Our readers talk back.
The Rest of the World Isn't LaughingDear Editor,
In his article on the slippage of education and the rise of ignorance and superstition ["Letters at 3AM," Feb. 18], Michael Ventura states that "the rest of the developed world laughs in pity or contempt." He's wrong. We're not laughing. We're trying hard not to panic.
Tom Klein Beernink
Guadalupe Arts Center Has Risen!Just wanted to thank you for the continued support The Austin Chronicle has shown the Vin Gallery and Guadalupe Arts Center. We will continue to go through this "opportunity" with hope for the future. We have risen and will continue to do our best as we go through this process. Thanks especially to Robert Faires, Erin Collier, Jacqueline May, and Lois Richwine!
Firing for Wrong Reasons Not OKDear Editor,
I am still trying to figure out why the content of this article was so unexplainably mixed ["Are You Decent?," News, Feb. 18]. It had some valid aspects, in particular that of Robert Flores. He should not have been fired, as he made every effort to provide his station with a report that was within FCC regulations. The technician who aired the erroneous tape should be the one looking for work, not Mr. Flores.
If the article would have continued along those lines, it would have had merit; but to present a small-market, nobody radio morning show as some sort of martyr for freedom of speech and portray them as people who are in a constant struggle to put together quality programming due to restrictions from the FCC is laughable.
They should stop their whining already and get real.
The problem isn't with the restrictions, it is their inherent lack of talent and material of any substance.
These two matters shouldn't be addressed in the same article, as it compromises the legitimacy of a genuine issue.
There is a big difference between I can no longer support my family because of a mistake that my station made, and someone crying because they can't make potty jokes on the air.
Many-Sentence Reaction to One Offending ClauseDear Editor,
Thanks Raoul [Hernandez] for your thoughts on Ana Egge's show at Flipnotics (Feb. 12) ["Live Shot," Music, Feb. 18]. Perhaps as a Mexican reporter, you could have taken a moment to remove superfluous observations from your brief report. As an arrogant white male, I observed that the "lesbian couple" up front, that you highlighted, was not, in fact, at all disruptive during the performance. This very couple, however, appeared silently bothered by the intrusive photographer whose work may very well adorn your own article. As I observed, the disruptions you incorrectly referenced were largely caused by the undersexed suburban wives sitting nearest to the west windows. As to the cellular phone disruption, the smart Asians and the hip Puerto Ricans in the room may agree that "the girlfriend" in the back, as you describe, was to blame. However, maybe all of the superlatives are completely irrelevant in this case and have no bearing whatever on the apparent topic of the review. Egge's show was good despite the several perceived distractions from the inherently small crowd at the venue. It was great to hear some new material and witness new interpretations of some older songs. Hmm ... it seems like this sort of detail could have been more interesting and prudent than misdirected attention to what could have been a lesbian couple sitting up front.
[Editor's note: Raoul Hernandez prefers the term "Hispanic."]
Modern Liberalism Is to Blame, As It Always IsDear Editor,
Michael Ventura's on to something regarding the sorry state of education and literacy in the United States ["Letters at 3AM," Feb. 18]. Perhaps he can focus now on why we're in this predicament and taking a few more gratuitous swipes at Christianity just won't do. The big question is whether or not the philosophical underpinnings of modern liberalism will be spared in Ventura's overall assessment of blame. I'm guessing they will. What could unchecked liberty and the "social justice" that results from radical egalitarianism have anything to do with why Johnny can't read? Welcome to a society without standards. Now we're talkin' "slippage."
What a DisgraceDear Editor,
Why have Brewster McCracken and Danny Thomas been removed from the recall list? It's because they were threatened with their jobs. Anyone will do the right thing with a gun to their head. What the taxpayers needed and didn't get was someone who would protect and defend us against the double taxation toll-road plan. To give these people another breath of political life is to enable them to swing with the next political wind that blows through, and to continue to be able to enjoy $700 lunches, trips, campaigns. I for one will be one of the first to hold a "Recall Wynn" sign at election time, and I really hope that maybe Mr. Curtis will have something to say to me. What a pathetic bunch of "public servants"! What a bunch of sellouts! What a disgrace!
'Chronicle' Priorities SkewedDear Editor,
If the length of an Austin Chronicle blurb is correlated to its importance, then the priority you place on remembering Austin civic leaders is different than mine.
