Letters to the Editor: Classic Cuts
35 years of "keeping it weird"
For this special anniversary issue, we've gathered letters from over the years that embody the voice of this city. Creative, snarky, and unapologetic: the essence of "weird." Some of them are almost timeless (i.e., musicians' gripes, complaints about SXSW, editorial criticism, the smoking ban) and some dreams never die (lookin' at you, light rail). But more importantly, it's helped us to create a dialogue with our readers – even the canines and the ones from outer space. Even the ones who just write in to give us hell. So, please, keep 'em coming. Keep it weird. Austin, we hear you.
– "Feedback" Editor Danielle White
May 28, 1993
I remember many hot summer afternoons when my master and I would dog paddle (well, he did a slightly less attractive stroke) in the lake at one of the coves of the legendary Hippie Hollow. No more, my fellow canines. We are not allowed. Hippie Hollow indeed.
Of course, we should have seen it coming. They paved the lot, paved the trails, built an entry booth to charge a fee, put in restrooms. How long before they have showers and espresso bars? They call this progress. Dog bones, I say. Once again, the powers that be have found a way to destroy the very spirit that gave life, charm, and distinction to an Austin landmark. The latest victim, my four-legged compadres, is us, man's best friend.
Mark my words, you humanists. Today it's dogs. Tomorrow it will be nude bathers, musicians, environmentalists, feminists, hippies, neo-hippies, and people who wear shirts without collars. Then who will be howling? And how long before they decide a more appropriate name is in order? Yuppie Amusement and Recreation Water Ranch, perhaps? The horror. The horror.
Austin Outer Limits
Dec. 18, 1981
It has come to my attention that you have failed to discharge the debt of which you were notified in the invoice mailed to you over 60 days ago. As a result, I am obliged to obliterate your meager planet. The precise method has not yet been determined, but you may be assured that said mission will be completed by 1 January 1982, the Christian New Year.
Please consider this your final notification. If you wish to reconsider payment of your incurred debt, you may contact me on this machine under the slug "zontar." I'm afraid that at this point I can accept nothing but a cashier's check issued by the World Bank and forwarded to me at light speed no later than this evening.
Thing From Venus
Free at Any Price
Sept. 16, 1988
Picked up a free copy of the A/C the other day. My reaction? It's overpriced.
[Ed. Note: Next time, don't even write. That way you can save 15 cents.]
No, Seriously, It's a Bar!
May 11, 2005
I hear the capital city has banned smoking in bars. It's a fucking bar! No, seriously, it's a fucking bar! Since I can no longer smoke in a bar, as soon as I get back I'm going to Mother's Cafe, throwing me some darts, carving my name in the table, spitting my peanut shells on the floor, doing a line off the bathroom sink, throwing up in the urinal, and screaming the lyrics to "Ace of Spades" in my best mate's ear. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em Austin; it makes you look cool, and it keeps hippies away.
Justin B. Andrews
Sept. 29, 2003
hey guys. i rilly like yur pubblication. the bestof ishue [Sept. 26] is great, I expeshully like the choice for best ahther/pohet: Louis Sacher.
i used to think it was Louis Sachar, and i could have just cheked on the cover of holes, especially since it was suposedly the citys book uv the month or whatever, but why bother with speling when you're riting about literture?
Nize one, guys.
Austin Music Awards Are BS
March 21, 2003
What is the point in printing those awards when they are total BS ["Austin Music Awards," March 14]? As a musician I am surprised that you would print Mingo Fishcrap as the best funk band. Although it is a popularity contest without any sort of intellectual musical background involved, I guess it's best to show the public visiting SXSW the most popular acts instead of the best music. After all, SXSW is about money, not about music, right? Why can't you put local Austin musicians or even the editor's favorite bands around here? Just to be curious, how many people on the Music staff are more than just journalists? Can any of them play great blues, jazz, folk, and country music on real instruments? Or do all they know how to do is write and put popular garbage up there? I've played music for half my life, and I know plenty of those award winners are garbage. Please make next year's issue a little less atrocious.
