Our readers talk back.

A Child Shall Lead Us

Dear Editor Louis Black,

My name is Kira Koonce. I'm 7 and I'm in second grade and I home school. I like what you put for the Best Billboard -- Please Pick up my Poop ["Best of Austin," Sept. 27]. I liked it because it was funny and what I liked most of all is that it talked about the environment. I think you should talk more about the environment.

I don't like Sexy Scissors and I think the sign is objectifying women and I don't think it should be the "Best of Austin" because to me it is not the "Best of Austin." I think it is the worst of Austin because I don't really want anyone to be objectified.

Yours sincerely,

Kira Koonce

A lover of nature!

Proctor Makes 'Eklektikos' Special

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed your "Best of Austin" issue very much [Sept. 27]. I'd just like to point out one important omission. In your readers poll you cite KUT's Eklektikos for "Best Locally Produced Radio Show." You rightly give a tip of the hat to the show's excellent host (John Aielli) and fine sound engineer (Cliff Hargrove) but you forget to mention the show's equally outstanding producer, Jennifer Proctor. As an occasional fill-in host for Eklektikos, I can testify to Jen's great influence on the quality of the program. Though most may not realize it, the presence of her invisible, guiding hand can be felt in every broadcast. She works hard behind the scenes, booking the interesting guests and talented musical groups that appear on the show. She fields and responds to listener input. She pays attention to the myriad details that go into putting together the show. In short, she is constantly striving to make sure that Eklektikos remains a stimulating and entertaining addition to our day. Kudos to her for that.

John Erler

Know the Difference, Yet?


Hey Ralph N. and all you Greenies -- can you tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats yet?

Zeph McKee

A Conflict of Interest

Dear Editor:

I would like to draw your attention to a serious conflict of interest with one of your theatre reviewers, Barry Pineo. If he is an ethical man, he will step down from his post as a theatre reviewer for The Austin Chronicle. He is the managing director of the Vortex, and on several occasions has written less than favorable reviews for shows running in competition with a show at the Vortex. Because of his position in the theatre community he can in no way be objective when reviewing theatre. This has bothered me on more than one occasion, but the review in last week's Chronicle ["Exhibitionism," Sept. 20] was just too much. He ripped Twelfth Night up one side and down the other, no big deal in itself (although I personally thought the show was fabulous), unless you know the whole story. Mr. Pineo applied to be the artistic director of Austin Shakespeare Festival, a position for which he was passed over in favor of Guy Roberts, of whom he was especially scathing in the review. It was nothing short of vindictive. Mr. Pineo should concentrate on his own theatre company and leave the reviews to impartial parties in the community.

Thank you,

Leigh Anderson Fisher

[Robert Faires replies: The Austin Chronicle has a long tradition of employing artists to write about the communities in which they actively participate. We do this because we believe that artists can provide valuable insights into the creative process precisely because they know it from the inside. As Arts Editor, I take responsibility for seeing that our writers' reviews of people we know in the arts community are as fair as possible. In the case of the review cited, I am satisfied that it represents Barry Pineo's genuine reaction to the show and not a vendetta or conflict of interest based on his being hired or not hired by certain local theatre companies.]

'Twelfth Night' a Success

Dear Editor:

I'm glad I ignored Barry Pineo's review of Twelfth Night ["Exhibitionism," Sept. 20] when determining whether to attend the performance at Zilker Park. Austin Shakespeare Festival's production has three main characteristics that are part of any successful performance of romantic comedy by Shakespeare: It is funny, it engages the audience with the characters, and it creates an atmosphere of good-natured revelry.

In addition to the usual identity mix-ups and bawdy quips, the madcap atmosphere is enhanced by the integration of rock music. Characters break into songs that we all know, bringing a modern energy to the play. Bouncy rock transitions conjure the wackiness of Austin Powers and Laugh In. The musical interludes seem quite appropriate and add to the show's pleasant goofiness.

The audience was clearly engaged, softly hissing at unfair treatment of the protagonists and sighing with pleasure when the siblings were reunited. The snide Malvolio, played by Paul Norton, not only captured the audience's scorn and ridicule but also our pity and, by the end, a desire to make things right, even for him.

