Our readers talk back.
What Were You Thinking!?!Marjorie [Baumgarten],
I usually like the movies you like. I often agree with your reviews. I like a difficultly artsy movie. So what were you thinking with your review of Mysterious Skin [Film Listings, July 1]? You wrote the review for this movie as if it were akin to Tarnation, which was thoughtful and compelling. If you consider this movie "mature," I suppose you think a glib treatment of sex with children to be material for personal growth. If you had said, "This movie makes Kids look like a childhood we would long for," I would have happily missed my opportunity to see it. Instead, I woke up this morning with that image of the retarded 11-year-old kid with a bloody mouth blown up by firecrackers getting whacked-off by an 8-year-old boy in front of his friend. It's not just the material that was so offensive, but the smug attitude with which it was presented. The "kind" old troll who warned the kid about cops before having sex with him in a hotel? This movie was pedophile-friendly, and I will assume that the people who would give it four stars enjoy watching sex between adult men and little boys. Download anything illegal lately?
Loves Conspiracy TheoriesDear Editor,
While not particularly inspired, I've felt it necessary 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 being shown 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 the conspiracy theorists 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 fascists, which he of course denied; nevertheless, this is a current and hot topic. I submit that if the hooligans in the White House are the toadies of less visible international nazis (corporations, same thing), that there cannot be an effective response to the situation until it is exposed and the American people are made aware. That would be quite a more serious matter than if they are simply part of an organized crime ring intent upon increasing their wealth and power (politics as usual). While semantics may be part of the problem, ego and the "cool factor" are definitely an obstacle, as well. I implore Mr. Black to not take offense at overzealous conspiracy theorists questioning his integrity. He wrote, "the Democrats appear to be adolescents throwing tantrums (regarding the Downing Street Memo)." To hear one of the most articulate, comprehensive tantrum throwers, please tune into the Randi Rhodes show on Air America.
Kenney C. Kennedy
Clarify Meanings PleaseDear Editor,
In Mr. Badgley's article ["Zupan on Impact," Screens, July 22], he follows up a reference to a fan who wants to become a paraplegic with "Zupan, of course, is quadriplegic there are fundamental impairment differences between the two classifications." I wish he would have included those differences, because I am confused.
Searching for definitions on the Web, the general consensus is that quadriplegia is paralysis from the neck down and paraplegia is paralysis of the legs. Mr. Zupan appears to have complete use of his arms, so I do not understand the reference to him being a "quadriplegic."
Too Generous to DukesDear Editor,
Assume that it's beyond doubt that Rep. Jim Pitts is an untrustworthy, sorry individual for breaking his deal with Rep. Dawnna Dukes. That still does not excuse Ms. Dukes from doing her job, and does not excuse the Chronicle's attempt to cover for her failure to do her job. Your July 22 article is much too generous to Ms. Dukes ["Dukes: Pair Comes Up Snake Eyes," News].
Ms. Dukes easily could have (and should have) anticipated the possibility of a special session or two on the education financing issue. Special sessions have become increasingly less "special" in recent years. It is her job to represent her district at all legislative sessions.
Her statement that "I never attempted to hide that I was traveling for personal family reasons to France" is not true. First reported information from her staff was that she was on business for her district. Only when pressed did the truth finally come out, about two days later.
Her constituents deserve better.
Two Different BandsDear Austin Chronicle,
I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the Funeralizer set and our interpretation of Led Zeppelin II, and am very appreciative of the mention ["TCB," Music, July 22]. One thing I'd like to clear up though: Funeralizer and the Sword are two completely different bands. We have the same drummer and borrowed the singer for the night, which may have caused the confusion.
Not Against Critical ReviewsDear Editor,
Thanks for printing my letter defending Ghostland Observatory ["Postmarks," July 22]. But I'm not against critical reviews local or otherwise! In fact I hope for good reviews of my own music and try to learn from the bad ones (seriously!). I'm a big Chron fan, was around when it started, and its coverage is generous and rarely unfair. I just wanted Chron fans to have another take on Ghostland Observatory, and thanks for that chance.
