Letters

The contemporary poetry "scene" in Houston started in 1974 with the founding of the Southern Seeds Poetry Guild by Joanie Whitebird. This group eventually splintered into Houston Poets II and Poets Workshop. Poets Workshop has been running a series of readings, now formalized as the First Friday series, for more than 25 years and the annual Houston Poetry Fest since 1985.

The Flying Dutchman Writers Troupe staged poetry readings from 1989 until 1997. The club Mausoleum, now Helios, has had a weekly poetry series since the late 1990s. And the first poetry slams in Houston were inaugurated in 1995. As you can see, lots of history, lots of literature. So the next time you write about writing, get someone who knows what they're talking about.

R.T. Castleberry
Houston

Eat This!

Big Apple angst:In your article about the Aries chef receiving an award [Toque Off, by Robb Walsh, July 10], you recount a story of his responding to a request for a tomato salad by ridiculing the customer. And you quote the chef as claiming that "the customer is always right" is an outdated attitude. You say that in New York a restaurant patron would be thrown out of a restaurant for special requests.

I moved to Houston recently from New York, and visited Aries for dinner based on the Chronicle's strong recommendation. I can tell you that every restaurant I've been to in New York, including those with international reputations, is willing to accommodate special requests from patrons, regardless of how celebrated the chef is.

At Aries, the kitchen refused to remove meat from the sauce accompanying two fish dishes, or in fact to serve the dish in any way other than as prepared by the chef. The vegetarian offering was insulting -- it was bland and lacked any nutritional value. My carnivorous companions were not impressed by their meat dishes. Last, the service was simply bad, as we had to request both water and bread.

Sorry, but when you go out for an expensive meal in New York, you are treated to excellent service, which includes adjustments to preparations. The staff at Aries is arrogant, not exceptional. Those "indiscretions" are simply bad business.

Karen Singer
Houston

All Aboard

Train strain:I'd love to indulge you and give you a response to your review of Matt Minor & Shot Glass [Rotation, by Bob Ruggiero, June 19], since the obvious motivation of your reviews is to get just that, a response.

This record has more energy than any Texas-based artist I've heard yet. I am proud of you, though, for at least noticing the strength of his vocals, lyrics and melodies. It is a bit confusing to me that you praise these three qualities, yet call the majority of the songs tepid.

The majority of these songs are based on his actual experiences. About the song "Train to Catch," you said, "Who the hell catches trains anymore?" The song is clearly set in a different period. You also must have never been to New York or Europe, where people catch trains every day -- not to mention the mess of construction in downtown Houston for a railway system. Maybe from now on you should consider focusing less on trying to make witty statements and more on the actual content of the records you review.

Stacy Grieve
Bellaire

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