Our readers talk back.
Fri., Jan. 17, 2003
No doubt the unemployed Austinites Mr. King described ["Capitol Chronicle," Jan. 10] have seen tough times. However, I'd like to share the story of a Houston man who's making the best of things. To protect his identity, we'll call him Camel.
Annually, my friends vote on which of us was the Sportsman of the Year. Camel won SOTY 2002 for doing the most hunting, fishing, beer drinking, and babe scoring, all the while belligerently drunk and obnoxious. Camel is a fat, white, bald-headed Republican who amuses everyone he knows, and offends everyone else.
Camel spent most of 2002 collecting $462 in weekly unemployment checks from another state. But, rather than sulk on the Houston light rail, Camel road the gravy train hard. Camel's unemployment financed a tuna trip to Venice, La., a booty call to Buffalo, weekly hot wings at Hooters, Saturdays with South Park, and enough Bud Lite to recharge Barton Springs. "Hey man, you got to milk it while you can," said Camel.
Editor Louis Black was correct in writing, "Unemployment insurance mostly goes right back into the economy ['Page Two,' Jan. 10]." But, not until his unemployment checks ceased did Camel contribute to the supply side by getting an $8-an-hour job (plus all he could eat) slicing barbecue.
The Libertarian lesson is that handouts affect college-educated, white, male Republicans the same as poor, single, black mothers. With unemployment checks, you're penalized for working. Anyone can provide his own unemployment insurance by opening a savings account. But, if he fails to and gets laid off, then he deserves to slice barbecue among the commoners until he finds an "acceptable" job.
Chronicle readers will be relieved to hear that Camel was recently rehired in his primary profession, the environmental field.
'You're Gonna Miss Me'
Dear George [Gimarc]:
Read your article ["One Two Three Faw," Dec. 27]. That was my picture of Sir Doug. A good story, but you could have given me credit for originating Texas rock. I also picked the hit for Roky, "You're Gonna Miss Me." I also put the deal together for them on Hanna Barbera records. Lealn smelled money and took the credit.
I also put the package together for the Moving Sidewalks, on Scepter records.
I also made the deal for ZZ Top on London for them and Bill Ham.
I used to sit and listen to samples of 45s at the pressing plant. I picked Bruce Channel and Paul & Paula records sight unseen, called Major Bill and leased that for him. Also Delbert. All was on the sample was LeCam.
Anyway, when you young guys make stories of the roots, try not to forget the fellows that put it all together.
Without the producers and promoters, you would have missed some great music.
Doug Hanners is a great friend.
This is a Cajun typewriter, so it spell like it sounds. Smiel a friend
Huey P. Meaux
P.S. Tell my friends Ken Lieck and Louis Black hello for me.
1978 Has Come and Gone, Guys
Your recent cover story on garage rock ["One Two Three Faw!" Dec. 27] was truly lacking (disclaimer on cover not withstanding), and I thank the Yuppie Prick who wrote in and pointed that out in such fine style ["Postmarks," Jan. 3]. It really seemed like that article was thrown together as filler, which is excusable occasionally, but this week I see you're back with another throwaway story on the Sex Pistols show at Randy's Rodeo ["Holiday in San Antonio," Jan. 10]. Can't you Raul's-era folks just let go of the past? I was a Beach/Voltaire's Basement-era person myself, and I have managed to accept that the days of three to five eclectic bands on a bill playing seven nights a week for a $2 or $3 cover charge are over. The Sex Pistols article might have been worth it if it had been any good, but it was really only a self-serving group reminiscence by Chronicle cronies. The public would do better to rent D.O.A., the documentary of that ill-fated Sex Pistols American tour.
In terms of music coverage, you really need to devote more space to reviewing local live shows by new and/or unknown bands, with the emphasis on the "new" and the "unknown." I have really read and heard enough about Jimmy LaFave, Guy Forsyth, Britt Daniel, Alejandro Escovedo, and others who seem to dominate your pages. Please don't think I am putting these folks down, as I am sure they are damn talented, but they have all been around for a while and have played and continue to play in town frequently. I think if there was anything happening with what they're doing, it would have already happened. There are a shitload of bands, however, playing at Room 710, Beerland, Emo's, and elsewhere that I might go see if I knew something about them or their music. Cover charges and beer prices are just too damn high now for an old geezer like me to just go to random shows and hang out hoping the bands are good. The Chronicle could help out whatever "scene" there is by actually providing information about the relative unknowns out there playing the clubs.