Respectfully and in friendship,
The Media FailsDear Editor,
This is not the first time there have been problems with the toxicology results from the medical examiner's office ["Rocha Case: New Drug Evidence Raises Questions About County Lab," News, July 22]. This is the first time the press has reported them.
Earlier this year the Travis County ME's office misidentified the burned body of an 83-year-old woman as being that of a 23-year-old man. What no one noticed was that the Travis Co. ME's office claimed they obtained urine from the bladder of the burned body and ran toxicology tests on it.
This seems to be most improbable in light of the fact the body of the dead woman had been embalmed and buried for six months prior to being dug up and burned.
Also of note, the JP had at least seven phone conversations with [Robert] Bayardo and [Vladimir] Parungao telling them she did not believe their opinion that the body was that of Daniel, but was that of a woman or child.
What can you do when the media tells you they're too busy?
Great Cover Photo!!!Dear Editor,
A great cover illustration [July 22]! Mark Zupan and your photographer and art staff got it right: a tough steely-eyed man with blatant tattoos leaning forward, the action-blurred hand and wheel, strongly lighted ethereal background, the composition's overall power, the colors, and all going in the right direction. A prize winner!
Different Views Needed!Dear Editor,
Whew, Louis! Put that little announcement in four sentences at the end of the column ["Page Two," July 15]! Finishing a book? I will miss your columns, even the 20% or so that I think you got it all completely wrong. I would ask that "Ask Cecil" be seriously considered to fill that space, hopefully temporary, until your column returns.
I think you've gotten it only half right regarding Rove, though. I agree with you regarding reds and blues. I would have been out protesting Kerry the day after he would have finally announced his screwed-up Iraq policy. I think that the blues certainly are a fair degree juvenile in their response to disclosures about the Rove alleged disclosures on the CIA agent. And you are right about Rove needing to turn slowly in the wind. Where you are wrong is that the blue tempest is needed, childish or not. It provides the wind for the little weasel to twirl in. Rove and the evil little situational ethicists in this morally bankrupt administration discovered this themselves in the last election. Disproving all the swift-boat lies stopped nothing. It provided a lot of the wind Kerry spun lazily in during the last few months of the election.
But best wishes in whatever it is that you need to do.
Improving 'Chronicle' on WebDear Editor,
I look at your Arts Listings to determine if there are new openings which I may wish to attend. The structure of your online listings doesn't show what is opening (unlike the well-organized hard copy Chronicle) it only shows all current shows. Your technical people told me last year that they would have this improvement implemented "soon." What's up?
Dave Piper[Arts Listings Editor Wayne Alan Brenner responds: We appreciate the reminder, sir, and we continue working to implement just the sort of structure you mention in your letter a system as well-organized as that of our hard-copy editions. We hope to have this up and running in the near future. Thanks again for your considerate comments, and please know that we're on the job.]
Getting the Legislature to WorkEditor:
The aging process could be slowed down if it had to work its way through the Texas Legislature. School finance should be the only thing the latest special session finishes. All other special session proclamations, in A&M vernacular so Perry can understand, need to "stand down." Here's how to get job No. 1 done. Herd all the lobbyists out of the Capitol. Governor, lieutenant governor, speaker; herd 100% of legislators and their staffs into the Capitol. Capitol police lock all doors and prevent any escapes. A media release advises the public the Capitol is temporarily closed. Capitol maintenance turns off the air conditioning. Perry announces that he, the lieutenant governor, speaker, and all legislators will divide and pay the cost of this session out of their own pockets, and that the air conditioning will resume and locks will come off when a school finance bill acceptable to all is completed and signed into law. Watch how fast they'll get it done!
