Friday, April 30, 2004

I personally do not take ZZ Packer's work the same way that this writer does. I don't see the kinda "aaaaw, youse po' white folks have had it soooooo hard, feeling guilty and's all us'n black folks fault. We's not victims at all, no siree' attitude this guy seems to see. I think it's because I have more context. I'm not fighting with myself to justify my own behavior, so I can read about the girl scouts and their starting of a fight because of the rumor of using the n word, not as an indictment of the larger black community, but as of certain black people. Am I making sense? I'm able to section blacks off into parts- these blacks are too radical, these are ok, but whine a bit too much, these are a bit too much blame taking,etc.

I think it's just how our view points are filtered. I think race is important, but this guy acts like the focus of the stories is on race. For example, the story focused on the guy on the debate team is about reconciliation with his father, not this one kid who wants to be in the NBA- that's not the pivot. The girl who is the only black girl in her school, the pivot of the story is her wish to go against her church and be in sit ins. Yes, there is race, and lots of it, but that's not the only thing that's going on. I just think he didn't see the real emphasis of the story. Of course, we all have different filters, and suchlike.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Choice seems to be a great force for evil, nowadays. Basically, we pretend in more choice than there actually exists, so we don't have to work, we don't have to care. These are common ways in which this is distorted:

1)Information- Assuming people have all the information on their choices, and are always fully informed.

2)Assuming the person is always alone. Family factors will push someone towards something that is bad for them, or they might pull them away from something good for them.

3)Thinking there are no limits- For example, being a doctor would benefit me, but I am limited by my math skills and constitution(I need to eat and sleep a lot, or...God, you don't even wanna know)

4)Thinking the situation is always ideal- For example, the idea that noone ever gets caught up in emotion over logic

5)Underestimating survival factors- thinking that the homeless can just get a job, when in fact if you smell bad and have no address, you are less likely to be able to get one

6)Thinking that because you were born on third base, you hit a triple.

7)Just totally ignoring reality in general.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

This reminds me of something I see at school once a year. Different people come up, and read off a list of names of Holocaust victims. It's sort of a living memorial to their sacrifice. This sounds sort of selfish, but I wish we knew the names of those who died during slavery. Anyway, it humanizes the people when you hear their names, you realize how many lives were destoryed over silly things(someone having a different religion is *not* a valid reason to kill them). It's pretty sad.
Here's Responsible Shopper to save the day- see who you are supporting with your dollars. That's also another reason I might stop buying clothes from most stores. I mean, maybe an outfit made responsibly is a bit more expensive, but it's not like I need a ton of clothes, so I can afford to pay a little more. It's not like I need a whole new wardrobe every year.

Also, I'm glad I don't need a huge corporate logo on my clothes to feel good about wearing them. I've plugged American Apparel before, and I'll do it again. No logos! Also, I think I'll start trying to sew my own clothes, instead of buying them off the rack. Clothes off the rack rarely fit me anyway.

Also, here is The Switchboards, a forum for women in small businesses.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I have also decided that my wardrobe has enough basic pieces to last me, and that I should curtail my clothes shopping to one or two amazing pieces every few months. Although, I think that I probably will mess up, and buy tons of clothes I don't need. It's a big problem with me, because my parents think I'm a child, and that I grow out of clothing. I don't grow out of clothing. I have clothes from 7th grade. But still they think I need clothes. Craziness!

Monday, April 26, 2004

I have decided that BUST is the magazine I wish I had when I was a teen. Cheerfully feminist scented, there are plenty of uplifting stories, without becoming mush, a refreshing lack of OMG! disasters happened to these teens, so they can happen to YOU stories, also, a lack of makeup and boy tips, and the women kick ass articles seem sincere. They aren't just writing these stories to make the magazine seem less vapid- women do really kick ass in the BUST universe. Maybe my mom would take exception to the 'one handed read' section, but hey, that's what sneaking around is for.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Friday, April 23, 2004

It seems that John Scalzi has been attacked by one of those fake ass 'black conservatives'. I don't mean a black person who thinks that corporate rule is good, blowing other countries makes us safer and that guns are awesome, because those can be valid viewpoints, I mean one of those tired ass blacks who go around talking about how all of us except him/her are just stupid and lazy. It's like come on, dude, are you being constructive at all? Plenty of whites are asshats and don't do like they should, but they never get the whole race scolding.

