Kudos for the Lost Austin issue, and much environmental ado.
Blues Boy Missing
Thanks for the great issue about the history of Austin [Jan. 26]. It was fascinating. However, we noticed an oversight on page 71, at the bottom. Ernie's Chicken Shack and the band the Jets was mentioned.
Anyone who remembers Ernie's must surely recall Charlie's Playhouse and that the bandleader of the Jets was Blues Boy Hubbard.
From the day it opened until the day it closed, for a span of over 20 years, Blues Boy Hubbard and the Jets were the house band at Charlie's, yet neither Charlie's Playhouse nor Blues Boy Hubbard, or even Sam's Showcase, received any mention at all.
As a founder of the blues in Austin from the 1950s on, Blues Boy Hubbard still has the crowds jumping right here in Austin, so it seems a bit odd how they are continually overlooked in your paper.
Hubbard was also omitted from the article on Antone's a few weeks back ["Blue Monday," Dec. 29]. Perhaps this was not a deliberate oversight, but it seems to us to be a rather large one.
Thanks again for all of your support of the blues, and all live music, in Austin.
Deborah and Scott Graham
Rhythm section of Blues Boy Hubbard and the Jets
More 'Lost' Applause
The "Lost Austin" issue [Jan. 26] was great -- a winning combination of nostalgia and history!
Gloria Mata Pennington
Perhaps It Was Arthur Fenstemaker
In 1994 I moved back to Austin after four years in the Pacific Northwest, and I was delighted to drive around town looking at the beautiful little corners of Old Austin that hadn't changed. They reconnected me with the gentle, slow-moving town I'd missed in Starbucks-jolted Seattle. One of these touchstones was the delightful old "LBJ in a Stetson" (or Resistol?) image on the brick wall on Congress Avenue -- an old ad for Joseph's Menswear, as I recall. The LBJ figure -- it wasn't quite clear that it was him, which added to the mystery of the rendition -- seemed lost in reverie; he was looking downward, almost wistfully, and for some reason it always made me think of LBJ coming back to the Hill Country, his heart broken by the disaster in Vietnam. The portrait was a masterpiece of delicate tones and shadings, light oranges and golds and greens, and the fading and flecking of time had only enhanced its beauty.
Then, coming down Congress a few weeks later, I looked up to savor again the old sign -- and was horrified to see that it had been painted over in a kind of garish, paint-by-numbers style. I felt that sharp pang of loss that we've all felt in Austin more and more over the past 15 years.
I've never been able to look at the sign since, and I found it strange and ironic that it was chosen to serve as the central icon for your excellent "Lost Austin" issue [Jan. 26]. That sign truly is a symbol of Lost Austin -- in this case, lost not to time or developers or Smart Growth, but to the hubris of not leaving well enough alone. Skagen-Brakhage created many little treasures around town, but when they agreed to "spruce up" that old LBJ masterpiece, they ruined something that can never be replaced.
Austin History 101
To all staff writers:
Re: Your articles on Austin history [Jan. 26]. I am a native Austinite of 40 years and found myself learning new facts about our city's history. Please keep up the excellent work!
Popular Chron Issue
Thank you for the "Lost Austin" issue [Jan. 26]! What a treat, what a pleasure, what solid proof that you publish a first-class treasure. Now be sure to make the next generation of writers read it, pass a test on it and do it again and again. Keep 'em digging and writing. My house loved every piece.
2001: Class Acts & Clowns
Enjoyed your "Class of 2001" roundup [Jan. 19]. Found myself prognosticating along as I read through the piece, and figured I'd share my thoughts with y'all.
Those who will stand as stars head-and-shoulders above the rest at year's end: Charlie Robison and Bob Schneider. Hmmm, there's one particular thing those two have in common ...
Those who probably deserve some sort of major breakthrough but won't get it: Abra Moore, Davíd Garza, Kacy Crowley.
Those who will roll right along as ever, and be just fine: Alejandro Escovedo, Damnations, Spoon.
Just as books sometimes can be judged by their cover, those whose imminent demise can be judged by their band name: Dynamite Hack, Schatzi, Ünloco, Riddlin' Kids.
Those who are ultimately, no matter how good, not stars, but a rhythm section: Double Trouble.
