Chew on This
Look at the truths: I have never written a fan letter in my life, and if someone had told me my first would be to comment on an article about the history of barbecue ["Barbecue in Black and White," by Robb Walsh, May 1], I probably would have laughed my ass off at them.
That said, I felt compelled to let you know that your article was one of the best pieces I've read in quite some time. I'm assuming that you are white, and I applaud you for your objectivity and for the honesty that you penned your piece with. It was truly refreshing.
That you were able to slip such great social commentary into a piece about food was brilliant. With any luck, some people who might never otherwise have been reached may now be moved to examine the truths they take for granted. I commend you for your excellent article and for your obvious passion about the subject.
Still Garners interest: I really enjoyed your article. I still miss the classic barbecue of Matt Garner on West Gray near downtown, which went out of business many years ago.
Mr. Garner had perhaps the best hand-stuffed barbecue links that I have ever enjoyed. Give us suggestions concerning the best hand-stuffed barbecue links currently available in Houston. Many thanks.
David Hittner, U.S. District Judge
Here's the beef: This guy Robb Walsh has been using your publication to try to develop a theory of barbecue in general and a theory of Texas barbecue in particular for some time. Unfortunately, he has failed and has produced only gibberish.
The fact that Walsh lacks the evidence with which he might be able to construct a cogent theory doesn't seem to stop him from writing or the Houston Press from publishing his drivel.
Walsh concludes that Texas barbecue exists only on a line that extends from Conroe in "East Texas" through Houston to Austin. This is a limited sampling of barbecue by anyone's measure, except maybe some dude's from New Jersey.
He cites "readings in libraries" to support his claim of racism in Texas barbecue cook-offs, restaurants and cooking styles. Monkey-writing (you know, chimps and typewriters) comes to mind.
Dude, don't try to tie barbecue to your goofy social speculations. Try some from South Texas, West Texas, North Texas and the Panhandle. Heck, maybe some misguided soul will invite you for homemade barbecue. Finally, try to cook some barbecue. Who knows, you might at least be good at that.
Social leaches: This is a nice article about barbecue and its history in the Southwest. Compared to a similar story this month in Texas Monthly, yours is deeper and holds the reader with more information. Even your social concerns come out fine -- they leach marginally into the surrounding story!
Now we shall try out some of the trailers along the roads and gorge on brisket and the like.
Meat-head: How disgusted I was to find Robb Walsh's bloated culinary opinions expanded to a full-length feature. His penchant for gnawing on carcasses is offensive enough to read every week on a single page, but a front-page article dedicated solely to this bloody pastime? Come on, surely there is more interesting news and something with more mass appeal.
Despite the Texas-equals-meat myth, not all of us find the idea of meat "slow-smoked to stringy mush" appealing. In fact, I gave up on his reviews long ago, after realizing he would not review a single vegetarian item at a restaurant.
Keep Robb Walsh and his meat-is-the-only-real-food bias limited to the cuisine page.
Can't compare: Your article was very interesting and amusing. As a fortyish black woman from the Third Ward, I chuckled at the fact that white folks' barbecue was supposed to be the best.
Growing up in our neighborhood, I did not even know that white folks barbecued at all. In fact, the first time I had their barbecue I was very disappointed.
You are right that your barbecue is perfectly cut and not cooked well done. The standards are so different that it is impossible and unfair to compare them. The sauces are different and so is the seasoning of the meat. It's like comparing apples to bread -- both are foods, but different species.
Thanks for the story. I hope that the white population will take a look at it and recognize the differences. If not, we will not be that disappointed.
Peace and blessings.
Sister Mama Sonya
Good ol' days: Great article. Wish you had lived here when Dowling, Scott and Almeda streets were bristling with black joints. Greens, Bill Williams and of course West Gray have to be considered. But all in all, you're right on.
Poor boys? My dad would tell you that poor people -- not white or black people -- hold the copyrights on barbecue.
The story goes that in the late 1880s, the morning after the big cookout hosted by wealthy landowners and early Enron types, poor people were hired to clean up the mess. For their effort, poor folks were given leftover beef and pork from the big cookout.
Since the meat was stored overnight without benefit of refrigeration, let's just say that it was well on the way to a condition that could best be described as "ripe."
