Our readers talk back.
Disgusted by Prom PhotosDear Editor:
I am a regular reader of the Chronicle, and despite my interest in the arts and the activities of youth (I have a son who is 20), I was annoyed and disgusted by the prom photos in the "Shake Yo Rump-ah!" pictorial [Feature, June 10].
As the head of a domestic violence/sexual assault prevention and service agency, it is hard to understand why the photographer chose several pictures with high school girls posed in subservient and "servicing" shots that perpetuate the "ho" image of females. Why these young women were wearing such outfits and dancing in such a manner is a separate issue, and I hope their parents have the chance to see their daughters and sons demonstrating what they think is adult and acceptable behavior. Dating violence, date rape, and sexual harassment incidents continue to increase in occurrence and as topics of our presentations to teens and youth. Given the photo display in the Chronicle, it is not difficult to understand why teens are confused about roles, responsibilities, and the difference between MTV and real life.
There are thousands of area teens who attend proms with clothing and dance moves that do not depict females as being props in the lives of males. If the Chronicle wants to establish itself as being in touch with cultural mores as impacted by various musical trends, the least it can do is utilize adults as representative.
Mary E. Wambach, executive director
Deaf Abused Women and Children Advocacy Services, Austin
Don't Tell Us How to Live!Dear Editor,
Thanks for giving our side of town some attention ["Y Not?," News, June 24]. Albeit slanted.
We live in a 34-year-old subdivision only one mile from the Y in Oak Hill, in a house on 1 acre that existed before SOS was a sparkle in Bill Bunch's eye. We moved here five years ago from a house across from Barton Springs to escape the madness that emboldens that neighborhood whenever there is a concert or a holiday event at the park.
We desire to share in the fruits of labor and life, which includes the "right" to good transportation, neighborhood shops, restaurants, music venues, shopping malls, biking and hiking trails, and so forth. We do not want, or need, SOS or Ms. Robin Rather or Mr. Bill Bunch or Mr. Sal Costello or Ms. Margot Clarke and their cronies telling us "what is good for the aquifer" and "how not to pay for a toll road." Look, the aquifer (all three sections of it) will survive mighty fine with the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods vision. The offices of AMD are more than welcome to our part of town. We look forward to the fresh happy faces of the technocrats in our local establishments and to help us grow our neighborhood so we do not have to drive long distances to run errands.
This is clearly a case of "Yes! In My Back Yard" syndrome, imagine that. Please back off and let us build the neighborhood that we desire.
Suffering Is Not MandatoryDear Editor,
I think Mr. Black needs to get back on his meds. Paragraph three nicely sums it up for everyone ["Page Two," June 24]. If I were as depressed as Mr. Black, I'd arrange an exit outta here. After all, suffering is not mandatory.
John G. Lawrence
What Is a Metaphor?Dear Editor,
Someone please send Marjorie Baumgarten to a basic literature class so she can learn what a metaphor is. That way, she won't have to make a fool of herself in a movie review like she did with the film dot the i [Film Listings, June 17].
Setting the Record Straight!Dear Editor,
Thank you for giving significant ink to the proposed AMD move from East and North Austin into the Barton Springs Watershed ["Y Not?," News, June 24]. Sadly, the crisp writing was diminished by "he said, she said" reporting and omissions of several of the most important points.
You completely failed to mention AMD's bad faith in ignoring their own pledge to sustainable development and cooperation with local "stakeholders" on major decisions (set out at length on the AMD Web site). There was no mention of AMD's false claims of complying with the SOS ordinance nor of AMD's withholding its alleged "independent" traffic study.
With only 31% of AMD employees living southwest and thus 69% living in other parts of Austin it appears impossible that the move would reduce traffic in the Barton Springs Watershed, Oak Hill, or overall in Austin unless you assume that a substantial fraction of the 69% that live elsewhere will move into the watershed.
You name OHAN as supporting the proposed AMD move, but the broad coalition of Austin Neighborhoods Council, Liveable City, SOS Alliance, Austin Sierra Club, Save Barton Creek Association, and Zilker NA that opposes the move is narrowed to SOSA and the anonymous "enviros." And no mention of the online petition and information bank at www.moveamd.com where more than 5,000 citizens have already joined in asking AMD to find a different site.
The one mention of Envision Central Texas suggested support for density nodes in the Barton Springs Watershed when more than 80% of ECT survey respondents supported minimal additional development in the Edwards Aquifer Watershed and steering new development into preferred growth areas.
