Right there the $20 admission made the show worthwhile, before the Popes even played the first song, "If I Should Fall From Grace With God." That's the punchline.
I'm no more racist than are you two PC pantywaists, but I am against people like you who just don't get the fuckin' joke. That bit is straight from Don Rickles' repertoire!
Thank you, Merry Christmas, and ... Pogue Mahone.
Sahm's Friends Need Love, Too
The photo on p. 74, Dec. 1 ["A Man and a Half"], shows Jerry Wexler, several musicians, including George Rains, Augie Meyers, Doug Sahm, and Bob Dylan, and on the right, smiling, Doug Sahm's assistant at the time, Gary Scanlan. While Doug has died, Jerry Wexler has grown old, and Bob Dylan has gone on to re-create himself as a powerful singer and performer, Gary Scanlan has been in Huntsville, I don't know how long, serving a long sentence for his conviction for the crime of murdering his mother.
Sometimes things are not what they seem. When Gary came up for parole for the first time and many of his old friends wrote the parole board asking for leniency, in my letter I didn't try to excuse Gary's drug use, but I did say that he was not a murderer.
His mother was dying and in severe pain. She stopped eating. She refused to eat. Gary was trying to help her ease the pain by shooting her up. Because he didn't go through conventional medical channels to obtain the painkilling substance, when she died, he was held accountable.
I'm not saying he did the right thing or made the best choice, but he didn't kill her, he didn't intend to kill her, even though for all I know he may have let her die, he was just doing the best he knew how in a grim situation to ease his mother's pain. Maybe there's a crime in there somewhere, I don't know. But he's not guilty of murder.
But don't take my word for it, check it out yourself, all you who love Doug Sahm, send a little of that love to his friend Gary Scanlan.
Open Mouth, Insert Ethnocentrist Foot
My family wants to thank Gregory J. Gauntner for his letter to the editor in [last week's] issue [Postmarks, Dec. 8]. Nothing's made us laugh harder in a long time.
Our favorite line is "I'm a white boy myself, but I also work with my hands for a living." See, I work with my hands for a living, too. My brother Carl works with his brain and his pens. We were wondering if our jobs make me more black and him more white. I don't know. Last time I checked neither one made us anything more or less than black and human.
As for there needing to be change in this country, we agree. But change also needs to happen inside all of us. We need to start caring about each other and stop trying to drag each other down. And throwing your hands up and making fun of everything won't change a damn thing. That's just a spoiled white boy (hell, any boy) attitude if we ever heard one.
We'd love to see something other than white guys in the White House. Mostly we want someone who can do the job. It doesn't look like that's going to happen this time around. But there will be more times. And, one of those times, a black person will lead this country.
So, Gregory, we'll continue using our hands and our brains and work at using these "relics from slavery days" (and I guess that includes the Supreme Court, farming, and the state of North Carolina) to bring about real change. Everything else is just bullshit. But we have uncles and aunts who still have scars from fighting for and winning their right to vote. Maybe it means more to them than to you.
Please don't misunderstand, we are flattered by the praise that your reviewer Wayne Alan Brenner has heaped upon our heads for our sound and lighting designs for Virtual Devotion, the current production playing at the State Theater ["Exhibitionism," Dec 8]. "De-lighted" is perhaps a better word, because, well, we didn't do the lights. The lighting design was done by the very talented Michael Roesch, who came down to Austin from Cleveland to work on this show, and in our opinion did an exemplary job. Michael worked Herculean hours getting this show aloft, produced a magnificent lighting tableau, and kept his sense of humor throughout.
As to the sound, credit also goes to our board operator, Philip Montoya, who artfully juggles over 130 sound cues from four recorded sound sources and five live microphones through an array of nine speakers on and surrounding the stage to bring our design to life.
Anyway, thanks for the kudos on the tech for Virtual Devotion, but the credit for that stunning lighting design goes to Michael Roesch.
The Gunn Bros.
Gordon and Jimy
Walking the Walk
Concerning the "reflections on campaign 2000" article that you wrote ["Letters at 3AM," Dec. 8]: I am one of those few Nader voters you malign. And I have to say I really don't think you have thought too much about your claims that Nader and his supporters lie. With that kind of claim you make the assumption that voters like myself were susceptible to Nader's message. You assume that we are too dumb to know what a vote for Nader meant. You assume we are too dumb to make a choice so -- like cattle (or lemmings) -- we follow a bad egg to our doom.
