Our readers talk back.
Revoke Stevens' Creative License
Dear Mr. Black,
I am perplexed by the motives of your Music section. As co-owner of Room 710 (the one who fronted all the money and subsequently spent the first three years of our existence scrubbing the floors and toilets), it stunned me to read in the paper about how my bar has become "Red River's most tragic example" of (I'm assuming from the tone and content of the article) business failure ["One Night on Red River," Nov. 5]. One month ago, your same writer, Darcie Stevens, was given the opportunity to write a flabbergastingly empty piece entitled "31 Nights" [Sept. 10] under which the Red River scene, arguably 4 years old, was deemed old and hackneyed. (I'm sure you remember this article. You ran it as the cover story.) Now, your publication considers us decrepit and falling apart. I don't understand.
To be sure, it seems as if the Chronicle's Music section wants to hurt Red River more than help it. I don't think describing our streets as a barren sea of "beer and piss" is very flattering. Nor do I think it will necessarily bring new people and their wallets to our neck of the woods, which therefore counteracts the $1,150 a week our Red River Association invests in advertising in your paper. Of course, it doesn't help that Raoul Hernandez seems to delegitimize the homegrown talent in this town by completely ignoring the scene. Back when we first opened and were brazen with promotion, we put out a compilation CD of 19 local bands. To help sell it we put on a two-night showcase of local talent. Twelve top-notch Austin bands who will never share the stage again, and your Music editor didn't seem fit to recommend it. Pardon me, but what is the point of a local paper that doesn't promote the local folk?
Let me close by assuring you Ms. Stevens' report of our impending demise is greatly exaggerated. Everyone wants to do better business; it's how one handles the ups and downs that validates success. The fact that we had 10 people at 10pm on a Tuesday for a Schlong Daddy set does not mean that my club has failed to attract either the "hard drinkers or the music fans." Some might, in fact, consider this a minor victory. Maybe it is in your best interest to revoke Ms. Stevens' creative license before she really pisses us off and we are forced to search for an alternative way to advertise.
[Music Editor Raoul Hernandez replies: The Independence CD release shows were recommended that week in the Music news column, "Dancing About Architecture" (Vol. 21, No. 24).]
Red River Far From Dead
I was very disappointed with Darcie Stevens' article "One Night on Red River" [Music, Nov. 5]. This article talks about the street as if every business is dying; however, she was down there on a Tuesday. Tuesdays are always dead all up and down Red River and Sixth Street it's the slowest night of the week for all of downtown.
Why didn't she try going on a Thursday instead? Then it would have been much busier. Also, I was one of the two people in Beerland when she showed up. You know why there were only two people (in addition to the owner) in there? Because we were working, and the club wasn't even really open yet. Then Darcie claims that when she showed up seven hours later, eight more regulars had shown up. First off, those weren't regulars. It was a KVRX benefit night, and the regulars never show up for those. In fact, KVRX usually doesn't even get the lineup ready in time for the bands to be printed in the Chronicle. If she had been there just half an hour after she had first shown up, then she would have seen that 30 people had shown up for the movie. Thirty people at 7pm is pretty busy for any happy hour downtown.
Well, that's all. I just wanted to let your readers know that Red River is far from dying right now.
I just wanted to commend Guy Juke and the editors who had the guts to run the cover of the Nov. 5 issue. It was a risky move, but one that reflects the sentiment of Austin's voters. I grabbed several copies to send to out-of-town family also suffering from "election depression." You guys are badasses!
A Time to Cry
I had my prediction that Kerry would win the presidency published in "Postmarks" [Nov. 5]. I'd seen data corroborating that since I wrote the message; but mostly it was wishful thinking. I am so proud to live in Travis County, the only county in Texas which did not vote red [editor's note: there were a few other Texas counties that voted blue].
I received an e-mail with a Bible verse from someone who had voted for Bush and wished to extend the healing hand of solidarity. I "replied to all" with "I'm sure the oceans can absorb a lot more mercury over the next 4 years with no ill effects."
My prediction letter was titled "Conspiracy Theorizing," which I thought was clever. I did not expect to be printed because I know the official Chronicle line on conspiracy theories.
"The rich keep getting richer, and the poor poorer." This can either be interpreted as Darwinian, or a conspiracy. JFK was shot after reputedly making the mob mad, who had helped him get elected in Illinois; and then the shooter, Oswald, was himself shot by the mobster Ruby. This has long been believed a conspiracy by some, and pooh-poohed as such by others. We have a novel, 1984, written by the son of an India government worker (opium department) and can see point by point the predictions therein being denied and then becoming reality in our society. Conspiracies abound. Another of them is that the drug culture keeps the U.S. economy afloat.
