Our readers talk back.
Heartfelt Goodbye to CliffordDear Editor,
Clifford Antone was the most generous and supportive mentor to all musicians. But Clifford's first love was the blues. His passion for the blues helped mold the music scene in Austin into what it is today. Clifford was a walking encyclopedia of music and more than likely had a personal story to add to his facts.
Playing at Antone's was a great experience. He was so enthusiastic whenever I was there, and it was always an honor when Clifford joined me onstage.
Clifford always treated me and all my family with the greatest warmth. When my nephew Jason met Clifford in his sports collectibles shop, he gave Jason rookie cards for all his favorite players. He loved kids and sent little presents to my daughter.
We will all miss Clifford very much. There will never be anyone like Clifford Antone again.
RIP Clifford AntoneDear Editor,
Clifford Antone always wanted to play bass on one of our blues songs. We'll just have to talk to him about that when we see him again. He was both a legend and a good friend, and for him to have loved our band and our music will forever be ingrained in our hearts. In a town full of music lovers, his enthusiasm and love for music combined with the knowledge he so freely shared, and his warm personality made him an essential part in molding Austin, the unique music center that other cities emulate. He definitely improved the quality of life in the city we love so much, and we will miss him dearly. His spirit and love for music will live on. RIP, Cliff.
Rick, Mark, Alex, Mike, Albert, and Rev
What's "The Austin Chronicle'?To the editor,
Dateline 2020. "Hey Pops! This is Mindy. I e-texted you about that story for my blog." "Mindy who?" "About the salamander." "Oh! Mindy." "Tell me what you can remember, Pops." "Well ... I guess we could'a run a better campaign you know, more slicker. It ain't easy though, makin' a hero out'a a salamander. Maybe some tights and a cape, or maybe some cool sunglasses and a tie-dye bandana you know, keepin' it weird. But I gotta admit it: those rascals had it in for the little amphibian; and that my-enemy-is-the-enemy-of-my-friend crap really works. I guess I was just living in the past anyway, remembering when I used to play in the creeks and the brooks with the tadpoles and the frogs and the turtles." "Hey Pops! I've seen pictures of those things, I'll slap a few up with the story." "Well I guess that endorsement from The Austin Chronicle really sunk our rowboat." "Hey Pops! What's that?"
"What's what, Mindy?" "What's The Austin Chronicle?"
A Loss of StandardsDear Editor,
The Austin Chronicle's recent failure to endorse Propositions 1 and 2 was a great disappointment to me. You have lost a lot of credibility, and I hope that in the future you will return to your original high standards.
Joanne P. Abdo
Lowlife, Sick, and Hateful "Chronicle' StaffDear Editor,
Bravo Chronicle. You just, with your cover, erased any doubt about what assholes really are ["The Hells Angels Hit," News, May 19]. Hey Louis, did you OK the cover cartoon of someone getting his head blown off in front of his kids? That a joke to you, something you're proud of putting on the cover of your "newspaper"? Maybe you could send the two children who watched their father get his head blown off while he was holding their hands autographed copies? Explain to them your choice to mock the murder of their father in a cartoon. Hey, maybe next Nov. 23, you can ask that jackass who drew the cover if he can do a cartoon of JFK getting half his head blown off; you could show the chunks of brain matter that were all over Jackie's face! Who killed John Kennedy? I cannot imaging being such a lowlife, sick, hateful person to mock the cold-blooded murder of someone in front of his children. If I ever feel the need to be around them, I can go hang out at the Chronicle. Any decent human being would pull the issues off the newsstands and apologize to the children of the man whose death you mocked on your cover. But of course, that wouldn't include the Chronicle.
Ventura on ImmigrationDear Editor,
I appreciated Michael Ventura's recent article about immigration and pondered the depth of the facts he set forth for many days after reading the piece ["Letters @ 3am," May 12].
In recent months the U.S. has become more of a hostile place where people are afraid to speak their minds about this issue, about the war, etc. I was so grateful that Michael was able to do just that in such an artfully articulate manner.
John Stuart Mill once said that the clash of ideas is one of the major foundations of a democratic society. My hope is that we never forget that statement.
