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 Thanks for your patience.
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Sexism Is Not Gender Specific

RECEIVED Tue., March 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    On Friday evening, March 21, at the Victory Grill, Spike Gillespie and a troupe of mostly women performed The Dick Monologues.
    Why "Dick" and not "Penis" as like The Vagina Monologues?
    I see this as retro-feminist sexism. I thought we'd moved past this crap, people. I find this similar to subtle racism. A rising tide should raise all ships. Progressive modern people should be past oppressing someone else for their own empowerment.
    I mean hell, there weren't any guys doing The Vagina Monologues. I mean what do guys really know about vaginas? They don't have one!
    And pardon my assumption, this being 2008 and all, but I'm guessing none of these women has a penis.
    This may seem silly to some of you, but if this were guys doing a spin-off called The Pussy Dialogues, people would be up in arms and willing to protest.
Ricardo Acevedo

Death of the Fourth Estate

RECEIVED Tue., March 25, 2008

Mr. Kevin Brass,
    Just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your story [“Media Watch,” News, March 21] about the decline and fall of the Austin American-Statesman. I dropped my subscription to the paper back in December 2004 due to a horrendously misguided presidential endorsement, but I had been developing a vague sense that the paper was declining in quality long before that. I was not able to express my dissatisfaction as articulately as you did in your article, however.
    I dropped my 17-year subscription to the Houston Chronicle in December 2007 for many of the same reasons. As a voracious reader who cut his teeth reading newspapers on a daily basis, I am saddened to see the slow and agonizing death of many of my old friends. However, the business of media is at least as Darwinian as any other business, and the weak and nonadaptive shall certainly perish.
    Keep up the good work!
Stephen Taylor

Meeker's Role in BATPAC

RECEIVED Tue., March 25, 2008

Mr. Black,
    As a board member of Better Austin Today Political Action Committee, I would like to call your attention to an incorrect statement made by Michael King (“Point Austin,” News, March 21) and ask you to print a retraction.
    King states that Jason Meeker “helped found” Better Austin Today. He concludes this based on Meeker’s response to our candidate questionnaire, in which Meeker states: “I helped name the organization, when I proposed the name as BATPAC for Bettering Austin Today. And I hooked you up with the designer of your logo.”
    King did not ask any Better Austin Today board members whether Meeker helped found the organization. Meeker was not involved in starting the group and has never even attended a meeting. Before we incorporated, those of us starting the organization asked several people, including Meeker (who is a public relations professional), for input on potential names. After we incorporated, Meeker was among those we asked to recommend graphic designers for logo development. In addition, he, along with many others not involved in founding or running our organization, attended our first press conference. Otherwise, Meeker has had no involvement with Better Austin Today. Suggesting a name and a graphic designer is not tantamount to being a founder.
    Our endorsement of Meeker was never a foregone conclusion, as King’s statement seems to imply. Better Austin Today, comprising longtime activists as well as newcomers involved in a wide variety of civic endeavors, was created to advance a progressive, inclusive vision for our city and to provide a strong voice for the public interest to counter the profit-driven special-interest groups that currently dominate city politics. Our endorsements were made to support our shared vision for Austin, not the political aspirations of any single individual. Our endorsement is based on what we learned about Meeker during our endorsement process and what we know about Leffingwell’s record. Meeker’s vision for Austin and commitment to inclusiveness will serve the city much better than Lee Leffingwell’s unreliable record on important issues and demonstrated preference for insider decision-making.
Hope Morrison
Better Austin Today board member
   [Michael King responds: In his responses to the BATPAC questionnaire, as Hope Morrison notes, Jason Meeker claimed a special relationship with the organization and indeed that he provided its name, and Morrison (Meeker's colleague at Responsible Growth for Northcross) here indeed confirms that the founders consulted with a declared council candidate on the supposedly independent organization's name and its logo. They now quibble with my formulation that by providing that assistance, he "helped found" BATPAC. Readers can draw their own conclusion, but I find nothing to retract. I do find it amusing that a group so earnestly demanding transparency and accountability from others instantly howls with outrage when the same standards are applied to them.]