The Bush administration got into Iraq with apparently faulty intelligence, and coincidentally has ties to corporations which manufacture munitions. A slight conflict of interest, but nothing to bother the majority of American people. Then again, with hackable electronic voting machines, we'll never really know if the figures were straight, will we?
Cry for the planet; they will be tears well spent.
Kenney C. Kennedy
Proud to Be a Democrat
It's time to quit whining and blaming Karl Rove for all our problems. Let's look at Travis County: We helped re-elect Lloyd Doggett, we got rid of the odious Jack Stick and almost dumped Todd Baxter, we substantially increased turnout for our presidential ticket, and we passed a mandate for mass transit in spite of the typical myopic caterwauling of the "government haters."
We are a tiny blue speck in a sea of red, the front line of the culture war. Unlike residents of New York or California, we have the best chance of showing the positive power of liberal thought to people who don't agree with us. We have firsthand experience with the methods and tactics of the religious right. It is here that we make our stand against the extremely powerful but narrow interests that have consumed the soul of the GOP.
On election night my wife and I went to the Driskill to watch the returns with our fellow Democrats. As I glanced around the room I saw Hispanics, blacks, gays, Christians, non-Christians, young and old. I have never been prouder in my 35 years of political consciousness to be a Democrat, a party that seeks to expand rights and privileges to all people and not to deny or restrict them on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, or social or economic status. If we continue to pool our talents and energies, we will have a truly unbeatable combination.
On the Religious Right
It really confuses me to listen to the religious right vaunting over the election as if it was a moral victory. They won because they ostensibly got more votes, and that's all. They should consult their well-worn DVDs of The Passion and note that the majority is what sent Jesus to the cross. So, you right-wing Christians are no more and no less right today than you were before the election, and if your churches can't keep their noses out of government, they should pay taxes like Americans do.
The American Dream
In response to Louis Black's postelection observations on "Page Two" of the Nov. 5 edition of the Chronicle, I'd like to offer an observation of my own.
I observed, much to the bemusement of liberals, President Bush's unapologetic embrace of faith which apparently has translated into his running of a "Christian fundamentalist campaign." Mr. Black, and others who think similarly, may never understand mainstream America's respect for a man of genuine faith over opportunistic appearances at black churches. He may never understand why mainstream America supports plainspoken honesty over eloquent pandering. He may never understand why mainstream America chooses steadfast resolve in national security issues over "wet-finger-to-the-political-winds" internationalism. He may never understand why the average, middle-class American's desire to achieve the American dream is diametrically opposed to the left's constant insistence that success be punished by redistributing wealth.
Mr. Black may never understand these things, but thankfully, 59 million Americans did on Nov. 2.
David J. Fox
People and newspapers who talk about the "Bush mandate" are doing nothing more than parroting Dick Cheney and Andrew Card's spin about Bush winning the largest number of votes in history. Sure, he got the largest number of votes. John Kerry also got 5 million more votes than either Al Gore or George W. Bush did in the 2000 election. In other words, 5 million more people voted against President Bush than voted for either candidate just four years ago. Some mandate. A margin of 2-3% is not a mandate. An electorate divided 51% to 48% is not a mandate.
Checklist for the Next Four Years
So it's true ... Bush has slithered and slimed his way into re-election. What delightful things can we expect from four more years of the fearmongering corporate war machine?
Recriminalization of abortion
Constitutional banning of gay marriage
Quagmire Iraq: the new Vietnam
Reinstatement of the military draft: ladies, this means you, too
The war on terrorism: al Qaeda attacks, part II
PATRIOT Act III: Big Brother is watching
The continuing disappearance of the separation of church and state
A conservative Republican Supreme Court
The deepening of the worldwide hatred of Americans
The widening of the gap between the wealthy elite and the so-called middle class
Environmentally destructive legislation and industry
American occupation of Middle Eastern and Asian countries
More lay-offs, outsourcing, and downsizing with increased lack of corporate responsibility
Total disregard and ignorance of socially, economically, and environmentally progressive and sustainable values
Four more years of greed, lies, and living in fear
Congratulations to the Republican Party on their victory. You're getting exactly what you wanted. Now, as things go from bad to worse, and they most definitely will, there will be no one left to blame.
As an American who loves my country, but fears my government, I will continue to practice civil disobedience, fuel the flames of dissent, and protest the wrongs of the current administration. It is your right as an American to let your voice be heard. Do not concede defeat; get involved. Continue to be yourself and fight for what you believe in. Austin is a fantastic city ... a place where the propaganda of fear is met with equally loud voices for change.
Democrats Need Reinvention
I went to my polling place on the Eastside of Austin Tuesday and was shocked at the low turnout. I also read that only one in 10 potential voters 18 to 24 years old participated. It was stated that people voted mostly on values (actually against gays and abortion). This provided some clarity as to what the Republicans know and what the Democrats can't fathom.