Sound Exchange R.I.P.,
Current Music Scene Deserves Ink
With a withering live scene, flat and falling record sales, and an ever-growing litany of legendary local music institutions disappearing, these are quite obviously perilous times, economic and otherwise, for the Austin music scene. We need to be facing them head-on, but we seem to be fixated on the rear-view mirror, constantly reliving past glories instead of attempting to create a climate for new accomplishments.
Nostalgia has its attractions, but it has little to offer in our current situation. As someone who was fortunate to be in the middle of many of the seminal scenes in Texas music I enjoy and appreciate the Chron's extensive history pieces, even if sometimes I disagree a bit with the memories and conclusions of the writers.
But the Chron's musical New Year's resolution should be to emphasize Austin artists who are on stage and in the studio now. The scene pioneers deserve attention, but so do the musicians struggling to create new sounds and new scenes for the Chron to write nostalgia pieces about a decade or two from now.
I Could Have Spit On Sid
Dear Mr. Editor;
Many kudos are due to Margaret Moser, Nick Barbaro, Louis Black, et al., for their work that resulted in your article called "Holiday in San Antonio" [Jan. 10]. I remember going to that Sex Pistols concert in 1978, and it seemed that over half of the crowd was composed of people that I knew from the Austin protopunk scene.
I attended that show with Rick Turner, a fellow band member of the Uranium Savages that went on to do many of the classic Austin punk concert posters from that period. Rick was in such a hurry to get to see the Sex Pistols that he got a speeding ticket on I-35 for driving 100 miles an hour. The trooper that stopped him could not believe that his car was capable of going any faster than that.
The concert at Randy's Rodeo was absolutely packed with all manner of fans, and it was obvious from looking at the ceiling that this structure had originally been designed as a bowling lane. It was the first time that I saw so many piercings and safety pins in people's faces in public. Nowadays we take that stuff as normal, but at the time it was new and almost a little "edgy." I got close enough to the bandstand that I could have spit on Sid Vicious, so I did. He was so out of it that I don't think he even noticed my spittle resting on him.
I keep ticket stubs from music concerts that I really enjoyed. The stub from the Sex Pistols show in S.A. in 1978 is my all-time favorite ticket stub because it was the most memorable show that I have ever seen ... so far.
The Not-Yet-Born Kennedys
Your Mr. Ward has had a lapse of memory. In his story about the Pistols' last stand at Winterland ["Holiday in San Antonio," Jan. 10], he claims to have witnessed a set by the Dead Kennedys. Er, I was there, too, and Jello and Co. -- who didn't rear their heads in the Bay Area until later in '78, if memory serves -- were not among the openers. I do remember seeing the Nuns, the SF punk act that included Alejandro Escovedo among their number. I'm surprised former Austinite Ward couldn't pull that pertinent recollection from the ol' brain bank.
[Ed. note: Shortly after we published that article, we got this message from Ed Ward: "Arrrgggh. Just got a note informing me that it was the Nuns (whom I hated) and not the Dead Kennedys (whom I also hated) opening for the Sex Pistols. That may well be right; they would have been on first, and I would have ignored them, wandering around Winterland looking to see if any of my friends had made it in. (I don't think they did, except for Greil; my friends were firmly of the guest-list persuasion.) Sorry to ruin your article." The Chronicle regrets the error.]
Dear Mr. Black,
Please, please, puh-lease, have your writers place their acronyms right next to the items they're "acronym-ing." Coming across an acronym several paragraphs after its reference makes it hard to match it up. C'mon, I learned to do this from a week just auditing a journalism class. How is it you guys don't do it?
One Austin, Indivisible
This letter goes out to all of Austin, North and South. I've lived in Austin since I was three. It's all I know, and it will always be my home. I was relaxing at home today, flipping through the Chronicle and listening to the radio, when I happened upon an article entitled "More Than a ZIP Code" [Jan. 10]. I've grown up mostly in North Central Austin, in places like Hyde Park and Crestview, and in fact still live in the Crestview neighborhood. All my life I've been excluded from the "cool-kids club" of South Austin. 78704, big deal.
Look, I'm not saying that people that live in South Austin are pretentious, I'm not saying that people that live in North Austin are not, all I'm saying is that the separation of people by race, religion, sex, creed, class (sound familiar?), and, maybe the simplest to forget, geographical location, is what keeps us from organizing anything more than a small food drive or a salamander protection agency whose members can't remember where there car keys are half the time.
