Our readers talk back.
You ignore our amazing 20th birthday party [Sound Exchange], you relegate our closing to a small box (complete with a baffling reference to Buffalo Exchange), and when you finally put us on the cover, almost exactly a year after our death, there is not one word about us in the copy ... and not really much to the article, either ["Is Sound Exchange's Fate the Future of All Record Stores?," Music, Jan. 23].
Glad to see some things haven't changed in Austin.
Former Sound Exchange Manager
[Editorial response: Ignored? Hardly. We covered the 20th anniversary both before (austinchronicle.com/ issues/dispatch/2000-10-06/music_dancing.html) and after (austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2000-11-03/music_dancing.html), while the store's closing was covered in full as part of a cover story, Rent Party Blues, Music, Feb. 14, 2003 (austinchronicle.com/ issues/dispatch/2003-02-14/music_feature.html).]
Encore Video & CD Left Out
In reference to your most recent cover story ["Is Sound Exchange's Fate the Future of All Record Stores?," Music, Jan. 23] by Jim Caligiuri and the fact that we were excluded from any mention: We are the only locally owned CD store in North Austin. I wanted to let you all know that we after our best Christmas sales ever are doing quite well thank you.
Encore Video & CD
More Closed Music Stores
I was thinking that there are more music store closings than were on the list ["Is Sound Exchange's Fate the Future of All Record Stores?," Music, Jan. 23]. Here are some I thought of: Neptune, System 7, Treasured Tracks, CD's & More, and a mystery store that opened on Bee Caves Road about one quarter-mile down from MoPac on the right side. I was there one day and went back the next month, and it was gone. Never got the name of it. So, I hope that will help complete the list. Thanks.
What Should We Have Done?
Since 9/11, I have each of your commentaries on the war. I am inclined to agree with many of your points, but I am left with this question: What should we have done then? Al Qaeda was running terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. We had experienced the results. We were supposed to go on tolerating that? The Taliban had Osama; they could have turned him in and kept their nightmare regime. Twelve years of sanctions on Iraq had not had the intended effect of forcing Saddam to come clean as he agreed to do; instead the people of Iraq went on suffering under an uncaring ruler. So it doesn't seem like the right thing to do was to continue the sanctions. But lifting the sanctions on a despot who at the very least clearly intended to develop WMDs and had shown no restraint in using them, indeed, who hadn't shown much restraint period when it comes to dealing out death and misery, and who is sitting next to one of the lifebloods of the world, doesn't seem wise either. Negotiations by third parties and us were repeatedly unsuccessful. So what should we have done?
Questions About Questions, and a Typo
After allegations of discrimination and abuse by the Austin Police Department, some citizens have posed the question, "Who polices the police?" After reading Louis Black's "Page Two" from Jan. 23, I am led to ask a similar question: "Who edits the editor?" Black opens his essay with an interesting and provocative question that deserves asking: "What would have happened if we had not invaded Afghanistan and Iraq?" Frustratingly, Black never even ventures an answer. The essay instead reads like a rambling and sloppy amalgamation of his previous writing on the Iraq war. I have no idea whether I agree or object to Black's argument, as I have no idea what he is trying to say. Surely the grammatical low-point is the following sentence: "Bush's intuitive genius for resonant political actions is disturbing, especially as they are divorced from history, lack sustained consideration, and oblivious to negative consequence and defiantly ignorant of the future." I cringe even as I retype it. Please, please, please can someone make his clauses agree? You do a disservice to your message (unsure as I am what that is, exactly) by printing such sloppy writing. I know that publishing a weekly is a tough business, but the Chronicle can do better. Your readers deserve better, too.
Seeing the heading of an article in your last issue ("The Fruit of the Pro-Lifers' Labors") [News, Jan. 16] made me feel compelled to write and request the Chronicle consider a new editorial policy as a public service and in the interest of journalistic accuracy. To buy into these fanatics' spin and refer to them as pro-lifers does a disservice to the public, to the truth, and to the term "pro-life." Very few of them in my experience are against the death penalty, as ought to be requisite of anyone who would refer to themselves or be referred to as "pro-life." And given the extremely flawed, very racist death penalty system that we have in this country (not to mention the concomitant rabid presumption of guilt and propensity to so casually convict an accused person that are sad realities of our society these days and significant factors in the system's fallibility), more is the hypocrisy and shame for anyone who embraces such a system and would have the temerity to call themselves a pro-lifer. Even the Catholic Church, as out of touch with modernity as it often seems to be, is consistent in this regard. I would request the Chronicle start referring to these extremists as what they are: anti-choicers.
