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li II 111,11, I I II 11111111 1111 PI I I THE TEXAS OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1986 Vol. 78, No. 18 “*.l!f!!5′ Sept. 12, 1986 Copyright 1986 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. PUBLISHER Ronnie Dugger EDITOR Geoffrey Rips ASSOCIATE EDITOR Dave Denison CALENDAR EDITOR Chula Sims LAYOUT AND DESIGN: Valerie Fowler EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Kathleen Fitzgerald EDITORIAL INTERNS: David Gunter POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE: Dana Loy EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, Kerrville; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth-Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Dallas; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Fred Schmidt, Tehachapi, Cal., Robert Sherrill, Tallahassee, Fla. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, Louis Dubose, John Henry Faulk, Ed Garcia, Bill Helmer, James Harrington, Jack Hopper, Amy Johnson, Michael King, Dana Loy, Rick Piltz, Gary Pomerantz, Susan Raleigh, John Schwartz, Michael Ventura, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Russell Lee, Scott Van Osdol, Alicia Daniel. CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Mark Antonuccio, Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Carlos Lowry, Miles Mathis, Joe McDermott, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau. A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Managing Publisher Subscription Manager Office Manager Publishing Consultant Development Consultant Cliff Olofson Stefan Wanstrom Joe Espinosa Jr. Frances Barton Hanno T. Beck The Texas Observer paid at. Austin, Texas. Subscription rates, including 5 1/8% sales tax: one year $23, two years $42. three years $59. One year rate for full-time students. $15. Back issues $2 prepaid. Airmail. foreign. group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl.. 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. Copyright 1986 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 28th Street, #105. Austin. Texas 78705. EDITORIAL Responsible Answers Austin i HAVE TO ADMIT at the outset that I have a hard time becoming too exercised about the prospect of pari-mutuel betting or a lottery in this state. My wife has an uncle in Queens, who used to work a second job at the Aqueduct Race Track hosingdown the track to pay for his daughter’s college education. They called him “Jimmy on the hose,” and from what I know of him he’s a pretty decent guy, a good person to watch the Mets with on television, even when they weren’t a winning ball club. She also has a couple of cousins who worked at Aqueduct until they retired Georgie and Jimmy Georgie, but Jimmy showed up at family weddings and funerals. He’s a little over five feet tall and talks out of the side of his mout’. He always came up to my wife to say, “you look just like your mudda. Give her my regards.” How can you fault someone like that? We , lived for three years in a largely blue-collar Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn. Most of the families were from Sicily or from Bari, in the heel of the Italian boot. Many of the men were dockworkers, members of the Longshoremen’s union; this was Red Hook, Marlon Brando’s neighborhood in On the Waterfront. Longevity is not great on the docks of Brooklyn. Most of these guys get it in the back by the time they’re fifty. Or a hand gets crushed. Or, as in the case of my landlord, they get bashed in the head and are never quite right again. You, therefore, find an inordinately large number of men between the ages of 45 and 75 hanging out all day long. Most of the action centers with a padded bar, some card tables, maybe a pool table, and somebody standing in the doorway, watching the action on the street. These are usually organized around the towns these men or their parents came from in Italy. Most of the people on our block came from Mola in Bari. The patron saint of the block was Santa Lucia, who stood in the courtyard maintained by the social club and was decorated profusely on Christmas and on her saint’s day. I bring this up to say that the place these men gathered when not at the club was It became a kind of community center, mostly for men, where members from the various social clubs congregated, racing forms in hand, placing bets and waiting for the results. There were people from the Puerto Rican social clubs as well as the Italian clubs, a few older men shining shoes, and every so often a couple of people who looked like high rollers running in to place a bet and running out again. It’s not the kind of place you’d want to find moving in under your apartment. It’s not the kind of place you’d want your kids to hang around. Surely these guys could spend their days engaged in some more enlightening activity, making themselves and the world a better place. But in Red Hook that’s just the way things are. There might be a few better things to do in Red Hook, but there are certainly a good many worse things to do. This is not because pari-mutuel wagering exists in Brooklyn, even in each neighborhood through the OTB, but because this 2 SEPTEMBER 12, 1986