I personally think the primary focus of the Democratic Party's constituents and causes need to be revisited, and the realities of who actually votes should be admitted to. If not, the Democrats will continue to be the minority party with minimal influence on big business and militarism, the fundamental cancers that hurt everybody's chances for accessible health care, working wages, environmental sanity, world respect, and a government that answers to the people.
I am no longer drinking the Kool-Aid of the old Democratic Party and will be a much more educated consumer (I donated $500 this year) of their message in the future.
This election opened my eyes, and I am for change, not just in the current administration, but especially in the leadership and ideas of the Democratic Party.
Take heart, Democrats. Care for yourself and your families. Get angry, grieve, then look closely at your true values and what you are willing to fight for and what it costs everyone else, particularly the people who don't vote and don't know why they should, in the end.
Gracious in Victory
Out here in the hills of northern Hays County we can hear the Central/West Austin screams and supplications, and they refresh and soothe one's Republican soul. On Tuesday the incessant anti-Bush/Republican/conservative drumbeat sponsored by the Chronicle's staff and most of its readership ran into a "mountain" of folks who understand that the evil spread by fundamentalist Muslim murderers, combined with their imminent nuclear capability, is easily the greatest threat this nation has ever faced, and nothing else, not health care, not social security, not jobs, not welfare, not the homeless, not light rail, means anything until that threat is erased. The thousands of working-class voters in Ohio who put national security concerns above their immediate economic well-being and Democratic Party loyalty plainly understand this chilling reality. On the other hand our local reality is that, in a vast conservative CenTex "sea," floats downtown Austin, a tiny morass of screechingly vocal, largely clueless liberal elites, whistling past the political graveyard, snugly content in a fantasyland fostered by 60 years of unfettered Democratic domination.
Austin's placard-bearing protesters can keep lying on the Congress Avenue pavement till the cows come home, but in the big scheme of things they're only, as their beloved junior senator from Massachusetts would say, a "nuisance."
Not making the news; just bringing it to you.
Democratic Party Just Fine
I see no need to reinvent the Democratic Party. We damned near won. Kerry was the better candidate, but face it, the last Democratic New Englander to make it to the White House was JFK. By a slim margin at that. The Democrats just need to pick more "electable" candidates, and I'm not knocking Sen. Kerry, because I voted for him. Even though the deck was stacked against him statistically he did excellent. Next time around it needs to be John Edwards. He proved in his debate with Mr. "tough guy" Dick Cheney who the real tough and smart guy was. He kept his teeth in Cheney's fat ass like a pit bull all night, and at the end Cheney looked like he was about to cry. What the Democratic Party is up against is superior marketing. We (Democrats) are the party of the gays, liberals, communists, atheists, and such. This is what people have been led to believe. Then again, look at what's popular on TV and you can understand how this bullshit works on the general populace. Shows like Survivor, Fear Factor, Jackass, Growing Up Gotti, The Jerry Springer Show, and radical "talk radio" project the image of a country full of gullible idiots. This area is where the Republicans' marketing has been the most effective. No, I don't think that we should get down in the mud with them to compete. Bill Clinton didn't.
Independent Parties Here to Stay
Regarding the presidential election, one wonders whether lambasting independents represents good politics. Few independents I know crossed party lines this year to support Kerry. Why would they? After being ridiculed for four years, would you be swayed?
Consider successful center-left candidates: Tony Blair stays in office how? With Tory support? Puh-lease! One way is by pragmatically emphasizing policy. Another is demonstrating that the Labour Party occupies the moderate wing of British politics.
Mainstream analysts point out that Bush peeled off a significant portion of the Jewish vote in Broward County and elsewhere this year. How can this happen? Bush is no more pro-Israel than Kerry. Third parties are here to stay, and, if politicians are smart, they can learn how to use them to their benefit. Do I need to spell it out in stark terms? We are the ones who reject pro-Likud Party politics in the Middle East, we are the ones who support gay marriage, we are the ones who support the cessation of the war on drugs.
Red River Scene Vibrant, Relaxed
Of course Red River is slow on a Tuesday night. This isn't New York. You can't find a finer weekend music scene in the whole country than Red River. This demanding holier-than-thou hipster attitude that exudes off Darcie Stevens in this week's article about Red River ["One Night on Red River," Music, Nov. 5] and the earlier one about the scene off downtown ["31 Nights," Music, Sept. 10] has no place in the laid-back atmosphere of Austin. We're cool because we know how to relax.
