Our readers talk back.
To Fight and to WinDear Editor,
I was pleased with Michael King's recent article about my decision to retire from the Legislature ["Senator Farewell," News, Sept. 16]. I believe it was as fair and objective as his work has always been.
I would like to add to one particular comment he included, which stated that "I would rather fight and lose every time, and be right, [rather] than go along and get along." Overall, I believe a more accurate reflection of my philosophy is that I would rather be right, fight, and win. We had a lot of successes over the years, and I remain proud of them along with all the battles we waged for people, regardless of the outcome.
Thank you, Michael, for your work and dedication and thank you to all of you at The Austin Chronicle who help maintain it as an excellent resource for staying informed.
The Nature of WealthDear Editor,
I read Michael Ventura's "Letters @ 3am" every week and always love the standpoint that he takes. Something in last week's "If New Orleans Were Dry" piece hit a nerve though [Sept. 16]. He explains that the unequal distribution of wealth is caused by there being a predefined amount of wealth. In my experience, wealth is merely a measuring device for those goods and services that one can trade to a buyer. This buyer trades his wealth for the good or service because he values the product more than the wealth that he has relinquished. By this theorem, as population grows, so does wealth. I accept the truth that our economy will be turned on its head due to our dependence on petroleum. About time. Wealth will no longer be determined by how much oil you can dig out of the ground. A new "industrial lubricant" will come out, and we will be left in the dust for a few decades while new industrial and military giants surpass us (think China) because they were able to adapt. Sorry, just went on a tangent. The point is that wealth is not limited to as great a degree as you purport. It seems to be based on petroleum right now because that is what our world, especially the U.S., is dependent on now. Wealth is like energy; it is almost infinite, we just need to know how to harness it.
Todd G. Bush
Don't Confuse With Facts ...Louis Black,
After reading your column "Page Two: President Know-Nothing" [Sept. 16], I was struck by certain ironies in your sarcastic, political satire. The "history" of the Bush culture seems to be influenced more by their own ideology than by the actual events and results of the past. The most profound irony I observed was comparing Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler. Nazi Germany arose from the Weimar Republic, which was a failed attempt at a German democracy imposed on them by the allies under the terms of the Versailles Treaty. Kaiser Wilhelm II (not Hitler) was the ruler of Germany prior to World War I. Hitler was born in Austria not Germany. He was appointed chancellor of Germany by then President Hindenburg (whom had won a majority of the popular vote) in an attempt to avert a civil war. This was during the Great Depression, and the German economy had failed. Hitler's demagoguery had won the support of the mainly unemployed German working class who were rioting in the streets. Iraq, on the other hand, was a former British colony governed by a constitutional monarchy which was finally overthrown. It eventually became ruled by the Baath Party. Saddam Hussein, who was born in Iraq, took control only after a series of violent struggles. He was the ruler of Iraq in both Gulf Wars.
Isn't it ironic that U.S. attempts at establishing/imposing democracy on others (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq) have either failed or had limited success? Yet, George W. insists he knows best how to reconstruct both Iraq and New Orleans (and the Mississippi Delta region). While Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster, the war in Iraq remains a lingering "miracle" (not a quagmire) of the Bush administration. Perhaps instead of quoting George Santayana, the Bush culture could have its own precarious quote: "Don't confuse me with the facts; we have an ideology!"
A Wake-Up Call for AmericaDear Editor,
I have always enjoyed your point of view, Michael [Ventura], even when I thought you were totally off the mark. On this occasion I couldn't agree with you more ["Letters @ 3am," Sept. 16]. The America that we all know is, at a quick pace or a slow pace, coming to its inevitable end. This is not a claim of pending doom (depending on who you are it could be). It's a wake-up call we all need to answer. We did this to ourselves and so will be the recipients of the rewards. There is only one result of burying our heads for so long not seeing the pack of wolves with designs on our posteriors. Get ready, everyone. When it happens it's going to hurt. Bad.
