Our readers talk back.
Fri., Jan. 9, 2004
Too Politically Correct
Belinda, Belinda, Belinda. Give up the politically correct BS. I agreed completely with your column ["TV Eye," Screens, Jan. 4] until the Top 10 Disappointments' No. 7. You just don't get it. Poor Mexicans are not the ongoing butt of the jokes on Arrested Development. Yeah, they make fun of reality, like maids who don't speak English, or the fact that some people are heartless but leave your bleeding heart in a box while you watch the show. The ongoing butt of all of the jokes on Arrested Development is the Bluthe family, and they all happen to be white. (OK, there's a Jewish faction they've mentioned but never expounded on that I know of.) But I guess that's OK, as it's always politically correct to bash white people, especially if they are male. It's all about stupidity, greed, avarice, and selfishness as epitomized by a white family. You don't have a problem with that? And Alias as the "tightest hour on TV"? Come on. Yeah, there are some good episodes, but as a whole it sounds like you've jumped on the "I Love Jennifer Garner" bandwagon. The only thing good about the show is that it doesn't try to act like it's a reality show. As for Sex and the City, don't get me started. I've never seen anything as agonizing as the relationship of Carrie and Berger unless of course it's the relationship of Miranda and Steve, Samantha and Smith, or Charlotte and Harry. She got off easy with a Post-it note. Uggghhh. It's time for it to end -- it should have ended season before last. And back to the minority issue. Why is it that there was nothing mentioned about good shows that predominately feature minorities? You find nothing really good about any show in which the starring roles are black? Mexican? Interesting.
[Belinda Acosta responds:
First, the easy stuff.
Yes, I do love Jennifer Garner. I loved her before it was fashionable. I make no bones about it. And I still love Alias.
Why yes, I am a bleeding-heart liberal. I was a liberal before it was made into a dirty word.
I have a love/hate relationship with Sex and the City. Right now, I'm loving it, so I'm sure you will retch over my next column, which pretty much waxes nostalgic about it.
As for the race issue ... that's a more complicated thing. I think it's interesting you mention item No. 7, because I myself was wondering if I really wanted to put that in print. I finally did, I guess, because I had such a strong reaction to it. I probably wouldn't have as strong a reaction if there were more representations -- smart, poor, dumb, rich, Mexicans, blacks, etc. When there are more people of color, I think those "bleeding heart" responses will fade away. Can you imagine television with nothing other than Homer Simpson types?
What "minority"-themed/cast shows do you think I should be extolling?
Well, there is no end to this conversation.
Thanks for writing and thanks for reading "TV Eye."]
'Chronicle' Sucks! Thoughtful Critique Offered
Your paper sucks. Just because some jackoff from Tomball has some extremely conservative and ignorant viewpoints doesn't mean she summarizes the Republican opinion on public education ["Top 10 Lege Moments," News, Jan. 2]. No more than Al Sharpton represents the Democratic view on gay marriages. Whoever compiled your Top 10 lists is an elitist ultra-left-wing prick that needs to stop reading MoveOn.org so much and gain some original thoughts. Stop bantering on about the same bullshit as Al Franken and Michael Moore. Also, please keep up the good work in reviewing live shows and movies.
Missing Charlie Shannon
Thanks to Robert Faires for the nice piece on Charlie Shannon ["Articulations," Arts, Jan. 4]. Being from Houston, I had the opportunity to have known Charlie since first grade in Catholic School, and believe it or not, he was funny even as a kid. His annual Shannon Brothers Christmas shows were a tradition for me and my friends in Houston as much as Christmas itself.
It was great to see him make it in comedy, from writing for Saturday Night Live, to In Living Color, to Letterman and Leno, to his always hilarious stand-up routine.
Somewhere there's one hell of a lineup, Shannon/Hicks/Kinison, cracking a bunch of people up!
People Who Agree With Me Are Godly
I really appreciate the way Martin Wagner ["Postmarks," Jan. 4] rebutted my Dec. 26 letter about abortion. He was respectful and did not personally attack me.
Some of the sites that note the link between suicide and abortion are God-oriented. However, the studies they cite are not necessarily done by godly people with a bias. They are done by respected workers whose occupation is to find the truth.
