Our readers talk back.
Gray Wrong on ButterfieldDear Editor,
Let's all hope the mighty Sir Douglas Quintet finally makes it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year, but it's a burn that Christopher Gray so easily dismisses the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's qualifications because they're not "rock & roll enough" ["TCB," Music, Oct. 7]. Has Gray ever listened to their first two albums? Those mind-warping sets are still unequaled for sheer inspiration and accomplishment. Maybe that's why Bob Dylan asked the Butterfield Band to back him when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, or how almost every San Francisco band had their minds blown by the Butterfield bunch's ability to improvise for hours when they ruled the ballrooms there in 1966. I'd go as far as to say that the early Paul Butterfield Blues Band was one of the most influential groups in the history of rock & roll. I'll never forget reading Rolling Stone magazine's 1969 report on the Woodstock festival, where they said that of all the musicians backstage at that event, none got more respect from the other musicians than Paul Butterfield. And he's not even a Texan!
Studio City, Calif.
Need to Cover More RapDear Editor,
No disrespect but I don't see how the Chronicle can go week after week of not covering rap music. It's kind of funny to know that hip-hop music has some of the biggest albums every year but you wouldn't know that people listen to rap if you read the Chronicle. And I don't mean doing another feature on Overlord, Bavu Blakes, or some other UT co-op performer. There are real hip-hop Austin artists and producers with styles that are definitely street, groovy, and jumping. Your reporters just have to know who they are and where they at (and no you can't find them on Sixth Street). I have the scoop. I'm in the business because it's the music I love and I'm tired of Austin being overlooked by Houston when it comes to talent in the rap category. I sent my last CD in and even dropped one off personally for Christopher Gray and didn't get a call back, interview, nothing. And that's cool if the paper doesn't want to cover our music. But at least be up-front about it. Austin, "Live Music Capital of the World but No Urban Music."
Need Bike and Walking PathsDear Editor,
One reason for the failure to evacuate New Orleans was that there was no way for people without cars to walk away from danger. The emergency plan for Austin is probably just like the one for New Orleans: Assume that everyone will get out by private car. Ignore the fact that people without cars won't dare leave on foot or on bicycle, for fear of being run over by people with cars.
Suppose we had paths for walkers and cyclists that connected Austin to other towns and cities. (Such paths exist in Europe, in the northeastern U.S., and in some western states.) Then, in an emergency, people could flee on foot, on bicycles, and even in wheelchairs. Feet and bicycles are faster than cars in traffic jams or cars without fuel. The most effective way to move large numbers of people is to make use of the most basic means of transportation walking.
Austin's mayor, Will Wynn, has asked for ideas for ways to permanently commemorate Lance Armstrong's seventh consecutive victory in the Tour de France. What better way than to build hike-and-bike paths linking Austin to other cities? That way, Austin could actually evacuate in an emergency.
And should we be lucky enough to have no emergencies, those hike-and-bike paths won't go to waste. They would become lined with small, local businesses inns, restaurants, stores, and campgrounds that could lead to a new sort of car-free vacation, recreation, and tourism. You could walk to San Antonio and gain weight on the way, if you stopped for food often enough. It could be like Quebec's Route Verte.
This is an idea whose time has come.
Enforcing Codes Is UnusualDear Editor,
The only thing that is really unusual about Trudy's South Congress Cafe building without getting the proper permits and clearance from the city is that for some reason the city has chosen the really unique position of actually enforcing the city's own building codes ["Illegal SoCo Cafe Deck 86ed for Now," News, Oct. 7]. This in itself is a real rarity. Has anyone noticed the decks and patios just two or three blocks north of City Hall that protrude out over the sidewalks forcing pedestrians to cross the street or walk in the lanes of traffic in order to pass by these businesses? Geez, I sure wish I could just extend my property lines onto what is supposed to be public right-of-way!
Too Stupid to Know BetterDear Editor,
Hey, it's really simple. If you don't want to get shot or Tasered, don't run from or try to fight with a cop ["Tased and Confused," News, Oct. 7]. Darwin's theory sometimes applies to those who are too stupid to know better.
