Bayousphere In the hands of a master: Composer/bassist/jazz musician Thomas Helton makes ends meet by repairing string instruments in his home workshop in the Texas Medical Center area.
Bayousphere In the hands of a master: Composer/bassist/jazz musician Thomas Helton makes ends meet by repairing string instruments in his home workshop in the Texas Medical Center area.
Deron Neblett


Bests and Beefs

Raining champs: Dr. Neil is getting a little long in the tooth and gets excited only when a hurricane approaches. Wayne is just a good old Bellaire boy always in search of publicity [Best of Houston issue, September 20].

But for the real follow-through, Channel 2's team of Frank Billingsley and Chuck George carry the day, whether it's Frank calming down a hysterical woman who is wondering what to do with her kids on the second floor, or Chuck introducing each new day with some zany exploit. No doubt -- Channel 2's Frank and Chuck.

Carl Whitmarsh

Eyesore: Rethink your graphic design: That BOH was very hard to read. I like cutting-edge design, but first priority is readability. The font for each heading was abominable. The issue suffered from accessibility problems.

And Katz's as the best deli? Not unless you're a big smoker and drinker. I live around the block and am very disappointed. What's missing are regulars hanging out to schmooze, waitresses with an attitude, affordable good food. I'd take Kenny & Ziggy's any day.

Name withheld by request

A bloody secret: I am a bartender at Palace Lanes, and yes, the Bloody Marys are very good. But to be correct, we do not use a mix. The drink is made from scratch using four different ingredients. I cannot give you our recipe, of course, then there would be no reason for anyone to come visit Palace for a special Bloody Mary.

Lizabeth Crites

Next up: I am pissed off. How can you name a common criminal like Next as Best Graffiti Artist? I was not aware the Houston Press was handing out awards for the best criminals in Houston. In case your editors are as moronic as they appear, graffiti is illegal.

The Press is condoning someone who has done hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of damage to Houston businesses, houses and public property. I find no "art" in having my business spray-painted over and over again by someone your paper legitimizes/recognizes! If you want Next to be recognized, I suggest you let him paint his bullshit no-talent script all over your building.

Causing most of Montrose, the Heights and downtown to resemble a ghetto is not "art" in my opinion. Why should citizens of Houston have to look at, pay to remove, and suffer for some asshole who is then congratulated by the Press? I think your paper is being stupidly irresponsible.

Officer Armando Tello of the mayor's task force on graffiti has Next in his sights, and with luck he will be facing felony criminal charges soon. Maybe some citizen in fear of his life will shoot Next while he trespasses at 4 a.m. That would be "art."

Bruce Godwin

Hazy view: Who, pray tell, picked that god-awful type style for the Best of Houston headings? Had I gone completely cross-eyed by the time I got there, or did you really pick the view of "an expanse of petrochemical plants…as far as the eye can see" as the Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners? And did you call the road to Austin "bleak for miles" in Best View?

Am I mistaken, or isn't the reason most publications take a "readers' poll" to find out and publicize the preferences of their readers? Your annual smarm-fest gives acres of type to "contributors'" picks, and the "readers' choices" get mere brief mentions. Something's wrong here.

Eric Kidder

Banner banter: You beg readers to vote for their "Best of Houston" choices, then choose your own and relegate, in many instances, those of the "masses" to the bottom of your own "choice" review paragraph. So, the readers' (voters') wishes get ignored. Maybe you should invent a category called Best Hype by a Publication and name yourselves as the winner. I think the nice banner (costs extra, probably) might look good in your window.

Fred Bunch

Editor's note: We value our readers and your opinions, and especially your dissent. That's why the Readers' Choices are one feature of the Best of Houston edition. But to rely heavily on the voting results would tilt the selections in favor of high-visibility spots, chains and already well known institutions -- the places that generate large volumes of traffic, and therefore large numbers of ballots. BOH prides itself on using local knowledge and experience to reveal the kinds of out-of-the-way delights and hidden treasures that may not be noticed yet by the masses.

