Bayou City Bulldozers
Keep the heritage: I read the article ["This Old House," by Jennifer Mathieu, July 25] with sadness but no surprise. Houston is one of the worst big cities as far as preservation is concerned.
I am a native Houstonian, and I live in the house my grandfather and great-uncle built. I bought it from the estate of my grandmother to keep and preserve the history of my family. I had hoped to live long enough to obtain some sort of historic status from the state for the old home. But now I know that this means nothing if the state or city wants to build anything on the land. I fear the future of my home is either a freeway or multistory yuppie town house.
Houston is a city full of new stuff. I've seen it over and over again -- knocking down historic homes and buildings, only to replace them with new cheap-looking structures that will appear dilapidated 20 years from now. There are a few exceptions: churches and rich peoples' big houses. They are the only things deemed "keepable." And now the Cohn House doesn't even fall into that category anymore. I am finding that I do not want to live in a new and sterile city with no history. It will not be long before all our old homes are gone and the way of life that was ours is long forgotten. It is shameful.
Celia A. Nettles
So Far Away
Expand the band venues: As always, I enjoyed the Houston Press Music Awards [by John Nova Lomax, August 1]. However, I have some comments:
Though the venues were in clusters, they were too far apart. I was unable to see some of the bands I wanted to because they were too far from other bands scheduled at the same time.
Some of the venues were way too small. During the Fondue Monks' gig at the Hub, it was miserably packed. Good thing the fire marshal wasn't around.
The bar service for the VIP party at Spy was atrocious. The bartenders virtually ignored the whole area. I would have had someone's head on a platter. Next year the bar should provide a dedicated server for the VIP party.
No Heart for Wal-Mart
Stop exploiting workers: This is a great article ["Pay Snubs," by Jennifer Mathieu, July 25]. I personally do not and will not shop at Wal-Mart because of this sort of stuff.
I am a middle-class working woman always looking to save a buck. However, I will not shop where merchants abuse their employees with these tactics. The former workers who still shop at Wal-Mart should think about taking their business elsewhere.
Mental Health Mission
Use the bosses' pay: If they're so concerned, maybe the administrators of MHMRA could cut their salaries in half and use that money to fund additional beds ["Reality Check," by Margaret Downing, July 25].
I worked there as a supervisor for two years (and now work independently with the mentally ill) and saw the waste of tax dollars over and over again. It is a tragedy, the plight of the homeless and poor mentally ill, but that's what MHMRA is supposed to take care of.
Their mission, as stated in brochures and on their Web site, is to provide services regardless of ability to pay. Maybe it should state only if they have the ability to pay.
Shortchanging the young: On behalf of hundreds, if not thousands, of families in Harris County, I applaud your article about funding for mental health. As the parent of a nonverbal mentally retarded autistic child, I am appalled at the lack of services for families in my situation.
What the state does not provide for now in funding it will have to pay for with greater funding in the future. There are roughly 7,000 families on waiting lists for services who have young children. If those children were getting the help they need now, they would not need residential placement later in life -- or perhaps for the rest of their lives. But that is not the case.
Texas seems to be fine with having the lowest ranking in funding. Texas seems to think it's okay for children to be on waiting lists. Most families I know put their children on all the waiting lists when they were three to five years old.
Now, most of those children are seven to 12 years old -- and missed critical years of intervention they needed. They say everything is bigger in Texas -- we have big stadiums, big ballparks, big everything. I just wish one of those big things were something that mattered -- like big help for those with disabilities!
On the Falun Front
Reform the INS: Thank you for the extensive coverage of Jason Wang's story and Falun Gong ["The Gong Show," by Wendy Grossman, July 11]. I knew Jason to be a hardworking, diligent University of Houston student of physics.
I do not believe, however, as the feature implies, that he has given up a career in physics and research to devote himself full-time to this cause, to both his personal detriment and utmost detriment to his family.