As we "groundlings" reveled in zany mayhem, I felt I was with a larger community, not just a crowd of mostly strangers. A show that can create a like-minded community out of disparate groups has accomplished one of the ultimate purposes of theatre.

This production may not be the familiar, well-polished version that Mr. Pineo knows and loves, but for me, its energy and innovation evoke the spirit of Twelfth Night perfectly. I hope that others will ignore the negative review and go experience the merry misrule for themselves.


Rebekah Jongewaard

'Chron' 101


In response to Dwight Brown's letter in the Sept. 20 issue:

Not sure if you're unclear on the concept, here, Dwight, so I thought I'd help you out.

The Chronicle is an alternative publication. That means that concerned and informed citizens such as myself can read the Chronicle to get stories and insights that are routinely ignored by the lapdog mainstream press.

So please stick your head back in the sand and go back to watching the Fox News Channel. Meanwhile, people who refuse to be spoon-fed their opinions by the corporatized media conglomerates can stay informed via the Chronicle and the Internet.

Thank you,

Scott Lawrence

Just the Facts, Please


Please ask your writers to stop editorializing in the midst of allegedly delivering the news. As an example of what I'm referring to, on p.15 of the Sept. 13 issue, Lauri Apple writes in "Austin Stories" "One of the lamest Sept. 11 commemorations ..." and proceeds to editorialize all over the place. Apple is entitled to her opinions, but given that the forum of "Austin Stories" seems to be straight news, her comments are out of place. Thank you.


John Allen

'Chronicle' Drops the Ball

Dear Editor:

The Austin Chronicle has dropped the ball again, and let the team down. If Austin is to every truly become the "Music Capital of the World," it is essential that the media pay more attention to the major musical events of the year. This is particularly true for the Chronicle, whose raison d'être is largely coverage of the local entertainment scene.

On Friday, Sept. 20, the world-renowned Arditti Quartet performed a U.S. premiere and two world premieres of works by the internationally respected avant-garde composer Gerard Pape. At least one of these works was commissioned by a local fine arts organization. Yet the best the Chronicle could do to inform its readers of this significant occasion was to print two generic sentences at the bottom of a paragraph. Undoubtedly, many folks missed out on an event that they would have greatly appreciated, and another host of a groundbreaking performance may be having second thoughts about doing it again.

If there is no one qualified to write about essential, cutting edge, creative music presently employed at your newspaper, you have a couple of excellent options: 1) hire someone who is, or 2) contact the UT Music Department for some help (which would probably be offered pro bono). That is, assuming you actually care enough about the local music scene to publicize all the music that's going on rather than just that performed in the clubs that buy advertising space from you. Once again, the ball is in your court.


Richard Kendrick

[Ed. note: The Arditti Quartet was headlined on the Music Recommended page, and listed on the Calendar page as one of the three recommended music events of that Friday night.]

International Games and the Death Penalty

Dear Mr. Nichols:

Just as with Texas' loss of the Pan Am Games to Rio ["No Sports, Lots of Spin," Aug. 30], members of Texas' anti-death penalty movement also tried to (wrongly) tie Houston's loss of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games to the death penalty.

Of course, there was no evidence that the Suarez execution had anything to do with San Antonio's (and Texas') loss of the Pan Am Games. Nor is there any evidence to support their claims with regard to Houston and the Olympics.

Making claims, without foundation, is a common anti-death penalty trait.

Regarding the Olympics, the last three times the U.S. has hosted Olympic events, they were in death penalty jurisdictions -- Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles.

Oh, in the summer of 2001, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2008 Olympics to Beijing, China. Nearly 90% of the world's executions occur in China, every year.


Dudley Sharp

Resource Director,

Justice For All

Fight Growth


Despite what Mike Clark-Madison says in his Sept. 27 article ["Austin @ Large"] about Envision Central Texas ("We shouldn't discourage them from coming"), that's really about all we can do. When ECT's plan is finished and adopted, there is no way to enforce it. Not a single developer in the Austin area will allow citizens' planning and a respect for Austin's unique environment to change his or her plans one iota. And area landowners are going to sell for the "highest and best use," a phrase that means exactly the opposite of what it should mean.

