Further Lost Austin fallout and enviro-rhetoric from our readers.
Chronicle Has No Balls
Was it guilt that prompted y'all to put out an "old Austin" tribute? Please. Where were you -- a voice -- when it came to protecting what was left? In the pocket of fuckin' Kirk "mob-ties, dot.com whore" Watson! From day one supporting his evil plans to destroy! Then all you sorry hipster fucks show up at gigs and parties hobnobbing with the likes of the ex-Big Boys, Jason Stout, etc. ... trying to be cool but when you had a chance you never told Kirk Watson and his City Council cronies to fuck off! Shame, y'all could have done more! You're the press, but had no guts!
Hipper Than Thou
Though I am not a professional musician, I have many friends who have suffered the slings and arrows of the "Austin Music Scene" for a long time. I have long maintained that it is much better to be a professional musician from Austin than one in Austin. There are many tremendously talented artists who may never be appreciated here, though they play to packed houses whenever they leave Austin. This is because way too many Austin residents have a hipper-than-thou attitude about music ... and nearly everything else. Chronicle writer Ken Lieck is one of those responsible for this bad attitude. He writes as if he would like to be a real musician, but jealously knows he will never be one. He does a great disservice to Austin musicians and the Chronicle, and is the primary reason I will never read another Austin Chronicle issue.
Judges Look Out for Indigent
Regarding the Feb. 9 article on problems with indigent criminal defense in Texas ("Capitol Chronicle: You Have a Right to an Attorney ..."), your readers should know that the courts in Travis County have addressed, years ago, most of the problems identified in the article:
As the article pointed out, attorneys are appointed alphabetically off a roster, and not by choice of the individual judge;
Leon J. Grizzard
Annie: con Flama
"Shades of the viejo (old) Austin," ["Lost Austin," Jan. 26] brings old memories of my ex-girlfriend (now my wife). I ran into her in the Summer of 1950 at the old Austin High School. She didn't exactly move me, meaning ... not "a knockout of a chick!" I left for the Marines, Winter of '51, returned late '53 ... reintroduced, via a pal (camarada) ... sparks flew -- became flames, flames of love. She was dressed in red! My Annie was the one that started it all -- everything about her -- a perfect diez (10), she was the one that I had been looking for, all over the place, etc.! Religious, working girl and a great companion, as well as a wonderful dancer. Mom and dad fell in love with my Annie tambien (as well). Wedding bells (after Valentine's Day) Feb. 15, 1957, it'll only happen once in my old Austin, Texas!
Mil gracias por todo!
Moses P. Saldana Sr.
Pink Sisters on the Boulevard
The "Lost Austin" issue [Jan. 26] was great and cleared up several mysteries I had wondered about (like the dog park). However, I'm a bit skeptical about the explanation given for the name of Exposition Boulevard, that it was "the site of Austin's early trade shows-cum-flea markets."
I had always had the impression that Exposition Boulevard was so called because of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration ("pink sisters") convent there, which was known for the Perpetual Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (the display of the consecrated host).
Yours very truly,
Clinton: His Legacy
I enjoyed your February 2 column on Mr. Clinton ["Elvis Has Left the Building"], because it encapsulates well some of my heartburn with him. While I don't wish him the fate you forecast, it would not surprise me if it happens. He may eventually transcend his upbringing, but it isn't apparent that he has yet.
You mentioned that you don't understand why political analysts consider him a strategist without peer. I may be able to shed some light. David Gergen, an advisor during his first term, has called him a political tactician without peer. Clearly, he and his staff mastered (manipulated?) the 24-hour news cycle unlike any predecessor, perhaps because the 24-hour news cycle didn't really exist much earlier. As you correctly described, he was no strategist.
Of course, tactician and strategist are two entirely different roles, both important, but the terms are commonly confused. And unfortunately, they have been interchanged with regard to this ex-POTUS. Mr. Clinton is indeed a great policy wonk and tactician -- of course, those are about a dime a dozen inside the Beltway.