He has a great love for his country. His actions today likewise seem motivated entirely by improving the lot of his fellow Falun Gong practitioners back home, that secondarily one day he and his family may be able to safely return and live productive lives there. But the Chinese government is withholding Jason's passport from him, forcing his visa status to be invalid.
If Jason, whose son who is a citizen of the United States, does not make the case for political asylum in the United States, who might be able to?
Thousands of aliens here have passed through the INS on to citizenship purely on the basis of economic grievance or hardship, and sometimes they've been recruited for the ulterior political motive of swinging election results in certain states or districts. If Jason's case fails, it would create even further evidence of a broken, dysfunctional INS.
It was the Republicans who almost overwhelmingly helped to pass permanent normal trade relations with China, allowing China's entrance into the World Trade Organization, and announcing, for the entire world to hear, right-wing support for the delinking of human rights with trade.
I may not be favorably disposed toward encouraging the propagation of Eastern religious beliefs, but my own love for religious freedom and freedom of conscience gives me pause when I read of Jason and his fellow practitioners, as it should anyone like-minded.
Name withheld by request
Call for help: When I first decided to learn about Falun Gong, it was not just because of wanting to escape the sorrowful pain of disease or trying to find a spiritual path I could trust or wanting to pursue the Truth. Rather, the practitioners attracted my interest because of their great virtue of looking inside when they encounter difficult things. When confused by conflicts, they all think about what they have done wrong, and what kind of effects it might cause. This is so that later on they can correct their problems and handle things in a smoother way.
Is it wrong that I have let myself change into a good being? On the contrary, what would society as a whole be like if more and more people would consider others first and look inside in case of differences?
Just like this, even far away from mainland China, I still suffer from dark persecution in America. The renewal of the passports of my husband and myself was refused by the Chinese consulate. We will forever treasure what we have discovered from Falun Dafa. We would also hope that more kindhearted people will give us a hand against the worldwide violence and intimidation from the other side of the ocean that now extends to the American soil.
Jinxia (Gina) Wei
Out on a Limb
Tree differences: In the "Biggest and the Baddest" [July 18], Kelly Klaasmeyer complained about many pieces of "artwork," and for the most part I am inclined to agree with her. But when she complains about the cypresses in the painting by Mrs. Gay, the writer's ignorance shows.
The writer has obviously never been to Caddo Lake, nor ever seen a cypress in a swamp before, for if she had, she would have known that cypresses often grow out in the middle of channels in swamps. The form of the trees in the painting, and the Spanish moss hanging from them, are similar to the actual trees, and the lake itself, for that matter.
The only exception, to the best of my knowledge, is that swamps generally are not sandwiched between stainless-steel panels. I suggest that the writer learn a little bit about elementary botany before saying that a painting of a type of tree the writer has never before seen does not look like the tree it is supposed to be.
Name withheld by request
Music to Her Ears
Zenteno rocks: Thank you for telling it like it is about Norma [Music Awards Showcase, July 18]. Many people don't realize that she writes most of her music and is talented in many different styles of music. It's good to know someone out there knows.
There is much more music to come.
Band battle casualty: I wondered how long it would take for this realization to come about the Tuesday Battle of the Bands at Paesanos [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, July 25]. I gave it two chances. At the first one, I was impressed with the club, but the sound was horrible, as mentioned. The second time I can hardly remember except that Paris Green played and I knew I wasn't going back, even after being asked to be a judge. The club had supposedly gotten some new equipment and the stage setup was much improved, but again I could not understand one word coming from the stage.
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I know it takes a soundboard with a lot more than five channels and five microphones (which is barely adequate for a three-piece band). I just could not see myself taking time off from my own band and driving downtown on a weeknight to judge a battle of the bands through such a shitty PA system.
I do respect both James and Jason and commend them for attempting to get exposure for local bands, but I can't understand how you can do that when the bands are the ones bringing the people in (virtually no advertising, but what's new?) and then have to play to them through an inadequate sound system.
Maybe they should take the time to either build up the system they have or find someone who can work miracles with what they've got. Here's hoping the folks at Paesanos can work some miracles in the future.
Mark A. Landrum