Now Mike joins the rest of the you-can't-stop-growth crowd. "Cities that stop growing die," he says. Tell that to Waco, or to any of the dozens of Texas cities that haven't grown much during the boom that has doubled Austin and now looks to redouble it in the next 20 years. The people who move here probably won't be Austin-weird, despite Mike's naive hopes. They will never have heard of the Armadillo World Headquarters, or the old Soap Creek Saloon, or the Spit Rail -- and they won't care. McDonald's, Borders, Starbucks, suburban sprawl -- that's what they know.

So actually our best hope is to discourage these people from moving here. Discourage the landowners who border the city in potential sprawl areas from selling their land to sweet-talking developers. Yes, let's mount a huge nationwide campaign saying "You know, we like Austin the way it is, so if you want to move here, plan on buying in the areas we have designated as desirable, and don't buy houses in developments that pollute our precious aquifer, or smog up our good air, or that clog our roads with barely moving traffic."

I realize this is a pretty paltry idea, but what else can we do? I suppose we could do what Mike has done and just give up.


Bob Russell

Racial Profiling


In "Austin Stories" [Sept. 20], Mike Clark-Madison, in referring to the racial make up at U.T., uses the words "white," "Hispanic," "Asian," and "African-American." Why is a color used to describe one group (and in all lowercase letters), while not the others, which begin, tellingly, with capital letters? Please be consistent. (I think the appropriate word for "white" would be Caucasian, if you're going to go that route.) Thanks.


John Allen

No Meaningful Ideas at 3am

Dear Editor:

I am as yet skeptical that "regime change" in Iraq ought to be our nation's highest security priority. Unfortunately, Michael Ventura's column ["Letters at 3AM"] of September 20 provides nothing useful for answering that question. In fact, I would characterize Ventura's reflexive intellectual twitchings as a probable negative influence on the quality of public debate. He employs that most popular of demagogic techniques: excising a tiny bit of information from context and suggesting that it represents the context as a whole. I watched the TV interviews to which he refers. They were part of a concerted policy blitz presented to the public by way of the networks' Sunday morning public interest programs. A most noteworthy aspect of the various actors' comments was their mutual consistency. Whether or not one agrees with the administration's position, Powell, Cheney, et al., presented it with clarity, intelligence, and coherence.

Why is Ventura grasping at straws when his topic is one rich with legitimate, critically important arguments and counter-arguments? Could it be that the man doesn't know how to generate fresh, meaningful ideas? He strikes me as a person trying, with great difficulty, to conform external reality to a poorly conceived internal view. The name for that process is prejudgment, that is, prejudice.

D.I. Warwick

'Keep Austin Weird' Parade

Dear All,

Berkeley, Calif., has (since fairly recently, 1996) a "How Berkeley Can You Be?" parade, ( which is a parade bringing out all manner of freak associations and creative floats and displays. Does Austin have anything like this? What about a "Keep Austin Weird" parade? It could help bring attention to the need to support all local eclectic businesses that give Austin our character ... as well as bring attention to local creative and social services, communities, and associations, [and] creative individuals. Like the Berkeley one, it could converge on a central park venue where there could be local food/drink and local bands playing.

The "How Berkeley Can You Be?" Parade and Festival began in 1996, and was the brainchild of John Solomon, a merchant who currently runs Caffe Venezia, at 1799 University Avenue. John's involvement with the University Avenue Association led him to believe that a major event on University Avenue would send a positive signal about the University Avenue corridor, which was struggling with public safety, empty store fronts, graffiti, and a poor quality of life. John felt that a major event would indeed signal that University Avenue was a place on the rebound, that it was a place to do business, to live, to stroll, and that it was a worthy entrance to the city.

I think a similar parade could be a real boon to our town and local economy and breathe creative energy into our community that while well meaning, is often de-centralized. Except for the venues of Sixth Street and the shopping district of South Congress, the rest of central Austin feels like a post-dot-com-crash/post-expansionist ghost-town.

I would love if this idea were passed around and chewed on by people who could perhaps put this into a reality. South Austin has its "Billion Bubba March" ( ... but Austin is more than 78704! I think this could be a really cool thing to have organized ... and if it became a regular thing it could bring people to Austin and would bring money into the town too.

I would send this e-mail to City Hall as well, but I don't know who to direct it to. I think this could be just what we need right now, for a variety of reasons!