My question to you is if it's so obvious that Bush is a bad candidate why don't you blame the Bush voters for being stupid enough to put him into office? Don't they know he's evil incarnate? Or maybe they like his stance on all the issues. Think about that. Half of the voters in this election actually support Bush. I think they should be blamed. Not the Nader voters.
Gore did not earn my vote. To me and many, Gore and Bush were a Hobson's choice. And that may be why they essentially tied. In a real democracy we can vote for whom we best like. I've been a Democrat all my life but I don't like their rightward shift and I know it won't change under Gore. To me a vote for Gore would have been a lie. A lie that I could not reconcile or justify. And I could not have pretended that he was better than Bush.
I voted for Nader after looking closely at both candidates' economic, education, and health proposals. I know very well Bush's record in Texas but I also know Gore's record the last eight years. And the bottom line is Gore pays lip service to the environment, to the poor, to labor, and to all the other progressive agendas, while Bush does not. So I realized, basically, that for four years we could have a president who talks the talk but walks in step with conservatives or we could have a conservative who professes nothing else.
One lie you tell -- in unison with progressives -- is that abortion rights are in danger of being overturned. I'm one of a few it seems who know abortion will never be overturned, unless the Republicans want to ruin their party. It's worth noting that the Senate is 50/50, which means gridlock for four years. Bush's evil plans won't get far. Unless the Democrats are as conservative as I fear they may be. And in that case then we really are screwed. I guess we can only know in four years if Bush is the big bad president the Democrats fear. If he is, then maybe the Democrats can get a real candidate. One thing I know though is that we won't have to worry about Bush ending welfare. That was done by a Democrat.
Also, if you get a chance read Jim Hightower's article about the election in Salon: www.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/11/27/hightower/index.html
Don't Turn on the Greens
Dear Michael Ventura, Chronicle folks, et al:
I write in response to Mr. Ventura's article in the most recent Chronicle, "The Election That Refused to Die" ["Letters at 3AM," Dec. 8]. While there are several things that I'd like to comment on, I'll limit myself to just two.
Firstly, the Nader/Green-bashing. Ventura, referring to the electoral stalemate in Florida asks, "knowing this, would you still vote for Nader?" Bush and Gore are unashamedly fighting for power using any means possible, rather than either of them taking the high ground. If their positions were reversed, does anyone really believe that each wouldn't adopt the other's legal arguments rather than stand on principle? So, the question that one might ask is "knowing this, would you still vote for Gore or Bush?"
Is Nader really to blame for Gore and Bush dragging our country's dignity through the mud? We are the laughingstock of the world: Russia, El Salvador, Zaire, and other countries have offered to send us election observers so that we can be sure to have a clean electoral process!
If Ventura really does want to talk about how Nader and the Greens "stole the election" from Gore, that's fine. But let's also ask why, when 1% of Florida Democrats voted Green, 12% voted Republican.
Ventura brings up an important point regarding our neighbors in South America: the growing militarization of Colombia. Is the $1.3 billion in mostly military aid really supposed to end America's dependence on illegal drugs? How many of us are beginning to wonder how long before American troops become involved in another foreign civil war that we can't win and never should have gotten involved in (ô la Vietnam)? Unfortunately, Ventura does not question how we got here or why both the Democrats and Republicans want to spend so many of our tax dollars on military hardware instead of the much more cost-effective and fruitful drug treatment programs here at home. The answer is that both Dems and Reps are taking in campaign contributions from military contractors hand over fist. The Green Party and Nader oppose this kind of military build up in Latin America which has only brought disgrace to the United States (e.g. Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala).
Paging Mr. Rollins
SWF, 33, nonsmoker, drug/disease-free seeks Henry Rollins. Dude, where the hell are you? I've been looking all over the place. Call me.
Wham Slam Thank You Ma'am
I really enjoyed Ken [Lieck]'s story about my band the Skunks ["Young, Loud, and Cheap," Dec. 8]. I thought it did a good job of talking about where we came from, what we represented, and all that. And it stayed away from all the silly negativity that was going on back then, in the heat of the moment.
