A mixed salad of Green letters and more.
Less Sex, More Clean Springs
I would like to respond to your "Top 10 Political Moments" ["The Year That Wasn't," Jan. 5] with specific attention to No. 5: "Austin's Environmental Movement Implodes."
Your statement suggests that the strength of the SOSA organization has been compromised due to the loss of certain members and their "sex appeal" factor. I would argue that a strategy of "consensus sex appeal" (think: unprofitable Internet company) has translated into a consensus of rhetoric with limited measurable benefits to our environment, in particular, Barton Springs. An additional consequence of this unsustainable strategy is the "green cover" that it provides for those elected officials, individuals, and businesses that talk and talk but continue to conduct themselves in ways that threaten the Springs, the aquifer, and our basic quality of life (think: millions of dollars in "corporate welfare" for companies to move downtown and call it environmental policy, the Bradley deal, and Stratus Proposal).
As a substitute for both sex appeal and the rhetoric of green cover, the current SOSA leadership offers the citizens of this city a renewed commitment to focus on the simple community-mandated goal: to preserve Barton Springs for future generations.
This renewal (not implosion) is a result of an honest evolution process within SOSA that will ensure that the organization's basic mandate of preserving Barton Springs will never be compromised or hijacked.
The negative attacks we receive from some elected officials as well as the positive feedback that we receive from the community in the form of greater financial support and growing membership confirms to us that it is more important to protect the springs than be liked.
I suspect for those elected officials who lack the courage to protect our environment and for those individuals and businesses whose objectives are contrary to the safety of the springs ... you won't notice our sex appeal.
Chair of the Board
No Implosion Here
While I am flattered that the Chronicle would recognize a disagreement among three friends in the top 10 political moments of the year ("No. 5. Austin's Environmental Movement Implodes." ["The Year That Wasn't," Jan. 5], your claim that three people differing over the "Bradley deal" caused Austin's environmental movement to "implode" is absurd. The "movement" is too big for that.
As for "implosion," quite the opposite is true. Our sharply increasing membership is just one example of increasing citizen action to save Austin before it's too late.
As for your suggestion that businesses and elected officials dislike SOS, I can only say that we continue to enjoy strong support from Austin businesses that are committed to saving Barton Springs. And we continue to work well with elected officials and businesses who understand that we stick to the facts and refuse to compromise when doing so means compromising Barton Springs.
The real No. 1 story is how close we are to losing Barton Springs and its Hill Country watersheds, hurried along by one insider deal after the next. It is true some folks don't like our opposition to these deals. For those who like what we're doing, please jump in and help.
1. Too Many Lists
Things we were most tired of seeing in The Austin Chronicle in 2000:
1. Best-of lists.
Your list of "Bushisms" in the Jan. 5 issue ["The Year That Wasn't"] was hilarious. Could your readers possibly see this as a regular weekly column? If you run out of one-liners, maybe you could print portions of his speeches or press conference remarks. Since you couldn't stop at 10 items on your top 10 list, does that mean you have even more saved up that you haven't printed? If that's the case I'd love to see the rest of them. Maybe you could fill the column out by adding some of the Bush jokes from the Tonight, Letterman, etc. shows.
Don't Pigeonhole Iranian Film
Regarding your dismissal of recent Iranian cinema ["The Year in Film," Jan. 5] (which at best is condescending or ignorant, and at worst flat-out racist), we find it disappointing that a critic (or, several critics) for an alternative weekly would embrace at the end of the year a narrow scope of heavily hyped and widely disseminated studio product. A journalist (to say nothing of a film lover) in your position should understand that these large-scale films (which are often supported by marketing juggernauts) are often distributed and consumed in such a way as to further marginalize both independent films but also independent thought about film. (For further information on this damaging trend, please see Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum's trenchant new book Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Conspire to Limit What Films We Can See.)
