Our readers talk back.
Austin Music: Love It or Leave It
Thirty-one nights and Darcie Stevens ("31 Nights," Music, Sept. 10) only really learned one thing (her No. 3: "The human body is not meant to enjoy the luxurious qualities of Austin nightlife every single evening"). She missed the true essence of the Austin music scene, and the charm, beauty, and exceptional talent she witnessed. I think a more appropriate wording of her lesson Nos. 1 and 2 would be edited as:
1) "There's more music in Austin than" anywhere on earth.
2) "You can visit any part of town at any time on any day and see bands of differing" styles, yet almost always of enormous talent.
As I listened to the Greencards on Friday completely thrill the Jovita's audience of young and old (in typical Austin fashion) with Carol Young's voice (from her heavenly throat; not "her nose"), Kym Warner's ("the mandolin player") magical command of his instruments, Eamon McLoughlin's world-class fiddle/violin playing, and their talented guests, I couldn't help but wonder: With her stuffy nose, through which orifice did Darcie's thoughts flow before landing on the pages of this pathetic article?
Stevens may have subconsciously (or not) given herself an out with the severe allergy problems. Perhaps she should move to Phoenix to help her sinuses. If she does I have a request; please tell people there how bad it is here.
Austin Needs Medical Campus
Dear Amy Smith,
Your article beautifully summarizes a very important topic of which many Austinites are either confused or unaware ["Is There a Doctor in the House?," News, Sept. 10]. Austin is currently the second largest city in the U.S. without a true academic medical presence (Phoenix is No. 1, but has the benefit of the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale). City voters should consider the benefits of having an academic medical center seated in downtown Austin. A UTMB medical campus in Austin, or ultimately even a free stand-alone medical school, could allow research advancements through partnerships with the surrounding biotech companies and the UT-Austin bioscience departments, as well as providing access to certain specialized care that is currently available only through travel to the medical university centers of Dallas, Tyler, Houston, San Antonio, and Galveston. A university medical campus in Austin would easily attract those with interests in medical research, resident physician and medical student training, and patient care. There is also the more serious issue, which is the growing numbers of uninsured individuals in the Austin area who have reduced access to medical care (especially specialty care). The largest portion of urban indigent care is traditionally provided for under the support mechanisms of full-fledged medical university systems in other U.S. major cities. Thanks for bringing this timely issue to the attention of your readers.
Joshua DiCarlo, MD Atlanta, Ga.
Toll Road Map Errors
To Mike Clark-Madison,
In the article this week on p.32 ["The Traffic Report," News, Sept. 10], there are two errors on the map showing toll roads. U.S. 183 south of SH 71 East was not proposed or adopted as a toll road by the CAMPO board. Also, the SH 45 North toll road will connect to U.S. 183-A. Otherwise, the map is accurate regarding CAMPO action on toll roads. I appreciate that you have shown the "Phase 1" toll roads adopted by CAMPO in the year 2000 separate from the "Phase 2" toll roads adopted by CAMPO in July 2004. Most of the Phase 1 toll roads are under construction. I invite everyone to check the CAMPO Web site at www.campotexas.org and the CTRMA Web site at www.ctrma.org for the latest information.
Michael R. Aulick
CAMPO executive director
[Mike Clark-Madison replies: Mr. Aulick is absolutely right, and we thank him for pointing out the error.]
The Mysteries of '31 Nights'
As someone who plans on relocating to Austin from the Southeast within the next six months, I found your paper to be very good and generally informative, with the following exceptions in the article "31 Nights" by Darcie Stevens [Music, Sept. 10]. Not being "from 'round here" I found the article both ambiguous, poorly written, and very provincial (i.e., What river dried up? Does Austin have a great music scene? Did this person have a good time or not?). So perhaps you can understand my confusion and hopefully clarify. You mentioned in your editor's note, "wasted young lady." I'm not certain how this was meant, but personally I think "being wasted" is fine as long as one isn't driving a car, flying a plane, or trying to write an informative and hopefully entertaining article, am I clear?
Give the Lady a Column
Dear Mr. Black,
How long do you intend to dodge the gauntlet? Ms. Walker has challenged you ["Postmarks," Sept. 3], and not for the first time, sir, to mature into the writer/editor she believes you possess the potential to be; not only for the sake of the Chronicle and its readers, but for all those exhausted by the patriarchal pedantry of the press.
If you are unwilling or unable to meet her challenge, then attempt mine offer Ms. Walker the opportunity to be a regular contributor to the Chronicle. She is consistently the freshest, most literate, unique voice on your pages.
