Our readers talk back.

Austin Identity Being Lost


Regarding your depressing "Lost Austin" issue [July 4], it is all too easy to see what is "lost" about Austin. It is Austin's soul. The old Austin spirit is gone forever and one must mourn it and move on. In its place is a fast-paced city where money and meanness too often rule.

Unfortunately, no longer is Austin really that unique. Yes, we have Barton Springs, Town Lake, the bats, Hippie Hollow, the Sixth Street pseudo-Bourbon Street mess, overpriced musical events, the Capitol building, and the University of Texas. But our endless and mostly tacky suburbs full of residents afraid of the evils of central Austin and city schools could be Anywhere, USA. Ditto for our downtown, restaurants, shopping malls, and freeways clogged with traffic. Our airport could be anywhere in the world except for a few Texasy accoutrements tacked on to the structure and some local restaurants plopped inside. Pry off a few Texas stars and our convention center could be in Tallahassee or Toronto.

We've squandered our natural beauty. Today it is fast fading, crushed under roads, parking lots, and mega-mansions. Waller Creek and Shoal Creek, which could be spectacular, are for the most part drainage ditches. Look to the west from downtown -- the once green hills, our Violet Crown at sunset, are covered with homes and offices. Though not as dramatic as Denver's Rockies, they once served to make us unique.

It is all too sad.

Those of us still with some hope and love for the city must work hard to protect any uniqueness that is left before it, too, is gone.

Claude M. Gruener

Don't Forget Midnight Cowboy


In his article, Lee Nichols overlooked the Midnight Cowboy Massage ["Get It While You Can," July 4]. This establishment has stood the test of time, offering anxious males a respite from the stresses of Sixth Street, ever since I can remember!

Bubba Lansdowne

Cinema 40 Overlooked


I read with much disappointment Marjorie Baumgarten's revisit to Austin/UT film programming of the Seventies ["Lights Out," July 4]. It is actually incomplete and leads the reader to believe there was no innovative film programming at UT until the Texas Union Series and Cinematexas. How untrue.

I founded Cinema 40, the film society at the University of Texas in the mid-1960s. It was a seminal student organization and created quite a stir both on and off campus.

We brought the first Godard films to UT and even brought Godard to the campus. And there were many, many more. We also had the first Andy Warhol Film Festival. And later we petitioned to have a film department at UT.

Peter Soderbergh (Stephen's father), then an education professor, and myself led the petition drive. And it succeeded. Dr. Stanley Donner, then head of RTF, was the first to open his door to us. We also had a Gulf-Coast Film-Makers Co-op located then in the desolate row of Sixth Street. Local filmmakers were spotlighted at a screening in NYC at Jonas Mekas' Filmmakers Film Cooperative.

We also had a film magazine (Harbinger) and handed out program notes at each film (we had Andy Warhol do a cover for us). We even had a film archive and people like Stan Brakhage donated a dozen or so original reels. I have much of this documented in clips from magazines, The Daily Texan, and The Rag. Also articles I wrote for the Texan, Riata, the Austin American-Statesman, etc.

I am sure if you ask around you will find people who remember Cinema 40 -- Dr. Joseph Kruppa for one is still there. So is Kirby McDaniel, etc.

Gregg Barrios

A Texas Travesty

Dear Editor,

I was in the gallery when the House convened to hear HB 3 on redistricting. I knew I'd entered an episode of the surreal when the clergy opening the session praised President Bush's integrity and went on to speak of President Bush as being divinely inspired. Against the will of 90% of the people allowed to speak at public hearings, redistricting passed. And not one of those people who spoke got to speak to the most recently conjured map on Saturday. A travesty -- for minorities and rural Texans, all of whose votes have been diluted to satisfy the appetite of the Republican beast. The battle next goes to the Texas Senate, where the governor and Tom DeLay out of Washington have been busy bullying the Republicans and trying to buy Democrats. Hold the line, Democrats, and stand up for us all.


Marion Mlotok

Republicans Ignore Citizens


I attended the redistricting hearing Tuesday night and it was clear that the Republican members were doing whatever necessary to hinder citizen participation.

First, they moved the hearing time from 2 to 7pm, which might not have been so bad if they had started then. But they originally scheduled a meeting in a room so small they must have surely known it wouldn't hold all those who wished to attend. So there was the delay in finding a bigger room.