Your Feb. 11 edition had a blurb about the passing of civic leader Roberta Crenshaw ["Naked City," News]. Her legacy in establishing urban parkland is virtually unparalleled. Her support of the arts is very newsworthy as well. That blurb was about 160 words. For comparison purposes, your "Weed Watch" blurb from your Feb. 28 edition was about 171 words [News].
In addition, I do not believe you had any blurb in 2004 the week after the passing of another very important civic leader: Dr. Neil Kocurek.
The Austin American-Statesman, a paper I rely on for my news less than yours, gave both leaders a spot on their front page.
Telling the stories of hometown civic leaders and their projects/organizations during their lives and posthumously would give balance to the paper's fixation for highlighting nationally prominent music/art folks and their projects.
Scott Johnson[Michael King replies: The News staff has, in fact, covered stories concerning the work of both Roberta Crenshaw and Neil Kocurek in the past, and may do so again when warranted. It is true that with rare exceptions, we do not regularly provide obituary-style coverage of local or national figures. When we do so, it is more likely to be for a person otherwise ignored, rather than one already heavily acknowledged. We try not to measure our respect for the living or the dead in column inches.]
Anybody Else Notice This?Dear Editor,
Politically, I worry that the controversy on recalling Will Wynn is really only a diversion. In all the reporting on toll roads, has anyone thought of the effect having few toll road exits will have on smaller businesses? It all seems to play so well to the big-box businesses who can afford the high-priced land at the toll exits. What happens to the local nursery with the locally adapted plants, the nonchain car wash, the driving range? It seems like habitat destruction to me. Anybody else notice this?
More Money for Music EducationDear Editor,
I wanted to thank Mr. Lynch for his review, but also respond to his criticism that the only reason Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt were featured among our otherwise Texas-based artists was to exploit their commercial appeal to sell more CDs (and in turn raise more money for music education in Texas schools) ["Texas Platters," Music, Feb. 4]. Well, yes, of course we want to raise as much money for schools as possible. But you shortchanged us. We are not only supporting Texas artists, but Texas music in general ... the writers, labels, studios, and influence the state has on music everywhere. As the liner notes explain, the song that Bonnie Raitt performs was written by Fort Worth native Glen Clark, and Eric Clapton's song was originally recorded by Robert Johnson in San Antonio.
And by the way, all the artists, labels, and publishers represented on our CDs donate their royalties to music education in Texas schools. The CDs, which benefit music education in Texas schools, can be purchased at www.texasmusicproject.org.
Co-founder & president
The Texas Music Project
Modern Musical MediocrityDear Editor,
Alright, maybe I'm the cynic here, and after reading Christopher Gray's "Cruiserweight, Armed and Ready" article in last week's Chronicle [Music, Feb. 18], I am additionally yet unreasonably aware that I may in fact be the only person in Austin (despite Cruiserweight's singer, according to the article) with any sort of "grumbling" to publicly air about this band, as per Gray's assumption. Yet I feel as if I can't be the only one! After having a recent routine trip to Waterloo darkened by these local impresarios of modern mediocrity, I was suitably chagrined upon finding them featured prominently in last week's Chronicle, lending itself in part to my letter today. However, a point is needed: Here we have a band that fancies itself fashioned from such banal influences musically so as to completely retard itself from the outset, and then seek to transcend those influences to come into its own as, what? Plagiaristic of unoriginality, completely lacking in any sort of redeeming quality save the fact that it is, despite the band's assertions otherwise, part of a ridiculous musical trend that has come and will, hopefully sooner rather than later, be gone. These young locals, as with every bit of music they have constructed themselves after (the whole emo-pop-punk battalion of disaffected musical subnormals), need to hang up their gloves and get out of the ring. It's helpful here to remember why they put the Cruiserweights in their own division: They can't stand up to the heavyweights.
Don't Just Dissent, OrganizeDear Editor and Diana Welch,
Expanding on my own "zombie" comment in "New Austin 'Spokes' Speak Out Against Tasers" [News, Feb. 18]: My assessment of the demonstrations organized by Austin Against War is part of a larger (seemingly endless) debate about the effectiveness of different types of organizing and events. There are those who maintain that "rallies at the Capitol" don't do anything, just "preach to the choir" and that we "must do more." Having assisted in my share of organizing those rallies I can say it is beneficial to have a "safe space" for people to congregate and share a common grievance and the act itself sends clear messages to those whom the grievances are against, but when the messages begin to fall on deaf ears (Bush said 11 million people on Feb. 15, 2003, was just a "focus group"), then we have to consider more direct actions against those who are profiting from and enabling the machine.
