A sit-on protest: After reading your open letter to the International Festival folks and Mr. Mitchell's response, I have to agree with both of you [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, April 21 and 28 ]. Almost nothing you said was wrong, but I'm really glad that Rick responded as he did. I wondered about the lack of top-level bands, local or otherwise, when I read the schedule. After reading Rick's comments, I'm going to go to support this festival, which I have loved over the years and would hate to see disappear.

You have to admit that complaining about the musical lineup and, at the same time, the $10 admission is disingenuous, buddy. I wish every culturally edifying event in town were free, but it just isn't, and acting like it should be is pollyannaism.

It is also unfair to compare iFest, a culture, food, art and music festival, with the Austin City Limits Festival, which is solely a music festival. It cost me $100 for a three-day ticket. Try taking your growing family to that, and I predict that you'll soon quit whining about a $10 ticket to an all-day event. Anyway, peace and love to you and yours.

I do appreciate the hard work you do in promoting local music, but the sneering at everything not Inner Loop-hip is not becoming. BTW, me and my fat compadres (the band known as Fluid) will be pumping out Hoobastank covers, but we'll also be playing originals and other diverse covers. Come see us, but don't call us lame or we'll sit on you.

Chad Stevens

Cover-band crazed: As I read Mr. Lomax's criticism of the music lineup for the International Festival's Flamingo Gardens stage, I couldn't help thinking of the armchair-quarterback metaphor.

How many stages has he made possible, promoted and booked for a major festival? As the self-appointed music policeman sits picking away at his keyboard, he is also picking away at a "doer." My hat goes off to the "doer."

There is already plenty of original music at these festivals. It would be novel to see a stage dedicated to "wedding bands" (as Lomax calls them) playing cover music. Cover bands are a neglected art form at festivals, especially considering the events are supposed to be family-oriented. There is no better type of music to entertain a diverse crowd than cover bands playing classic rock.

I propose families would rather hear well-played classic rock over the original music of Houston's finest. And if they don't, they have all the other stages to choose from.

Forrest Martino, cover band musician

Porch shots: Wow. Why would you slam a 34-year-old festival that has managed to hang on and continue to give Houston something to be culturally proud of? Why would you slam the financial responsibility that Jim Austin so nicely married into something as important as the singer-songwriter? Peace from the Porch was the top-selling CD at the festival. That independent release full of relative unknowns had the heart and musical generosity to band together and raise funds for the American Cancer Society. People love a good cause that's wrapped in good music.

Critics love to criticize what they don't understand or have never been exposed to. Me? I get so excited by the newest of the new. I absorb every bit of it, and I'm damned disappointed I missed most of the music at the festival because I had a stage of my own to run.

I hope you'll truly come to understand the importance and potency of the independent artist.

Christy Claxton, executive producer,
Peace from the Porch

Assault and Flattery

Guns are good for kids: The article "High-Caliber Kids" [by Josh Harkinson, April 21] says "regular citizens can't buy" a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun. Law-abiding American citizens who are not otherwise barred by law may legally buy a machine gun if they follow the proper procedure (pay the required $200 tax, submit to a background check by the U.S. Treasury Department, etc.).

"Flexing My Guns" [Been There, Done That, by Steven Devadanam] describes the Barrett M107 as an "assault rifle." Do not confuse "assault rifle" with "assault weapon," which Harkinson applied to the Springfield SOCOM II.

The term "assault weapon" is a politico-legal term with no objective definition separate and apart from the legislation that seeks to ban it. It's basically a meaningless bullshit propaganda term like "gateway drug," the purpose of which is to scare people into supporting a ban on semiautomatic rifles.

If Harkinson can stop sneering at the NRA long enough to do some actual research on the subject of children and guns, he might find that the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a study in the 1990s on this subject. Clinton's Department of Justice found that children who receive guns from their parents are less likely to commit crime, do drugs or otherwise engage in delinquent behavior.

William E. Fason

Tapped Out

Bottling city water: Years ago on the municipal channel, I watched the head of the city water department touting plans to sell Houston bottled water [Hair Balls, "Wet Dream," April 28]. "The world's best-tasting water," he repeatedly declared, adding that if it didn't taste that way, it was only because of the "stuff growing in the pipes," thus his plan to bottle it at the wellhead.

He also described plans to run all those "mom-and-pop operators" (Ozarka? Perrier?) out of business, then outlined his planned free-enterprise seminars for other department heads. I envisioned being able to have city crews trim my trees and pave my driveway, and to hire cops to roust my daughter's unsuitable boyfriend. Alas, even Mayor Brown couldn't make it happen.

I also recall then-councilman Felix Fraga gleefully claiming his people were natural customers, coming from countries where you don't dare drink tap water. I thought he would have done better to educate his constituents, although I am no expert on Latino politics.

But if Houston is going to capitalize on the ignorance of its poor, why not start by selling Elegua candles, blessed handkerchiefs and juju dust at Ben Taub and Jeff Davis?

We'd make millions.
Richard Sohn


An April 28 capsule review of Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre's Dance Macabre Part Two: The Consummate Host misidentified the musical group that participated in the show. The correct name is Two Star Symphony.

The Press regrets the error.


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