Equally disappointing, you let Mayor Wynn pretend he made a real effort to steer AMD to other sites and to act as if the AMD move was a done deal. Wynn's keeping the proposed move secret and failing to enlist community support in finding AMD a better location tells a different story. Wynn's close ties to the chief beneficiary of the move Stratus' CEO Beau Armstrong and the continued threat of more Stratus-backed Austin-bashing legislation tell us why the mayor is rolling over.
Back when we had real leadership at City Hall, Mayor Watson refused to accept then Motorola executive and current AMD CEO Hector Ruiz's decision to consolidate Motorola offices on Stratus' land at Circle C. He jumped in, with the community behind him, and convinced Motorola to undo some of the damage done by Motorola's move into the watershed in the 1970s by, instead, locating its new offices outside of the Barton Springs Watershed. Such a move was far more difficult than AMD simply avoiding the Barton Springs Watershed in the first place something it has done quite nicely during the last 30 years in Austin.
This is clearly another turning point when the people of Austin must lead before the leaders will follow. Please sign the petition at MoveAMD.com and join us in demanding that AMD find a site that meets its business needs that is also outside the Barton Springs Watershed.
Save Our Springs Alliance[Rachel Proctor May responds: For the record, Envision Central Texas is officially silent on appropriate places for "nodes of density."]
Doesn't Trust City's LeadershipDear Editor,
Together with hundreds of others from the East and Southeast Austin community, I was in the Dove Springs audience last Thursday night in anticipation that Police Chief Stan Knee, Mayor Will Wynn, and City Manager Toby Futrell might instill some trust among us that the true facts regarding the fatal shooting of Daniel Rocha have any possibility of surfacing ["Rocha Shooting: Plenty of Questions, Few Answers," News, June 24]. Unfortunately, nothing that was presented by this leadership reinforced our hopes.
As an East Austin youth more than 40 years ago, along with many of the other fathers and grandfathers in the audience, I found a kinship with Daniel for many of us in our youth were harassed, threatened, and abused by Austin policemen who knew on which side of town this type of police misconduct would result in no consequences. What many of us have learned and trust is that the police will always cover for their brotherhood. The events surrounding the tragic motorcycle deaths of the husband and wife police officers is a shameful example of Austin police officers not enforcing the law that may have protected two of their own and, then, the "shameful whitewash" that followed in the report issued exonerating fellow police officers that should have acted to do their lawful duty and maybe saved the lives of two of their own. What can we expect but more of the same?
Santo J. (Buddy) Ruiz
Minorities Know the TruthDear Editor,
This is the bottom line of the feelings of the shooting of this young man ["Rocha Shooting: Plenty of Questions, Few Answers," News, June 24]. If you're a minority in this great city of Austin, Texas, you know that the shooting was wrong and a straight-up lie. If you are not Mexican, black, or grew up in a trailer park (white) you can't even comprehend racism! I am tired of people saying he got what was coming to him because he had a "rap sheet"! No human being deserves to die! When are people going to realize that we are human beings and we have every right to be treated fair. It is a fact that the city of Austin has no need for us, it's plain to see that. The truth is in front of our faces. The all-white council doesn't need our vote, so they don't care about minorities. The police are so afraid of us that they have to shoot first. You know if it wasn't so sad this would almost be funny. But I guess that all you Austinites that are saying Daniel Rocha deserved his death are laughing at all of us dumb, loud minorities. And that we should just "get over it." Well, not this Chicana, because guess what? We are no longer a minority! Print this and see who has the guts to say I'm wrong.
Maribel Palomares[Editor's note: For the record, Austin's City Council membership is multiracial.]
'Y' Errors CorrectedDear Editor,
Rachel Proctor May's "Y Not?" [News, June 24] article has a couple of errors:
1) The "sit down" restaurant she refers to in Oak Hill is the Satellite Cafe, not the Signature Cafe; and
2) the pink granite used on the outside of the Texas state Capitol was quarried near Marble Falls, Texas, not on Convict Hill. The limestone used on the inside of the Capitol was quarried on Convict Hill.
Bob Terfruchte Jr.[Editor's note: We regret the errors, and thank Mr. Terfruchte for the corrections.]
Worth the Space They Use?Dear Austin Chronicle,
I would like to encourage you to give the Downing Street minutes and related documents the extensive coverage that they clearly merit. There is no more important question in a democracy than whether the people and their representatives have been misled about the justification for a war. A memo drafted by constitutional attorney John Bonifaz and available at www.afterdowningstreet.org begins: "The recent release of the Downing Street Memo provides new and compelling evidence that the President of the United States has been actively engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq. If true, such conduct constitutes a High Crime under Article II Section 4 of the United States Constitution." Please ask yourselves whether each item you are reporting on is important enough to take up space that should be devoted to this question. Thank you for your consideration.
