Our readers talk back.
Environmentalists Will Screw Up ReconstructionDear Editor,
Speaking of fantasy, the editor is so desperate to put a negative heading on my letter he's tripping out about "good right wingers" ["Postmarks Online," Sept. 2]? The only people I mentioned at all were environmental extremists, and the fact that they will indeed file lawsuits to prevent any new construction on what is deemed a "sensitive habitat." And the slight fact that anything, either moving the entire city to doing what's needed to protect New Orleans in place will indeed impact habitat, spawning the lawsuits. If the editor cares to deny that, let him do so without his usual personal attacks on me. He seems to be the one so desperate to mention "righties" when I never did. I think that's called deflecting attention from the point of the letter, which he either is unwilling to address or didn't understand.
Sweet "Rag' MemoriesDear Editor,
Great to see the article about The Rag ["Everything Old Is New Again," News, Sept. 2] ... and especially nice to see the pic of Danny Schweers. A terrific person, sweet as all get-out, with the inevitable, indelible smile. Thanks for that memory.
Chris Gray, Brain Damaged?Dear Chris Gray,
Your tirade about the smoking ban is selfish and nonfactual ["TCB," Music, Sept. 2]. You really didn't know that the citizens voted for it? You think the city "imposed" this on you? And now it's Lance Armstrong's fault because of his "deep pockets"? Are you brain damaged from secondhand smoke?
The smoke-free public place/workplace laws around the country are designed to protect employees and the public from secondhand smoke, which is the combination of smoke exhaled by a smoker and the smoke from a burning cigarette. This combination is dangerous for both the smoker and the nonsmoker; it contains more than 4,000 chemicals and includes 43 known to cause cancer. In '93, the EPA classified secondhand smoke as a class A carcinogen, like asbestos and radon, and there is no safe level of exposure. Waitresses have higher rates of lung cancer and heart disease than any other traditionally female occupation. One eight-hour shift in a smoky bar equals smoking 16 cigarettes, and two hours in the same bar equals smoking four cigarettes.
All people have a right to work in an asbestos-free, smoke-free environment, including those who make their careers as bartenders, servers, bussers, band members, etc. Being a cancer patient who works in the service industry and who also enjoys seeing my favorite bands play in clubs, I am thrilled to have the option of going out again. Why do you deserve a smoke-free office/workplace and I don't? Why is your health more valuable than mine?
If this is really going to cause you to sit at home just so that you can smoke, then you are a sad, antisocial nut. I will take your place in the bars and clubs and enjoy every smoke-free minute of it.
Try AustinChronicle.comDear Editor,
I just leafed through the Chronicle and was disappointed not to find a section listing coffee shops in the city. There were a few ads sprinkled here and there but no section that I could see.
I'm on a quest for the perfect latte, and a section listing the available coffee establishments would be helpful.
[Editor's note: For a listing of area coffee shops please see our Restaurant Guide at austinchronicle.com/gbase/Guides/Restaurant and search by Type of Cuisine (Bakery/Coffeehouse).]
Empty Promises?Dear Editor,
In his May 30, 2003, "Page Two," Louis Black promised to "run a box ... noting ... whenever a business folds as a consequence" of the smoking ban.
I have two questions: Have any notices been run, and will he print any business failings as a result of the newest ban?
I Remember!Dear Editor,
In the Sept. 2 issue of the Chronicle ["Postmarks"], Tena Tamblyn asks if we remember what happened September 11, 2001. Yes, Tena, I remember that a group led by a Saudi, Osama bin Laden, brother to George W. Bush's first business partner, attacked the United States. The attack was in retaliation for the presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic holy land. The group was composed almost entirely of Saudis. Financing was done through the wife of the UN delegate from Saudi Arabia. More than half of the foreign fighters killing our children in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia. So the Bush response was to cherry-pick intelligence to sell an invasion of the secular Islamic nation of Iraq. Our president still holds hands with the leaders of the country most responsible for the spilling of American blood. Yeah, I remember 9/11. And know that all Bush supporters have the blood of our children on their hands.
John M. Williams
Biscuit Touched Many LivesDear Editor,
Randy "Biscuit" Turner had a huge influence on my life as a young person in Austin ["True Today," Music, Aug. 26]. I first met him in 1982 at a show. He impressed me with his humor onstage and then later ... his support to me as a young, gay, female punk rocker. He spoke to me and gave me support, and I never forgot it. And apparently, he never forgot me! I met him several times after that, and he always gave me words of encouragement as a fellow artist. Even after I moved away to California and visited Austin, I still ran into him and he always remembered me and asked me about my art. He offered connections for me in San Francisco and always gave me positive words. If I was just a blip on his radar, imagine what he did for those closest to him.
