Our readers talk back.
Thank you for your article regarding landfill problems in Austin ["Talking Trash," May 17] ... very enlightening, and reflective of a growing problem all over the country.
I find it very interesting that, although the neighborhood residents are complaining vociferously and pointing the finger at the waste management companies, not one word was mentioned about recycling and conservation on the part of the consumer! This is ironic, given that every resident generates trash, and may or may not be acting responsibly in terms of alleviating the negative impact that trash has on the local environment. Waste management companies are only part of the total picture. Now is the time for each person to do what he/she can to help preserve the planet's resources. We need to clean up our acts -- all of us -- when it comes to mindless, apathetic consumerism. How many people actually care what happens once they throw something away? In New York City, recycling is mandatory, and everyone sorts their trash appropriately, or they receive a hefty fine.
We recycle in the condo complex in Denver where I live, and I feel it is everyone's responsibility to do so, rather than simply blaming outside agencies for not doing their job. So come on, you neighborhood advocates! Advocate for the planet, and for your children's children's future, and do your part to reduce the waste you send to those landfills that smell so badly!
Monica E. Restivo, RN
Suttle Sense of Humor?
Dear Chronicle Fashion Editor,
I read with interest your comments on my attire at the Wildflower Center benefit ["Naked City," May 17]. For the black tie affair, I wore a black tuxedo (owned not rented), complete with all the uncomfortable stuff that goes with it. Please let me know what I should do to get "dressed up" for the next one. By the way, I don't remember seeing you there.
[Ed. note: For those who missed the suttle, er, subtle sarcasm, the item to which Suttle refers was written by Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro. Our actual fashion editor is Stephen MacMillan Moser.]
Mike Clark-Madison's "Austin @ Large" article ["Protection Racket," May 24] describes difficulties of the Austin city budget and its alleged need to tap the citizens of Austin for an additional $70 million in taxes.
The article missed an opportunity to point out that these same taxpayers have overpaid approximately $150 million in unused taxes into Cap Metro for its trolley car slush fund -- a fund that grows through this overtaxation by about $50 million a year.
If our City Council would work on it, they could put a stop to this overtaxation of city residents and retrieve our tax money from that Cap Metro slush fund.
Austin could then enjoy a full public safety program without any increase in taxes.
Initiative for Texas
Dollars & Sense
It just occurred to me that there is a formula of sorts for what's happening down around Sixth Street: People with money want to live some place cool; a place is cool precisely because people like them don't live there.
Don't forget about the ACC Board of Trustees run-off election Saturday, June 1.
I am pleased to endorse both Dr. James McGuffee (place 3) and Paul Sherr (place 2). McGuffee and Sherr are committed to making ACC more fiscally stable and unifying the faculty, staff, and students at ACC. Unlike their opponents, McGuffee and Sherr have extensive community college backgrounds.
Please join me Saturday, June 1, and vote for Dr. James McGuffee for Austin Community College Board of Trustees in Place 3 and for Paul Sherr in Place 2. Support the candidates who will always put students first.
For more information about where and when to vote, go to www.accelection.org.
ACC English Instructor
From the Archives
I really enjoyed Kelly Petrash's August 11, 2000 article "Better Living through Porno" [austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2000-08-11/xtra_feature.html ] -- it was funny, engaging, and interesting. I wish my city had a newspaper like yours.
Where Is Reality?
This week, the monopoly local daily published an editorial championing our libraries and condemning the bust-induced closures. Meanwhile, the alternate local weekly published a largely unsupportive blurb -- written by a former library commissioner no less -- implying the biggest fallout from the closures is that lousy parents won't have a place to dump their latch-key kids ["Naked City: Losing Library Time," May 24].
Can somebody please help me find the way back to my proper reality? This one is too bizarre.
Start Weeknight Shows Earlier
In the article "Keeping the Peace" [May 3], Charles Attal commented about time of day, not volume, being the issue. I agree that this could solve a lot of problems, both in terms of the noise complaints and other, unrelated issues.
As long as I've been participating in the Austin music scene -- about 10 years -- weeknight shows have been problematic for musicians, club owners, and music fans alike. Clubs complain about low ticket and drink sales, musicians complain about low attendance, and fans generally wait for the weekend to see live music. Is this because people don't like to go out during the week? No.
In Austin, almost no live music gets started before 10:30pm. This is fine on the weekends, but those of us with jobs or school can't afford to be out until 2 or 3am during the week, so it's no surprise that attendance at weeknight shows is always pitiful.
I've never owned a venue, so I can't know the ins and outs of ownership, but it seems like a fairly good business move to host earlier "happy hour" shows during the week, starting at 8 or 9pm. Some venues have tried this in the past and generally gave up after a few weeks because locals have been conditioned not to leave the house before 11. But I believe that, with the right amount of publicity and consistency, behavior can be changed. It seems to work fine in New York and San Francisco, where the outside force of public transportation dictates the timetable.