Oh, and by the way, they only just presented the newly revised map five minutes before all this added confusion -- and the form which one was required to complete was so obscure it took someone to stand at the door (against redistricting) to make sure you got it right. If you signed up to speak, you could only comment on the revised map you hadn't seen.

The Republican Chairman, Joe Crabb from Atascosita, hemmed, hawed, and drug the process out so painfully that citizens were forced to give up and leave by midnight when public input had only just been underway.

Kudos to representatives Raymond, Villareal, and McClendon -- so proud they represent Texas -- and Elliott Naishtat was eloquent in reading an editorial from The New York Times observing the duplicity behind the redistricting activities. Many eloquent and informed speakers followed.

I'm tellin' ya -- the right-wing Republicans are as sneaky and underhanded as they were when Richard Nixon was around. These Pharisees are relying on the ignorance and indifference of the populace to continue to railroad their policies of self and corporate interests. They have made such a mess of things, they now want to stack the deck by redistricting because it's the only way they can ever win again.

Keep an eye on these sneaky bastards or we could even lose our beloved Lloyd Doggett. We never want that to happen.


J. Richardson

There Goes the Neighborhood

Dear Editor:

Every so often our business community makes a corporate decision to develop an area that is inappropriate and which contains a variety of absolutely negative impacts upon the citizens of that area. Such is the plan to construct a 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter accessible only via neighborhood streets at MoPac and Davis Lane and Slaughter and a neighborhood drive in southwest Austin. The citizens in this area are almost unanimously opposed to locating this facility and are committed to work against the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in this neighborhood area.

Ken Rigsbee, director

Circle C Homeowners Association

Morales Learns the Moral


On Dan Morales:

In August of 1993 I volunteered my civil litigation skills to try to force a hearing in which evidence of innocence (never presented to a jury by the incompetent trial lawyer) could be considered by a board that had the authority to commute the execution of convicted murderer Gary Graham. I and the other attorneys providing free legal assistance were successful in getting a hearing ordered but then-Attorney General Dan Morales appealed and simultaneously sought to execute Graham while the appeal was pending before the evidence of innocence could be considered. We sought and obtained a stay of execution from the appellate court. Dan Morales then immediately held a press conference in which he denounced "frivolous legal maneuvering by criminal defense lawyers [sic]" using "crude legal tricks" whose "tactics are an abuse of our justice system."

I still have not gotten over the fact that: 1) the state's top lawyer wanted to "win" the state's case against Gary Graham by executing him while an appeal of a judgment in favor of Graham was pending; and 2) by volunteering my time to preserve the judgment in favor of Graham by temporarily stopping his execution I was subject to being publicly accused of unethical conduct by the attorney general of Texas.

Now Dan Morales finds himself at the other end of the criminal justice system. And although Morales once enjoyed opportunities and privileges that Gary Graham could never even dream of, Morales now has had to beg the court for free legal assistance. No doubt Morales will no longer complain about vigorous efforts of the criminal defense bar. And no doubt Morales' free lawyer will be working to ensure that he will be treated more fairly than Gary Graham -- who in the end, thanks to Morales and others, was executed without a jury ever having the opportunity to consider evidence of innocence.

Brad Rockwell

Affirmative Action Works

Dear Mr. Black:

I wrote to express my appreciation to you for such a well-thought-out commentary on the raging debate over affirmative action in this country ["Page Two," June 27]. Your point about the privileged being helped out by another sort of de facto affirmative action for centuries was echoed this week by Leonard Pitts, a columnist in the Miami Herald. Your points about the athletic arena and Southern politicians are well-taken points also.

I attended the University of Illinois under an affirmative action-style program to boost minority enrollment (Illinois comprised about 3 to 5% minority students during the 1981-85 years I was there). My ACT composite score was one point shy of the average, which for that year was 26. Had I been declined enrollment based solely on numbers (the familiar "best-qualified" argument opponents love to raise) rather than an interest in diversifying Illinois' student body, it would have been harder for me to work for the Fortune 500 corporation where I worked for over six years. Let's face it: Some corporations won't even recruit from smaller institutions, even if the students collectively demonstrate exceptional scholarship. Names carry power.