The citation for the Finland study is:
Suicides After Pregnancy in Finland, 1987-94: register linkage study, British Medical Journal, Mika Gissler et al., 1996, 313:1431-1434
Lower Risk of Suicide During Pregnancy, American Journal of Psychiatry, P.M. Marzuk et al., 1997, 154:122-123.
The other source is FYI.
Looks like the people who are promoting and showing this truth are godly and the ones trying to naysay it are not. Why don't we in America face up to the truth and delve into the statistics, talk to women and families who have had abortions in order to find the truth, and make the truth known?
This country is full of a lot of expensive speech instead of free speech, and that is going to change. People need to know the truth and the true consequences of their actions instead of accepting the smokescreens expensive speech promotes.
Cherry Picking Statistics
So let's see now, Alanda Ledbetter ["Postmarks," Dec. 26] consulted the suicide statistics in Finland and proclaims "death produces death" because a number of the women who killed themselves there also, at some time, had an abortion.
What about chocolate? Did the Finns also keep track of the number of women who had consumed chocolate at some time prior to their suicide? Or listened to Euro-pop music? That might be enough to push a person over the edge as well.
Going in and cherry-picking statistical data like that only illuminates one thing: the bias of the person doing the picking.
Thanks for your time,
Refuting Faulty Analysis
You suggested ["Postmarks," Dec. 26] a direct casual link between abortion and women's suicides by referring to data from Finland. That conclusion is not valid due to the fact that the study made in Finland only counted abortions and suicides that happened during the same year. Also, your equation ignored such variables as substance and/or family abuse, economic hardship, unemployment, mental and/or physical problems, etc. We all know that statistics can be (mis)read very selectively for the sake of an effective argument.
Abortion rates as well as women's suicide rates in Finland are relatively low. This, I believe as a Finnish citizen, is because the country has a low rate of misogyny and religious fundamentalism and a high rate of government investment in education. In the name of family values, American women are reduced to brainless objects, and children are grossly abused in underfunded and inadequate public schools. How much death this produces, directly and indirectly, we all should know by looking around us.
In the Name of Morality
If ever there is a time to stand up against the super moral, judgmental zealots, it is now. Joe McCarthy would roll over in his grave and smile at the insidious blacklisting strategies being used by this modern-day witch-hunter Chris Danze and his legions, to intimidate and harass individuals and subcontractors in his holy war against civil liberty in the name of anti-abortionism ["Women Dig In," News, Dec. 5]. What people need to realize is that this type of behavior, taken in the name of morality, utterly contradicts all notion of individual liberty and civil rights. Blinded by their righteousness, Danze and supporters of his tactics believe that any means justifies their ends and have no reservations about trampling on the rights or dignity of the others. Mean spirited, ugly, and cruel are the persons, who shrouded in righteousness, engage in or support these tactics.
If this person or group can coerce the public to allow this type of "guilt by association" boycott to succeed what person or group will be targeted next? No one will be free from the tyranny of righteousness. And yes, it can happen here, if this campaign of hatred, masked as Christian morality, is unchecked! It poisons our community.
Where's the Music?
To whom it may concern,
Why is Austin called the live music capital of the world? Is it because there are a lot of local groups performing every night? Here are some of the groups that missed Austin on their most recent tours: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Iron Maiden, Maná, Juanes, Dave Brubeck, and Rush. There are a lot more groups that didn't stop in Austin which I didn't list. I moved to Austin so I could attend a lot of concerts. Unfortunately, I've had to travel out of town to see many of my favorite groups. If Austin wants to be recognized as a great city for music then there should be more touring groups playing here. Please, spare me your bloody story.
After 45 years of living in Austin and watching my hometown become unbearable, this native Austinite finally moved away to a real town. Here are my Top 10 reasons why:
10) If you want to cut down a tree on your property, you don't have to worry about some treehugger chaining himself to your tree to protect some Mexican bird! No Tobacco Nazis either! Smoke 'em if ya got 'em!
9) No street beggars! Everyone here works for a living! No 25-year-old welfare moms with four kids and four different daddies.
