Letters at 20 Years
Some 'Postmarks' Writers Just Don't Know When to Quit God Bless 'Em
She's loved, she's hated. She's a visionary, she's a loopy idiot. She's striking a blow for environment and community, she's in my damn way.
Opinions on The Austin Chronicle's most prolific letter writer tend to be quite polarized, but one thing is for sure: They get attention. Amy Babich, who you've probably seen pedaling around the Hyde Park area on her recumbent bike with her husband Mike Librick, insists she didn't intend to become Austin's highest-profile bicycling advocate ... it just sort of happened.
The Austin Chronicle: Why do you write so many letters?
Amy Babich: I didn't mean to write so many. I often get exasperated when I'm out riding around Austin. ... The transportation system is just so ridiculous. I wrote you a couple of letters on transportation over the years before all of these letters started. But then somebody was writing in about "get rid of all your addictions," and they were still going to drive their car and fill it with gas. That's one of the major addictions, and everyone ignores it, and I wrote some letter about that that set off some kind of controversy, and I started responding to what they said. I have a lot of feelings about transportation, and at the time I didn't have that many outlets for expressing it.
AC: You get some people praising you, but we get a lot of letters from people telling you to pipe down.
AB: I would think that there would be some of that with anybody. Most of the people I meet ... will come up to me and say "don't listen to those people. Keep writing those letters." So I get more positive response from people I meet. I'm not necessarily deciding to keep writing letters forever, I just feel that I need to do something, and if I can't do anything else, I should say something about it.
AC: Do you feel like you're making a difference in Austin, or is no one listening?
AB: [laughing] I can't tell. That's one of those things people say to you, they say "You're making a difference," but how do you know? Austin doesn't seem to be changing to a city with rational transportation overnight. I don't know. If I'm making a difference, it's not a huge one. Or a fast one.
AC: You hand-write all your letters. Do you have e-mail?
AB: I do have e-mail. I don't like e-mail. For one thing, I don't type very well, I don't like to type, and I don't like sitting at a computer. I write everything long-handed. I even have kind of a problem with this because I write novels, and then once I've written a novel I have to type it up, and I really put that off.
AC: How many novels have you written?
AB: I've written three. Two have been published, one is not typed yet. Only the beginning part is typed, and I started a fourth one but haven't worked on it for a while because I got busy with other things, but I'm going to go back to it.
AC: How is your recumbent business going?
AB: It's not a big-boom business or anything, it's pretty small, but it keeps going. We sell some. We're not supporting ourselves on it.
AC: Do you often write to other publications?
AB: Cycling News in Austin, that's the free newspaper you can pick up at bike shops, and Recumbent Cyclist News, which is a national publication but is mostly read by recumbent riders. [laughs]
AC: Anything you'd like to add?
AB: I think it would be really great if we could make Austin the first city of the Velorution. [laughs]