Our readers talk back.

What About Doing Whatever You Want To?

Dear William MacNaughton,

Re: Bands Without Bass Players? Dec. 8 ["Postmarks"]: Are you the fat dude in need of a shave? Or just a self-declared nonexpert who dares to define the "foundation of music"? I like the bass as much as the next jackass, and the fact that we have chosen to not include it in our kickass band has nothing to do with hating the "solid sound" that you claim can only be provided by the bass.

As far as the "foundation of music," what about rhythm and harmony and doing whatever you want to, including not having a bass player? I don't know how you came up with these rules, but if everyone followed them, we'd all be playing "Rock Around the Clock," and this would be a hole of a live music capital.

I was surprised to read that you are a drummer; usually, the people who suggest we add a bass player are bassists. Even then, the comment is preceded with something like, "Man, y'all are awesome!" I think you, as a musician, should be more open-minded to different forms of music and remember that we're in it for ourselves and those who like us, not dudes with nothing better to do than tell other people how to make music.

Thanks for getting our name in "Postmarks,"

Hilah Johnson, expert of music

The Hot as Shits

Icons or Wish List?


Was the "Icon or Eyesore" ["The People Have Spoken," News, Dec. 8] an article on Austin icons or a wish list by Austin developers of the next places they plan to demolish and pave over with luxury condominiums? You know how the mayor and the City Council like to keep those developers happy.

Patrick Krishock

Against Super Box Stores

Dear community,

Thank you to The Austin Chronicle for running two stories ["Developing Stories," "Beside the Point," News, Dec. 8] about the recent groundswell by Austin neighbors opposed to sly corporate plans to force a massive, uninvited, and unwelcome Wal-Mart in the midst of our communities. Friends, if Wal-Mart and those willing to look the other way (especially those in power) as the megamonster advances have their way, it won't only be the surrounding neighborhoods whose quality of life and property values will suffer. We all will lose. To say that the proposed supersized Wal-Mart threatens the character and culture of our city is no hyperbole.

I've seen the results of superstore invasion in small-town Texas up close and personal. In comes the big, gray super box, and in less than a blink, the little Czech bakeries and groceries are gone; the real taquerias and florists, disappeared; even the locally owned hardware, shoe repair, and feed stores shut down. Village green spaces become miles of parking lot.

Austin is different, right? We value our environment, our music and arts, our homegrown restaurants, our bookstores and unique shops. Or is that nostalgic image someone else's Austin? Everywhere I travel, people say to me, "Oh, Austin is really cool. You're so lucky to live in Austin." I don't think anyone imagines Wal-Mart in Austin city limits.

Is it possible for mere people to stop the spread of such forces of mass community destruction? I guess I always thought that's what Austin's about. Wal-Mart, stay out.

Katherine Durham Oldmixon

[Editor's note: For the record, there are six Wal-Mart outlets in or very near Austin city limits.]

Jim Heffley Will Be Missed

Dear Editor,

Your excellent tribute to the late Jim Heffley ["To Your Health," Dec. 8], my mentor and friend of 30 years, perfectly described his knowledge and compassion, which transformed my life and that of so many others.

All of Dr. Heffley's readers and clients will be happy to know that his wife, Betty, will edit and publish the collection of his 300 "To Your Health" columns in a book to come out in late 2007. At this sad time, we can all look forward to this book soon.

Sue Rickels

Omelettry an Icon!

Dear Editor,

I was shocked when I read the debate of whether or not the Omelettry is an icon or an eyesore ["The People Have Spoken," News, Dec. 8]. I couldn't believe that anyone would consider the joint an eyesore! I'm 88 years old. I live in the Midwest and travel to Austin frequently to see my granddaughters, Abby and Maddie. The very first thing I do each time I'm in town is hit the Omelettry for some French toast. Not only is the food top-notch, but the feel of the place is very cool. Believe me, I may be old, but I still know cool. The Omelettry is definitely an icon.

Wilson Saunders

Waterloo, Iowa

Actually There Are Three Independent Business Groups

Dear Editor,

In a sidebar last week titled "Choose Austin First" ["Ho-Ho-Homegrown Holidays," News, Dec. 8], your author wrote, "Oddly enough, Austin has two different indie-biz groups," referring to the Austin Independent Business Alliance and Choose Austin First. I'd like to correct that and add Austin Unique to the list. Unlike AIBA, Austin Unique does not have the financial backing of the creepiest corporate land baron in Austin – Stratus Properties (formerly Freeport-McMoRan).