Move 'TMCM' Back to the Front
As I sit here sipping on an espresso, and browsing through a copy of The Austin Chronicle, I find myself asking what many other readers must be asking. What has happened to Too Much Coffee Man? I see he can now be found on p.120 right between adult services and the classified ads. What happened? I can remember when Too Much Coffee Man could be found in the opening pages of the Chronicle, right next to Tom Tomorrow. Well all I want to know is when will Too Much Coffee Man be returned to his prominent up-front place in your publication? Having to dig through 120 pages before I can get my dose of Too Much Coffee Man is causing me too-much-coffee-withdrawal shakes. I'm not sure, but I think I am freaking out. Please help me, Austin Chronicle.
Rugh J. Cline
A Beautiful American Thought
I may be swimming upstream here, but I have never been more proud of the American people as I was after this election. For two years we read articles from professors, who can't get real jobs, claiming to know how to fight a war and run an economy. We were lectured by rock stars and actors, who know more about drugs than politics. We got to see the merger of the so-called mainstream media and the DNC in an effort to bring down our president. And of course we were reminded daily how the cowards on the European continent felt about us and our president. The American people responded to these pressures in typical American fashion. We gave them the middle finger and the Bronx cheer. That is precisely why we are unique and the greatest country the world has ever known.
As for my suicidal liberal brethren, please keep cozying up to people like Michael Moore and Eminem. Keep on trying to legalize drugs and pornography. Don't stop making fun of religion and attacking institutions like marriage. Continue with your stupid "die-ins" and loony MoveOn.org Web sites. Because you know what? You are not the majority! And the majority hates this kind of shit. You think this election was an aberration? Go look up how long the GOP has controlled both houses of Congress. Continue to label us stupid and unsophisticated, and we will bury you. Then you really will know darkness and winter.
Damned Smoking Ordinance
Today I read in the newspaper that the Filling Station has closed down. Apparently they had been losing customers since the anti-smoking ordinance was imposed in June. That ordinance also drove live music out of the Old Alligator Grill. The mayor and the members of the city council must be very proud of themselves.
I was wondering when they will vote to remove the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan from the shores of Town Lake? By the way, I don't smoke. I am a supporter of live music, though. We deserve better from our elected officials.
Gary L. Zimmer
Boycotting Exercises Real Power
Your government is dead. Corporation has become your real leader. Boycott! Voting is dead. Protest is dead. Political redress is dead. Boycott! Striking is dead. Rallying, demonstration, and appeal are dead. The airwaves are dead. Exercise your real power. Organize and boycott!
By preying on the people with their so-called moral agenda ... the Bush administration has effectively demoralized America.
Election Numbers in Context
The Republicans are making a lot of hay about how Bush received the most votes in history and trying to use that as some sort of basis for a mandate. This is misleading. The fact that Bush got the highest vote total of all time is a meaningless statistic for several simple reasons.
What isn't mentioned is that as the loser, Kerry amassed nearly 56 million votes, more than the 54 million votes Reagan got in his landslide victory over Mondale in 1984, which was the previous record, 4 million more votes than Bush received in 2000, and 7 million more than Clinton in 1996. All winners.
Some 60% of eligible votes turned out in 2004. Of those 60% who turned out, Bush got just under 52% of their votes. Do the math. That's 31% of the eligible vote for Bush and 29% for Kerry. Since 40% of eligible voters didn't go to the polls, that means that more voters stayed at home than voted for either candidate. And it also means that 69% of eligible voters did not vote for George Bush. Hardly a mandate!
Finally, the population of this country now stands at about 295 million. Ten years ago it was 260 million. Twenty years ago it was about 245 million. Thirty years ago 213 million. More votes were cast in this election than the entire U.S. population in 1924. It isn't rocket science to realize that as the population rises, so does the total number of national votes cast. The next winner may very well get the most votes in history, too. If you research historical U.S. presidential election results, you will see this clear trend of rising total vote counts (all votes cast for all candidates in each election) over time.
Media Too Easy on Bush
To the editor,
After the 2% victory "mandate" claimed by the Bush team, many pundits have rushed to judgment on why he won. My own take is that the single most important reason is the free walk the "liberal media" gave him for more than two years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A combination of patriotism, lazy reporters, and news networks worried about access combined to turn an inarticulate (and unelected) politician into a media persona. This persona was in turn used for blatant demagoguery. Fear became his running mate.
About a year ago, the media grew a spine because of the problems in Iraq and criticism from Democratic primary candidates. But by then, the false hero image was set in people's minds.
Fear of terrorism has now been used as a device to turn the U.S. into a theocracy. Will the national media, including the Statesman, report the news? Or will they return to being Bush's microphone?
Well, what can I say? It's a pretty grim situation when more than half of America's voting constituency believes that keeping gay people from being able to have basic marriage rights is more important than stopping the slaughtering of thousands of Iraqi civilians and our own soldiers.