The 'Chronicle' Sells Out, Again; Go Ahead, Lament Us; Table of Contents Not Useful on Page 4; Envision a Correct Map; Fair Reporting on Police
The 'Chronicle' Sells Out, Again
It amazes me that a paper supposedly progressive like the Chronicle is so vocal in opposition to an ordinance getting smoke out of the bars. Gee, I wonder if it has anything to do with all the bars that buy ads in your paper.
Go Ahead, Lament Us
Yoohoo! Any editors out there? Who decided it was news that strapping, young Southern Baptists are traveling to South America ["Journey Woman," Oct. 31] because the natives need God "not like they need gravy with their mashed potatoes, but like they need bread and water"? Sure, there's a place in the world for compelling profiles, but "Journey Woman" is -- at best -- suitable for a community newsletter, not the city weekly.
There's actual news in Austin that needs reporting and readers who are eager to read it. There are also plenty of people worth profiling. If Kara Kemmerling is one of those people, Lucius Lomax's article makes it impossible to tell. The story was badly written and pointless -- it was single-sourced, barely made sense, had no point of view, and told us nothing about Kemmerling's work, the people she works with, the place she lives, or who she is. Show a little respect for your readers (and your writers, who would benefit immensely from a sound edit and a solid refusal to publish sub-par work) and give us a reason to keep reading the Chron instead of lamenting it.
Table of Contents Not Useful on Page 4
The ads at the front are probably good revenue for the paper, but how about having the table of contents right at the front where it's useful? And no more slick ad inserts to fall out or hamper thumbing through the paper.
Envision a Correct Map
Uh, how can I trust anyone who is trying to "Envision Central Texas" when they label Oak Hill as Dripping Springs and Blanco as Johnson City? Get out a map, kids.
Fair Reporting on Police
I believe most of the articles (although admittedly few) that I have read in the Chronicle concerning various police issues have been fair and evenly weighted. As opposed to the Statesman, which in many people's opinion is obviously anti-police. Specifically in the Owens shooting. I wanted to commend you on your fair reporting and challenge you to continue in the same way.
Everyone Should Read 'Letters @ 3AM'
[Re: "Letters @ 3AM," Oct. 31]
I wish the entire citizenry could read the piece. Exposés are not frequent nor eloquent enough, but this one certainly saddles up eloquence in the cause of education -- the kind that prepares one to think. That's the kind the "wardens" are willing, all too willing, to side step.
[Re: "Read the Fine Print," Aug. 30, 2002, austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2002-08-30/pols_feature3.html]
I know that there are probably many people that have homebuilder problems; we are one of those. I am a police officer, and we live in Georgetown. I work in Austin. Our house was built two years ago and is falling apart. Everything from the foundation cracking (two engineers looked at it and agree it is self-destructing), walls that are not straight (one is 51é2 inches out), electrical problems, siding problems, etc. There are so many problems, due to the arbitration clause and several other things, we are having a real hard time trying to get the homebuilder to take responsibility. I have tried "7 on Your Side" and contacting my senator. My family (a wife and two children) are just trying to get help. There is much more to this, but there is not enough room.
Please Stop Savlov From
Please, please, please stop letting Marc Savlov review Japanese animated features. From his frequent use of "Japanimation" (a term that went out along with Negro, Injun, and Chinee) to his constant characterization of animé as nothing more than "hyper-violent pornography," Savlov has repeatedly demonstrated his near-total ignorance of Japanese animation. In Japan and most of Asia, animation is just another medium, like movies or books or television. Like any other medium, it encompasses every imaginable genre; yet for some reason Savlov defines "multitentacled sex demons" and "exploding two-headed Nazis" as "Everything you've come to expect from animé."
Even when reviewing animé clearly meant for children, Savlov never fails to mention ultraviolence and hentai, a catchall Japanese term for anything sexually explicit. This is akin to a review of a Sesame Street movie including the line, "Although this movie was made in America, it amazingly has none of the explosions, violent sex scenes, car chases, or nihilistic bloodshed which American movies contain. Lovable Big Bird actually survives the film -- how unique to see an American movie where no one is raped to death with a chainsaw!"
Whether a writer is reviewing a classic silent film, a sports magazine, or a televised nature documentary, shouldn't he invest in at least five minutes of research on Google to find something out about other examples of the medium before reducing an entire form of entertainment to "These movies all suck because there's no sound"?
Music Writing Causes Scratching
What can I say? Your suite of articles on the instrumental band Explosions in the Sky ["Born on the Fourth of July" and related articles, Oct. 24] was absolutely abysmal. Please note, I am not taking issue with the band's new music (which may or may not be as powerful as you suggest), but rather with the utterly ridiculous way in which the music and the musicians are described.
Raoul Hernandez, your review reads like bad junior high poetry. What, for example, do you mean when, in your comments on "Six Days ...," you say the music "[takes] on a subatomic weight once its origins are revealed and the imagination lives and breathes on its ringing bell tones and cymbal wash"? Are you kidding? Subatomic weight?
