Nameless nuance: I'm thrilled for Nameless Sound to be recognized with a MasterMind Award ["2011 Masterminds," by Paul Knight, January 27]. Nameless Sound is an organization truly unique to Houston, and an organization whose development is directly connected to its city's culture. I'm very proud of the contributions of everyone in our community — students, musicians, audience, staff, board, members, supporters. I never expected this honor. I'm very happy to receive it.
There are a few inaccuracies in the story that I would like to clear up.
Sprawl (the band that I was in from '88 to '94) was not anything close to a "noise" or improvised music band. Houston at that time had a pretty healthy "noise" scene. (I use "noise" for the lack of a better term. Houston's experimental sounds have always resisted easy categorization.) I would say that I was trying for something that was musically a bit different (something that I was only hearing locally from my few collaborators). Our early efforts at improvisation did exist in the context of pretty wide-ranging experimental music activity in Houston that did have a history. (Maybe it was too wide-ranging to ever be called a scene.)
These details about subgenres may not mean a whole lot to most of your readers, but the clarity is important to me. I would hope that my friends and colleagues in the "noise" scene don't think that I would purposefully misrepresent that history and context in my interview.
A couple of other things to clear up might be less significant. I don't have a former student in a band called Yucatan. Juan Garcia lives in the Mexican state of Yucatan. He plays in the Yucatan Symphony and teaches creative music to impoverished children in small villages. Also, I'm not originally from San Diego, but Orange County (it had a much more serious punk rock scene).
Thanks so much for the attention and recognition. It's greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Houston Press! We're very excited to be a 2011 MasterMind recipient and look forward to putting that grant to good use. I did want to mention our affiliation with the University of Texas. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Toni Tipton Martin and Elizabeth Engelhardt, we are honored to be an affiliated institute of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, housed in the Community Engagement Center at the University of Texas, Austin. Please see our Web site for more details, www.foodwaystexas.com. Foodways Texas is a statewide organization with more than 100 members (and growing) that seek to preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas. Thanks again to the Houston Press for this wonderful honor.
Osteen and the Gays
Online readers comment on "Joel Osteen Is Confused About Both Gays and the Death Penalty," Hair Balls blog, by Richard Connelly, January 27:
Glorified motivational speaker: Joel Osteen leads herds of people into his so-called "church" to preach to them. However, like it or not, the fact is that church (regardless of faith) means dealing with sins, morality, talking about right and wrong, finding a guiding message, and so on.
What Osteen does, really, is just give you warm-fuzzies without dealing with anything in particular. Rarely does he apply any principle of value, and he mostly spends his time making you feel good about yourself. Not once does Osteen actually get into the nitty-gritty the way a rabbi, priest or preacher at a respected faith institution would.
Osteen is nothing more than a snake-oil salesman who happens to be charismatic and charming. He's a glorified motivational speaker who uses the Bible as his foundation (as opposed, to, say, a 7 Habits system or some other catchy methodology with a marketable name). People who actually wish to seek faith through a higher power would do best to avoid this guy and his Prada purse-toting wife and find a real faith-based institution that makes you deal with all aspects.
Saddened: You know this pastor is a person who has reached out to and helped countless millions of people, a bridge builder, and possibly the least judgmental pastor of those who are well known in our country. And he clearly lives within the grace that he preaches.
When Osteen indicates that he struggles with an issue, he at least has the humility to admit that he doesn't have an authoritative opinion on a subject. Perhaps he has the wisdom not to get tangled up in these inflammatory issues. Perhaps it's a combination of both.
I was saddened to see that all the media outlets picked up on and chopped down his comments about homosexuality. He was clearly stating that as a pastor, he has an obligation to hold to and teach the scriptures, although he also stated that as a human being, he is not the judge, nor does he look to judge anyone.
Osteen also made it clear that there are many other sins that are discussed in the Bible, such as pride, greed and slander, and that perhaps the church in general focuses more on homosexuality than it should.
Online readers respond to "The Lowdown on the Lovett Inn Becoming a Hostel," Hair Balls blog, by Richard Connelly, January 26:
Great: All we need is more punk kids like the ones from Interfaith Ministries and Covenant House on our street. They wander around during the day with no jobs and looking to cause problems. Just take a peek in the alley during the day and at night behind this place and notice the kids selling/doing drugs. It is not a good thing — such a beautiful boulevard being filled with troublemakers.
No crime worries: Hostelling International hostels are generally used by individual budget travelers and scout/church groups. With annual stay limits of five to ten days, and credit card reservations, I don't think it will be adding much to the neighborhood crime stats unless you Houstonians roll the visitors for their Euros and run.
Hostel love: Hostels are wonderful additions to communities! I'm not sure if any of you have ever stayed in one, but they are great places for travelers to stay while experiencing the neighborhood as well as to meet other amazing Americans who love the city.
This is nothing like the Covenant House as described by other commenters here.
More outreach: As a longtime resident of Lovett Boulevard, I would like to comment on HI's outreach to my community. I first heard of the proposed hostel by receiving a notice from the city two days ago about a parking variance request. Since then I have talked to my neighbors on this residential street, and none of us were aware of HI's plans to join our community. To read in the Houston Press that the charming, upscale Lovett Inn would become a 50-bed hostel was startling, to say the least.
Lovett Boulevard resident
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