This particular asshat thinks that just because he's black he can start busting on Hispanics. It's just like, come on, don't totally wholesale buy into that trashy viewpoint. It's like some people if they hear something repeated enough, believe it. Don't be a piece of trash- read a book today.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

This guy I know is crazy and put up a livejournal, while saying that livejournal is 'gay' since he is in his asshole stage. His writing is readable, don't worry. Also, I won a frilly dress. I note that when you don't have time you have a lot of ideas, but when you have time, you don't.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I finally was able to make a proper afro puff! I washed my hair(I use conditioner) and then scruched some gel in it and then tied down the front of my hair with a scarf. Some hours later, I tied the scarf around some of the hair in back, giving a more pony tail effect. In celebration, here is a nappy hair site.

Although I'm not up to date on fashion, it seems that there's a great frilliness in the air. Wavy short skirts are femininely drifting and swaying, and there seems to be a great amount of frills in general. Maybe this is just me, but I love a nice frilly skirt.
John Scalzi makes some important points on the Hispanic Menace', and really takes the people who believe there is one to task. I agree. I mean, George W Bush's nephew is Hispanic(Jeb's son) and the Bushes seem to be doing just fine to me. I don't see the need to have English as an official language- America has never had an official language to my knowledge, and despite the waves of immigrants speaking everything from Polish to Spanish, English seems to be the de facto language.

Sure, sometimes I hear Koreans conversing in Korean, Hispanics in Spanish, and one Polish girl I know has hear Polish spoken, but they all seem to be able to know enough English to get themselves around. Maybe occasionally I'll run across someone who does not understand English- it's hard to learn a foreign language when you're older, even with immersion.

Monday, April 19, 2004

I'm listening to Redemption Song and think I'm all philosophical because I listened to a Bob Marley song and took a movement improv class. So I was all like, yes, we should all trust our own voices, and be full of bravery. I mean, it's like movement improv class. Everyone learns to unleash their potential and create beautiful things by facing the thing they fear, whether it's people or looking stupid. They learn to trust their selves and have greater power. But then the moment passed, and I thought about how it's really easy to say trust yourself when you're not going to jump into a pool without any water you can see. So like all this BS, it's easy to say, and hard to do. Hard times seem easy when you say the words, but the real ones can make you lose your grip on life.

But I think that movement improvisation is great because it doesn't depend on achievement or buying things. Every day is a new day full of new discoveries, without a bar you can't reach. Even if we have hard time learning the contact improv stuff(I don't think I'll ever learn to support someone using just my feet) we know we're not going to get an F for sucking, so we feel braver and freer to create.

I'm not saying that there's no point in goals, achievement and constraints, but our whole world is made up of that, so it's good to relax.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Lately, I have been gripped by a strange fantasy. I want to wear a very fluffy poofy cute dress like the gothic lolita style dresses I sometimes see in online catologs. Why I have a strange desire for gothic clothing all the sudden, I do not know. Here are some dresses I wouldn't mind owning.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Yet more anime excitement! Here is Greenwood is coming to DVD! It seems like all 6 episodes will be on one disk. For $15, you can't lose. Oh, there are so many great anime coming out lately, it's a real boom.
I found out that some episodes of Brother, Dear Brother (Onii-sama E) have been up on Bittorrent. I guess that's not very useful for people who have never seen it at all since it starts from the late thirties episodes, not from episode 1, but it starts right at where I need it to start, because I don't have those episodes on tape. I like because it's not just a site for people who think they deserve free anime, but seems to somewhat adhere to old fansub ethics- i.e. it's to spread anime to those who can't speak Japanese. I also applaud people who fansub older series that might not see the light of day. I don't like it when people fansub series that are near guaranteed to get liscenced- what's the point when you could be showing a whole new world of anime to people, and causing a demand for them to liscience it. Kodomo no Omocha was licensed, and now many other people will be able to enjoy the series because of the demand. This doesn't mean "Man, they are getting a lot of money off of me downloading Cowboy Bebop" because more demand isn't caused by people who think they deserve free anime.

I think licensing is important because anime is a group effort sort of thing that needs money to be produced. If no more money, no more anime. The licensing fees anime companies pay in the US help make more anime in Japan. Also, some anime companies in the US actually finance new anime in Japan. Prices are getting lower and lower too, so there's really not that much excuse to whine about price. There are resources like to help you get the cheapest anime possible. I don't have any money. I have to buy anime when there are sales, or get used anime(but beware of bootleggers, I mean, if you're going to rip off anime, why are you paying for it?) or borrow anime, but you don't see me acting like I'm entitled to my hobby of looking at cartoons, for god's sake.

