Our readers talk back.
'Texas Chainsaw' Facts
There seems to be a lot of conflict as to the truth of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was just wondering if you could provide me any insight on the subject. Your archives don't go back to 1973 online. The movie says it was based on a true story, but several Web sites dispute the story and say it is not true at all. I would greatly appreciate any info you may be able to provide me so I can settle some local disputes with friends and co-workers.
'Texas Chainsaw' Facts Part Two
My friends' debate has once again started. Was there a massacre in Travis County, or is this whole story purely inspired by the Ed Gein story? What are the facts?
[Ed note: As far as we know the "true story" refers to Ed Gein in the Midwest, upon whose exploits the original was loosely based. Readers? Also, see this week's "Naked City," p.19.]
We Are Responsible for Our Actions; Excuses Don't Matter
It makes me very angry to hear the mother of 20-year-old Jessie Owens making the excuse that he was just a kid, and kids do stupid things, and she can only now visit him at his grave. Please! Why didn't she keep up with him before this? I am the mother of four children. They will always be my babies, but when they hit a certain age of oh, let's say, 18, I think it is, at least the last time I checked, they are considered adults to the rest of society and certain things are then expected of them. They are then responsible for not stealing a car, not taking drugs, and certainly not trying to run from the police while not caring if they kill the officer! Come on! Where is the responsibility of Jessie Owens that night? By the way, this is all about the politics -- I seem to remember certain members of the Austin City Council at Jessie Owens funeral.
Michelle Coffey, aka Corp. John Coffey's, aka Political Football's wife
Clarifying Global Warming
In his article published Oct. 3 in the Chronicle, Jim Hightower ["The Hightower Report"] discusses global warming and states, "At issue is the thin layer of ozone that encapsulates our globe."
Global warming is indeed an important issue, but Mr. Hightower is apparently confused as to the suspected cause of this phenomenon.
It is the buildup of greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) in our atmosphere that is suspected of causing global warming, and not stratospheric ozone depletion (which is/was largely due to CFC emissions).
Both stratospheric ozone depletion and global warming are serious environmental issues; however, they are different problems with largely separate causes.
Mr. Hightower, and the public in general, should do more to educate themselves regarding each of these problems.
See www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/archive/ page.cfm?pageID=547.
If Republicans Are So Pervasive, Why Redistrict?
So -- the incessant anti-redistricting drumbeat continues. The kicking and screaming by the faithful of the Democratic Party, an organization that for more than a century enjoyed total control in Texas, is unseemly and pitiful to behold.
These howling Democrats in the tiny liberal island of Austin would have us believe that Tom DeLay, Rick Perry, and David Dewhurst have dreamed up and implemented this political reality check all by themselves. Well, here's a news flash: There's a rising conservative sea surrounding Austin, literally millions of grassroots Republicans unalterably opposed to the discredited tax-and-spend philosophies of a party whose giveaway programs of the past 50 years have "bought" votes while creating welfare class problems that plague our nation today.
As the Democratic hold on Austin is inexorably weakened, Lloyd Doggett is probably quietly mouthing the words of that old Johnny Cash song: "How high's the water, Mama?"
Remember: Wal-Mart Succeeds Because of Customers Shopping There
To the Chron readers and staff,
Yes, Wal-Mart is not the best company to work for, and yes, the "Beast," as Mr. Clark-Madison calls it ["Austin@Large," Oct. 17], does increase traffic with its Supercenters. In fact, I agree with most of the arguments for keeping Wal-Mart off the aquifer.
What I do take issue with is the general hatred of Wal-Mart. Rather than attacking the symptom, shouldn't you be trying to fight the cause? Wal-Mart didn't cause I-35 to mutate into the nightmare it is today, and it sure as hell didn't cause half of snooty California to move to Austin in search of a cool place to live. Wal-Mart's growing big-box mentality is a result of America's shop-or-die attitude. We gotta have cheap stuff and lots of it, pragmatic spending be damned.
How many of you shop at independent retailers without making at least one trip to a "big box" or outlet mall? How many of you can realistically afford to shop at trendy West Sixth stores most of the time, especially in Bush's America?
I work at a Wal-Mart, albeit a small one in a small town, but it's a steady job. I do deal with conflicts of interest daily, because I believe in supporting local businesses, preserving the aquifer, and higher wages. Still, I work with many people who would not have a job if it weren't for Wal-Mart. Well, there is a Wackenhut prison nearby, so that's a better alternative, isn't it?
