Best Wishes

Plus: RAD Is Bad, In God's Name, and Ay, Carrabba!

Best Wishes

City thoughts:Thank you for the Best DJ We'll Miss award [Best of Houston, September 26]. It's an honor to know that I was able to touch anyone through my music, especially enough to have any of them miss me when I moved on. To be considered one of the most respected DJs to come from the beat-droppin' H-town is beautiful in itself, but to say that I was an integral component to the local dance scene? Dayum, honey, you have left me speechless.

Houston was, and will continue to be, my second home. It gave me something that my own home, San Antonio, didn't: hustle and drive. Its dance music scene welcomed me, supported me and showed me love. More important, though, it gave me respect and nurtured my passion.

I was given opportunities there that I would have never had back home. Plus, its urban rawness, motivation (to make something of yourself) and its support of music and the arts reminded me of the city I spent a good chunk of my early teens in: Washington, D.C.

Anyhow, thanks to the Houston Press, all my friends, all the people who heard me play, all the promoters and everyone else. This next level in my life wouldn't have been possible without the support and room they gave me to grow.

Oktober Davila
Chicago, Illinois

Sliced out:Congratulations on another fine Best of Houston issue. I have only one small gripe: How in the world could you omit Best Pizza (or even Best Italian Restaurant)?! My vote: Romano's Pizza on West Gray. I'm a transplanted New Yorker, and it gets my vote as being the only authentic pizza in Houston. Just like home!

Cory Hawryluk
Houston

Dig the Bigs: Kudos to your paper for recognizing Big Brothers Big Sisters as Best Nonprofit. How about going a step further and featuring the organization and telling some of its success stories?

I've been a Big Sister for six years, and believe me, there is plenty that Bigs could share and plenty that Littles can teach society. My Little teaches me every day that it takes so little to make a difference.

Luci Rivera
Houston

RAD Is Bad

Gross out: Excellent coverage of the broad range of issues involved with reactive attachment disorder ["Holding On," by Wendy Grossman, September 19] and the dangerous treatments that have been concocted for it. Having had the opportunity to review the assaults that Jeannie Warren was subjected to at the hands of Dr. Gross and his staff several years ago, I was astounded at the lengths to which practitioners will go in their pursuit of a "cure." I thought it was quite clear that the therapists involved would rather have her dead than untreated, and I think that treatment reimbursements played a large role in determining that attitude.

Dr. Gross has been a fugitive from U.S. justice for years. He has been convicted of fraud in association with his work with patients like Ms. Warren and has been hiding in England for several years to avoid jail.

If you receive inquiries from patients who have been abused in psychiatric settings, please feel free to pass on our toll-free number: 800-572-2905. We offer free medical reviews and assistance in filing complaints with appropriate state and federal agencies.

Andrew Prough, executive director
Texas Citizens Commission on Human Rights
Austin

Utah law: I think the story is great. It was given to me at the Utah capitol yesterday when we held hearings on my bill banning this type of therapy. It passed committee without dissent.

Thank you for your good work.

Representative Mike Thompson
Orem, Utah

In God's Name

Right is right: This column ["Basic Truths," by Margaret Downing, September 12] is dripping with left-wing hypocrisy. Professor Tarciscio Beal apparently suffers from dyslexia, unable to discern right from left.

The article quotes him stating that Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition "is loaded with single-issue groups (anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-liberal, anti-government, pro-school prayer, etc.) that...loathe diversity." I guess if this delegitimates a group, then the pro-death, pro-gay, pro-liberal, pro-big government, anti-school prayer Democratic party that loves diversity (as long as you think just like they do) should just disband.

I almost fell on the floor laughing when I read Mzzz Downing's apparent opinion not to listen to "religious leaders on the Internet reaching out with their special breed of church-blessed hatred tearing apart the Koran and Muslims."

Hmm. How do you object to what they're saying if you don't listen to them?! Seems that liberals feel free to treat conservative Christians just like they accuse conservative Christians of supposedly treating Muslims.

If militaristic Christian soldiers hadn't marched against the infidel in the Middle Ages, we'd all be speaking Arabic now and living under Islamic law. I wonder how pluralistic and diverse that culture would have been?

Eldon Roehl
Kingwood

L-word hell: Thank you, thank you, thank you. It is reassuring to know that someone else believes you can love God, try to live a moral life and still have compassion and tolerance for those with different views and lifestyles.