Going to Hell
Feb. 11, 2004
I've compiled a list of hip new street names that should please the "Keep Austin Self-Consciously Weird" contingent:
North Burnet = NoBu
Red River = ReRi
Cesar Chavez = CeCha
Ben White = BeWhi
It also appears that the only store on South Congress that could possibly be called weird, Just Guns, is no more. Fear not, loyal patrons, for in a matter of weeks, I imagine that it will soon be replaced by a more SoCo friendly "Passive Ethnic Weaponry Boutique" or something along those lines. I can see it now: "Hey Cory, I just picked up some punji sticks from SoCo, how about you stop and pick up some Pabst and a pack of Parliaments, and we'll hit up some vintage stores on NoBu." Austin is going to hell in a handbasket, and an ironic trucker-hatted doofus is at the wheel (if handbaskets have wheels).
And S Is for Smartass
March 27, 1998
Tonight I went to the 7-11 at 51st and Lamar at about 3:30am to get a sandwich. While I was paying for it, this dorky-looking, MTV-type guy came in and said to me and the two clerks, "You guys look like freaks. Does one of you have some buds you could sell us?" So I said, really loud, "No sir, Mr. Officer, sir! I do not know the whereabouts of any suspects from which to purchase narcotics in this vicinity, Mr. Officer, sir!" I went out and got in my car and Mr. Grungeclone came out and said something about how one of the clerks was about to sell him something until I said that. He got in a van with two other alternative types and I asked them, "Are you guys in town for South by Southwest?" They said yes, so I said, "Do you know what a wanker is?" They said yes, so I said, "That's what the W stands for in SXSW!" and drove off.
So, am I a bastard or what?
March 3, 2000
I agree with Jean-Paul Villere's view that The Austin Chronicle is whoring itself to advertisers ["Postmarks," Feb. 25]. In last week's issue, I noticed that the Chronicle ran an advertisement for the Red Eyed Fly's ...Trail of Dead show on the night of Feb. 25 while also advertising the Coffee Sergeants at the Hole in the Wall and Handful at Gaby & Mo's. Clearly a case of "conflicting interests." Cancel my subscription!!!
Brave New World
The hOle Truth
May 28, 1993
Regarding the Planet K arrests by the APD vice squad:
If Sergeant Jack Kelly's definition of bustable obscenity is "artificial vaginas" by virtue of their "entry holes," I wonder what he would think about a citizen's arrest of his SS troops next time they're caught chowing down at Dunkin' Donuts.
March 12, 1999
When I was a student, I would frequently grouse to friends that Austin stunk – but I didn't mean it literally, only angstfully. Now that I've moved away, found a job, and moved back, the grass generally appears greener. But there's one particular part of Austin that really and truly stinks, and no amount of positive imagery will hide the stench: It's the corner of 24th and Guadalupe, outside Tower Records, and it's never worse than on a humid, overcast day like today.
Is there a sewer leak? Or is this where Austin's baaaad feng shui collects? This odor has been there since at least 1993, so if there's a leak, I'd sure hate to see where the juice is collecting.
Live Hassle Capital
March 17, 2000
For a second time here I am writing you another letter on the issue of musicians being harassed about unloading from Sixth Street into a club. Recently I was preparing to do a show at Fat Tuesday with Lisa Tingle, Malford Milligan, Patrice Pike, and Taboo. I was fortunate enough to obtain a parking place directly in front of the club, which happens to me maybe two or three times a year if I'm lucky. As I was loading equipment into the club Lisa Tingle, Malford Milligan, and Carl Thiel pulled up next to my truck, put on the flashers and started to remove their equipment for the show. Within minutes an Austin Police Department officer pulled up and told them they had to move now. It was a Saturday. There really wasn't much traffic on Sixth Street; we surely were not holding up anybody.