To call Iranian films and filmmakers "simplistic" is to call attention to (indeed, flaunt) your unwillingness to engage a style of filmmaking that differs drastically from the sledgehammer-and-shotgun approach deployed by the American film industry. We would be interested to know what you find "simplistic" about the films of Abbas Kiarostami (at least those of his 20-plus year career that you can actually find in this country), given your three-word year-end appreciation of Cast Away ("Tom Hanks rules").
Wake Up And Smell the Horses
There is no way in hell All the Pretty Horses could rate only three stars! Did Marjorie Baumgarten even bother to see the movie? I read the book and McCarthy's other work, even the pre-Texas stuff. I saw the three-hour-and-40-minute director's cut last year at the Arbor and I have been frothing at the bit to see the final version. If Billy Bob sent empty film canisters out to theaters the film would still rate more than three stars. This reviewer has obviously never read McCarthy. And she has certainly never been in love, down and dirty, gritty, gooey love. The kind that makes you sell your soul. She has never been on the edge, slept naked on the ground under a full moon, smelled a sweaty horse, or done anything, anything at all just for the "adventure" or "romance." Tell this woman to get off her butt and get a horse between her legs. I am going to see All the Pretty Horses today. I'm going to buy the largest bag of popcorn available, I'm going to suck down a giant Pepsi, and I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this movie.
A Right Good Reading
I want to thank you for that beautiful interview with B.B. King by Raoul Hernandez ("Paying the Cost to Be the Boss," Sept. 29). It was so heart-warming. I'm a big fan of B.B. King and ... well it was a super interview and reading it made me feel I was right there listening.
What a wonderful piece of writing was Jay Hardwig's "A Small Green Cow!" It made me laugh; I loved it.
Remembering Eddy Shaver
I read in the Waco newspaper that Billy Joe Shaver's son, Eddy, died recently. All that was available from the Waco Tribune-Herald was an obituary-type article. I was looking on the Internet for more info -- a memorial or feature story of some sort since Eddy was a guitarist for several well-known country entertainers. When I thought of looking at The Austin Chronicle, I felt there would be a feature for sure, but again, I can't find it. Hopefully someone will take the job of writing a tribute to Eddy. He wasn't famous, but he was a pretty darn good Texas guitarist. If the Chronicle has already written about Eddy, perhaps I haven't searched hard enough. Thanks for all the great reporting on Texas music.
[Ed. note: See "Dancing About Architecture" in this issue.]
Giving You a Voice
To Kelly Holmes ("Less Talk, More Action," Jan. 5) and other concerned readers, please consider contacting or joining the League of Women Voters of the Austin Area to learn how to access the legislative system and be an effective contributor or lobbyist for bills that concern you. The League and other nonprofit organizations will be sponsoring lobbying and welcome those interested in their agendas.
Call the LWV-AA for more information: 451-6710.
Full of Gas
To the citizens of Central Texas, Southern Union Gas is apparently seen as a fairly benign supplier of natural gas. To the residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania however, it is one of the villains in an unprecedented land grab involving the entire watershed of the third-most-populated region of our state.
The problem began in 1995 when our local company, Pennsylvania Gas and Water, sold its water division to American Water Works. Because of the presence of filtration plants in the system, the Public Utility Commission unwisely allowed the former watershed lands to remain in the possession of Theta Land Corporation, a subsidiary of the Gas Company, rather than requiring them to pass into possession of the newly formed water company. Thus roughly 40,000 acres of largely pristine land (a vast amount of land here in the East) was opened to the prospect of exploitation. The situation prompted several conservation organizations, most notably the Nature Conservancy, to begin negotiations to acquire portions of the land.
At the end of 1999, Pennsylvania Enterprises (the Gas Company with other holdings) was sold to Southern Union. Shortly afterwards, Theta Land Corporation was sold for $12.1 million. Southern Union agreed to keep the identity of the buyer(s) secret. Here is where Southern Union stockholders need to pay attention. If you do the math, the land was sold for roughly $300 an acre, far below its true value. Portions have already been sold, or are being offered for sale, at between 10 and 50 times the purchase price.
