Our readers talk back

Don't Ignore the Healthy

Dear Editor,

All those treats listed in your article ["Keep Austin Chilled," Food, July 1] are just a little too sweet for me, but there are so many places in town that have icy-cold smoothies made with fresh and natural fruits, you just might want to include a few spots for those more health-conscious hot-weather warriors to beat the heat with. Just a suggestion, thanks.

Mani Subrami

I Have to Believe in Justice

Dear Editor,

You know it never ceases to amaze me that police departments around this country continue to perpetuate violence against unarmed people of color.

And yet, I have to believe that there will be justice for Daniel Rocha somewhere down the line ["Rocha Shooting: Plenty of Questions, Few Answers," News, June 24]. I have to believe that if we fight the good fight and continue to speak the truth at every corner, be it at City Hall or in the grocery-store line, that the people of Austin will eventually wake up and realize that we have a problem. That they'll realize what a crime against humanity Daniel Rocha's shooting really was and how unnecessary was his death. A tragedy like this affects all of us as citizens.

I'm old enough now to know some things, so I am seldom surprised when they distort the truth, feed the public their lies, and close in rank and file to protect each other, when it is obvious they are in the wrong.

How convenient is it that Officer Schroeder's camera didn't have a video tape in it?

The fact is that this case is not just a case. It's about another young man of color who was shot, this time, in the back, by the Austin Police Department. And while young Daniel may or may not have made some bad decisions in his short life, he still had the rest of it to correct them. We would all do well to remember that. I say there was no such Taser confusion, Chief Knee. It was the case of another officer not "of" the community in a difficult, but not unmanageable situation who chose to shoot one of our kids in the back.

Marcos Andres Flores

Missing Ram Ayala

Dear Editor,

I am 40 years old, and I played one and only one show with a band whose name I can't even remember at Tacoland. I lived a few blocks from Tacoland in the early Eighties, and spent many nights in there. It was often a first resort, "Wanna go to Tacoland," or it was a last resort, "Screw this, let's go to Tacoland." We would sit for hours on the patio out front and gaze into the "beautiful San Antonio River," which next to Tacoland was a mosquito-and-shopping-cart-infested swamp 12-feet across and maybe 10-inches deep on a good night. Ram respected us, we respected him. I haven't thought of that place in many years as I moved away 15 years ago or so, but after seeing the article in The Austin Chronicle ["TCB," Music, July 1] I called a few friends across the country. Some had heard, some hadn't. All in one way or another were shocked at the news. What a great guy; "only called you a pussy if he liked you" was the truth. SA and Texas and a lot of punks, and not in the musical sense, 50, 40, 30, and younger are going to miss Ram Ayala, because I sure do.

Jeff Genung

No Censorship, Just Discussion

Dear Editor,

It is worth noting that no organized Austin animal rights group has made an effort to censor the controversial film Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat ["That Darn Documentary!," Screens, June 24]. Only concerned individuals have spoken out against the screenings. It sounds like the film is more of a true-crime story. How does showcasing a gruesome act translate as pro-animal?

Carrie Conley

A Black Eye for Austin?

Dear Editor,

Re: The Willie Graham Legg-Perthes benefit at the Saxon Pub ["Live Shots," Music, July 1]. Seems to be a bit of a bias on the part of Margaret Moser, even when reviewing a benefit. Why is it that bands that donate not only musical performances but also have members donating artwork get barely a line of mention in her articles? Seems a bit of censorship taking place on her part as well. Not what Austin needs, or should desire. Looks to be a black eye on Austin music, especially with threads popping up at places like,, and more established band sites like the message boards at with a heavy global readership.

So be objective and give a full review of the bands that contributed their time and effort to this great cause. It really seems like she has a personal issue with certain bands, and also seemed to lose sight as to why everyone was there. I think given the purpose of why these bands played this show, every band deserves a good review of their set. This latest review, and many before it, just looks lazily done with a complete failure to even give a decent mention to all the bands that played. It is one thing to say you dislike a band's music and give the reasons why, as opposed to just saying so-and-so played. That takes no effort and is a shortcut to actual thinking.

Joe Mojica

'Hysterical Liberals'!

Dear Editor,

Several hysterical liberals including Jim Hightower ["The Hightower Report," News, July 1] claim the Downing Street Memo is fact. The memo is nothing more than Matthew Rycroft's opinion. Hightower claims it as proof (any opinion against Bush must be true), yet not one confirmed fact or source is listed. Did Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and the UN also fix the facts? Every one of them agreed Saddam had WMDs. The memo uses the words "summarized," "likely," "expected," "fixed," "possible," "activity," "convinced," "could," but states no facts. To quote Bill Clinton, "Not a shred of evidence."

