Our readers talk back.
No Thanks!Dear Editor,
I've just read the current review of the Ghostland Observatory album by Audra [Schroeder] ["Texas Platters," Music, July 15]. Thanks, but no thanks. Does she even know what electroclash is? It doesn't seem highly intelligent to throw bands into this category just because they use synthesizers and drum machines.
Moreover, the tracks she labeled as Giorgio Moroder-influenced sound nothing like the producer, which leads me to wonder if she even knows who Giorgio Moroder is. Maybe if the album sounded like At the Drive-In or Trail of Dead, the album might have received 21/2 stars.
Once again, thanks, but no thanks.
Please, No Harsh Local ReviewsDear Editor,
I am thunderstruck by the talent, energy, raw passion, and intricate musical genius of Ghostland Observatory. This is a great band that just took New York by storm with shows at the Knitting Factory and Delancey Bar, already are getting phone calls from three major (big-time) labels, and are about to showcase in L.A. Very current, unique, original music with a bedrock of solid rock, blues, and soul only two guys, who rock like a whole freight train! And Aaron [Behrens'] charisma rivals Jimi Hendrix's. I don't know what prompted the unnecessarily harsh, if not hostile review in the Chronicle of their debut CD ["Texas Platters," Music, July 15]. But I urge Chron staff and readers to definitely check out Austin's next great new band Ghostland Observatory!
Need to Learn HistoryDear Editor,
I appreciate the Chronicle's interest in things Latino, Mexican, and Mexican-American. Certainly a review of exhibits at Mexic-Arte is a plus ["The Next Diegos," Arts, July 8]. However, both editors and reporters need to acquire more basic knowledge of Mexican history. Mexican independence from Spain occurred in the early 1800s, prior to the U.S. war with Mexico, which most Texans know came in the 1840s. Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros painted murals after the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910. Moreover, all three artists painted as much about what Mexico aspired to become (socially just) as about its culture. Indeed, their work also served to teach viewers the nation's history, including its struggle against U.S. imperialism.
Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte[Editor's reply: The Chronicle regrets the error.]
Bush's Exit StrategyDear Editor,
As a retired state trooper correctly pointed out to me yesterday, there is a tremendous difference between the current situation in Iraq and the Vietnam conflict. George Bush had a plan for getting out of Vietnam.
Oops!Dear Mr. Black,
I always get a chuckle out of your "Oops!" corrections paragraph. In my case, it is entirely unnecessary. I learned many years ago not to assume that anything printed in The Austin Chronicle is accurate.
Bruce D. Garnett
Major Significant Errors of FactDear Editor,
Bashing Darcie Stevens has become so commonplace that I hesitate to do so myself. However, her July 15 "Soundcheck" [Music Listings, July 15] was so laden with inaccuracies I feel compelled to join the herd. I suppose that displaying "insider knowledge" might lend credibility to one's column, but only if that knowledge is accurate.
Referencing David Allan Coe's 1976 album, Ms. Stevens offers "The 'Longhaired Redneck' slurs down Manor way" for a show at the Nutty Brown Cafe. Perhaps D.A.C. followed Stevens' directions, as he was some three hours late for the show; Nutty Brown is in fact on Highway 290, but is 30 miles away from Manor on Highway 290 West (not East).
However, Darcie resiliently shows off her immense knowledge of Austin culture by recommending Chicken Shit Sunday at Ginny's Little Longhorn. "Dale Watson warms the dance floor as Dewie does the deed." Dewie, you see, is the chicken responsible for selecting the winning bingo number.
Alas, Dewie has been deceased for more than two years. Perhaps Ms. Stevens will eulogize Little Red several years after she too follows Dewie and passes along to the great coop in the sky.
Go to Hell!Mr. Black:
Your most recent rambling diatribe against the world in general ("Page Two," July 15) states: "They [the Democrats] are so hungry for any political meat that they can barely hide their satisfaction at the Iraqi dead, so this [the Rove controversy] was tailor-made for them." Go to hell. Name one Democrat who's shown any satisfaction that one person has died in Iraq, rather than outrage that the neocons and Christianist radicals who have hijacked the Republican Party are able to act with impunity no matter how many lies Bush or his administration tells us, or just go to hell.