'Chronicle' Still in the NinetiesSir:
What Doug Yancey meant ["Postmarks," July 22] was that Mr. Montenegro never really cared about how unjustified his paycheck is against the economics of the Ysleta district in El Paso. From Johnston, through San Marcos and Houston, Mr. Montenegro showed ineptitude and (ethnic) greed, yet his earnings went up, up. Mr. Yancey tried to put some weight on his gripes and Michael King replied elusively as a fourth-grader. Johnston High has been there for more than 40 years and not one community member has ever been designated principal, arguing ignorance, yet AISD, ACC, and UT care more about New Yorkers than Austinites. As a paper, you are still in the Nineties.
Paul Aviña[News Editor Michael King responds: Despite Paul Aviña's reflexive ranting and the claims made in Doug Yancey's letter, Hector Montenegro actually accepted less in salary when he accepted the position at Ysleta ISD than the board expected to pay, partly why they voted 7-0 to hire him away from the Dallas ISD (not Houston). I wouldn't venture to speculate the relevant decade of Aviña's provincial obsessions.]
Karl Is Still Our ManDear Editor,
I'm all for Karl Rove remaining president of the United States, and I am so glad that everyone in Washington is rightfully remaining silent on this issue until America wises up and realizes that Karl is still our man. Has anyone seen this George W. Bush guy that people keep talking about? Does anyone really want to call him back from Crawford to be our president? If it weren't for his dad, he would be breaking juice bottles on the floor at the local Wal-Mart while nobody was looking and slipping upon them.
Thank God he chose a nonactivist judge for his Supreme Court nominee who only offers legal advice about ballot recounts.
Beanie Caps for LegislatorsDear Editor,
Been reflecting on the Legislature's inability to legislate this session ... then it dawned on me: Our experienced legislators were redistricted out for some bankrupt conservative agenda. I mean, what else could we expect from a bunch of snot-nosed freshmen impressed with their newfound conservative status?
I think this freshman class ought to be required to wear those beanie caps with propellers on top when in town (or when handling snakes under the revival tent back home) ... something more appropriate for the status they've earned this session.
Is This Responsible Progress?Dear Editor,
I am personally appalled by the raping of the land that is happening all around us. Is Austin becoming a megalopolis? Where are the city planners? Why is the city allowing ongoing construction on I-35 South and North? Can we not have a moratorium on construction within the boundaries of Austin? Why are Kyle, Buda, and Round Rock allowing all this strip-mall construction to go on? Is everything for sale? Our elected officials in the suburbs are taking farm land and selling it to the highest bidder. Is no land precious? Where are we going to stop? What are the city and town boundaries? I envision Austin, San Marcos, and San Antonio as one big, giant, connected city. The focus should be on construction toward the city center. Yes, construction is happening, but for the rich and wealthy. Tax relief should be given to builders who are willing to set up a percent of the construction to benefit teachers, firemen, etc. If I have a choice, I will prefer to be riding my bike to work versus commuting with my wife in two separate cars. As a cyclist, I am appalled by TxDOT and the building of this multibillion dollar superhighway toll road under construction.
Let me advise you that I am for progress. But this is not progress. This is the raping of the land. There is what we call responsible growth and currently our elected officials, and the AMDs, and the Wal-Marts are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of the precious green land. We need more greenbelt, more SOS, more spotted owl and salamander problems to wake us up that we are the problem versus the solution.
Telling Incident?Dear Editor,
At the corner of Fourth and Congress, a confused-looking man in business attire walking toward Frost Bank says to a woman crossing opposite in an outfit exposing her possibly pregnant belly "You're pregnant and you're wearing that?"
They did not appear to be familiar.
I've been trying to convince my friends that the changes around us are the symptoms of an improving Austin. I ... may have been wrong? Will I say something next time? Will banker-man take away my house if I do? What would be an appropriate response?
I'm thinking it over.
Thanks ... but I Have Been Here Over a DecadeTo Stephen Moser,
Thanks so much for the plug in your column, "After a Fashion" [July 22]! I had a great time spinning that party. It was a unique opportunity for me. To spin dance beats in such a traditionally nondance environment as Threadgill's!