This man never forgot my name after 10 years and never failed to remember my goals as an artist and person and always encouraged me. He was a great influence on my life as a human and as an artist. He taught me that attitude in the punk rock community was just silly. I always was welcomed by him. He shaped me in some way to be the person I am now. Accepting and gracious ... welcoming fun ... trying to promote acceptance. He probably never knew that little Shelly Dutcher was so incredibly influenced by his loving and kind words. But, I guess that was what he was ultimately about. Giving. Giving every moment without attitude and trying to make a better world for himself and all of us. I thank God I knew him. He shaped me unknowingly. He made me feel there was a place in the world for me.
I spend a lot of my time trying to make other young people feel that there is a place for them, working with troubled youth and in my profession. There is a huge part of me and my adult behavior that has been clearly influenced by Randy Turner. He may never have known how many souls he shaped. I wish I could have told him. In my future, I look forward to sitting in a lawn chair with him in heaven and doing a little art project together.
I hope many others were as touched and changed by his life as I have been.
Love to all,
Smoking Ban WorkingDear Editor,
I celebrated the smoking ordinance on Sept. 1 with an evening of Bloody Marys and the lively jazz of the Pete Rodriguez Quintet at the Elephant Room. I had only visited this formerly smoky jazz club once before and relished the chance to return there for all the jazz and none of the smoke. I met some friends and stayed till well after midnight and returned home with no sinus congestion, no burning eyes or sore throat, no need to quarantine my clothes, or jump in the shower. It was great for me, and the solid Thursday night crowd indicated that Austin will not be deterred from live music by the smoking ban. Now let's hope I make it to work on time.
Where Was God?Dear Editor,
To all the Christians who want to push Jesus and God on every warm body they encounter: Where was your God during and after that hurricane? On the throne?
To all the churches that are now giving actual help to the people in need: Thank you for proving that people need to do the work that a loving God refuses to do, after he refused to prevent the disaster in the first place.
I'm so glad that humanism is in full swing in America.
Ventura's Piece GreatDear Editor,
I live in Puerto Rico and had never heard of The Austin Chronicle before. I found Michael Ventura's article "$4 a Gallon" ["Letters at 3am," April 29] on a blog and read it out of curiosity. This is one of the best pieces I have read regarding the connection between mass transit, increasing oil prices, and the future of suburbia. Because of this article I will now begin to continually read The Austin Chronicle in search of other great pieces like this.
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Name the Musicians!Dear Editor,
For someone who plays live as rarely as Jandek, who is so secretive and sensitive, I would assume he is very picky about whom he might want to play with. However, your article [Live Shot, Music, Sept. 2] does not mention the names of the "two drummers and a bassist" who "backed" Jandek for his Austin concert, and in my opinion was disrespectful in its tentativeness to find a descriptive detail about them: "(all of whom looked at least 20 years his junior)." So let's give a hand to three wonderful musicians who had the honor to play with Jandek on Aug. 28:
Chris Cogburn, percussion (Austin); Nick Hennies, percussion (Austin); and Juan Garcia, bass (Houston).
Damnedest ThingDear Editor,
I saw the damnedest thing this week. I stopped at a gas station on Burnet, and when I went in to pay for my gas there was was an APD officer (in uniform) and a homeless guy (cardboard sign in hand) at the counter, talking like they were long lost brothers ... and both of them had lit cigarettes in their hands. Just standin' right there at the register and smokin' like it was 1955. Damnedest thing.
Is Austin actually going to enforce this "smoking ban" thing ["911, We've Got a Smoker," Music, Sept. 2]?
Is Anyone Wondering Why?Dear Editor,
Does anyone wonder why New Orleans is currently in a chaotic state despite the prediction of this very scenario? Does anyone wonder why people are needlessly living in bodily waste, stepping over bodies, suffering from dehydration, contending with looters and rape gangs, and can't escape to civilization which is just a few miles down the road? Because we've sent all our troops, reserves, and National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan and don't have enough for the protection and services of those living here.
Also, this is why you can't depend upon private charities to take up the slack that the government should be doing. The Red Cross can only do so much, and they don't have an armed wing to provide cover to make sure that the rest of their volunteers can do the job.
Focus on N.O. DismayingDear Editor,
I have closely watched the misery unfolding in New Orleans, and I have been dismayed by some of the media coverage. I am disappointed that more stories haven't highlighted why so many didn't flee the city. An enormous amount of the population doesn't have cars. Because of its size many residents were able to walk, bike, and bus wherever they needed to go. From media coverage, people might get the impression that those stuck in the city deserve their fate for not evacuating. But many people didn't have a means to evacuate and shouldn't be blamed for the disaster that has befallen them.
Secondly, I am very disappointed by the focus on looting. I think none of us can know how we would react if we survived such a hurricane only to find that there is nothing left but hungry mouths to feed. Looting may be a problem, but how can it not be when an already impoverished population finds itself with no home, no jobs, and little hope ahead? The focus should be on why aid didn't arrive more quickly and how we can help the many families that are now homeless. I pray for the loved ones I had in New Orleans and wish all Katrina victims may find safety.