'Page Two' 'Not Acceptable!'Dear Editor,
As a longtime reader of the Chronicle I am terribly disappointed with this week's "Page Two" editorial [July 15]. I have long appreciated Louis Black's taking of stands that sometimes straddle left/right expectations, and I realize that overall identifying more toward the left makes him more free in the criticisms that he directs that way. But none of this excuses the intentional misrepresentation of reality by suggesting, in the strongest possible way, that people who are pushing for coverage of the Downing Street Memo are all conspiracy theorist who believe, and are trying to prove that "the Bush administration's supposedly blowing up the towers on 9/11." Many people feel that it would be of some relevance to "only" prove that the president of the United States lied to the U.S. public about his reasons for going to war, and about when he had in fact made that decision (and had his wife lie about it to the public as well). This intentional use of misleading and inflammatory language to degrade opponents is something that does not surprise me from politicians. But it is not acceptable from a professional journalist who is claiming to have any credibility on any issue at all. You can claim truly enough that you are being restrained compared to the attacks that you receive, but the fact is you have chosen to take on a public role as an newspaper editor, and as such it is reasonable to expect you to live up to basic standards of honesty and truth, that is not demanded of letter-writers. And the fact the you also exploit your position to engage in personal attack, no matter how provoked, is never acceptable. Your position is a public trust, whether or not you want it to be, and this kind of vengeful use of it is an abuse.
[Louis Black responds: In a paragraph offering examples of some of the questions/attacks the Chronicle gets on certain national and international issues we don't cover in depth if at all was this sentence, "Why isn't the Downing Street Memo the only topic we cover since it is that important?"]
'Chronicle' Running AwayDear Editor, Austin Chronicle's Louis Black, like News Editor Michael "Small Testicles" King, has decided he should label outraged Austin Chronicle readers who push for more informative journalism on big issues as conspiracy theorists ["Page Two," July 15]. Black's excuse that "the Chronicle devotes more space to politics and news than do most weeklies" has the same logic as the pathetic American excuse used for not doing more to fight global AIDS and poverty. Both Black and King treat the Internet more like a web of lies than a web of information. The big issues I see that The Austin Chronicle runs away from are the consequences of peak oil and the U.S. government's involvement in 9/11. Former LAPD Narcotics Investigator Michael C. Ruppert has impressively dedicated himself to these issues. His massive book Crossing the Rubicon, published Oct. 1, 2004, outlines his case of U.S. government complicity on 9/11 through evidence that government officials had information of the coming al Qaeda attacks and took steps not only to ensure that the plot would strike America, but that it would be extremely devastating. He created a Web site, www.fromthewilderness.com. It is a very good source for global issues. Take a look and decide for yourself. Excellent videos from the 1st International Citizen's Inquiry into 9/11, held in San Francisco March 2004, are on www.911busters.com. Why is the press so keen on withholding important information from the public? Perhaps The Austin Chronicle views their transition to covering the world picture as unnecessary, and therefore another publication shall have to rise to the demands of those in the Austin area. Kinky Friedman, it's time for this place to change.
The Irony of It AllDear Editor,
The irony in Louis Black's July 15 "Page Two" article bled from the written page.
As points for thinking, Louis suggests 1) that humankind's loss of literacy is not lamentable and 2) humankind's maintenance of its attention to its violent nature is also not lamentable.
My instincts tell me that our world would be much better had it more literacy and less communication of the violent kind. However, Louis' record of ripping apart traditional modalities of expression to render the page clean for words of deeper meaning causes me to doubt my instincts. Perhaps my bias blocks my ability to absorb these words of deeper meaning: perhaps I am just incapable of such absorption. Either way, after literally ripping the article to shreds in a violent outburst, I looked down at what I had done and laughed aloud at the irony all around.
Thank you Louis!
Stop Crying!Dear Editor,
To the individuals who wrote angry letters about the "99 Bands" [Music, July 8]: Please try to make your frustration over the exclusion of your bands less transparent. It only serves to qualify you as bitter attention-whores. I'm in a band from Austin that has played on three continents, and the Chronicle hasn't mentioned us a single time in our near-decade of existence. I recommend that you either learn to enjoy your bands for what they are, not for the attention you hope to gain. Or you could form bands that are actually good. Either way, stop crying.