Site a FrontDear Editor,
An advertisement displayed in the upper left hand corner of the back page of the April 21 and 28 issues of the Chronicle encouraged readers to visit the Web site www.noaztlan.org.
Aside from the red flags of the obvious URL and tagline "USA, Love It or Leave It," the Web site itself is little more than a front for white-supremacist, exterminationist politics. The Web site prominently displays links to violent white-supremacist Web sites, such as Stormfront and the National Vanguard, as well as links to white-pride groups, such as American Renaissance and VDare (named after the first European baby born in America), and to the writings of Frosty Wooldridge, which state that immigrants "carry head lice, leprosy, tuberculosis, and hepatitis A, B, and C." The site also prominently features writings by one Preston Wiginton, a known white supremacist who compares immigrants to cancer.
With all due respect for the support the Chronicle has shown Austin's progressive community, it shouldn't be too much to ask that you turn down advertising money from hate-mongers.
Aaron Lloyd Cobb
Hold Representatives ResponsibleDear Editor,
In his May 19 column ["Point Austin," News], Michael King notes that when you entered the voting booth to vote on Prop. 6, the recent domestic partner insurance proposal, "you knew precisely what you were voting for or against." Come again? Prop. 6 read, "Shall the City Charter be amended to restore a city employee's ability to purchase additional benefit coverage, by repealing Article IX, Section 4 (Employee Benefits) of the City Charter?" Where in that language would a voter without any background knowledge on the matter divine that expanding benefits to "domestic partners" of city employees was what was at stake under that proposed amendment? A similar hide-the-ball effort was made in the ballot language for Prop. 5, where an increase in the contribution limit for council elections was proposed, without any specifics on the amount of the increase. As any pollster will tell you, it's all in how you ask the question, and clearly the council played politics in the wording of more than just Props. 1 and 2. Whether we'd be better served in the future with an independent panel or task force crafting ballot language is an open question, but let's at least hold our elected representatives to account when they are less than forthright with the voters.
Ellinger Remembers Sen. Lloyd BentsenDear Editor,
I will always be grateful for when Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's office called the FCC to "express interest" in modifying the so-called "Wolfman Jack" Treaty (the radio treaty that essentially ended the legendary superpowered border blasters) on my behalf. This was the first-ever modification of the treaty, and it allowed my application for 91.7FM, the "last noncommercial license for Austin" to proceed. Without Bentsen's support at a critical juncture the FCC surely would have rejected my application a second and final, time.
During that era, the only way to get a license waiver for a new station not allocated to broadcast within the 199-mile border-buffer zone, was to apply to the Mexican government ... and that required a briefcase full of Benjamins.
Ultimately, after 11 long years of effort, the 91.7FM spot on the Austin dial was filled with not one but two new stations: KVRX student radio from UT, and KOOP radio, which I intended to be "an experiment in applying democracy to a media outlet ... a co-op!" Of course, I was thrown off the Austin airwaves on July 16, 1999, for not doing a station ID (funny, it's on the tape) and not contributing enough volunteer hours ("No, his 11 years of work putting the station on the air apparently didn't count," the Chronicle wryly noted at the time), by then-GM Marcelo Tafoya.
So, thank you Lloyd Bentsen, "long one of the wise old men of the Democratic Party"! You helped so many! Many who do not even know all you did for them ... and, tragically, a few who do not even care.
For the Sake of the LifeDear Editor,
Last week, America lost one of her finest poets. Stanley Kunitz was 100 years old. He had served as U.S. poet laureate and had won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. He was chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, founder of the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and New York's Poets House, and mentor to many younger poets. Even as a centenarian, he continued to read publicly. I knew him briefly, and I will miss him dearly.
In his work to encourage young writers, Kunitz has been an example to me. I run the Joynes Reading Room, a center for creative writing at UT. We maintain a library of contemporary literature, and we bring authors to campus to mentor students. Unfortunately, few students utilize these resources. Our space is used more often as a study lounge than as a poetry salon.
I had hoped to consult Stanley once more for guidance. How does one convince students that poetry matters? Recently, I revisited his books and found much advice. "Poetry is for the sake of the life," Kunitz wrote not the other way around. As deeply as he cared for poetry, he understood that it is meaningful only to a fraction of the population. Kunitz created resources to support poets, not to propagate poetry to the masses.
