Letters

On the Grill

No barbecue bias: Each year the Cold River Cattle Company BBQ Team, consisting mainly of small businesses and private sponsors in the $500 to $2,000 range, raises money for the Sunshine Kids, and this year the Small Steps Nurturing Center.

We also throw a Miss Blue Jeans Contest, which is open to passersby as both entrants and audience. I am disturbed by Robb Walsh's use of an inaccurate description of the racial profiles as a premise for the article about racism in the barbecue competition in Houston ["Barbecue in Black and White," May 1].

Among the girls in our competition this year were black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American faces and names. At no point was race a consideration for acceptance of an entrant, and I think Mr. Walsh should apologize for such an implication. The audience also contained a good mixture of the racial cross-section of Houston's multicultural society, albeit in less-than-perfect proportional representation, but Mr. Walsh seems to exhibit somewhat selective vision at times. Might I suggest he get his eyes checked, if not his bias.

Jeremy Goodwin
Houston

Hot sauce: After reading "Barbecue in Black and White," I am convinced that Robb Walsh is much more than a food critic. Thank you for a wonderful piece of culinary journalism that is not afraid to call things as they are. The barbecue at Goode Co., Otto's and Pappas is overrated, overhyped and soul-less. To call food from those establishments "real Texas barbecue" is as embarrassing as it is insulting.

Sandra Puente
Houston

Love bites: I have to say I've never given so much thought to barbecue before. I've lived all over the South and have eaten it from North Carolina to Texas and back, without realizing there was so much history behind it.

Thanks for the thought-provoking article. So, do you think if I walked up to Bill Bridges and said, "Hey, you old crazy-ass cracker" that he would know I was saying it with affection?

Name withheld by request
Houston

Shrink Wrapped

Overhaul psychiatry: While I'm sure that the Devereux facility was motivated by an interest in maintaining funding, I can't help feeling that we're missing the forest for the trees ["A Hanging Offense," by Margaret Downing, April 24].

Cecilia was a child from a drunken, abusive home who allegedly suffered a sexual assault when she was only nine years old. Her response to this world is an angry, violent one -- can anyone blame her?

Yet the finding of the medical community is that she has a chemical imbalance that is responsible for her behavior, a total denial of basic cause and effect. For there even to be a hope of saving those Cecilias still living, there needs to be a re-evaluation of the entire basis of the psychiatric profession. What really did come first -- the chicken or the egg?

Mary Jane Holliday
Houston

Stories that matter: Your story on Cecilia was touching, and I wish more people would take the time to write stories about things that matter to someone. Maybe, like you said, no one ever knew she was here. Your story can help them to see the light, for things that go on in places like this.

I usually don't even read the papers because it's always the same: who shot who and war and all those things. With this story, I could not put the paper down. Someone told what happened to a little girl who all along was crying out for help, for someone to love her and pay attention to her.

Thank you. I encourage you to keep up the good work.

Shante S. Francis
Houston

Jail Hell

Dehumanizing prisons: I was not surprised to read in Scott Nowell's article ["Mail Sacked," April 24] that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has taken yet another draconian step toward the total dehumanization of Texas prisoners, many of whom are nonviolent offenders.

Until I moved from Texas back to my native Massachusetts last year, I was an avid listener of Ray Hill's Prison Show on KPFT, although I have no friends or relatives in the Texas prison system. It reminded me that convicts are also human beings who are loved by their family and friends in the same way their victims are loved. It also kept the following question in the forefront of my thought: How much punishment is enough?

I can imagine that the continued dehumanization and oppression of one of the free world's largest prison populations (through the revocation of privileges rooted in common decency) eventually will result in significant unrest and revolt and a decisive political backlash against those who use the harsh treatment of prisoners for election-year grandstanding.

It pains me that in Texas, a state that I love, the prison system has more in common with that of the Soviet Union than that of most free, democratic societies outside the birthplace of "compassionate conservatism." Then again, as Stalin used to say after political purges, "Life is getting better, comrades, life is getting better."

William G. Harris
Boston

Routine Wonders

Graceless awe: Your articles interested me greatly ["Stung" and "Teamwork," by Zoe Carmichael, April 24 and May 1]. I also practiced long and hard and was given an opportunity to try out for the Texas City team. There were many girls who were not picked, including me. I was disappointed, but then I realized I didn't have the grace and skill it took to perform the high kicks that the team is known for. It doesn't matter what color you are. Before you trash Texas City's drill team, look around the county in order to gain a fair perspective of how the area school districts are different and how they are alike.

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