At What Price?

At What Price?

Wal-Mart misdeeds: After reading the story titled "Pay Snubs" [by Jennifer Mathieu, July 25], I find it almost impossible not to add my two cents -- which, in my opinion, is more than what Wal-Mart is worth.

The way they treat their employees is awful. Wal-Mart used to be a good place to shop, but I have not been happy with most of my purchases from there anymore. I have recently made several trips to the customer service desk to return defective items. I have had at least two occasions lately where I was overcharged at the register and had to go to the service desk to get my money back.

Ever since Sam Walton died, the company has really gone downhill. I, for one, am going to try to avoid Wal-Mart. I know their prices are always lower, but a higher price is worth it if I don't have to lose quality.

If more people would stand up for their rights, we wouldn't have companies like Wal-Mart overworking their employees.

Earlene Hill
Cambridge, Idaho

Mall Wart? Our good friends at Arkansas-based Wal-Mart have done it again. Remember when they were just opening stores around the country and they promoted the idea of "shopping American-made goods"? I challenge you to find a product in their stores which was made in the USA.

Then came the post-9/11 nationalism when Americans everywhere were flying the flag. It was everywhere, according to reports, except at some Wal-Marts, because they said the employees would have to take up a collection to buy a flag because the company did not budget money for flags.

I have recently heard some rattling that when negotiating foreign-made products, Wal-Mart insists on bulk-buying to the point of depriving the foreign workers of a just salary.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, "Mall Wart. The place to get your cheap, plastic, foreign-made crap." Maybe so.

Well, it looks like Arkansas is still doing it to us.

W.A. Buie

So-So What

Music award angst: I really want to commend you guys on perpetuating the mediocre in the Houston music scene [2002 Music Awards, by John Nova Lomax, August 1]. Nowhere have I seen such questionable nominations and winners so consistently. It makes one wonder who is really in control here -- the fans or the select few in the circle of back rubbers.

But seriously, I see you guys are still trying to iron things out, and maybe with a true heart, fix all that has been wrong with the music awards. So allow me to give some suggestions:

Being an avid industrial music fan, I find it troubling that I only recognized a couple of groups in that category. Bozo Porno Circus has truly lost any resemblance to industrial music, if they ever really had it. And they're talentless. Perhaps you should expand this category to synth-related music.

Including more genres and limiting nominations to Houston-only people will help with credibility. Maybe you should also allow all of Houston to nominate instead of the select few.

There's no shortage of DJs and what genres they play. So why put them all together to compete with each other? They deserve to compete in their class. Other categories might be best lights in a club, best sound system, best layout and design and best bartender.

If valiant efforts are made, I have confidence that we could turn this city around. I've been watching the Houston scene since 1987, and it's no secret it has all been going downhill. Big name bands overlook the city. Clubs close. We need the momentum Houston had in the '80s where everything was flourishing no matter what you were into.

Shoe Latif

Right with Wong

A candidate for everyone: Insider [by Tim Fleck, June 27] was both timely and interesting as it related to the election of Daniel Wong to the Sugar Land City Council. I was privileged to be part of a political consulting group that served his campaign. Mr. Wong was successful in getting out the Asian community's vote, but that is just part of the story.

Mr. Wong first came to us about six weeks before the election. In spite of his record in the business community and in charitable and civic affairs, Mr. Wong did not have the name recognition that would enable him to win against a very popular incumbent first-term city councilwoman. He needed a heavy dose of name identification and he needed it in a hurry!

We recognized he could not be successful by just playing the Asian community's 20 percent vote against the other 80 percent of voters. He had to demonstrate his appeal to all voters.  

The campaign strategy had to be ethnically neutral. We had to communicate to the voters what great talents he could bring to the council. In short, we promoted Mr. Wong as the logical candidate without playing a race card!

Conclusion: Councilman Wong was elected based on his message and his talents not on his ethnicity. The real winners in this election are the citizens of Sugar Land, who elected one smart, talented councilman who also happens to be from Asia.

A.D. McDonald
Sugar Land

Love Lessons

Sex, not bribes: I can't help but point out the double standard of exposing the personal life of a female judge [Insider, by Tim Fleck, July 25], while not covering the sordid love lives of her male counterparts.

I have practiced in the family courts for years, and my observation is that the male judiciary made headlines with bribes and corruption -- what a pleasant change to read of love affairs and not bribes.

Name withheld by request

The Spoiler

Endings don't justify the means: When The Sixth Sense came out, I already knew the secret twist ending even before I saw the movie. Am I Shayamalan's assistant? Was I an actor in the movie? Am I psychic? No, no and no. I knew the ending 'cause someone blabbed it out.

It spoiled the movie for me. I never got the thrill that everyone else got when watching that movie.

That's why revealing the ending is called a "spoiler." It spoils the whole experience you get from watching a movie.

In "Signs of Faith," by Robert Wilonsky [August 1], he spoiled not just one but two movies, right at the beginning of the review.

This should be an unconscionable act for someone who loves movies. Or perhaps Mr. Wilonsky actually hates movies and is intent on destroying the moviegoing experience for the rest of us.

Perhaps he'd also like to announce to the world just who "Rosebud" is?

Adi Jaya
Jakarta, Indonesia

Carts and Dogs

Downtown needs vendors: On the issue of hot dogs ["Dog Days," by Robb Walsh, July 18], I was wondering why the subject of hot dog vendors in downtown Houston has been dropped. I understood at one time it was looked at, and local restaurants were concerned that their business would suffer.

We are the fourth-largest city, and I do not see people in New York City worrying about their business. I think it would add to Houston's economy. It does not have to stop with hot dogs either. I am sure the local restaurants can figure how to get in on the action.

David Gautier-Weiss

Right on (Barbe)cue

Thelma's terrific: Thanks for opening my eyes, mouth and stomach to some of the best barbecue I have ever found -- and that is Thelma's ["When Jeffrey Met Thelma," by Robb Walsh, July 11].

I happen to think there is no better judge of good barbecue than a fat white boy who grew up in the late '50s and early '60s, whose treat in life was traveling the back roads with family to find treasures known as barbecue stands. In our case, it was a trip each weekend from Brenham to Hempstead to visit the old Swan's Barbecue on U.S. 290.

Thelma's is the absolute closest that I have found to those stands that made a childhood worth remembering (and stuffing my face to see if aging brought out gastric differences. Thelma's didn't!)

You got me started on a new place now, and I think there will be regular tire rubber between northwest and Third Ward -- no problem when the reward is what you find at Thelma's!

Carl Whitmarsh

Reverend Rave

Keep government out: Bravo to Craig Lindsey for his column "A Rave Mistake" [Nightfly, August 1]. As a DJ and long-time member of the rave/club scene, I am deeply disturbed by the federal, state and local government attempts to impose upon our freedom to assemble, dance and enjoy music.

Raving is deeply spiritual for me, and it has affected my life in a thousand positive ways. It certainly bothers me that older, more conservative people don't recognize the value of our gatherings; but to go so far as to try to ban them? That's downright criminal.

And the "there's drugs!" excuse is a weak one. There's more drug use per capita at a rock concert than any rave. No, the "rave crackdown" is simply a knee-jerk reaction by people who don't understand this aspect of modern culture and fear it. Jazz music events faced the same opposition at the turn of the last century, as did swing dancing, rock and roll and so on. Despite the best efforts of conservatives in each time period, each type of music survived and became important parts of our culture. Raves and electronic music will do the same.  

Adam Wiggins
Pasadena, California

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