Spin Dry
Hobart Rowland no doubt bought in to the teenybopper hype that plagues the "Rave Scene" ["Houston's Underground Spin City," October 15]. Why? Because he missed focusing on the talent that goes into DJ-ing. The focus of his story should have been Chris Anderson and Andrei Morant, who both recognize DJ-ing as an art, not just a bizz-ness.

Between the two of them, Anderson and Morant have developed mixing to a mental level that rivals academic culture, professional quality and discriminating artisanship.

However, Rowland's story did shine light on a side of DJ Bizz the Houston scene has probably never seen before: true respect for another -- that other being, of course, Chris Anderson.

Name withheld by request
via Internet

Nothing to Rave About
Your Spin City article [by Hobart Rowland, October 15] was tastefully done and fair from my point of view. All of the "party kids" I know really enjoyed your article. One thing I cannot let go without mention, though, is your quote from Christina Schuman. She has been to maybe 20 raves, not 250, and we are all enraged to see her talk about it like she knows what the hell is going on. This is not the girl we want representing something that means so much to us.

Tishra Rodgers

Like, Man, Wow!
I am shocked at how uneducated and far from the truth the article on Houston's underground was! We have enough scene-illiterate people trying to either bite off it or act like experts on it! If you would be so kind as to make yourselves more aware of the truth before you start to dog the scene, myself and all "ravers" would be most thankful.

I am a 24-year-old woman who has been going to parties for the past five years. When I got into the scene I was on drugs and could not find one ounce of self-worth to save my own life! Immediately after entering the scene I was feeling more energetic and positive about life. I mean I was, for the first time in my life, seeing the beauty of a tree! The kids in this scene are not fighting, not carrying guns, and most of all, not bringing each other down. I am not denying there are drugs, but I am saying that the "sin-soaked vibe" comment and the "preferred mode of cranial transportation for ravers" statement were obviously not written by someone who has ever been to a party.

Michelle Rinehart
via Internet

Death of a Salesman
As a licensed funeral director who's practiced here in Houston and elsewhere for nearly 20 years, I'd like to comment on Randall Patterson's "Last Chance to Save" [October 8].

Most of us choose funeral service as a career because we truly want to help people -- it's a science, an art and a caring profession. But the bottom line is, we have an opportunity to be of service to others at a trying and confusing time.

The disillusionment begins in school. Mortuary school, like medical school, emphasizes chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, etc., plus business and religious customs, but devotes virtually no time to "bedside manner."

The first lesson you learn in a big firm is that the status jobs (and money) are in management. So, instead of concentrating on taking care of customers' needs, the focus becomes climbing the ladder.

I worked for over 20 years for SCI, the largest such conglomerate in the world, and I can tell you for a fact that what's important is convenience for the company and making money. Funeral counselors received quarterly printouts, which were posted for everyone to see and compare, grading them on their sales. There was one brief category that listed whether the customer felt satisfied by how things went.

While perhaps some owners of mortuaries may make $100,000, that's not out of line with the income of a successful business owner. The average funeral worker, however makes far less.

Contrary to your report, the funeral industry is highly regulated by many local, state and federal agencies. Incidentally, the cost of complying with OSHA regulations is quite high. Every body must be treated as if it were contaminated with a contagious disease.

Your attitude was flippant when you quoted Dick McNeil in his defense of embalming expenses. I don't want AIDS (or TB or hepatitis or anything else). I've had embalming fluid and body fluids splash in my face and eyes. I may look like a space walker, but by golly, I'll wear all the protective gear I can wrap around my body.

There are plenty of small firms around who can conduct dignified, no-frills services for a fair price. (An amazing number of these are run by former SCI employees who got tired of the way they and their customers were treated.)

People should sit down ahead of time and think through what they want. They should visit funeral homes and see what's available in terms of merchandise and services. They should ask prices. They should compare one firm with another.

Not all bereaved families are the poor, hapless, preyed-upon innocents conveyed in your article. You would be surprised at the people who contract to buy a funeral, then simply don't bother to pay their bill. There's an old saying in the industry, harsh, perhaps, but based in fact: "If you haven't gotten your money by the time the casket is buried and the tears are dried, you likely won't get it."

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