Wal-Mart started out in small towns and got bad press even way back then, for many of the same reasons as it does today, the most irritating being that it caters to low-class trash and decreases property values. Grow up! I applaud the efforts of those fighting to keep Austin green and relatively small. Hell, I read the Chron regularly because I love having an alternative to corporate media. But if you wanna pick on Wal-Mart, try to keep your punches above the belt and don't hide behind low-class phobias. Keep up the good fight, and I'll do my damnedest to help you when you come to my store. Thanks for your time.
William Christopher Brandt
Beef With Cyclists
Re: "Rules of the Road" letter ["Postmarks, Oct. 24].
I have a similar beef with cyclists. I myself am one on occasion, just for the exercise. Still, I have never understood this town's obsession with riding bikes on major roads. When I ride, I intentionally seek out the less-traveled road so that I don't breathe in all the car exhaust. I am filled with revulsion when I do have to ride the road more traveled and breathe the fumes. I can't help thinking that these people are more interested in being seen.
And then there's the safety factor. This attitude that you come first as a cyclist is dangerous. There is no magic shield protecting you just because you should have the right of way. Stupid, distracted people are on the roads, and a car weighs more that you. Mistakes happen. Your haughty attitude that you are more important than the cars won't help you one bit if you are accidentally struck by a 3,000-pound vehicle. Get some perspective already.
I know that some ride as a means for transportation, and that a major road is the most logical choice. But those cyclists are usually the ones with brains.
p.s. And don't get me started on the glamour boys at AMD who stupidly jog on East Oltorf though there is a sidewalk. Look at me! Look at me!
UT More About Business Than Learning
The UT administration has shown repeatedly that they are more interested in running UT like a business than as a site for learning. Case in point: UT sees graduation rates of students as a problem to be solved by the number crunchers in the Tower, tweaking tuition rates to manage students, but instead, the administration should let students choose their own rate of learning. The reality is that UT isn't interested in the choices individual students make regarding their own education and its pace; its attention is toward rankings that reflect the churning out -- in standardized intervals of standardized products -- workers for the Texas economy. Learning can't be sped up like products on an assembly line.
Students and their parents pay good money (it's about to get much more expensive) for an education at UT as it is, and they should be the ones who determine the pace at which they want to participate in the process of education, not the Tower with its flat-rate tuition and five-year (graduation) plans. Longer graduation rates shouldn't be seen as an institutional problem to be solved through managing student choices but as individual choices, and they should stay that way. Go to www.utwatch.org to fight the university machine.
All This Talk of God Ignores God
I have absolutely no idea what God Lt. Gen. William Boykin is talking about ["Naked City: Quote of the Week," Oct. 24].
Fortunately, there is a real God, but the problem is he has received little to no representation from world religions, governments, and people claiming with their lips to "make" believe in him, with inconsequential evidence of that in their everyday living.
Please!? Get real. Grow up.
James M. Paine
Just a Tool of Big Corporations, and Happy in the Role
In this week's [Oct. 17] issue of the Chronicle, an ad for Winston cigarettes advises readers to "leave the bull behind." A healthy- and athletic-appearing couple embraces on a private beach, the implication being that all this can be yours if you'll just smoke Winston.
May I kindly suggest, Austin Chronicle, that you leave the bull behind. First, drop the tobacco ads altogether. As everyone knows, hundreds of medical studies have shown that cigarette smoking causes cancer and other diseases. Yes, yes, cigarettes are a legal product, and people should be allowed to make up their own minds. But, if these ads weren't effective at swaying people to take up the habit, why would the tobacco companies spend millions on them? (And it's not simply to entice smokers to jump to another brand, as the advertisers would have us believe.) Someone, some publication, has to take the courageous first step and refuse the filthy lucre of big tobacco advertising.
If that is not possible, then please inject a little reality into the ads: Show some lung tissue samples that resemble, if anything, the soot-filled inside of an average chimney.
Until then, the Chronicle will remain, in my mind, a tool of big corporations -- entities which you so readily rail against in your pages.
[Ed. note: Mike, since this ad doesn't offend us, can you send us a list of other Chronicle ads that offend you so we know what not to run? A couple of cycles in the washer and the lucre is not nearly so filthy.]
Accurate Titles and Release Years of Travis Albums
I couldn't help but point out the error in Marc Savlov's review of the Travis album 12 Memories ["Phases and Stages," Oct. 17]. He said their last release was 2001's The Man Who. In fact, The Man Who was released in 1999, then they released The Invisible Band in 2001. And all three are brilliant albums. There, now I feel better.
Limbaugh Guiltless Addict?
I've been noting the Rush Limbaugh apologists coming to the man's defense. I don't think this is what George Bush meant by compassionate conservatism, but the right-wing media has certainly closed ranks around him in a womb of rationalization. Among the expressions of concern for Limbaugh's well being, the apologists have described his addiction to painkillers as unintended, accidental, circumstantial: "My God! He had back surgery." His addiction is somehow different than your everyday addiction, these people are, in effect, arguing. The crack addict, heroin addict, or marijuana addict, well, they deserve imprisonment, ostracization, and disenfranchisement because they are true addicts. Limbaugh deserves our sympathy because he is an accidental addict, a victim.