Robert Canby[News Editor Michael King responds: Please ask yourself whether you think because you are virtuous, there should be no more cakes and ale (Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 3).]
Cruelty to Animals Is CrueltyDear Editor,
I was puzzled that Marc Savlov did not include any opinions by local animal rights activists in his review of Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat ["That Darn Documentary!," Screens, June 24]. He may have learned that some of us heard about this notorious case four years ago through dozens of Internet stories. We are raising our voices now because some people continue to be confused about whether killing a cat is art, and this film seems as confused. The students charged with killing this cat claimed that they did it to show the hypocrisy of animal cruelty, which they then labeled as art. Let's be clear about this: Killling a cat is cruelty to animals and is no more defensible than battering a woman to show the hypocrisy of sexism. Both are crimes. A more compelling story for the filmmaker, and one that might actually save animals, occurs every day directly under his nose: that is, how humans treat the 9 billion animals we slaughter every year in this country for food. But as an activist I've learned that people are much more willing to see the cruelty in others' actions but not the complicity in our own.
Let's Really Think GreenDear Editor,
Whether AMD moves to Oak Hill or downtown, there will be a lot of people commuting between the two places ["Y Not?," News, June 24]. The standing assumption is that all this commuting will be done by car.
What if there was a bike path from downtown to Oak Hill? Or, failing this, what about bike lanes? Or a wide sidewalk? It's not too far to bike to Oak Hill, especially by electric bicycle. I know people who do it (by regular human-powered bicycle). They report that it would be a great ride if it weren't so scary.
We can reduce pollution and make Austin a much nicer place by having a few routes at the edges of town that aren't so terrifying that people don't dare ride them without huge, polluting tanks. This is a serious matter, and it gets completely ignored. People who never go outside get up at meetings and say that it's much too hot to walk or bike in Austin anyway, so bike paths, bike lanes, and sidewalks are just useless frills. People who claim to care about the environment consider parking lots necessary but sidewalks objectionable because of impervious cover.
Austin folks like to think they are "green." So how about a little support for nonpolluting transportation?
Constructing Perfect Straw ManDear Editor,
Well what do you know, Louis Black ("Page Two," June 24) is angry. Or depressed, or annoyed, or had a bad beer. But, wow, did he have to go and call people traitors? Is the land really "torn up and destroyed"? Just as that political hack Karl Rove says something stupid about liberals and how they embrace those who attack this country, off pops Louis who does just that.
It isn't really clear what Mr. Black would have us do. If he wants Americans to stand up, take the gun belt from our waists, hand it to the marauding hordes in the name of peace, there will be peace. If he wants us to take our toys home and stay on our side of the water, maybe the other guys would be nice to each other and work it out around a round table. At least it wouldn't be our people in the crosshairs.
One day, Mr. Black and his ilk will state the truth about themselves. One day, liberals/progressives will have the guts to say:
1) When they attack us, pull back, turn a cheek, understand them, and apologize. Peace will reign upon the people of the weak.
2) Organized religion is a danger to all and produces drones who oppress the nonbelievers. Stop the religion before it hurts somebody. Lord knows it's done a lot of damage.
3) Other religions are OK, even if they do say everyone else is an infidel.
4) Happy people are always right and only see the truth.
5) Mean people are the ones who don't agree with the happy people.
6) Mean people are wrong and should be ignored or reformed.
7) All people are in some oppressed class. Except the rich, white, male religious people.
8) Free enterprise is just a way for the classes to be oppressed.
9) Anyone who has more than anyone else is a threat and should be equalized.
10) It is impossible to believe that abortion is murder and also believe in recycling.
11) Right is wrong and left is right.
One day, we'll get it right, but we are Americans, proud of what we have done, have some regrets, working on our problems, and looking toward a better future. But I don't think you get there by sitting on a beach giving everyone the finger.
Mark Gindin[Editor's Note: One has to wonder if the writer really believes I or anyone has such a puerile worldview or that it's just easier to dismiss the arguments of someone you disagree with if you don't actually listen but simply describe them yourself, making them as stupid as possible.]
RIP: Ram AyalaHey friends,
I'm sorry to relay the news that your friend and mine, Ram Ayala, owner of Tacoland [in San Antonio], was murdered during an argument/robbery at his establishment Thursday night/Friday morning. His doorman Doug and bartender Denise were also shot during the incident but are expected to make it. Details are sketchy at the moment. Simple words cannot properly express the sadness and disgust I'm feeling. He'll be missed by many.