Shannon Moore

Remembering Sarah Ing

Dear Editor,

Robert Faires' fine memorial piece on Sarah Ing gave tribute to her contributions to Austin theatre. I'd like to add a bit about Sarah as a stand-up comic.

In 1996 or 1997, Sarah started showing up at the Comedy Gym workshops on Sunday nights. You couldn't help but notice her, with her hair color-of-the-week, big spiral tattoo on her back, and -- three years before it was popular -- her hip-hugger jeans with shorty shirts.

Over a couple of months, she developed some good bits. One was, "I just graduated from UT and have my degree, so now I'm a sacker at Whole Foods ..."

Some were startlingly funny. In one she described her mother as a "Baptist/Pagan" and would break into song about their women's gatherings: "We all come from the Goddess, and to her we shall return ... " Then the local Sheriff would show up, asking "What are you gals up to?"

"Oh, nothing," they'd say, "We're just sitting around drinking each other's menstrual blood ..."

The laughs, and the gigantic "Eeewww!" from the crowd was always fun to watch.

And some bits didn't work. And on the nights, like we all had, when the good bits didn't get laughs, and the sucky jokes still didn't work, she took it pretty hard. Ultimately, I think Sarah tried stand-up for fun, and when it wasn't fun enough, she refocused on her true creative love, which was acting.

Some people who do stand-up should have given up a long time ago. Others, like Sarah -- you wish they would have stayed. She was funny and beautiful and smart and vibrant. Although I only knew her comic to comic, I was glad to know her, and glad to get to see her perform.

So goodnight, Sarah, and thanks for coming out to the show.


John Connor

Too Much Security Man

Dear Chron,

Intended or not, your juxtaposition of Too Much Coffee Man's rant about our fear being just what our government needs to pass yet more laws against terrorism and the letter from the anonymous (aren't they always?) fear monger who cleverly deduced a security leak at ABIA was priceless ["Postmarks," Sept. 20].

One wonders if our super-sleuth dashed off his public announcement to the paper before or after he reported his detective work to the SS, er, ah, Homeland Security. Are airlines failing because passengers actually fear a reoccurrence of 9/11 or because they refuse to incur the very likely, intrusive harassment by government-authorized public servants? And our boy volunteers to tighten the noose his two cents worth if he can just get to see his words in newsprint. Like The Jerk, now he's "somebody," albeit anonymous.

Todd Green

Atomic Realities

Dear Sirs:

In his rebuttal to the (Sept. 13) letter from Carl Anderson, Michael King disabused me of an impression I have had for more than 50 years. I thought we used the atomic bomb on the Japanese for the same reason we had been dropping tons of conventional bombs, i.e., to get them to stop fighting. I also wasn't aware that the Truman administration was so prescient as to know that spies from "other nations" were riddling the U.S. atomic project that would lead to the test of Russian versions of the bomb four years later. My memory of that time is that the Russians were more intimidating than intimidated. They pretty much dominated the postwar geography of the Axis countries (which was settled before the use of atomic bombs).

John Westkaemper

Why We Should Attack Iraq


Your article "War Drums" [Sept. 20], among many other temerities, says that Congressional leaders continue to "fall in line" in support of an Iraqi war. Hyperbole is the lifeblood of politics, but still, if you want to be taken seriously, you should not refer to Congressional war decisions as "falling in line."

The above disrespect is especially curious because the article makes no discussion of, or even reference to, related issues such as Iraq's continued meetings between nuclear scientists and Saddam, its obstruction and trickery of previous weapons inspections teams, its attempt to assassinate the elder George Bush, its active and material support of Palestinian terror, its continual attempts to shoot down American planes, its eco-terrorism after the Gulf War, its grave human-rights record, etc.

It is even more curious since 13.4% of the article is a reference to a boxing match, with virtually no relevance to the immense amount of human suffering at stake.

On a related note, Tom Tomorrow's attempt [Sept. 20] to use the death of thousands of Iraqi Kurds in his humor formula is offensive. Like many talented satirists, he seems to be becoming a parody of himself.

Thank you,

Herbert Ward

Presidential Aspirations


I am running for president because I believe to attack a country unprovoked is immoral, lacking in the basic qualities of leadership, justice and wisdom, and an insult to the reputation and integrity of America.

I am running for president because George Bush is in power illegally and illegitimately through election fraud.