8) The sheriff from the surrounding county uses the john to take a piss!
7) "Rush hour" traffic consists of three pickup trucks, one 1986 Chevrolet Impala and a 10-year-old on a bicycle!
6) If you break the law, you go to jail. You cannot use your race as an excuse for being picked on. Folks here take responsibility for their own actions!
5) You can bag your trash at the curbside with no extra charge!
4) If you want to build a storage shed in your back yard, you don't need six permits or an environmental study!
3) No liberal whiners! You work for what you get, and you get what you work for.
2) It takes 15 minutes to drive 15 miles! With no road rage!
1) A reasonable tax rate! Your $70,000 house is appraised at -- are you ready for this? -- $70,000! No self-righteous, bloviated officials with their hands in your pockets. After all, it's your money!
New 'Peter Pan' Is Nuanced, Lovely, and Moving
"Nuanced" is the only way to describe Peter Pan ["New Reviews," Film, Dec. 26]. This new version takes Mr. Barrie's work, and, while not faithful, works it in such a way that I'm sure the author wouldn't find anything amiss. Rachel Hurd-Wood plays our Wendy with a perfect split of maturity and childishness. The shift between playful child and burgeoning woman is portrayed with such an adept talent -- mother and maiden, child and woman; each aspect is perfectly portrayed with style by a gleam in the eye or a purse of plump ruby lips. Jeremy Sumpter mischievously tiptoes that delicate line between man and boy with an impish grace. The boy with the soft body and childish lisp is at the same time a man just beneath the surface. I never thought to see Peter Pan this way -- perhaps it was inadvertent; the chemistry the two portray onscreen is almost shocking in its purity. One feels as if you are looking upon a sacred thing, viewing Adam and Eve in the garden, without the haunting tree. The supporting cast of Olivia Williams, completely believable as the woman with the secret kiss, Mrs. Darling, and Jason Issacs, a Mr. Darling that you want to help along, and a Captain Hook who is a haunted, almost artistic man longing for a mother, for anyone to drive away his nightmares. The film was gorgeous -- a living Maxfield Parrish painting. I only fear our society won't know what to make of a pure love between two not-quite-children; it has nothing familiar about it -- no lust, no comprehension of things to come -- a purity where a kiss is a secret shared only with one, the love that angels share and man may only think of, then recoil for fear of tarnishing.
Anti-Abortion Is Not Pro-Life
Why is it that so-called pro-lifers choose to pick on the easy target instead of trying to solve the real problem? Women's health clinics are not the reason we have abortion. Unwanted pregnancies are. Ironically, pro-lifers wish to shut down the one source that is working on the real problem. Reproductive health clinics have the overall effect of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, thus reducing the number of abortions. Besides health care, these facilities offer information and even some counseling. I have never heard of a clinic advocating abortion (in fact, it is usually the other people in the girl's life or the girl herself pushing for it). Health care practitioners usually try to talk a girl out of it because they worry she is in no emotional state to make such an important and life-impacting decision.
Pro-lifers, please put your energy into reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. Start by talking to the children in your lives or be a mentor. Young women need information about the responsibilities and realities of motherhood. Young men need to know that contraception is their responsibility, too. Is not self-protection related to self-respect?
Re-examine religion and power. I was shocked to hear the Pope tell "good Catholics" to go out and "make babies" to help the strength of the Church. It apparently does not occur to some people that God is flexible. His "go forth and multiply" instruction is not a good idea for everyone, nor should reproduction be used as a way of gaining territory.
The bottom line is that when women do not have access to family planning -- for whatever reason -- our population grows. More little terrorists and people who have nothing to lose are brought into this world.
Pro-choice is pro-life.
Ventura a National Treasure
Hooray! I just relocated my favorite writer as a result of reading a recent issue of L.A. Weekly. Michael Ventura is a genius who deftly integrates so much of his overall intelligence and experience whenever he writes that I am truly in awe whenever I read whatever he writes!
Now that's a convoluted sentence that says how I feel and what I believe. L.A. lost this national treasure to Austin when the L.A. Weekly lost Michael!
