FEEDBACK
Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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After All, We Are All in This Together

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 6, 2006

Dear Louis,
    We at the SIMS Foundation would like to congratulate The Austin Chronicle for 25 years of journalistic accomplishment. The dedicated staff at the Chronicle has served the Austin community with distinction and integrity over the years, particularly its ever-changing music community, and for that we are grateful.
    We would also like to thank you for your ongoing support of the work SIMS does. SIMS has been serving the Austin community by providing low-cost mental-health services to musicians since its inception upon the tragic death of Sims Ellison in 1995. From day one, the Chronicle has been there, for every SIMS benefit, large and small, and for every moment in the music community's various times of need. We are very grateful for everything you have done.
    Happy 25th anniversary, Austin Chronicle.
Sincerely,
Ray Benson
Chair, SIMS board of directors,
and the SIMS board of directors and staff

John Carter Does Not Address Any Issues

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 6, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I was not surprised that John Carter will not debate or respond to the press. ["Congressional District 31: What's Up With John Carter?" News, Sept. 1]. I wrote him about an issue coming before the Senate, and he sent me a long form letter that failed to address the issues I had raised or make any kind of clear statement about anything. I think he was one of those guys in college who wrote pages of text for papers and tests that didn't say anything.
Cathy Lovelady

Perry Must Go

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 6, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Rick Perry must be voted off of the island in November. First, the Trans-Texas Corridor toll road scheme of taking more than 600,000 acres of land from Texans (my two family farms included) to turn it over to a private Spanish company.
    Then, Gov. Perry wants to sell off Texas parkland to the highest bidder.
    What's next, selling the Alamo back to Mexico?
Linda Lancaster
Arlington

Rather Than Lie, Clean Up After Your Dog

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 6, 2006

Dear Editor,
    My family and I moved here from South Texas six months ago. We went to Barton Springs Sunday for the first time. We took our dog with us, so we were on the side where dogs are allowed. We were enjoying the day when a woman with her two children arrived with a Great Dane. Junior was his name. After a few long minutes, my husband called my attention to the dog taking a crap right there where everyone walks down to the spring. We watched intently to see if the woman was going to pick it up. We noticed she was gathering her children and leaving. So I approached her with a bag and offered it to her in case she didn't have one. This woman in her mid-30s looked at me right in the eye and said: "That's not my dog's, it's been with me the whole time in the water." I responded by telling her we've all been watching her and her dog's not even wet and she needs to pick it up. She assures me she always picks up after her dog. After a few more exchanged words she reluctantly picks up after her dog as her dog takes another crap right there. I am not upset about the dog pooping, it's the fact she was obviously trying to leave it there and then lie about it. I hope this woman is proud that she showed her children, as well as mine, how to lie to a stranger.
Gabby Crawford

An Error in Film Review

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 6, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: Error in Lage Raho Munnabhai review [Film Listings, Sept. 1]: I saw this movie this weekend. Marjorie writes in her review that, "In this chapter Munna 'Bhai' falls in love with the voice of a radio deejay, whom he mistakenly believes to be a history professor." Actually, the radio deejay mistakenly believes Munna Bhai to be a history professor in the film. Just thought you'd like to know.
Asra Syed

What's Really Happening at KUT?

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 6, 2006

Dear Editor,
    This past Saturday I was shocked to hear Teresa Ferguson announce that this was the last Femme FM. I'm a longtime listener of Teresa's show, and I'm dumbfounded on the how and why of this unceremonious ending ... with Teresa choking back the tears and telling her listeners that it's not about the deejay, it's about the music. I think she's wrong on this point ... I am in Ms. Ferguson's debt as she has helped broaden the depth and scope of my musical tastes. Thank you for all the great shows Teresa, you will be missed. You would think that KUT could have done something special for the last Femme FM (aired over the past 12 years) instead of just unceremoniously pulling the plug.
    I've noticed several disturbing trends happening at KUT over the past few years, from KUT telemarketing for more money (using out-of-state companies no less), floods of junk mail asking for more donations, lies about revenue shortfalls, and the ever-increasing pseudo commercials for the corporate sponsors. Seems like KUT is changing, and not for the better, and I would hope that the Chronicle will be able to report on what is really going on over at KUT.
Long live Femme FM,
Daryl Stewart

Was It a Lie?