Since then, I have made a number of professional contributions as a productive member of the information technology industry for most of the last 18 years. I have done software development, technical support, Web design, and training. But it all began with that first open door.

With the current political winds blowing in the U.S. these days intended to penalize certain people just for being who they are, it's reassuring to hear voices of true reason like yours, folks who want to create a culture where everyone can participate, not just the privileged and selfish. Thank you for your message, Mr. Black. Us progressive thinkers need the hope.


Charles Tatum II


Vote With Your Heart

Dear Editor,

Louis Black, who claims to know why people vote as they do, ignores the possibility that people who wanted to "punish the Democrats" voted for Bush, not Nader, in 2000 ["Page Two," July 4]. At least one person of my acquaintance claims to have done this. When I suggested he vote for Nader, not Bush, he told me that the best way to make Gore lose was to vote for Bush. On the other hand, I have not heard any Nader voters speak of a wish to use their vote to punish someone. I think that most Nader voters were voting in favor of Nader's platform, rather than against Gore's.

Many people feel, as Mr. Black does, that the two major political parties are really the only choices in an election. I think that many people voted for Bush because they were disgusted with Clinton.

I can't prove my assertions, any more than Mr. Black can prove his. We cast secret ballots, and each person's thoughts are their own. Mr. Black does not know why people voted as they did in the last election. It's absurd to try to read people's minds and to assign blame. And why need blame be assigned anyway?

All this blaming and punishing just gets in the way. Let's all vote in the 2004 election, each voting for the candidate they consider best. Let's be dignified about it and respect each other's right to think and choose. We will not solve our problems by punishing and blaming.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Nader Voter

Dear Editor:

I'm guessing that 99% of your readers are in Texas. Let's just imagine for a minute that through the awesome, dazzling, vitriolic, force of your typewritten musings that you managed to convince every single Nader supporter in Texas to vote Gore/Lieberman in 2000 ["Page Two," July 4]. We would have blithely ignored the voices of conscience in our heads, obediently held our collective noses, and cast our votes for those two death penalty-dealing, corporate-welfare-doling, health care-denying, military-industrial-complex-loving, roll-over-and-play-dead-when-the-chips-are-down political wimps, and guess what? They still would have lost in Texas. Do you think Austin is in Miami-Dade County?

Here's a suggestion. Instead of focusing your aggression on us, a small minority of Texan voters with whom you claim to share similar beliefs, why not try harder to alienate the vast majority of Texans who actually vote for Republicans instead? I'd bet there are more Republicans that read the Chronicle than there are Greens. (Oops, did I just answer my own question?) Your focus on "Naderites" as the people "responsible" for Bush must delight your Republican readership to no end. "Good job, Black," they think, "keep driving those last few scattered Texans who oppose us further and further apart!"

I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 because I believed in him and the politics he represented. Why is that not good enough for you? It's the same rationale you offer for letting Bush voters off the hook for their choice.

Looking forward to the presidential race in 2004: The DNC will do the prudent thing and again effectively cede Texas' electoral college votes to Bush, Louis Black will support the Democratic candidate (no matter what) and the rest of us will vote for the person who we believe best represents our views.

Please Lay Off,

Robert Carroll

Moser's Tunnel Vision


Perhaps Mr. Stephen Macmillan Moser's always present sunglasses are just a bit too shady and the reason which only allows him to narrowly see (and mention) the exact same Austin personalities in every week's column.

Does he have some sort of bet going on to see how many times he can mention the names of DJ Miss Kitty (June 20, 27, May 2, 23, 30, April 25, and March 7, 14, 21) within a single year's publication? Would Austin's lukewarm social scene suffer without these celebrity jewels? No, it wouldn't. They are probably the only individuals left who have not yet found time to put on their most fitting pair of Good Idea Jeans to discard of Mr. Moser and his meaningless ranter.

"After a Fashion"? More likely, before a trend -- one that will soon leave Mr. Moser with a new, more better suited and empathetic audience, namely, an issue of Vanity Fair and a half gallon of Häagen-Dazs' best.