In other news, I think animesuki is a bit quick to put torrents of SM back up, yes, the liscence is expiring, but it just seems too soon. I think they should put Stars up because that is never coming to the US, but is a really good season.
It seems that the Yuricon folks have started offering another book. I'm curious to see if it's real lesbian manga, or just straight guy titillation stuff. By real lesbian manga, I mean, it's more than just GIRL ON GIRL LOL OMG!! but talks more about the real emotions and feelings of lesbians. Bitch magazine had a good article on how just showing lesbians kissing for male titillation isn't furthering any deep acceptance of lesbianism. There's nothing wrong with males getting horny, but it shouldn't be confused for any deep social consciousness.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

This is very interesting page, and while I agree that we should all vigorously protest against such extremists, it's a few crazy profs on the fringes, making up a bunch of bull and shit that noone listens to. I'm sure this guy understands that white racism is very widespread and accepted, and that's why we focus on it. Well, I didn't have anything useful to say, but wanted to show the site.

Although this may be a sort of geographical thing. For example, I have actually heard that people know that conservatives are full of shit. In the South, people fully believe that blacks, women and gays , and atheists are stealing their power, and they are oppressed, because they deserve everything. We shouldn't even pay attention to those other groups- they just don't count. They do not have the birth right of power.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but HELLOOOOOOOOO! There is NO race that *deserves* the sort of power that comes from such a color caste. I hear people decrying the system of castes in India, and I'm sure the people in the higher castes have a nice bag of excuses for why the lower castes should be oppressed.
Carol Lay is selling prints over $20 at 20% off if you email her at lay at So if you ever wanted some comic art from her, that's the way to go. However, I wish she had a book of her comic strips, so I could tote them around.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I don't feel like working, so I'll ask some questions about the white desire for victimhood. This has been going on since 1994(or possibly longer), as the whole angry white male movement ran around. Their premise was they weren't getting enough special treatment, all the other groups were getting more rights, and god damn it, they were victims too. This makes no sense to me, but I think my feeling about victimhood is that it should be tied to objective reality. Some Blacks feel aggrieved because black concerns are given short shrift, and thought of as less important than white concerns. For example, noone ever is like God, those money grubbing Jews, with their reparations for the Holocaust! Well, if anyone is, they'd be laughed at the stage. Many gays wish they were allowed to marry, they want the same rights as everyone else.

So I don't see how if you're having all the power and having everyone believe your concerns are more important is really discrimination. I guess it's really a fear of the loss of power, even if there is not such a big loss of power. To me, people can share power. It's not gotta be one group hogs all of it, you know? I mean, if Asians want to be empowered, I'm all for it.

I guess society does put a lot of emphasis on 0 sum competition, but maybe instead of fighting each other over scraps, we need to rethink our paradigm, you know?

That brings me back to something I have been thinking about lately. I'm in my college impasse. I can't be like fuck society! and I can't really join society. If you're like fuck society, you're still controlled by society, by your opposition. And society has only so many places, so there's no joining it. I'm sure the dilemena will be resolved, but god, it bothers me.

Still on the main topic, I just don't see why they covet victimhood so much. Yes, the media does exagerate making people think that people just take black crack addicts off the street and shower them with money, but I mean, come on, do these people have NO contact with reality at all? Is this willful denial? What is it?
Bookslut has been updated. Read this piece especially, I nearly peed my pants it was so funny.
I don't have much use for competition. It seems pretty empty- you win, and then, that's all? Not to mention, competition is soulless, winning is all, all other considerations fall to the wayside. I live in a pretty competitive society. If you're just average, you're not good enough, and things are pretty cutthroat. I do not know what to do. On the one hand, I don't want to be in a perpetual unwinnable race, racing to catch up to people with tons of headstarts and who have been doping, and on the other, I'd rather prefer not to eat cat food. There has to be a middle ground, but I don't know.

Monday, April 12, 2004

A note about heterosexual Men Who Hate Women(they sure ain't nice). They never get any play. You know why? It has nothing to do with an international female conspiracy to date only outlaw bikers. Noone wants to date someone who hates them, and thinks they are golddigging whores. Also, anyone who groups all women, in their infinite variety into one group(with like 3 billion people in it!) based on what one chick did to him in like sixth grade isn't exactly the nicest guy around, you know?