I guess it depends on what your definition of "is" is.
Billy Dee Article Great
A friend sent me the "Chiseled in Stone" feature on Billy Dee at Ginny's, by Graham Reynolds [Oct. 10]. I wanted to write and express my total admiration for that article. It's almost impossible to capture the feel of something as sublime as that kind of gig, yet I felt I was almost there!
I'm happy to say that we (I play in a band) will be there, in Austin -- not Ginny's (well ... who knows?) -- in February. I've seen Billy, along with Ricky, several times with Dale Watson, which was just great, but I can't wait to experience Billy headlining in his own right. Thanks again to Graham for providing us with such an eloquent "taster."
Dartford, Kent, England
Here's a new version of the Pledge of Allegiance that definitely does not violate the letter or intent of the U.S. Constitution and reminds both American adults and children of that unique document from which our freedom springs.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under the U.S. Constitution, the supreme Law of the Land, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
First, my version essentially just incorporates Article VI, Clause 2, of the U.S. Constitution, which emphatically states, "This Constitution is the law of the land." I believe our founders wanted to make it quite clear to future generations that our Constitution is "the law of the land," and not the sacred (to some) Quran or the sacred (to others) Bible or the sacred (to some) Hindu scriptures or the sacred (to others) Buddhist writings or whatever sacred writings some hold sacrosanct over all others. In other words, in our free, pluralistic society, the U.S. Constitution and its applicable amendments that guarantee and protect the freedom of U.S. citizens is just as sacred, in my view, as all the other faith-based sacred writings of the world.
Second, after 9/11, I have had a hard time believing or trusting anything that any religious fundamentalists have to say about anything. Essentially, 9/11 was a horrific "faith-based initiative" launched by a monopolistic, religious dictatorship against our peace-loving, pluralistic, liberal democracy. Since all religious fundamentalists are religious monopolists (i.e., the public marketplace belongs solely to them), they all share a mind-set that inherently opposes any document (such as our sacred U.S. Constitution) that guarantees the citizens of a country the right to be free from any type of tyranny -- right now! Therefore, I only place my trust in the U.S. Constitution.
At Least Gene Gave Examples
In Gene Moore's Oct. 6 letter to the editor [online edition], he states that he "doesn't want this country ... turned into a money-making empire that benefits only those who least deserve it." A noble notion and I completely support this belief. His so-called argument is so ignorant and ovine that I am embarrassed to agree with anything the letter states. He self-indulgently claims that people that support our current administration are brainwashed and timid sheep without the ability to think. What makes you less brainwashed than those who support George W. Bush? Don't we all graze on some shepherd's pasture? Did it occur to you that many Bush supporters view you as brainwashed (rightly so after your letter)? Sure some people eat more nutritious grasses, and some follow more nurturing shepherds, but to think that you are enlightened above them all shows your lack of awareness and your gluttonous diet of self-proclamation. (We need to look no more than his closing "Dutifully" to see arrogance.) Obviously from your letter you haven't eaten grass that is pure and nutritious, but indulged in grass that is fertilized and polluted with a subjective bias, and you make mindless ad hominem attacks because you are blind of your own ignorance. Furthermore, your letter reveals no truths or arguments to force one into reconciling their beliefs and accomplishes nothing. People who hold these beliefs you attacked, Christianity and conservatism, are like you or me who hold beliefs ultimately based on life experiences. I challenge anyone regardless of the argument and side, before you generalize and claim that the other side is brainwashed and ovine -- look at yourself. You could appear as an idiot. Like Gene.
Naderite Still Rationalizing Electing Bush
In a recent column (forwarded to me by a relative in Austin), Michael Ventura repeats the charge that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election, and hopes Nader will see the light before providing President Bush yet another four years to screw up the planet ["Letters @ 3AM," Aug. 8].
While I agree with the second point (for his reason, as well as because Nader's name is becoming redundant on the ballot), Ventura has jumped on a rather unsteady bandwagon regarding 2000. Though Nader's Florida vote indeed exceeded Bush's margin of victory many times over, exit polls indicated the real culprits were Florida Democrats -- 150,000 of whom crossed over to vote for Bush.
