Riders on the Storm

Safety first: I was sadly disappointed by your lame article on amusement rides ["Thrilled to Death," by Josh Harkinson, June 3].

People take rare, isolated incidents and make them bigger than they appear. As a person whose hobby is visiting theme parks, I've been to just about all of them. No matter what park you go to, everyone's first keystone of training is safety. It is the lifeblood of the industry. U.S. Representative Markey is viewed as a buffoon, as his colleagues understand he is sensationalist with a "solution" looking for a problem.

Josh Harkinson obviously hasn't ridden the Mayan Mindbender. The pillow off my bed wouldn't fall out of the car, as it is a mild family ride in the dark.

Your very boldface quote points out "there is virtually no safer form of recreation." The article also compares the injury rate to be the equivalent of people hurt playing Ping-Pong.

Millions of people around the world enjoy theme parks, water parks and amusement parks. Family memories and wonderful vacations are the end result. Cities maintain a healthier economy due to tourism generated by these happy places. It would be in error to say accidents can never occur, but stories such as this one glamorize misconceptions and just encourage teenagers to act like idiots while riding so they can sue for tons of money.

Tim Baldwin
Grand Prairie

Close AstroWorld: Thank you for the most important piece of journalism in quite a long time. It is about time that someone exposes the people of AstroWorld for their deceptive practices. I worked for them a few years back, and even their surveys are false. Imagine: They had us ask people if AstroWorld is better than Disney World.

I think a major investigation should be commenced and the park closed until they fix the problems that exist and are being covered up. AstroWorld needs to be accountable for its actions and it is not. Let's get the word out on AstroWorld and other such amusement parks that are hiding behind a facade of mistruth.

David Gautier

Scare tactics: Josh Harkinson's gory prose was worthy of merit, but his facts are way off. I've been on 400 different coasters and have been on most of those at AstroWorld hundreds of times. There is simply no way that a person can be thrown out of the Mayan Mindbender without the center of gravity of his body being over the level of the car's sides. Those cars are deep. I'm six feet tall, and the sides of the cars come up to my armpits. It is impossible to get above the sides of the car without trying. "Scooting back" in the seat won't do it, sorry.

The kid admitted to "jumping up and down" in the seat until his trial, where he magically denied it all. Wonder why. The minute he admits to being stupid, he loses his chance to be "the richest tenth-grader in the history of Lamar High School." It's a shame the kid got hurt, but it's an even greater shame to use scare tactics to sell papers.

Jim Winslett

Good news, please: You pounce on the opportunity to exploit an injury or malfunction in an otherwise harmless machine. The media has a tendency to do nothing but overexaggerate injuries and accidents and not inform the public that a vast majority of ride-related injuries are caused by human error.

Last year when the lady fell out of The Raven in Indiana, she took off her seat belt and thus was propelled from the ride. When Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland crashed, dear God, that ride just malfunctioned. You know why? Because the maintenance staff overlooked a couple of things -- human error. The man propelled from Superman: Ride of Steel was too large, and the ride operator allowed him to ride even though the restraint was not down far enough.

Your whole genre thrives on fear and anger. Why is it that you rarely see a positive story on the front page about a new ride opening? If you can tell me what you are doing to improve the American mind-set, please tell me.

Rock MacDaniel
Martinez, Georgia

Bolt from the blue: I wish I could say I was surprised by Josh Harkinson's article about amusement-park dangers. I've experienced the nonchalant safety attitudes of park employees firsthand.

A couple of years after a new, popular ride opened at a local park, I was riding in a dangerous car. A large bolt fell out upon takeoff and landed on my feet. Miraculously, the bolt stayed in during the ride, but when I notified park officials, no one cared. I actually saw them throw the bolt away as I left the platform. I should have done more, but I was a young teenager and didn't know what more I could do.

Needless to say, I have never returned to the park.

Sam is lucky to be alive. I sympathize with him and wish him luck in his continued recovery.

Angela Mohle

Sit on it: I am glad you were able to quote me in the article; I am just sorry you had to misrepresent to me the reasons for your story. You said you were doing a story about the history of the Texas Cyclone and AstroWorld. It wasn't hard to figure out what you were after while talking to you.

The kid on the Mayan Mindbender stood up -- period. There is no other way that accident could have happened. Is the kid going to admit he stood up? No way! Investigate that, why don't you?