In addition to not keeping the Sixth Street neighbors up till 2am with the wild racket, a self-imposed "Noise Curfew" would allow the people actively involved with the music scene to get a good night's sleep, as well.
A Sound Engineer Speaks, Pt. 2
I would like to point out and clarify a discrepancy in my last letter, labeled "A Sound Engineer Speaks" [May 17]. Thanks for publishing it.
I should probably have said, in relation to Mr. Langer's quote, that it was "not entirely accurate," rather than "not technically correct."
Thanks to Mr. Langer both for his response, which is more in line with the physics books I've seen, and for the Web site address. (An experiment showed that my own ear perceives a doubling of loudness as about a 12- to 14-decibel increase in sound pressure. Other ears may differ.)
Also, thanks to Mr. Ward for bringing up the point in his letter ["The Sound of Music?"] that civil rights are indeed more important than arbitrary measurements. There should ideally be some way to work an all-around compromise so that everyone can live together peaceably regardless of musical/noisical tastes. Practical application with concerted effort is the key.
Setting the Record 'Straight'
How unfortunate that mention of sexual orientation "jars" you ["Postmarks: Less Than Hetero,' Less Than Cool," May 17]. I was at the Belle and Sebastian concert in question, so maybe I could set you "straight" on a few points. Oops! Is that phrase insensitive?
I happen to personally know that the less-than-hetero boy is in fact gay. If you had attended, you would know that this special knowledge was not needed to discern his sexuality. Nobody outed him; he did a fine job of putting his preference up on stage himself. There was no "nice ambiguity" to be left, the boy was ogling Murdoch, the sentence made that quite clear. Sledd was more-than-accurate in calling him less-than-hetero.
The name just refers to him, not the entire Chronicle gay audience. Let's not blow things out of proportion. Did I just say blow?
I don't know much about being a "freelance journalist." Is that where you go around correcting other people's articles to fit your sense of sensitivity? How gracious of you, to shoulder the responsibility for everyone's feelings. Yawn. Political correctness is boring and unimaginative. If we're not laughing at ourselves, and each other, polarization will only continue.
It isn't the nicest to call someone less-than-hetero. But it was a funny moment. Sometimes humor steps on toes. That's just the way it goes. Call me a freelance pessimist. But that wasn't the point; the article was an expertly written account of an awesome show. Sledd was creative in describing the gay time had by all. Sorry! I meant to say "happy" time.
You are correct on one point. Some Belle and Sebastian songs do refer to homosexuality. Let's dust off those old LPs. Consider the first song from their first album: "My brother had confessed he was gay, it took the heat off me for a while. He stood up with his sailor friend and made it known ..." Uh oh! Sailor friend? Isn't that stereotypical?
Maybe you should write a letter to their editor.
Waiting for Waits
Being a longtime Tom Waits fan, I looked forward to reading Margaret Moser's interview ["This Business Called Show," May 10]. And while I enjoyed what was there, the one question I wanted an answer to never came up. That being: Is it true he has sworn to never play Texas again after the incident at La Zona Rosa at SXSW?
Of course, this story has been going around for three years now, and as far as I know, no Texas dates during that time. I know he was supposed to play SXSW again this year, but the show never happened. Being an admirer of both man and music, I hate thinking that he would actually turn his back on a whole state of fans over a closing-time incident at one bar. And not having been there, I'd add that there's always two sides to the story. But even if the club was totally at fault, is that justification to blackball the whole state?
So I'm wondering, did Margaret just not think to ask? Or did she ask and not get an answer? Because as much as I enjoy his music, I can't see buying anymore Tom Waits CDs if he is going to snub the thousands, if not millions, of fans in Texas who probably know nothing of this.
So, if you could, what's the straight skinny here? My future Tom Waits purchases are hanging in the balance.
[Margaret Moser replies: The question was moot as Waits' people did indeed negotiate for a SXSW 2002 show that did not happen for logistical reasons. Waits will doubtless play here when he tours again. If he tours.]
Some Facts For Mr. V
Michael Ventura's dark flight into his unconscious [Letters @ 3AM," May 3] may have had a purgatory effect on him but dumped a tidy load of crap on us. Perhaps if his missive had been composed earlier than 3AM, Ventura might have had the wherewithal to scare up a fact or two. Here's one, Mike: The functions of gargoyles indeed were (and are) widely known ... "what exactly do they guard. Upon whom are they to be loosed?". Gargoyles are decorative water spouts and are only found on the building's exterior. The fact that they "... seem to have the run of the place" to you is your imagination still straining under its childhood trauma. Here's another fact for you, Mr. V. The reason for these ornaments' ugly stylings is well-known, too; they were meant to guard the church by frightening away the ubiquitous demons. This explains why it was "necessary to include these monsters, even where they would not be seen" ... because, as you have demonstrated to your readers, they can visit you any time, anywhere.
