Our readers talk back.

Jumping to a Conclusion

Dear Chronicle,

I deeply appreciate the dedication and work that your music crew puts into the job of promoting the best of Austin's music. I have been an avid supporter of local live music, especially world beat and Latin-alternative bands. We are blessed to have a few fabulous local acts, such as Del Castillo, Atash, and Ghandaia to name a few. However, as I scrolled through your 2004-05 awards list, I was surprised to see the name of the unknown band Alteza in several of your Top 10s! (Best New Band, best Latin Contemporary, best Latin Traditional, best World Music act.) Actually, Alteza, a band that has not played at any significant music venue in town, a band that has no CD produced nor a history of selling-out venues, has won the award as Austin's best World Music band. I have followed the local music scene very closely in the last four years, and for a music lover like me, it was a shame to see some great bands lose to Alteza. I have absolutely nothing against Alteza, but anyone who follows world music here in town is probably as confused as I am. Alteza's award smells like ballot-stuffing to me, and I ask the Chronicle to attempt more effective ways in order to avoid awarding those who do not deserve the prize. It is unfair for bands who work so hard at what they do to lose to another band due to ballot-stuffing. It also looks bad for the Chronicle, since it diminishes the weight of the Music Awards as a whole. If anyone in the Chronicle has followed our local world music scene, (personally, I think you guys should pay more attention to it) then you definitely know that Alteza is not the best that Austin has to offer in that genre of music.

Thank You,

Francisco Deloera

[Margaret Moser responds: Unless Mr. Deloera is privy to information that the Chronicle is not, it is our experienced opinion that Alteza fans supported them with enough votes to place legitimately and win a category. The balance of votes is not swayed or altered by where a band plays or if they play a "significant music venue" – winning bands often come from the underground. Although a CD release is often a factor in the major categories, genre category wins like best World Music are rarely affected by a release. Additionally, the competition in many genre categories is not nearly as intense as categories like best New Austin Band or Band of the Year, so a lesser number of votes may be needed to win. Music Poll results seldom make anyone completely happy. Opinions are held rigidly and one person's "best" may be another's "worst." In The Austin Chronicle Music Poll, it all comes down to the number of votes. Rather than dispute Alteza's win, perhaps the better response would be to open your ears and hear what others are hearing.]

Applauds Downtown APD!

Dear Editor,

On March 7, 2005, the Austin Music Commission invited Downtown Austin Police Department Commander Don Bredl to our monthly meeting to discuss APD's preparation for SXSW and the new procedures put in place to ensure that SXSW 2005 would not be "Ozomatli revisited." Bredl answered questions from music commissioners and audience members alike – and offered his phone number to those with additional questions.

The following week, Fox 7 News interviewed Commander Bredl and SXSW staffers, offering more information about APD's SXSW preparation.

On both occasions, instead of "zero tolerance," Commander Bredl advocated voluntary compliance, increased communication, and flexibility. He spoke of numerous meetings with SXSW representatives and liaisons – meetings and communication welcomed and praised by SXSW staffers.

So I must say I was a bit surprised by the tone and content of Jordan Smith's article ("Sixth Street Blues," March 18 [News]). Communication and flexibility may not be compelling to your reporter, but the results can be quite real and quite positive – as was demonstrated last week during SXSW.

I applaud the downtown APD for their outreach efforts.

Teresa Sansone Ferguson


Austin Music Commission

Go Ronnie!

Dear Editor,

As a retiree and a lifelong Republican, I fully support Ronnie Earle's action on this political funding fiasco ["Naked City," March 11]. If they break the law, then they should make the Perp Walk. I think the only reason Mr. Taylor is raising such a stink about Earle's action is because his client is guilty and he knows it and can't protect them. As an outsider looking in, I have only one thing to say to Ronnie Earle: "You Go Boy."

Brice Coen

Round Rock

Disagreement Can Be Healthy

Dear Editor,

From a staunch conservative who reads the Chronicle to better understand the other side's perspective (maybe I am really a liberal, at least based on the original etymology of the word), I want to say thank you to the Chronicle team for exposing both the slander and unprofessional journalism proffered by the Statesman. The lack of journalistic integrity leading to articles such as the recent series on the APD is appalling, especially for a major newspaper in what is now a major-market city.

I will continue to read the Chronicle and support its advertisers because even though we may differ in our political and moral positions, your writers unabashedly state their position and then attempt diligently to present a cogent argument (based on facts) for their case. How is that not a healthy part of our American democratic process and a free press? Thank you, and keep up the good work!