Perhaps I shouldn't be an evangelist, trying to convince the uninterested that poetry should matter, but rather a guide to that small group of students who have already embraced it. A few enthusiastic young writers attend our events every month. To some students, poetry may be inconsequential, but to these few, the value of poetry is immeasurable a uniquely personal and expressive medium for describing the world. I'll encourage them to read Kunitz's Collected Poems, where they'll find a century of experience and wisdom.
Supports South Lamar Neighborhood AssociationDear Editor,
Many of us in the South Lamar Neighborhood Association endorse and embrace Foundation Communities ["Don't Put Their Back Yard in My Back Yard," News, May 5]. The points made by the one neighbor whom you interviewed are not mine. I do agree that our meetings are tyrannized, but not by the contingency of the north. Often members use tactics, such as impromptu "straw polls" to push their agendas and intimidate others, instead of letting our process work. They did this time, attempting to install an 11th-hour rule that would require a 75% yes vote instead of our bylaws' simple majority before we could back FC. (Meeting minutes available at www.southlamar.org/docs/SLNA%20Meeting%20Minutes%2002-16-06.pdf). However, that idea was voted down, and in fact a more than 76% majority voted to back the nonprofit. Also, many of us neighbors realize the characteristics of the proposed residents do not reflect the majority of homeless people and that most U.S. families are one paycheck from being homeless ourselves. I am ready to have faith that FC could help people and to recognize those being helped are very much like me. I am happy that my neighbors have opinions. I chose to live in South Austin because it has a robust, diverse community. And, I recommend even more of us pay our dues (or request waivers) and attend the meetings, volunteer, and actively participate in managing our hood.
What Is Important?Dear Editor,
Speaking of teacher pay raises ["Triumph in the Lege?," News, May 12], can someone please explain to me why the Legislature gave the judges/justices (some of whom make anywhere in the range of $100,000 a year) of this state a 25% to 35% pay increase, and our children's teachers are getting a whopping pay increase of $2,000 a year? The state leaders obviously need a greater respect and understanding of the need to hire and maintain excellent teachers as they did for the judges! Thanks for your article. The public needs to be constantly reminded of what is important.
Another concerned parent,
Worried About ExxonMobil's ProfitabilityDear Editor,
ExxonMobil's profits in 2005 were $36 billion. ExxonMobil paid $98 billion in taxes in 2005.
More than two-thirds of the profits came from foreign operations. Only 10.8% of these profits came from refining and marketing in the United States.
Less than 19% of ExxonMobil's oil production came from the United States in 2005. More than 81% was produced in foreign countries.
ExxonMobil's U.S. oil production suffered an annual decline rate of more than 14% in 2005. The annual loss of ExxonMobil's U.S. oil production in 2005 amounted to more than 29 million barrels of oil.
Profits are needed to explore for and discover oil. Less than 2.7% of ExxonMobil's profits were left for exploration worldwide.
Seldon B. Graham Jr.
SRV in the Hall of FameDear Sir/Madam,
Why isn't Stevie Ray Vaughan a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
He gave so much to music by exposing the world to a new sound that entertained many diversified musical tastes. He single-handedly started a revolution by bringing the blues to the forefront at a time when the Eighties was epitomized by groups like Flock of Seagulls.
Stevie had been playing guitar since age 8. He started the band Double Trouble, becoming an overnight success. Even great blues players like B.B. King were impressed by his soulful sounds, passionate performances that enveloped you with his grimaces and electricity, shooting from his guitar and gravelly voice into your soul.
When he sang "Life Without You," stopped midsong just to talk to fans about how he conquered addictions, asking them not to do drugs, to love one another, and ending his speech with "Are you with me?" the audience went wild. Lives changed forever, including my own. He risked his "coolness" to help others through his music. A task no other artist can claim.
He was more than a great musician. He was a good man. He was humble, modest, and kind. He was reborn, gave himself to God, and against all odds managed to quit alcoholism and drug abuse in 1986 because he wanted to keep playing his music to make us all happy.