Even girls get in on the action. In my college newspaper, a totally stupid editorial was run being like oh, we only like bad guys. I wanted to be like that's YOUR opinion, there are plenty of girls who aren't total twits. Unfortunately, those girls have already been punished enough. By bizarre coincidence one of the people who committed suicide lately (the other was a librarian) referred to the editorial in his AIM away message before he died. So they have been punished. Also, a countereditoiral was written by one of the guys' friends.

The thing is that women aren't a monolithic entity. We have different tastes in guys. I like a sweeter guy(I notice that girls dating sweet guys tend to have more stable relationships too) and some may like an asshole. Although, some might be looking in the wrong place for a girl- for example if you meet a chick at the club, she might just be out for a good time, you know? And an 'exciting' guy and the 'drama' of all that shit might turn her on. But only if she's fucked in the head.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Announcing my new blog, Button Maker's Ball. It includes all sorts of infomation on button making. Check it out!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

This is a pretty sweet tool- you can see all the negs and neuts someone got on ebay without having to read through hundreds of comments. Although a word of caution, some will left a positive, but with a negative comment.
This is a year in which my lack of money has been a real problem. What with Hana Yori Dango, Freaks and Geeks, and all the other great things coming out, and my inability to get any of them, I feel pretty sad on the anime count. I can't even buy used nowadays. However, it seems that next year and the year after that will be similarly problematic, what with Kodomo No Omacha and Princess Tutu licensed(by Funimation and ADV respectively).
I think that poetry doesn't have to be deciphered in the way they teach you in schools to be enjoyed. Yes, it gives you a richer appreciation of it if you analyze it deeply, but even just reading a poem and understanding what it means to you can be a rich experience. Because a poem is not about getting the 'right' answer, it's about extracting meaning from beautiful words- your own meanings are usually the ones that are most potent to you. I half remember a poem by Nikki Giovanni- some lines were before our mettle is tested we easily consider ourselves strong/before discovering our children want not elaborate things/(I forget a line here)/it's easy to say what should have been done. Even in my incorrect paraphase, I feel that this resonates in my life. It truly is easy to lay blame and not consider what's really going on.

Something that confuses me is how we dash to lay blame, even though that won't help the problem. A girl is crying because her boyfriend is a cad. We say "You choose him, deal with it"(blame on her) or "He's a jerk anyway"(placing the blame on him) but does that help the situation at all? Does it really matter who is wrong and who is right when we're in the middle of a fight?

But back to poetry, just enjoy it. If you find you don't like one poet, try another. Just enjoy it.

Friday, April 09, 2004

This song is great. Too bad we don't have political songs nowadays. Maybe a politician will grab a pop song as his theme, but it's not the same as having a song all for you. Although, I think the whole "If you don't vote for John Kerry, we're all going to die" tone of the song would make this a not so good song for Kerry nowadays, maybe in the days of John Quincy Adams, this was a good rabble rouser, I don't know.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Ornicus covers the recent atrocities in Iraq, and compares them to the lynching of blacks. I can see what he is saying- we need to examine ourselves also. We can't just say "those other people over there are animals! The only language they speak is violence!" or in the case of the lynchings "Don't try to make me feel guilty! I had nothing to do with it!". I believe that everyone has the possibility that they will participate in some inhuman, brutal act. Sure, everyone has the possibility to do good and wonderful things, but the former is more likely. It's not just the Iraqis that are 'animals', we are 'animals' too, and we have to realize that. Even with the lynching photos, I am black and identify with the victims, but I also find myself asking- would I have gone along with it if I was white? What would I have thought they had done?

Because the truth is that even if others have done nothing, we'll think of reasons to justify our violence. The people in Iraq think 'they are Americans, they have stolen our country" even if we really thought that we were doing good. The whites thought the blacks were a threat to them, wrongly, of course- it wasn't a physical threat- it was a mental one- fear of losing their dominance. I gripe about whiny neocons, but at least I'm glad they keep their strong fear of losing dominance to mere whining and bitching instead of violence.