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    So, am I mistaken, or is the Back Room still in business? It seems like they still place ads in the Chronicle every week, though with drink specials instead of show lineups. It seems like the Austin rock and metal communities have been duped with the big send-off and the stories about how apartment buildings will be erected on the site. Personally, I find the fact that they are still open (as a sports bar, no less) infuriating, as it means they basically lied to all of us. Perhaps we in the local metal community should take a cue from our Norwegian counterparts and make their closing genuine? If I've got my facts confused, please let me know. Thank you.
Jeff Tandy
   [Editor's note: From "TCB," Music, July 28: "Although the game side will remain open on a month-to-month basis for up to two more years, the Back Room's musical side signs off this weekend with an all-day barbecue and rock show Saturday."]

A Fan of Katherine Gregor

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Just a note to say how much I've enjoyed the articles in the Chronicle recently by Katherine Gregor (e.g. Las Manitas ["My Migas, My City," News, July 21], "Downtown's Tall Order" [News, June 23], and "All 'Round Republic Square" [News, Sept. 1]). She is an insightful writer, and I enjoy her work.
Sincerely,
Bonnie Zook

Where Have True Fans of Slamming Gone?

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    After attending the tremendous reunion gig of Scratch Acid ["The Greatest Gift," Music, Sept. 1] this past Saturday, I think I can safely pronounce moshing/slam-dancing dead. Sure, there were a few dozen of us down front banging around but nothing that even comes close to the mayhem that once occurred on a weekly basis at venues like Emo's. With the amount of energy that was coming off the stage, I was expecting bodies flying with reckless abandon. Instead there was some gentle shoving and very little crowd-surfing. In fact, the only reason David Yow went in a second time is because I reached up and pulled him in (much to the delight of the crowd). So I have to ask, where have the true fans of slamming gone? Are we all just getting old?
Hugh Bradley

Wants Film Description Not Review

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    For those of us who look at the movie reviews to see what a movie is about and don't care about the long-winded ramblings of a reviewer who seems more interested in impressing herself with her ability to write like William F. Buckley (who writes for less than .001% of the population, and probably only 1% of them can understand him), then Marjorie Baumgarten's unreviewed movie descriptions with only two or three sentences are great; if she could start each review with that, then we could find out what the movie is about in a nutshell without the ramblings, and you wouldn't have to read my rambling sentence.
Larry Lewter

Conspiracy Theories Caused by Government

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I appreciate the comments from engineers and other experts on what really may have happened at the WTC ["Postmarks," Sept. 1]. Most of us who have questions about this tragedy are not engineers. We are simply citizens who are deeply concerned about the future of this country.
    There would be no conspiracy theorists if there had been no federal power grab after this tragedy. Unfortunately, Bush and his gang used these unfortunate deaths to justify this power grab.
    How do you make conspiracy theorists go away? Return the country to the founding principles of limited federal power and Constitution principles.
Chris Baker

Happy to See Kinky Doing Well

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I'm encouraged to see that Kinky is doing so well in the polls and in raising campaign money. I enjoyed the article "Gubernatorial Booty" [News, Aug. 25], outlining the success of the Kinky campaign. I look forward to an honest individual in the Governor's Mansion who is committed to empowering the people of Texas. Kinky's political reform agenda is exactly what this state needs to get us out of the political coma Rick Perry has brought on.
David Kobierowski

Curator's Name Not Mentioned

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: "The Long Drive South" [Arts Listings, Sept. 1]: I found the review to be comprehensive and insightful. I am pleased to see an in-depth focus on the art, artists, and curatorial ideas. As the curator of this show, I take deep pride in all of my concepts and am very happy Austin received us with such a response. I only wished you had mentioned my name in the article.
Fondly,
Andreis Costa

Mirrors More Than Helmets

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    What with all the flap about bicycle helmets? There's not a word about rearview mirrors on the bicycles or helmets ["Postmarks," Sept. 1].
    Most riders have no idea what is behind them. The best thing for bicycle-rider safety would be a requirement that bicycles have rearview mirrors or riders have mirrors on their helmets.
Ken Loveless