It is my estimation that the past year has seen people actually becoming engaged via actions as the Spokes organizes, while the demonstrations that AAW organizes tend to bring people out for that day who go home again until the next one and the face of the group who plans them stays fairly consistent. I offer that we will create a more sustainable movement by engaging people in activities where results are more easily seen by their participation (i.e., the city council "indefinitely suspended" the new Taser order item last week a testimony, at least in part, to the recent actions of the Spokes). I invite all to come organize with any of the anti-imperialism entities in existence (AAW: Monday, 7pm meetings at University Baptist Church and Spokes: Tuesday, 8pm meetings at Plaza Saltillo). Bush promised "endless war" Sept. 20, 2001, so we must build an endless antiwar movement!
The Threat From WithinDear Editor,
Regarding "Slippage" by Michael Ventura ["Letters at 3AM," Feb. 18]. How ironic that America is slipping backward at an accelerated rate just as it identifies another fundamentalist religious culture as its primary threat. When populist religious interpretation reverts to the archaic and unsophisticated, a nation is in grave danger of decline. One hopes that Americans soon realize that the greatest threat actually comes from within.
Organized religion is often used by those seeking to gain or hold power. Deeply felt, personal faith can too easily be turned against a population in order to gain the upper hand. Religious leaders dragged the Islamic culture into decline when they set about to regain control by limiting and restricting "education" to fundamentalist religious teachings. That was hundreds of years ago and that once-great culture has yet to recover. This is the future of America if it does not soon shake off control by its religious right.
How many Americans know that "In God We Trust" is contrary to the intentions of its founding fathers who understood the importance of the separation of church and state in democratic nation building? The U.S. is turning against the very values that made its greatness possible. So much for setting an example for the Islamic world!
Powerful empires have always been the authors of their own destruction and the U.S. is starting to exhibit all the signs of a nation in decline. One must hope indeed, pray! that the U.S. citizenry will recognize the threat soon enough to turn things around.
Killarney, Manitoba, Canada
Question for SwansonDear Editor,
Since he apparently has all of the correct answers ["Postmarks," Feb. 18], perhaps Carl T. Swanson can answer this one: How would the U.S. Congress and the American public have reacted if Bush had truthfully built the case for his Iraq war by saying we want to spend a few hundred billion dollars and expend thousands of lives just so Iraq can hold democratic elections?
Doesn't Like DeanDear Editor,
Well, Howard Dean is off to a rousing start as DNC chairman. Last week he said he "hates Republicans," and this week he's making racist comments to the Congressional Black Caucus. Although as governor of Vermont, Dean couldn't seem to find a single African-American for a single post in his administration, he now said, "You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room? Only if they had the hotel staff in here." This from a man who last year on the campaign trail said he wanted to be the candidate of "white folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals." Well done guys. Thanks.
How ConvenientDear Editor,
I read today the story of the CIA and FBI warning us about al Qaeda terrorists being sponsored by Iran. How convenient for our government to once again find information about a country who may or may not use its nuclear weapons to attack the "homeland," yet is dolling out threat after threat to push Bush's war on the Middle East. My question is why Syria or Iran when we know that Korea has nukes and is more of a threat to our country than Iran or Syria put together? Is this another scare tactic by our administration like all the pretty colored rating threats that came after 9/11, and the threats before Bush was elected and all the threats from al Qaeda before the Iraqi vote? It seems to me that when President Bush has an agenda, all he has to do is push the fear button and the American people will snap to his will. I think this government has cried wolf one time too many for this citizen.
Rest in PeaceDear Editor,
With the unexpected passing of Hunter S. Thompson Sunday, I'm hoping that the memoriums focus more on his content than his self-created myth. While the booze/drugs/guns persona no doubt had a boulder of truth to it, I always felt that much of the excesses and brutal tone of books like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas stemmed from hyperbole rather than any desire to create a literal record. Part of this was for effect ... guys embellish their party stories. But less superficially, I think Thompson was wrapping himself in the protective patina of the failed romantic. Look at his deep emotional connection to altruist pipe dreams like the McGovern campaign. He really believed, and when America burst his bubble it broke his heart. This is why Terry Gilliam (whom I love) got it wrong in his Fear and Loathing movie he took it all too literally. There is more heart and soul to Hunter, and less thuggish behavior. RIP, Dr. Gonzo.