So, we come to an impasse- how do we know our reasons for violence aren't us merely trying to rationalize the desire? Um..I actually have no idea. Maybe more study will reveal the answer.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Apparently Margaret Cho has a clothing line. Although I can't wear the clothes, they are nice. Aside about not being able to wear the clothes- I'm a size 0 to 5- for men, the key to understanding is that some clothes lines have huge size 0s, and other lines have tiny fives, and plus, different parts of my body are different sizes- dress sizes are smaller, and pants sizes are bigger. To understand this, imagine how a woman is built- the hips are the roundest part. Anyway, I meant to say Margaret Cho kicks my ass, but I spent most of the time being a self absorbed navel gazer.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Today, I went to Oxford Comics for the first time. (I don't have exact directions, but it's on Piedmont, near the Lindberg Plaza). I was in love. Yes, there were the shitty bootlegs, the demeaning action figures(Lady Death posing, showing her full breasts for you and you only it seems in the geek mind), and large arguments over some superhero minutia. But there were also clearly marked shelves of graphic novels marked by place of orgin(independant, superhero, and manga) and tons of comics. It seemed that every comic you could ever want was there, I even noticed some very slick minis being sold.

There was a small porn comics section- and it had Small Favors in it! I wanted it all, but I could only have one, so I picked Death of Speedy(yes, Oxford has a nice big selection of Love and Rockets), which I haven't read yet, because anticipation is sweeter if you wait. I read Cariature (bought on impulse at college bookstore), after keeping it a day or so. It was a sweet thing to read while waking up(I was and am very tired, this whole weekend was an anime lockin.) and I think that waiting made the stories seem even more poignant. I love Clowe's ugly drawing style. It's a wonder, I also like the Hernandez' Brothers Betty and Veronica(my first comics) inspired style. Oh, I love many different styles.

Friday, April 02, 2004

How to be a good eBay Buyer:

1)Usually the people selling are individuals, not giant corporations, so before you snap off your indigent email(example: YOU FUCKING CROOK!, the shipping was $5! I bet if you put it in an unpadded envelope and shipped my widget to me that way, it'd be $3!), take their capabilities into mind. A person on their own usually can not refund you because you didn't like the color.

2)Read The TOS, and don't try to make up your own. The TOS are tailored by the seller to what they can or can not do. By reading this, you'll know if you can just pop off a credit card payment or if you need to send a money order. You'll also know how much shipping is.

3)Know Thine Shipping. Some sellers jack up the shipping price, so always look for the shipping price, and see if that's what you want to pay.

4)Use your Negs. The right place to use your negs is NOT when a seller denies some unreasonable request that isn't in their TOS(Neg: He wouldn't let me drive to his house, and pick it up! It's only 500 miles!), or when you have buyer's remorse, or didn't like the color. It's reserved for serious things, like seller took your money, didn't give you an item, and cussed you out when you politely asked 'Did you ship my item"? Feedback should be factual and courteous. Noone can tell whether you're telling the truth when you're yelling CROOK! IDIOT! SCAMMER!,etc, because for all the reader knows, you could be out of your mind. If his emails were rude, merely put rude emails.

5)Read your emails- if a seller gives you an email, pointing out a problem(they shipped the wrong item, but then figured out their mistake and got you the right one), read it. Don't neg because you didn't read

5)eBay is a two way street- the buyer also has responsibilities- to pay promptly, to read the TOS, and to be polite if any problems pop up.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Wallpaper of the week. SFW
If any of my blog readers are in the Atlanta area, please see below for an important article on something near and dear to my heart- the MARTA. I don't have a car, and also, I don't like pollution so public transportation is important. Sure, I may be too nervous to jump on a bus and get lost in a strange city, but people who do not have such bizarre mental issues need to get to work. Note: Following Text is an email from the Sierra Club, etc,etc.

