It's a quandary: I am a clinical social worker in private practice in Houston. Many of the indigent clients that I see go to research programs like the one you describe. Not all of them are as poorly run as the Fabre Clinic ["One Dead Guinea Pig," by Greg Harman, July 28].
It is a quandary for these clients and for society in general: The mental illness provides access to subsistence-level disability checks that require that they not be employed. The illness generally does not preclude employment, depending on severity of symptoms. But the check does.
So they take part in research because it's the only way they can earn extra money (after they pay the usual $500 rent to live in a group home, they have $74 for their own use until the next check 30 days later). Research may, in the eyes of some, be risky or unethical, but until science makes a schizophrenic guinea pig or mouse, it is the only viable tool to assist the very people it may indeed harm.
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Tyler W. Hartson
Good Bad News
Take your nose out of the air: It seems that unless a film involves Miranda July taking a dump on stage at a Pixies concert, your stable of snotty anti-mainstream-anything film reviewers won't like it. Hollywood is a business. We'll never return to the golden age of the '70s when Woody Allen could fart out ten movies a year to the delight of critics but to the chagrin of the box office. You can thank Spielberg and Lucas for making the film industry so "bottom line." Especially now, with increased competition from Netflix and iPods, the film industry is forced to release countless remakes in hopes of establishing some sort of connection with red-state America. That's the current film climate, and it won't change anytime soon. The only group of people who don't seem to grasp this concept are film reviewers.
On that note, Robert Wilonsky's review of Bad News Bears was nothing but film-school-stoner-dropout dribble ["Bad News," July 21]. Yes, it wasn't as good as the original, but how many times can you actually say that? It was entertaining, which, last time I checked, was the real reason to go to the movies anyway. I don't care who you are, watching Billy Bob Thornton surrounded by Little Leaguers at a Hooters singing along to Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" is funny. Maybe if you took your nose out of the air once in a while, you might actually see a good movie.
Viva Los Skarnales
Bullshit: Los Skarnales' Pachuco Boogie Sound System was the album of the year ["Houston's Gone Gaaga for Haaga," by John Nova Lomax, August 4]. I don't care who you gave the award to, it was the album of the year, by the band that consistently puts on the best show in Houston. If you didn't vote for it, you must not have heard it.
Morgen Cooper Smith
A classic: Depression, summer and Houston go together like no other trilogy I know ["Racket," by John Nova Lomax, July 14]. I would have said ménage à trois, but that sounds like something that would require more energy than anyone could muster in a Houston summer.
Your article spoke to my heart. Someone had to write it, and I'm glad it was you. I wish I had written it, and I probably will.
A man with no driver's license who would drive a rented van with not only his own two kids but two other kids he could easily have avoided, in the summer on I-10 out of San Antone after eating at a funky cheap Mexican greasy spoon, is no doubt an expert on depression and dysentery ["Road Signs," by John Nova Lomax, July 14]. "Write what you know" sure rings true here. You produced a classic.
Too bad someone doesn't make an album of the saddest songs to come out of Texas, a sure hit, and include your article with the liner notes.
The first sad song I ever heard was when I was a child. My parents had some old 78 records from their early days in Corpus Christi. The song I remember well was "Satisfied Mind." Of course I didn't know it was sad back then, but I sure do now.
From country music to classical, from Willie and George to Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, sadness sells; it's what stays with us. Joy is fleeting, but sadness is enduring. That's why we would rather listen to "He Stopped Loving Her Today" than to "You Light up My Life."
Barbara Duvall Wesolek
A great talent: I heard Jimmie Dale Gilmore ["Playbill," by William Michael Smith, May 26] perform earlier this year in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, and Sunday will hear him in King-of-Prussia. He is a great talent, as both a writer and performer. He may be a bit too "highbrow" or purist to ever have great popularity. Although the comparison to Willie Nelson often is made, he, like Willie, is one of a kind. Texas has such a wealth of great singer-songwriters; it would be difficult, I suppose, for Texans to give each the recognition he deserves. Thanks for your appreciation of Gilmore's wonderful music.
Grow up, Derf: I suppose that your "cartoonist" has found a new group to pick on: men with breasts [The City, by Derf, July 7]. Who's he going to go after next? People with harelips? How about midgets? They're always funny. Or maybe he could make fun of those folks who have one leg shorter than the other? Or amputees? If the author of the unfunny City has his way, all persons who aren't perfect specimens would be banned from the beach or other outdoor areas. Maybe he could even form a group of guys who could search out these undesirables. They could wear brown shirts and jackboots as a uniform. A big "SS" on their fronts would stand for "Superior Specimens." But wait, in the last panel, he picks on men with he-boobies who have the Ten Commandments tattooed on them! Obvious conservatives! I guess that makes it all right. In all seriousness, what happened to the enlightened idea of inclusiveness and nonjudgment? Derf is still the junior-high-school bully who never grew up. And you give him a forum for his hatred.
Name withheld by request