Michael Chamy, in your longer article, you are only slightly less guilty of the fallacy of attempting to use language to replicate the quasi-religious-mystical-epic-beyond-words-whatever that the band seeks to evoke with its tunes. "It starts with a single chime of consciousness, reaching out and quivering as it finds the ganglia spread throughout the body. ... A wondrous, chin-scratching pause presages a shimmering double helix of intertwining guitar lines that mark an onrushing flood of memories." Ball-scratching pause. I'm not going to get into why this is bad writing except to point out its egregious lack of precision and restraint. At least you write complete sentences, which is more than one can say about Mr. Hernandez.
Finally, there is the band. As I said, their music may indeed be five-stars good. Nevertheless, I have to take issue with some of their remarks. I know it might seem contradictory to say, but the band as quoted comes off as both sincere and pretentious. Sincerely pretentious? Of their formation, one member remarks, "The stars lined up." Of their tunes and the band's relation to other navel-gazing-instrumental-rockers-who-think-they're-classical-musicians: "I think we're all looking at the peak of the mountain, but from different parts of space." Of Monahans State Park, one proclaims, "It's like a desert." (Isn't it?) "It's like another planet. It was like we were on the moon." Geology, ecology, outer space. Heavy. Sing more. Talk less.
Thanks a million,
Guided Busway Better Than Light Rail
Hey Austin, forget light rail, it's too expensive and not flexible enough. Try the O-Bahn Guided Busway. It's basically a narrow rail system which regular buses can operate on; the beauty of it is that the rail only needs to be 20 feet wide, which means less impervious cover over the aquifer and recharge zone. Buses can enter this guided rail, travel straight through at speeds of 62 mph, exit, and continue with normal service on roads, thus eliminating the need for expensive light rail lines. Read about Adelaide, Australia's O-Bahn at www.adelaidemetro.com.au/guides/obahn.html.
The O-Bahn is cheaper to build, easier to operate, more flexible, environmentally friendly, and easily adaptable to urban or rural settings.
Think about it. Capitol Metro is proposing to spend $739 million on 14.6 miles of light rail and expecting an average of 37,400 weekday boardings (Source: www.fta.dot.gov/library/policy/ns/ns2001/01austin.html). In 1986, Adelaide (Austin's sister city), completed the $100 million, 7.4-mile O-Bahn (this cost includes construction and purchase of a bus fleet) which serves approximately 30,000 passengers per day. So we could surmise that for $200 million it is possible to construct a 14-mile guided busway. This is significantly less expensive and invasive than a light rail system. This is a better use of our tax dollars, and a more sustainable option. The O-Bahn requires considerably less right-of-way than light rail and places less deadweight load on sensitive environmental areas. I rode the Adelaide O-Bahn; it is fast and exceptionally quiet. There is less noise for nearby residences than a steel-on-steel light railway. Did I mention it is significantly less expensive to build and operate and involves less disruption of the landscape? Go online, look at the pictures, read about it, see what you think.
Harry Dean Stanton Is a Great Actor!!
In a recent issue, the Chronicle made mention of Harry Knowles looking to bring back some of the older character actors, like Tarantino has done. May I suggest the likes of Harry Dean Stanton, Eli Wallach, Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy, and Miss Angie Dickinson to name but a few. And may I suggest to Louis and his gang at SXSW Film to do a retrospect of Harry Dean's films in a future film fest much like they did with Warren Oates in the past. Go Harry!!!
Jazz and More
Hi Prentiss [Riddle] ["Postmarks," Oct. 31],
Thanks for your letter to the Chronicle. I hope it stimulates some conversation among discerning listeners like yourself. I appreciate, as well, your kind words about me personally.
Indeed, I'm guilty of playing such 99.75% jazz-free artists as Joan Baez, John Hiatt, Radiohead, Nick Cave, and Elvis Costello (whose current album is basically a ballad jazz album). And don't forget Ben Harper, Morphine, Sidestepper, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Hamell on Trial, Al Green, Gotan Project, Ozomatli, Yo La Tengo, Van Morrison, and Explosions in the Sky (to name a few more).
Nonetheless, you neglected to include the jazz artists I did play which would have given the reader a more accurate sense of what the program really sounds like. According to my playlists from last week, I spun: Clifford Brown, Poncho Sanchez, Sun Ra, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Orbert Davis, Michel Camilo, Zoot Sims, Thelonious Monk, Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Orch, Ron Carter, Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery, Patricia Barber, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers, Cyrus Chestnut, Ruben Gonzalez, Rodney Jones w/ Maceo Parker and Arthur Blythe -- plus there was a live studio performance by local jazz pianist Terry Bowness.
Include those names along with Cave, Baez, Costello, and Radiohead, and you've got a much different and more diverse program than your letter would indicate.