Thanks again for a great article,
Real Beauty Revisited Again
I'm writing in to commend you on the quality of your publication and in particular an article written a few weeks ago, "A Question of Beauty" ["Letters at 3AM," Jan. 19]. I was surprised that I saw no reader responses to this wonderful exploration of beauty in our lives.
Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti once said, "Beauty is there when you are not." That one has stuck with me. It's not that you have to get rid of yourself (a hard task anyway), but that the experience of beauty is such that it pulls you out of yourself -- your normal, ego-driven self -- into something greater.
Real beauty is not simple or cliqued. It is a direct experience of freedom in our daily lives. I just wanted to recognize someone taking the time to write about that.
They Saw the Light
Dear Editor (& Barbara Chisholm):
Just wanted to thank you for commenting on the lighting at 22 Restaurant & Bar in your "glowing" February 9 review ["Eating the New Economy"]. As designers of the restaurant, we have had an ongoing discussion about lighting with owners Doug Foreman and Frank Obregon. Thanks to your story they have "seen the light" and increased the lighting levels so diners can see both their menus and the colors in the space more clearly. Personally, I like the synergy created by having two excellent restaurants (22 and Siena) located next to each other. The fact that they are both Austin-owned and -designed, rather than the typical chain-formula restaurant row you'll find on 183 (or on any other major highway in the suburbs of any other city), makes me want to patronize them even more. FYI, the restaurant is located in Bull Creek Market, not Davenport Village, at FM 2222 and Loop 360.
Laurie Smith Design Associates
Pete Gasper, Partner
Jazz's Generational Divide
Thanks for publishing Jay Trachtenberg's "Jazz's Generational Divide" (Feb. 2). As a musician, I would like to address Jay's question, "Will the younger generation transform jazz with fresh ideas?" by commenting on how artists are denied access to a wider audience (and music fans such as Jay) by people like Jay and how this affects the younger generation of listeners.
I was denied this access by Jay in December 2000 while booking my jazz trio on KUT's Eklektikos show. Jay was filling in for John Aielli and Mr. Aielli's secretary thought since Jay has a jazz show and I have a jazz band he might be more willing to let me play on the show than Mr. Aielli had been for the past three months. When I mentioned to Jay I had a free jazz band he said, "I can hear listeners turning off their radios already." This was without hearing my music.
Maybe Jay was hearing the same "boisterous squawk" that he heard at the 28th IAJE when I said free jazz to him. If a music supporter garnishes this treatment on a musician you can begin to imagine the treatment you usually receive from a non-jazz fan. This is the thing that keeps younger musicians from exploring the range of what the music arts offer.
Younger musicians recently are let into the jazz mainstream only if they abide by certain rules. Bandleaders like Billy Eckstine expected his musicians to be original. This was also a time when a derivative player would be ostracized by other musicians. Nowadays, the more you sound like someone else the more accolades (and jobs) you'll receive.
Ever since Ornette Coleman hit the scene artists have been trying to convince music fans that free jazz is in the tradition and should be treated the same as other musical art. This involves risk, but change in art always involves risk. Like it or not, modern jazz is here and is not any better or worse than any other art form.
All That Jazz
I thought there was little point in responding to Harvey Pekar's review of Ken Burns' Jazz documentary ["Better Than Nothing," Jan. 12] until I had a chance to view the series, especially the final installment.