Liked Art Show, Didn't Like Review

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: "Tag - You're It!" [Arts, Sept. 1]: I was at the show Saturday. The turnout was huge. Many people seemed to be enjoying themselves. All walks of life were there. This event really seemed to bring out a large part of Austin (500-600 people). It is a shame that the write-up seemed so single-minded and stereotypical. The only "tagging" I saw was on the wall provided for the crowd. I suggest that Amanda [Douberley] do a little research on the art form. "Dondi" is not a cartoon character; he was a famous graffiti writer from New York (RIP). It seems that she missed the whole point of the show. The purpose of the show was to educate the public on the difference between "tagging" and "piecing." I do not approve of kids vandalizing the city. It looks horrible. This was not a fine art show but a small sample of some of the talent coming from the streets.
Thank you for attending,
Nathan Nordstrom
   [Arts Editor Robert Faires responds: With all due respect, while Mark Prellop may well have been referring to Donald White, the graffiti artist (1961-1998), in his artwork in the "Austin Graffiti Art" exhibit, Dondi was indeed a cartoon character who appeared in a newspaper strip from 1955 to 1986, and he bears enough of a resemblance to the character depicted on the subway car to make this an honest mistake.]

Questions About Polygamy

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 1, 2006

Dear Editor,
    On following the ongoing story of the FLDS ["Feds Nab 'Prophet,'" News, Sept. 1], I am curious as to how the large families are being supported by one man. Are the families registering for welfare payments, and how would this be legal in the different states? Also, I am curious about the legal minimum marriage age in the different states: Utah, Arizona, Colorado, etc. Or is this side-stepped by having the additional wives underage, and therefore not counted as legal wives?
    I traveled in St. George, Utah, and the area is very protected by the terrain, but why is this systemized abuse allowed? What education are the children given, and isn't it scrutinized by the state authorities? I am puzzled!
Madonna Wayne
   [Jordan Smith replies: Additional wives, by definition, are not counted, since polygamy is illegal. As such, the husbands don't technically support all their wives. In fact, many plural wives are encouraged to apply for welfare programs in order to support the families – to the state they look like unmarried single parents, living well below the poverty line. Many of these questions are, I think, answered in our feature "Meet the New Neighbors," News, July 29, 2005.]

First Amendment Thoughts

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 1, 2006

Dear Editor,
    The First Amendment to the Constitution reads in part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech."
    I am convinced the prohibition against the establishment was intended to preclude some future Congress from establishing a "state religion" in America. The intent of the phrase precluding Congress from prohibiting the free exercise of religion is clear.
    Now we have a federal court judge telling the city of San Diego that it must remove a memorial cross dedicated to Korean War veterans from Mount Soledad.
    Let me get this straight: The Congress of the U.S. cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, but a lone federal judge can. In effect, that judge has invested the courts with the authority to prohibit the free exercise of religion, an anthority specifically forbidden to Congress. I thought the primary function of the courts was to interpret and apply the law, not to rewrite it.
    Ironically, our judicial system violates its own interpretation of the separation of church and state. Every U.S. court requires witnesses to place one hand on the Bible and swear to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God."
Gerard Kern

Keep on Keeping On

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 1, 2006

To the editor,
    When I moved to Austin nine years ago, it was my first time living west of the Mississippi or south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It was only when I began reading the Chronicle that public life in my new home became mildly intelligible.
    Thank you for your wit and your independence. Keep on keeping on.
Davida Charney

Doesn't Like Film Crews Tying Up Streets

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 1, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Yes, I know that most people are pleased (often dazzled) when film crews set up camp in Austin. They think it's glamorous, and admittedly it's an environmentally clean (if ethically repugnant) industry.
    But what about the real cost? Every time I see one of those caravans of white trucks, frankly, I dread it.
    Why? They buy permits that allow them to disrupt all of our normal activities, as if the everyday functioning of the city does not matter. As if our streets could bear any more obstructions, the film crews can (and frequently do) shut down several lanes of a major thoroughfare during rush hour. Then they've got armies of flacks (mainly local production assistants anxious to impress someone from Hollywood) and off-duty cops running around telling you where you cannot go, even if you've been driving that particular route for years.
    Traffic accidents and other fluke occurrences are bad enough, but those things are announced on news updates and moved off as soon as possible - whereas these film crews come in and take over for days (sometimes weeks) at a time.
    In the past, movie people and the cops hired to guard their sets have prevented me from getting to the polls to vote, they have made me take an alternate route to the hospital when I was driving someone to the emergency room, and they've also caused me to be late to work on numerous occasions. Why the hell do their permits not stipulate that they set up and shoot scenes Downtown and on major traffic arteries sometime like Sunday mornings? Is it just too much to ask that they schedule their work so as to minimize the negative impact on the rest of us?
    I don't buy the mentality that these people are royalty and we're lucky to have them coming to Austin. In my experience, that Hollywood crowd has tended toward some of the most ill-mannered, imperious, and arrogant people I have ever met. I can't say much more for the glassy-eyed locals standing around gawking like tourists hoping to get a glimpse of somebody they saw on some gossip show, either.
Tom Horn