As you know, Stratus Properties is the company that sold land to Advanced Micro Devices on Southwest Parkway, where AMD employees will soon bring approximately 2.2 million car trips over the aquifer every year (a modest estimate, based on AMD's own assumption that their 2,550 employees will create approximately 9,370 daily car trips collectively and then multiplied by 240 work days).

Stratus Properties owns thousands of acres over the contributing and recharge zones of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer, including the 650 acres upstream from Barton Creek and Sycamore Creek that are slated for massive residential and commercial development, including a golf course.

Stratus Properties is the majority owner of the Downtown development of the W Hotel, luxury condos, the new Children's Museum, and the new Austin City Limits studio that will be right next door to City Hall. Bellhops in bow ties will open car doors for business executives staying at the W. Beloved musicians will grace the ACL stage there. Parents will make regular treks with their kids to the museum. Stratus Properties will own a veritable hub of Austin cultural, residential, and commercial life.

Jim Bob Moffett and Freeport McMoRan, the company Austin citizens ran out of City Hall in 1990, have successfully morphed into Stratus Properties, proprietor of "local" culture. Meanwhile, their developments in the vast watershed that feeds the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer will virtually seal the fate of Barton Springs. Will their Downtown development cast a shadow on our City Hall? Will we all get out from behind our computers and take it back?

Susanne Mason

Forever Grateful to Heffley

Dear Editor,

I am so saddened to hear of the passing of James Heffley, Ph.D. ["To Your Health," Dec. 8]. Jim was a gentle giant among us.

What a dear, dear man. What a loss to us all. How many lives he changed.

I will forever be grateful for Jim's tender heart and great mind. For his willingness to quietly speak the truth to closed minds in positions of power. The world is only now beginning, in some areas, to catch up with his brilliance. In some areas (example: his support of Ed Snapp, LPT, and his developmental ideas) science is still a long way from catching up, to the detriment of untold numbers.

I was a client of Jim's from 1974, early in his nutritional-counseling practice. I had chronic fatigue syndrome, and both my children had serious learning and behavioral problems. Before there were any books on the subject, Jim guided me in trying various approaches to finding out and dealing with causes of our problems – both nutritional and developmental. My children and I made miraculous recoveries from all our problems thanks to Jim's open-minded searching. Jim used methods that the vast majority of medical doctors still don't know about.

Smaller minds called Jim a quack and persecuted him for his intellectual adventurousness. I am so grateful that he endured long enough to have been largely vindicated. My children are both grown now with children of their own, and rather than being the basket cases that they were when they were young, they both live lives that serve humanity, thanks to Jim.

Thanks be to God for the gift of Jim Heffley, and thanks be to the Chronicle for keeping his legacy alive through his column.


Carol Hawkins (used to be Hawkins-Ryder)

Is There No End?

Dear Editor,

I just have to ask: Do we really need another Wal-Mart? Or another Home Depot or Target or Lowe's or any other massive store? Don't we have enough? I was out and about all over town this weekend and took a good look around, and really, I think we're covered. Is there no end to this?

Rebecca Knape

Men Can't Be Nymphomaniacs

Dear Editor,

In the Dec. 8 Chronicle, in his review [Film Listings] of National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, Marc Savlov referred to a "quartet of brainiac, hooligan, nymphomaniacal gameboys (and one girl)."

A man cannot be a nymphomaniac, as the term refers to a woman with an extreme sex drive. A man in such a condition is a "satyr." I think the term Savlov was looking for was "satyrical," not to be confused with "satirical."

James Bankston

Chinese Sweatshops Evil

Dear Editor,

Most of Wal-Mart's goods are made in China. I don't think people really understand how ungodly evil Chinese sweatshop production is.

It isn't just a matter of low wages. The folks who work in sweatshops have been driven from their homes in the country, their farms taken by local communist party bosses for personal gain. Either that or they're officially nonexistent people, off the books from the Chinese one-child policy.