We Made It UpDear Editor,
Thanks for printing a review of the Iron Kite's No Eyebrows CD ["Texas Platters," Music, Sept. 2]. However, Audra Schroeder, I'd like to point out a huge discrepancy. In your review you state the "term" Iron Kite comes from an online D&D-esque video game. Perhaps this is so, but it's not where we got the name for the group. The name actually came from a more immediate source. We made it up!
Incompetent AdministrationDear sirs,
I have never written a letter to the editor before, but recent events in Iraq and New Orleans have pushed me to speak out. If one examines the performance of the Bush administration from a practical standpoint and removes the politics of culture, one cannot help but come to the conclusion that this bunch is incompetent. After the poor logistical performance in pursuing the war in Iraq, New Orleans is yet another example of the fact that this bunch is more interested in winning elections than governing the country effectively. All the empty excuses offered in the face of the recent disaster ring hollow to anyone who has a shred of knowledge of the resources our military and government are capable of putting on the ground. Why weren't the needed supplies and transportation resources moved to within safe distance of New Orleans and then staged in? We knew this disaster was possible for days. Where are the mobile water-purification units the Army can deliver and set up on short notice? When a group of people is focused on shoving as much money into its friends' and own pockets as fast as it can, this leaves little time to bother with the hard work of governance. God bless and help America; we need it.
Andrew J. Lee
Authentic American HeroDear Editor,
I really enjoyed the article on Camp Casey ["Weekend at Casey's," Web Extra, Sept. 2]. My wife and I were up there on Saturday, and it gave you a very satisfying feeling to be with an authentic American hero Cindy Sheehan.
Simply the Best ReviewDear Editor,
Simply the best review of a concert, of a musician, of Neil Young ["Old King: Neil Young and Jonathan Demme in Nashville," Web Extra, Aug. 26, austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2005-08-26/music_feature2.html]. I've read so many insipid reviews in my five decades on this sorry planet that I am shocked to read something so sensitive, compelling, and all-inclusive. Well done, Mr. Black ... a pity a talent such as yours cannot be taught. You've obviously lived it.
Las Vegas, Nev.
Maybe Bush's Bucket Had a Hole in It?Dear Editor,
Bush would have been more help if he had a bucket.
Who Is the Real Terrorist?Dear Editor,
Right now, some of our finest citizens are struggling to save the lives and homes of several thousand residents of the beautiful city of New Orleans. It's a tragedy that this had to happen, as the worst of it could have been avoided.
But what's that you say? How does one avoid a natural disaster such as a hurricane? Well, for one, you have to repair and maintain the levees that keep your city dry. The federal government had promised more than $450 million to Nahlens to repair their rapidly deteriorating levee system. Unfortunately around 2003 that federal funding was cut off (an 80% reduction in funds) by the White House in response to growing budget tension as it became more and more important to blow up innocent people on the other side of the world and give tax cuts to millionaires, and less important to maintain the vital infrastructure of our country. Hurricane Katrina simply pushed through the weakest point of New Orleans' lifeline. Now we have thousands dead, billions of dollars' worth of damage, and coming soon to a pump near you: $4 a gallon and economic crisis.
This has got to be the last straw. If it weren't for this god-awful war and these idiotic tax cuts we might have avoided at least some of this disaster. And while New Orleans would have been hit, and hit hard, it might not have wound up 10 feet under water and uninhabitable for the next few years, a cesspool of debris and toxic waste, and possibly a jump-off point for the next great plague.
Bush's policies are terrorism. Both against the world and the people of this country.
Mike "Dub" Wainwright
A Grand VisionDear Editor,
With more than 5,000 evacuees coming to live in our city, we have an incredible opportunity to help them get their lives started again.
I would like to call on all the educational institutions and corporations in the area to think of, sponsor, and provide these refugees with training programs, gratis of course, in skills they now need to get their lives back into some semblance of order.
With the reconstruction of New Orleans on the horizon, thousands of these folks could learn skills in construction, plumbing, electrical, sanitation, and operation of temporary cities, and then be ready to jump right in when the call comes to be able to contribute to the rebuilding of their homeland.
Other courses in how to re-establish their finances, education on assistance programs that are available to them, and skills in starting over are a few good ideas.
There are a hundred other things Austinites could arrange to help our guests weather this tragedy for the interim, such as developing recreational programs and providing entertainment like free movie nights or concerts for them to divert their attention from their situation, even for a moment.
I don't know how such programs could get off the ground, but I have confidence in the leadership of our local corporations and educational officials to make it happen. Let's have these evacuees tell their children and grandchildren how Austinites came to their aid and made them feel welcome and empowered to re-establish their lives.
They were our neighbors; now they're our guests, and they need our help. Let's do it in a unique and wonderful way that demonstrates the resourcefulness and generosity of our community.
Price GougingDear Editor,
Remember when raising the prices of a commodity after a national emergency or disaster would have been called profiteering and/or price gouging? It used to be illegal, but with the Republicans running the show, I see that isn't a problem for the major oil companies and their subsidiaries.
Dark though this may be, I wonder if the heads of the puppet and the puppet masters were shaved, would we find 666 tattooed on them?