By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Wondering about Wonderland
Online readers comment on "Enter at Your Own Risk," by D.L. Groover, January 28:
Not a fan: Wonderland was an overblown, horribly written, boring piece of crap. All the characters are bare-bone, empty vessels whose only purpose is to introduce the audience to the next garish set piece.
Any attempt to add any characterization ends up promoting frighteningly casual misogyny and racism, from the "jive-talking" black man caterpillar to the Filipino gentleman parading around in "brown face" as a vulgar cholo stereotype. Then there's the exploitative scene in which a representation of a woman's abusive ex-husband teaches her the important lesson of keeping her mouth shut, if she knows what's good for her. He was actually introduced earlier as a demanding, emotionally distant lout, but is now supposed to gain the audience's empathy, scriptwise, because the woman has been exposed as obsessing over silly little problems that must be belittled and solved by the more rational men around her.
This was hastily written and awkwardly directed. A trained monkey pulling random words out of a hat could form a script of more artistic merit, but hey, at least some of the songs are catchy.
The biggest laugh of the night had to be the dramatic lines actually being punctuated by thunderclaps during the extended and excruciatingly dull exposition. Once I heard that thunder, I began to smile, as I thought I was watching a brilliantly sly satire of the modern musical. My enjoyment evaporated as I began to realize the show wasn't satire at all. Houston deserves better from the Alley Theatre.
Agreed: We saw this turkey in Florida last month — strictly DOA.
It's fun: I think what's missing from everyone's criticism is that the audiences are loving it. Everyone is thoroughly entertained. Please remember that the show is in its infancy. In the Heights took seven years to finally make it. This show hasn't even been alive for two.
Cheap tickets: If the show's shortcomings are to be excused due to its "infancy," maybe they should offer a steep discount on the tickets. Otherwise, it's just an expensive, unentertaining turd that hopes to blossom into a slightly entertaining turd.
Problems at Ziggy's
Online readers comment on "Ziggy's in Montrose Might Close Over Parking Dispute," Eating Our Words blog, by Paul Knight, January 27:
Max it out: Personally, I'd rather see a maximum number of parking spaces, not a minimum. If I owned a business and I thought it wouldn't deplete customer patronage too much, I'd consider just putting in a bike rack, a wide sidewalk and a sign pointing to the nearest bus/rail stop. People who really want to drive everywhere have plenty of exurbs where they can do just that all day long.
Why? That rule makes sense in the burbs, but not in the city. How many bars/restaurants in NYC have eight parking spaces? They seem to do okay.
If there isn't enough parking, the restaurant will close. Why do we have to put these rules in place?
Paving the city: It's as though there's a conspiracy to pave over most of Houston with parking lots — many of which end up with mandatory valet. Is someone in city planning getting kickbacks from valet companies?
While I can see the point of view that parking spaces are a countermeasure for a lot of neighborhoods whose residents don't like business patrons parking up and down their streets, it doesn't seem in the long-term best interest of urban planning to make it mandatory.
What do downtown restaurants do? There's plenty that don't have their own parking lots. Are they exempt?
Stay out of it: I walk to Ziggy's probably once a week and know a number of people who do the same. People who want to drive and park can either find it on the street somewhere or not eat there. If the lack of parking reduces patronage, then that is Ziggy's problem. I don't see why the city has cause to regulate it. As long as Ziggy's maintains its handicap parking and is ADA-compliant, the city should stay out of it.
Blocking the streets: Why does everyone assume Ziggy's has some sort of God-given right to exist? Oh, because you live nearby and have eaten there. Montrose used to be a real neighborhood. The parking rule apparently exists to protect what few homeowners still live there, so that they don't have to contend with additional cars blocking their streets. If Houston had a zoning ordinance, this wouldn't be a problem.
Necessary evil: Speaking purely as a customer, I think it's great that Montrose residents can walk to Ziggy's and other businesses in the area. It's one of the reasons I'm so attracted to the idea of living there. But what about the patrons who don't live within walking distance? If I'm in town — I live in Humble and work in the city, so just hopping on the light rail isn't an option, unless I drive way out of my way just to find a place to leave my car — my option is to park along the street in the residential areas, which I think the residents would agree is suboptimal. If they're intentionally trying to limit their business to people within walking distance, that's one thing, but I don't think that's the case.