Buttressed against bullshit by years of living and the ability to cut to the quick while simultaneously salving the wound with her writing clearly make Ms. Walker far too dangerous a woman to expose your readers to on a regular basis.
Cowboy up, Mr. Black! Give the little lady a column.
Live Peals of Musical Laughter
Your Sept. 10 cover story, "31 Nights" by Darcie Stevens [Music], was indeed fun and lively. And bassist extraordinaire Francie Meaux Jeaux (D&L's Texas Music Cafe, Tuesday, Aug. 3) is definitely noted for her distinctive laugh. Yet, rather than a "cackle," it's more like a peal of Swiss bells reverberating through the Alps.
'Outfoxed' Preaches to Choir
It seems that in writing about Outfoxed: Robert Murdoch's War on Journalism (Film, Sept. 3) Marc Savlov forgot to actually review the movie. What we get instead, mostly, is Savlov's agreement with the film's thesis, that Fox News is heavily biased toward the right wing. Fair enough, but how well does the film make that point? Not very well at all. First and foremost, it's not persuasive to people who don't already agree with it. Preaching to the choir is nice, but it's unfulfilling, and it's a wasted opportunity. Outfoxed also fails on a basic level: It's disjointed, unfocused, and redundant. But perhaps its biggest flaw is that it tries so hard to prove Fox's right-wing bias that it devotes little time to explaining why that's a problem. Without convincing the audience of that, the whole idea that Fox is right wing becomes moot and so does the film.
I'm aware of the director's credentials, but I still think that many of the students in the UT film school could tell this story better.
Celebrate Car-Free Day
It's sad that we in the United States get so little news of the rest of the world. Knowing how other people do things can be very helpful. It gives you perspective, and lets you see your situation from new angles.
In the realm of transportation of course, other countries, even poor ones, have many things we don't have: electric trams that come every five minutes, bicycle paths that connect cities, pedestrian zones in the middle of town, frequent train service between cities. They also have car-free days.
Sept. 22 is an annual car-free day in hundreds of cities around the world. (The European Union has a Web site about this at www.22september.org.) Of course, we in the USA don't usually hear about it. The U.S. doesn't participate, and U.S. newspapers don't cover the event.
On Sept. 22, in Austin, cars will dominate all streets, as usual. But let's at least make it known that in the rest of the world, cities are restricting cars so that people can walk and bicycle and breathe and think and look at their public space.
A peaceful bicycle ride to commemorate World Carfree Day will leave from Eastwoods Park at 5:45pm, Sept. 22. An adventure walk will leave from outside Wheatsville Co-op at noon. But you can celebrate World Carfree Day just by walking or cycling wherever you happen to be in the city, and by actually looking at your surroundings. Breathe the air. Listen to the sounds. Imagine that, for just one day, the cars are gone.
Perhaps next year Austin will celebrate World Carfree Day properly, by actually closing some streets to private cars. As a first step, let's at least notice that, every year, Sept. 22 is an international car-free day. Maybe it will give us ideas.
Karaoke's Image Besmirched
As Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World," is it possible that you could eliminate the karaoke listings from your band/club listings? How disgusting can you be to list great karaoke with simple band listings. But, seriously.
Duane E. Simmons
When Musicians Misbehave
At a recent joint meeting of the Austin Music Commission and city of Austin Telecommunications Commission held on Sept. 8, a very heated exchange developed between infowarrior Alex Jones and musician Natalie Zoe, resulting in Zoe throwing her books on the table and screaming at Mr. Jones and the audience that she had had it. She turned and stormed out of the meeting like an undisciplined child having a temper tantrum. Earlier, Zoe had stated that she represents Austin musicians as vice-chair of the Austin Music Commission. This kind of behavior from someone who holds that position is deplorable and unacceptable. As an Austin musician, I do not want to be represented by one who publicly behaves so badly, gives up, and walks out of such an important meeting. I believe Ms. Zoe should immediately step down from her position for this irresponsible behavior.
First Amendment OK for Liberals, Too
In regard to Michael Foster's letter ["Postmarks," Sept. 3]. What Louis Black said didn't even resemble the retarded Republican rhetoric that Michael spewed out. What Louis Black said was that even though he was under no obligation and some of the writers used rude and or threatening language he would still print the letters. The fact that Michael brought Tim Robbins and the Dixie Chicks into it didn't bother me as much as the fact that he left David Koresh and Randy Weaver out. I mean, they must have been involved somehow in this evil liberal conspiracy. You know when a Chronicle writer and a free-cable dude are going at it something's got to be up. I'm just afraid some loyal American who sells sawed-off shotguns to people is gonna be attacked by some rogue government agency. Like the police. Well, I don't want to get hysterical, so I'll leave you with something I read in the Statesman. After Howard Stern was fined by the FCC because Janet Jackson showed her boob to a bunch of brain-dead football junkies. A woman wrote in and said, "I think George Carlin is a lot more disgusting."