Conspiracy: It's Not Just a TheoryDear Editor,
While not particularly inspired, I've felt compelled to make some response to Louis Black's latest "Page Two" [July 15]. A couple of weeks ago I e-mailed him with the argument that the Downing Street Memos were further proof of a conspiracy to establish an international police or prison state. He e-mailed back, understandably, that there would be no dialogue on the subject. I understood that to mean not that he was afraid of demonstrating his position was wrong (oversimplified, that the Bush administration is merely a problem of lies and greed, they are not the arch-criminals responsible for 9/11), but that he is a busy man and weary and wary of all the conspiracy theorists' contentions. In both his response and recent "Page Two," Mr. Black states that, after all, the Chron several years ago did print an article at least acknowledging the claim that the Bush crime family has direct ties to Nazi Germany circa World War II. While that is commendable, I feel that printing it one time, then dropping it, is the same thing as burying it. This happens all the time in major papers (New York Times, etc.) where a story supporting a conspiracy paradigm will appear buried deep in the paper, never to see any follow-up. I would think good journalistic principles would dictate that a claim of this magnitude would be revisited or debunked once and for all. Recently, Texas Monthly interviewed George Bush Sr. and asked him point-blank about his father's support of the Nazis, which he of course denied; nevertheless, this is a current and hot topic. Black wrote, "The Democrats appear to be adolescents throwing tantrums (regarding the D.S.M.)." To hear one of the most articulate, comprehensive tantrum throwers, tune into The Randi Rhodes Show on Air America Radio.
Kenney C. Kennedy
Time to Walk the WalkDear Editor,
Austin Mayor Will Wynn has announced that Austin will be the Clean Energy Capital of the World and the Fitness Capital of the World. The Texas Legislature has passed the Safe Routes to School Act. Unfortunately, this amounts to just about nothing. This is because the basics are being ignored. Cheap, unglamorous solutions to problems just aren't exciting enough for the folks in power.
The cleanest energy is our own energy. The cleanest form of transportation is walking. Mayor Wynn talks about walking for fitness, but only downtown, and only on sidewalks. People who walk for transportation in Austin must walk on streets without sidewalks. So far, the city of Austin has declined to affirm the right of the public to walk in the pedestrian right-of-way, and the obligation to keep the right-of-way walkable. This means that safe routes to school must wait until money is allocated for sidewalks near every school in Austin. Fitness is for those who live and work along sidewalks. As for clean energy, forget walking; maybe we can have a giant biodiesel plant with a big parking lot, to fuel "clean" cars. As long as we underrate what is cheap, free, and simple in favor of glamorous, high tech solutions, we will not solve our problems. Solvitur ambulando; it is solved by walking.
I'd be glad to write a column for the Chronicle, but I don't like the name "The Crackpot" ["Postmarks," July 8]. How about "Velorutionary Viewpoint"?
Superintendent Paid Too MuchDear Editor,
In the July 15 issue of the Chronicle, Michael King's article "Squeezing the Schools" [News] stated, "If you're a superintendent ... in Edgewood or Ysleta, ... you'd be better off trying to make bricks without straw than waiting for help from the state of Texas." The two districts cited are two of Texas' poorest school districts. One thing Mr. King could have added is that if Ysleta's superintendent, Mr. Hector Montenegro, is truly trying to make ends meet, he probably would not have accepted the approximately $300,000 in perks in addition to his salary that started at around $190,000 annually to $208,950 annually. (This was reported by KVIA Channel 7 News, an El Paso ABC affiliate.)
In Mr. Montenegro's first year in the Ysleta District he earned a total of more than $500,000. Not bad for a superintendent in a very poor school district. One of the real and unaddressed problems in school finance is that there is no true accountability or responsibility when it comes to spending school funds. No one is watching the educational till.
Ex-fourth-grade bilingual teacher[News Editor Michael King replies: According to the El Paso Times, Hector Montenegro was hired in 2003 by the Ysleta School District at a salary of $190,000 (considerably less than initially anticipated by the board of trustees) and provided with a home for his family that remains school district property, not part of his total earnings.]
Just Like BlackDear Editor,
Middle-aged and jaded, I am searching for ways to support my son through college. He is currently enrolled at Concordia University, and the costs are high.
I have an idea for a column, "I Wish," written in true journalistic style, reporting pure fiction in the form of would-be headlines. Sometimes funny, always controversial, the column would be an eye-catcher.
Louis Black's column, "Page Two," on July 8, proves The Austin Chronicle can and will publish just about anything. I love it. As Black rambles about archaic religion and the impossible solutions to mankind's discord, I am inspired. Black affirms my own beliefs, and the Chronicle stands behind our rights to express ourselves.
I was concerned that my idea for the "I Wish" column would be too controversial. Impossible. Your readers would eat it up, and it would blend like tears in rain. (Yup, Blade Runner, but good is good.)