Whatever you have to do to put me on a list to receive your online publication, do it. The Austin Chronicle is already on my "favorite" list, and I'm a happy camper.
Not much comes out of Texas that is good for individuals or the American public, but wisdom from Michael is a true exception! My best to The Austin Chronicle and to Michael. Michael has broad life experience that can only help those who read his words. Even and most importantly Texans! Michael Ventura should be required reading for George W. Bush, who could have one of his handlers do the reading for him and make it easily understood!
All the best,
Marina del Rey, Calif.
Compliments for S.M. Moser
Stephen Macmillan Moser's recent article ["After a Fashion," Dec. 26]: "There is a rampant fashion omerta in Austin: a conspiracy of silence ... about really bad clothes." The article is so fresh, unexpected, and well written that I had to stop painting our house to venture out in really bad paint-splattered sweats to seek a new copy of the Chronicle (sorry -- used first paper for catching paint splatters).
Finally, Stephen, an article authored with some tooth! A pure piece written without any pics of toothy debutantes and professional partygoers. Like an ambulance chaser peeking through words to see who got "wrecked" the weekend before at one party or another, I'm guilty of following your column, typically filled with its predictable inane gossip and frivolous fashion sightings.
Without having met you and thus forming my impressions only through your written words, this latest article has changed my distorted view of your considerable talents. I enjoyed immensely learning more about your background in the fashion industry and the vivid pictures you painted of your grueling training. And you are right -- foundations are needed (and not just in the fashion industry) -- and one does need to know the rules before breaking them.
And now may I offer you some advice? Please don't hide your literary talents and designing skills by writing martini articles -- you urged your readers to go out and "read, read, read voraciously" to increase their knowledge of fashion design -- perhaps in this new year a worthwhile mission for you would be to get out there and teach, teach, teach, so the "so fresh and so young" have a chance to realize a real future in fashion.
With best regards and sincere thanks for a better read on you -- write on, Mr. Moser.
Thank You Austin
Citizens of Austin,
The true measure of a community is the humanity of its citizens. My experience of Jan. 4, 2003, was illustrative of the heart and spirit of Austin.
Into the back of my pickup truck I had loaded three full-sized filing cabinets crammed full of financial records dating to an era when the major banks were locally owned and operated. Heading west on 35th Street, just past Seton Hospital, I glimpsed a horrifying site in my rearview mirror. Restraining straps gave way, a heavily ladened top file drawer opened, and an entire file cabinet rolled off the side of the truck like a depth charge. Upon impact in heavy traffic, the file cabinet detonated in a cloud of canceled checks, bank statements, and ancient financial miscellany.
After parking in the adjacent Randalls lot, I witnessed a gust of wind blow a large measure of the flotsam down 35th Street as traffic backed up behind the mangled file cabinet. The disaster rendered me temporarily paralyzed. Thankfully, no wreck ensued, but I was contemplating environmental and psychic disaster.
Upon regaining my senses, I realized that traffic had stopped. As many as 10 people -- all but one unknown to me -- materialized, and they commenced an efficient cleanup. The file cabinet was moved to the median, records were collected, and traffic was restored. People dispersed as rapidly as they appeared, and not one person expressed derision.
Standing in the median amidst heavy traffic, I contemplated for the umpteenth time my good fortune in living in Austin. This letter serves as my thanks to all those who helped.
Jack S. Gray Jr.
Are We Safer?
If we are safer because Saddam Hussein is gone, why are we on Orange Alert?
Kudos to Haupt's Los Lonely Boys Piece
Just read an article by Melanie Haupt ["Oye Como Va," Music, Aug. 1] and felt it necessary to let you know the following. I am probably the newest addition to the Los Lonely Boys fan mania. Was handed their CD one week before SXSW and through their music reconnected with myself and the world. I've read just about every article on the boys and for the first time felt as if I was sitting face to face having a conversation with Henry, Jojo, and Ringo. This article was well written and, more than anything, moving. A tear came to the eye reading about Roxanne. Simply because I know how us "old school Mexicans" get all dressed for just a fiesta. This is what writing is all about -- not reading but feeling the words.
Much Love and Respect,