It is also great to hear that belief in God and practicing a moral life does not compel me to vote Republican on every issue or for every candidate.

There is a fear, I believe, that if you express compassion or vote yes on a liberal issue, you are not patriotic -- especially in Texas. In fact, you could quite possibly burn in hell for eternity for these actions, according to some.

Patrick Devine
Houston

Ay, Carrabba!

Dire prediction:Your News Hostage column ridicules shoddy reporting, and I think you should include yourself in it. Your article "Name Blame" [by Craig Malisow, September 19] was completely one-sided and unprofessional.

Your accusations against Damian Mandola are tantamount to accusations of racism; however, you are probably not aware that Mr. Mandola has several close Arabic friends in the Houston community. My husband works for Carrabba's, and I attended the annual employees' picnic and soccer game on July 4, 2001, months before September 11. I met Mr. El-Raheb there and was struck by his rude and contemptuous nature. His manner was in direct contrast with the frivolity of the day and the family environment that Johnny and Damian have created and sustained for the past 16 years.

At the time, I predicted that Mr. El-Raheb would not last long with the company. You did not obtain the facts before you wrote the article and owe Damian Mandola an apology.

Stella Stevens
Houston

Rahs for El-Raheb: Kudos to Mr. El-Raheb for having the balls to call attention to Mandola's behavior! My business partner and I were vendors working with Pesce during the time frame of this incident. Mr. El-Raheb, from my recollection, is the über-professional of his field. His actions and decisions have always been letter-perfect through our past associations. Alas, I know more than I want to about Mr. Mandola.

After leaving the restaurant following one of our meetings with him to make introductions and discuss business, he was reported to have pondered out loud whether my partner and I were *&$#-suckers!

Mr. El-Raheb's position was highly coveted by a close friend of Mr. Mandola. I wonder if Mr. Mandola will make this employee add the letter ito the end of her name so it will look and sound more Italian.

Name withheld by request
Houston

Chief Gripe

Salt of the earth:What a sad state of affairs that public officials should be allowed to speak to anybody, especially their subordinates, in such an evil, demeaning manner [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, September 26]. What makes a police chief believe that he can talk like that while being paid by the citizens to protect them from hoodlums that may not speak as "salty" as he?

I. Metherd
Houston

On Target

Mag force: I totally love it ["Hello My Name Is Texas Monthly," September 19]!

You hit the nail right on the head. I thought I was the only one who felt that way about Texas Monthly!

Mark Anderson
Houston

Medical Alert

Balanced coverage:I think you did a good job on this story ["Reality TV Bites," by Jennifer Mathieu, September 5] getting different opinions and getting the stories from everyone, not just certain people. My heart goes out to the family who lost one of their twin boys.

I like the show Houston Medical; it lets me know what's going on in the Houston hospitals. It's sad that they have had such a bad experience with the TV production companies. I can understand them wanting to see the tapes first, and they should have been able to see them before anyone else, and the TV camera operators should have cleaned up before entering the hospital again just as a common courtesy.

But I think overall you got the story out -- and it was good to get the different points of views, good and bad.

Krystle Miller
Houston

Shameless show: Thank you for bringing this situation to light. I have never commented on a Houston Press article before, but I was so moved by your article, I had to respond.

No one should have had to endure what Mr. and Mrs. Walter endured. That a camera crew filmed their tragedy is wrong and that the hospital allowed it is also wrong. What happened to the Hippocratic oath doctors take to "do no harm"? What happened to privacy for a mourning family?

This couple was devastated by the sudden, tragic death of their baby boy and on top of it had to endure shameless exploitation of their grief. The film went way over the bounds of common human decency. For what? Ratings, I assume. It is so, so sad.

I hope many people out there are as shocked about this as I am; maybe there is something we all could do to prevent this from ever happening to any unsuspecting, grief-stricken people again.

Connie Rose
HoustonWatching others' pain: Chad and Shani Walter should be ashamed of themselves. They state that they were exploited by New Screen Concepts, yet there they stand on the cover of the Houston Press, sharing their grief over their dead son. Is it okay to have it in print but not on the screen? They said that the death of their son was "full of private, painful moments they say they never wanted to share with anyone else." Well, I never even saw Houston Medical, and the death of their son was never shared with me until I picked up the Press and read the article they agreed to have done.