Prisoners' Plight

Jail medical care: Thank you very much for writing the article "Drug Resistant" [by Melissa Hung, September 13]. I am so grateful for your thorough and humanitarian treatment of our sensitive situation.

I'm sure the other guys are as pleased with your work, and hopefully the coverage in the media will help improve the situation for anybody in jail with a serious medical condition, especially one that requires constant and vigilant management like HIV/AIDS.

Name withheld by request

Street Legal

Stop the hoax: Thank you for the excellent article ["Drug Money," by Steve McVicker and Tim Carman, September 6]. It is not surprising that those who benefit from the war -- politicians, bureaucrats and drug dealers -- support it. What is so disappointing is how the victims of the war, the American people, continue to support it.

It seems that many Americans favor the drug war because they do not have a clear vision of the alternative, which would be to honor the freedom of choice in their fellow adults.

I say legalize all drugs now, especially marijuana.

Addicts could seek help from medical professionals without fear of being prosecuted for what is essentially a medical problem, not a crime. Criminal drug dealers no longer would prowl the streets and prey on children.

Prisons would be emptied of hundreds of thousands of nonviolent individuals, freeing space for violent offenders. Law enforcement resources could concentrate on real criminals.

Street violence would end, as it did when alcohol prohibition ended, because gangs of thugs no longer would be fighting over territories.

I respectfully urge those who are serious about ending the war on drugs to stop supporting the Democratic and Republican parties, and consider the Libertarian Party, which favors legalization.

Thomas Clark

High time indeed: I very much enjoyed your article. It is high time that our nation took a long, hard look at our drug law enforcement. Between asset seizure, racial profiling and a skyrocketing cost without success to justify it, our justice system is starting to look very outdated when it comes to drug enforcement.

But then that probably reflects the fact that the laws are exceedingly archaic, dating from a time when racism among our all-white, all-male government was the norm. I think we can be forgiven for our less-than-enlightened past if we step forward, admit our mistakes and set about creating sensible drug policies designed for the modern world.

Adam Wiggins
Pasadena, California

Ho No!

Terrible trick: The "adjustments" to the Texas Penal Code are hilarious ["Wild Bills," by Richard Connelly, September 6]. You seemed to overlook the one that's a real zinger: whores! For years, your run-of-the-mill whore could count on her pimp showing up at the city jail with $200 to bond her out. She'd plead no contest and go back to her corner. Well, not anymore.

Effective September 1, the first offense is a class B misdemeanor; second time is a class A; and lo and behold, the third strike is a felony!

If you thought our penitentiaries were pretty crowded now, just wait until the right-wing Republican judges in Harris County populate them with purveyors of the world's oldest profession. You might have a few horny bastards doing just about anything to get sentenced to jail just for the companionship. Any nobody will want to get paroled!

Robert C. Ryan

Dam the Creak

La Cage defender: Lee Williams has once again missed the point, and I would suggest that she get either a life or a sense of humor ["Plucked Feathers," September 20]. Bienvenue Theatre's production of La Cage aux Folles does not creak. On the contrary, I would challenge the theatergoer to find a small venue anywhere in the city where the production values are higher.

The costuming is top-notch, and the sets are marvelous -- and no set change lasts more than 20 seconds. The cast is talented and energetic, the direction is crisp, and the evening is delightful. The story still resonates, Ms. Williams's preference for The Birdcage notwithstanding.

Actually, it's funny she mentioned the birdcage. That's where I intend to put her review.

Gary Laird

Begs to differ: I was rather shocked at Ms. Williams's review. Given the hoops through which Bienvenue had to jump just to get her to attend, I thought she would certainly write an objective review. Such was obviously not the case.

Other high-quality local publications have reviewed this show and disagree considerably with Ms. Williams's opinions. They had the journalistic integrity to do a review within the first six weeks of the run.

John Branch


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