The program is still called Jazz, Etc., but for now, and for the first time in 18 years, I'm emphasizing the Etc. a bit more. But fear not, the Jazz isn't going away.
Dear Prentiss [Riddle] ["Postmarks," Oct. 31], KUT music programming does not cut it for me either. I miss real jazz, world music, modern and old classical music, Native American music, and the overall diversity that I have been used to hearing from other public radio stations, which make use of local human resources and talent to produce interesting shows. KUT does not do that, and the result is conservative and uninteresting programming. I suggest that you pledge for KOOP or other volunteer stations to support their effort to bring more variety on the air.
Time for Drug War to Stop Targeting the Little Guys
Re: Your story of Czar Walters' silver bullet to combat the growing heroin problem plague in this country as well as Europe ["Weed Watch," Oct. 17], readers should be aware that since the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is the largest heroin producer in the world. It now supplies 95% of the heroin destined for the EU and the U.S. East Coast.
It seems the U.S. doesn't want to go after Afghan growers and producers because it will take away their livelihood, yet it is more than willing to go after Americans who suffer for the drugs and take away their freedom by incarcerating them.
The leaders in the war on drugs continue to go after the little guys in the food chain and not at the root of the problem ... all at the expense of U.S. citizens.
When will we take care of our own?
Treatment, not prison,
Boycott Tomatoes, Not Taco Bell
I seem to remember a few weeks back some students at UT were trying to get Taco Bell kicked out of the student union because Taco Bell buys its tomatoes from a grower that underpays its pickers ["Naked City," Oct. 24].
Ah, got to love those college kids. They'll save the world, you know.
Yeah, that's sarcasm.
I like that they want to do something for those pickers who really are getting screwed (I agree). But trying to close down the campus Taco Bell, and thereby putting the employees of that Bell out of work, is just dumber than dirt. Maybe even dumber than Jessica Simpson.
These are college kids, right? Shouldn't they know their history? Hey kiddies, look up Cesar Chavez. Notice how people supported the grape pickers by not buying grapes? People didn't try and shut down supermarkets because they sold grapes. No. They just didn't buy grapes. And who did it hurt? Not the hard-working supermarket employees. Nope. It hurt the grape growers.
Think about it, would a market buy grapes if it knows no one is going to buy them? No. Would Taco Bell buy tomatoes if it knew customers wouldn't want them? No.
Instead of trying to put hard-working people out of work, here's an idea: Don't eat at Taco Bell, or, if you do, order your meal, "No tomatoes." Stick it to the tomato grower, not to the poor kid slinging tacos to pay for his or her college classes and rent.
Once again, our resident midget, both physically and intellectually, Wee Jim Hightower is showing what an idiot he is while lying, once again, about the Bush administration. His moronic rant about the proposed Bush administration policy on endangered species protection ["The Hightower Report," Oct. 31] is ridiculous, and like most of his other crap, most probably a fabrication. Many African nations have adopted limited hunting of animals as a means of generating income to pay, in part, for protection of the animals, and reimbursement of farmers who have their crops destroyed. I guess he would rather see subsistence farmers starve than shoot an elephant. All over the world, endangered animals "have a price on their heads," and I wonder why Wee Jim didn't already know that. In the U.S., we manage deer populations with hunts because in many areas, we have displaced or destroyed natural predators. Simple facts, things Wee Jim might be able to grasp, is that endangered species are in need of protection, they are in need of resources to help pay for that protection. In many places around the world, that money is generated by hunting and harvesting a specific number of animals. Is it the best solution? Probably not. Will it be an improvement on the current situation? Yup. Of course, people like Wee Jim can't imagine anything good coming from the people he hates in his small world.
Carl T. Swanson
Religion Has No Place in Government
By refusing to hear the case brought by the former Alabama Supreme Court Justice (former because he was fired by the other judges on the bench for violating a federal court order), the U.S. Supreme Court today affirmed the secular foundation of our Constitution. As it has been established for years, the principle of separation of church and state remains intact, but is threatened by the age and inclinations toward retirement of the current lot of justices. The U.S. Senate can protect us for now, but removing our current faux president must remain a priority. Anyone who takes a look around the world with open eyes can see that religion, whether fact or fantasy, causes almost all human strife. Religion has no place in government, unless of course your motivation is to corrupt it and give sanction to human strife.
Repeal PATRIOT Act
It's clear to me that the more our country is admired internationally, the better it is for our fight against terrorism. That's why we should increase funding for programs addressing poverty, disease, and hunger abroad.
This is also why we should protect our civil liberties at home. Our freedoms are admired all over the world. If we restrict them, as we did when we passed the PATRIOT Act, we are not only hurting ourselves but tarnishing our image abroad as the leader in the fight for freedom.
That's why I favor the repeal of the PATRIOT Act and oppose any more laws that whittle away at our basic civil liberties.
Mr. Daniel L. Peak