Our readers talk back.
20 Years in Prison?Dear Editor,
Two young men agreed to settle their differences in a way that went terribly wrong ["Justice or Vengeance?," News, Nov. 4]. My heart aches for the parents of the son who lost his life. My heart aches as one of the parents of the other son who also lost his life. I am Brandon Threet's mom. I have no desire to add to the McArdle family's grief, and we continue to pray for them, but I cannot surrender my son's life to cold vengeance attempting to pass for justice. Brandon is not the person portrayed by the prosecutor who committed a character assassination of my son in court. He is not mean, angry, or violent; he is just the opposite. In fact he has so many friends that during his trial they couldn't all fit in the courtroom; for five days they waited outside on the benches to be there for him. This shows his true character; four seconds of a video does not define my son. Those two lawyers do not define my son. They portrayed lies to the jury. If only our defense lawyer had introduced them to the real Brandon, this awesome young man who had no criminal record of any kind. His upbringing being: an A/B honor student, a Sunday school student, a hard worker and responsible young man. He is an awesome, bighearted, compassionate, caring, loving son, grandson, brother, nephew, and friend to many. He was a young man of tender age and through provocation, alcohol, and fear, reacted to a blow that he received at the onset of the fight. He felt the need to defend himself; he never meant to seriously hurt anyone. I cannot undo what happened that night; I wish to God I could. I wish to God someone could. Brandon will live with the events of that night every day for the rest of his life. He struggles daily with remorse and sadness. Brandon was not the only guilty party that night. Equally guilty are those who took another young man's life, my son's, this time through cold vengeance, political ambition, and client neglect. As compelling as the video is, there is much more to this story.
During a two-year investigation many facts have surfaced; we know that our son should not have to spend 20 years in prison. We only want the whole truth and the facts of the story to be heard. Brandon's father and I along with our family members are determined to put forth every possible effort to have the oversentencing and injustice done to our son corrected. Thank you to Kevin Brass and The Austin Chronicle for making our voices heard. Thank you to our family, friends, and many supporters that keep our son and our family strong, and for our legal team, investigator, and those continuing to work hard for Brandon, we are forever grateful.
"Aortic,' Not "Brain'Dear Editor,
Just FYI, Marc Savlov wrote, in his review of Rent [Film Listings, Nov. 25], that Jonathan Larson died in the following manner: "brain aneurysm felled the 35-year-old writer a brief four months before the play's debut."
In fact, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm three months before the debut according to a recent interview with his father on TV.
I am a huge fan of Marc's reviews and just wanted to help out.
Ryan Locker[Editor's note: We stand corrected on the cause of death. And more specifically, Larson died on the night of the last dress rehearsal, right before the play premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop, and three months before the play opened on Broadway.]
My Grandson to KeepDear Editor,
"When I lay me down to sleep, I pray to the Lord my grandson to safely keep."
The "not knowing" is constant not knowing where he might be, is he sick, or cold, or hungry? Is he OK? I have not received a letter, is something wrong? Has he been moved again?
Yes, I travel this road every day and night. Brandon is my grandson, my only grandchild ["Justice or Vengeance?," News, Nov. 4]. I worry about him and what he has to deal with every day locked in that prison my feelings cannot be explained in words. Loss comes in so many forms and so many ways. I pray not only for Brandon and myself as we have a special bond and understanding, but also for our family and friends affected. The McArdle family is in my thoughts and prayers also.
It would be easier to give in and tell myself I just can't go on; but my faith, my family, and my respect for Brandon's wish that I go on with my life drives me to get up every day, go to work, and carry on. Often the threads of weakness surface and it takes all my inner strength to regain composure. As I get older, I worry I won't be around to see Brandon home, but I refuse to think negatively. I am the matriarch of the family, and I will remain strong and provide support. I have faith and trust that God will guide our family, friends, and legal counsel through this maze. The same faith that pulled us through these past few years. I truly feel sympathy for those who do not share in this philosophy or some other faith, because without it, I would not have the choice to go forward those threads of weakness would multiply and I would wallow in my own grief and self-pity, forsaking all others. I elect to go forward, not only for myself but also for Brandon, my family, and my friends.
Joyce Clark (GrandMadre)
Militant Moderates, Step Up!Dear Editor,
Hurrah for you, John Romano ["Postmarks," Dec. 2], but don't just resign yourself to it get mad! Out here in Northwest Austin I'm the militant moderate. A pox on extremists at both ends of the political spectrum. But especially a pox on the hard-core, right-wing, moronic thieves who have stolen our Republican Party. Their phony self-righteous arrogance is positively insufferable. You should tell them that at every opportunity and at the top of your lungs. I do. They will continue to ride herd over our party until people like you and me rise up and take it back from them. Vote for moderates from either party. We found one in District 50 in Democrat Mark Strama. Now some simple-minded right-winger thinks he can unseat Strama. Not while I have the strength to lift a fist in protest. Fight back. Tell Tom DeLay, Alan Sager, John Cornyn, and even George Bush that we are the real Republicans and they are just thieves.
British Tipping CorrectionDear Editor,
I have just read your article on tipping an excellent and eye-opening piece for a European who likes to visit the States and enjoys eating out ["Split Parties," Food, Nov. 4].