Let it go, Michael. The news is good! There is no god(s). The Church that haunts you has no more apotropaic power than those gargoyles do. Its leaders are as confounded by its contradictions as you are.
Now that we've heard your confession, you can go in peace.
P.S. A grotesque is a gargoyle which doesn't spout water but can still scare the devil.
Don't Legislate Personal Issues
I felt compelled to respond to Dave Wasser's suggestion that smoking be banned in Austin bars ["Postmarks: First Weed, Now Cigarettes?" May 24]. I am a nonsmoker, and in general I don't like secondhand smoke, but I don't feel my personal preferences should be applied to everyone in the community. For example, I am not a fan of Chinese food, so I don't often go to Chinese restaurants -- they traditionally serve Chinese food. I also don't like seafood, but I don't expect seafood restaurants to stop serving it (despite the unpleasant "fishy" smell in the air) just because I pop in.
Bars traditionally serve smoking clientele. I am aware of that fact and I therefore am not surprised when a bar is smoky. If Mr. Wasser believes smoke-free drinking establishments would be so popular, I invite him to invest his money into opening a smoke-free bar. That would seem to be the free-market solution -- not legislating personal preferences but allowing customers to choose what they prefer. I prefer my bars seedy and smoky, thank you. But I'll stop by Mr. Wasser's establishment when he opens it just to see if there really was such a demand.
Thank You Mr. Faires
Dear Robert Faires,
I did not read your review of Sally Jacques "The Well Inside" ["Exhibitionism," May 24] until after seeing its performance. That may seem counterproductive to the purpose of such reviews (i.e., to encourage attendance) but it was delightful to find such a comprehensive treatment after the fact! During the production, there were many things I saw, but could not fully identify as I was immersed in both its visual layering and intensely personal character. Your appreciation gave a more coherent form to work that, in the very execution of its power, tends to overflow cognitive limits.
Moreover, I found that in this order of (reversed) operations, the deeper experience of the art was not compromised in the least. As an art critic/advocate, I find myself hesitating to write out the most salient features of the work that I cover, not wishing to over determine the experience of other visitors. By reading your review the day following my attendance, I found the transformative power of the dance was actually strengthened as I became more conscious of its larger structure. Thank you for this.
Zilker Park for All
We were playing soccer this morning, and the police kicked us off the field at Zilker Park. They said it was owned by the city and that the home schoolers couldn't play on it because we didn't pay the fees. I don't like this rule. I think they shouldn't have this rule because Mr. Zilker said he made this public park for everybody.
The home schoolers have been playing on this field for nearly 10 years and they haven't kicked us off once. Would you help us make this a better rule?
State Highway 130
Living near the future State Highway 130 and doing occasional research for the Libertarian Party, I visited the Texas Turnpike Authority to get some info about this project. I was surprised.
The original cost of $847 million for 89 miles has ballooned to $1.05 billion for 50 miles ($9 million per mile vs. $21 million per mile). The southern 40 miles will likely never be built, meaning that SH 130 will never divert a single NAFTA truck off of I-35.
The original estimates of 80,000 peak vehicle density per day have been reduced to 50,000, with an average density of 37,000 per day in 2025. I wondered if the original cross-section had been scaled back for this diminished load and was told, variously by different TTA people: It will be 12 lanes divided with additional right of way for trains and bike ways; It will be eight lanes divided in most sections; and the contractor will decide how many lanes to build.
Since I will be using this road if it is ever built, I inquired as to what toll was proposed (an important consideration since East Travis County is home to our least affluent citizens). Gabriela Garcia, of TxDOT, told me that the toll rate will not be known until the "Traffic and Revenue Study" is completed some time later this summer. Or maybe next year? Let's hope the study is finished before they purchase $250 million worth of cornfields at over $100,000 per acre.
I did learn that the taxpayers will be responsible for the billion dollars-plus worth of bonds for the road if the revenue is inadequate. If that happens, do we blame it on the Democrats or the Republicans?
Vincent J May
Warren Buffett just said that a major nuclear incident in the U.S. is inevitable. Just who is it who decided Americans are willing to sacrifice their safety for the convenience and freedom of illegal Arab immigrants and student visa holders. Round them up, qualify them, and ship the dangerous ones out. These guys can't move in this country without stopping to buy gas, rent motel rooms, or buy food. Let's see some ID, Abdul. Also, how about some profiling at airports. We know airport personnel are incompetent, so let's at least focus their efforts. Enough "Mr. Nice Guy." These guys are cowards and the only mistake we can make is not recognizing that.