So my question to you is, when is Austin who calls our city "The Live Music Capital of the World" going to realize they have to start taking care of the people who give the city its title? Every musician involved in the gig that night has won top honors in readers polls and Austin Music Awards but yet we all have to be exposed to not being legally able to get our equipment into the show so the fans can see us and we can do our jobs. Some of us are fortunate enough to make our sole income from playing for a living. It is our job and it is about time that something be done. It's not that hard to figure out a solution, but no one is listening. Please help in making this ongoing problem a thing of the past. Support Austin musicians because we sure as hell support Austin's title of "Live Music Capital of the World."
A fed-up member of the Austin music scene,
Darrell Todd Dragoo
Please Ban Smoking on My Front Porch
May 12, 2005
I wanted to write in and thank those well-meaning citizens who voted to pass the smoking ban. For me, this ban is a blessing. In the interest of health, I have been trying to eradicate alcohol consumption from my life completely. Now, thanks to the ban, my Friday night happy hour ritual will cease to exist. Because, for me, there is no point in having a cocktail if I can't enjoy a smoke. Now, if only they would vote to ban smoking on my front porch. Then I could give up coffee in the mornings. Anyway, here's to making the DWI task force obsolete ... 'cause we all know the light rail would never have been able to achieve that.
Against All Odds
July 25, 1997
Dear Mr. Huffstickler,
Re: your letter in which you bemoaned the loss of fair odds in Texas Lottery Scratch Off Tickets ["Postmarks," July 18]. May I suggest that state run lotteries are designed (like casinos) to make rather than lose money? Therefore, the majority of people who play must lose. The only variance for them is the amount of loss sustained. I would not be surprised if the odds for winning have dropped since the lottery began, but have no evidence firsthand of this fact. Regardless, you are providing corrupt lottery CEOs with much needed severance packages, so morally all is not lost for you.
Would that you could come to my Friday night poker games and see what real gambling is like. No, it is not legal, but it is a lot of fun, and unlike casinos and the state, you do not have to pay the house. Besides, we can always use another player.
Carl "The Captain" Williams
p.s. My favorite bird is the crow.
Wow, You're Smart
May 30, 1997
Most of the time, I ignore your paper, and silliness of its editorial positions. However, as an environmentalist newspaper, I think that you might want to add the following to your list of "things to ban": breathing.
Breathing, it turns out, emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the global-warming gas. I would like to therefore propose, that in the interest of preserving the Earth for future generations, that liberals, car-haters, animal-rights compassion-fascists, gun grabbers, and other assorted wackos stop breathing.
This should be seen as a small sacrifice when weighed against the monumental work of saving the world, and one which members of the above-mentioned groups should eagerly embrace as "fulfillment of their mission in life."
Get a (Better) Job
Oct. 18, 1996
In response to David Conrey's complaint that $2.13/hour isn't a sufficient wage ["Postmarks," Oct. 11]:
1) I have a simple solution. Get a better job or move (preferably back to California, but that's another matter). 2) You said you were wondering about two things, but you only listed one. Try to fix this problem before you take the advice in item 1) above.
Lance E. Ellisor
Get Out of My Bike Lane
Oct. 18, 1996
I'd like to acknowledge the city's recent display of concern for the well-being of the skulls of its biking contingency.
May I suggest the next step in keeping us "safe"? Please clear the bike lanes of things that are tricky to ride over (such as rocks, glass, and those large bumpy things, what are they called again? Oh yeah ... cars!) Surely parking in the bike lane is a ticketable offense.
You can start on Duval and Speedway.
[Ed. Note: Actually, parking in a bike lane is 100% legal. Kinda makes you wonder why they call them bike lanes, doesn't it?]
Sept. 15, 1995
[haiku: career opportunities in Austin]
Cost of living raise
Maybe I can afford more
For Anna Gramm:
reorder! at a low cost
Pink Slips for All
Sept. 8, 1995
To whoever is responsible for the content of The Austin Chronicle:
I am writing because I feel lucky. Lucky to know Casper Rawls and Kelly Willis and Steve Wertheimer. In my six years of loving Austin, I've never seen a more magic moment than the night the great Buck Owens took the stage at the Continental Club. He showed us how a real star received our love and reflected it back – magnified. If all you people have to report of this glorious evening is some spiteful loose talk then you are no longer fit to represent us, and you need to drop down and learn some respect. Until then, you're fired.