I certainly agree with the notion of covering the last 40 years of jazz history with one episode a matter of short shrift, though Burns does avoid several controversies by doing so. It is entirely reasonable that four additional episodes should have been tacked on at least, yielding two covering the 60s, and one for the 70s, 80s and 90s respectively. A 70s episode surely would have a piece on the jazz fusion ensemble Weather Report, probably even drawing parallels between the demise of Jaco Pastorius with other jazz greats. This raises one potential minefield for Burns and PBS, that is the possibility of libel lawsuits by contemporary figures. Naturally, the other major minefield is the whole issue of what is jazz and what is not, and whether, as Burns did in speaking of jazz's influence on popular music in the 20s and 30s, to discuss to any extent the influence of jazz on rock and roll (do we have Max Roach to blame for every long, endless drum solo we have had to endure in a rock arena milieu?). The issue of "what is jazz?" has been around since the term was coined. One thinks of Phillip Larkin's All What Jazz; or the people from some local radio station specializing in Kenny G-type jazz sitting next to me at the David Murray concert of a few years ago asking each other "when's the real jazz going to start?"
One remark in Pekar's review needs explaining: How is Wynton Marsalis reactionary? Sure, he's not all about trying to get more outside of Cecil Taylor, but I have never once seen him or any other likeminded individuals complain that John Coltrane was wanking around with all his free jazz explorations. Somehow the rejections of what Wynton's laying down reminds me of some of the hasty dissing of another great Crescent City trumpeter for being a mugging Uncle Tom.
Which brings up one area where I think Burns failed to enlighten, that there's always been a kind of generational gap -- during the Bebop era this was characterized by the hipsters (up on Parker, et al.) vs. the "moldy figs" (who were at least Swing fans, if not Dixieland).
There are other slipups in the series, mostly minor (for example, emphasizing that it was Sly & the Family Stone's popularity that influenced Miles, and not the music) -- I agree to some extent that Burns' weakness on the subject was a liability, and yet Burns always presents himself as an archivist first.
To the respondent who complains about Burns not documenting Western Swing, other jazz historians have done so, coming to mind most readily is Ross Russell's Jazz in Kansas City and the Southwest (Russell's archive is at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, by the way).
Save the Riverside Golf Course!
As an active member of my Southeast Austin community, I have recently learned that Austin Community College Board of Trustees is considering the sale of the Riverside Golf Course because they consider it an "excess asset" (i.e., nonprofitable). This course was designed by Perry Maxwell, one of the most famous golf course designers in the U.S. In fact, this year's U.S. Open will be played at a Maxwell-designed course, Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. This is the course where Harvey Penick taught Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite. Golf tourists come from all around to visit and play this course because of this connection. This course might qualify for some "historical" designation. It seems to me that we do not have very many public golf courses for a city of our size, and this is a quality course with a unique history. Whether or not you personally favor golf courses, the 78741 zip code already has an overabundance of apartments. I personally prefer the green space. Plus, this course is at the opening approach to the new Colorado River Park that is being developed on the south shore of the Colorado River, east of Pleasant Valley Road. If ACC is going to sell it, the city of Austin should buy it and keep it as a public course for all of the people of this city. There is a public hearing by the Board of Trustees on March 5, at 6pm, that will allow citizens to express their opinions on this matter (three minutes each). It is vitally important that the citizens of Austin let the Board of Trustees know how they feel about the possible loss of the Riverside Golf Course.
Southeast Austin Neighborhood Alliance
Riverside Farms Road Neighborhood Assoc.
Babich: 'World Is Still Beautiful'
I am rather surprised that the Chronicle publishes letters which are nothing but strings of insults. I am not surprised that some people write them, but I would like to ask these people to reconsider their options. If you really have a point, you can argue for it calmly and rationally. World climate, for example, has nothing to do with the personality of whoever you're arguing with.
When people write letters that attack me personally, I don't like to respond to them. You can't argue with someone who just rages incoherently. There is much too much rage here in Austin. Why not calm down? The world is still beautiful.
I haven't seen any proof of the reality or nonreality of global warming in these pages. I would not expect to see such a thing. I do think that if there is any chance at all that people are affecting the Earth's climate, that we ought to try using less fuel. There are many other reasons why using less fuel is a good idea.