I am running for president because I am not a Mason, I don't have a powdered wig, and I believe that we, as a society, are ready for a new system of government.

I am running for president because I don't owe countless favors, I am not a career politician and I don't have a dollar to my name.

I am running for president because I believe I can make a difference.

And Mr. Bush, I am going to win.


Lesley Poindexter

Caring Approach to Keep Kids in School


Paul Cruz (Education Administrator) had the idea to add the incentive for college credit, a great idea. However, is it enough?

New tests and truancy laws have been used in the past. Dropout rates stay the same. A new ethics law has been imposed to punish the teachers. In this cycle of punishment, where is the caring?

Often problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder, attention deficit disorder, and dyslexia impair the performance of students leading to feelings of hopelessness and anger. An option is school, more counselors, and team leadership. Death of family, premarital sex, harassment, divorce and poverty contribute to posttraumatic stress disorder. Even the strongest person[s] feel weak, angry, and out of control.

A way to enforce counseling is through truancy laws. Modify the laws so after five unexcused absences they need to talk to a counselor. After 10, they can maintain a C average, but only with mandatory counseling sessions. If they have trouble showing up to class, failing them will make the mountain higher.

Professionals can catch problems in advance, create a blanket, plus give an excuse for why they go to counseling. There are those who would stop going to school over saying they need help. Other methods would have to take place in these cases.

This would not demand more taxes either. Higher tax burden for education in the works. Moving education administrators into a child psychology program would keep cost consistent. With the requirements of psychology and teaching degree, it is a matter of who is more qualified.

Offer a helping hand to promote change, than punish those in hard times. No one wants to be a loser. We can still build brighter futures.

Thank you for being the best source of news in Austin.

Naomie Christensen

Stop Iraq Idiocy

Dear Editor:

George Bush is using Iraq to distract from his incompetent and unethical administration. There is no evidence of an imminent threat from Iraq against the United States; even the administration is not claiming that Iraq is involved with global terrorism. The current warmongering is an excuse to distract from the scandals of Bush's corporate friends, not to mention Dick Cheney's shenanigans with Halliburton. War talk conveniently displaces discussion of all other issues, including our vanishing civil liberties and our increasingly toxic environment. The economy is collapsing, and Americans want leadership on the domestic front, not aggression toward an external target, actions that alienate our allies and will soon sap taxpayer funds even further. Stop this idiocy now.

K. Bongiorni

Bomb Iraq


There are a couple of facts that Americans have to face up to. One: Saddam is harboring known terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Two: He is trying to obtain or already has obtained nuclear capability. To deny this is to laugh in the face of conventional wisdom. Nukes + terrorists = eventual disaster. There are too many lives at stake to say that this equation has never been proven. Which American city or cities are you willing to bet that I am wrong?

Terrorists are now using difficult-to-trace prepaid cell phones and GPS tracking devices, a sign of sophistication we haven't previously seen. To underestimate them any further could mean catastrophe. Rumors abound that Saddam, and hence al Qaeda, have already obtained a few fission devices from Soviet break-off countries. In my opinion the U.S. government would never make this information public.

We must assume the worst and act fast. We should isolate their cities, control movement in and out, and destroy all of their military targets. To do less would be risking global catastrophe. A nuclear or dirty bomb could be leaving an Iraqi port as you read this. Maybe it will change containers in Spain. But ask yourself "What is its final destination?"

As Americans, we always want to give others the benefit of the doubt. But Saddam Hussein deserves no benefit. His behavior is flatly unacceptable. He is a mass murderer. It is unfortunate that innocent people will die, but history shows us that more will die if evil goes unchecked. I think our armed forces are up to the task of ousting this madman with minimal loss of life, possibly resulting in democracy in the Middle East. They have been planning such for a year now. The only mistake we can make is waiting too long.

Nick Nixon

Rahul Respects Democracy


John A. Wielmaker challenged the Green Party, the left, and the Chronicle to distance themselves from Rahul Mahajan, Green candidate for governor. Wielmaker claims Mahajan disrespects democracy, opposes all things American, and is close to Pol Pot and Adolph Hitler.

I've known and worked with Rahul for years. We have often disagreed and Rahul certainly didn't always get what he wanted, but he respected the will of the group. If that isn't respect for democracy, I don't know what is.

