Tracy Pierce

On with the Show

A different perspective on Gray: Because I was one of the people that Spalding Gray asked to the stage and interviewed on that night at Cullen Theater, I was naturally interested in reading John Penner's description of the event ["Stage Death," April 15]. I realize that -- Rashomon-like -- no two descriptions of an event will ever be the same, but Mr. Penner's description is so far off the mark that I feel it necessary to set the record straight.

The audience's open hostility and catcalls were not a result of anything that Spalding said, during either his opening monologue or his first two interviews. They were a result of what I said in response to his question "What do you think of the war?" I replied that it was a criminal, illegal and immoral act that had sickened me, and as I began to explain what I meant, the audience erupted in boos and hisses, which got worse when I asked the audience to think about how they would feel if 40 cruise missiles hit downtown Houston. Large numbers of the audience began to walk out. I was the one to mention Donald Rumsfeld. Spalding kept plaintively asking why the people were leaving, while I kept saying, "This is dissent in Ashcroft's America." The interview ended with my shaking hands with Spalding and saying, "Sorry about that, Spalding." He barely nodded.

The rest of the evening happened approximately as Mr. Penner describes it. I agree with Mr. Penner that the evening was a disaster (though, to be honest, I also think it was the most fascinating and disturbing night of theater I've ever attended); however I would have preferred that he report the evening accurately.

Patrick Bishop

Editor's note: Penner acknowledges that he wrote about the events based on his memory, but he says the article is an accurate account of what occurred.

Sheltering Sentiments

Mr. K's defense: I was one of the individuals who contacted Margaret Downing to discuss Mr. K's no-kill animal shelter ["A Dog's Life," April 8]. As one of the founders of Mr. K's 100, I wanted to make sure that I had the opportunity to describe their efforts and to respond to any specific concerns before Ms. Downing printed her story. There are significant inaccuracies:

Mr. K's was not "cut off" by its original dog food supplier. And the dogs and cats at Mr. K's have never gone without food. The e-mail referred to in the article came at a time when Hills Science Diet suspended shipments for approximately a week because of a paperwork mix-up. Ms. McNew was informing supporters that they were down to three bags of Hills food and needed additional food while the issue with Hills was being addressed. Mr. K's secured more than enough food to take care of the animals adequately.

Mr. K's has a good adoption rate. Indeed, it is my understanding that last year Mr. K's adopted out approximately 200 dogs.

The article's implications that Mr. K's funds, including funds of Mr. K's 100, are being misused is libelous.

Ms. Downing's view appears to be that death is preferable to an environment -- albeit sometimes muddy and not perfectly run -- in which the animals are well fed, receive proper medical care and do not have a three-day expiration date. Why deal with the hassle of caring for the dogs and cats that nobody wants, Ms. Downing suggests, when you could just kill them?

We do not live in a perfect world, but Mr. K's and its supporters have decided to make it a better one. We invite anyone who agrees to visit www.mrkspetshelter.org or www.mrks100.com (forthcoming) to learn more about how he or she can help.

Laura Hanley Carlock

Cause of Action

Lighten up on films: You know, I get tired of some movie critics because they cannot find anything good about any movie unless it is from some foreign country or explains the meaning of life ["Punish This," by Robert Wilonsky, April 15]. Movies are meant to be an escape from the realities of an eight-to-five life that we all share during the week. Sometimes I wanna see bodies pile up and loud explosions, because it helps me find a release.

The Punisher is not Oscar-worthy; however, it does its job nicely of being what it is: stress relief. I will put it to you this way: Even if you are a rabid Shakespeare junkie, could you read that every day? No. All the heavy thought would drive you mad!

Would Mr. Wilonsky rather Thomas Jane came out and railed against some socioeconomic complex? Of course not, because that is not the purpose of the movie or movies like it. People want to see people in movies get fucked up in a way they cannot do to their boss during the week. If he knew that the movie was not high-minded, he should not have gone to see it, or he should have treated it like everyone in the real world does, as mindless fun.

Shaun Belcher

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