When they arrived home with this meat and an explanation that he or she "sho-nuff" gave it to us, the cook sniffed, rolled her eyes and said, "Dip it in sauce and cook it until he don't look like nothin' that could smell bad or taste bad -- and start the dippin' and the cookin' right now!"
Nowadays, the real grandchildren of poor people charge $5 for a barbecue sandwich where the meat has been cooked and dipped so that it don't look like nothin' that could smell bad or taste bad. These real descendants of the poor told the truth in your article. You got to cook it for a long time. And the $5 price tag helps a little also.
I "sho-nuff" love the irony.
Hell of a Note
Heathen hacks: I looked at the drawing about Lakewood Church and got boiling mad ["Billboard Blues," by Richard Connelly, April 10]. I have been going to Lakewood since 1983. This is a bold-faced lie. This is not true of Lakewood or Joel Osteen.
They never criticize anyone or want to kill anyone. They preach Jesus and love for one another. I was very ashamed of you. This is a scandal. If I printed a paper, I would have never written something like that.
Aren't any of you Christians? Why don't you come to Lakewood yourselves and see what it is all about?
Thank you and may God bless you and have mercy on your souls.
Art on the Cheap
Free Thursdays: I read with interest Ms. Jansch's letter to the editor ["Money and Monet," May 8] regarding her inability to pay for admission to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The MFAH has had free general admission (with extended hours) on Thursdays for as long as I can remember. This free admission is available to all, even single mothers of two on a limited income.
Philip T. Golden
Hoops are healthy: This is just another great example of how these homeowners associations become more than they were ever intended to be ["Goal Tending," by Wendy Grossman, May 8]. These people may start out with good intentions until their egos get involved, and the next thing you know, they may be pulling you over or even taking away your home for auction after missing a dues payment -- hint.
I think the biggest travesty in this is that this country needs to have children encouraged to play active sports with our out-of-control problems with obesity, both in adults and children. I suppose the association would rather have these kids indoors in front of TVs and computers.
Dressed to Thrill
Good deed: What a great story ["Prom and Proper," by Craig Malisow, May 8]. Everyone should have the chance to attend their prom, and this organization allows girls to go and feel just as pretty as everyone else there. In fact, they probably look better because they appreciate the value of their dresses.
Ms. Chang should be applauded for her efforts.
We are well enough off and my daughter went to her prom this year. I have several dresses she has worn over the years that I would like to donate, although I am sure they are not as grand as some of the queens'.
Helping hand: I really enjoyed reading the article about the Fairy Godmother Project, but the Press did us all an injustice by not including contact information. While I am not a drag queen but a mom of two kids, I would love to donate and assist in the selection process.
Editor's note: There is no phone number for the program, but Chang and the volunteers can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haynes, no Lewis: I just want to comment that Racket needs to do a better job of fact-checking. The lead singer of the innovative Butthole Surfers is not named Gibby Lewis [by John Nova Lomax, May 8].
I believe his name is Gibby Haynes. It really bothers me when columnists don't have the wherewithal to look things up.
Editor's note: You're right. Racket regrets the error and vows to become the envy of Med Center proctologists in his Butthole research.
Run 'Em All
Support the little arts: Picking up the Houston Press at the beginning of every weekend has been a habit of mine for several years now. Having once been a journalist, my first visit is to the column on the media. After that, I go straight to the theater listings. They have helped me make decisions about how I will spend my money on local theater. Along the way I look at your advertisers, too.
Imagine my disappointment when I discovered recently that you no longer carry those listings, listings that as a playwright I know small local theaters depend on to draw new patrons.
Please restore them. Your publication has reproduced these listings as a public service for years and they have helped foster the dramatic arts in a city that badly needs a larger and more diverse dose of the arts. The Alley doesn't need you, but the small houses do.
No Nacogdoches: I'm disappointed that the Houston Press has made the decision to no longer include stage listings. Houstonians, especially those who support live theater, must stay informed with what is happening.
The Press is a vital connection between theatergoers and the producers of live theater. Many theaters barely manage to keep doors open (financially) and still turn out some quality work. Please continue to support live theater. If you don't, you'll be turning your back on a vital part of what this city has to offer in the way of cultural experiences. I'd hate to consider Houston as just an overgrown Nacogdoches.
Dan DeLeon, Unhinged Productions
Editor's note: All event listings can still be found at the Web site of the Houston Press. New Times, our parent company, made the decision to pull the listings from the print editions of all its newspapers.