Our readers talk back.
More Great Texas Songs
Enjoyed the review of great "Texas" songs and would like to nominate a few others ["The Top Texas 40," Nov. 28]. Charlie Daniels was a great supporter of the Armadillo and penned a great song, "Texas," on his Nightrider album. Robert Earl Keen should be cited for the wonderful song "Corpus Christi Bay," and my favorite is Doug Sahm's "Beautiful Texas Sunshine."
What About Lounge Lizards?
Dear Austin Chronicle:
How could you possibly do a collection of Texas songs without the Austin Lounge Lizards ["The Top Texas 40," Nov. 28]? As I read your city/town songs, I expected to see "Going Back to Dallas, Texas (To See if Anything Could Be Worse Than Losing You)." They also created such curiosities as "Irving" and "Stupid Texas Song," which holds the honor of being a deliciously blatant rip-off of Benson's "Miles and Miles of Texas," and it is also a song I first recall hearing in Ohio, giving me immense pride in my adopted homeland (as they say on the bumper sticker, "I got here as fast as I could").
Anyway, I was compelled to chime in on this topic but I guess y'all won't be compelled to print this tome from someone who calls "Pancho & Lefty," "That song with Cleveland in its lyrics."
Joyce Tianello Snodgrass
Texas Homesick Blues?
Nice to see all the coverage about Texas songs and all the greatest songs about Texas and song titles with Texas in them. However, if these were actually the all-time greats, how could you have released this list without placing Gary P. Nunn's "What I Like About Texas" on this list? And "Texas Flood" is by Larry Rice of Houston by the way, not SRV. If Nunn's Texas anthem has been good enough to pass as the theme song for Austin City Limits for three decades (you know the festival by the same name that doesn't even invite Nunn to open and close the festival with the program's theme song), then it should certainly be good enough to have made your rag's list. Oh well, Austin music biz as usual ...
[Editorial Reply: The ACL theme is titled "London Homesick Blues," and as such doesn't have Texas in the title. "Texas Flood" is credited to Arkansas-bred Larry Davis, not Larry Rice, and Davis is duly noted. Since we're on the subject, however, the original Duke 45 that's pictured in our "rag's" endeavor lists Joseph Scott and label owner Don Robey as songwriters. Finally, as noted, the choices were made by about two dozen folks and not by the Chronicle.]
Mercer Lyricists, Warren Composer
Though I was happy to see Johnny Mercer's song "I'm an Old Cowhand" ranked so high in the Chronicle list of songs about Texas towns and places ["The Top Texas 40," Nov. 28], I have to correct the statement that "Mercer wrote the elegant music and Harry Warren the tongue-in-cheek lyrics." While Mercer did collaborate with Harry Warren (most notably with "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe") and many others, "Cowhand" is purely the product of John Herndon Mercer. Harry Warren was solely a composer and Johnny Mercer was one of the finest of American lyricists. On a few occasions ("Cowhand," "Something's Gotta Give") Mercer wrote both music and lyrics, but he is best known as a top wordsmith.
Sincerely, Louis Harrison
Which City Is 'This Old Porch'?
I can only hope that Margaret Moser's addition of Duran Duran's "Rio" in the No. 15 slot of her top 15 songs with Texas cities in the title is evidence of fatigue or desperation due to a tight deadline. May I offer some help? James McMurtry's "Levelland," Robert Earl Keen's "This Old Porch" or "The Armadillo Jackal," and Steve Fromholz's "Texas Trilogy" would have been admirable and accurate additions (even though with Keen's songs the cities are mentioned in the body of the song, not the title). The note that the Duran Duran song has the line "dance across the Rio Grande" as reason for the inclusion doesn't work for me. That river runs through more than Texas; I recall playing in its waters in New Mexico.
Sincerely offering my help, Kellie Salome
[Ed.'s Note: The list was compiled from those submitted. Margaret Moser wrote the introduction, annotations and helped tabulate the lists, but they do not reflect only her choices.]
