Scene One: Houston: Thanks so much for the unbiased state-of-the-industry report on Houston filmmaking ["Film Buff," by George Flynn, May 29]. A major factor in expanding Houston's film industry is raising awareness that there is in fact something going on in our town. Your article and the First Annual Houston Press Indie Film Series benefiting the Southwest Alternate Media Project are important steps for the cause. The Houston Press was also a major sponsor for Women in Film and Television/Houston's first Reel Stars of Texas award presented last year to Shelley Duvall.
WIFT/Houston recently organized the first meeting of industry leaders -- a group we call Film Coalition/Houston. Last year, Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts held its biggest and best film-related conference, the Texas Filmmaking Institute. WIFT/Houston and the Museum of Fine Arts Film Department, with donations from the Education Foundation of Harris County, co-sponsored the Young Moviemakers Showcase in April.
Houston could be better known and better understood if we could make real movies here for worldwide distribution -- not just the no/low-budget ones -- and that can be done with only local money involved.
Locally produced movies would create much greater positive exposure for our city than those multimillion-dollar ad campaigns (with no shelf life) that we suffer through periodically. Remember the "Expect the Unexpected" drivel of recent past?
We ask the Houston Press for continued weekly reporting on local filmmaking. There's nothing regularly reported in Houston. Third coast, no; but there are great things happening here. Thanks for your insightful article. Keep 'em coming.
Jolene McMaster, WIFT vice president
Picture-perfect: Just wanted to add a little note in reference to your "Film Buff" article. You listed a few big films that have been shot in Texas. I'll always remember Arlington Heights -- parts of it were filmed in Pearland, in the subdivision of Dixie Woods.
During the short time of filming in this location, I was lucky to have a picture taken of my then-two-month-old son, myself and Jeff Bridges. That was a treat.
Hopefully more movies will come to the great state of Texas!
Bring 'em back: George Flynn's feature about the film industry was entertaining as well as informative. The presentation of the characters and situations was colorful and interesting, exposing the guts of the fascinating business that we readers love to savor. Hope this results in more incentives to attract this business back to Houston.
Remember the Alamo: Regarding the feature on the film industry here, there is a new theater I think you should know about, as it's the first for Houston. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at West Oaks Mall is a first-run movie house with a full kitchen and alcoholic beverage bar.
Waiters bring you everything, and it doesn't interfere with your moviegoing experience! Even better, regular admission is $7. You must be at least 18 and or be with a parent. No one under six is allowed -- so no crying babies!
I had a blast there with my date -- I think it's going to explode on the Houston market.
On the Road to Java
Starbucks' standout: As a longtime customer of Starbucks, I think the comment that the Heights Association did not want one on every corner is ludicrous ["Onion Tears," by Jennifer Mathieu, May 15]. The proposed location on White Oak is excellent.
The center is new and beautiful and would certainly be an asset to the community. The residents and visitors to the Heights do not have any real choices for family outings, and this addition would not undermine the integrity of the area.
Up a Greek
Cook-off complaints: Robb Walsh mentions that the frat-boy atmosphere is what keeps black teams from participating in the cook-off ["Barbecue in Black and White," May 1]. This brings back unpleasant memories of another supposedly public event, the Frontier Fiesta at UH that I attended in 1999. Like at the rodeo, there were some smoking pits and grills, but these were in tents that were closed to the general public. If I remember correctly, there weren't even booths where one could buy food! I wasted two hours wandering around aimlessly because there was nothing of any interest to non-fraternity/sorority members.
Because of that frat boy/good ol' boy/ redneck atmosphere at the rodeo cook-off, I refuse to attend. Since these corporate booths are closed to the public anyway, why do they even bother announcing it to the major news stations?
I'm not looking for a free plate of barbecue. I have a job. But why not make it a friendlier, more inviting event?
Why not open these booths to the public, sell the barbecue that the teams are cooking and hand out ballots to the attendees? If they did that, I think most people would have better things to say about the rodeo.
The Big Bash
Anti-French fallout: Thank you for letting us know about a place to eat that's worth the drive ["Le Fracas Français," June 5]. Thanks even more for the thoughtful approach to the mindless French-bashing created and encouraged by the Bush administration, and its effects on our fellow Houstonians.
A Hughes Loss
Joe was unique: Thanks for your moving piece on Joe Hughes [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, May 29]. I struggle all the time to justify living in the filled-in swamp that is Houston. Music has always been on my list of things that make the city livable. Joe was my number one.
I remember the first time I walked into the Big Easy to hear Joe; he was playing his killer version of "Big Boss Man" with a chord structure like "Billie Jean." Instant sell! Joe had chops and he knew how to play to a crowd. The certifiable classics like "Mustang Sally" and "When a Man Loves a Woman" were played in sets that also included down-and-dirty blues. It was brilliant to watch and listen to.
Having seen Joe just five weeks ago in fine form, it's hard to believe he has died. Your article did an excellent job of extolling the man as well as the music. Bravo.
Drinking and religion: Thanks, and good job on the article ["East Is East and West Is West," by John Nova Lomax, May 22].
There is one correction: It isn't true that Sikhs have no restrictions on alcohol.
No one is born a Sikh. If you are born into a Sikh family, you are brought up in a Sikh manner but have to decide for yourself. People who have taken the Amrit Sanchar ceremony -- to confirm they are Sikh -- are considered to be part of the Khalsa Sikh Nation. Hair, not consuming any intoxicants and all other Sikh tenets apply to these Sikhs in their entirety.
Sikhs who have not taken Amrit still live by Sikh tenets to varied degrees. Many Sikhs who have not taken Amrit still wear turbans and do not drink (like myself and Navdeep).
Nevertheless many Sikhs do drink, and bourbon is the choice for most. The line in the song is a reference to culture, not religion.
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The Beaten Path
Imposters prevail: If you're interested in something with a little more depth [Local Rotation, by William Michael Smith, May 22], try giving my new CD, Train to Catch, a listen. You might hate it as well, but then again, you might like it. As far as F.Co is concerned, I think it's unfortunate that acts doing something significantly off the beaten path always get bumped from exposure by reviews of cookie-cutter imposters. It's impossible to push this genre forward without help from the local infrastructure.