Everyone Should Try Karaoke

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 31, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Kim Mellen's column on the business, the pleasures, and the cultural effects of karaoke was so insightful ["We Are the Stars," Jan. 4, 1999].
    I have never been to a karaoke bar in the U.S. I did, however, spend about 10 years of my career in Japan, where I belted out solos and duets almost every night much to the delight of Japanese patrons relishing the strange visage of a crazy gaijin singing in Japanese.
    It makes me happy that Westerners have embraced such a great stress reliever and equalizer. Karaoke is one of the best preventive therapies I've ever tried. I'm inspired to start exploring the local karaoke scene.
    Everybody should try it. Embarrassment is not a valid excuse. Embarrassment is unknown in karaoke. I'll bet I can see you singing along with the radio in your car. I'll bet you even think you sound pretty good in the shower.
    The karaoke fans will rave at your performance. Karaoke people might sit in a cubicle all week, but watch out for that Saturday night. They're going to have some fun.
Ray Woodard

Bush Administration's Misplaced Priorities

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 31, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Over the last several days, the newspapers and television stations have been revisiting the region hit by Katrina, focusing on conditions today in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Bush will visit New Orleans on Tuesday (Aug. 29) to do and say or proclaim what? Just days after he made assertive and vehement statements about staying in Iraq, regardless, because he said, and I paraphrase, if we leave Iraq there will be chaos there (what is there now?).
    A Web site named PushBackCNN.com tracks the cost of the war in Iraq by the second. As of this minute (Tuesday, Aug. 29, at 12:53pm) $310,559,000,000 have been spent in Iraq. That is roughly $233,280,000 per day.
    Just imagine what we would be seeing on TV if the dollars to pay the daily cost of the war in Iraq had been available for the reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast during the last 365 days.
    Well, as long as we are imagining, can you imagine how many lives, homes, and families could have been saved or spared the nightmare of the Superdome and Convention Center if the government had deployed troops to the area as quickly as troops were deployed to Iraq? Why is it the administration can get troops to the other side of the planet faster than they could get them to New Orleans?
Mary Patrick

Questions Engineer on 9/11

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 31, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Mr. Love contends in his epistle that WTC 7 fell due to weakened structural steel ["Postmarks," Sept. 1].
    However, we have many instances of skyscrapers burning for much longer, in a much more severe fashion without ever collapsing.
    In 2004, the tallest skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, burned for more than 17 hours (more than twice as long as WTC 7). The fires spread over 26 floors. Firefighters were unable to reach the upper floors, which burned uncontrollably, and sprinkler systems failed.
    That building still stands to this day.
    While he says that it is ridiculous to assert that the WTC buildings are the only skyscrapers in modern times to collapse due to fire, a studious individual will find that, indeed, it is true. There is no precedent for a burning steel-framed building to collapse, even in extreme situations. While the extenuating circumstances of the twin towers makes them more likely victims of "pancaking," the collapse of WTC 7 is poorly explained, and utterly ignored in the 9/11 Commission Report (not a single mention), along with many other important questions.
    Did the engineers who designed WTC 7 not theorize that perhaps a fire would burn for several hours? Did they not take steps to prevent structural collapse in this situation? Forgive me, but any skyscraper that crumbles to dust after a not-very-dramatic or widespread fire (compared to many in recent memory) isn't worth its weight in rubble. Any engineer who designed such a building is a fraud.
    I welcome the input of anyone who can tell us of another steel-framed skyscraper, anywhere, that collapsed due to a fire of any size, severity, or duration. Anyone?
Cheers,
Mike "Dub" Wainwright
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