Paul Douglas

[Jim Hightower responds: The memo is no "opinion," but the intelligence findings of a top British official reporting to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Furthermore, as noted in my commentary, the findings of the memo are backed up by six other reports (collectively called the British Briefing Papers) from top British military officials. Not everyone who dares question Bush's war is either a liberal or hysterical, Mr. Douglas. Many just don't like being lied to.]

Taxation Is Confiscation

Dear Editor,

The Fourth of July is an appropriate day to respond to Mr. Black's contention that Texans are undertaxed ["Page Two," July 1]. How far we have come, or regressed, as a nation that we fought for our independence based in part on an abhorrence of taxation, and we now have Americans demanding more taxation. At least the founders of our country were smart enough to realize that the more of our income the government controls the more it controls us as individuals.

Mr. Black sounds like a defense contractor telling the government that just for a few billion dollars more he can make his already behind schedule, overpriced weapons system work the way it is supposed to in the first place. If throwing more money at government gives us better government then based on per-student spending the U.S. would have one of the best public education systems in the world and Washington, D.C., would have the second-best school system in the U.S. Reality of course shows us that throwing more money at the government does not give us better government, it just gives us more government. Look at what we are getting for what it already confiscates from us. Do we really want more?

If you do not want to call it waste that is fine, but the problem is not how much we spend but the way we spend it. Some of the problems are voter-inflicted stupidity like multimillion-dollar renovations of high school football stadiums with press boxes worthy of NFL Monday Night Football. Others are government-inflicted, with things like outcome-based and bilingual education along with day care for the offspring of students, which tells you how well the sex education programs work.


Carl A. Anderson

Listen to Albums Before Reviewing

Christopher Gray,

I suggest you actually listen to the latest albums from Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, and Beck before you label them "disappointing" ["TCB," Music, July 1]. Although you may have been disappointed with these albums' content, I assure you it's the listener who is flawed, not the recordings. Also, if there is indeed a flat-out modern rock crisis at hand, I seriously doubt Spoon will single-handedly reverse it. Oh yeah, and Coldplay is from "across the pond" as well. Is there nobody at the Chronicle who calls you on your shortsightedness and lazy reporting? Please pay attention, Mr. Gray.

Kevin Kaliszewski

Need to Make It Easier for Him to Skip Babich

Dear Editor,

Please give Amy Babich her own column so that I can more easily skip past that entire page. As it is now, every two weeks or so I'm subjected to accidentally reading another one of her half-baked, hippie diatribes about how we should all stop driving cars and peddle our way to utopia. Maybe you can call the column "The Crackpot."

Chip Pumphrey

Partisan Fantasy Lands

Dear Editor,

Ignorant ideologues like Carl Swanson need to pull their collective heads out of the sand and wake up to reality ["Postmarks," July 1]. While he is incapable of seeing the world through anything other than his phony liberal/conservative dichotomy, the reality is this country's government is owned and operated by big business and no one really likes it except for the greedy liars who are literally making a killing. What the rich and powerful want, the rich and powerful get. The recent Supreme Court ruling that he was crying about is a perfect case in point. Now big developers can freely use eminent domain to further steal from the public. It is nothing short of welfare for the rich. If you've got the money and the influence, all that is left to do is wrap up whatever bad policy you are pushing in a bunch of flowery language supplied by propaganda outlets such as the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation. "Liberals" such as Molly Ivins recently wrote regarding this ruling and its bogus justifications by stating, "People have the most remarkable ability to convince themselves that what they are doing is for the greater good if they are also making a great deal of money out of it." While she was referring to the eminent domain issue, I think this statement also applies to the current situation in Iraq. Halliburton and Bechtel are making billions while our kids are being sent over to die in the desert. Again, it is another case of all the profits going to the rich and all the debts, lives, and our tax dollars being shoved off on the public. Carl Swanson is free to live in his partisan fantasyland, but back here in reality his ridiculous rants just don't jibe with the facts.


Thomas Speer

Wants More Action on Memo

Dear Editor,

In response to Robert Canby's letter in the July 1 Chronicle ["Postmarks"], I'd have to say I fully concur with the observation that the American media is pretty much sleepwalking on the Downing Street minutes and related info coming out of Great Britain.

We should all be doing as much as we possibly can to expose the truth of the alleged shady dealings of the Bush administration, on general principle. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the current U.S. involvement in Iraq is not only illegal from an international standpoint, but also severely damaging to this country in more ways than I can enumerate here.