I thought it might be a good idea, however, to mention that Ken's interpretation of the song "Gimme Some" is somewhat in error. I will be the first to admit that I've written a nasty lyric or two in my time, but "Gimme Some" is not about a "thuggish male demanding sex"; rather, it is a story of casual, slam-bang sex between musicians in different bands. As with many of my songs, there is a reflexive, shifting viewpoint -- sometimes the thoughts are from the girl's point of view, sometimes from the guy's. This reflexivity made the song easy to swap between Kathy Valentine singing it and me singing it. Sure, it's open to interpretation, but the one certain thing is that there are no demands being made. I might also mention that I've continued writing songs that Kathy uses in her solo bands. The new Delphines CD, for example, will include a song I wrote for myself originally titled "Pissin' in the Wind," and has long been a crowd-pleasing staple for that band despite its seeming inherent contradictions for a female singer.
This might also be a good opportunity for me to point out that the lovely model pictured levitating the Skunks logo on our double EP (top left upper corner, page 84) is none other than my lovely wife, Lois Richwine. Also, take note that the logo, as well as nearly all Skunks graphics -- along with a huge portion of all cutting-edge music graphics back in the Skunks' heyday -- is the work of our road manager and all-around Austin character, the inimitable Richard Luckett.
Here, for your enjoyment, are the lyrics to "Gimme Some."
Lyrics by Jesse Sublett
Staring holes in the ceiling, lying on my back
I can't get up cause there's something I lack
It's like torture being stretched on the rack
When I think about it I nearly have a heart attack
You call me on the telephone
You say you don't like being alone
So I say I'm going home, girl do you wanna come?
Gimme gimme gimme some ...
I wouldn't say you're special, I wouldn't say you're neat
But the first time I saw you, you knocked me off my feet
You looked at me like something you could eat
But now that I've had you, you're just another piece of meat
Bridge: Don't put me down 'cause I only think of myself
It's only 'cause I'm better than everybody else
Don't say thanks, don't say please
You gotta gimme just what I need
I've been with your whole band and I can say that
Your bassist is a junkie and your rhythm player's fat
Your lead player's gay and your voice and you go flat
But save me from your drummer 'cause she scratches like a cat
You sing in the microphone,
Say you don't like to be alone
So I say I'm going home, girl, you wanna come?
Gimme gimme gimme some...
Smoke Gets Stuck in Your Throat
Why are the pits of the Trail of Lights allowed to smolder during the day? And depending on the wind, contaminating the pool, even Austin High and residential areas across Town Lake? Why is the city endangering the health of its citizens? All I ever get as a response from the city is: "We have a legal right to do so," "This is a ceremonial fire," "We have permission to do so." (Who gave permission??) There is no ceremony going on during the day. There is no fire during the day, just smoke, smoke, smoke!
I was caught in the smoke four years ago while swimming at Barton Springs Pool, my throat has never recovered and is now permanently sensitive, triggering violent coughing spells. I can no longer swim in December. The swimming is therapeutic for me, slowing down a terminal condition, but the smoke forces me to stay away from the pool. Second-hand smoke effects everybody. Why not use dry wood for a real fire as we did the first time a fire was lit? I was a member of the Parks Board at that time. But no, bigger according to the city seems to be better, so the pits get bigger, the logs get bigger. Why?
Dr. Agnes Edwards
I Am Re at Noon
Do not look to the donkey or elephant for vision or authority. Look to the falcon, the symbol of Re, the Egyptian sun god. Re said: "I am Khepera at the dawn, and Re at noon, and Tem in the evening."
Khepera, the scarab-god of resurrection, rolls the sun like a ball of dung across the sky. From the graves of Germany and the British Empire rose the Beetle and the Beatles. The new dawn brought creativity and rebellion. Khepera was John Lennon, who danced with the dark goddess. Her thugs struck down a President and a King. Help! Kali claims Khepera.
The sun travels from Europe to America. I am Re at noon. My rule is predestined. Look at the Washington Monument. The obelisk is a symbol of Re. Look at your dollar bill. The Eye of Re gazes from the pyramid. I see unlimited energy. I see the cure for AIDS. I see the science that destroys souls.
Two hundred falcons have crossed my path. In my dreams, I have traveled in the Boat of Re. My time is coming. But first the dark goddess must work her mischief. She poisons the earth. She poisons the love between men and women. And now she poisons your politics. When the presidency lies near death, a falcon shall bring me to the throne.