Rahul does oppose the war on terrorism because it's a thin cover for endless war abroad and repression of unions and other domestic movements. Wielmaker may believe war and repression are American, but some of us believe America means more than endless war to prop up capitalist failures.

Comparing Rahul to Pol Pot and Hitler is laughable. Rahul is a grassroots activist with ties to no military organization. He's probably never even held a firearm, much less ordered the deaths of millions of people.

I was born in Austin and spent the last 15 years in many struggles settling in the labor movement. I never heard of Wielmaker. He says "good leftists" must be vigilant against folks like Rahul, but it isn't clear Wielmaker is a leftist at all. It seems more like he is either a sectarian or a shill for the Democrats. His demands that we lump Rahul Mahajan with parasites like real estate developers and Republicans, for the good of the movement, ring false. Rahul is part of a vibrant movement to build a free society, in which Republicans, Democrats, and evidently John A. Wielmaker have little interest. Those who would bring about this society are active participants in those movements, and Rahul is one.


Joshua Freeze

General Executive Board Chair

Industrial Workers of the World

National Hispanic Heritage Month


National Hispanic Heritage month observance began Sept. 15 and lasts until Oct. 15. This year's observance is to increase the awareness and understanding of U.S. Hispanic Americans, especially those who give unselfishly in the service of their country.

A prime example is "Hero Street, USA," two blocks of a street formerly named Second Street and located in Silvis, Ill., which exemplifies just one contribution from the Hispanic community. The street earned its name because of the sacrifices of 57, including 8 KIA, young Hispanic-American men of Mexican descent who answered the call in World War II and the Korean War.

"Valuing the diversity of each individual and fostering the atmosphere of belonging is critical to continued success of the military and nonmilitary."

Semper Fidelis!

Moses P. Saldana Sr.

How Democracy Works


It's interesting enough that our Democrats and Republicans are keeping an eye on each other, rather than themselves ... and the Green Party still considers itself immune to the growth of intelligence in the human sector ... but what really amazes all of us is the utter and complete lack of stamina in the general population. A travesty.

From this point of view, it's concrete and grass. Just say, "Destroy the Republican Party and give last rites to the Democrats. We're not green because green don't last." See. Our current system of quantitative intelligence is a vain and antiquated repast, no longer functional, and highly destructive of the host cell ... humanity.

Words like paint, get in touch with the inner Johnson.

It really isn't that difficult to create a better world; just shed the skin. We don't need more roads and we don't need more of Rick Perry ... we can ruin Tony Sanchez ... we can ruin the White House. We're Americans. That's the way democracy works! All you gotta do is beat the point spread.

Now register to vote, before it's too late.

Todd Alan Smith

Controlled by the Company


I just want to say I think it's a good thing to protest misguided government policies, i.e. Iraq, tax breaks to corporations, etc. But to be honest, I think it will have a minimal impact on my life because I am more controlled by company policy than by anything the government does.

The company sets my wages, my deductions, the starting time that I work, the amount of work that I do, my break time, my lunch time, and the environment (for good or bad) that I have to work in. The company controls the information that I see and hear at work, most of it business-related and always contrived to present the company viewpoint in the best possible light. Rewards and punishments are meted out according to policy. Very precise wording is used to guide the iron fist of administrators in dealing with achievers and transgressors. Company policy exceeds both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by several pages and within the confines of the company compound.

So really, people are badly misled when they discuss American freedom, when the true tyranny of the planet exists just inside the company gates.

A former disobedient,

Leon Price

Agnostics Anonymous


Thanks for including the We Agnostics AA meeting in your Classifieds listing. We helped several folks find us, including some Al-Anon and "Mainstream AA."

We still meet (Tues., 8pm) and can continue to help folks find a spiritual serenity without alcohol. Please continue to list us any time you need to fill some space.


A Grateful Bunch of Drunks


Navigating Guad

To the Editor:

Heading home from a dog walk Saturday necessitated crossing Guadalupe. Roughly 80 million runners were heading south on Guad. When my herding dogs spot running mammals, instinct dictates that they round up the bunch. Being a good alpha, I determined it best to guide my pack from this crowd quickly, so no heels got nipped.