Many Toll Questions for Harper
In the Sept. 10 issue of the Chronicle [Postmarks], Texas Toll Party representative Jean Harper listed three column inches of questions related to the Austin toll plan. One question, especially, piqued my attention: "Are you aware that the reason for the tolls is that the state doesn't have money for maintenance, so it's spending Austin's allotted money on statewide maintenance?" This question prompts some questions of my own.
What is your source for this information? Why is the Austin district being so ignominiously singled out? Was the action of diverting Austin's money approved by the Texas Transportation Commission? Was the transfer approved by the Legislative Budget Board? Did the Texas Legislature approve the transfer of Austin's highway construction money? Did Gov. Perry approve this transfer of money?
Why did the state Legislature in the most recent session not approve sufficient funding for needed TxDOT projects? Why didn't the Legislature not increase the Texas Good Roads tax on gasoline in order to pay for these projects?
Finally, how would the Texas Toll Party suggest funding Austin's needed highway construction projects if not with tolls or taxes? It is easy to complain; it is much more difficult to devise an acceptable plan of action.
Austinites do have inquiring minds, and we want answers.
Society Benefits From Tolls
I read with concern about toll roads being used as means for others to pay for their "lifestyle" ["Austin@Large," News, Aug. 20]. Do we really want taxation based on lifestyle? Do we institute a tax on those people who are overweight because of their own unhealthy lifestyle? Would the advocates of "lifestyle" taxation advocate their expansion to include those whose lifestyle puts them at high risk for contracting HIV?
How much must we pay in public health care costs so that the overweight can continue to order large fries with their Big Mac and Diet Coke or so that others can be irresponsible in the practice of their lifestyle? Would toll road "lifestyle" tax advocates support the concept that only people with children in school should pay taxes to support the school system?
We must realize that "lifestyle" taxation is like a "targeted" tax cut; they are both behavior control. Government controls are enforced by confiscating your money if you have a certain lifestyle or allowing you to keep more of your money, providing you spend it how they want. The solution is of course to limit taxation to the financing of legitimate government functions such as public education and infrastructure and for it to get out of the lifestyle business. Certain lifestyle choices have consequences, such as being overweight, and the argument is thin that others should have to pay for those consequences. However, society as a whole benefits from a transportation infrastructure just as it benefits from a public education system. Even if you have no children in school, you benefit from having an educated work force and informed populace. Even if you do not drive, you benefit from the transportation infrastructure because you use the goods and services moved by the infrastructure in one form or another.
Smoking Out Smoke-Free Venues
One of the important discoveries of Darcie Stevens' 31-day odyssey through Austin entertainment venues is that one-third of them were smoke-free ["31 Nights," Music, Sept. 10].
Bring Soldiers Home
To the editor,
In coordination with a nationwide vigil hosted by MoveOn.Org, there was a gathering of 300-plus people on the south steps of the Texas state Capitol building Thursday evening [Sept. 9]. The purpose of this vigil was to bring attention to the more than 1,000 members of our armed services that have been killed needlessly in the war in Iraq. They were put in harm's way by a commander in chief who said, "No thanks!" and was AWOL when it was his turn to go. This is a war started under the false pretenses that 1) Iraq was in some way responsible for the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, and 2) Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that were an imminent danger to the United States of America and the rest of the world. Both of these allegations have been proven to be false and were used by the Bush administration to further its own agenda of controlling the flow of oil in the Middle East. Day in and day out our brave men and women are facing death in a war that should have never been and one we seem to be bogged down in with no realistic exit plan. We want to bring attention to the fact that these aren't just numbers in a Pentagon news release but were actual living human beings. Those who have died were someone's father, someone's mother, someone's son or daughter, someone's brother or sister, someone's husband or wife. These are real people dying for nothing more than a political agenda. If this war is so important to our president and his family, why aren't Jenna and Barbara Bush over there fighting alongside our troops? I hope you will give coverage to this vigil in hopes of bringing our troops home soon, before the death toll rises to 1,500 or 2,000 or 2,500. Who knows where this will end?
Sincerely, Delwin Goss Event coordinator