Thought I'd just put m'self out there and see if I could get a nibble.
Clay McKelvy[A senior editor responds: It's really not that we like Black's "Page Two" column; it's that he co-founded the Chronicle and nobody's sure how to talk to him rationally about anything, much less his column. Well, he is on break now.]
Courage of Their Convictions?Dear Editor,
It appears that while Americans voted with ballots last year and approved of Bush and his war on Iraq, they are now voting with their feet and staying away from recruitment offices. Of the 52% of Americans that voted for Bush (and for the war), an enormous number must be between 18 and 39 years of age and therefore eligible for military service. They must have believed that the war was vital to our security and that our nation was at risk, to commit us to such a costly endeavor. How then can it be that the military is falling well short of its recruitment goals? Why aren't these same Americans heeding the call to duty in service of their nation and president? Why aren't Americans who voted for Bush and are too old to serve urging their children to go defend our nation from this dangerous threat? Could it be they have changed their minds? Could it be that they now agree with those evil, traitorous liberals that the war was not necessary? Maybe they just don't have the courage of their convictions.
Potheads Spend Less Than U.S. DoesDear Editor,
Since July 4 this year we have been blessed by a number of educational television programs devoted to a fresh understanding of the United States Constitution and the ideals that drove our founding fathers to undermine the tyranny of kings, czars, and dictators. One broad lesson to be learned is that the desire for democracy must be the will of the people and cannot successfully be imposed upon them by threat or force. These "refresher courses" led me to Google search the number of federally incarcerated marijuana prisoners, the costs of prosecuting, the cost of holding, and the racial profile of those prisoners. The numbers are gross and damning to any sense of justice when one accounts for the number of prisoners who have lost the right to vote. My only conclusion is that billions of tax dollars have been spent since the Reagan revolution to take perhaps a million votes out of the democratic process, and marijuana has been targeted not for its potential danger as an illicit drug but for its sheer popularity. When we pause to consider the dangers of alcohol, which far outweigh the dangers of all illicit drugs combined, and the fact that prohibition of alcohol and its repeal were made by constitutional amendment, we require only a leap of faith to understand the path to freedom from this new tyranny. We simply invoke the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and 10th amendments to the Constitution to confront current policy. And for those who have been incarcerated, we invoke the 15th Amendment. The numbers, which any literate person can research, can only confirm what must be done to confront this threat to liberty. We take it to the Supreme Court. Should we also have the sense to end corporate colonialism in the Middle East, Asia, and the southern hemisphere, perhaps America can return to the ideals our founding fathers envisioned for our future.
Todd Alan Smith
Exploring OptionsDear Editor,
After reading an archived article regarding health insurance in Texas it seems that a solution will never be reached if fingers continually are pointed at everyone else. The problem with a lack of health insurance cannot be placed completely on the insurance companies. Picture the situation as interlocking circles between the insurance companies, Texas citizens, health care providers, and legislators.
Health care providers are trying to provide adequate care while working within strict guidelines. "Physicians provided an estimated $914 million, or 19 percent, of all charity care delivered in fiscal 1998" (Window on State Government, 1998).
Insurance companies are trying to make money while holding health care providers accountable to performing only necessary procedures. Texas citizens are in need of adequate health care and have a hard time receiving it due to no health insurance for a variety of reasons. Some cannot afford it, some do not qualify, some have not gained citizenship, some simply do not know how to apply, and many are not employed at a job that provides benefits.
Budget cuts certainly do not help the issue but why wait until everyone will agree on the "perfect" legislation? Holding separate beliefs and opinions is one reason we are proud to be Americans. Instead, let us inform legislators of the needs and work within the system rather than against it to create change rather than just wait for it.
Devon M. Herrick from the National Center for Policy Analysis presented "Five Myths About the Uninsured in America" (2000). Myth Four states: "The ranks of the uninsured can be reduced by expanding government programs." Simply expanding government aid has been ineffective in the past, he presents, and has even exacerbated the existing problem.
A real solution will only be reached when we stop placing blame and begin to work together to elicit change.
Wake the Hell Up, PeopleDear Editor,
Extremist party-line lackeys from both ends of the political spectrum continually spew forth their bile in attacks on each other and the real truth is lost, intentionally or otherwise. The words "liberal" and "conservative" should be permanently discarded as meaningless and people should realize that both groups want to steal our freedom. Wake the hell up, people!