Wild cards: Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin. Colvin's comments in the "Class of 2001" piece were the most insightful of the bunch. She's right that her age and her music style would suggest commercial doom. But I suspect that her "intuitive sense it will be okay" is also correct. In a marketplace where shit floats a lot more often than cream rises to the top, she's the rare exception that proves the rule. Griffin might belong in that same category above with Abra, Davíd and Kacy - but I've heard the record and have a hunch something will happen. She just might do so well that next year's Robison/Schneider will be Troy Campbell.
Learning From the Fire?
Regarding the article on the student co-op housing facility which recently burned ["Co-op in Smoke," Jan. 12]: The writer should be commended for accurately reporting the cause as "unattended cooking." (Contrary to the piece in our esteemed daily rag which attributed the cause as a "cooking accident.")
In addition it appears as if everyone, or just about everyone there, knew that the toaster oven was dangerous and in need of repair/replacement. Yet despite this the students left it unattended.
What was not emphasized enough in the personal interest item was that the fire resulted from carelessness and even negligence of the residents. Their great loss could have been prevented.
Hopefully some of this has sunk in and will not be entirely lost on the young kids who resided in the facility.
Double Trouble for Chron
Why didn't the Chronicle do an article on the incredible performances of Double Trouble and Friends from January 12, 2001?
Austin City Limits and Austin Music Hall haven't seen shows like that in a long time. It would have really shown support for our local favorites if the article had made the front page instead of James Cotton [Feb. 2] (although he is loved and respected). Chris and Tommy, Jimmie and Lou Ann, with the famous (almost) Tilt-A-Whirl background vocalists, Greg Sain and Rayvon Foster deserved the recognition of the Chronicle in January.
Long live Austin live music!!!
Just my 2 cents,
[Ed. note: See this week's Music section for an extensive profile of Double Trouble]
$36 Million: 'Chump Change'?
The next time your paper publishes an article lamenting the condition of the state Democratic party, you need only refer to the words of Rep. Glen Maxey in the Feb. 2 article titled "The State of Whose State?" In the article, Rep. Glen Maxey refers to $36 million as "only $36 million" and as "chump change." The only thing missing from his remarks would be "$36 million here, $36 million there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money." This alone should make Rep. Maxey the poster child for term limits and tax cuts. It must be refreshing to all the taxpayers that such a carefree attitude is taken when deciding to spend our (no, it is not your money, Glen) money. If you want to find the problem with the Democratic Party you need look no farther than Rep. Maxey's attitude in spending our money.
Up Against the (White) Wall
I own Mojo's Daily Grind. Over the past couple of years a graffiti scene has developed, starting with the building next door, then the wall behind, and eventually my building. The Zeta sorority mom gave me verbal, then written permission five months ago to oversee the art on the back wall (that wall belonging to the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority). Since then, the local graffiti task force keeps coming by and painting over the art on this wall. I argued with these incompetents many times until finally an agreement was made with them and they stopped whitewashing the wall. On Jan. 31 the task force painted the wall and as soon as someone spray painted on that wall about 15 cops showed up. It was a sting. They arrested a stranger who just happened to be walking down the alley because he didn't show ID, then they threatened to arrest me, they illegally searched and confiscated a customer's photo album from his car, and they went into my shop and harassed and searched a random customer in line because he had accidentally dropped his wallet. They told me the sorority mom had written them a letter requesting they paint the wall white and keep it that way. I asked for a copy of that letter. They said "no." When I spoke to her, she said she never sent a letter and that they had approached her, saying the spray painting was illegal and they had to keep the wall white. She believed them. However, I believe her when she said it was best to encourage the arts, not repress them. I feel harassed and violated as do many of my customers. What rights do we have left? Who is to decide what is art and what is "offensive"?
Re: The film Traffic and especially the Austin Chronicle January 5 issue.
Of all the comments, talk, and reviews of this film I've read, seen, heard, no one and nowhere have I seen or heard mention of the brilliant BBC series of a number of years ago, except in your critic's review. And that, almost as an aside in parentheses, noting the script! Am I the only person, among the world's movie critics, who wonders the reason this is never mentioned, including Soderberg's interviews? Is the story possibly purloined? Are the copyright times up? What is the reason? The series on television was riveting and, for its time, daring. The great, and often underrated actor, Bill Paterson, I think he really is Scottish, played the Prime Minister. I shall never forget the scene where he finds his daughter in the bed-set and as the man leaving makes a remark to him, he replies, "Sir, that is my daughter ..." in a thick brogue: nor the final scene of his speech to the "United Nations." Wow! Everyone needs to see this series. First, last, and then decide about the Hollywood version!