I am sad for their loss, I cannot begin to image the pain and the sorrow of losing a child, but they are hypocrites to slam New Screen Concepts and people for watching it.

I understand that the point of the article was to point out the deception of New Screen Concepts, but to rehash such a moment makes me question whether they liked the publicity from Houston Medical. I personally like to watch reality programming and I often sit and cry as someone dies or a loved one rejoices, and I think it's human nature to want to view others' lives. Even Shani admits that she watches them now, even if it's to police the show. I wouldn't be surprised if the Walters watched reality television before the death of their son.

Name withheld by request
Houston

Victimized by the cameras: Thank you for presenting the Walters' experience within the parameters of good taste. Like many people, I saw the commercials of Shani Walter sobbing over her dying child and stood transfixed in horror.

I am astonished at what these people suffered through in addition to Nathan's heartbreaking death. New Screen Concepts and Memorial Hermann Hospital have a definite mark against them in my book for victimizing this family during their tragedy. It was obvious the Walters were focused on Nathan and didn't have the time or interest to pursue New Screen Concepts at the time. However, isn't it just plain courtesy and sensible to clear something so personal with the family before airing it over and over again on national television? I guess not anymore -- not when the bar of bad taste has been raised in the prime-time ratings war. How sad.

Kirsten LaBarbera
Katy

Dinging Ling

Favor the high rollers: Unbelievable! Ling & Javier says it was "too hip" for Houston [Dish, by Marene Gustin, September 19]!? You have got to be kidding. I seem to remember that place was filled with the who's who of Houston every Wednesday through Saturday night.

As a former service industry employee, I know a majority of the "VIPs" of Houston: people who spend a lot of money, tip well and are repeat customers.

I, among others, tried to tell the Ling & Javier management that since this was the hot spot to see and be seen they needed to treat the VIPs as VIPs. The response: "We don't give a shit who the VIPs are; they have to wait in line like everyone else. This is a restaurant, not a club."

Those restaurant reviews weren't exactly blue ribbons, so take what you're getting and run with it. Three months after being the hot spot, that place was a ghost town. They didn't take time to know their customers, nor did they have the common decency to treat the ones who were throwing money on their bar week after week with an ounce of respect.

If you are to implement a dress code, stick with it. Hire doormen who know your repeat customers and heavy hitters, and never make the women wait in line.

Treat those who frequent your establishment with respect and they'll keep coming back. Simple.

Name withheld by request
Houston

Thelma Still Thrills

Tripping out: A big thank-you for introducing me to Thelma's Bar-B-Que on Live Oak ["When Jeffrey Met Thelma," by Robb Walsh, July 11]. I've made four trips there in the last two weeks, tried all her food and found it to be barbecue heaven.

I've taken a number of business associates and the look on their face when they see the exterior is a trip, but once they taste the flavor of her bountiful portions, they all say they will be back. Kudos to your staff for finding such an offbeat place with five-star food.

Tom Vinson
Houston

Heavenly brisket: Thanks for this one. I have never been much of a barbecue (or red meat) eater. As fate would have it, your review of Thelma's coincided with my beginning of the Atkins diet, which requires almost total abstinence from all foods except meats and fish at its outset.

I have been successful so far and in large part because I found the best barbecue I have ever tasted, at First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main. I dragged my rather white-bread parents and brothers there, and they were floored.

Thelma is such a sweet woman, and she says business has really picked up since that article, so you've done a great thing in putting her on the map. Keep up the good work. I have found by and large your reviews to be rather reliable, and the one thing I never skip when I pick up a copy of your rag.

Bob Bridges
Dayton

From Thelma to Selma

Superior interior food: I enjoyed your review of Maria Selma ["Just Like in Mexico City," by Robb Walsh, September 19] and look forward to trying the mole enchiladas. It's good to hear that someone in town is doing the real interior Mexico version.

I spent a summer studying in Mexico City several years ago and had some incredibly good food, especially from street vendors or small storefront restaurants. I have noticed that the chips and salsa so frequent in Tex-Mex food are not entirely unknown in Mexico City, but they are done differently and were probably imported from Texas. I was usually with Mexican friends, so I don't think it was all about making the gringo happy.

Thanks for the great depth of coverage and for exploring some of Houston's more obscure food opportunities.

Matthew Wood
Houston

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