Letters 06-01-2000

Building on Past Mistakes

I am in the 22nd month of my own five-month construction project. My prayers go out to the Youngs ["The Dream Home: A Cautionary Tale," by Brad Tyer, May 18]. While my home will be completed in the next couple of weeks, I will never, ever, attempt to build a home in Texas again.

My second builder charged me almost ten grand just to correct the framing mistakes made by my original builder. For those of you who want to try this, start with a lawyer, progress with an inspector and complete with a lawyer. Also, avoid construction financing like the plague. Buy your house from your builder. The dummy corporations, banks, suppliers, insurance companies and subcontractors all have laws to protect their assets. We homeowners have to hire protection. The system is flawed.

K. Victor

I used to drive by David Allen's site on Montrose Boulevard every day. I couldn't help but chuckle at the hand-painted signs advertising his town homes for sale. They reminded me of when a child would paint a sign selling lemonade. I couldn't imagine anyone buying one of those homes. I doubt the contractors were paid for the work that was done at that site, either.

The shame of it is that crooks hide in the system and are able to hurt so many people. I do hope the law catches up with them.

Stephen Lackey

Congratulations on a great article. It's just another reason why the Houston Press is my favorite local newspaper (actually, the only one I'll read).

Susannah Tysor

I sympathize with the Youngs. Mr. Zovath, Ms. Marks and Mr. Allen epitomize everything that's wrong with Texas-style Christianity. Their appeals to the Youngs' Christian sentiments to do the right thing, all the while trying to fleece their wallet, are typical of all mainstream religions. They reveal the credulity of the typical member of the flock. The mind-numbing Lord's Prayer mantra should be replaced with the cry of "Show me the money!" The brief examples of the pap served up in Ms. Marks's book made my stomach churn. They must have received their training from Amway. Religion appeals to the basest sentiments of everyone: Preserve thyself, give unto me what I deserve, and forgive me when I take from others. There is salvation, at a cash price.

Keith Patton


Wonder Woman in a Suit?

If you look at comics today, many are female-based and have strong followings [Stuff, by Robert Wilonsky, May 18]. You talk about only Marvel and DC. They are getting old, with just a few titles selling well. What about Darkhorse, Image and other independent companies? Are these companies to be overlooked just because they haven't been around long?

As for their deaths, every hero dies eventually, most gruesomely. That's what makes a hero a hero and a villain a villain. If they all just retired to a nice house on a grassy hill somewhere telling their grandkids about the time they saved an entire city from the "intergalactic Terror" Gorak, it would be boring. Unfortunately the industry targets males between the ages of 13 and 35, so the way they are dressed will appeal to the target audience. But who wants to see Wonder Woman in a red, blue, gold and white business suit fighting supervillains?

More females are reading comics as time goes on. Talk with the people who are true comic fans and understand the change in times. All things change, and those that don't are usually left behind.

Richard Cate

I find it very offensive that a stranger in "Fatal Femmes" would make these huge generalizations of rampant sexism about me and others (men and women alike) who share my comic book hobby. I've been reading and working in the comics field for 15 years, and I've never met anyone even closely resembling the comics shop owner from The Simpsons. Based on personal observations, I'd say women make up about 20 percent of the readers.

Wilonsky goes on to state that women-oriented comics were once the norm in comics, when actually the reverse is true. There are more comics being produced by, for and about women now than ever before.

It's easy to condemn the entire industry because the best-selling books in it are sexist and violent, but if sexism and brutality to women are the only criteria, then shouldn't we consider the people who make and watch movies "sick bastards" as well? No, we know there is more available that reaches to deeper levels than just whatever huge movie opened. The same is true for comics. Mr. Wilonsky's cheap shots at comics readers masquerading as journalism are just a waste of paper.  

Joshua Starnes
Bedrock City Comics Co.

Is the new practice of Houston Press writers in general, and Robert Wilonsky in particular, to intentionally insult your loyal readers?

I've been a happily married man for the past ten years. My wife, niece and nephew (whom my wife and I are raising) and I enjoy reading comics. That fact destroys Mark Waid's ridiculous quote: "Most males are fans of or in comics because they're social misanthropes who can't get laid or can't keep girlfriends and they're pissed about it on some level."

My guess is that only 1 to 2 percent of males read Harlequin romance books. What does this say about women who like to read improbable stories concerning brooding, rapacious men with Mr. Universe bodies who must seduce reluctant heroines? Eventually all of these heroines fall under the seductive spell and find themselves falling helplessly in love. Wow! What a realistic, uplifting and great role model these stories provide for their female readers.

If you want to find some strong female comic book characters, you certainly don't need to look far. Many comic books address serious topics such as child abuse, teen suicide, runaway behavior, parent/ child conflict, drug use, sex roles, discrimination and gun violence.

I hope that the Houston Press will more seriously study the comic book industry before writing another article like this one.

Robert Lee Brewer

I enjoyed and appreciated the article on women in comics. I am a longtime reader of comic books, as is my wife. I have noticed the peculiar treatment women receive in these books.

Women are definitely overbuilt and underdressed in the comic book world.