It is also presumptuous to suggest that Nader voters (myself among them) would have leaped en masse to Gore, had the two major candidates been alone on the ballot. Surveys repeatedly showed that roughly half of us would have simply stayed at home, rather than participate in the rituals of what often seems little more than a two-party dictatorship. For whatever reason (I suspect a strong, unthinking protest vote), a poll taken shortly before the 2000 election also indicated that 34% of Nader's vote would have gone to Bush. Thus, it is far from clear that removing Nader's name from the ballot would have accomplished anything other than giving Bush a more clear-cut margin of victory.
Ventura is correct in saying that Bush's radical style of misgovernance has defined the issues more clearly for '04. The Howard Dean candidacy has also given many Greens and erstwhile Democrats renewed hope that we will have something more to choose from next year than varying degrees of evil.
Redwood City, Calif.
What the UK Should Do About Guns
Mr. Kovacevich ["Postmarks," Aug. 1] claims that in the UK, where "handguns are illegal and even the police don't carry guns, the number of shooting deaths each year is only a fraction of those in the U.S."
It's unfortunate that gun haters only care about shooting deaths, and not about knife deaths, baseball bat deaths, etc. In the UK, total crime and deaths have risen sharply since they banned guns, and the sale of medieval weapons is on the rise. Tony Martin, a farmer, served at least four years in prison after he shot burglars who were breaking into his home for the fifth time. This is wrong.
People with bad intentions will use anything they can lay their hands on. The best thing the UK could do to reduce the current crime wave would be to restore their citizen's right to defend themselves with firearms. It's called giving honest citizens a fighting chance.
Judges Need to Respect Parents
I am hoping that the Chronicle will publish something about the upcoming Pregnancy and Loss Remembrance Day Oct. 15. In honor of this day I would like to comment about a recent Texas Supreme Court ruling regarding the Sidney Millers Case (Sept. 30). This ruling gave hospitals the right to decide whether to resuscitate an extremely premature baby or not. The parents cannot issue a do not resuscitate order for their child, regardless of whether the child will spend the rest of their life severely mentally retarded, with cerebral palsy and constant seizures.
As a mother of a premature infant, this ruling scares me. My son was born three months premature and eventually died in the NICU. After this ruling I am more apt to stay at home and not go to the hospital if something like this were to happen again. My son suffered a lot in his short 30-day life. I would never have any son or daughter put through that again.
I can not even imagine the grief the parents of Sidney Miller feel as the hospital continued day after day, trying experimental medication, performing operations, and watching the pain of their daughter all in the name of what? They had indeed told the hospital do not resuscitate at birth and were totally ignored. She was born 17 weeks premature at 23 weeks gestation.
These decisions are hard enough for the parents to make, and the parents should be the only ones making the decisions, not the hospitals that receive payments for these decisions. The decision these justices made was unconscionable. It also showed no respect and total disregard for the parents who made the toughest decision of their lives.
Am I the only longtime KUT listener who is bugged by the recent direction of the afternoon program Jazz, Etc.?
I admire Jay Trachtenberg and all the years of smart jazz and reggae programming he's done on KUT and other radio stations in town. But since the recent shuffle which moved Paul Ray out of the Jazz, Etc. timeslot, the show has gone from excessively conservative (it could have been called Organ Trios, Etc.) to completely undiscriminating. The Jazz, Etc. playlists back me up: A quick glance at recent days turns up Joan Baez, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, John Hiatt, Plastilina Mosh, Radiohead, the White Stripes, and Warren Zevon among many other 99.75% jazz-free acts.
I really hate sounding like a philistine, and I'm not saying Trachtenberg hasn't been playing some good music. But there's not enough jazz programming in this town to see any of it disappear without raising a fuss. Unlike the situation with classical programming, where KMFA could take up the slack as John Aielli drifted away from his classical roots, Austin doesn't have a 24-hour jazz station a nudge away on the dial. And as someone who grew up tuning into distant university stations late at night to catch jazz on the air, I believe that radio airplay is a crucial part of developing each new generation of listeners and keeping the art form alive.
If KUT's intention is to turn the 1-to-3pm slot into Eklektikos II, the least they could do is rename it -- and give the jazz community another eight hours somewhere in their programming day.
Don't Ignore Kucinich
Why have not the main Austin newspapers given coverage to Dennis Kucinich's campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination? He is a very versatile politician and the 2003 recipient of the Ghandi Peace Award.
On Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 1:30pm, Kucinich will be formally announcing his candidacy at the Bergstrom Airport Hilton Hotel. Congressman Kucinich supporters (he has many in Austin) hope one of your reporters will be there.
For questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ilse P. Munyon, R.N.
Doesn't Like Mack Brown
Been a Longhorn fan since the Forties. UT needs to find another Royal. If it's Brown it's lost. All the good Texas players went to Oklahoma. Brown has a problem with quarterbacks. Trying to please everyone but the school and the fans.
William S. Pettit Jr.