Album Full of War ImagesDear Editor,
Thanks for plugging McMurtry's Childish Things ["Terms of Engagement," Music, Sept. 9]. However, I would question "See the Elephant" and "Memorial Day" being whimsical. Everyone's talking about "We Can't Make It Here" being overtly political, and how it takes aim at those in power, going to war, and playing with people's lives. But "See the Elephant" is about young people going to attend a military recruiting event. "See the Elephant" is an expression for facing the heat of battle. "Memorial Day" is an ironic twist on our obligatory family gatherings when we should be honoring those who have died in war. The closing number recounts a guardsman recalled to Iraq even in "Bad Enough" McMurtry uses combat imagery. This whole album is imbued with images of war. I think that's worth pointing out. No one has.
Ugly, Mean, Hurtful ReviewDear Editor,
I am writing in regard to Jim Caligiuri's review of my CD Freddie Steady Go! ["Texas Platters," Music, Sept. 16]. Concerning the songs I chose to cover being cool, Jim wrote, "But cool obviously means something different to Krc and friends than it does to most people." If by "most people" he means himself, I agree. Record distributor Texas Music Roundup said it was their biggest presale CD. Every review and e-mail that's come in from around the world has been great, except Jim's.
Jim wrote that my covers were "note-for-note re-creations." To an untrained ear that may seem so, but in reality subtle differences make these versions mine. If I didn't like the original version, I wouldn't have covered the song! Jim wrote that my versions were so close to the originals, why bother. I hold these songs in the highest regard. For me to reinterpret them would be like looking at a Picasso and saying, "You know, Pablo, that's great but what I think you meant to do was ..."
Yes, I lived this era of Texas rock & roll. I was between 10-13 when these songs were first released. I've been playing some of them since the time I was in my first rock group at age 10. Just because we know who Doug Sahm & the Elevators are doesn't mean everyone does. I did this collection to pay tribute to the people who influenced me as a young musician and further spread awareness of great Texas rock & roll.
I always hear from music journalists how many CDs come across their desk weekly. I'm trying to imagine why Jim wouldn't pick one he liked to inform his readers about rather than write such an ugly, hurtful, mean-spirited review of mine.
Freddie Steady Krc
Doesn't Like ReviewerDear Editor,
It just baffles me that Jim Caliguiri is still writing reviews of folk-style music. It baffles me that he gets the assignments, and it baffles me that he takes them. He clearly dislikes entire subgenres of folk music that many of us love. Please find someone who cares about the music and give them the assignment. At least that way, we might learn something. And while I'm at it, even when Caligiuri writes about music that he likes, he's a wormy, incoherent hack. So many great writers in this city, and he's still on your payroll?
Not Hip Enough for Austin?Dear Editor,
Re: American Analog Set: Excellent article about a real band ["Static Between Stations," Music, Sept. 16]. It caught my eye because I went to high school in Las Cruces with Craig McCaffrey and was wondering what had happened to him. Heard he had moved to Chicago. I got to Austin after he left for greener/less annoying pastures. From what I can gather, he was part of a rather impressive early Nineties scene.
American Analog Set has managed to stay completely off my radar; I'm not hip enough for this town. Never have been. Not quite sure what I'm still doing here.
But I digress: excellent article, and I'm purchasing their entire catalog, while I can, while they last.
Thanks for the wonderful words.
A Great Horror MovieDear Editor,
I find I often agree with Marc Savlov's movie reviews, but when I do not, I heartily disagree. In my opinion, The Exorcism of Emily Rose [Film Listings, Sept. 16] is that rarest of 21st-century horror films: genuinely horrifying in places (I gasped out loud at the title character's shocking, yet believable, contortions), and charged throughout with a pervading sense of knuckle-biting menace, while at the same time wrestling with issues of faith and the supernatural and questioning the reality of the very events we are witnessing on screen. Despite what Marc says, the film's flashback sequences are utterly enthralling; we see the nightmare world of demons as the victim herself (of psychosis? Of actual spiritual possession?) would have experienced them, a pulse-quickening, first-person approach that even the Friedkin/Blatty mother-of-all exorcism movies does not provide. As highly as I regard The Exorcist, I found the titular ritual here to be more dynamic and powerful than in the rather slow-moving climax of that 1973 film. As to the matter of belief, that the lawyer played by Laura Linney enters and exits the case with a healthy degree of skepticism to me simply suggests the all-too-human inclination to doubt with the mind that of which the heart has long been certain. While I'm not suggesting that seeing this film will make believers of us all, it does provoke thought and discussion, and as a bonus, it's goddamn scary.