ACTION ALERT      Rally to Save MARTA!     Volunteers Needed
SC&BEER Friends: Catherine Ross, former chair of GRTA, spoke eloquently at last Wednesday’s Sierra Club and Beer of the need to fully fund MARTA and other transit projects around Atlanta. From air pollution to equity to a sense of community—MARTA is extremely important to the fabric of Atlanta. Her timing was impeccable. This week service cuts were announced in all but 17 routes for MARTA buses. MARTA is facing a funding crisis that could lead to a forty percent cut in service over the next three years. As Ross said, “MARTA is literally dying on the vine.” Please join the efforts to save MARTA:
*Citizens for Progressive Transit kick-off for “Save MARTA” campaign
Thursday, April 1st
6:00 pm
Old Councils Chamber in Atlanta City Hall
55 Trinity Ave, S.W.
Atlanta, GA
Brief presentation on why MARTA is threatened, why MARTA should be preserved and what you can do to help.
*Starting Wednesday, April 14th
MARTA public meetings on service cuts
Evening meetings: place, time TBA
Volunteers needed to attend press conference and speak about how important MARTA is to our community. Please e-mail natalie.foster(at) if interested.
*As smog alerts become serious this summer, more attention will be paid to the importance of transit. If you can’t make either of ithese events but are interested in volunteering during the summer months, please contact natalie.foster(at) 
More Background:
How the Bush Administration weakens progress towards building environmental communities:
The current Bush Administration proposal on transportation would decrease funding available for transit while increasing money available for roads.  This would create a perverse incentive for localities to build new roads, not new transit. In addition, the Administration's proposal keeps overall transit funding stagnant at 20 percent of total surface transportation dollars, while 80 percent of surface transportation dollars goes to roads, which is imbalanced. This also means that wealthier communities that can afford to pay will have a better shot at getting transit than poorer communities that need public transportation the most.More information found at
 How the state of Georgia causes an unfair burden on Atlanta:
Fulton and DeKalb tax payers have been paying an extra penny sales tax to fund transit for over thirty years with no help from the State of Georgia.  Meanwhile all the suburban counties receive state funding for their road programs.  MARTA is a regional system providing service to people from many counties without regard to whether they help pay the sales tax for the system.  Georgia is one of only ten states not providing financial support for urban transit systems.  It is long past time for the State of Georgia to support urban transit service like they support nearly every other mode of transportation.
Press Release for Thursday Event:
Citizens for Progressive Transit Announces Kick-Off of
“Save MARTA” Campaign
On April 1st, 2004 Citizens for Progressive Transit (CPT) will launch the “Save
MARTA” Campaign. The meeting will be held at the Old Council Chambers in Atlanta
City Hall (55 Trinity Avenue, S.W., Atlanta, GA) at 6:00pm. There will be a brief
presentation on why MARTA service is threatened, why MARTA service should be
preserved, how MARTA service can be preserved and what individuals and organizations
can do to help “Save MARTA”.
“Regional funding is the key to any transportation system”, said Chris Wyczalkowski,
President of Citizens for Progressive Transit, “MARTA is running out of operating funds
and without a solution we will see major service cutbacks phased in over the next year.”
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority currently delivers public transportation
service to a service area of almost 500 square miles and averages one-half million riders
daily. MARTA operates 125 bus routes and 47.6 miles of rail making it the largest transit
agency in the Atlanta area. It is the backbone from which all other transit services radiate.
MARTA operates one of the largest clean fuel bus fleets in the country in a region that
has already lost its federal transportation dollars once by failing to meet federal air
quality standards. MARTA is the ninth largest transit agency in the country and is the
largest to receive no state operating funds.
Citizens for Progressive Transit is Atlanta’s independent, grassroots transit advocacy
organization with a mission to promote comprehensive, long-term improvements to
public transit in the greater Atlanta area. CPT represents the riders of public
transportation, those whose voice is often left out in the transportation policy-making
process. Citizens for Progressive Transit’s motto is “Putting the public back in public
transportation.” CPT is a member of the National Alliance of Public Transportation
Advocates, a national organization representing grassroots coalitions that support
increasing the investment in public transportation.
MARTA plans 15% cutback in bus service
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/25/04
MARTA plans to cut bus service by 15 percent this summer.
In restructuring the bus routes, the transit authority expects to eliminate 304 jobs and $11 million in expenses in the most sweeping change to MARTA service in more than 20 years.
And the cuts may be only the beginning of the public transit system's efforts to stem the flow of red ink in its $308 million operating budget.
MARTA expects to pull $30 million out of its dwindling reserves to run the trains and buses this year. Without cutting expenses or adding revenue, MARTA may use the last of its financial reserves as soon as 18 months from now.