I continued north to the crosswalk at Guad and 41st. I spotted a cop and politely asked, "Could you help me cross?" He turned to face me, his mouth full of whistle (which he was not blowing), his eyes covered by standard-issue cop shades. Saying nothing, he began gesticulating wildly as if auditioning for a small, community dinner-theatre revival of the Shields and Yarnell Show. Thinking he wanted me to press the crosswalk button I asked, "Do you really suppose they'd stop for a red light?" (I know runners in Germany would stop for a red light, but I find that in Austin, most bikes, cars, and pedestrians consider stop signs, red lights, walk signs, speed limits, and the like mere suggestions and not, you know, mandatory.)

Again, he poked his finger in the air as if his forearm were having a curious, isolated seizure. I turned to follow his index finger and saw a small sign indicating traffic delays.

How sad this bitter clown is out there destroying the rep of decent Austin cops and respectable mimes alike.

Well, at least he didn't shoot my dogs.

Spike Gillespie

Library Book Sale a Success


On behalf of the Austin Public Library I would like to thank the community for supporting this year's Friends of the Austin Public Library annual book sale, September 14-15. This year the Friends of the Austin Public Library sold a record-breaking number of books and materials. The Friends raised over $68,000, which goes to the library to fund special programs and equipment. I would also like to publicly thank the countless number of volunteers and the Friends of APL Board who work tirelessly throughout the year to make the book sale the success that it is.

Brenda Branch,

Director of Libraries

Amber Alert System Asking for Trouble

Dear Editor:

The Amber Alert system is a promising idea, but what will it become in the hands of a hate radio station like KLBJ-AM? It is too easy to imagine "Sergeant" Sam Cox with his face pressed against a camera, warning motorists to be on the lookout for a fugitive book reader believed to be in possession of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Dean Glaze

Standiford and the Economy


There's a grain of truth in Jason Meador's comment ... "if it pisses off Kurt Standiford it's probably good for the economy" ["Postmarks," Sept. 20].

AIDS pisses me off, Mr. Meador. Pharmaceutical giants are laughing all the way to the bank while pandering to homophiles and others who pervade the pandemic. All that consumer spending must be "good for the economy."

Hey Meador, is it true that around your place in Luling, "safe-sex" includes tagging the sheep and goats that have been known to kick?

Kurt Standiford

P.S. Good luck, Coach! You will never get a good job until you lose the one you've got ...

Donations Do Help


Hello, my name is Bob Muhn. My girlfriend and I have just moved to Austin and within two weeks have found ourselves at a poverty level neither one of us was familiar with.

Living in an extended-stay motel our limited funds were diminishing rapidly and we were soon to be living on the streets.

So we took our last few dollars and set out to find an apartment. Well, we were successful in spending all the money we had -- $85 in application fees and deposits. We moved into a very small one-bedroom apartment, and in order to eat we had to find some sort of assistance. After many calls we finally obtained a list of churches that would provide food, obtained from private donations.

What a blessing, being able to eat after being very hungry. Going into day three we were given a small bag of groceries; as far as we're concerned it came straight from heaven! But what really burned me up was this lady (we'll call her Amy?) who made this comment, "I would almost rather have a job! This church circuit is almost as bad as having a job." The audacity of this lady. Although we haven't been able to secure full-time jobs yet we are no longer dependent on the churches and this wonderful community to support us. And as for Amy, hopefully one day she'll understand the purpose of these ministries is to provide short-term help for people like myself and my girlfriend (Theresa) so we are able to become contributing citizens of this or any community.

And God as my witness when we are able we will give back to what we now call our community (tenfold).

A quick note to your readers: Remember, local donations help local people. So if you can clean out your pantries or spend an extra five or 10 dollars at the grocery store and drop it off at the church of your choice or food bank, do it today. You'll feel better about yourself, and remember, your donations really do help!

Thanks Austin,

Bob Muhn and Theresa Perry

Call the White House


Are you among those people the U.S. government is supposed to be of, by, and for? Do you think our un-elected president is about to plunge us and the world into total chaos by attacking a sovereign nation (however un-admirable)? What other nation could Bush see as needing a "regime change"? Germany? He doesn't particularly like recently reelected Gerhard Schroeder. Is Israel's, or India's, or Pakistan's, or Iran's possession of weapons of mass destruction likely to qualify them next for a "regime change"? Come on folks, speak up! It's your government, after all. Call the White House Comment Line at 202/456-1111 and let your voice be heard. How will you be able to face your children or grandchildren otherwise?


