Susan E. Howard
via Internet

Nervous Laughter
It's interesting to see how different artists and people are treated when making fun of stereotypes. Michael Ray Charles gained the praise of the Houston Chronicle and Texas Monthly for his portrayal of black stereotypes. To them, it's okay because it's for the most part not their racial or political group. And they wouldn't want to look like they disliked Michael Ray's poking fun at black stereotypes -- why, that would be racist!

I think it would have been great if the Chronicle and Monthly had been as open-minded about a certain political cartoon that ran in the University of Houston's Daily Cougar, where campus Republican stereotypes were assaulted. It got a one-day nasty write-up in the Chronicle and was featured in Texas Monthly's annual "Bum Steer Awards" (without contacting the author of the cartoon!). My point is that I'm always amazed at what is considered acceptable satire in Texas and what is not. I believe Michael Ray Charles best described it as "the nervous laugh syndrome."

Keep givin' 'em hell, Mike, and please, for your next show, think about slamming the stereotypical Texas publication and what they find offensive.

Brian Minton
via Internet

Product Liability
I read with interest and amusement your article "Big Story" [by Jim Simmon, June 5]. I was so happy to see someone else in this city who found Channel 2's style of news delivery to be as compelling and distinctive as I do. You know how Steve Wasserman tells us to "let me hear from you" at the end of each of his editorials? Well, I did just that in December 1995 and again in February 1996. I wanted him to know exactly why I was switching to Channel 11 (after nearly 25 years of Channel 2 loyalty) for my daily dose of news. I was beginning to think I was the only one who felt that Rob Johnson was overdosing on testosterone while suffering from a complete lack of talent, and that Houston really, really does not need an idiot like "Buzz" Rogers grinning like a Cheshire cat across our TV screens with some ridiculous gossip crap.

The fine folks at Channel 2 shot themselves in the proverbial foot when they hired people like Jim Grimes, Susan Lennon and that hard-hitting, super-talented business reporter, Beth McDonough. (She couldn't even begin to fill the shoes that Bebe Burns once walked in. Hell, she couldn't even walk in her shadow for that matter!) And why they ever let that helicopter pilot near a microphone is beyond me. The man sounds like he never attended an English class in his entire life.

As to the song parody that allegedly hurt Hakeem -- well, I just consider the source. Thinking folks know that his could not possibly have been the most important story of events in Houston that evening. That's because thinking folks hardly ever watch Channel 2 news anymore. If Channel 2 felt the need to stick to that theme, then the "Big Story" should have been Hakeem's ability to rise above it all. Hakeem is a living, breathing lesson in humility and fairness. I believe that a lot of it must come from his faith. He is probably more true to his religion than the average Christian or Jew could ever hope to be. He does not flaunt his faith, he simply lives it, which is how it should be. It is one of the myriad of reasons why he is so respected on and off the basketball court.

Too bad Channel 2 cannot claim that kind of respect. I used to admire people like Bill Balleza and Linda Lorelle, but not anymore. I cannot take seriously the people who are practically yelling at me (like a Toyota commercial) in order to get my attention. Something must be seriously wrong with the product for it to be marketed in that manner.

R. S. Clay

Glaring Omission
It seems that some people have omitted a very obvious and glaring fact of Steve McVicker's "Rough Justice" [May 22]. In the story, McVicker does not portray Mr. Westley as some sort of saint for being killed, but rather raises the necessary question of whether or not Texas was right to kill him when officials had a confession from the real killer. Despite the fact that he was involved in the robbery, to Mr. Westley, it may have been no more than a robbery for which he could serve a few years and then be released. But what happened in actuality proves that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice seems to have some sort of death penalty quotient -- I believe the Chronicle said it is "breaking records" in reference to how many criminals have been put to death this year. And at any rate, there is no justification for killing someone who does not legally deserve the death penalty.

Alexei Angelides
via Internet

It Was Some Tribute
Mark Commins said in a letter ["Some Tribute," May 10] about the recent Townes Van Zandt benefit: "I know that this was a charity and it may seem mean to complain, but Writers in the Round needs to learn to price their tickets more rationally."

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