"Citizen" Grady Ellis
"You Belong to FEMA Now!'Dear Editor,
A few weeks ago, I was on a plane bound from Austin to Houston, and seated a few rows behind me were a few firefighters. As we deplaned, someone spoke to them to ask where they were from and where they were going. They answered that they were just coming back from a convoluted trip to Atlanta. They had volunteered to help in New Orleans, and instead of going there they were sent to a hotel in Atlanta. They were given sexual harassment training for days, and when they complained they were told that they belonged to FEMA now, and they had better just do as they were told. They were to wear FEMA T-shirts and hand out pamphlets. PR work! Insulted and angry, they left. They said to all who would listen while we walked off the plane, "Sorry to say it if you don't want to hear it, but your federal government doesn't give a f*** about you." I shivered. Whatever happens after this lame-duck presidency finally expires, we as voters must choose wisely. These hard days bring important lessons. Use your vote!
County Voters Need a ChoiceDear Editor,
Are you fed up with politicians who ignore the will of the people, load you up with higher taxes, and then proceed to give themselves a raise? Our county commissioners did just that! They did so even though it was against the recommendation of their own budget office.
What does this mean to you? Higher taxes and more tolls, that's what! It means they are still adamant about making us pay twice for roads we paid for over the years with our taxes. They want to toll us to use our own roads!
Travis County desperately needs someone to run against Commissioner Sonleitner. As of today, she is running unopposed. Please run and give us a choice, Travis County needs you!
If you are opposed to double taxation: 1) Cast your vote against Sonleitner, Daugherty, and Biscoe for county commissioner. Then, 2) run for office yourself!
Marcia Ann Silha
The Good and the Bad of Barbecue FestEditor and staff,
Thank you so much for sponsoring and promoting the Central Texas Barbecue Festival ["Sausage Shrines," Food, Oct. 7]. It was such a refreshing mix of people and y'all had great weather. A few bits of feedback:
Good all the food, bands, and cold beer. Great attendance and enthusiasm for barbecue.
Bad the venue was way too small and way too crowded.
Please do this again at a bigger or open space.
Remembering When It Cost $1.50 to VoteDear Editor,
Hey, I am old enough to remember the voter registration fee of $1.50, but you forgot something that went along with the $1.50 a prospective voter must answer one or more questions to see if they knew how and for whom to vote ["The Hightower Report," News, Sept. 30].
Heck, if they had the $1.50, which for me was four hours of work in 1949, and being white (really Indian but I never told them), I did not have to answer questions but could get my poll tax receipt.
Never forget the KKK has a member in the Congress of the United States and one or two others who like them.
Isolating Pemberton HeightsDear Editor,
Having rerouted most of the buses on route 19 to the edge of Pemberton Heights, Capital Metro is apparently now planning to complete the isolation of Pemberton Heights from downtown by moving route 3 away from its northeast corner. Their reason for doing this is explained as increasing volumes of traffic on Lamar Boulevard. It is a strange principle that whenever more than a certain number of private vehicles want to use a bus route, the buses should be removed.
Pay Attention to AmendmentsDear Editor,
I hope your publication will spend some time and energy on the two constitutional (absolutely criminal) amendments being put on the ballot by Governor Rick Puppet. I'm sorry, I meant Perry.
These are Propositions 1 and 9, I believe. While you're at it why don't you mention the less than trustable/honest electronic voting machines we are forced to use. Go to www.blackboxvoting.org.
Sincerely a true independent voter and reader,
Stand Up Against RacismDear Editor,
On Sat. Oct. 1, about 75 people rallied at the Capitol in support of "securing our borders" and keeping "illegals" out of the country (see "Naked City," News, Oct. 7). Almost all in attendance were white (as in ancestors of immigrants of Western Europe descent who "illegally" raped and pillaged this land and the indigenous people on it), and their cry for "homeland security" reeked of our neo-conservative fear-mongering administration, and is also, I might add, the theme used to justify the extermination of 6 million Jews. These same people organized a counterprotest recently at the Diez y Seis march, yet they claim to not, in fact, be racist. Whatever.
About 25 people counterprotested: mostly some anarchists and socialists and a few othersâ like myself. There were understandably few representatives from the Latino community, since they don't need any more abuse than they are getting from this upsurge in racism.
Curiously absent (not for lack of prior knowledge) were the liberals and progressives who say they oppose racism and stand for justice for the oppressed. It's a simple question I pose to them: Do you want racists terrorizing immigrants at day labor sites and passing state law to legitimize vigilantism? Can you sit comfortably at home knowing this is growing because you just don't want to make a fuss or feel it might be violent to directly confront racism? What would MLK say? Cesar Chavez? Gandhi?