Noah D. Henson
A Career in Politics?Dear Editor,
Thank you so much for printing the lovely letter from Ms. Heimer last week ["Postmarks," Sept. 16]. I would sadly like to point out to her, though, that her use of the word "commies" is a little dated. Sadder still is that those who used it the most in its heyday (the paranoid Fifties) are widely regarded in modern times to have been anti-American, knee-jerk idiots, hellbent on destroying the fundamental principles of our country. But that's just history, something Ms. Heimer clearly has no interest in.
Of course, what do I know ... after all, I'm a dirty pinko commie and a terrorist to boot. Better put me in some kind of "happy camp" where I can't cause any ruckus.
On a side note, Ms. Heimer, your ability to toe the party line and regurgitate rhetoric while simultaneously alienating your audience makes you extremely well qualified to be White House press secretary. Have you considered a career in politics? Or possibly as an unpaid intern on the O'Reilly Factor?
Best wishes, hugs, and kisses,
Mike "Dub" Wainwright
I always pick up the Chronicle whenever I see a new issue. I always check out what's going on around town, events, music, etc.
I hate to admit this, but I hardly ever get the chance to read the articles. Anyway, I have a new job with a lot of "down time," so I started reading the articles.
The article "If New Orleans Were Dry" by Michael Ventura was awesome ["Letters @ 3am," Sept. 16]! That should be required reading for ... well, everyone! Thanks for the article, info, insight, etc.
And, I will continue to read the Chronicle, and not just browse. Good work!
Review ReviewDear Editor,
I am requesting that the Chronicle consider submitting another review of the album Delete.Delete.I.Eat.Meat... by Ghostland Observatory, and this time from someone who has their "pulse" on good music. The review and comparisons to other artists don't make sense and lead me to wonder if the CD was even listened to. Had the reviewer provided some legitimate/truthful comparisons to other artists and music, I would have considered his/her opinion valid. However, in this case, I own the CD and know that his/her review is false. After having read this review, I don't believe that I will be allowing the Chronicle to provide me with the insight on good music anymore. Ghostland Observatory is good music.
Tie-Dye Groovemaster Should Stick to Singer-SongwritersJay Trachtenberg,
You must not know anything about Latin jazz music. First, Michael Rodriguez of the Brew sounds along the lines of Al Di Meola and Strunz & Farah. Like "Rumba del Cielo," "Jalapeno Charlie," "Engano," and "Manzanillo" (Brew originals), which you do not even mention in your review ["Texas Platters," Music, Sept. 16]. This is the second time the Chronicle has reviewed a Brew CD and talked only about a cover song and totally ignored the original songs (by Michael Rodriguez). It's as if you only go to the cover songs; the Brew is known for their original songs. I would advise the Brew to not even send in a request for the Chronicle to review their CDs because it is obvious that you do not listen to the CD. Rumba Caliente is more of a flamenco jazz style CD, didn't you even listen? The reason the Brew fans buy their CDs is because of the original songs. The fans go to see Michael Rodriguez because of his incredible fiery flamenco-style guitar, which you never mention in your review how disrespectful! Your two stars are a joke ... this CD is top-notch. You should stick to reviewing singer-songwriter music, because that is all you and the Chronicle pay attention to.
Death vs. SexDearest Austin Chronicle,
Political observers are comparing the government's failure in handling the Katrina disaster to that of the Iraq war. In both instances, thousands of lives were lost as a direct result of the ineptitude of the federal government during G.W.'s tenure in office. Yet, he's still the head of our country. I don't recall anyone dying as a result of Clinton's perjury about an extramarital affair, and he was impeached.
