Amazing Race

Hopes for Henley: I worked with Jim Henley at Lanier for many years and he really came to my rescue in my early teaching days, when I was discouraged and wanted to quit ["Getting Schooled," by Richard Connelly, November 2]. His loyalty is unwavering and his commitment firm. Here's hoping he can retire to Washington, D.C. where I know he will do great things.

Jennifer Dunn Walsdorf

Foster teacher: Jim Henley is to politics what Cassius Clay was to boxing. He has awakened an interest in his students which will hopefully foster a new generation of leaders who will want to do what is right for their country and not just further their own personal interests. I heard him tell a former student, "I look forward to voting for you!"



Betty Gerlach

For the Rail: This letter is in regards to certain statements contained in the recent Houston Press article focused on Congressional candidate Jim Henley.

The statement suggesting widespread opposition to the placement of rail along Richmond Avenue is incorrect. The neighborhoods along Richmond support Rail on Richmond. This support is evidenced by the more than 2,500 residents who have signed a petition supporting Light Rail on Richmond. Further, I completely agree with the quote from candidate Henley regarding the Congressional role on this matter: It is a matter to be decided locally, within the jurisdictions and the neighborhoods which will be served by rail.

Adra B. Hooks

Strong support: In your story about Henley, your writer asserts that there is a strong base of support for Culberson because of the rail issue. The fact is, more people support Richmond rail than oppose it. While most of the businesses along Richmond have been against rail because of an organized effort of fearmongering by the Afton Oaks Community, there is very strong support for rail inside the communities along Richmond. In fact, our organization,, has collected over 2,500 signatures in support. Just drive up and down streets near Richmond, and you will see many of our signs supporting rail on Richmond. The problem is that we have not gotten in Metro's face or been given equal time in the press or on talk radio. (KSEV host Ed Hendee has a special relationship with Culberson.)

What you have in the anti-rail folks is a very vocal minority that has been used by Culberson. Just look at who Culberson's contributors are to see why he bulldozed small businesses on the Katy Freeway -- but suddenly he's a hero to the small businesses along Richmond. Culberson wants more roads and no rail despite what his constituents want.

Culberson may win, but he is vulnerable to a moderate Republican because he has been in constant opposition to rail at the expense of his constituents -- just look at the groups that have lined up against Culberson on the rail issue (see Everybody from the Greater Houston Partnership to the Menil Collection would like rail on Richmond.

There is a story that your paper is missing about rail. 1) How many people support it; 2) Culberson's opposition to it; 3) the lobbyists who are telling him to oppose rail and who they represent; 4) the true cost in property taxes and loss of quality of life that Culberson's constant road-building is having on Houston taxpayers.

Jonathan J. Paull
Member, Houston Chapter of
the Congress for the New Urbanism

Helios Freezes Over

They tried: I am writing in response to John Nova Lomax's eulogy of a Houston hot spot -- Helios ["Bad Vibrations," Racket, by John Nova Lomax, November 2]. For three years, I was a regular at this culturally rich spot's poetry, open mike and live music nights. I recently moved to Austin and was dismayed to find out the noise complaints persisted and the pussy plaintiffs finally had their way. This will damage Houston's art scene, which is the pulse of the city and is already weakened by the exodus of good artists to Austin's rich vein of creative venues. Noise ordinances and the pricks who overinterpret them are one major reason Houston's artsy types flee the Inner Loop.

Noise complaints were always an issue with Helios. Even though that site had been a social scene in many incarnations before the overpriced townhouses that now surround it were even dreamed up, it appears the newcomers have more clout (purely economic, I'm sure) and it is infuriating that suburbia is sterilizing Houston's vibrant but endangered art scene.

I remember nights when the weather was perfect and the bar was too crowded, so most of us denizens with color-streaked hair, ominous tattoos and piercings, and over-decibel 70 conversations took our drinks and our friends to the back porch to enjoy some fresh air and elbow room. Even then, bartenders would warn us about the noise and ask us to keep it down while we were in the back. Some days, after a fresh round of attacks from the complaint mongers, Helios's back door would be locked and no one was allowed out back. This led to a population spillover to the front porch/road-front area, which was nice for conversation and the occasional altercation with a hobo or cross-dresser ambling along Montrose Blvd.

My point is, Helios tried. The owners closed the doors for a couple of days back in '05 to refinish the floors and refurbish the insulation. Noise complaints were always a topic addressed with regulars, and we did our part to keep it down so the hoity-toity tight-asses next door could get their shut-eye after 10 p.m. This did not need to happen. I dread driving by that colorful yellow spot on Montrose next time I return to Houston, only to find it washed-out and empty.

Houston, do you really want to be the world's most sprawling, sterile yuppie suburb with no pulse? That's what the absence of places like Helios will turn you into. I, for one, am glad I joined the transplants here on South Congress.

Alison (Last name withheld by request)

Condense the Column

I don't get it: The Nightfly expends significant effort making it clear that The Red Cat Jazz Caf is not just intimidating and unfriendly but populated by people who don't understand the most basic tenets of tolerant social intercourse, then goes on to comment on the show? Why? ["Dream Girl," Nightfly, by Olivia Flores Alvarez, November 2.] How can music be enjoyed in that sort of atmosphere? The whole article could have been condensed to: "Good music, bad people. Stay away." What a waste of column inches.

Bernard Owens

Gut Reaction

Brilliant: We lived in Houston from 2000 to 2003 and relied on Robb Walsh for guidance in our food travels through Houston -- Thursday morning and Walsh were highlights of the week. We also went on the barbecue trail and bought all the books. When we left, I took a smoker with me, and I buy Meyer's Sausage on the Internet. As a result, my comments are not particularly impartial, but his Polonia review was brilliant ["The Measure of Kielbasa," by Robb Walsh, November 2]. I worked in eastern Europe and know both the food and the beer. I can't wait for my next trip to Houston and my pilsner. Thank you for opening up my eyes to so many foods -- my gut is proof of your success.

Brian Barrick
Bakersfield, CA

It's a Wabash

Man, I wish I still lived in Houston: I used to go to Wabash and would love to hang out there on Icehouse Night ["Country Time," Been There, Done That, by Steven Devadanam, November 2]. It sounds like a blast!

Chad Martel
Port Allen, LA


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