Bob Russell

Can't Trust Pineo

Good Day!

After seeing the Austin Shakespeare Festival's Twelfth Night twice, I read the review in your paper ["Exhibitionism," Sept. 20]. I am glad I had not read it before, because I probably would have not gone to see it. And I would have missed an incredible production. When reading the critique, I was not sure Mr. Pineo was talking about the same play/production I saw. Like Mr. Pineo, I also am very familiar with the play, and have seen it many times in different countries (apart from studying it and seeing student productions while I was a theatre major at Tel Aviv University and Rutgers State University).

Unlike Mr. Pineo, I do not find the production "a mass of whirling, flailing confusion." I think it is a wonderful production, one that is a delight to watch. Guy Roberts, the director, did a great job in bringing us a Shakespearean play the way it was intended to be: Funny, engaging, and innovative. The acting was superb -- the actors delivered the lines fluently and clearly. (With the exception perhaps of the actor who played Antonio, who at times stumbled on his lines and was a bit stiff). When Mr. Pineo finds David Stokey as Sebastian to be the only one who "made Shakespeare's language sound natural," I doubted he saw the play at all.

To say that I was disappointed to read the review is an understatement. I, for one, will not trust any of Mr. Pineo's reviews, and will not go by them. But what is more enraging, is the harm Mr. Pineo causes to all the wonderfully talented people who brought us such high-quality theatre. Your paper is highly credible, and people may be influenced by the review. My 15-and-a-half-year-old son told his class at Anderson H.S. to go see the play; my husband recommended it to all his co-workers; the group of friends who came with us to see it enjoyed it thoroughly; and I will see it tomorrow for the third time. I hope that very few people will read the review in your paper.

Coming to think of it, why don't you go to see it? I promise you will love it!

Michelle Perris, Ph.D.

A Costly Campaign Strategy


Why now? Why not six months or even a year ago? The reasons Bush gave for removing Saddam and destroying Iraq were just as valid then as they are now. But look, an election is near and going to war is the best campaign issue for Republican hopes of winning more seats in Congress. The Bush warlords have an election strategy to avoid any talk of the failed economy or the $157 billion budget deficit. War trumps all other domestic problems affecting the average American, erasing them from public awareness. News media have already hidden them on the back burner. War will dominate the nation's time, money, and conscience.

And what about the costs? Even with U.N. and congressional approval the war on Iraq will have many horrifying costs immediately, and long-term prices to pay for the next 20 years. How many thousands of U.S. military personnel will be killed or wounded? How many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians will die or be maimed for life? How many billions of dollars will we spend not only on the violence but also on the efforts to rebuild Iraq as a viable civilization? Many Muslims will detest American power even more. Terrorist recruitment will soar. Arab nations will pull away from our "friendship." Many nations of Europe and Asia will doubt our future integrity. It's a high price to pay for an election (or better access to oil), even if it eradicates one of our enemies.

This war would also set a precedent that could plague the world for decades. Other nations can find targets for their enmity and justify war on the precedent we established. Sure, we invaded nations before to achieve our own "national interests." Look at what we did to the Native American nations, or Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba, and several other Latin American countries under our claim of "Manifest Destiny." But that was before we tried to be civilized. I hope and pray America will consider the facts of history. There are no winners of wars, only victims. Revenge and arrogance always come back to haunt the perpetrator. Peaceful actions are the only way to gain peace and stability for the world.

Reverend Wilson Wade

Virtual Tellers Suck


Thank you for your short piece on UFCU's new virtual tellers ["'Simone' Premieres -- at the Credit Union," Sept. 20].

After using the virtual tellers once, I have made the extra effort to patronize the downtown branch. Your piece was my first indication that, in fact, all of the live tellers will eventually be replaced by the machines.

Granted, although I am free to go to the Guadalupe branch and sit in front of an empty customer service rep's desk while they take my deposit back to a teller, this is for obvious reasons also an unappealing option.

The day I walk into the downtown branch and find virtual tellers will also be the day I drive over to Capitol Credit Union.

Thanks again for the heads up,

Pam Jarvis

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