Daily Archives: 04/26/2009

Frank Rich – The Banality of Bush White House Evil

(Community Matters) I don’t enjoy disagreeing with President Obama, but I do disagree that we shouldn’t pursue criminal charges against those who authorized torture against domestic and international laws. This cannot deteriorate into a political witch hunt.

An independent counsel should be appointed to pursue the case. If he finds a reason to indict, then those persons should be taken to court in front of a jury of 12 Americans.

From Frank Rich’s column in the New York Times:

We’ve learned much, much more about America and torture in the past five years. But as Mark Danner recently wrote in The New York Review of Books, for all the revelations, one essential fact remains unchanged: “By no later than the summer of 2004, the American people had before them the basic narrative of how the elected and appointed officials of their government decided to torture prisoners and how they went about it.” When the Obama administration said it declassified four new torture memos 10 days ago in part because their contents were already largely public, it was right.

By the time Bybee wrote his memo, Zubaydah had been questioned by the F.B.I. and C.I.A. for months and had given what limited information he had. His most valuable contribution was to finger Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the 9/11 mastermind. But, as Jane Mayer wrote in her book “The Dark Side,” even that contribution may have been old news: according to the 9/11 commission, the C.I.A. had already learned about Mohammed during the summer of 2001. In any event, as one of Zubaydah’s own F.B.I. questioners, Ali Soufan, wrote in a Times Op-Ed article last Thursday, traditional interrogation methods had worked. Yet Bybee’s memo purported that an “increased pressure phase” was required to force Zubaydah to talk.

As soon as Bybee gave the green light, torture followed: Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times in August 2002, according to another of the newly released memos. Unsurprisingly, it appears that no significant intelligence was gained by torturing this mentally ill Qaeda functionary.

Anna Deavere Smith’s – Let Me Down Easy

(Community Matters) Anna Deavere Smith interviews folks who think deeply about death from personal experience or a philosophical perspective and shared them with us last night at Zach Scott Theatre.

She brings the people she’s interviewed into the room to have a conversation with each other and the audience, embodying their energy without a literal impersonation. It was a journey that took us through challenge and consolation.

Steven and I loved her show and recommend it.

photo by Mary Ellen Mark.

Emergency Response Studio

(Community Matters) As we drove home from Zach Scott last night, we chose to drive in front of the Long Center, where we could see Paul Villinski’s Emergency Response Studio parked on the terrace.

A solar-powered, mobile artist’s studio as part of this year’s Fuse Box Festival. It is co-presented with Arthouse, Austin. In August 2006, on a visit to post-Katrina New Orleans, Villinski wished he could transport his studio from New York to the Lower Ninth Ward, so he could create work in response to the conditions he found there. Creating Emergency Response Studio was his solution. Over seven months, Villinski transformed a salvaged FEMA-style trailer into a rolling, off-the-grid live/work space that could house displaced artists, or allow visiting artists to “embed” in post-disaster settings.



Paul talked about his inspiration for the trailer. He was in New Orleans’ ninth ward after Katrina wishing he had his tools to create from the debris. He realized this area of New Orleans remained off the grid, so he’d need power and self sustainability. His trailer is powered by solar and wind.

Festival board member Amy Bryant & Palo Chalupka surprised us by attending. One-week old Ruby with them

the dearest Ruby


Bodies in Urban Spaces

(Community Matters) Austrian Willi Dorner, a contemporary dance choreographer from Vienna, set out to explore relationships between body, space and architecture. Steven and I joined yesterday’s tour; I believe there are more scheduled for today and during the week. schedule here

Willi Dorner assisted by volunteer Alex Rudy (Kirk Rudy’s daughter)

The dancers making their first appearance as we assembled across the street at Republic Park.

Ellie Rudy behind Steven




Gregory Brooks

(Community Matters) Happy Birthday, Gregory Brooks. Gregory turned 45 & friends and his students celebrated over ping pong, delicious grub & drinks at his and Margo Weisz’s Barton Hills abode.

I’m not sure they shouldn’t change the name of Gregory’s & Margo’s street to Brooks Ave. Gregory (an award-winning architect) has designed 2 or 3 very substantial remodels/additions on his block and a new home just next store to their own. Of course, he’s designed and overseen extensive renovation of their own – not only the house but also the gardens.

the birthday boy

Margo & Steven

Many friends gathering and more on their way since Steven and I only had time for a quick drive by (and quick nibbles. Margo’s a talented cook). Visited with Jill McRae & Stephen Yelenosky. Mark Nathan arrived just as we were leaving. We didn’t really engage but will be great friends again as soon as we’re beyond this mayor’s race (he’s the consultant for Lee Leffingwell’s campaign; I’m on Brewster McCracken’s steering committee).

Mark acknowledged to me that Brewster is the preferred candidate given our challenging economic times and conceded that the race is Brewster’s according to the polls (umm, or was that a dream? 🙂.


Downtown Farmers’ Market

(Community Matters) Haven’t had a chance to shop at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in a month or so – it’s grown in number of stalls and attendees. The market is organized by the Sustainable Food Center and was launched by our good friend, Jennifer Vickers several years ago (5 or 7 I think). Ronda Rutledge (ED) and staff run an increasingly impactful organization with community gardens and nutrional cooking class programs as well.

Red & Debbie Farrell

Red & Debbie Farrell of Maid in the Shade make artisan goat cheeses – or Red milks the goats and Debbie makes the cheese. Tasted many and purchased the hot pepper & garlic chevre – great consistency with a smooth base and sweet, spicey flavor. Debbie told me this one was her favorite because it pairs well with all wines. For 4ozs, $4.50 is a bit steep.

I don’t mind paying to help local growers/producers but not sure the price is viable if the objective is to grow & scale. Though, as I’ve learned all to well the last few years, not everyone’s objective is to scale.

Blake Hill

Blake Hill’s an Austinite who worked for the Farmer’s Market but has taken over Austin distribution for Remember When Dairy. Ok, I might have first noticed this booth because Blake is so damn cute and charismatic, but whatever, sure glad I did. They sell all natural, non homogenized, no antibiotics, no rBST, no rBGH, no genetically modified grains or soy product fed dairy products. I purchased flawless skim milk and sweet butter. I’ll be back for their ice cream. The owner, Mark Ganske, finds himself too busy increasing production to meet demand from his Yantis, Tx farm to travel to weekly markets any longer.
Urban Roots

Urban Roots is a YouthLaunch program (an important Entrepreneurs Foundation partner by the way) founded by Russell Smith. They develop

empowering service programs for young people, through which participants gain new knowledge and skills, form positive and influential bonds with peers and adult role models, improve their self-esteem and efficacy, and develop a strong sense of social responsibility.

Urban Roots is a youth development program that uses sustainable agriculture as a means to transform the lives of young people and increase the access of healthy food in Austin.

Urban Roots hires 15 “farm interns” in January to work on our small urban farm during our spring and summer programs. We donate 40% of our produce to hunger relief organizations and sell 60% at farmers’ markets and farm stands in Austin.

Perfect way to shop on a Saturday morning.

Austin Ranked #2

(Community Matters) Hippie Hollow


hmm, how is Black’s Beach in La Jolla not on here? (not to worry, I wouldn’t scare people off by participating)