They're driven into the cities, but because of the Chinese residency system, they have next to no rights we assume as automatic. They can't own property. They can't hold formal jobs (only back-alley sweatshop work and informal construction jobs). They aren't even allowed to rent housing for the most part, living in informal tenements, on rooftops, on the street. They're referred to as a "floating population" and current estimates of their numbers match or exceed the total labor force of the United States.

These aren't just crappy jobs, this is outright abuse: land-grabbing from farmers, taking away the basic rights of citizenship from millions of people, forcing them into horrible working conditions. They're functionally slaves of the Chinese government's development policy and American retailers content to sell their own nation's workforce down the river as long as there's loot to be had.

Wal-Mart makes its gold from this. We should drive them out of the community and drive them out of America. At the very least, we shouldn't kowtow to their ambitions for expansion in Austin ["Developing Stories," News, Dec. 8].

Donald Jackson

Who Is to Blame?

Dear Editor:

Re: The Bush administration blaming the Iraqis for the continued violence in this country: Blame the Iraqis? The Bush administration occupied Iraq under false pretenses, put Iraq in chaos, destroyed its infrastructure, and embedded fear into the souls of its citizens. He gave the terrorists a "safe haven" to continue their "dastardly deeds." Now you tell me ... who is to blame?

Jinny Lee

Melrose, Fla.

Almost Always Wrong but Never in Doubt

Dear Editor,

Louis Black's Dec. 8 "Page Two" offers a rare glimmer of hope to the survival of a free humanity. This delicate whisper comes from Mr. Black's conscious recognition that he finds "the Constitution's ideas about government, given the reality of humans, about as brilliant as seems possible." Exactly, but his realization is relevant only if the American people comprehend and accept the moral responsibility of this historical fact.

But here's the existential rub. Fifty years of irrational moral complacency has led a great number of Americans into a neo-leftist utopian box canyon of abject ideological denial of "the reality of humans." Soft material existence has falsely shielded us from the certainty that tyranny always lurks and that freedom can't long exist without constant vigilance. History is replete with this truth. The supreme irony is that the founders' original brilliance – designing the exceptional American democratic republic based on individual freedom restrained by moral rectitude – was through a direct understanding of "the reality of humans." Sadly, we have lost this historical insight. But if we don't wake up, we are doomed to repeat history ending in tyranny and enslavement.

Today's mortal threat is Islamist fascism – simply recall Sept. 11, 2001. Its leaders and their millions of servile devotees strive to commit genocide, annihilate Western civilization, and enslave all in 10th century Sharia Islam. And only America stands in their way. This reality requires us to clearly understand our global responsibility to consciously and overtly assist in this great cause to save American constitutional liberty. Neo-conservative or neo-leftist, this is now our fight. For if we are defeated, ideology will simply not matter. As previous Americans defeated German Nazism, Japanese imperialism, and Soviet communism, we must likewise defeat Islamist fascist tyranny. Otherwise humanity will soon be condemned to genocide and bondage.

Vance McDonald

McDonald's Moral Compass Just Spins

Dear Editor,

So Vance McDonald thinks it is a fact that most of this country's problems are caused by "clueless Democrats/liberals/progressives" ["Postmarks" online, Dec. 3]. Wow, you would think that conservatives hadn't been in charge of the Congress for the last eight years and of the Congress and the presidency for the last six years. What in the heck were they doing all that time, Vance? Were they trying to reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Nope! That would do a whole lot more to reduce/eliminate Muslim extremists than a war that only converts more to their way of thinking. Instead of this, the administration used Muslim extremists as an excuse to fatten their wallets through government contracts and further the cause of their fanaticism. Iraq is a Muslim terrorist's wet dream. Eisenhower warned us about the dangers of the military-industrial complex, and it is now on full display for all to see. And you, brother, have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. For my own part, I think we are all much more in danger in the long run from Christian extremists in the U.S. than from the Muslims.

As for other major problems with this country, the last eight years have only shown an increase in the federal deficit, the number of people without health insurance, the decline of our schools, an increasing poverty rate, a turning away from true science toward superstition and myth, etc. It seems to me all of these were made worse by the conservative contingent. I guess whether you think these are problems or not depends on which way your moral compass is pointing.

Steve Coon

Overland Park, Kan.

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