But it misinforms readers; in Europe and especially the UK the 10% service charge is more often 12.5% and is not automatically added to a bill. It often is, but not always.
Should you receive very poor service you do not have to pay it. You can simply cross it out and note your decision on the bill and pay the lesser total.
However, I wouldn't recommend it. As the article points out, European service is often cold and will quickly become positively arctic should you do so.
There Was a .41Dear Editor,
I enjoyed the story about the Dylan-Cash session in Nashville ["Page Two," Dec. 2]. Actually, a Colt .41 revolver was produced around 1900 for a while.
I know this not because of any knowledge about guns, but because a Huddie Ledbetter song described an altercation involving a Colt .41 and a woman. My reaction was the same as yours, that he had used a number that rhymed. Research proved me wrong.
Denial Is an Ugly ThingDear Editor:
My response to William Trey Andrews ["Postmarks," Dec. 2]:
How many police shootings have occurred in the last two years because of young troublemakers on drugs, resisting arrest and running from the scene, brutal attacks on a police officer, possession of a weapon, etc?
Tell the whole story, not just the part of it that suits you, Mr. Andrews. I sure hope the second a thug attacks an officer, he is brought to justice. And the fact that neighborhoods actually defend their foolishness to the point where they call police and the entire city of Austin "racist" is absurd. You can justify their acts all you want, but in the end, they are only the victims of their own behavior. Denial is an ugly thing.
R.I.P. None Too SoonTo Jeremiah (whiny-butt) Patoka,
In answer to your question as to how soon you might meet your demise as a result of your (freely chosen) days as a bartender ["Postmarks," Nov. 25], all I can say is that it'll be none too soon.
Oh, Stephen!Oh, Stephen,
I can't say thank you enough for including the Y.O. Ranch New Year's Eve bash in your column ["After a Fashion," Arts, Dec. 2]. We would love to have you join us! Thanks again, darlin'!
Strong Support for Christmas!Dear Editor,
I would like to see the stores that are selling Christmas trees do this: One side of the store will have trees labeled "Holiday Trees," and the other side of the store will have trees labeled "Christmas Trees." My money is on the Christmas Trees blowing right out the front door and the Holiday Trees spending Christmas alone.
Real Soul MusicDear Editor,
Thanks so much for the Erik Hokkanen article ["Realms of Inspiration," Music, Dec. 2] I loved it, especially the very apt matryoshka doll metaphor. Ms. Moser captured well some of what makes this accomplished musician unique, charming, innovative, and such a treat to listen to ... descriptors that could be used on Austin itself, I think (or at least on the Austin I hope still exists). Erik's music and character radiate sincere fun and real soul, and I have never seen him stint on any performance, no matter the venue. I'm grateful for what the man gives to us all.
Jeanine Sih Christensen
Why No Mention Of Whitley's Death?Dear Editor,
I must admit that I was more than surprised that the Chronicle failed to mention the passing of Chris Whitley in last week's issue. (If by chance there was and I simply missed it, then my apologies.) I was even more surprised to hear mentions of it in places like Time magazine, CNN, and the front of the Yahoo news page. There was a most accurate, articulate, and honorable obituary to the man in a Nashville paper (www.nashvillescene.com/Stories/Arts/Music/2005/12/01/Chris_whitley_1960_2005/index.shtml).
Perhaps the Chronicle is just planning a larger article or tribute to a musician/songwriter whose scope and body of work have been an immensely powerful and influential contribution to music. A truth that we will most likely see deepen over time.
Nathan Hamilton[Editor's note: Please see this week's "TCB," p.73]
Cash Would Have KnownLouis,
Upon reading "Page Two" with my customary relish last week [Dec. 2], I found a minor error. There is indeed a .41 caliber pistol, and I'm betting that Johnny Cash was no complete stranger to it either, www.fishandhunttexas.com/41_remington_magnum.htm.
Keep up the good work.
Refuse to Learn EnglishDear Editor,
Citizens should become aware of and ask their U.S. senators to vote against the Closing the Health Care Gap Act, which would create a new federal government health care bureaucracy dedicated to servicing immigrants, legal and illegal, who refuse to learn the English language.
The act is a veiled attempt to appease Spanish-speaking voters at the expense of our health care system and our heritage. The act would actually hurt immigrants by making it easier for them to not learn English and harder to obtain health care as doctors steer clear to avoid federal intervention. The current decline of English as our nation's language and the alarming decline of our fragile health care system would both be accelerated by this act.
Black Is Just a Tape LoopDear Editor,
Re: Louis Black's "Page Two" column Dec. 2: Yes, Louis, you are a tape loop.
"Holiday Baking' ThanksDear Editor/Virginia Wood,
I just read with pleasure your article [Gift Guide, Food, Dec. 2] on my newest cookbook, Holiday Baking, and I wanted to personally thank you. This book is near and dear to my heart, and I truly enjoyed writing it. And, yes, you must try the Amazing Left-Over Eggnog and Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding ... it truly is a keeper! Thank you again.
