By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Hats off to your music editor and the entire nominating committee for the Houston Press Music Awards for finally elevating me and my band to the ranks of the other established Houston-based artists (ZZ Top, Lyle Lovett, Clint Black, etc.) by not including us in any of the categories on the ballot. As a multiple winner in the keyboard division, I feel relieved to step aside and yield my laurels to the younger, less-celebrated up-and-comers. And how unfair it would be for the nominees for best song to have to compete with "Bolivar Ferry," the cut from our recent CD that gets daily rotation airplay on KQUE.
I'm sure the thousands of Rocket fans who thrilled to the talents of the consummate musicians who comprise the Works would agree that to single out any one of them for recognition after all that NBA playoff glory would be an injustice to the relatively obscure struggles of this year's nominated players. In short, let's all get behind the Houston Press Music Awards as a way to show the world that there really is a Houston music scene, and it's not the few bands actually making a living playing original music and selling CDs; it's the networking myriad of visionary artists you've spotlighted. Perhaps their infrequent musical efforts yield little or no monetary reward, but they had the foresight to forge relationships with the managers, agents, club owners and record label executives who make up your nominating committee.
Mind the Kids
The Houston Press provides a service to its readers by providing diverse opinions and well-researched information. However, an adverse effect has resulted from Tim Fleck's article "Center of Dispute" [News, July 20]. Obviously, Fleck was only striving to gain his own center of attention. His cynical comments regarding Senator John Whitmire were conveniently outlined within the article itself, as well as in The Insider on the same page.
The true center of importance here is our troubled youth. Unfortunately, that importance was overshadowed by the misguided distrust Fleck's articles placed on Senator Whitmire. The truth of the matter is Senator Whitmire has devoted his political and professional career to developing and supporting our youth. In today's society we need to commend the efforts of those who care enough to give of themselves. And Fleck, "if you become an elected official (or just a legal toady to one)," there's no price tag that could be placed on the personal or professional time you choose to share with our youth.
I congratulate Claudia Kolker on her article, "Family Feud" [News, June 29], which tried to fairly represent all sides in the conflicts involving Nick Kanellos at Arte Pœblico Press and disgruntled authors. (We should make a distinction between Arte Pœblico and Mr. Kanellos, after all. They are not one and the same enterprise.) It's not easy to listen to both sides of a loaded issue and not come off as holding the gun to either side. I felt Kolker tried to listen fairly to all sides. What she conveys most successfully in her article is the pained sense that no one is a winner in these disputes that tear apart our sense of what a community should be.
However, I do want to take issue with Kolker's representation that Latino authors were once one big happy family and we only started squabbling once we moved into the mainstream. To represent us as such makes the mainstream the culpable other instead of acknowledging that we ourselves are accountable for our misdeeds with each other. It also encourages us to think of any success as suspect, as if anyone who achieves some mainstream attention is somehow a sellout or betrayer of some happy, united communidad that never existed.
The other issue I'd like to clarify is the image of Susan Bergholz as some sort of literary Mephistopheles tempting us to sell our souls for fame and glory. Let's face it: Susan Bergholz is about as "mainstream" as Nick Kanellos. For years, she's championed minority authors, working for little or no money, often helping an author out financially, nurturing and encouraging many of us struggling Latina writers. She's as much to be applauded as Nick Kanellos for her work in getting a readership for Latino and Latina authors. Perhaps if many Latina and Latino authors have ended up at Susan Bergholz's door, it's precisely because of her devotion to her clients. If she points out an unfair contract to an author who doesn't read her contract carefully enough that certainly should not count as "a deadly deed." Perhaps Susan Bergholz is taking better care of her writers than Mr. Kanellos is.
I just returned from a trip out of town and read Tim Fleck's fine article about Beneva Williams Nyamu ["The Struggles of Beneva Williams Nyamu," June 8]. Let me add a postscript to it.
In Houston during the early 1980s, the politically progressive community was badly divided, mostly along racial and ethnic lines. Blacks marched with blacks, Hispanics with Hispanics, whites with whites and Asians didn't march at all. This self-imposed and self-defeating tribalization --a kind of enlightened false consciousness, if you will -- naturally fractured and thus greatly diminished the power of progressives in Houston. Ironically, it benefited mostly those whom progressives sought to oppose. The downtown corporate and civic elites must have enjoyed a good belly laugh about it; they could not have devised a better divide-and-conquer strategy. The only other gainers were a few local tribal leaders, all articulate and some probably even well intentioned, who constantly beat the drums about past injustices done to their tribe by other tribes, thus further alienating progressives in all tribes from one another and effectively holding the present and future as hostages to the past.