P.S. Thank you, Mr. Savlov!
Reagan, W., & Gang of Four
I remember when Reagan was first elected president. I went to Club Foot; saw Gang of Four, the British, revolutionary, post-punk Marxist band. I don't remember the opening bands. I do remember Gang of Four! Lead singer Jon King blew beautiful noises on a little, plastic instrument that looked like it was made by Play-Skool®. King announced (with British accent): "Ladies and gentlemen of America! You have a new president! Ronald Reagan!" I'm not sure if Gang of Four followed U.S. politics, but they soon realized the audience did not approve. After a fanfare of profane boos and hisses, they plunged into song. A plain, ol' Tuesday night at Club Foot. They finished their set; they left the stage. We pleaded for an encore! Timidly, they came back. King declared they'd played all their songs; had no more to play. Somebody yelled, "Play 'em again!" King asked, "Really?" We exclaimed, "Yes!" They did! It was majestic! There's no point to this bittersweet tale. I just remember the night Reagan was elected president ... the first time.
So, here I am, days into Bush's "presidency," wondering why I'm listening to Gang of Four; thinking about this shit?!?
Heard on radio: Customer orders $2 worth of food, gives clerk $200 bill. Bill has pictures of George W. Bush on front, oil rig on back. Clerk gives customer $198 in change. Clerk was subsequently fired!
Oh brother! Maybe that's why I'm wide awake, thinking about Republicans and wondering where Gang of Four is when I really need them?!?!
"Is this really the way it is?" -- Gang of Four
KUT's Future Bright?
Thank you, thank you to KUT for extending the airtime of Morning Edition to 9am. How often through the years I have hoped that this change would be made, and I now find it to be even more rewarding than I had thought it might be. This change is a welcome one, and my hope is that more programming changes are on the horizon. On my wish list is the excellent national interview show Talk of the Nation and also some good quality local news, weather, and traffic during the NPR morning and evening news programs.
Whenever changes at KUT are considered I read about "locals" ["Dancing About Architecture," Feb. 2] who seem to view any change to programming as tantamount to complete evisceration of the freeform style of the station. Such concern reminds me of strident gun advocates. (You can drop one minute of local programming when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.)
I have two thoughts on such concerns. One is that there is room in KUT's broadcast day to increase news and information offerings and still have plenty of time left for freeform music. Second, from my admittedly unscientific and informal polling of listeners I have cause to believe that significant amounts of local music programming may be turning more listeners off rather than on, in some cases due to the on-air hosts rather than the music itself.
It may be that the "locals" alarmed about programming changes are in reality insiders at KUT who through the years have established fiefdoms and are reluctant to give up the ability to do what they want, when they want and how they want. Such lack of control can lead to a pretty ragged sound in a radio station, and KUT can sound pretty ragged at times. Straightening all that out is the job of a program director and now with KUT's first ever PD on board that may happen.
KUT can use some changes, but those changes don't mean that the basic approach and appeal of the station must change. As a devoted public radio listener I wish the new program director good luck and I look forward to his work at the station.
Kenneth M. Pfluger
Props for Pekar
Dear Raoul Hernandez:
Please convey to Harvey Pekar my admiration and appreciation for his "Better than Nothing" article about the Ken Burns Jazz series on PBS [Jan. 12]. Mr. Pekar certainly articulated my feelings about the subject -- not for the first time, either, because I have been reading his writings off and on for about 40 years, by now.
No Implosion, No Sound, No Crisis
An old philosophical question asks if a falling tree makes a sound if no one is there to hear it fall. When I read the January 5 Chronicle, I realized the media just has to say it fell for it to be heard. In this case, Austin's environmental movement "doesn't just fall, it implodes" and "loses its mainstream sex appeal." What a terrible sound.
Item number five of the Chron's top 10 political moments of 2000 stated that the implosion occurred when two people chose to support a deal with developer Gary Bradley and a third chose to leave a local environmental group. It is completely illogical to say that an entire movement imploded because of the actions of three people.
Although it is awkward when people who are supposed to be allies adopt different positions, it is also inevitable. Movements are by their nature composed of many different people who will have differing perspectives. In this case, the clear majority of people who spoke to City Council on this issue were in agreement that the settlement with Bradley was a bad deal.