Jordan Pace

McCulloh Classical Encyclopedia


Thanks to Jerry Young for his support of Russell McCulloh ["Life After the Classical Section," June 27]. Russell's classical room at Wherehouse north was our best source for classical recordings, and Russell himself our most authoritative guide to them. If he can reconstruct his operation in its north end, Waterloo will be the only complete one-stop record store in town. Let's hope it happens.


Louis H. Mackey

Zoot Reclaims Its Glory

Wes [Marshall],

I can't agree with you more regarding the cuisine and total dining experience at Zoot ["The Zoot Allure," June 20]. It had been one of my favorites and I am pleased it is returning to its prior level of excellence. Stewart's influence is paramount to the experience, but who is in the kitchen? Thanks and I look forward to reading more!

(The Pazo is a great find, huh?)

Stefano Delens

Cheap Booze = Bad Drink


It warmed the cockles of my sodden heart to see Wes [Marshall]'s bit on cocktails ["The Cocktail's Hour," June 27]. I was doubly pleased to see him respect the finest of tequilas, Cazadores. However, I choked on his suggestion that radiator-filling-quality fluids such as Ancient Age are appropriate for cocktails. Maybe in something you get on Sixth Street called a "Neutron Bomb" or "Pierced Vulva," but not in a proper cocktail. After ranting about getting the proper size ice, fercrissakes, he then goes and mixes in some crap booze into his masterpiece. Why not skip the orange juice and go straight for Tang? Why not skip the lime juice and just pour in some melted Otter Pops? He's violating mixology 101: Good cocktails come from good ingredients, which means, above everything else, good booze. Sweet booze. If you're cheap and don't care what it tastes like, drink beer, my man, that's why it's there.

Alan Arvesen

Wal-Mart's Takeover


I just returned home from the Wal-Mart meeting in Southwest Austin. For those of you who live in other areas of Austin, you should know that the Wal-Mart representative (Daphne Moore) said that Wal-Mart plans to saturate the Austin market by building a store every three miles in the city! So for those of you who live elsewhere and think your sleepy residential neighborhood is safe ... think again! Help us fight our fight and we will be there to help you when they want to build in your backyard.

Heather Pipkin



"Post-Minstrel Syndrome" [June 20] is an excellent article. Kudos.

Dr. Bonnie Claudia Harrison

Lasting Memories of Ferguson


I wanted to write and give thanks to both Don Bennett ["Mr. Bass Man," June 20] and Neil Meldrum ["Postmarks," July 4] for pointing out what many bass players have known for years: Keith Ferguson was the best and most underrated bass player in Texas and beyond. Having lived in Austin for the past 22 years, I had run into and spoken with Keith many times. When he was with the T-Birds, Tailgators, and Solid Senders. No matter where or when our paths would cross, he would always take the time to talk with me or say hi. I'll never forget the last time I saw him and we were discussing his Harmony and National hollowbody basses. I am the proud owner of that National N-850 bass and think of Keith every time I play it. Maybe someday soon you will feature another article on him. Until then I will always cherish the memories of seeing Keith playing that Sunburst '55 Fender Precision with the T-Birds (opening for Elvis Costello) at the now sadly departed City Coliseum (my first concert in Austin!).


Robert De La Cruz

Nostalgia Sucks


Right on about Naderites, Louis ["Page Two," July 4]! I should hate you for kicking me out of that screening of Deathrace 2000 at Jester back in 1980 but your comments about these morons carving their noses off was on the mark. Keep up the good work. About the rest of the column, nostalgia does suck. More coverage of new, underground bands is where it's at.

Ryan Walker

The Election Was Fixed


Oh gawd, more whining from anti-Nader Democrats. John David Hengst ["Postmarks," June 27] once again trots out the tired refrain of, "Oh, if only Big Mean Nader hadn't taken so many votes away from Gore, blah blah blah ..."

Were you people paying attention to what happened in Florida in 2000? How about Washington in December? Gore got more freakin' votes than Dubya! Even with Florida Republicans rigging the election at the local and state levels, missing ballot boxes and thousands of never-counted individual ballots, Gore obviously won the election. Do Nader-haters honestly believe that if Ralph had stayed home that year, the Republicans wouldn't have fixed the results? Do you think the actual total really mattered once the Supreme Court decided to stop votes from being counted? They let just enough votes be tallied to make it look like a close race, then shut down the counting once it became obvious that all of the Republican chicanery still wasn't enough to put the shrub on top.

