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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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Elitist Snobbery

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 31, 2015

Dear Editor,
    Regarding Brandon Watson’s review of Bun Belly [“Empty Stomach,” Food, Aug. 28]: I’ve never eaten at Bun Belly, but I’ve been eating on Airport Boulevard since the Eighties. Mr. Watson’s snarky review conjures a mean-spirited, elitist snobbery that Airport Boulevard is just not about. Here’s a little secret: The point of restaurants on Airport Boulevard is that we have them. And we can eat in them. We don’t give two hoots about the decor. Hipster gentrifiers like Watson can moan about the “blah atmosphere” and the “cramped use of space” ad nauseam. You know what? We’re good with “late-Nineties Pier 1.” We’re as excited about drinking saké as we are about eating fresh buns at Burger Tex. We were happy as clams standing in line at Tamale House (R.I.P.), with no AC, where you could eat like a king for $5.
    Leave us alone. We don’t want to be Dallas. Or Rainey Street. Really, we’re good.
Meredith Roddy

Context Is Key

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 28, 2015

Dear Editor,
    [Regarding "Going Somewhere?" News, Aug. 21]: I just wanted to share some historical context about “The Great South Mall Controversy” (retrieved at the Briscoe History Center on August 28, 2015 from the August 10, 2015 blog post on www.jimnicar.com).
    George Littlefield did indeed originally propose the statues as part of a memorial to the Confederacy. He hired the Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini to design the memorial. But Coppini successfully convinced Littlefield that the purpose of the memorial be changed. (What follows is quoted from the above cited blog post).
    "Instead Coppini proposed to honor those who had fought in the World War, as [quoting Coppini] 'all past regional differences have disappeared and we are now one welded nation.'
    "Coppini's intent was to show the reunification of America in World War I after it had been divided in the Civil War. … As Coppini saw it, the fountain group showed a strong, united America sailing across the ocean to protect democracy abroad.
    "Immediately behind the fountain, Coppini planned two large pylons or obelisks (37 feet tall), symbolic of the North and the South. In front of each he placed the statues of two [again quoting Coppini] 'war presidents': Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy at a time when the country was deeply divided, and Woodrow Wilson, leader of a reunified America during the world war.
    "While these two persons were part of Littlefield's initial arch, Coppini had transformed them into symbols to compliment the message of the fountain group, not to honor the men individually."
    [Coppini later wrote]: "If it had not been my advice to [Littlefield] to let me combine a World War Memorial with the rest of the men he wanted to commemorate, the University, with all probability would not have the Memorial erected on the grounds.'"
    Because of various disputes between Littlefield, George Brackenridge, and University of Texas President Robert Vinson, the monument was never built according to Coppini's original, University-approved design.
    Undoubtedly, the explanatory plaques which were proposed by some to put in front of the statues would have explained the sculptor's original intent.
    Those intentions are clear: Jeff Davis was meant to symbolize a divided America. Woodrow Wilson was meant to symbolize a united America. However disingenuous that symbolism sounds to us in retrospect, it was not a spirit of division which motivated the sculptor, but a spirit of reconciliation.
    Perhaps, when the plaques that are affixed to the statues after they are moved to the Briscoe Center will describe these intentions, but far less people will read those explanations.
    There is a saying: Trust the art, not the artist. In this case, the reverse is true: Trust the artist's original intent in the context of the times in which he designed it, not the art as we see it today.
Philip Drexler
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