By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
We Thought We Were the Liberal Mouthpiece
While waiting for a to-go order at my favorite local hamburger haven, I picked up a copy of the Houston Press and casually perused it. Highly unusual for me (I admittedly usually grab the Greensheet), I kept the copy to read the eye-catching article "Easy Street" [by Bob Burtman, October 30]. As a trapped reader of our "other" newspaper (it should be renamed The Lanier Apologist & Liberal Mouthpiece), I have been truly fed up with lazy reporting, slanted innuendo masquerading as news, front pages that treat "tabloid news" as worthy, and editorializing under the slim guise of factual reporting.
After reading your newspaper and the above article in particular, my only comment can be "WOW!" At last, a local paper that is not intimidated by the political power structure, does not confuse editorializing with factual reporting and obviously has a reporting staff that is aggressive enough to find the truth, wherever it may be hiding. I will continue reading the "other" paper for the comics, but I will read yours for the facts.
Puff 'n' Stuff
I agree with most of the observations Michael Roberts made about hip-hop and Puff Daddy [Music, "Rap Gets Puffy," October 23]. Personally, I am tired of familiar jingles being passed off as original songs --as is the case in most of Puffy's work. My question is, what was meant by the comment in the last paragraph that Puffy's tour "will be a monster"? Is that good or bad? I myself grew up on some of what is now a long-past rap era, when Slick Rick, MC Lyte and KRS-One were creating new music with a sound that had never been heard before. I'm not sure why people's standards have gotten so low that today's thoroughly recycled, mindless music passes for hits.
I am sick of the lack of creativity of current hip-hop music. Samples from past tunes are fine, to pull in hooks, but to mix a drum machine and bass into an otherwise unchanged track is not artistry, it is theft. At least copyrights protect the original artists, and in Puff Daddy's case, keep Sting, David Bowie and other artists rapping all the way to the bank.
I am appalled that you would dis one of the greatest rap entertainers. Puff Daddy Combs has proven to be up there with the best of them. I think you owe the man an apology. I am sure most of your readers feel the same. Mr. Combs has accomplished a dream. I advocate BMDS (Black Men Doing Something) for themselves. I enjoyed reading your paper until I read "Rap Gets Puffy."
Had to Be There
I read Shaila Dewan's review of the "Witness and Legacy: Contemporary Art About the Holocaust" show at the Blaffer Gallery ["History's Burden," October 30], and I wanted to comment about a couple of things. I generally agree with her assertion about "didactic art" and "victim art," and I think there is entirely too much in American art at present. To have a righteous cause as a subject does not relieve the artist of the task of producing art of aesthetic value.
Having said that, I believe that even an aesthetically successful example of didactic art rarely outlives the historical context of its creation, and more often than not is too mired in its own particular spot in history or politics to survive the test of time and speak in a more timeless and universal way. Art must aim at something beyond the narrative of a particular historical condition. The horror of the Holocaust has already, for me, been clearly and loudly expressed by journalism and first-person accounts, and making art about it after the fact, even with the noblest intentions, is not going to accomplish very much. I am moved much more by art produced by people who were there.
Regarding the Houston Grand Opera's staging of Verdi's Macbeth [Opera, "Scottish Modern," by Bruce Guynn, October 23]: Offensive, visually insulting and unredeemable by artistic rationale. The program notes state that the director purged himself of his ties to naturalism, which, I suspect, led to a virulent infection of kitsch. Tacky, tacky, tacky.
Back Seat, Front Seat
In response to my friend Mike Berryhill's fine piece about "Old Milby High School" ["Return to Milby," October 9]: When Mike was at Milby, I was a student at Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston's Fifth Ward, during the era when schools were segregated. Mike could not know and therefore did not write about the nightmare black teenagers experienced during the civil rights movement of the '60s. If we dared pass Milby High School at 3 p.m., as black students we faced being assaulted and surely being called "nigger."
It was a time when students were relegated to the back seats of the buses and faced being assaulted with spitballs, broken pencils and other weapons used by white students sitting in the front seats of those same buses. Texas was South Africa's twin sister and Houston was Johannesburg.