Speaking of obvious, Gore threw the damn race. Whatever else he might be (oil baron, lip-service environmentalist, corporate tool), Al Gore is not stupid. He knew perfectly well that the way to win in 2000 was to wrap himself in Clinton. Sure, he might have gotten a little sticky, but most people (excluding of course the small but vocal troop of shrieking right-wing baboons) loved the hell out of President Bill. Clinton would have been re-elected by a landslide if it were legal, and Al would have won hands-down if he hadn't distanced himself from Clinton. I don't know what they bought him with, but Gore took a dive.

Jason Meador


Another Spicy Drink Recipe


In regards to the article about spicy Mexican drinks ["Spicy Mexican Cocktails," June 27], I'd like to offer another recipe. Adapting from a Ukrainian recipe, I bought a bottle of vodka (Tito's in this case) and a jar of jalapeños. Removing the tops of the jalapeños (three-six depending on how killer you want it) but leaving the flesh and seeds, I left them to marinate in the vodka in the freezer overnight. We enjoyed it the next day as a neat way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without having to drink tequila!

Yuval Weber

McCulloh Has a Following


Re: Classical Music in the Music Capital

I was delighted with Jerry Young's article: "Life After the Classical Section" (June 27). I live west of the Oak Hill "Y" and have never shopped in any music store but Burnet, although there are many music stores much closer to my home (including other Wherehouse stores).

With the closing of the Burnet facility, there are no stores left in Austin (as far as I know) that carry even a small fraction of the classical music I found at Burnet. Also, there is no Russell McCulloh, who is exceptionally knowledgeable in the classical music area, and went out of his way to order those CDs I wanted that were not stocked in his store.

I appreciated Austin Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Bay's comment -- "I was heartbroken" -- when he learned of the Burnet store's closing. I second his suggestion that a store like Waterloo hire McCulloh to expand their classical music section (I don't know if they even have any). Waterloo would then be the only music store I frequent.

Arthur Schwartz

A Youthful Perspective on Pollution

Dear Austin Chronicle,

My name is Kelsey and I am 11 years old. I go to Fulmore Magnet school. I am very concerned about the pollution in Austin. I would like there to be some more laws in Austin about pollution. There should be an official at every park to enforce pollution [at] parks. If someone broke the laws, and paid a fine, the money should go to projects that help to clean up parks and creeks. Please consider my ideas.

Thank you,

Kelsey Colburn

More Political Parties


Thanks for the opportunity to say this on July 4th. It is fitting that you should state your independence from the "Naderites" of the "representative democratic republic" ["Page Two," July 4]. You do not sir, and I would voice my suspicion that "off message" and leaderless voices are an issue for you. The Democrats' big tent has been decaying for a long time, and it should not be able to prop itself up by insulating policy from politics.

Lyndon Johnson was heard to put it succinctly that its better to keep awkward souls inside the tent pissing out. To borrow from a long-ago letter in the Chronicle about participation in community (nostalgia's sake): "Honk on bobo's nose, Lyndon!"

I probably will one day vote for somebody just because of personality or "potency," but I didn't vote for Nader because of how typical it is to hide social Democratic values behind others. Hey kids, Howard Dean is on message, though not nearly to the left as is thought. Unfortunately, he's the last person beltway power brokers want on either spot of the ticket. My suggestion is to drop the silly argument that a vote should be effective only for power. What is so potent and meaningful about the utterly DLC Gore/Lieberman ticket? Listen up plutocrats: Give me 3-5 political parties or save your breath.

Pluralistically yours,

Stephen Nelson

Sympathy for a Father

Dear Editor,

By reading your story, I was able to know more about this fascinating family in Lockney, Texas ["Minority Rights v. Majority Rule," Jan. 10]. I just read about Larry in the Los Angeles Times. I felt an immediate sympathy for a father protecting his children. I see a national hero in this man. Being only one of two who did not return the consent form, I salute Larry. He is a beacon for truth and personal freedom in a time where those ideals have become so easily misconstrued. I feel sorry for those people who let fear take the best of them and ultimately led to the financial demise for this kind man. Larry, be strong, you will rise again and may triumph be yours all your life.