So ya know, I am not new to the scene here. I've been playing in Austin since 1992. I DJ'd at Oilcan Harry's for nearly a decade under the tag DJ Dig'm. I have also played at the Boys Cellar, Dicks, and did a year of after hours at Midtowne Spa. The whole Chris Allen thing is kind of a rebirth. Letting go of the past and moving into the future.
I am stoked that you dug my set! And thanx for the Web site plug too!
DJ Chris Allenp.s. I agree the fauxhawk is tragic!
Open Letter to InitialsDear Editor,
Hey NASA, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA, you wieners are such wealthy acronyms. Open your minds real wide and think about how you could focus some of your wealth on the less popular, more significant acronym AIDS, or how you could spend some of your millions investigating corruption in the CIA, GOP, and IMF.
This Has to Be Conceptual HumorDear Editor,
On Sunday I listened to an expert on television who had studied suicide bombers and why they are willing to blow themselves up. He concluded that they are young boys between 16 and 20 years of age, and they are taught that Allah will give them 72 virgins in heaven if they do this heinous act. They need to be told the truth, that they have been lied to and they will spend eternity in a burning hell in torment and with no virgins. Unless they repent before God and change their ways, there is no hope for them. Why not try this approach?
Probation ReformDear Editor,
Recently the state Legislature wrestled with the problem of probation reform. Very little was mentioned about deferred adjudication probation. This form of probation was designed for first-time offenders. In theory it should give the offender a chance to rehabilitate, complete the program, and emerge without a criminal record. It does anything but that. Consider the following.
The offender is told that their criminal record will be clear if they successfully complete deferred adjudication. This is a lie. Deferred adjudication is treated as a conviction for law enforcement purposes.
This deferred adjudication is public record and displayed on the Department of Public Safety Web site, and at the county courthouse. The information is then sold to Internet background search companies. This deferred adjudication information is available to anyone and everyone.
The person can and will be denied employment, housing, insurance, loans, and in some cases access to their own children and their activities because of this deferred adjudication. It is treated and looked upon as a conviction. Do not believe otherwise.
Sometimes the person can obtain an order of nondisclosure to "hide" their deferred adjudication records. In some cases the person is not allowed an order of nondisclosure and this offense will follow them the rest of their life. For felonies they must wait five years from the day their probation ends to obtain this relief. Misdemeanors vary from immediate to two years.
No wonder the system is such a mess. This constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. These people are not legally convicted yet they are treated as such. The state of Texas needs to honor its commitment. Deferred adjudication should result in a true dismissal. For more information please visit www.deferredadjudication.org.
U.S. Sen. Lincoln for PresidentDear Editor,
Some people believe it's too early to be thinking about the 2008 presidential election. U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas is not on the radar of most political pundits. But as a founding member of a grassroots committee that hopes to convince her to run for president, let me tell you why she should be.
Lincoln, who lacks a history of political scandals or negative baggage, can speak to the values held by working families and people in middle America. She is a vocal proponent for an independent U.S. Supreme Court. Her initiatives have encouraged the growth of farm subsidies, child tax credits, nutrition, caring for the elderly, and biodiesel fuel as an alternative energy source.
Furthermore, Sen. Lincoln is best equipped to promote a national strategy that will enhance the merits of Democrats all the way down the ticket. She speaks honestly and eloquently about how education, child care, rural development, health care, and Social Security cohesively tie in to the issue of values. Lincoln would be a logical spokesperson to reframe the morality debate on behalf of Democrats across the country. Democratic Party leaders who want to truly broaden their party's appeal in "red" and "purple" states should take a closer look at Sen. Lincoln: www.lincoln2008.com. Blanche Lincoln is the first potential candidate for the White House to excite and inspire me, as a young, independent voter. I encourage all voters to examine her merits as a dynamic presidential contender for the 21st century.
Eau Claire, Wis.
President and founding member, Lincoln2008