It is the job of whites to directly confront racism in this country. If we don't, then we allow it to grow, which is equivalent to supporting it. This tactic is important, and not meant to patronize the oppressed; it is about not allowing hatred to grow. It affects us all.
To learn more about the Minutemen, contact the local AFSC to organize a viewing of a documentary.
Separate Church and StateDear Editor,
First let me tell you that I think it is great that your newspaper prints both sides of the debate ["Postmarks," Oct. 7].
It still surprises me that people forget why people come to America. I thought the phrase went, "Land of the Free," not "the Oppressed." Once again, I am frustrated with people speaking of the Bible only when it suits them. It's odd that they themselves do not follow the Bible in its teachings. Besides stating, "One man, one woman," it also states that you will not lay down with your wife in the same bed while she is on her menstrual cycle and that you have sex to propagate. Odd, I don't see these people being condemned or a law being passed. Seems that the Bible is no longer teaching people to forgive, to be kind to others, and to not judge.
And, why are we even speaking of the Bible when it comes to laws and the Constitution? Our laws are not derived from the Bible or we would have a law that read, "Love Thy Father and Thy Mother."
It is beginning to feel like if you are not white or married and do not go to church, then you are different and have no place in society. And if you are not careful, there will be a law passed restricting you from being who you are.
If people really feel this law should be passed, then there should also be an attachment that exempts me from paying property taxes. I own my own home and pay taxes to the school district so their children receive an education. Taxation without representation. Sounds familiar.
No Longer AvailableDear Editor,
The appointment of Harriet Miers demonstrates the real priorities of the Bush White House. Conservatives have been led to believe their leaders would hold back gay rights, roll back abortion rights, and protect the cultural mores of traditional America. What they don't realize is that the first priority of the people in power is to make America safe for the new "über-class." Corporate executives, financiers, and the investor class are the real beneficiaries of the Republican majority. John Roberts and Harriet Miers aren't social crusaders. They are corporate lawyers. Their job is to protect corporations from accountability.
Pension funds, retirement accounts, and mutual funds give the common man ownership, but control remains in the managers and executives. They're the ones who bought the Texas Legislature. They're the ones who put G.W. Bush in the White House. Our productive assets have gone overseas, but they are still controlled by the same good ol' boy network. They profit while our ability to make a living crumbles and fades. If you aren't credit-worthy or "club-able" the American dream is no longer available. They've got us distracted with wedge issues while they take the prize.
Hurricane Damage ExtensiveDear Louis Black,
Just like you, I've been touched by the disaster that is New Orleans. From the damage to the city to the loss of life. When Rita started heading our way I worried and watched as the people of the Gulf Coast scrambled for higher ground.
As the "dust" cleared it looked as if Houston and Galveston dodged the bullet. Geraldo and Shepard Smith packed up the camera and ponchos to move on to the next disaster. I have a vested interest in the Gulf Coast because my family lives in Beaumont and I was born and raised there. For the last two weeks my wife and I have hosted family members at our home in Austin and made hundreds of calls a day trying to keep up with friends and family that were until the last couple of days displaced from their homes.
What worries me is that no one seems to know that the towns near the border of Louisiana were hit pretty hard, thankfully not as bad as New Orleans, but nonetheless it isn't just another day down there. My family runs a church in Nederland/Beaumont/Bridge City that has been feeding the citizens of that area since the day after the hurricane hit. There are many hungry and displaced people there. People have lost their jobs and are not getting paid. Some people have lost everything. Schools aren't sure when they will reopen. It's not over for these people; it's just beginning.
When I speak to people here in Austin, no one seems to know. They believe that since Houston is OK the rest of that area is OK, which is not the case. Sabine Pass is pretty much wiped out.
I would just ask that you please explore doing a story about this area. This area (Gulf Coast) still needs help. FEMA is a joke down there, and the Red Cross isn't doing much. The people are helping one another and it's working. I just feel that the people of Austin and Texas need to realize that we have had a disaster in our own state. Right now I'm not even sure how to help other than going there and assisting in the cleanup. If there were some coverage maybe they could get the help that they need.
Thank you for your time,