Give 'Em Enough Slack
Aug. 9, 1991
I must be the only person in Austin who didn't like Slacker. In the past few weeks, there hadn't been an issue of the Chronicle where the readers weren't told to go see this movie. The last was M.B.'s suggestion that one's summer would be incomplete without seeing the film.
I thought it was mediocre and minimally amusing. I feel the only reason people on the Chronicle staff liked it so much is because they have friends who were in it. I know people in it too and I still think it would have been better as a 30-minute short shown on Bravo or even Public Access.
I bet you if this movie had been done in Minneapolis, Madison, or maybe Ann Arbor, your response would not have been nearly as enthusiastic.
Dressed for Incest
Feb. 22, 1991
About that Dressed to Kill ad (2/8/91) featuring the model dressed like a little girl sucking her thumb, with her legs apart. As a former little girl, I am disgusted. She looks like she wants to suck daddy's thing. Just about all of the former little girls I know whose daddies made them do this did not like it one bit. In fact, it would be an understatement to say that they are still getting over it. Maybe kiddie porn isn't a good inspiration for fashion photography.
Three Strikes and You Sold Out
June 22, 1991
It's great to see you pimps and pinheads at the Chronicle getting your due for your bottom-line sexism. It fits nicely with your bankrupt liberalism and knee-jerk politics. You suckers sold out long ago to the liquor lobby and less legitimate drug interests. Kathleen, Louis, and Nick are running-dog flacks for the legal and illegal drug pushers. What a bunch of sweethearts.
[Ed. Note: Well, you got us, H.H., except that we offered to sell out to the liquor lobby a long time ago, but they weren't interested. We hope this letter will help change their minds.]
Pete Puts Privates on Parade
May 12, 1989
I'm curious about the kind of thing Petaluma Pete is supposed to be writing. Is it a cooking and eating column, a serialized novel, a personal memoir, or a "soap opera" plot?
If it's a "soap opera" plot, he should get a New York agent and send it there. If a personal memoir, I'll pass it up in future issues. If a novel, could he hold it 'til the book comes out as a unit?
It's true, cooking and eating are very personal, tied to various levels of emotional experience and lifestyle expressions, as well as involved with health and well-being. But there are limits to the invasion of privacy – his own and the others in his life – we should have to stand ...
Or is it just me?
Feeling a bad-taste-in-my-mouth
[Ed. Note: It's just you.]
A Message From Houston
July 29, 1988
Michael Corcoran was/is the best writer your self-important rag will ever employ. It's only fitting that his bon voyage should be two letters from the stereotypical Austin mentality (liberally hip tho implacable). Guys like Corcoran move up and beyond the tired muck of your "scene" ... while the letter whiners, with their imbecilic attempts at moral lecturing whilst maintaining a groovy, one-of-the-gang facade, only serve to remind me of why I loathe Austin. Way to go, Corky; you always were too barbed to coexist with the Austin collective consciousness – and that spells banausic shuck 'n' jive!
[Ed. Note: Thanks, now we know how to spell banausic.]
Nov. 13, 1987
Please be advised that someone in town is printing pirate copies of The Austin Chronicle. After reading what purported to be your last issue, I was suspicious when the faux-Chron recommended a no-vote on Proposition 1 to move the airport, but the giveaway: This "Chronicle" actually endorsed professional animal abuse (aka pari-mutuel wagering).
When I got to the sports page, I read some maniac masquerading as Michael Corcoran claiming the U.S. loss to the Soviet basketball team in the 1972 Olympics was even more tragic than the murder of the Israeli athletes. (I suspect Joe Bob Briggs was behind that.)
Please alert the authorities of this fraud.