Instead it appears the American public and the mainstream news outlets (and to an extent, even such alternative sources as The Austin Chronicle) are pretty much rolling over and playing dead. And with due respect to Michael King, we can all be virtuous, have our cakes and ale, and quote Shakespeare as much as we want. However, these things by themselves will not end governmental corruption. That can only be remedied by a concerted effort to expose the corruption, backed by a unified public demand for justice from our leadership. That means people everywhere have to take the responsibility to get involved and insist that those in government stop the corrupt activities, and, as Nat King Cole and Irving Mills would say, "straighten up and fly right."

Stuart Ritchie

Does History Repeat Itself?

Dear Editor,

Much bother was made over a Democratic hack named Richard Durbin, who loosely compared the shabby and generally inhumane treatment of alleged bad guys in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons to things cooked up by Nazis, Stalinists, and Pol Pot-ites. After Durbin was pummeled into various apologies by right-wing Senate hacks, and the very-white White House, a tour was then arranged for various Senate and House talking heads to go to Gitmo and "see for themselves." The news coverage of said visit to Gitmo was surreal, "And they even sat down and ate the same meals that are served to the inmates!"

All said political hacks then left, smiling, endorsing the place's embarrassing existence. Kinda reminds me of how the Germans used to buffalo the Red Cross in World War II ... simply set up a tour, show well-fed, happy Jews in decent clothes, and voilã! The criticisms are muted. Does history repeat itself? Small ironies, indeed ... all in one 24-hour period.

Tim Abbott

Isn't Discourse a Discussion?

Dear Editor,

OK, Mr. Levy, you're not a bully ["Postmarks," June 24]. No, you're a punk. You love this city? I have read your preadolescent mailers, and I know 8-year-olds with more profound, and mature, things to say about the people that they "disagree" with. According to you, caring in deeds as well as words about what makes this city special (still, despite the efforts of bottom-feeders like yourself) is grounds for puerile, baseless, socially corrosive attacks. You do not care about Austin, or you would not be debasing its public discourse with the level of personal abuse that you so readily trot out against anyone who has a proven history of promoting locally generated democracy. Pat yourself on the back. You've lowered the bar, and pathetically rationalized it, yet again.

Steven Blaisdell

Coveting Neighbors' Asses

Dear Editor,

The recent Supreme Court decision, regarding the positioning of the Ten Commandments monuments at various state properties, has lent credence to the argument posited by many evangelicals that Western law is based, in whole or in part, on these ancient Hebrew edicts. The fact is that other than killing, stealing, and affirming the deity, these commandments deal only with moral proclivities. Unless a fundamental change in human nature occurs, there will always be a certain amount of coveting of neighbors' asses.

Pat McIntyre

Word 'Minority' Needs to Go

Dear Editor,

I can see where the frustration comes from with all the racial tension that is exploding all around us but I feel Maribel Palomares' words are only adding fuel to the fire ["Postmarks," July 1]. The only way things will change is if we all make a positive change. If people are committing crime after crime, of course there is going to be some suspicion. This is where we live and again we have to make the positive changes. We can't push it off on the government or "others" to make the changes for the better. We all need to stop pointing the finger at each other (regardless of race) and become accountable for all of our actions. And she is right, the word "minority" should be thrown out the window, but I also think people should not use that to "get things" while other people struggle to survive day to day, like myself. I am very close to being out on the street and can't get any help from any government agency because I am not a minority or fall under certain categories. But I try to make positive contributions to society. That's all I can do. And so should all of us. Thank you.

Bren Kelly


Dear Austin Chronicle,

I am writing to acknowledge the team of people who were the heart and muscle behind the silent auction part of the Willie Graham Legg-Perthes benefit last weekend ["Live Shots," Music, July 1]. Kudos to all of the musicians, donors, and volunteers who pitched in to make it happen and make it so very special, but most especially to the core committee of women who envisioned the silent auction idea, circled the wagons, and made the event happen in only a very few short weeks – Dianne Scott of the Continental Club and Rajiworld Agency, Brenda Hutchison of Van Go Touring/Orbit Salon, Roggie Baer Elm of Rajiworld Booking Agency, Jo Rae Dimenno of Hardpressed Publicity, and Kathy Sever of RamonsterWear.

The donation of time and the combined clout of this impressive team of Austin women insured an incredible event, which appeared to be a huge success.

Best wishes to Jon Dee, Willie, and family,

Mark Newman

Free No More

Dear Editor,

Hello, Austin! Free is no more! Having a dip in "barking springs" the other day I sensed a foul odor and next thing I know two of Austin's "piece" officers are making everyone leave the premises! What has this come to? Was Krispy Kreme klosed? Could their mocha latte be a single and not a double? Seig heil, my friends! I guess this po-lease state of things is still working. The man is grumpy and the citizens are payin' for it!


John McCollum

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