And if you'd like to get an idea of what, in addition to excessive fuel use and air pollution, is wrong with the car culture, go get a pizza at Conan's on 29th and Guadalupe. A big pickup truck drove through the front window and injured a patron. The window has been repaired, but you can still see the tire marks.
Earth Car-Free Day is April 19th. Let's celebrate it here in Austin.
Imagine Carl Swanson ["Postmarks," Feb. 9] were in a crowded theater and somebody yelled "Fire!" Would he demand proof before he left his seat? If there were a faint smell of smoke and sensible people were departing the building, would he remain seated and demand incontrovertible proof of a fire? The majority of the living Nobel Prize winners use the word "crisis" when describing the state of the Earth, but Americans, alone among the peoples of this planet, prefer to listen to Rush Limbaugh and unprincipled sold-out corporate hacks who point to the lack of proof. The CFCs we emit don't rush straight to the South Pole. Neither do they hang stationary over our heads. They diffuse throughout the atmosphere along with the volcanic emissions and everything else that is injected into the atmosphere. The CFCs are hundreds of times more effective at dissociating ozone than volcanic gases. The reason the hole opens first over the South Pole is a function of the rotation of the Earth and the low temperatures at that pole. It has already extended to a city of 200,000 people in southernmost Chile, but presumably the first stirrings of concern for Carl await the irradiation of San Antonio. It is now known that there is a blanket of Uranium dust enveloping the Earth (Journal of Environmental Radioactivity). The so-called "depleted" Uranium that we have so cavalierly scattered over the land turns out to be reactor waste and contains Neptunium, Plutonium, and Americium. But wait -- don't worry! The Pentagon says it's only traces of Plutonium, not enough to hurt anybody. People who study Plutonium believe that a single atom inhaled will cause lung cancer. The good people who brought us Agent Orange and PCBs are now optimizing the genetic structure of our food for maximum profit. Actually, all of this is Ralph Nader's fault and there is nothing to worry about -- we can all go back to sleep.
Relax, Man, It's Only the Planet
To the editor:
As Bob Dole would have put it ... Carl Swanson is no anti-environmental extremist by a long shot, in fact, nothing could possibly be farther from the truth. I was a fishing guide for years, fly stunt kites, and snorkel all over. I have spent thousands of hours outdoors and my concern for the planet is driven by one thing. If we identify a man-made problem, I want a solution developed that is going to address the problem and resolve it. Too many times people have run off half-cocked with some "emergency measures" and the end result has been worse for the environment. Consider how the Corps of Engineers have literally destroyed the Mississippi River and its delta by "fixing the flood problem."
Srinivas [Nedunuri, "Postmarks," Feb. 9] is another one that I need to keep in mind when it comes to typing slowly enough for those plodders who miss half the point most of the time. I never said there would not be negative consequences; there are good things and bad things about any significant change. He suggests "rising sea levels" as a concern, but recent facts seem to suggest that is not an issue at all. One thing the Global Warmers harp on is that the ice cap in the north pole is considerably thinner than it was in the late 1950s ... meaning, I would guess, that all that melted ice is now part of the world's oceans. Funny thing, I lived on South Padre Island for close to 20 years, and it's still there. Where is the "rising sea level" we keep hearing about? If you add water to a pan, the level rises immediately, not in an hour or in 40 years. Face it Srinivas, ol' buddy, you are not concerned at all about the planet, you and your amigos just think the sun shines out your ass and the planet would cease to exist if not for your shining presence. True homocentrification of every issue suggests conceit beyond belief and a fear of change, nothing more. Man, like any other creature on the planet, will either adapt to change or go extinct; get over it and relax a little. Our plodding and stumbling around on Mother Earth will be gone and forgotten in a million years or so, no matter how badly we might muck the place up.
The world is close to 5 billion years old, and we have data since 1973 on the ozone hole at the South Pole, yet special people like Srinivas know the absolute cause and effect ... and how to "fix it." Baloney. You all have a good week and I appreciate the people taking the time to write a letter!