Thus Southern Union allowed land that for years was held in the public trust to fall into the hands of people who apparently do not want to be accountable for their actions regarding the land, and/or for the circumstances surrounding the deal. Aggressive timbering began shortly after the sale. The current local rumor is that at least one of the owners is our largest local landfill and salvage yard operator.
The people of Austin have a national reputation for environmental awareness. It is our wish that you understand the havoc wrought in our region, by one of your utilities. Watch them closely. They are not to be trusted.
Henry F. Smith Jr. MD
President, Board of Directors
Defend Our Watershed
A Court-Appointed Pres
By calling G.W. Bush the "president-elect," we only strengthen the illusion that he was elected. Many have apparently forgotten (or failed to notice) that he was not elected. He was appointed by the Supreme Court. Evidently, justice is just a game to them.
No Big Nuke: Film at 11
Carl Swenson, who finds no downside to global warming, probably suffers from widespread modern malady in which life takes on the unreal and trivial aspect of a movie or TV show. Probably this comes of growing up expecting a nuclear catastrophe. For those of us who are still alive, this catastrophe hasn't happened yet. It's a relief, but also a disappointment, as if the main event of our own lives has failed to occur.
How it looks as if complex life on earth may end without even a whimper. If the nuclear catastrophe never shows up to kill us, we'll die of our own population growth, pollution, and excessive consumption of resources. And with this sort of catastrophe there is no suspense. People don't have a sense of impending crisis so much as just a vague depression.
It's not surprising that people get depressed. The indoor car/computer/gym lifestyle offers nothing to the senses. People are animals. We are making life unlivable first for the non-human animals, next for the people who can't adapt to the car/computer/gym life, and finally for everyone.
The big problems are overpopulation, ever-growing consumption of resources and production of trash per person, and dumping of toxins by big business. People regard these problems as too big to think about. This is a serious mistake.
Ignoring problems is more depressing than thinking about them. Our local pollution problem is largely caused by the unrestricted use of air conditioning. Maybe we should consider this.
Are we willing to slow down and think a little? Or is our main concern the length of time it takes to drive to work?
'Cause Only Straight People Deserve Freedom of Speech
Editor and S.M. Moser:
As a spokesman for the Austin chapter of the vast right-wing conspiracy (VRWC) my heart goes out to Stephen Moser ("Affronts to Gracious Living," Jan. 5) as he whines, "I'm tired of having to apologize for being from Austin." I feel yer pain Moser ... at least I used to. But the worm has turned like the arsonist who had been working with impunity for so long he'd forgotten the tenor of the heat, Austin's hysterical liberals seem to be looking for large rocks to crawl back under in light of the political firestorm on the horizon.
From the brainless wit of Molly Ivins and her aphasic babbling to the pitiful, limp-wristed hacks like Moser who lament the demise of their precious homosexual agenda, we of the VRWC feel yer pain. I for one always like a good tearjerker, so keep writing about your pain. In the meantime, take a pill and "... get used to it." (Rx: 1 cap. P.r. PRN)
P.S. Instead of Kate X Messer changing the name of "Public Notice" to "Republican Notice" why not call it what it is, "The Homosexual Notice"? Then let some sane person write "Public Notice." (You could run a "help wanted" ad ...)
I felt I must inform the citizens of Austin of two wonderful services for persons who are hard of hearing. Statistics show that 10% of the population has a hearing loss, and I have personally met many people experiencing hearing difficulty who did not know where to go for help. The best-kept secrets in Austin are: Capitol Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH) Group and captioned movies at the Regal Lake Creek 8 Cinema. SHHH meets at 7pm the third Tuesday of each month and offers education and support to persons with hearing loss and their families. Best of all, it is free! The address is 6016 Cameron next to Whataburger. The Regal Lake Creek 8 Theatre is located near K-mart on 183 North and shows captioned first-run movies every day of the week! (Just call to learn which movie will be captioned that week.) What fun it has been for me to finally enjoy the movies with my family and understand every word! Thank you for helping to spread the word about some good news.
Rose Aird Minette