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ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON /WARE AUSTIN, TEXAS ‘MN 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip NOT A BENE Tough as Nails BY TOM McCLELLAN FOR A WHILE I thought Molly Ivins was the only woman journalist a guy had to take seriously; that is until the summer before last when the trucker across the diner counter chuckled over his paperback, laughed out loud, read some more and really got to laughing. “That must be pretty good,” I said. “What is it?” “She is good,” he said. “Linda Ellerbee. She’s a TV commentator writing about her experiences.” He checked the cover. “And So It Goes, that’s the tag line she uses on her newscasts.” “What were you laughing about?” “Oh, she was telling about another woman reporter trying to get past a campaign manager; he wouldn’t let her interview the candidate so she said she’d `kick his balls up between his brains if she thought he had any of either.’ ” Something, I vaguely realized, had changed. The glowing haze of Margaret Fuller this was not, nor was it the kittyhas-clause of Dorothy Parker. Ms. Ellerbee’s friend clearly, in the awed words of Huck Finn, “had more sand in her than any girl I ever did see.” And Ms. Ellerbee, I found on further reading, “was just as full of sand” too. Last fall I picked up Joan Didion’s Salvador in a used book shop. It changed my aesthetic. That the Salvadoran death market has fluctuated down and back up since 1982 seems to be irrelevant: this slender volume comprises a prose poem of immense force. A sample: . . .This is the cathedral that the late Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero refused to finish, on the premise that the work of the Church took precedence over its display, and the high walls of raw concrete bristle with structural rods, rusting now, staining the concrete, sticking out at wretched and violent angles . . . The cross on the altar is of bare incandescent bulbs, but the bulbs, that afternoon, were unlit: there was in fact no light at all on the main altar, no light on the cross, no light on the globe of the world that showed the north-American continent in gray and the southern in white; no light on the dove above the globe, Salvador del Mundo. In this vast, brutalist space that was the cathedral, the unlit altar seemed to offer a single ineluctable message: at this time and in this Tom McClellan teaches and writes in Dallas. place the light of the world could be constructed as out, off, extinguished. Well, Ms. Didion had said the effect of the cathedral was “immediate, and entirely literary.” Support of topic sentence: dead solid and self-referentially perfect. No doubt there is an American male journalist of our generation who can put words together as well as that, better even. Please tell me who he is so I can read him. This is not Alan Alda talking. I have no interest in running the “gosh I’m so sensitive I can’t undo your bra” con; and if my wife brings home another windy dilemma or panned peter book, I’ll send a prospectus to its pandar for a new work Men Who Hate Men and The Pigs Who Publish Them. It would include the inevitable quiz: Do you think of your testosterone as a poison always, often, frequently, or incredibly? Do you say “Yes ma’am, we’re all sons of bitches” always, often, frequently, or only to Mom. And so it goes. Sure I’d like to see Gloria Steinem hanged, but this is serious: male supremacy in at least one art-form may have gone down the tubes even while we spoke. I can’t even open my local newspaper without confronting that unhappy possibility. Not just the unsinkable Ivins, now, but also the Times Herald’s Laura Miller: AustinIt is 8 a.m. Tuesday in the state Capitol building, time for the changing of the guard. As state legislators and their staffs struggle through the doors, flipping on office lights and firing up computers and coffee machines, another group slowly wanders out. The first carries briefcases, thick files, gym bags, books. The other carries bed rolls, plastic garbage bags, soiled knapsacks .. . They see each other. They pass each other. They do not speak. It is the morning ritual. More or less, said one legislative aide, “we’ve found an effective way to simply ignore these people.” The Texas Research League found the state ranks 50th when it comes to social services .. . And so it goes, with the clean, crisp sound of a splitting conscience, right down the lefthand margin and into the nightly news: “Here at the state Capitol, on a chilly winter’s evening, some were busy setting policy. And some were living it.” Back to you, mutha. Tough as preciselyenameled nails. I confess: this aging sexist is seriously worried. Not only are the ed-page eds for both local papers ladies, not to mention the city-mag editor check out this paragraph written by a woman who doesn’t even say she’s a writer: So who are we [Hispanic Texans]? Well, we constitute almost one third of Texas faces but few of the public ones. We’re 500 years old, at least, tracing Spanish fathers and Indian mothers in a tortured birth. Our Tejano forefathers braved their Mexican brothers to liberate Texas alongside the ubiquitous Texas triad of Crockett/Travis/Bowie. Barbara Renaud Gonzalez, Dallas Hispanic Issues Forum What ever happened to Justa Housewife? complete personal and business insurance ALICE ANDERSON AGENCY 808-A East 46th P.O. Box 4666, Austin 78765 East Dallas Printing Company Full Service Union Printing 211 S. Peak Dallas, Tx 75226 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15