The owners of a nursing home in N.O. were charged with several counts of negligent homicide for not protecting their residents, or as Attorney General Charles C. Foti stated (as reported in The New York Times), "In effect, I think that their inactions resulted in the death of these people." Following that logic, shouldn't G.W. be charged with negligent homicide for not protecting the residents of the Gulf Coast when his inactions resulted in the deaths of these people?
Surely the American public does not believe perjury about an extramarital affair is more worthy of impeachment than essentially murdering thousands of innocent Americans.
Wondering about the Repubs' so-called family values,
Abolish the Death PenaltyDear Editor,
News of the execution of Frances Newton has reached Australia and traveled the world, highlighting a tragic paradox ["Without Evidence: Executing Frances Newton," News, Sept. 9].
Many Texans have been working tirelessly and selflessly to extend help and compassion to others suffering from recent events in New Orleans. The poor and the dispossessed have been offered kindness and benevolence.
Sadly, that lesson appears not to have been learned by Gov. Rick Perry, the Texas Board of Pardons & Paroles, or Texan legislators.
The international reputation of Texas and the USA has been tarnished by this execution and by the hundreds of other similar killings. Your nation cannot claim any moral high ground or leadership in the international human rights arena.
Surely it is time to put aside this barbarity and to abolish the death penalty altogether.
While the rest of the world looks forward in the 21st century, Texas appears to be languishing behind in the 16th.
Victoria 3088, Australia
Pledging Other People's MoneyDear Editor,
First let me say that I think it is wonderful to see people donate to all the different Katrina funds. But I wonder, maybe the poor folks should be "on" the telethons and the rich folk who make millions per movie picture or TV episode or own the very TV stations and major newspapers we are watching the Katrina struggle on should be calling in with their million-dollar pledges.
Nah ... it'll never work. But it would be nice.
Let's Throw a Party for Them!Dear Louis Black,
I know this has been done to death, but I'm talking about a concert where they attend, not a fundraiser. You know as well as anyone the musical link between Austin and New Orleans. Let's share our music with the citizens from the city that has given us jazz. We could serve them some wonderful Austin barbecue, as well as rice and beans. With the ACL concerts coming up, couldn't we give our New Orleans friends a special preconcert show? The equipment and bandstand will already be there.
Also, I really enjoy your "Page Two." Have missed it the past few weeks, but I really understand why you needed to take a break. However, it's time you got back to it. We need your resonant voice.
Waiting for "Prairie Wind'Dear Editor,
What a wonderful review of Prairie Wind; I can't wait to hear it ["Old King: Neil Young and Jonathan Demme in Nashville," Web Extra, Aug. 26, austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2005-08-26/music_feature2.html]. I spent an evening with a young talented singer from Calgary who gave me a little background on Neil Young's home in Manitoba, the land of the Canadian prairie. Her name was Susan Wheatly. Thanks for the review.
Thank You, AustinTo the city of Austin:
My daughter sent "Home From Home" [News, Sept. 9] by Amy Smith to me by e-mail and told me more about your efforts over the phone.
I have heard all kinds of blame-fixing over the radio/TV stations, and I'm so tired of the childish behavior of some reporters and citizens in this regard. I am so pleased and enlightened to hear and read about the monumental and heartwarming efforts being made by the city of Austin, and other generous cities as well, for the victims of this horrific storm! I have printed out the article in its entirety to give to each person who utters any more negatives my way.
Unfortunately, improvements are often instituted after a disaster (i.e., fire escapes after the great Chicago fire) and defects are exposed. Now, however, American heroes are rallying again to help those in need of relief. I can see that Mayor Wynn and the city of Austin are helping these victims to cope with their broken lives and look forward to the future. It is these Americans who makes me so proud to be an American!
Thank you, Amy Smith, and thank you, Austin! When I put out my flag, I will be proud to pledge my allegiance to a country made up of people like you.