Even as transit officials brace for a flood of criticism, MARTA board Chairman Michael Walls warned that even more cuts may be needed. An additional 10 percent reduction in service that may be required next year would be felt more directly by MARTA riders, he said.
"If something is not done before next year, the cuts will be more meaningful and more severe on our riders," Walls said.
MARTA also may consider increasing the current $1.75 basic fare if the system continues to lose money past fiscal 2006, the chairman said.
MARTA leaders will present their budget proposal to the board of directors Monday and outline the changes in bus routes.
The plan calls for eliminating four routes, combining others, removing stops that produce few riders and shortening hours on some runs. At present, 75 of MARTA's 125 bus routes run after midnight.
"A lot of those buses run empty," said Thelma Purnell, MARTA director of transit planning. Running empty buses costs $1.32 per mile, or $31 an hour, she added.
MARTA officials have been studying the bus routes for more than seven months, according to Purnell.
Overlapping cited
Over the years, MARTA officials said, bus routes have not always reflected changing land use and population shifts. In some cases, new lines have overlapped routes with waning ridership. Transit officials say the reconfiguration of bus routes will cover most of the stops with a minimum of vehicles.
"You may not have the same bus you're used to riding, but you're at least going to be within a quarter-mile of a MARTA bus," said General Manager Nathaniel Ford.
Even transit advocates acknowledge that MARTA's route structure is long overdue for an overhaul.
"With land use changing as fast as it is in the city, a lot of the routes don't make sense anymore," said Paul Grether, spokesman for Citizens for Progressive Transit, a transit riders' advocacy group. "We're hoping the resources that have been applied to these nonproductive routes can be redirected to routes with higher ridership potential."
On April 1, Citizens for Progressive Transit will launch what it's calling a "Save MARTA" campaign with a 6 p.m. meeting in the old City Council chambers at Atlanta City Hall. The organization is calling for new state or regional operating funds for MARTA, which receives no such revenue from the state.
Local funding for MARTA is provided by a 1 percent sales tax in Fulton and DeKalb counties and the city of Atlanta.
Public outcry expected
The authority has cut 727 jobs from its payroll in the past three years, according to Ford. The proposed reductions in service this summer will cut more than 300 drivers, mechanics and other workers. MARTA employs about 4,500 people.
Danny G. DuBose, acting president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, declined comment on the pending job cuts.
The authority anticipates a wave of protest from the public.
"We do expect quite a few folks to be uncomfortable with this," Ford said. "We understand this is going to have a significant impact on people's lives and we're going to make it the best we can."
Helen McSwain, director of MARTA customer relations, said workers are anticipating as many as 2,000 additional calls a day as the service cuts are phased in. Customer service workers now get about 6,000 calls a day, she said.
Public hearings on the proposed changes in bus service will be conducted April 14, 15 and 16 at various locations in Fulton and DeKalb counties. A final decision is set to be made in June when MARTA officials adopt the fiscal 2005 budget. The new routes are expected to begin June 26.
Riders complain
Route 135 is one of 17 that will be eliminated or absorbed into other lines during the restructuring. Running six days a week, the North Shallowford bus snakes through suburban Dunwoody from the Chamblee MARTA station.
Dunwoody resident Ramon McCray, 42, said he rides the 135 "every single day" to get to his job at a furniture store, to the Veterans Affairs Hospital and to shopping for basics, including groceries. He said getting to any other MARTA bus routes would be a long walk for him.
"I paid my extra fare every time they raised it because I had confidence in their structure," McCray said. "If I'd known MARTA was going to do this, I'd never have moved to this area."
James Murphy, 50, hauled four large bags of groceries onto the 135 on Tuesday afternoon. He said he moved to the Dunwoody area from Snellville in December specifically because it offered a level of public transportation not available in Gwinnett County.
"If they cut this line, I'll have to move somewhere else," Murphy said.
Artesia Gates said this will be the second time she's been stung by MARTA. Previous changes in bus service forced Gates, then living in Stone Mountain, to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a bus to work, she said.
If the 135 route is canceled, she could be facing a $120 daily cab ride to work.
Little impact forecast
MARTA officials said only a small percentage of the 225,000 average daily riders will experience a noticeable change in their access to the system.
"The number that will be severely impacted is less than one-half of 1 percent," said Barry Farr, assistant general manager for operations.
"We've tried to avoid touching our customers [with cuts] for three years," said Ford.
Chairman Walls said he hopes the reductions in service will underscore the transit system's importance to hundreds of thousands of riders in metro Atlanta.
"We can't continue to go in the hole until all our reserves are gone," Walls said. "I hope the local metropolitan political establishment will let this be a wake-up call for what needs to be done to give MARTA adequate funding."