The thing to remember is what you want to accomplish in this town. If it is something so small and inconsequential that you only need half the city's population to do it, get to it, but don't get in the way with sectionalist attitudes when someone actually wants to accomplish something. Whether you're eating pancakes at Kerby South or watching Two Towers at Tinseltown, all you're doing is distracting yourself from actually thinking about anything, or, God forbid, trying to solve any number of problems that surround and effect all of us here in Austin. Remember that, too.
P.S. Charm comes from people, not strange motel signs and average collectable shops.
Cell Phone + Driving = Trouble
For all of you in Chronicle-land who have been bitching about cell-phone use by drivers in Austin, now's your chance to take a real stand and possibly elicit change. A beacon of light has appeared in the form of Rep. Paul Moreno of El Paso. He has introduced House Bill 281 that would prohibit the use of a telephone while driving. While not perfect (gee, a whole $25-100 fine), the bill acknowledges the issue that cell-phone use by those operating motor vehicles is a safety problem (duh). If you sit aghast in your car, or on your motorcycle while cell-phone idiots bounce off the cars and railings all around you, speak out now. Write or call your Texas state representative or shut up and forfeit the right to complain when you have your next close call with one of these cell-phone-using fools.
P.S. Find your state rep at www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm.
Hook 'Em Horns
I would like to express my admiration for the UT Longhorns logo. Not only does the logo call to mind the masculine image of the Texas frontier, it also calls to mind the very core of the feminine reproductive system, the uterus. Thus, the logo celebrates both the male and female principles. When the Longhorns wear this logo on their uniforms, they really are winning one for Mom.
Bravo UT for your all-inclusiveness!
Plutocracy - government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy - can sometimes be overthrown by coordinated efforts of the common people. Arousing people to action requires awakening them to realize their oppression is pervasive and the possibility of freedom requires sacrifice. Most of what they see and hear is controlled by the ruling class: the wealthy politicians, business executives, and their lobbyists. The common people are kept satiated by a surfeit of salacious entertainments, faddish fashions, electronic gadgetry, and egregious consumerism.
Those who decry this social analysis as fomenting class warfare are correct. Class warfare has been going on for a very long time and the wealthy have won almost every battle. The institution of public education, social security, minimum wage, anti-discrimination laws, and, to some extent, collective bargaining rights have been offered to comfort the afflicted without afflicting the comfortable. Universal health care and the guarantee of adequate housing, income, food, clothing, and transportation are still denied as civil rights for all people. America is ripe for revolution unless "the powers that be" choose a more peaceful solution by establishing the justice of equality for all the necessities of life.
Just Trust Me
Gosh, I wish I could provide footnotes and a bibliography but experience and time constraints have repeatedly shown that the privilege of detailed reading and writing, much less understanding the information that is thrown our way every day has been entrusted to those darlings of the aristocracy that created our false democracy in the first place: the Senate ... a passel of thugs who have more or less created the new American Fascism from day one, more than 200 years ago. Don't have to believe me, just watch as this war with Iraq turns into a thousand-year war with Islam, while the new American dictators move the focus of operations to ... where ... the moon? Doesn't matter as long as their bunkers are better than ours ... here on the sidewalk ... keeping an eye out for help wanted signs.
Todd Alan Smith
I think my head is going to explode! Carole Keeton whatever her name is this week says we ain't got no money. But the big news on TV and the front pages of the Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News is she got married, again!
Will someone in the media, anyone, call this liar out? She ran campaign commercials bragging about saving the citizens billions of dollars that the bad ole' boys in Austin wanted to spend. She "saved Texas' raining-day fund." Under her "leadership," Texas was in "great shape."
Now, she announces yet another trip to the alter and, oh by the way, "We're broke." She says the 2001 Lege spent every dime.
Louis, I'm begging you, please, send your best investigative reporter down to the comptrollers office and shed the light of day on this mess. This old granny has got to be stopped. I know, it's fun to go after Bush (and easy). But this is right here in our own back yard. You have got to get to the bottom of this so that we all will know what is going on with our money.
Brainwashing Texas Students
An advertiser's dream come true! Imagine a daily guaranteed captive audience of millions of teens who spend over $63 billion annually! This is what happens each day across the nation and, more specifically, tens of thousands of Texas students are part of this captive audience. Schools that contractually agree to allow the 12-minute in-school "news" program Channel One to air during the school day hand over the captive audience!