'Chronicle' Sucks; Friends of Crispin Don't
Shawn Badgley's tasteless personal comments about Bookslut.com editor Jessa Crispin in the Nov. 28 "News/Print" column were obnoxious, unprofessional, and humorously revealing. Judging from the tone of his comments -- ("Crispin is fond of the vodka tonic, an exotic cocktail whose potency landed her flat passed out on my loveseat sleeper, in a pair of my shorts") -- his eroticized interests, vividly detailed by the "loveseat sleeper," overdetermine and undermine any cogency his forlorn and lovesick words may have offered. Her own comments about the Chronicle's diminished interests in book reviews and near total lack of concern for small presses is accurate and to the point. Small press reviews are rare, and the print space allotted to books has dwindled to only a few inches in recent years. The Chronicle's literary tastes -- national mainstream publications -- and its lackluster pursuit of diverse, challenging writing have made it a wasteland under Shawn (I-have-more-books-than-you) Badgley's management. Through the sheer love of book culture, Crispin has created a dynamic site that puts the Chronicle's Books section to shame. Not that these are in any way competitive, but Badgley's defensive, sputtering rant against one of the most attentive and intelligent women to grace Austin with her presence perhaps reveals why someone with her smarts would, well, get out. Badgley clearly earns his paycheck. Maybe that's one reason he's eager to overpraise a city enraptured by its sophisticated facade. It's unfortunate Crispin left town just as her imminent journal began to find national success. Austin culture-mongers should examine her departure closely to read what it means for our little city. And as a warning to future Travis County literati: Watch yourself on Badgley's "loveseat."
[Ed.'s Note: We received six similar letters.]
'Elephant' Shot on Film, Not DV
I just wanted to drop a quick line about the Elephant review. After reading it I went to see the movie. The reviewer writes "shot on digital video." This was a factor in me seeing the film. After watching the movie I was blown away by how much it looked liked film and was curious about how they made the DV look so good. After not much research at all, I went to the official Web site for the film; it was shot on 35 mm film.
So just thought you may want to take the DV part out of the review.
The Web site for Elephant is www.elephantmovie.com.
Thanks for your time,
Was Turtle Search Successful?
Just wondering if the family that placed the ads looking for their turtle, who had pushed her way out of the yard only to be picked up and quickly sold by a pet store, ever got her back.
Not a Laughing Matter
One of your recent cover illustrations depicted a caricature of President Bush's desk, with his notebook and various notes having misspelled words and reversed letters [Nov. 7]. This was an attempt to show him as a poorly educated or stupid person. However, the depiction of reversed letters in this regard is a slap at the many children and adults that are affected by dyslexia, as this is a classic symptom of that affliction! School is difficult enough for kids with dyslexia, or any other learning disability, without being made fun of! I have several friends with this disorder, and find that cartoon very unfunny!
I have attention deficit disorder, and can speak firsthand about being the butt of jokes and plain meanness by other kids because of a learning disability! My third grade teacher's method of dealing with my occasional disruptive behavior was not of understanding (this was mid-1950s) but of humiliation! I was once tied to my chair and threatened with a horse blinder, and on another occasion was put under her desk! The only result was I was the laughingstock of Maplewood Elementary from then until the sixth grade, when I went to another school! By the way -- it was not in New York or California, but right here in Austin!
John G. Dana
Cover More Fashion
I am writing to express my disappointment regarding your column "After a Fashion."
Several colleagues and I spent nearly a year planning a fashion show and craft fair designed to showcase local, independent designers, artists, and businesses. The show (Stitch: Fashion w/o Fascism) featured clothing designs by nine of Austin's freshest designers (including kaemmeche, Amet and Sasha, Sparkle Craft, Rubypearl, Chia, Afsaneh Taki, Kari Perkins, All Dressed Up and Shy, and Kate Proby) and work by 25 crafty small businesses rooted in Austin (including the Austin Craft Mafia, Naughty Secretary Club, Ruby Goes Retro, Arntson Designs, and many more). The event sold out with over 500 attendees.
Later that week, another local fashion show (Fabrication) hit the runway at the Parish, and featured three designers: Erin Mikulenka, Jen Rea, and Christopher Trout. This show, like Stitch, was a huge success, and was packed to the rafters with onlookers.
Neither show was mentioned in your column: not before the events, not three weeks after the events. I take it personally when my own event doesn't get mentioned; however, my disappointment goes deeper than my own bruised ego. Austin is not known for its huge fashion scene. There aren't many fashion shows here, and those that do get attention are retail shows that showcase nonlocal talent. It seems, then, that a fashion columnist would be thrilled to find two local shows in the same week, and would make a point to attend them, and celebrate them.
I am a huge fan of the Chronicle. I think you do a great job promoting local artists in most genres -- art, theatre, film, music, etc. For those of us who care deeply about the small fashion scene in Austin, please do us a favor: Get a fashion writer who is in touch with the current fashion happenings in Austin, or change the name of Mr. Moser's column to something more appropriate to his talent as a society writer.