On Aug. 27, 1990 the angels took Stevie Ray home. It's time for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to recognize and honor his legacy. YouTube.com has tons of videos, including comments by fans and musicians who were inspired.
Please do your part to get Stevie Ray Vaughan inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's up to all of us to thank him.
Saint Petersburg, Fla.
Stop Warrantless ProgramDear Editor,
Many years ago (mid-Seventies) shortly after an honorable discharge from the military, I was having a brew after work at a bar and discussing the attempt to rescue Americans imprisoned in foreign countries for suspected drug smuggling with a gentleman dressed all in white. I guess he was supposed to be the "good guy." And when I say dressed all in white, I mean white shoes to white jacket and tie, white shirt and white hat. Anyway, he was totally opposed to the rescue and insisted anyone caught with drugs should be killed. Too harsh, I told him, and also, how do we know these Americans are not just being held hostage by foreign countries? To make a long story short, I went to the men's room and just before I was ready to leave two men entered and identified themselves as undercover cops, and I was read my rights and searched because someone had informed them that I was trying to sell them drugs. After searching my car as well they let me go with a warning. And this is how the government is using the warrantless spy program, and to stop it, we, as Americans, need to get back control of our government. In the meantime, there are many words that you should not use in public, on the phone, or on your computer in e-mail. Better send your letters today from home or work, or you may be sending them from prison.
M. Edmund Howse
Isn't It an Oversimplification?Dear Editor,
While Mike "Dub" Wainwright's castigating comments aren't lost on me ("Postmarks," May 5), it should be noted that trying to slap a bicycle Band-Aid on the problem as he sees it is as detrimental to finding a solution as myopic soccer moms with a built-in sense of entitlement. Look Dub, I'm with you! I'm the first to shout populist/environmentalist platitudes at anyone who'll listen. But don't you think that insisting everyone ride a bike is a gross oversimplification? You call for a march toward "real solutions," and I just don't think it's as easy as fatasses on bikes. We need to figure out how to help families cart all their kids to various after-school activities using public transport (not all of them are soccer-bound; for some it's music lessons, acting classes, or underwater basket-weaving fuck if I know, I don't have kids), and haul their groceries from store to McMansion. I don't resonate with these folks either, believe me, but I'm a single woman, and I can bike until my feet fall off. People with kids and other extenuating circumstances don't have that freedom. There's a whole dialogue that needs to happen here. People like us have to work at understanding differing needs, not "othering" ourselves out of frustration. It might be fun to look down our noses at people living bloated lives, but you know what? I think it's more fun to fix what's broken, together. We're not going to teach people to pair down their excesses by publicly shitting on their lifestyles. I save that for dinner parties.
Excellent Story on Big ChiefDear Editor,
Thanks to the Chronicle and Margaret Moser for the excellent story on Big Chief Kevin and the Flaming Arrows ["My Gang Don't Bow Down," Music, May 5]. It provided valuable context for what many in their new community might otherwise have viewed simply as entertainment and the Arrows definitely give good show!
Gloria Badillo Hill
Members Blatantly PrejudicedDear Editor,
The Senate Panel has approved sending an oppressive measure that hurts innocent people because its Republican members are blatantly prejudiced against gay people (I am sure black people, Hispanic people, poor people, and women are next). I would like to congratulate the GOP on deepening the pit into which it has hurled the country. The United States currently finds itself with one of the worst public relations, human rights, economic, and security nightmares in its history. I hope that one day the USA will again be the land of the free and a land where Jesus Christ could walk down the street without being lynched by the likes of the Republicans and their godless (Satan is not a god) allies, the religious right.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Is This a Hoax?Dear Editor,
Well ... this is random request for an investigation. Have you heard of Morgellons disease? Do you know someone that has it? Is it real? Some victims of this "horror movie" illness claim to have symptoms such as black sweat, blue, white, and red (oddly) fibers (nontextile) growing out of their sores, white worms coming out of their ears, and a constant feeling of bugs crawling under their skin. Most infected have Lyme Disease. Where are these cases? Austin; the Bay area; L.A.; and Jacksonville, Fla. Some wonder if it is bioterror, others think the apocalypse is coming. Is it a hoax or a horrifying disease? Help!?