Prick Demands Stevens' CredentialsDear Editor,
Darcie Stevens is a dumbass. And every relevant rock musician in town agrees. Why? Here's my assessment: Her body of work speaks for itself. Anyone with even a scintilla of knowledge about rock music and its history becomes quite amused upon reading an attempt by Ms. Stevens to tackle even the slightest musical concept or an attempt to relay a simple musical anecdote. And I doubt she is qualified to be a rock critic. Has she ever recorded an album, played live shows, toured, produced or engineered a record, mixed or mastered a record? I think not. What relevant rock experience does she bring to the table? How about this in the next issue of the Chronicle publish a copy of her glorious résumé or is she scared to be exposed?
Yuppie Pricks[Editor's note: Darcie Stevens reviewed the Yuppie Pricks' most recent CD.]
Room for EverybodyDear Editor,
Thanks for your mention of the September opening of the Austin branch of the Paul Green School of Rock Music ["TCB," Music, June 17]. We are very excited to bring our program to the Live Music Capital of the World.
We also would like to congratulate the Natural Ear Music School on their 15th anniversary. However, we would like to clear up any misunderstandings they may have about our school ["Postmarks," June 24]. Rather than emulating others, we are innovators in the field of music education. Since starting in Philadelphia in 1997, more than 2,000 students have studied at the PGSORM. Currently, more than 900 students are enrolled at nine locations nationwide. Our branch will reach capacity at 180 students and we feel that in an amazing musical city such as Austin there is plenty of room for everybody.
Saving rock & roll one kid at a time,
The Paul Green School of Rock Music
Incensed at TacticsDear Editor,
Thank you very much for publishing this article in your June 24 issue ["City in Court Against SoCo Cafe," News, June 24]. I am incensed by the high-handed tactics employed by Trudy's Texas Star Inc. against its SoCo neighbors, as well as the city of Austin. Until this matter is resolved, I will not patronize any of their eating establishments.
Joanne L. Terry
Anti-Ted NugentDear Editor,
Re: Ted Nugent at La Zona Rosa. Now is the time to pay back this madman for his diatribes demonizing liberals and Democrats and his hate-filled support of the ultra right wing. Let's show them that we can use economic sanctions to punish those that have been punishing us during the last several years. Let him play at his Crawford ranch with his buddy Dubya.
Conspiracy? Please!Dear Editor,
As a longtime gay Austin resident, I was irritated by the lamenting of the sudden closing of Sidekicks bar by one of your readers ["Postmarks," June 17]. Over and over again, the gay men in this community have had to endure our lesbian counterparts sound off about the lack of bars for lesbians. There have been establishments that attempted to cater to lesbian clientele over the years, yet all "mysteriously" shut down. Yet, strangely, in the last six months two more primarily gay male venues have opened up with rousing success. Conspiracy? Please!
The primary purpose of any bar is the selling of alcoholic beverages. (Hello Mary?!) It is well known by many in Austin's gay male community that lesbians don't drink. Or to be specific, they don't drink enough. I can't tell you how many times I have gone out to clubs like Rain and seen clusters of my lesbian "sisters" all hulking in the corners, scowling, and not a drink in sight. The few lesbians I do see drinking, nurse the same bottle of Coors Light the entire evening. Just lovely. Meanwhile, in the other corner, I see many of my gay comrades more lit up than the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Most of my male friends are on their third, fourth, or even fifth drink of the night and having a damn good time. One of Austin's gay clubs is even purported to have some of the highest alcohol revenues in the state.
Without getting into an argument on alcoholism or the excesses of gay men, I think the above really gets to the heart of the problem. Ms. Martin-Hinshaw attempts to blame the entire city of Austin and even questions our city's liberalness and gay-friendliness. Shame! Austin is a great town to be gay. Bars only do well when its patrons are supporting it by purchasing alcohol, and lots of it. Somebody needs to clue in the lesbian mafia that poetry slams, lousy guitar performances, and animal shelter fund raisers do not keep a bar/club in business. Booze drinking does! When the lesbian community proves, with their dollars, that they are ready for their own bar/club, they will get one. Drink, and it will come.