With love and support,

April LaVery Gorgas

Los Angeles

A Centrist Gets Extreme


My ugly but interesting view from the political middle of the road is being blocked by a huge, rapidly expanding bubble of arrogance. Here's some of what's filled it in the past week or so:

The Supreme Court (finally) overturned Texas' anti-sodomy law and the Republican leadership in the Senate is immediately poised to introduce a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage. Meanwhile, across town at the White House, our president is publicly haranguing the military for failing to find the "WMDs" that he knows aren't there while his evil minions are moving to deny overtime pay to workers who were already overlooked in his "tax-relief" plan.

Here at home we're entertaining our out-of-town state legislators again to debate a redistricting bill with the ink on the "Made in Washington DC" label still wet. I distinctly remember the people of Austin voting by an extraordinary majority in favor of returning the Honorable Lloyd Doggett to office.

That was just this week. We've already squandered the budget surplus, plus borrowed billions more from our kids to pay for a welfare program for the richest 2% of our population and made having an Arab surname probable cause to have any telephone you might ever use tapped and maybe even [have you] held indefinitely without charges or legal representation.

I'm very much a centrist but I feel like calling every member of the Republican "leadership" and screaming into the telephone receiver. No words, just scream at the top of my lungs. I won't do that, but I'd be comforted by hearing some more outrage from my fellow middle-aged, middle-of-the-road, supposedly decent folks. I love me a hippie but I'm tired of only seeing their faces on the news protesting the abomination that is our current regime.

D. Scott Harris

Redistricting Is a Money Pit


It is unconscionable that we are considering wasting taxpayer's money on an issue driven solely by partisan politics. I am not buying the rhetoric from the Republican Party that redistricting must be voted on by the Texas Legislature. While a Congressional redistricting plan is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the state of Texas has fulfilled that requirement and the plan in place has been approved by the Supreme Court and been certified to satisfy the Voting Rights Act. The Texas attorney general has also ruled that the Legislature does not have to act.

If the Texas Legislature failed to create and vote for the plan themselves in the 2001 session, then so be it. It's time to move on. We need to stop this frivolous waste of taxpayer money. The Congressional districts already favor the Republican Party, and they should win their fights at the polls with the voters and not by gaming the system. The Democrats did the same thing back when the Democrats were in control, so now the Republicans feel it's payback time. This is no way to run our state or our government. Here we are balancing payback and guaranteed proportional Republican representation versus the lives of our most vulnerable Texans, the elderly, young, and poor. The $1.7 million cost of this special session, could cover insurance for over 1,200 more children or Medicaid coverage for nearly 1,000 elderly Texans. This is a good example of what "tyranny of the majority" really means. Texans' lives are literally at risk when they can't afford medical care, yet we play politics by wasting $1.7 million. Once you include the legal costs for the challenges that are sure to be filed, this Republican-controlled Legislature will have wasted at least $7 million.

Sonia Santana

Bush Not Supporting the Troops


Republican backers (Rush Limbaugh drones) call talk shows praising this administration, decrying "Bleeding Heart Liberals." Yet this week, the Bush team has made sure well-to-do retirees will have lots of money to play with in the stock market, now that dividends are tax-free and their drug bills are going to be paid by middle-class working people. Then, I thought we were going to "liberate" the poor Iraqi people, give them a voice in their future? After 200 plus deaths of young military service people, the Bush administration has just called off free elections in Iraq, opting for their own handpicked guys. Next, the Bush team proposed doing away with overtime pay for many midlevel managers (these guys are not the million dollar plus per year workers). The working poor families at the bottom of the heap who still pay taxes, i.e., military families, were shut out of the child tax credit. Seems to me that poor, working-class people, around the world, are not friends of the current administration. Just wealthy retired people matter -- that's why so many of them have been sent to Iraq.

Alan Stewart

Gay Men Aren't Ready for Marriage


The Supreme Court's ruling on sodomy laws was a step toward reason and sanity, but I don't see the point of government recognition of gay marriage at this point.

I am a 46-year-old gay man who has known many other gay men and observed many gay relationships in my life. I can say with certainty that the vast majority of gay men are either incapable of, or uninterested in, long-term, committed relationships. I realize this view is anathema in the realm of gay political correctness, but I'm here to say it's true.