It's just poor journalism, and I am sorry to have been a part of it.

Mike Robinson

Tanks a Lot

LNG's Dutch treat: Thanks for the well-written article by Sarah Fenske on the proposed LNG terminal at Quintana ["Welcome to Fire Island," May 27]. I don't know if Quintana is a suitable location to build an LNG terminal.

What is clear, though, is that it is definitely not a safe place for people. Even a storm of less-than-hurricane strength will flood the island. Having grown up in Holland, where the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to keep people's feet dry, I wonder what the people in Quintana know that the Dutch don't.

Don Dykstra

Benefits outweigh risks: I was disappointed in the article regarding misinterpreted dangers of liquefied natural gas terminals. While any petroleum- or energy-related facility is potentially hazardous by the very nature of its product, proper safety and security measures are effective in mitigating any such dangers down to a minimum, if not zero, factor.

In these times when we as a nation must reassess our energy needs versus availability of supply, there is no question that we need all that we can get. The natural gas industry, with proper government supervision, can safely provide enormous amounts of LNG that will significantly lower prices and save many jobs, particularly those in the chemical and feedstock businesses that rely on using huge amounts of natural gas.

And of course, many of those plants and jobs are located in the Gulf Coast region.

Jeff Share, editor
Pipeline & Gas Journal

Other options: I enjoyed your recent story on the Freeport LNG project. It is a fairly balanced perspective.

There are also LNG terminals that can be built offshore with floating tanks, and LNG vaporizers that store the gas from LNG tankers in underground salt caverns, mostly available in the Gulf of Mexico.

I lost my job working on LNG exporting facilities recently, mostly because of the lack of new import facilities on the other end to take the product. So I am not as sympathetic to the environmentalists as some people are.

Edward Torrez

Quote quest: Excellent writing. Very good. I enjoyed your style and smooth telling of an interesting, albeit typical, small town Texas vs. big corporation story. Excellent sources, and I especially enjoyed your use of their quotes in telling the story.

As a reader, I respect that. It seems more factual coming from their quotes rather than your opinion and/or interpretation to tell a story.

Thanks again.

John Paul Unker

Shining Star

Proud papa: Vanessa Perez is such an inspiration to all young people ["Survivors," by Margaret Downing, May 27]. This article should be required reading for all students.

I will see that my children read it. I was blessed with two kids who are both in pre-AP classes, make great grades and never give me any trouble. But all parents aren't as fortunate. Vanessa's parents should be very proud. I would love to give her a hug, handshake or pat on the back and say, "You go, girl. Keep up the excellent work."

Ray Coleman

Rattle the Sabers

Call to arms: This article is absolutely full of the worst sort of leftist hysteria by our learned colleagues in academia ["Fever Pitch," by Josh Harkinson, June 3]. Houston is home to the dreaded Halliburton and the Bushes; we make war for economic reasons, if attacked again we may respond!

Wake up. The jihadists of the world want to kill us and destroy our economy in the process. Get beyond moveon.org, Indymedia and Michael Moore and do some real research on what is going on. War fever -- what a catchy phrase and a cheap shot to anyone who takes seriously what is going on in our very scary world. Let's see how you feel when the jihadists bring their violence to your back door. Maybe you can "peace study" them to death.

Mary Cone

Rearin' to go? I'm a seventh-generation Texan and I've met a lot of great home-grown Houstonians. However, reading the article "Fever Pitch" has helped me conclude the following: Houston is an a$$hole magnet.

Sterling Camp

Pan Fried

Joys of Jadeite: I read Robb Walsh's article about Café Le Jadeite with astonishment ["Pacific Rim Shot," May 20]. My husband and I found the review to be too harsh; we hope it won't discourage adventuresome diners from trying Jadeite. The restaurant is superb, and the service is very good.

The prices are reasonable for the quality of food, and the decor is a lot of fun, especially if you don't take all its exaggeration too seriously. Walsh didn't even mention hearing the Lyons, who sing on the weekends. They have an extensive repertoire of tunes from the last 50 years. Overall, the atmosphere is conducive to relaxation and conversation; this is not easily achieved in most of Houston's noisy Inner Loop/Galleria-area restaurants.

We've faithfully read the Houston Press for years, and we're stumped by why Walsh gave this excellent restaurant such a bum rap. We usually agree with his reviews. Now, we realize that he is fallible after all.

Patricia Sturdivant


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >