Down Under Thunder

Don't enable: I read your article about a woman and her son feeding feral cats ["Catfight," by Wendy Grossman, June 19].

Then I read about the glories of feeding an animal that is not indigenous to southeast Texas.

In Australia, feral cats are shot on sight. They have made the indigenous animals there almost extinct. If you are a responsible pet owner or if you cannot take care of your pet, take the damn thing to the SPCA, or try to find a suitable home.

Otherwise, it's the same as giving a man money as he is standing in front of a liquor store, saying he wants money for food. Use your head before you open your mouth. That will decrease the possibility of people knowing how stupid you really are. Do not enable.

Kerry Day

Verdict on the Judges

Crow not: I am an avid Houston Press reader, but Tim Fleck should have taken the cue from the rest of the media that refrained from printing what is a nonstory in "As the Jim Crow Flies" [The Insider, July 10]. Caroline Baker is a wonderful judge who seems to have been born to be a judge. She treats lawyers, parties, witnesses, her staff and, most important, Harris County jurors with professionalism, respect and dignity.

I have observed her closely, having tried cases in her court, and have never seen a tinge of racism in anything that she has said or done. I am also offended by the characterization of Judge Levi Benton as anyone's "throw-down African-American judge." I have known Judge Benton as a lawyer and a judge, and he is one of the most forthright, hardworking people I have ever run across. And yet you choose to characterize him as the token black man on the bench.

Fleck has been around long enough to know better. The Press has decided to attack good people in a mean-spirited way. You should be ashamed. You have stooped to the level of a certain investigative reporter who took a man down and stole an election long before there was a controversy over chads in Florida.

Name withheld by request

The Old and the Young

Role reversal: At the risk of painting myself as a defender of the Chronicle, the fact that the roles are reversed in the traditional Hollywood older/younger relationship is precisely the point of the story [Hair Balls, "The Gray and the Fey," by Jennifer Mathieu, July 10]. This theme is implicit, and I don't see how failing to mention the opposite phenomenon, as it is so universally understood, is sexist.

Reactionary much?

James Forsberg

The Smell Test

Buy us out: As far as Mr. Kornegay's comments, all these stinking chemical plants that surround me were not there when I moved into Shoreacres 22 years ago ["Mixed Messages," by Scott Nowell, July 3]. Our friends in Pasadena wanted the tax revenue but not the stench (or, I should say, any more stench), so they let these plants build in the far extremes of their stinking city. Doesn't affect them -- just La Porte and Shoreacres!

There is still no reason to welcome the likes of the crap the port wants to impose on us. Sure, you're building booms to muffle noise and ordering some kind of black lights, but there is no way to ever stop the horns from blowing or the 18-wheelers that will be tearing up our roads, polluting our air and having accidents with our motorists.

If the port really wanted to do the right thing, it would come in and buy our homes, and pay enough for us to relocate.

Name withheld by request

Ignoring the people: Many of us are very glad to see the Port of Houston Authority's proposed Bayport project aired in the Houston Press. More, please. There are better places for a container port, and we are appalled at how appointed port commissioners disregard community concerns.

Sally Antrobus

Spinning Out

Another take on Jenin: It's unfortunate that Troy Schulze refers matter-of-factly to "the Jenin massacre" of 2002 ["Personae of Persecution," July 3].

When IDF troops entered Jenin -- a virtual bomb factory for terrorists and the source of many real massacres of Jewish civilians -- they suffered a loss of 26 soldiers. According to Human Rights Watch, 52 Palestinians were killed in the operation -- 30 armed Palestinian fighters and 22 civilians. Many houses were booby-trapped, and Palestinians who falsely claimed to be surrendering ambushed Israeli soldiers, in clear violation of international law. But propagandists still retail stories of mass graves at Jenin. (Visit www.honestreporting.com and www.memri.org for details.)

Looks like the "Jenin massacre" should be added to the ranks of other "anti-Zionist" blood libels these days.

It continues to baffle me that reporters participate in a Palestinian propaganda effort whose aim is the ethnic purification of greater Palestine. Especially at this moment, when there is a glimmer of hope that Palestinians may finally be coming to their senses, the truth matters.

David Mikics

Disturbing Blurb

Poetry history: As a native Houstonian, I know that history is something the city has shown a longtime disdain for. But with literature, history and roots are always a subtext. That's why I was so disturbed to read the blurb "Poetry / You Know It's Me" [Night & Day, by Felicia Johnson-Leblanc, July 3].

The contemporary poetry "scene" in Houston started in 1974 with the founding of the Southern Seeds Poetry Guild by Joanie Whitebird. This group eventually splintered into Houston Poets II and Poets Workshop. Poets Workshop has been running a series of readings, now formalized as the First Friday series, for more than 25 years and the annual Houston Poetry Fest since 1985.

The Flying Dutchman Writers Troupe staged poetry readings from 1989 until 1997. The club Mausoleum, now Helios, has had a weekly poetry series since the late 1990s. And the first poetry slams in Houston were inaugurated in 1995. As you can see, lots of history, lots of literature. So the next time you write about writing, get someone who knows what they're talking about.

R.T. Castleberry

Eat This!

Big Apple angst: In your article about the Aries chef receiving an award [Toque Off, by Robb Walsh, July 10], you recount a story of his responding to a request for a tomato salad by ridiculing the customer. And you quote the chef as claiming that "the customer is always right" is an outdated attitude. You say that in New York a restaurant patron would be thrown out of a restaurant for special requests.

I moved to Houston recently from New York, and visited Aries for dinner based on the Chronicle's strong recommendation. I can tell you that every restaurant I've been to in New York, including those with international reputations, is willing to accommodate special requests from patrons, regardless of how celebrated the chef is.

At Aries, the kitchen refused to remove meat from the sauce accompanying two fish dishes, or in fact to serve the dish in any way other than as prepared by the chef. The vegetarian offering was insulting -- it was bland and lacked any nutritional value. My carnivorous companions were not impressed by their meat dishes. Last, the service was simply bad, as we had to request both water and bread.

Sorry, but when you go out for an expensive meal in New York, you are treated to excellent service, which includes adjustments to preparations. The staff at Aries is arrogant, not exceptional. Those "indiscretions" are simply bad business.

Karen Singer

All Aboard

Train strain: I'd love to indulge you and give you a response to your review of Matt Minor & Shot Glass [Rotation, by Bob Ruggiero, June 19], since the obvious motivation of your reviews is to get just that, a response.

This record has more energy than any Texas-based artist I've heard yet. I am proud of you, though, for at least noticing the strength of his vocals, lyrics and melodies. It is a bit confusing to me that you praise these three qualities, yet call the majority of the songs tepid.

The majority of these songs are based on his actual experiences. About the song "Train to Catch," you said, "Who the hell catches trains anymore?" The song is clearly set in a different period. You also must have never been to New York or Europe, where people catch trains every day -- not to mention the mess of construction in downtown Houston for a railway system. Maybe from now on you should consider focusing less on trying to make witty statements and more on the actual content of the records you review.

Stacy Grieve


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