Please Help the Gaff

RECEIVED Tue., March 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Chris Gaffney is a Southern California musician with strong ties to Austin. He recorded his Loser's Paradise album in Austin with Dave Alvin producing. He plays Austin regularly with his band, the Hacienda Brothers, and frequently as part of Dave Alvin's band, the Guilty Men. The Gaff has many friends and loved ones in Austin.
    He has been diagnosed with liver cancer. Treatment will be expensive, and he won't be able to work while he is recovering. If you'd like to help, please go to
With sincere thanks,
Kellye Rila

Water Use Goals a Joke

RECEIVED Tue., March 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    How is it Wells Dunbar can write, with a straight face, that incumbent Council Member Lee Leffingwell has been a “strong advocate for water conservation” and point to Leffingwell’s “green bona fides” as the “architect of redrafting the Save Our Springs Ordinance” [“Spring Training,” News, March 21]? Leffingwell set a goal of reducing Austin water use 1% per year for 10 years. That’s not a goal; that’s falling out of bed.
    Only it gets worse. The starting point for this “goal” is our single most wasteful day of water-use ever recorded. And the goal is not really a reduction – it’s a reduction off of projected increasing “peak day” water demands. And “to be safe,” city staff is only planning a half-percent-per-year reduction.
    This joke would be funny if it weren’t so cruel and costly. Setting such a low bar leaves Leffingwell and council racing to build the new $400 million Water Treatment Plant No. 4, which we will pay for with at least a 15% rate hike and decades more of water waste that will drain Lake Travis. Our water waste means our neighbors to the south will feel perfectly comfortable doing the same, pumping Barton Springs dry during times of drought.
    As for Leffingwell’s green mala fides, the point of his SOS Ordinance amendment was to increase development in the Barton Springs Watershed (as if we don’t have enough already). The amendment was rigorously opposed by the Austin Sierra Club, Save Barton Creek Association, and Save Our Springs Alliance.
    Strong and bona or lame and mala? Perhaps a few facts, and let the reader decide.
Bill Bunch

Please Stop Hitting Me

RECEIVED Mon., March 24, 2008

Dear drivers of Austin,
    Please stop hitting me on my bicycle with your cars. Today was the second time! I was at a stop sign in daylight and was hit from behind. Come on! Pay attention! I ride a big, red Pee-wee Herman-type bike, so keep an eye out for me, and don't hit me anymore. There's plenty of other Austin bikers that haven't been hit even once yet – you can hit them if you like, but I would appreciate you letting me commute without further incident. Thanks.
Jeff Luna

Caligiuri's Ill-Considered, Vicious Garbage

RECEIVED Mon., March 24, 2008

Dear Editor.
    Please, enough of Jim Caligiuri.
    I was very upset at Jim Caligiuri's review of my own CD last year ["Texas Platters," Music, Jan. 26, 2007], then gratified so many wrote in to protest it. That led to him trashing me again on his blog in the middle of South by Southwest ["An Attack in Geezervile," Earache! Music blog, March 14].
    I won't defend my own work here, but, for example, he has now written a destructive (and way off-base) piece about Hayes Carll ["SXSW Platters," Music, March 14], a very well-respected if not legendary musical artist, not to mention Caligiuri's past trashing of Jimmy LaFave and others.
    Whether this reviewer is simply a curmudgeon or genuinely clueless, he is doing real damage to legitimate artists who are trying to get work.
    When an artist is Googled by a club owner, and the first thing that comes up is Caligiuri's ill-considered, vicious garbage, which he apparently spews out without even listening, half the time, to the music he's writing about – sorry, I'll calm down – my point is, this stuff lives on, on the Internet, in perpetuity!
    Rather than just writing something that's in a recyclable medium (paper) the next week, the comments of Mr. Caligiuri become part of any musical artist's "permanent record" and can make the difference between getting hired or not, for everything from festivals to a gig in the next town, so he or she can buy gas to get home.
    I was under the impression that writers wrote and editors reviewed, before things go out over the infinite Net and into print. Please, assign a competent editor to put Mr. Caligiuri's reviews in a little better context, or (of course, preferably) reassign him to where he can do less direct and actual damage.
    The people being trashed by Mr. Caligiuri are real, bill-paying human beings who are, in the so-called live music capital, actually trying to make a living playing music. Since we generally have to also travel out of town to do that, where we may be less known (or are trying to gain a foothold), there is major injury done by the ravings of a Jim Caligiuri.
    I may or may not be as good as I think I am, but I know Mr. Caligiuri is way off in his estimation of other artists, and he has now again proven his penchant for viciousness far exceeds his value as an objective journalist (which, in any case, he clearly is not). Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Sincerely yours,
Mandy Mercier

