What would Jesus do today? He would tell all ASS managers, "Thou shalt not steal" ["Pain in the ASS," by Randall Patterson, June 1]. He would also tell them to use their millions to return all monies taken from the customers. He would also tell them to pray hard so that this does not become a class-action lawsuit.
By the way, the manager at the Woodlands store took $235 and two days of my Fourth of July weekend from me.
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Thanks for Randall Patterson's exposé on America's Service Station. It was very enlightening! I learned a couple of things from it: the name of a reputable mechanic (Ray) and that ASS is the kind of place that gives auto repairmen and Christians a bad name. Great job, Randall. In my opinion, the Houston Press is the best rag in town! Keep up the good work.
Damn fine article. Damn fine research. Damn fine investigation. Damn fine discoveries.
Your article is a testament for stricter enforcement (through civil action/lawsuit) and a call for credibility (based on centralized computer records). It also begs the question, Who can you trust?
Perhaps ASS is operating under the premise that 99.9 percent of the well-heeled do not take the time to scrutinize their auto repair expenditures -- and consequently don't really care or want to take the time to get a second opinion.
As my dear old daddy taught me, "Anyone who puts the cross (or the Christian fish symbol) out in front (of their business) has usually got something dirty out back."
No matter what values Mr. Hayes may personally hold, his business reinforces my policy of avoiding any business that mentions Christ or Christian values as a precept. For my money, I'll stick to the policy of "faithful in little will be faithful in much": Integrity in business and trust in larger matters is earned through time, and proof of honesty in the little things (repairs), or proof of Christian values is determined by one's actions, not by using Christ or Christian values as a substitute for that integrity.
Stephen C. Tatum
I am the technical writer for several transportation-related magazines and am an expert in the technical aspects of automotive and diesel mechanics.
I thought that it was odd that America's Service Station's Greenbriar location recommended repairs for my engine's serpentine belt, especially since there was nothing wrong with it. Their service writer told me the car would have a "catastrophic failure and leave me desperately stranded, and most likely the car would catch fire."
When I arrived at my office, two co-workers said that ASS had told them they too had serpentine belts that were due to cause a catastrophic failure at any time. I inspected their belts and found no visible signs of problems.
Another of our crew was destined to have catastrophic failure due to a "worn-out oil pan seal that is in danger of disintegrating like powdered sawdust at any moment." Although I didn't check, I am most certain that I wouldn't find any "powdered sawdust" dripping from the bottom of their engine.
John D. Nahas
Thanks for warning others about the asses at ASS. I'm disappointed to hear about Mr. Hayes associating himself with disreputable people.
Lock Your Offices
The empirical muse was upon me after reading your story about Diana Strassmann and economics ["Telling Stories," by Lisa Gray, May 25]. Among other things, I was struck by the report that male economists tend to have gendered toys on their desks. Here is my study and report:
Predictable family photographs cover the desks, and walls are hung with kids' scribblings and craft projects. This shows a regrettable lack of taste but isn't particularly gendered. Maps are found on many walls, but mostly in the office of one female colleague. I did find a rubber ball and softball trophies in one male colleague's office, but the trophies are from a coed league. We must wonder about him, since he has a needlepoint fish on his wall; and I discovered a Barbie doll in his filing cabinet, supposedly a gag gift presented on his 35th birthday, but I am beginning to doubt it.
Although Lisa Gray returns to the macho toy myth at least once, her main object is to attack economics and male economists, as well as to give Diana Strassmann consequence. Yet if Gray cannot accurately determine what is generally found on the desks of male economists, one must wonder whether she has seen those desks or talked to anyone working behind them. By implication one must wonder whether any of Gray's assertions about more difficult matters, such as the content and practice of contemporary economics, can be trusted at all. I suggest that you and your readers could do far worse than to completely ignore Gray on these matters.
Nathaniel T. Wilcox
Associate professor of economics
University of Houston
Your article on the Gramercy Apartments was interesting ["Gramercy Gets Fingered," by Steven Long, June 1]. As a founding board member of Historic Houston, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Houston's architectural resources, I find it interesting that Mr. Finger appears to be targeting historic properties for demolition.
In 1997 he demolished the SOM building on Buffalo Speedway; in 1999, the Jeff Davis Hospital on Allen Parkway. And I have just been told he intends to purchase the beautiful Plaza Hotel on Montrose. What needs to be written is an article about the lack of a process for notifying the neighborhoods as well as the dealings in Houston's Planning Department that continually allow this to occur.
Your story was great, but how about some useful information regarding how to stop the demolition? If there were a certain few people we could target when the public's interest counts, we could actually get enough attention to stop this and other projects similar to it. No one really wants to see all these overpriced clapboard high-rises all over our neighborhoods. Most of us just don't know an effective way of stopping them.
Appreciated reading your piece on Fernando Perez ["Learning Curves," by Russell Contreras, June 1]. Taking on uncaring bureaucracies makes the Press the great newspaper it is.
I noticed your quote of the Pasadena ISD official who said to Ms. Perez, "I can't read Spanish. I can't be able to respond to your letter." Evidently the official can't speak English, either. A proper sentence would be "I am not able to respond" (present tense) or "I was not able to respond" (past tense). "Can't be able" ain't gonna cut it.
Kudos to your "Breaking Up the Bands" article [Amplified, by Anthony Mariani, May 25]. It was interesting and honest. However, I wanted to add that while people can blame the clubs and patrons, ultimately, if a band fails it is the fault of the band. I cannot understand this rock star mentality that makes a band feel that because it booked a show, people should just come and like what is being done musically and otherwise.
I am really tired of people who blame their failures on this city. Newsflash!: This is it. This is all you have to work with, so deal with it.
A booking person at a local club mentioned how many bands do not accept the marketing, networking and promotional aspects that are mandatory in this town. My band has used aggressive promotional techniques from within a core set of venues to help develop a localized following.
Every day I try to warn musicians that while success can come with patience and work, they must remember that the consumer is the ultimate judge in any market. To get people to listen, you have to give them a good show -- and that applies in any city.
David N. Barbee
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