By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Sanchez Si! Wagner No!
I would like to clarify a couple of the points made recently in your May 22 Insider column ["Stop the Music," by Tim Fleck]. The music of Wagner is shunned by many people -- not just Jews -- not because Hitler was a fan of that composer but because Wagner himself was an anti-Semite; he advocated the forced conversion of the Jews. It was this as much as his fervent nationalism which made Wagner a favorite of the Nazis. Many Jews marched to their deaths at Auschwitz to the strains of Wagnerian opera.
On another note: While Houston is fortunate in having a mayor and City Council who are extremely supportive of the arts, none of them is a stronger supporter than Orlando Sanchez. While I do not know all the details of the recent communications between the councilman and the Da Camera Society and do not believe that art should be judged by the politics of the artists, I have always found Mr. Sanchez to be
quite open-minded and reasonable. I suspect there is more to this story than is immediately apparent.
While it's technically true that the funding for Da Camera passes through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County, Houston's largest arts organizations are exempt from CACHH's peer-review process, a process which for 20 years has served to insulate arts organizations from political pressure. Last summer, at the behest of several of the major organizations, the city restructured the funding process so that the level of funding for those companies is established by Council. It should be noticed that Councilman Sanchez was then (and I assume is now) a supporter of the peer review process.
Castro No! Austin No!
The article against the Cuban-American community published in the Houston Press's issue of May 8 [Static, by Hobart Rowland] is unconscionable and highly derogative. The interviewer and Jim Austin, president of the Houston International Festival, tried to trivialize the long tragedy of the Cuban people, oblivious to the fact that the Cuban people have been suffering for almost 40 years the most bloody dictatorship in the history of the hemisphere. Tens of thousands have been put to death by Castro's firing squads or died by torture in their dungeons, and many more have died in the Florida Straits trying to escape from the Cuban hell. We expect a minimum of human decency when dealing with the Cuban Holocaust.
In the article, Mr. Austin alleges to oppose censorship -- as usual, the perpetrator blames the victim. Mr. Austin, who has censored and discriminated against the Cuban musicians exiled in this country [by] banning them from participation in the Houston Festival, is trying now to mislead the press and the public opinion. To add insult to injury, Mr. Austin tried to ridicule the legitimate concerns of the Cuban-American community during an interview with the Press, while demeaning the quality of the Cuban exiled musicians, many of whom have excelled and are much more recognized worldwide than the Cubanismo group. Based on these facts, it seems to us that Mr. Austin's prejudices against the exiled Cuban musicians must be politically inspired.
Most of the 20,000 Cubans living in this area came to this country in the pursuit of freedom and respect for human rights, which have been trampled by Castro's Stalinist regime. However, we are not going to allow anyone to scorn the dignity of our whole community. We believe that Mr. Austin owes an apology to the Cuban-American community.
I ask in all fairness that you publish this letter unedited.
Editor's reply: Actually, "fairness" does not dictate that we publish your letter unedited, but we did so anyway. And in all fairness we contacted International Festival president Jim Austin, who said he has no idea what you are referring to when you claim he has "censored and discriminated" against exiled Cuban musicians.
Lose the Accent?
Come on now, do you really think it ridiculous that the DA's office would try to track down an employee apparently intentionally inflicting emotional pain on a co-worker? [The Insider, "Special Crime," May 22].
I realize it may be difficult for you to understand how painful it can be for those of us carrying around more body than is currently fashionable to be subjected to ridicule. To many, including you, it may seem being overweight is simply a matter of "self-control" or some such nonsense. Never mind the growing evidence that different body types are natural, that obesity has its roots in genetics and that constant starvation in the name of achieving some ideal is more unhealthy than girth.