Renaissance Fare

Medieval magic: At first I was a bit leery of what you would write about in your article when you posted on renaissancefestival.com about looking for campers, but let me congratulate you on an awesome article ["Escape Artists," by Craig Malisow, November 11].

It was well written and you were as unbiased as you could be. I look forward to reading all your stories if they are as good as this was, and I am sure that they will be. It's a talent, not a fluke, that gives us such articles.

Rochelle "Lady Rochelle" Jones
Terrell, Texas

An Ode to Ibsen

Artistry in motion: Thank you, Houston Press and Josh Harkinson, for your in-depth, honest, accurate and hard-edged story ["No Virgins, No Velvet," November 4] about an extremely deserving artist -- more than just a Hispanic Houston one -- Ibsen Espada.

The haunting, striking cover chilled me. I have followed Ibsen's development since the early '80s and am proud to call him my friend. His devotion to his art, his passion for life and for beauty, and his willingness to help others on their artistic path was made clear by Harkinson.

The irony here is that a truly significant artist in Houston will yo-yo up and down in personal fortune, be doubted by his peers and even torn from his roots.

I have met few artists so inextricably married to their work and so generous with their spirit of support for other struggling artists. Ibsen deserves all the kudos you have provided him and so much more.

Bart Boyce
Intergalactic Artists for Peace


Mentally Ready

Reverse the trend: It seems that the mentality of our society has been transported back in time ["Beggars Can't Be Choosers," by Margaret Downing, November 18]. Prior to 1840 and the reform of the New Jersey state asylum, the mentally ill were treated as second-class citizens or, even worse, criminals.

Over the past several years, I have noticed a disturbing trend that mirrors this antiquated idea. It appears that we are being fed a steady diet that most, if not all, people with mental illness wind up being part of the criminal element. I can tell you unequivocally that is utter gibberish.

My fiancé, Bruce T. Harvill, has the unforgivable disease Bipolar Disorder Type I, mixed, rapid cycling. He has no criminal record, an IQ of more than 130 and has authored three books. Bruce invented and developed in excess of 500 usable product ideas. He has owned or managed several businesses. His greatest attribute may be his mentoring and financial assistance of more than 40 young people (with personal out-of-pocket expenditures exceeding $250,000).

Even with all that, recently he has had trouble acquiring adequate employment (other than minimum-paying "grunt" jobs). When potential employers perform background checks or psychological profiles, he is immediately denied employment. He may be mentally ill, but he is not stupid or dangerous.

I would like to see the chains removed from the stigma that binds the mentally ill, and have their positive contributions brought to the forefront. Let us move forward and treat those afflicted with mental illness as special people instead of criminals.

Linda A Phillips, R.N. (Ret.)

Chowing Down

Davis slam: I don't know what Jefferson Davis High School your reporter visited, but in my classroom at Davis this morning, 22 of my 24 students are chowing down on breakfast sandwiches ["Eating It Up," by Sarah Fenske, November 4]. I feel like your reporting was irresponsibly incomprehensive in that it was clear the reporter spent less than one morning at my school but felt free to slam it several times.

Why mention tacos so many times as the breakfast offering? Is it because my student population is largely Hispanic? From my perspective as a teacher here, tacos are hardly ever offered as a breakfast choice (most often we are given biscuits and sausage, or a ham-and-cheese sandwich). If the students choose not to touch the tacos (as your writer put it), perhaps that is because they recognize a good breakfast taco when they see it.

In my fifth period right now, only two out of 24 of my kids report that they eat breakfast at home before school. Next time, before trashing my school's name, do a better job of gathering the facts.

Oh, and by the way, I love your publication, especially the restaurant reviews.

John Corson

Paying the Price

Don't charge for dogs: In response to the "'Sup, Dog?" item [Hair Balls, November 11], please be advised that advocating the selling of animals is not supported by the Brazoria County Humane Society or E-Rescue Houston.

The founder of E-Rescue states that it allows the posting of dogs from rescue groups asking for a legitimate adoption fee or a foster fee trying to recoup the money spent on an animal, but it does not allow the selling of any animal.

Your item simply promotes more needless breeding and selling of animals, which will only put more animals in shelters, meaning, for many of them, death. The better way to approach rehoming an animal is to join a rescue group and foster that animal until a suitable home can be found, not selling it or dumping it at a shelter or, even worse, on the side of the road. Additionally, those wanting to use innocent animals to bait fighting dogs will pay a fee for the dogs, so selling the animal is not always a foolproof way to avoid inhumane treatment. Further, not all pit bulls are mean dogs or used for fighting. They can make wonderful family pets.

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