Examples of this are Catwoman, a professional thief, and the X-Men's Psylocke, a (now practically powerless) bikini-wearing ninja. I can understand the need for clothes that stay close to your body in these professions, but do their outfits have to be plastered against their bodies in such a way as to follow every last contour? How hard it must be for the male members of the X-Men to fight evil alongside a well-endowed, braless ninja in a bikini. In fact, I suspect that more women than we realize have superstrength; how else could some of them even walk upright?

Some steps have been taken in the right direction. The Fantastic Four's Sue Storm, now the Invisible Woman (not Girl) has become the team's second-in-command, it seems. The former Batgirl has become Oracle, a vital computer guru. Who knows -- maybe someday things will change. But I doubt it.

Name withheld by request

Bummers and Hummers

Regarding your article on KPRC-AM's hypocrites [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, May 18], what did you expect? The "yakkers" are comprised of a high school dropout who rails about the education system, a sanctimonious bankrupt saloon keeper who screwed his investors and preaches integrity and godliness, and a failed politician/banker whose phrases of enlightenment would crack up Yogi Berra. As far as the money aspect, look at their advertisers: voodoo herbal remedies, vinyl siding, risky land development schemes and 70,000 cars built by Japanese socialists.

I also love the way they handled the Rudy Giuliani issue. Where was the outrage? A Republican gets caught doing the horizontal hula outside of marriage and it's no big deal; Clinton gets a hummer and it's evidence of the coming apocalypse. Give me a break. Does anyone take these creeps seriously?

Michael Wiginton

Statistical Static

As one of the former reporters of the then-KHTV news department from 1990 to 1992, I read with interest your piece on the rebirth of news at Channel 39 [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, May 18]. While our product may have paled in comparison in many ways to the big-budget newscasts at Channels 2, 11 and 13, I challenge your description that the news effort "failed miserably."

With a staff numbering fewer than 20, we put on a quality half-hour news program every night while our competitors did the same with more than twice the staff. Our average weekly audience was about 175,000. According to your switchboard, the Houston Press has a weekly circulation of 148,000.

If our news effort was a miserable failure with a bigger weekly audience than yours, what do you call your weekly news effort?

Sally Walker Davies

Connelly replies: The "failed miserably" referred to the economics of the show, not the content.  

New Rage Against Wilonsky

It must be an insult to a bellyacher such as Robert Wilonsky to be asked to review entertainment that is geared toward the very same masses he seems to feel so far above.

It came as no surprise to me that the same humorless, wanna-be-a-high-brow, liberal, militant-feminist dribble written about brutality against female comic book characters was by the same wuss who wrote the scathing, incendiary review of Road Trip ["Roadkill," May 18]. While I found his creative rhetoric entertaining (the same way I find Andrew "Dice" Clay's insults entertaining), I also find myself wondering, Why would this guy be sent to review these topics? Isn't that a little (okay, a lot) like sending the cat to fetch the canary?

I can imagine Wilonsky's big assignment this summer: the Poison/Slaughter/ Cinderella/Dokken show in July. He'd be easy to spot, being the only one with the Indigo Girls T-shirt on, arms uncrossed only long enough to sip his half-caff-double-latte with the lemon twist on the side, and a supersize pair of earplugs to block out the (gasp!) loud misogynistic music.

Come on; can't you find something a little more noble to thumb your pompous nose at? Go pick on something your own self-inflated size. If you're going to shoot down sparrows, don't use a bazooka.

Phil Peterson

A Comic Book Reader?

I have met the chef at Angelika Cafe a couple of times ["Name Above the Title," by Dennis Abrams, May 18]. I agree with you about the talents of Chef Zumm Escudier. She is a woman. I'm sure she got a chuckle out of an otherwise right-on review.

J. Moon

Positive About Negativland

Anthony Mariani's Negativland write-up [Amplified, May 11] was a poor example of musical critique. In the absence of anything substantive to say, Mariani resorted to broad personal attacks on Negativland, "liberals" and even local venues such as No tsu oH. Musical and artistic tastes are subjective, but solid criticism is based on facts, not conjecture.

Negativland consists of five members, most of whom do play musical instruments (as if it mattered). I arranged the No tsu oH portion of Howard Boiehm's documentary The Ad and The Ego, for which Negativland did the score. Negativland's Mark Hosler was in attendance and showed three rare videos by the group.

It has been a while since I read something that so desperately tried to be cynical and hip and turned out so weak and ill-informed. Fact-checking and due diligence beat ranting any day.

Rodney Perkins

Don't Hit the Road

It's tough to judge a band by only its first low-budget CD [Rotation, by Roger Wood, May 11]. I saw Todville Road live several times before it released Carousel. Honestly, I like the band more live. I do believe it has a ways to go to capture its live performance in the studio.

Sure, the vocals may be off some, but I bet you wouldn't criticize Bob Dylan for that. I give the group credit for coming up with original pop songs that have great hooks. "If This Is Love" sounds like it could have been a Squeeze song. And "Fall to Fly" would have been a good hit for the Gin Blossoms.

Please give the band credit -- it is actually going against the norm in Houston. It's tough to find original pop music here. I think Todville Road is a great start.

Eric Wilson

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