Of course there are exceptions. Some gay men create wonderful lives together, and I am not really qualified to speak about lesbian relationships. But among gay males: one-night stands, drama-filled flings, and so-called "open relationships" are closer to the norm. And many, like me, remain alone their whole lives for the lack of suitable partners and the positive, healthy venues required for meeting them.

How to enhance the lives of gay men? Create smoke-free, alcohol-free, well-lit clubs with soft music where people can have conversations. Encourage and fund programs of counseling and therapy. Speak out against self-destructive lifestyles that include smoking, drinking, drugs, and unprotected sex. Establish media venues that are not plastered with pictures of male models and actually provide helpful information on health and relationships. Pass on to younger gays the message that it's OK not to have anal intercourse, and that there are healthier ways to enjoy pleasure with another man.

Some steps have been made, but many more lie ahead. Forget about trying to get the government's stamp of approval on something we aren't ready for anyway.

Keith Stricker

Gore Campaign Indefensible


I'd like to thank Michael Bluejay for explaining why Ralph Nader did not cause Al Gore to lose the 2000 election ["Postmarks," July 4]. I'd also like to thank Louis Black for his subtly restrained performance as the self-righteous martyr on "Page Two" [same issue]. His priggishly condescending portrayal of the Liberal Editor was Onion-worthy satire. I liked the part where he rationalized defending Gore's brilliant campaign strategies of distancing himself from the financial hard-on of the previous five or six years, of not letting Clinton campaign in contested states, failing to mention him by name in any of the debates, and omitting his name from his official Web site (in effect, also campaigning against the Clinton legacy), of having an orthodox Jew as a running mate who refused to drop out of his Senatorial race, of failing to throw a single bone to Naderkin until it was too late, of being a born-again Christian for the death penalty, and whose charisma falls somewhere between that of Bill Wyman and Lou Ferrigno. All he had to tell the electorate was, "I'm Clinton without blow jobs," and he would've won in time to catch The Daily Show. Louis Black knows it, too. But that's what made his performance so memorable. Keep up the good work, dude!

Lance Davis

P.S. On that Austin tape, I suggest "Web Before You Walk Into It" by the Gourds.

Affirmative Action


I recently traveled to Mexico for Spanish lessons at a language school. For two weeks, the class difficulty level was fine. But in week three I clearly was falling behind the other students. Frustrated, I tuned out, and ended up staring at the teacher's legs and wondering how late I should wait for the first Corona of the day.

I blame my poor performance on the cultural disadvantage experienced by most of us Americans who grow up speaking only one language. Most of my classmates were European, and all but one was already multilingual.

According to the principles of affirmative action, I, the disadvantaged gringo, should have been promoted to an even more advanced class. The school would have achieved more diversity at the top, and I would have been totally lost.

Affirmative action in America takes blacks who would be above average at UT, and puts them at Harvard where they perform at the bottom of the class. It takes blacks prepared for Texas State, and puts them at UT where they fail. Too many blacks are placed in situations where they are the lowest performer, which is why blacks have such a high dropout rate. I can personally attest that it sucks being the slowest learner in class and you learn less when you're surrounded by people more advanced than you.

In week four I held myself back a level and was able to continue learning at a more appropriate rate.

Affirmative action is slightly unfair to whites, but mostly it hurts the blacks.

Wes Benedict

Practice What You Preach


UT students, sick of paying higher tuition? University staff, sick of getting your benefits cut? Well now you have a perfect target to take out your frustration on -- UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof. America's highest paid educator (New York Times, Aug. 23, 2002) making $787,319 already, the UT Board of Regents is considering giving him a 4% raise at their meeting on Monday, July 7.

The hypocrisy of this move, if it happens, should be apparent and should outrage any Texan who takes the current budget crisis and it effects seriously. In the May 13, 1992 Chronicle of Higher Education, Yudof wrote an article and said, "administrative budgets at public universities have increased at almost three times the rate of increase in instructional budgets. Critics are incredulous that higher-education officials cannot find more fat to trim when other state agencies are compelled to absorb large budget reductions." Yudof was right, and he should start by cutting out some of his own fat.

Nick Schwellenbach

UT Watch representative

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