It's Always Partisan; the Democrats Are Always WrongDear Editor,
Man, it's a dark day for private property owners in the greater Austin area. How long do you think it's going to take them to steal the land around the lakes and sell that land to entities who will pay higher taxes than the current property owners? I mean, "for the public good." That's what the USSC, or should I say, the liberals on the court decided. They decided, like good little liberals, that it's OK to take land from one private individual and give it to another private individual who would develop the land and increase potential tax revenues. It's absolutely ridiculous, but that's the thought process of the liberals on the court. Now, for the sarcastic comment by the editor, who can flap all he wants, but the truth is that it was the Republicans on the court who dissented, and it was the liberals on the court who voted for it. Spin away sir, let's see how you can turn this around into an attack on me or on Republicans.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Rove Is the ProblemDear Editor,
Karl Rove, in a speech he made Wednesday, June 22, said "[P]erhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
Our country is more divided than at any time since the Civil War. Comments such as those Rove made not only serve to further that gulf but seem, in fact, intended to do just that. He is a truly ugly and unpatriotic American.
Additionally, there is a certain irony in the content and timing of his message. The content because we all know now that the country we went to war with had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 and did not pose the biological nor the nuclear threat to our country which the conservatives, as he put it, alleged to justify the war they started. Ironic in timing as even some of the staunchest supporters of the war in his party, as well as many of the commanders of troops in Iraq, are now recognizing just what a quagmire we are mired in over there. And further, far from making us safer from future attacks like that of 9/11, the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank, released a report not long ago in which they said that Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills."
Rove should, at the least, be fired. It's a shame that there is no crime he could be charged with for the damage he does to our country internally and in the eyes of the world with such hateful and malicious talk which is truly criminal.
Walking in IgnoranceEditor,
Democracy fails when people walk in ignorance. Our community is torn over the toll road debate, yet a little light may help heal the division.
At its June meeting, CAMPO released information that building all of our proposed toll road projects as "free" roads could be accomplished with a tiny 1.6 cent per gallon increase in the (local) gas tax. A year ago CTRMA Director Mike Heiligenstein said that it would cost $2-3 per gallon! I think he lied.
CAMPO, hearing the news, passed a one-year moratorium on committing to new toll projects, but all roads under construction now will proceed with previously allocated gas tax money. During the interim CAMPO will consider dropping the toll plan.
Poor people should rejoice at this news. They can afford 1.6 cents but not the $1,000 per year in tolls they would have to pay otherwise. Many poor people drive trucks full of tools to work and can't ride a bus.
Environmentalists should also be pleased if tolls are deleted. Having toll-evading cars stacked up on neighborhood streets degrades air quality.
Civil libertarians cringe at the thought of having their daily travel recorded in Big Brother CTRMA's database. But the major media have not reported the news and none of these people can register their opinions with their elected officials if they are uninformed.
Vincent J. May
Libertarian Party Transportation Committee
Great Article About Jason AllenDear Editor,
I enjoyed the article about Jason Allen ["Gruene Pastures," Music, June 17]. We are family and I spent many nights at honky-tonks listening to him play and I am proud for him and the success he is having. Thanks for the great article about Jason.
The Air We Breathe Is DangerousDear Editor,
I can't go outside today because the air quality, as determined by Dallas weathermen, is dangerously unhealthy. They showed a picture of downtown and it looked like it was covered completely in fog, only it wasn't fog, it was air pollution. I have developed breathing problems over the years, and as I write this letter my eyes are burning and I have a headache from something flowing through the air in my own home. According to the Times, "Mr. Bush has said global warming is just too uncertain a matter to justify anything more than voluntary measures to slow growth in fossil-fuel emissions." That is why he is allowing big business to volunteer to slow down emissions from their factories and not make it mandatory. The Bush administration is also acting to make it more and more difficult to challenge environmental abuses and enforcement of environmental laws. In a debate with John Kerry, Bush said he was a good steward of the land. I have a image in my head of an American Indian howling with grief instead of the one tear trailing down his face.
A Bone to PickDear Editor,
On the Web site, Mr. Smarty Pants refers to a carving with a 26-foot "phalanx" [June 3]. The only definitions I know of for that are a formation of people and a finger or toe bone. The article neglects to indicate whether it's a toe or finger that's 26-feet.
Jeff Shaevel[Mr. Smarty Pants replies: Dear Jeff, You do indeed have a bone to pick with me. The word should be "phallus" and I apologize. The Cerne Abbas Giant has a 26-foot phallus not a 26-foot-long phalanx. If you are talking fertility, this would make much more sense than to have a statue with a 26-foot-long toe or finger.]
Lost in the 'Creepshow' of the 'Apes'Dear Editor,
Texas politics can be better described in movie titles. Creepshow (Texas House) is over, but may return for another engagement disguised as Halloween. The Fog (that's where they were during session). Perry is Lost in Space. Craddick is starring in The Grudge and Scrooge. The Senate can be described as being in The Land That Time Forgot.
Planet of the Apes describes the whole shooting match.
Clyde L. Harris