Power-Line Reform Needed
As a longtime resident of Austin I am aware of the need for reliable citywide uninterrupted electrical and communication service. The recent minor ice storm and subsequent power disruptions are a prime example of how our lives can be altered by the lack of electricity. On the surface the primary cause for these types of electrical outages seems to be trees and other vegetation that falls on the wiring during wind or ice storms. Austin Energy is, and has been, very proactive in minimizing the possibility of power loss by trimming or removing trees that are either too close to, or in the way of, power lines. This is very expensive and must be done often (every 10 years or so) in order to remain effective. It might be cheaper to spend more money now and remedy the cause of this reoccurring problem instead of spending any more on the symptoms. It is unrealistic to expect to be able to control where homeowners plant their trees or where vegetation grows. If exposed overhead wiring were relocated underground, it would be extremely costly, although considerably cheaper than the cost of trimming trees citywide every 10 years in perpetuity. The long-term benefits of commencing work on infrastructure improvement would be more than just financial. It is hard to place a dollar value on improved safety and quality of life. Buildings would also be able to be shaded better, reducing electrical demands during peak summer load hours, allowing more flexibility in the grid. It may be easier and cheaper, in the short term, to keep doing things the old way. The road toward building a higher quality of life with improved services and safety is often not the easiest one, but the one that should be traveled none the less.
Legislating Our Livelihood
Thank goodness somebody cares about our safety. Sen. Wentworth obviously understands that American drivers, the most dangerous in the world, need help in order to drive safely. With this in mind, I'd like to recommend he submit the following bills to the legislature to go with SB 238:
These may be harsh laws, but we must keep safety in our uppermost thoughts. Sure, Republicans haven't shown much interest in the past for safety (i.e., gun control, air bags, etc.) however, we must join them now in their pursuit of protecting us from the dangers of daily living.
Five Hours Isn't Enough?
I don't necessarily keep up with everything, but I haven't noticed any stories in your paper about the cutting back of John Aielli's Eklektikos program on KUT. I don't know when the decision was made to replace his 8:15-9am hour with NPR's Morning Edition, but it seems to have taken effect some time after the election and then entrenched itself on their schedule. When I phoned Aielli about it he said firmly that he could not give a word of explanation; a receptionist at the station only said that it was a "programming decision" and that she knew nothing about the reasons.
For many of us who know about such things, the first hour of Eklektikos was traditionally the best -- the hour when John Aielli responded most spontaneously to whatever mood he was in as when he came to work for the day; and the hour that wasn't dominated by guest interviews. For many of us, it was the daily soundtrack to our breakfast and/or commuting. It's a major, if hidden, loss; it does away with one of the things that made Austin special.
Perhaps the people who made the decision don't know or care about that. I can understand that having Morning Edition instead of Eklektikos might please group-minded program directors who want their listener-sponsored station to play what all the other listener-sponsored stations are playing.
And now all the cubicled yuppies in town will have a program to exchange e-mails about with their friends in Mountain View and Somerville.
But that's just it: You can get Morning Edition anywhere. (I can pick it up here in town on at least one other nearby NPR station.) You can only get Eklektikos in Austin.
For what it's worth, I'm not going to renew my KUT membership when it expires this spring. To a great extent it was Aielli's pledge-drive spiels that convinced me to join in the first place. As anyone knows who's listened, his requests for contributions are more entertaining than any other deejay's regular programming; during past pledge drives, I used to switch away reflexively to other stations, thinking, "Oh, no, they'll be asking for money all morning," only to switch back to Eklektikos because it was irresistible. I'll bet the station loses some pledge dollars during its 8:15-9am hour this year.
I hope you'll look into this story and keep us all informed. John Aielli, like Willie Nelson and a very few other people, is the soul of Austin.
[Ed. note: The shortening of Eklektikos was mentioned in "Dancing About Architecture" on Feb. 2.]