Hell's Belles Rocked Stubb'sDear Editor,
Someone really needs to mention how unbelievable Hell's Belles (AC/DC tribute band) were Saturday night [Dec. 3] at Stubb's [Music Listings, Dec. 2]. That entire place vibrated with energy and sweat. In fact, they rocked our asses right off our torsos. Thanks!
Bus Riders, Rise Up!Dear Editor,
Today, I became inspired seeing a seat reserved for Rosa Parks on my usual bus route to write the following call to action:
I call on everyone to rise up against the oppression caused by backpacks on the bus system. I don't know how many times I've had to ride standing up and be slung around whenever the driver throws on the brakes because a backpack has refused to give up its seat while its owner silently and deliberately buries their head in a book and does nothing.
Down with people who need an extra half a seat to read their newspaper when the bus is full! Down with people who sit on the aisle seat instead of scooting over and making room even though they obviously see you standing up for an entire five-mile journey! And down with the young and able-bodied who can't give up their seat for senior citizens and pregnant women!
The Art of DoublespeakSir:
From reading Louis Black's recent opinions, I have gathered that he doesn't understand life here in the United States of Soviet Republicans (USSR) also known as the Reds ["Postmarks," Dec. 2]. Here, our government has mastered the art of doublespeak. For example, when Karl Rove recently impugned liberals by saying they were unwilling to fight for America, he really meant that he and his cohorts were the ones who avoided fighting for the US by avoiding military service. When the Reds' leaders say they support veterans, they are really saying they are cutting veterans benefits. When the Reds say they support freedom, they really mean that they enjoy trampling on people's freedoms by reinstituting the Patriot Act and offering amendments to limit free speech. When they say they want freedom for Iraq, they really mean they want their corporate friends to have a free hand in Iraq in the search for oil and profit. When they say they support "Clear Skies" they really mean they want their corporate contributors to have a clear path to do what they want to the environment. Or, more recently, when they rant about their opponents (from the Democratic People's Republic) as being unpatriotic, they really mean they themselves have lost their patriotism by exposing a CIA operative to the public for political gain. If Louis will keep all of this in mind, he will have an easier time adjusting to life here in the USSR.
Cannabis Prohibition Must EndDear Editor:
Kudos to Angel Raich for continuing to stand against the prohibitionist zealots who would "protect and serve" by incarceration ["Weed Watch," News, Dec. 2]. It is hard to find a more noble and heroic stand since Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat.
Medicine ought to be freely chosen with a physician's guidance, and without fear of arrest. The right to preserve one's life is fundamental. That holds true for liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well.
In a nation with thriving alcohol and tobacco industries, it is absurd that any responsible adult must live with the life-diminishing, pervasive fear of arrest for cannabis.
The injustice, harm and financial burden of cannabis prohibition must end. It has no moral authority.
Shut Alex Jones Up!Dear Editor,
Alex Jones is a Nazi turd an arrogant, narcissistic, megalomaniacal, power-mad, piece of filth an Auslander, a foreigner, a punk, a fake! Alex Jones is a bucket of feces, a piece of trash! Alex Jones is a fascistic boot-licker, a pathological liar, a pus bag! Alex Jones represents everything that's wrong with America! Alex Jones is a Nazi death-camp operator, a eugenicist, a sociopath! Alex Jones is a total bloodthirsty murdering invading criminal! Alex Jones is a deep occultist, an adherent of Adolph Alios Hitler! Alex Alios Jones ... Adolph Alios Hitler!
If I sound deranged, it's because those are not my words. I was using Alex Jones' own words against him. Those nasty names are direct quotations from Jones' InfoWars show on PACT/ACTV. They are all things Alex has called people mostly innocent people.
So Noam Chomsky is a "mongoloid idiot." Our mayor is a "pathological liar." Bono of U2 is a "little idiot," "a globalist, an Illuminist." One of our former mayors was "a police-state maven." The governor is "effeminate." Arnold Schwarzenegger is a "Nazi turd." I myself "represent everything wrong with America." It goes on forever a breathtaking legacy of verbal slime.
"Nazi turd," indeed. Alex Jones has been feeding at the public trough of our community access channels for about 10 years now. In this time he has almost certainly called you and everyone you know a Nazi or a fool.
We've got to get this guy off of PACT. Please e-mail the City Council immediately and demand they throw Alex Jones off of PACT. And don't give me any First Amendment jive. Free speech does not cover incontinent slander. Alex has totally shredded his First Amendment rights through prolonged abuse. Call the City Council now, or you're a Nazi turd.
How About "Matched'?Dear Editor,
Here's a try at redefining an old/new social situation: Committed homosexual couples should have all the legal rights of heterosexual couples, i.e., inheritance, hospital visitation, and so on. But the union should not be called marriage, because marriage already has a definition, and that definition is a heterosexual union. If we try to change the definition to make it inclusive, it would be like saying, "Both oranges and apples are fruits, so we'll just call apples 'oranges,' too." No. That's erroneous. So all we need is a new word. How about "matched" instead of "married"?
"Tim and Jim were matched last Saturday. Their match took place at No Saints Church." And, instead of bride and groom, they are matchmates. Y'all OK with that? Probably not. Anyone have a better idea?