Peace Is Not Political

RECEIVED Mon., March 24, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I proudly marched in the Million Musician March for Peace and plan on doing it again in March 2009. I know I'm in a small minority, but not a minority of one, when I say shame on those who use the march to advance their political agendas. Peace is not political! War is political! How is war even possible without politics?
    Politics, partisan politics, and bipartisan politics were represented in signs for candidates, songs for specific political candidates, and on and on. For those who look at it as a protest march, that's valid in the sense that by being for peace is by default protesting against war. But being for peace isn't just being against the war (in Iraq) or a war (in Iran) but against all war. That's what being for peace is about. It's being against killing people. People for peace span the whole spectrum of political and nonpolitical beliefs, as well as religious and nonreligious belief. And so do people who are OK with war!
    Seriously, I want the names of the pacifists in Congress. I know there are some. Someone please write their names on the back of a postage stamp and send them to me. War is the lifeblood of government. Truth is the enemy of politics. War is the enemy of peace.
    I am very proud that so many out-of-towners – the musicians, fans, and industry folks here for South by Southwest – got to see the Austin community of musicians and peace activists at its finest. I hope it made a lasting impression.
Slim Richey

What's in a Number?

RECEIVED Sun., March 23, 2008

Dear Editor,
    What's in a number? Four thousand. Four thousand pennies is only $40, not even enough to fill up most gas tanks in even the most modest of cars. But the 4,000 I am speaking of are volunteers. People you do not know but none the less took up arms to protect your freedom. 2007 was the deadliest year of the war since the beginning of the war, yet it was touted as a great success. John McCain has promised 100 or 1,000 years of war, and I believe him. After all, the Iraq war was supposed to be self-financing and last no longer than six months, but we are now entering the sixth year of the short war. I was a soldier. I served for 20 years, three weeks, and three days. I still know hundreds of soldiers because I was a drill sergeant. I know these patriots; if there were any kind of news coverage, you would know them too. But you don't know them, do you? President Bush and the Republican Congress and Senate won the war in record time but lost the peace in record time and somehow lost control of the occupation. Before this war – I mean occupation – I had never written a congressman, a senator, or a newspaper until 2,000 friends had been killed. And these are your friends. These people, these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, are our friends who go to fight a war where many have come back dead, wounded, and psychologically damaged. We have killed 4,000 men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. No one knows how many Iraqis we've killed in this war. I have no true idea of how many are wounded, and there are more than 1,000 suicides. Four thousand dead apparently is not enough, and more than 1,000 suicides is not enough. Is 6,000 enough, or have you personally had enough? Or does the war need to continue? Bad things only happen when good people stand by and do nothing. Which appears to be true, 4,000 dead people ago.
Ron Ruiz

Good Riddance, Forgione

RECEIVED Sat., March 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: Pat Forgione [“Forgione's Long Farewell,” News, March 21]: Here's a man who – through proxies – hauled dozens of kids from other districts into the magnet and math and science programs and ultimately transformed LBJ's ethnic makeup from black to Caucasian, in arts and science.
    LBJ, Johnston, Reagan, Travis, and Kealing were bustling with very hype young blacks and Hispanics, winning at everything before Mr. Forgione was hired. The grim statistics plaguing Travis County neighborhoods that he encountered still stand today. Now, prostitution, poverty, and unemployment are showing up.
    Neither one of the city managers found the Austin Independent School District graduates appealing for what the city of Austin requires for top job seekers; not even AISD found its own graduates appealing for its top positions! So, the notion that not one single principal or superintendent has ever been chosen from its own graduates seems delusional, but for 40 years, it's been a fact. Further misery was cast on the residents around these schools by the policies adopted from the 9/11 industry.
    He didn't come here to educate us; he came here to allow rather more investment in and shift the economic risk to the population, a tactic that earned Toby Futrell local immortality, but tell that to the misinformed parents.
Paul Aviña

Movie Was One of the Worst Ever

RECEIVED Fri., March 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Four stars for Funny Games U.S. [Film Listings, March 14]? This was one of the worst movies I've seen this year. It wasn't scary or horrifying (if you've seen the trailer, you've seen all of the movie that's worth anything). The photography wasn't great. The acting was mediocre. There were long expanses of time in the movie where virtually nothing was happening. Character and plot development were poor. About the only memorable thing about the movie was the conversations by viewers afterward – everyone I heard was remarking about what a terrible movie and utter waste of time it was. It would be better to go rent a copy of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange instead.
Victor Engel