One of those was Bill Bunch, who you dismiss as a "hard-core activist who business and political leaders find so easy not to like." For one thing, I would describe Mr. Bunch as a talented, accomplished, and community-spirited attorney; for another, it is because the "hard-core activists" have worked so hard to preserve the health and integrity of Austin that they are disliked by hardcore business and political leaders.
Finally, the "implosion" theory disregards the contributions of the many other groups and individuals who worked very hard for our community in the year 2000. This continuation of Austin's tradition of community concern and action is what I will remember about the year 2000.
Causes Global Warming
Bravo Carl Swanson! For years I have been following Amy Babich's column in the Chronicle and have waited in vain for someone to go toeclip to toeclip with her and actually refute all this global warming mumbo jumbo ["Postmarks," Jan. 19]. Thank you Carl for clearing up the matter of the Hadley Convection Cells. Call me stupid, or brainwashed, but what exactly is causing the big hole in the ozone layer over the South Pole? And more to the point ... is this yet another conspiracy theory brewed up by those tofu-eating, bathe-once-a-week, Nader-til-I-die, Salamander-loving, environmental extremists? Just curious.
I remain your faithful reader,
Samuel E. Sims
All the While that
Hole Gets Bigger
Wow, "arrogance of ignorance" eh ["Postmarks," Jan. 26]? Not to point out the kettle is in fact black, Jeff with a Ge-OFF seems to be ignorant himself. I never once suggested ozone depletion had anything to do at all with global warming, you'd have to be a real dipstick to get that from my last letter. Guess I should type slower for people like ol' GeOFF. Geoff is suggesting that CFCs in the Northern Hemisphere are destroying ozone at the South Pole. Rational people might think that if those CFCs were in fact responsible for ozone depletion, they might be destroying the ozone in the Northern Hemisphere. I wonder if Geoff ever barbecues? If he does, I imagine he might get the fire ready in the pit in the back yard, then run out front to stand with the lit match, waiting for the coals out back to catch fire. Bet he eats a lot of rare steaks.
Actually, a few of the more probable causes of ozone depletion at the South Pole might, heaven forbid, have nothing to do with air conditioners in Alaska, it might have something to do with Mt Eribus, an active volcano in Antarctica. Hydrogen sulfide gas, which is present in very high levels in volcanic emissions, might have something to do with it. The South Pole is also the negatively charged pole, which might have even more to do with it. Point being, it is asinine to suggest that CFCs in Minnesota are destroying ozone 12,000 miles or so to the south. Hope I typed this slowly enough for GeOFF to grasp, I hope he doesn't get confused again. He did teach me one thing, something important too. When you write something that arrogant, ignorant people might read, stick to one topic. Trying to raise two points in one letter confuses some people.
Global Warming a Real Threat
Is Swanson ["Postmarks: Global Warming Causes Hot Air?" Jan. 19] an anti-environmental extremist, or is he childish enough to think that the only consequence of global warming is that his winter heating bill will be lower? Has he not heard about rising sea levels, species and habitat destruction, farming areas turning into desert, a surge in diseases, increase in hurricanes, and other extreme weather patterns? (All of these effects predicted in publications like Scientific American and Nature. We are already starting to see them happen)
The fact is that none of the dissenters have been able to explain the correlation between CO2 levels and mean global temperatures. Often, their opinions are based on flawed data (www.edf.org/pubs/FactSheets/e_GWFact2.html) It's unfortunate that various bad business-funded organizations like the Global Climate Coalition are behind a lot of this bad science. The fact is, it is known standard practice for large corporations to spew lies about this kind of stuff in order to buy themselves more time. Recall when CFCs were being phased out. The auto manufacturers claimed that this would drive the price of cars through the roof? Or when sulfur dioxide emissions were capped, they claimed that this would be the end of the economy as we know it? (The true cost of capping emissions ended up being about a tenth of what they were initially claiming).
In the case of global warning, it may just turn out to be just the opposite -- much can be accomplished by being more efficient in our energy usage. The cost savings may be enough to pay for a lot of the change. And environmentalism can actually be a job creator.
