Revolving doors: I am an inmate in the TDCJ system, in a state jail in Dallas for fraudulent use of ID or using a fake name at a traffic stop. I have done two years this October and I have seen the changes take place firsthand that were talked about in this article ["Prison Break," by Scott Nowell, July 17].
All drug programs were also eliminated, teachers got pink slips; 75 percent of this jail population doesn't have a GED. Although those classes weren't cut, there is sometimes a waiting list that exceeds the offender's stay, since most sentences are six or nine months. The recidivism rate for drug offenders is incredible. I know of one gal who is on her third sentence (in two years). Without treatment, she'll be back again, too.
They also are not giving psychiatric medications as they claim they are too expensive. There is a massive effort to privatize all of the units. They barely serve each offender enough food to get by. They have no intentions of rehabilitation for the offender, just sell out to whoever will keep the cattle flowing. When inmates get out -- still not educated, still addicted and nowhere to go -- they will go right back to drugs.
It's very sad to think that this is our system.
Name withheld by request
Bad call: After reading article after article about the budget deficit and cuts to prison spending, I am appalled that both the Governor and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice turned away approximately $40 million annually that would be brought into the general revenue fund by allowing correctional phone systems into TDCJ. This venture would offer no out-of-pocket expense for the state. Virtually every other state in the country has one in place.
Texas would rather cut jobs, services, and close facilities instead of offering this service that would promote family relationships, reduce recidivism and be a huge step in reducing the deficit.
Lisa Luna, board of directors
Texas Inmate Families Association
Sinners and Spinners
Hypocrisy over gays: Is it just my imagination, or does society think that homosexuality is the only "sin" in the Bible [Hair Balls, July 10]? I thought that pride, greed, anger, lust, gluttony, envy and sloth were kind of important, too.
Isn't the latest Bush quote -- "bring 'em on" -- a prideful schoolyard-like taunt from the bully who eventually gets beaten up because of his overblown ego? As far as greed, where do $10,000-a-plate fund-raisers come in? Over 30 years ago, Lenny Bruce declared these types of things more obscene than homosexuality. People still can't handle the truth in free speech. Point the finger at everyone else. It's easier.
Lust is not always sexual. It is defined as desire out of control. Like Bill Bennett: It's okay for him to gamble away millions because he makes more. Convoluted logic rules. A book I read stated that people always draw the line in accordance to their beliefs, always act in their own self-interest and define situations according to their perception. All these may not be true, but that doesn't matter. What is important is to feel superior in life and convince yourself that everyone else needs to change. I believe that is happening now.
Be as gluttonous as you want. Quench your desires. Be prideful and greedy. But make sure to deny it and spin it if you ever get called on it. And for god sakes, divert the attention to those perverted homosexuals who are ruining the country.
To George Bush: Quit worrying about everyone else's genitals and control your alcoholic, ungrounded daughters. Maybe then I will listen to you telling everyone else how to run their families.
Whoops. There's someone at the door. I hope it's not Homeland Security.
Don't defile the bay: I would like to thank this gentleman for speaking out about the Bayport project [Letters, "Baying at Bayport," July 17]. I have been working with The Galveston Bay Conservation and Preservation Association fighting against this project.
Once, at the GBCPA booth at the Seabrook Music Festival, a man wagged his finger in my face and said "it doesn't matter what you do, who you tell, how much money you spend -- it's going to happen anyway." I asked him "who the hell are you?" He tells me he's one of the directors at the Port. Now mind you, we aren't saying don't have a port; just change your location to a more feasible site for this project so it will not destroy our last remaining natural resource on the bay.
Take a drive along 146/225 and see what they have done to that area, port improvements and environmental enhancements bullshit! It's a travesty and an eyesore and they say it's to generate jobs? Big business and politics once again will win because they have the money (our money). People, wake up and read what's really going on, at www.gbcpa.org.
Besmirching Mel: I didn't much like the hatchet job done on Hutton Gibson ["Holy Father," by Wendy Grossman, July 24], but what else should I expect from a reporter named Grossman?
For shame. Hutton is an example of a real hero of a man who raised 11 children in hard times and fought on Guadalcanal, one of the bloodiest battles ever witnessed. I happen to share all of his views, from Vatican II to the Holocaust.
The Roman Catholic Church has been infiltrated by freemasons in the highest places, including the College of Cardinals, which has set out to destroy it.
I recall attending Mass the first Sunday after Vatican II had concluded. I was greeted by a dirty, long-haired hippie, there on the altar of God, dressed in rags, strumming a guitar while mumbling something or other. I did a "180" and haven't been back since. I joined the Orthodox Church, the "other" Catholic Church.
It is obvious what this writer is trying to do -- discredit Mel Gibson and his new movie by telling people his father is a lunatic and that is where Mel gets his view of the thing.
Scratch this Date
Catting around: For those readers interested in promoting understanding of stray/feral cats ["Cat Fight" and "Kitty Litter," by Wendy Grossman, June 19 and July 3], you may be pleased to learn that October 16 has been designated as National Feral Cat Day.
For full details, go online to www.alleycat.org. They will mail you their action packet plus bumper stickers. This is an excellent example of public education about appropriate treatment of these suffering animals. Let's give these suffering animals some help -- they already get enough abuse.