For the Preservation of Life
Why is it that when someone is against the death penalty, that person is portrayed as "progressive," yet when someone is pro-life (or, as someone insultingly put it last week ["Postmarks" online, Jan. 22], "anti-choice"), that person is seen as an "extremist"? Aren't both arguing for the preservation of life? Or do convicted felons simply have more right to exist than babies?
Truly Frightened of Our Government
I applaud Michael Ventura's Jan. 23 column on the Bush administration's continued frantic dissembling of our constitutional rights ["Letters @ 3am"]. Since the PATRIOT Act was made law, I (an educated, practicing voter) have felt as though I were standing in a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs to an uncaring audience. Tragically few people truly understand the scope of this legislation. Thank you Mr. Ventura, for shining some light into this dark corner of the Ashcroft Justice Department. Not to be dramatic, but I am truly frightened of government retaliation against whomever is labeled "a threat." Considering the blatant disregard shown for the rights and opinions of the gay population by the government, may we too be labeled, stripped of our citizenship, and shipped to detention camps? The tools of Bush Jr.'s leadership are intimidation, sleight of hand, and fear. Indeed, I am very, very afraid.
'Is This Water Filtered?'
Wes Marshall's insightful account ["The Dinertainment Dilemma," Food, Jan. 16] of his Kobe Steak House dining experience was both entertaining and enlightening. I readily resonate with his wry observation of how appalling can be a waiter's habitual disregard of basic hygienic considerations; to wit: the thumb inside the realm of a vessel's contents. Even if there's no charge for a glass of water, its healthy presentation is a matter of significance to many discerning diners. After all, each of us humans is about 70% water. It is our basic ingredient.
Which leads to my present quandary. At home I use a simple carbon filter to remove the taste and odor of chlorine from water I imbibe. Of course, that chemical serves a purpose to hold in check the teeming millions of microbes which in its absence would surely multiply exponentially during the miles-long voyage from treatment plant to my house. That said, chlorine is a poison, its byproducts (trihalomethanes) carcinogenic, and its taste and aroma distinctively offensive. The more I avoid it, the more heightened has become my sensitivity to its presence.
So if a simple carbon filter can dress up my water at home, why can't restaurants purporting to cater to their patrons' desires and pleasures do at least as much to present a healthy and appealing glass of water? Well, of course they can but won't until they get the message that we patrons expect it. Gentle reader, every one of us can help to hasten this revolutionary appreciation for water quality by always inquiring of waiters and especially of restaurant managers, "Is this water filtered?" Eventually they'll begin to meet our expectations.
This past Saturday, Jan. 24, there was a march by the abortion folks from Fourth and Guadalupe up Congress to the Capitol, and I'm wondering how many arrests were made. Anytime I've been to a peace protest of the war the cops are there waiting! They arrested many folks at the Congress Street Bridge, and when we were at the arrival of [Mexico's President Vicente] Fox to be with [Gov.] Perry at the mansion, the motorbike cops came out in major force. I left that scene quickly. I've seen it at other rallies also, so thank you for your time.
Alex Prefers the Hammer
"What would have happened if we had not invaded Afghanistan and Iraq?" ["Page Two," Jan. 23] What intellectual masturbation. We did invade. The results are not clear yet. I realize that in this real-time world, where all results are expected to be accomplished immediately, the establishment of a government in one country formerly ruled by a decades-old dictatorship and another ruled by extremists should have been instantaneous. And we are not the most popular country in the world because of it, especially in the Middle East. Then again, we were never really popular there to begin with.
The reasons for invasion have always been dubious: 9/11 connections, WMD, torturous regime, terror training ground, etc. Oh well, you can pick the one you like; all can be scrutinized. The fact is we are there now, and this scares the shit out of many neighboring countries. Diplomacy with a hammer. In Iraq, we took out a secular government (albeit a dictatorship that regularly used torture as a tool) and are trying to replace it with a more U.S.-friendly secular government that could possibly torture people as a means of control, in our interests of course (I seem to remember a guy named Pinochet). It may seem alien to many that our government acts in such a selfish manner, but isn't it their job to promote and protect the interests of our country before placating the needs of the rest of the world? Our so-called European allies do the same; France and Germany have rarely acted in anything other than their own interests. So much for diplomacy. I prefer the hammer.
In addition, you seem fascinated that a politician tries to please all voters by hiding the painful realities. Isn't this what politicians regularly do?
Kudos for '21 Grams'
While out-of-sequence editing may have become a recent fad thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Pulp Fiction, I believe it not only works well in 21 Grams but adds considerably to the story.
The message of the film, to me, is quite obviously the need for one to think through an issue before acting on it. The nonlinear representation of this story demands attention and forces the audience to think while watching.
There are far too many films out these days that do not require much more from the movie audience than the price of admission. I thoroughly enjoyed having to spend two hours totally consumed by what transpired on the screen and came away not only entertained and stimulated, but I learned a valuable lesson as well.
Well, it looks like we're stuck with the Texas Legislature's congressional redistricting plan, which carved up Austin and put the parts into three weirdly shaped districts stretching from the Hill Country to the Mexican border. As a practical matter there isn't much we can do about it, but we can still act like Austinites and make the redistricting plan into a perennial butt of national jokes by turning the whole thing into a work of art.
In that spirit I propose we initiate a competition to design the "Gerrymander Memorial," to be placed on the exact spot where those three sad, silly districts meet, at a rather undistinguished intersection on 38th Street, one block west of Guadalupe.
I'm sure we can get prominent academics from the UT School of Architecture and the local political world ("Ann Richards, are you busy?") to be judges. Personally, I'd also invite a sprinkling of big-name artists, political figures, and critics to help, along with the mayor of Austin. Once they've selected a winning design, all we have to do is raise a bit of cash to put it up and then force our City Council to vote to allow the memorial to be erected on the site.
In my mind's eye I see a bronze statue of the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the Texas House hunched over a computer terminal reading a precinct printout, with one of them pointing off into the distance toward Mexico; or maybe just three arrows and live webcasts from the farthest reaches of each district, two from the Rio Grande river, one from the high plains. But I'm not an artist ... although I'll volunteer to be one of the judges and to put up a bit of the prize money.
Mark Twain's Warning
Mark Twain was horrified and heartbroken at his nation's mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and spoke up clearly. In The Mysterious Stranger, he insightfully wrote:
"The statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of gross self-deception."
No rationalizations justify this U.S. government's wave of avaricious war escalations. Let's keep in mind that we know why and for whom they are happening.
Barbarous atrocities are done daily in your name, demanding headlines and national outrage, but rating mostly buried innuendo and the mutter of Nuremberg guilt. Let's keep pressuring big media and personally let others know how we feel.
Realize that Ashcroft v. Twain, under PATRIOT Act II, would be possible, and that he could simply be disappeared. Speak up and take action now, as humane people who fairly and fiercely guard our freedoms and those of our compatriots everywhere.
President Bush Front Man for Corporate Interests
Louis Black was right-on when he wrote: "Bush's intuitive genius for resonant political actions is disturbing, especially as they are divorced from history, lack sustained consideration, and [are] oblivious to negative consequence and defiantly ignorant of the future" ["Page Two," Jan. 23].
While there is a lot of commotion over MoveOn.org's many entries in their political ad competition that depict George W. as Hitler-esque, it should be noted that the winning entry had no words, just scenes of children working unskilled jobs, indicating that future generations would be paying for our Iraqi occupation.
I do not believe anyone seriously compares our president to Hitler. The latter was a genius, not a term that applies to W.
It is fair to say, however, that W. is the front man and puppet of corporate entities that are acting as textbook fascists, in that the PATRIOT Act hands law enforcement capabilities over to them. We shall see whistle-blowers against corruption snatched away without due process as domestic enemy combatants.
As far as world overpopulation goes, what do you suppose is the solution of the Powers That Be? It is in fact the same final solution that Hitler employed: Genocide. And it is being implemented presently.
Kenney C. Kennedy
Could you please thank Ms. Virginia B. Wood for her kind mention of Thai Tara restaurant in her Jan. 23 "Food-o-File"? It was a pleasant surprise and was very much appreciated. I invite her to stop by anytime. We will create something just for her!