I find it sad that people like Swanson continue to bury their heads in the sand over this issue while we play a dangerous game of experimenting with the Earth's climate. Does it ever occur to him that if we mess this planet up, there is nowhere else, literally, for us to all go? So I ask everyone reading this article to please educate yourselves about the issue (try www.climatevoice.org). It is, in my opinion, the single most important issue that we need to tackle. How can we save ourselves and our way of life and enable the rest of the world to rise out of poverty without taking the whole show down?
More Dem Inadequacy
Three months have passed since your bitter denunciation of Nader supporters; the more-than-ample response by the "Naderites" need not be rehashed here. I would, however, point out what I believe to be a constructive insight into the political mix. Ralph Nader joins the handful of politicians -- nearly all Republican -- supporting legalization (and thereby regulation) of illegal drugs. When he spoke to this issue at the Burger Center rally more than 5,000 people gave Nader the biggest cheer of the night. These 5,000 made not a difference in Texas; how many were in the state of Florida is unclear. But if "Naderism" includes the common sense policy of not voting for politicians who want to put you in jail for what politicians do, that number had to be substantial. And if the Dems didn't get these votes then they have only themselves to blame, for it was they who studiously discouraged these voters (many seasoned activists) from joining the new "leadership" of the Democratic party.
Certainly, the Democratic party's rightward lurch can be seen in rollbacks in environmental protection, labor protections, consumer rights, and fair trade. But the Dems' savagery in the War on Drugs proved most critical. Knowing the Dems' propensity to cow down on social issues, the GOPers used the WOD to publicly bully progressives. Predictably, the Dems loaded up their own 'leadership' positions with drug warriors like Donna Shalala, Barry McCaffrey, and Diane Feinstein and began to play with the shiny new assault rifle allowed them by the Republicans. It was a Faustian bargain. In exchange for a modicum of relief from GOP bullying that they were soft on drugs and crime, the Dems gave up their most sacred issue: civil rights. Who could have come up with the best plan since slavery to jail vast quantities of young black males, Mexican-Americans, and counterculture whites? Not the Dems. They just follow orders.
All those civil rights acts, all those agencies of equality, all those speeches by Dems before black church congregations -- mere cardboard shacks before the storm of the Drug War. You don't see this, Louis? Five thousand in the Burger Center did.
Stephen W. McGuire
Tennessee Voting Fraud?
I loved the wonderful article about Funeralgate ["Naked City: The Lawsuit That Wouldn't Die," Jan. 26]. It gives me hope that the art of investigative journalism may not be dead after all! I certainly hope that Bush has to testify within a year; however, what you may not know is that an even more serious issue is looming in front of him. I am the founder of the Tennessee Truth in Voting Project. We are researching evidence of massive race-based vote fraud in Tennessee. The evidence to date is at www.nashvilleinsanity.com/NPbreakingnews.html. A minimum of thousands of African-Americans were disenfranchised; it's even possible that enough votes were lost to turn the tide of the presidential election for this state. The national NAACP will be holding hearings in Nashville next month to get at evidence of fraud, and they are, of course, filing a national suit as well. As much as I would like to believe that these vote irregularities could be explained by error, racism of individuals, etc., I do not believe that this is possible. Evidence has already begun to come out in Florida regarding ChoicePoint that clearly links the Republican Party with vote fraud. There is also evidence that the Bush camp may have committed vote fraud in the primaries in South Carolina, against Sen. John McCain. Based on the evidence, I believe the same -- and more -- will be true in Tennessee. If such is the case, George W. Bush will find himself facing an indictment for conspiracy to commit mass vote fraud.
Let Me Work!
I am a 13-year-old kid who would like to get a job but due to certain laws I am unable to. There are several things I would like to be able to save up for such as college and a car but I have no sufficient way of earning money to do so.
These days the need for money is becoming more and more demanding for young people. I'm not saying we should be able to work like 10 hours a day but more like four to six. We might not need as much money as say, a 17-year-old, but we would still like to be able to earn some money for ourselves. I'm not sure about other people but I would like to be able to learn what it's like to be able to earn money for myself to prepare myself for when I move out of my parents' house.
I hope you will consider what I have said and maybe do something about it.
Prepubescent Learner's Permit
I am a 12-year-old boy and I have been wanting to drive but I have to wait two more years. I think we should have more practice and get to get your driver's permit. Also your parent can be with you until you're 16. It takes a lot of skill but you get to have some fun. I hope you read over this and think about it.