Health tips: I was appalled after reading the article concerning Toyya Braskey's shelter ["Kitty Litter," by Wendy Grossman, July 3]. I have worked with various groups over the past 15 years fostering and placing stray/abandoned cats and dogs out of my own home, and there is no excuse for the filth and stench described in the article. If Ms. Braskey wants to run a clean shelter and get organized, I have a few tips for her:
"For every six cats she should have two cat boxes, this would mean she needs at least 34 cat boxes for the 100 cats. She should line them up side by side or at least keep them in one area for ease of cleaning. Also, the cats will become aware that this is the area to do business.
• The boxes should be filled with "scoopable" cat litter and scooped into plastic bags that can be tied shut for disposal.
The shelter floor should be swept and mopped with a water and bleach solution at least twice a day.
• She needs at least 30 bowls each for food and water.
• New arrivals should be quarantined until a vet determines if they have a communicable disease.
I guarantee that taking these steps will ensure a cleaner, more healthy environment for all.
Good folks and bad: Having read Racket's review [by John Nova Lomax, August 7] of the Groceries performance at this year's Houston Press Music Awards, I would like to pose a rather pointedly rhetorical question.
Who is the bigger snob -- people in the independent music community who book exclusively all-ages shows, make every effort to keep prices low, hand out flyers at the Vans Warped Tour, promote concerts for Clear Channel, open for the Toadies and the Breeders and somehow, paradoxically, "wear the very latest in thrift store threads," or a so-called "journalist" who can't be bothered to return e-mail from, show the least scrap of respect to, or, seemingly, go two weeks without insulting those very same people?!
Thank you, John Nova Lomax, for demonstrating once again that a so-called "alternative" newspaper can substitute arrogance for professionalism, petulance for wit, smugness for confidence, condescension for knowledge, ignorance for populism and bitchiness for ideas just as idiotically as the mainstream press.
Moving target: I just wanted to tell music editor John Nova Lomax I had a great time at both the Music Awards and the showcase, and to say thanks and congrats on putting on an outstanding show.
I also hope the bilious screed by the Harry Potter look-alike didn't get under your skin. It's a testimony to your talent, insight and taste that pukes like that feel they have to take potshots at you. I've seen it happen before in Austin. Just goes with the territory, I guess, however unfortunate. Anyway, know that your efforts are appreciated -- year-round.
Leave Liz alone: A-fucking-men. I've been hoping someone would comment publicly and intelligently on the Liz Phair backlash ["Exile in Whinerville," by Gina Arnold, July 31]. Good to know I'm not the only one who was disturbed by all the personal attacks. I still won't buy the album, but I can forgive mediocre music much easier than a misogynistic critic.
Thanks for speaking up for the minority.
Paying her dues: In her defense of Liz Phair, Gina Arnold is right on. One of the greatest live shows I have ever seen was Liz at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. She played for two hours absolutely solo with her Fender Mustang and Twin Reverb to a sold out audience, as therapy for her agoraphobia. She sang just about every song she knows, and for those two hours no one spoke. Even coughing would get you dirty looks by those around you.
Liz has paid her dues. She can do what she wants and still be cooler than most of us will ever be. Her lyrics are some of the best I've ever heard. Her new CD is not far from Hole's "Celebrity Skin" in production value. I don't remember Hole taking such a beating.
Liz is sexier than ever, wiser than ever and free to do as she pleases. If she came out today as a new artist, the critics would eat it up and proclaim her the hero/mother/artist/rock star that she is. I prefer her early work, but what I think Gina and I are saying is give her the respect she's earned.
Free ducats: I just wanted to thank you very much indeed for the two complimentary tickets to the David Lee Roth concert at the Verizon Theater. I had an absolutely marvelous time. It was loud, exciting and full of energy. Wow, it was like a Van Halen concert!
I'll be sure to enter your future contests for concert tickets. I've enjoyed reading your publication for over 15 years. Keep up the terrific service.
Jack Ballas Jr.
Credit, please: In reading the good article ["Lucky Boy's Confusion, by William Michael Smith, July 10] on my former bandmate, Mando Saenz, I understand my being omitted, as I left the band about a month ago. But I played and worked hard in Mando's band for about a year and a half. That includes helping arrange every new song written since "Watertown," as well as playing SXSW with him twice (including this year w/Lee Ann Womack), and countless gigs around Houston and the region.
What I don't understand is the omission of Troy Pidgeon, a great drummer, Mando's best friend, and an original and integral member of Mando's band.
I don't know if the omission was on Mando's part or the writer's part, but it is a shame that Troy missed out getting his deserved credit, as well as my missing out on some of what little reward I would have come away with for a year and a half's hard work.
That said, Mando is a true talent and the article was good. Thanks for covering him.
Great Balls of Fire
Hot show: Your article [Playbill, by Rob Patterson, July 31] is the only one I have found on that Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis show. I cannot believe that the Houston Chronicle did not review it. Thank you for praising them.
I took my mom to see it and we both loved every minute of it! They both still have it! Thank you.
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Black Sabbath tutor: The late Anton LaVey, Church of Satan founder, told me during one of our conversations that the "horn hand" is a satanic thing ["Soaring on the Wings of a Demon," by Bob Ruggiero, August 14]. He said the middle finger folds down and the thumb crosses over, making an inverted crucifix. Then the number 666 can be seen with a little imagination in the curled fingers. The horns could be for Satan but more likely belong to Pan.
LaVey taught it to the band Black Sabbath during a 1970 welcoming party. LaVey never considered Black Sabbath satanic, and he always used classical and organ music for satanic rituals.