Steve Simpson

Be More Supportive


Thanks for the Air America article ["Talk Radio Turns Blue," News, March 25]. Unfortunately, someone needs to check the "facts" as they were written.

First of all, it's obvious Lee Nichols hasn't listened to the station (KOKE) or even bothered learning elementary time zone conversions. The show times he lists were all for Eastern time ... not much help if you want to hear an entire show.

And to Kevin Brass ... just whom did you interview "at the front of the line"? My wife and I were first in line and we were there at 5:30am.

Finally, liberal-leaning Austin gets a station that speaks to and for the local liberals out of the morass of right-wing hate-radio and this is what we get? I'd think you'd be a little more supportive! And accuracy always helps, especially with AAR, after all, they're on our side!

Mark Goswitz

Round Rock

[Lee Nichols responds: I have in fact listened to KOKE (and loved it), and I do understand time-zone conversions, but due to an editing error the times listed were indeed incorrect: Here in the Central time zone, show times are: The Al Franken Show, weekdays, 11am-2pm; The Majority Report, weekdays, 6-9pm; and The Revolution Starts Now, Sundays, 9-10pm. As for not being sufficiently "supportive" of Air America: Following a March 4 interview in the Screens section by Shawn Badgley ["Not Shutting Up Anywhere"], the Chronicle's March 18 "Naked City" section featured Al Franken in three places (Quote of the Week, the dominant photograph, and a 170-word brief) followed on March 25 with a more-than-full-page feature.]

The Beast Is Coming


Roky Erickson performed for the first time in almost a century, and I have been saying for years that once he gets the taste of performing there would be no stopping him. Saturday, that time came at Threadgill's World Headquarters' Ice Cream Social. He did the planned "Starry Eyes" and then typically unexpected launched into "The Beast"; I think most would have expected "You're Gonna Miss Me" if there were to be a miraculous second song. "The Beast" was followed by "Two-Headed Dog," and he was clearly going to do more, maybe several more songs, when the two mics went dead, the mics not the power. Grammy-winning sound engineer Chet Himes and his crew could not get the mics back on, so the set was over. Roky told Freddie Krc who had provided the backup, "Let's do some more!" Roky is back.

I was hanging out near the front door to the restaurant when someone wearing a "Faux News" T-shirt (the one Fox failed to get suppressed) was approached by someone who suggested he go inside and show the shirt to Karl Rove, who was inside having dinner! Karl Rove! Having dinner in Threadgill's? I went in to see for myself and sure enough it was him! I took a photo!

"The Beast is coming to your world ... the Beast is coming to your town ... the Beast is coming to your house!" sang Roky with intense urgency. The Beast was indeed in the house!

When the Beast entered the building the mics went dead! Coincidence? I don't believe in gods or ghosts, but I know the Beast when I see him.

Jim Franklin

Impressed by Roky Doc

Dear Editor,

As a mental health therapist and an avid music fan, I was truly impressed with Keven McAlester's film about Roky Erickson from the 13th Floor Elevators (You're Gonna Miss Me). This documentary contrasts the brilliance of Roky as an artist with the very realistic portrayal of a man diagnosed with schizophrenia. Roky's easygoing, sweet-natured personality shines through beautifully. I think it's essential for people to understand that schizophrenia does not equate with violence (and certainly does not mean "split personality")! Education reduces stigma, and I can only hope that a wider audience eventually has the opportunity to see this.

Alison Hearn

Kudos to John X Reed

Dear Editor,

I'd like to publicly express my thanks to Mandy Mercier, survivor and musician, and to Louis Black, survivor and editor of The Austin Chronicle, for their open discussion in Louis' piece "Page Two" in the March 18 Chronicle. It's the one with the amazing Roky Erickson on the cover.

I appreciate the intelligent, peaceful, soulful way they communicated about a very charged subject. I am surprised and honored by their mention of me along with so many fellow musicians that I admire. I'm truly fortunate to have them each on my side ... I feel successful.

Also, we'd like to congratulate our beloved John X Reed for his induction into The Austin Chronicle Music Poll Hall of Fame. He and his guitar led us to Austin many years ago. We've covered 30 years and lots of territory with him and, friends, no one knows better than we do just how deserving he is of this honor. He is exquisitely talented, professional, always looks soooo dapper, and his laugh makes the heart soar!


Conni Hancock

Depths of Mediocrity

Hey, Louis,

I have a complaint I would like to express. I was born in Austin, my parents were born in Austin, my grandparents lived here most of their lives. I can't stand watching the forces that keep destroying what is so special about this town. The removal of the bike lanes on Shoal Creek is the last straw. The city erected large concrete barriers so that bicyclists would not use the road and the homeowners could park their cars on the street. This at a cost of $300,000 to you and me. I was always proud that this city, since as far back as I can remember, had designated bike lanes. I had never seen that in most of the other cities in America that I traveled to. Especially not in Texas. In the past 15 years I have watched this town plummet to the depths of mediocrity. This City Council's self-proclaimed title of "live music capital of the world" does everything in its power to make it difficult on the musicians and venues who supply the music. Overbearing construction with little regard to the environment or charm of the city. That glorious construction at the triangle of 45th and Guadalupe. The tearing up of the hills around Lake Travis. Now they want to remove the bike lanes. What's next? Fill in Barton Springs to build a Wal-Mart? It's great property value after all. I can't take it, and I urge every reader to call and write your council members and voice your opinions, whether you agree with mine or not. I used to love this city. Now it breaks my heart to watch it decay.

Thanks for your time,

Rey Washam


Dear Editor,

I agree with Nancy Shackelford that it is a bit silly for so many SXSW venues to be 21 and older ["Postmarks," March 25], but I still thought SXSW was a blast (however exhausting it might have been). Also, I disagree with Marc Savlov's review of The Ring Two and thought the rating of only one star was not fitting ["Film Listings", March 25]. I didn't get the "so what" sense at all, being too concerned about young Aidan's possession, and many scenes of the movie come to mind which rival any horror flick out there (Rachel trying to escape the well with Samara close behind, Aidan getting pulled into the TV, etc.). The movie deserves at least three stars, maybe even 3 1/2 or four.

Mounir El Harim

[Editor's Note: Age limits are set by the venues, not by SXSW.]

"Ripped-off"? Come on!

To all attending SXSW,

I realize that not everyone had an entirely positive experience at SXSW. I just wanted to point out a few things to those who may have felt "ripped-off" by purchasing a wristband. First of all, club owners give up their regular bands and patrons to take a chance on often unknown bands from all over the world. Secondly, while I may not agree with the liquor laws in Texas, the drink sales are vital to the club owners (and their employees) financial survival. In addition, if you want to see a show at a club with a limited capacity, arrive early and expect to wait. Clearly printed on the wristband I purchased were these words: "Most clubs restrict access to minors," and, "Entry subject to legal capacity, shows will fill up!" In conclusion, most music lovers in other cities would love to be "ripped-off" once a year to attend such a festival! Where else can you see new bands from all over the world play for five days at clubs and other familiar venues in your own hometown? While others may disagree, I look forward to being "ripped-off" again next year when I purchase another wristband!

Bill Vordenbaum

Ear Candy e-magazine

Bizarre Comparison

Dear Editor,

It bothers me that if a fireman or policeman were to choose to take their time responding to a call and someone died because of the delay, they could be prosecuted for that life. However, do we hold the same standard to a federal judge who delays a ruling in a case and allows the victim to die? I think all public servants should be held to the same standard.

Daniel Younger


Let's-Raise-Taxes Frenzy?

Dear Editor,

As always, conspicuous from the current "let's-raise-taxes" frenzy is the offsetting "let's-control-spending" argument. Comptroller Strayhorn is the only politician I have read that even brings it up. The news media certainly doesn't. I suspect the reason our politicians don't bring up the issue of spending is it takes true leadership to make the painful decisions to control it. From this point forward, I think I will just write in my dead grandmother for all elections ... during her lifetime she exhibited much more daily leadership than the current crop of politicos ever has, and at least I'll feel better about my vote.

Jim Davidson


Erring on the Side of Life?

Dear Editor,

I just heard an audio bite of our fearless leader of the free world say, "I would rather err on the side of life." What? Did he not send our military to die in the Middle East because of an error? Did he not preside over the executions of inmates on death row in Texas? How many were innocent? How about signing legislation that made it legal for hospitals to unplug patients that could no longer pay for their care in 1999 as governor. Erring on the side of life is not his strong point. Whoring for his base is.

Shannon Rierson

Excellent Review of Dolls!

Dear Editor,

Excellent review of the Dolls guys ["Planet Rock," March 25]. You said in just a few words exactly how I felt seeing them after 30 years (not 20). The only downside was the absence of the late, great Arthur Kane. What a week, the Dolls live and the Pretenders inducted into the rock & roll hall of fame. My life is now complete!

Jerry Elmas

'To Hell With the People'

Dear Editor,

The Radical Right seems to know no bounds and feel no sense of shame in their latest strategy to do away with the filibuster (using their "nuclear option") and thereby defeating our in-built system of checks and balances. Here's a chance to pack the courts with judges who will turn back the progress we've made on the environment, labor rights, and privacy rights to pay back corporate backers. The lure of absolute power and winning at all costs seems to have blinded them to the fact that government's purpose is to serve the people. It feels like "To hell with the people! We have a chance to get what we want!" What a sorry state!

Elena Michaelson

Oppose 'Nuclear Option'

Dear Editor,

Next month the Senate will most likely vote on what the Republicans call the "nuclear option." This is about radical Republicans grasping for absolute power so they can appoint Supreme Court justices that favor corporate interests and an extreme-right agenda over the rest of us. I sincerely urge our senators to stand up for the centuries of checks and balances that have made this country great and oppose the "nuclear option."

Despite Senate confirmation of almost 95% of President Bush's nominees, radical Republicans are threatening to eliminate the filibuster to gain complete control over the Supreme Court. They want to use the court to pay back big donors by rolling back worker protections, environmental laws, and privacy rights – all at our expense.

This is not a partisan issue. Ultimately you don't even have to oppose President Bush's judges to oppose the "nuclear option." This is about supporting checks and balances and opposing absolute power in the hands of one party. And that's something we can all agree on.

Wendy LeBlanc Arbuckle

[Editor's note: The Austin Chronicle has received several similar letters.]

Cereal Box Law Degree

Dear Editor,

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia acts like he got his law degree from a cereal box ["No More Juvie Executions," News, March 11]. To launch a temper tantrum over his peers' recognition that executing kids is cruel and unusual punishment, calling the decision "a mockery of the founding fathers' constitutional intentions" while making it illegal to be peaceably minding your own business as in the Fourth Amendment is an obscene act of hubris.

Dale Stevens

It Happened on the No. 3 Bus

To whom it may concern,

An amazing thing happened while I was riding the bus the other day: Jesus was there. I cannot claim to have actually seen the miracle, as pointed out by a witness, but rest assured; I was deeply moved.

When at first she grumbled the Savior's name, I thought the woman standing to exit the bus was merely unable to navigate her way through the many legs, shopping bags, and umbrellas that barred her path. However, as she rose, Theseus-like, into that holy space of the central aisle, so did her insistence that our Lord was present.

"Jesus Christ, Jesus Ch – oh Jesus Christ!" she shouted. Fraught with such urgency and determination, her cry cut through any skepticism I may have reserved for such an occasion. Unable to control myself, my own hands pulling me skyward, I, too, rose in proclamation. "Hallelujah, hallelujah!" But by then it was too late, the woman was gone: taking the Spirit with her. And I, left with only the legs, shopping bags, and umbrellas of the damned.

Perhaps you could send someone to look into this. It happened on route No. 3.

Warm regards,

S.L. Roberts

It's All Politics

Dear Editor,

I mean no disrespect to Terri Schiavo and everyone who personally knows and loves her, but Tom DeLay, George Bush, and many in politics have grandstanded once again to distract the nation. Their spin campaign went too far long ago, but this is a new low.

DeLay completely debunks his recent public advocacy campaign for Mrs. Schiavo after reports reveal he successfully advocated the removal of life support on his own father after only one month of vegetative state.

The last thing that Republicans want is a press corps that has ample time to further develop the other stories at hand: DeLay's ethic scandals, Bush's taped statements admitting drug use, and their administration's employment of illegal and undisclosed packaged news. Time and time again stories such as these have surfaced only to be entirely disregarded when something else is pushed into the limelight.

So, whose fault is it? Is it politicians that are trying to change the subject, or is it the national media that follows their lead?

Modern politicians and Republicans in particular will say practically anything to promote their agenda. It has become a public-relations game instead of public service honor.

DeLay maintains his position solely because his party is powerful enough to change federal law barring those indicted on felony charges from leading the House. The House ethics committee has admonished him three times. The Republican response – significantly weaken the ethics committee and change the law mandating that DeLay must step down.

So go ahead, go back to work, America, and it will all sort itself out. Don't bother yourself with the details. For the rest of us that don't like the direction DeLay's agenda is taking us, sign the petition demanding that DeLay step down. Make your voice heard.

Parker Jackson

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