A Vassar College and Johns Hopkins University study showed only 20% of airtime was devoted to real news, the rest was deemed "fluff." Thus, Channel One's main goal is not educational. They brag to potential advertisers that they are a "direct pipeline" to teenage consumers. Of great concern are the ads for soda and junk food -- there is a teenage obesity problem in this nation, yet Channel One pushes the consumption of junk.
Students spend one entire school day per year just watching ads in class! Channel One loans schools TVs and two VCRs, the rental charge is the students' time -- your tax dollars! One would think that surely the Texas State Board of Education would be very concerned with this waste. Unfortunately, the vote in November to reject the resolution encouraging all local Texas school districts to remove Channel One was proof they are not concerned!
As a former resident of Texas, I was appalled by the circumstances surrounding the rejection. The board had invited Mrs. Pat Ellis of Obligation, Inc., located in Birmingham, Ala., to make a 10-minute presentation. The president of Channel One, Jim Ritts, came to his program's defense and was given the Board's rapt attention for his entire presentation, which included video clips of Channel One. When Mrs. Ellis started her presentation, some members of the board were up walking around and talking among themselves. Mrs. Ellis had no sooner begun than she was told her time was up! She was not even permitted to show video clips of highly questionable Channel One ads and programs.
Texas residents should be embarrassed by the actions of many on their State Board of Education. Pro-family groups from across the nation were watching the board. The board not only did Texas students a great disservice through their rejection of the resolution, but as the nation looked on their actions were an embarrassment to the great people of Texas! Something to remember next election!
American Family Association
of Northwestern Pennsylvania
What's the Point?
Your perception on the effects of the tax cuts are well analyzed on "Page Two." "Naked City" and the News are straight and poignant (with well-hidden local information), and you guys seem to know everybody in the political world, and what they do. Jim Hightower trashes everyone in the high places, even your pendejo president. Michael Ventura reaffirms dreams and convictions, and Cecil clarifies everything else. Having all these elements and a good team, how come don't you condemn, say, Condoleezza for lack of initiative on 9/11? Or start a lawsuit against Alcoa, or bring down the APD commander for his responsibility on Sophia King's shooting and abandonment of her body for three hours? What about the steady flow of outsiders that always seem to find the best jobs in town, resulting in displacement, crime incidence, and poverty for the local population? Or the stupid decisions that Forgione and Yudof make from their secured perches? Have you ever analyzed the economic raids on the poor that police conduct every year -- with total support from judges and prosecutors -- to keep the public servants happy? Why don't you lobby for the UT super coaches to be paid by performance? What group is going to protest about these apartment complexes on Pleasant Valley that might be polluting the river soon? What about the ridiculous appraisals on crumbling shacks in East Austin, just to feed the bureaucrats? And the eternally empty Capital Metro buses that shelter a bunch of outsiders in administration? What is the purpose of being articulate, with college degrees and everything, if you just keep on stirring our little minds up while eating lunch?
Plants Are Alive as Well
Save the Plants
Kick the Veggie Habit
"Kick the Meat Habit" ["Postmarks," Internet edition, Jan. 10]? Come on, how can anyone, and I mean anyone, tie not eating meat in with saving the planet? Some ridiculously misguided individuals, fauna-philes, are suggesting we eat plants so we can save the planet by saving the lives of pigs, chicken, and cattle? Jesus, talk about drinking out of the wrong end of the hose. Look, plants are living things too, so PETA can cram their BS about "all living things are sacred." They just seem to be instant-gratification junkies who need to see animate things moving at a pace that can hold their limited attention. Plants are extremely active life forms, they colonize areas, they wage war and protect their territory, they terra-form entire eco-systems, they communicate when threatened or attacked, they just do it at a slower pace than a pig or chicken, I guess. The real question is when is someone going to stand up for plant rights? Plants are far more important to the health of the planet and the entire ecosphere than domestic pigs and cattle are by a long shot, and it should be apparent to even the most obtuse among us. Go out into a field of flowers and take a deep breath, then do the same thing downwind of a pig farm. I dare you to tell me it's better to eat plants so pigs can live happier lives. Plants are our planet's filters, they create oxygen, they bind carbon, they are totally energy independent. Remember, it was the Garden of Eden, not the stockyards of Molene. Wake up, eat meat three times a day, every day, until every single pig and chicken and cow is eaten and gone, then we can have a debate on what to eat and how to save the planet doing it. Remember: "If choice to eat I had to make 'tween cabbage and a cow, I'd surely rather eat the beast and spare the plant the plow."
Carl T. Swanson