Letters 06-08-2000

Betsy Archbold

Contract Hit

After I read your story about the Youngs ["The Dream Home: A Cautionary Tale," by Brad Tyer, May 18], I thought that could have been me. In 1995 I owned a lot and wanted to build a house. I asked a close friend in the construction business to recommend a good general contractor to build my house. He replied, "There are none."

After I spoke to several general contractors, I concluded he might be correct. The stories I could tell about my interviews with contractors are unbelievable. I decided to contract the house myself. It was not that hard. My advice to those who wish to build a custom home is to do it yourself. No matter how little you know about construction, you probably know more than most of the general contractors in Houston.

Name withheld by request

Pow! Zam!

Unfortunately Robert Wilonsky wrote about only the deficiencies of superhero comics and failed to write anything about comics of any other genre, except to mention that romance comics were popular in the early 1950s [Stuff, May 18].

It makes it seem as if comic books were a genre, instead of the storytelling medium that they truly are. The article ignored many comics where the problems discussed are not present. Many other comics portray sophisticated stories that don't insult the readers' intelligence and aren't misogynistic.

I find the broad generalizations made by Wilonsky rather insulting, as should he. There are probably more non-superhero comics being published now than in any time since the mid-1950s. I've seen plenty of people (men and women) in the Bedrock City store who do not fit Wilonsky's stereotype -- they are doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, businesspeople and others who manage to lead normal, healthy lives.

It's also a shame that the Houston Press doesn't cover more comics (good ones, that is). By the way, the phrase "[t]here's probably no bigger no-shit statement in the world" is just absolutely brilliant journalistic prose. Kudos.

Jeremy Stone

Changing the Tune

I always read and enjoy your column [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, May 4]. I recognize that when you're walking the fuzzy border between acerbic and vicious, some people may think you've gone too far, but that's the price they must pay for being entertained. Still, I think the item on Everett Evans was wrongheaded.

As you barely mention in passing, Chronicle critic Evans has a right not to like a show, but he also has a right to change his mind.

Matters of fact don't change, but taste and perception do. In fact, they must. Show me a critic whose tastes haven't changed in the last ten years, and I'll show you someone with a closed mind. Something that seemed fresh and well done on first exposure may not hold up well over time. Granted, one who presents himself as a critic should be less susceptible to this, but that doesn't make him immune, especially when he has to meet the demands of writing for a daily paper.

Dale Nichols

Biting Remarks

Carnotaurs were probably toothy, but I very much doubt that they were toothsome ["T-Rex in Mouse Ears," by M.V. Moorhead, May 18]. Check your dictionary.

Dale Nichols

Big on Slim

Roger Wood's article on Harlem Slim ["Brother from Another Planet," May 18] doesn't do justice to Slim or his music. While briefly acknowledging Slim's unquestionable "rare level of technical proficiency," the article spends an inordinate amount of space in a rather silly discussion questioning his name and background.

This is unfortunate and obscures the power and influence of Slim's extraordinary music. What Wood fails to adequately get across is that Houston is incredibly lucky to have a performer like Harlem Slim, one who is so dedicated to the preservation of this fascinating style of music and so singularly proficient at playing it and passing it along to other musicians.

Anyone who is interested in authentic blues and ragtime should rush to see Slim perform it in a way that not only entertains but also honors the spirit and traditions of the people who originated it. There is something about this music that endures and tugs at your heart. Mississippi Fred McDowell said blues is "the story of life and the spice of life. You get what I'm saying?" Harlem Slim and his many fans get it; unfortunately Roger Wood does not.

Ed Cotham

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