Congrats to SXSW; Music Hall Needs to Improve Sound

RECEIVED Fri., March 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    It has taken awhile to recover from South by Southwest (every year it takes a little longer), but I want to congratulate everyone who made this year's SXSW another success! I saw some wonderful films and heard lots of great music, which is to be expected. What I didn't expect was the huge headache I got at Wednesday night's Austin Music Awards show.
    I had heard rumors that the acoustics at the newly renovated Austin Music Hall left something to be desired. That is putting it mildly. I volunteered to work at the Awards show to earn part of my hours toward my badge and so was obligated to stay for the whole show. And it was a great show. (Kudos to you, Margaret!) I just wish I could have heard it.
    Austin is the live music capital of the world. It is embarrassing to have such terrible sound at a place called the Austin Music Hall. I propose we change the name to the Austin Echo Hall or maybe the Austin Headache Hall, which is what it gave me. Or how about the Austin Concrete Box?
    I won't be seeing any more shows there until the powers that be do something (drastic!) about the sound.
Caren Floyd

Thanks for the Support

RECEIVED Fri., March 21, 2008

    I have had the good fortune to be covered a couple of times in the past couple of weeks in the Chronicle [“SXSW 08 Music Live Shots,” Music, March 21; “Saturday Sleepers,” Music, March 14]. I wanted to extend my gratitude for the coverage. Please let Thomas Fawcett and all of your writers know how much it means to us indie artists to have the support of the writers and music editors. I stand in great appreciation of what you do and wanted you to know that your support of my project does not go unnoticed!
Maya Azucena
Brooklynn, N.Y.

Austin Has Missed the Mark Toward Zero-Energy

RECEIVED Thu., March 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In its visionary campaign to become zero-energy, Austin has missed the mark by making the McMansion ordinance a pro-sprawl code. Besides the obvious concerns I have as an architect about its prescriptive nature for residential design and aesthetics (issues better left to designers), my chief concern is its nonsustainability resulting from its density limits. How could a city that so proudly hails its green credentials fail to have put this sprawl-making ordinance under more environmental scrutiny? Disallowing density means people move outward rather than inward, creating more sprawl, roads, traffic, congestion, and air pollution, all while chewing up the very green space that we rely on to aid in sequestering all the mess we've created. Is it really possible that we have cast aside our visionary mayor's call-to-arms for the sake of "neighborhood character," for the sake of NIMBY-ism?
    I would sooner walk past several bad McMansions in my own neighborhood than sacrifice Austin's environmental future. At least McMansions can be remodeled.
David Webber, AIA
Webber + Studio, Inc.

The Readers Pick the Winners, but We Need Someone to Attack

RECEIVED Thu., March 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Why would the Skunks be nominated as this year's punk band in The Austin Chronicle Music Poll Hall of Fame [March 14]? Dunno. Do they still sell albums? Do they fill venues wherever they play? Do they have a following that ranges from 15 years of age to 65 years of age and older? (Chris W. and my grandmammie.) Are they known all over the world? Are they still in active bands, and have they remained musicians through the years? (Except Jon Dee.) Were they a leading force in their genre of rock & roll that spawned endless acts to follow? The answer is no. How long can a few old farts hold a grudge? I guess forever!
Lonnie Layman
   [Editor's response: There is no conspiracy. If everyone who wrote us about the Hall of Fame voted and got his or her friends to vote, then the band they favor would most likely win.]

New Awards Category?

RECEIVED Thu., March 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Concerning the Austin Music Awards [Music, March 14]: The quality of local music is an ongoing treat, and the recognition of the best individuals and bands is a wonderful thing. However, I've always been impressed by versatility. So I propose an additional category for "Showing in Most Categories.”
    This year Guy Forsyth won no first-place spots but appeared in nine lists. Wow!
Tommy X Hancock

Sickness Is Not Art

RECEIVED Thu., March 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: Funny Games U.S.: Why would the Chronicle give four stars to a movie [Film Listings, March 14] about abject degradation of people? Sickness is not art. This the second-worst movie I have seen in my life.
Nolan Lujan

Corporate 'Green' Effort?

RECEIVED Thu., March 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Anyone who is interested in seeing a rather cynical corporate "green" effort should check out the "green" parking at the Lowe's on Brody Lane. They have designated some of the most inconvenient, least desirable parking in the lot for carpool drivers – complete with green stripes delineating the spots and signs to label them. It's such a joke – NASCAR America giving the finger to environmentalists. Check it out to have a laugh.
Jack Allan
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