Reach Re at email@example.com.
No, Virginia, There Is No Chicken-Wing Tree
I am amazed at reports that a woman in Newport News (Va.) has had trouble sleeping after finding a chicken head in her box of McDonald's chicken wings. What was this woman thinking? That chicken wings grew on a chicken wing tree?
The head was only a reality check that the chicken wings are the body parts of an animal that had a face. An animal that experienced pain and suffering, just as we do. An innocent animal condemned to death after a lifetime of imprisonment in a filthy, toxic shed, so that her wings could be served up to a McDonald's customer.
It's high time for American consumers to wake up, find out where their food comes from, and learn to live with the consequences.
American Cancer Society, New England Journal of Medicine, 10/6/99
American Heart Association, 1998
Harvard University Alumni Study
Framingham Heart Study
Put in Our Place
Regarding the presidential election:
Perhaps we could garner some aid from the Organization of American States to help Florida (or the U.S. in general) to conduct a fair and decisive election with a smooth transition of power and a minimum of lingering bitterness. After all, we have always been quick to proffer our paternalistic help and advice to them -- to show them how to do things right -- so maybe turnabout is fair play. The O.A.S. could send election observers from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador where they have succeeded in conducting apparently free and fair elections. (Who woulda thunk it?)
Maybe they could show us a way to overcome petty partisan nonsense enough to honor our electorate by counting all the ballots, including those unfairly disqualified because some antique voting machinery kicked them out for not being perfectly uniform (the Republicans' shame), as well as those absentee ballots that certain folks wanted to have disqualified on squirrelly technicalities (the Democrats' shame). Perhaps future generations of Americans will look back on Election 2000 as the end to our sense of moral superiority over our neighbors to the south.
The Shrub Needs Pruning
Dear Editor and College Students:
Do we have any national TV reporters in Austin?
You know all those trucks around the Governor's mansion? Are there any real investigative reporters in any of them? When I read in The New York Times that Gore was 216,291 votes ahead of Bush on a nationwide basis I handed to them copies of this chart. No one reported this fact. Finally, I took off from work, stood across from UT one morning for four hours holding posters saying "George W. Bush Cut College Grants by 90%" when he was senior advisor to President Bush, and the poster had a chart showing this huge drop from "Jimmy Carter to 2000 in College Grant Money." (The sources of information: Associate Press and ABC News were listed.) This was cold, and I waited four hours for a photographer from The Daily Texan or one of national press to photograph this news. No one photographed it.
Obviously, we really don't have investigative reporters. Obviously, the Statesman can't ask Mr. Bush for a copy of his college transcript. Obviously, when Mr. Bush ignores college students, as he has done for seven years, there are no headlines on this.
The Statesman will never mention that 17,000 UT students can't graduate due to a huge drop in college grants. Contrast: Margaret Thatcher, the [former] prime minister of Great Britain, raised the tuition at Oxford. The London papers and the Labor Party got upset. Two weeks later in the middle of her second term the British were about ready to call a "voice of confidence vote" and she resigned.
Mr. Bush, please resign.
Frank D. Bartlett
It Ain't Over Till the Electoral College Says So
Even if Gore loses Florida, he could win the election with people's help.
1) If there should be a recount in Florida, people can go to this Web site and sign a petition stating this view: www.fairelection2000.org/petition.html
2) By going to www.bushvotegrab.com people can ask their electors to switch their vote from Bush to Gore -- this could really work:
According to The New York Times, "Neither the Constitution nor any federal law requires electors to vote in accordance with the popular votes in their states." Even if Bush wins Florida, we might be able to put Gore in the White House if only three electors abandon the Texas governor. The future of the presidency, democracy, and the country is on the line.
The politicians in Florida are attempting to cheat Al Gore out of a victory by mishandling ballots and practicing partisan politics. In Palm Beach Florida, an illegal and confusing ballot could have led thousands of people to cast a vote for a candidate they did not support. I demand a re-vote in Florida!
In the absence of a recount I urge the electoral voters who have been instructed to vote for George W. Bush to vote for Al Gore -- the man who has won the popular vote in this election. In a 1952 Supreme Court opinion, Justice Robert H. Jackson said the Founding Fathers envisioned the electors as "free agents" who would exercise "an independent and nonpartisan judgment as to the men best qualified" for president (The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2000).