Ventura's Outlook Limited
Trichotillomania is a terrible affliction. I have the Michael Ventura-induced variety. And since I can't not pick up a Chronicle on the way home from work, nor can I resist the temptation to slow down and stare at the twisted wreckage on the roadside that is one of his "Letters @ 3AM" (take your pick), I'm consigned to making diary entries on numbers of hairs pulled and time spent pulling and using sensory aids (e.g., tinkling bracelets) to make myself more aware of what I'm doing -- you know, so that I can modify my behavior. "Moth-eaten" is not a good look.
Anyway, I was hoping Michael would show some compassion by listing the 100 things that make him happy, and have that be his next contribution to our culture. What a breath of fresh air. Not only would that be supremely entertaining, but I'm guessing that only the most cynical or paranoid of readers will see in this list the fruits of totalitarianism, and that's assuming he can even get halfway to 100. In that case, he'd have to look elsewhere to identify dark and sinister forces at work in his life. It's not President Bush, Michael. And I think I'm one step closer to recovery.
Just a note of appreciation to the artist of the carrot on the First Street bridge (west side). While jogging a few days ago and feeling rather blue, I noticed the image of the carrot with the cartoon face and an urgent message to "Eat more carrots!" A spark of joy burst through the sadness in the form of chuckling out loud. Through the rest of the run, I would remember that smile-worthy image and cheer up a bit.
La llorona corriendo y sonriendo,
I just wanted to drop a line to show my appreciation of your review of Cat in the Hat. It takes a lot of effort to write something like that, which pulls off Seuss' rhyming scheme perfectly. And it also shows a level of authenticity to your words that a plain review might not have had. It lets the readers know that you really are a fan like them, and not, as the stereotype goes, just a snobbish, elitist, cynical movie reviewer who gets his kicks from saying how bad movies are and how good he is.
That, and it was also quite the amusing read. Thank you.
Now Is the Time for Solar!
In the Seventies, everyone said solar power was just around the corner. In the Eighties, it was coming any day now. In the Nineties, it was really happening, really soon. Really!
And here we are in 2003 without any solar power to speak of. I'm sick of waiting, and the statement that Austin Energy wants to wait "for renewable technology to improve and prices to fall" is frustrating in light of the overwhelming public support for solar power in Austin.
We can't wait around for someone else to take the plunge. It is in cities like Austin that solar power will be shown to be the best choice for the future. In San Francisco there has already been legislation to put solar panels on schools and other public buildings. Maybe you've read the Mark Twain quote: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." And yet, even there, solar power is feasible. Imagine what we could do, with the amount of sun we get. Hell, why not get paid for those blistering August days?
It is we who will improve technology and it is we who will make the prices fall. If we don't do it, who will?
The right time is right now.
Can't Afford to Shop Local
Re: "Shop Local Austin," "Keep Austin Unchained" [Austin@Large," Nov. 14]
The one day allotted for Austinites to "shop local only" is ideal in theory. However, reality dictates otherwise. Most middle-class and poorer Austinites simply cannot afford to shop local only, or local at all, for that matter.
The reason the majority of locals shop "chains" (Wal-Mart, etc.) is because of affordable prices for comparable goods. Most of us would prefer to shop local, thereby supporting local merchants and local economy. But, most of us cannot pay local prices, especially in light of widespread unemployment and the sad shape of the present economy.
I can afford to buy an $8 garment at Wal-Mart. I cannot afford to buy the same or comparable garment at a local store for $25. That $17 difference in price is literally grocery or other necessary living expenses which cannot be sacrificed. It is not so much a matter of choice, whether to shop "chain" or "local," it is a matter of necessity. And, clothes at Wal-Mart will last for many years if properly cared for; the same as say $25-50 clothes (overpriced) bought at a local store.
If a business is going to be based on greed, which likely is 99% of the time in capitalistic America, then "volume" would be the way to go -- Wal-Mart has caught on to that -- sell quality items cheaper and make more money. And, people such as myself? We can actually eat, pay bills, and buy goods.
Jumping From Desk to Desk
Why send Clark-Madison to a City Council meeting to gather info over the events in East Austin, regarding APD's policies, when black -- and Mexican -- residents have been abused, ticketed, neglected, jailed, and shot in the barrio? Most of the abuses have been committed here by black and Hispanic policemen, generally uneducated and easy to impress. The leaders he mentions in his article are not ["Austin@Large," Nov. 28]. Vengan para aca y hablen con la gente; stop jumping from desk to desk.