Bayousphere Serious hoops: This little girl, who declined to reveal her identity, was one of several hula hoopers at the annual Watermelon Festival and Summer Social at Last Concert Cafe.
Deron Neblett

Music Mayhem

Spanish rock: First, I'd like to thank you and your staff for nominating my band (Moscas) for 1999 and 2000. Second, I'd like to ask you if you honestly believe these results you printed ["Houston Press Music Awards 2001," by John Nova Lomax, July 26]. The whole thing seems to be a popularity contest. The same tired acts win the same thing every year! Take Norma Zenteno: For the past two years we were in the same category as she was. As I said in my letter last year (after losing), that's like putting Green Day and Garth Brooks in the same category! At least I have seen one improvement, the addition of the Best Latin Venue. Of course, Elvia's won (which we played last year and got banned from!).

All I wish is that you people would open your minds and recognize that there is a movement out there called Spanish rock. Some of it is good, but some of it is crap. Nevertheless, if you just would recognize it, you would be doing a great service to a lot of Latinos who are looking for something other than traditional, tired Latin music.

Graham Kirby

Blowing beets: I almost lost my lunch when I saw that Tony Vega was voted Best Blues Band. Perhaps if this were Utah or Montana -- but this is Texas. That's the home of Joe Hughes, Sherman Robertson, Pete Mayes, Johnny Brown, Brad McCool; and that's insulting to all these real bluesmen.

Jessica has got the best legs of any bass player, and she is a great player. She makes it look easy and smooth, but Rozz cannot be touched. He is the best there is in this town. Poll some other players, they'll agree. As far as female vocalist, Carolyn is great, but Sandy Hickey is amazing and more versatile. The absolute best wasn't even nominated: Diunna Greenleaf will blow anybody outta the water. She's gotta be the best-kept secret in town. Maybe next year we'll get it right. As I stated before, this is Texas, not Florida.

Ray Coleman

Poisoned Pooch

Blame Ledwell: Your story "Stupid Pet Tricks" [by Margaret Downing, July 26] seems to put most of the blame on Mr. Wiggins. I disagree.

I do believe he has to bear some of the blame for being careless trying to rid his home of the raccoons, but Mr. Ledwell should not allow his dogs to run free in a community. That is very dangerous to people and property. Therefore he bears most of the blame for what happened.

Fenton Bradley

The gospel: Margaret Downing's article brings up a constitutional liberty not known by most, namely that without criminal intent there is no crime. Thus while it may be argued that Judge Wiggins intended harm to raccoons, he obviously intended no harm to dogs or cats and is therefore not guilty of a crime. The raccoons escaped death because their IQ is superior to that of dogs, cats and municipal judges.

Theologians also would argue that without evil intent, there is no sin. Thus a Catholic who eats meat on Friday does not sin if he thinks the day is Thursday. Given these facts, Ledwell should hesitate to call down the wrath of God on Wiggins, especially while living in proximity to Sodom on the Bayou (note: The U.S. Meteorological Service reports that annual lightning strikes in Houston exceed that of any other metropolitan area).

Dog and cat owners have a differing legal responsibility for their animals. A dog is entitled by law to "one bite." Beyond this, the owner is responsible for his dog's actions. By contrast, the courts have ruled that cats have a right to roam unattended because this is their nature, particularly at night. It may be noted that Christians, Jews and Moslems (outside California) hold that dogs do not have souls and thus do not go to heaven. This was to contrast themselves from the ancient Egyptians and their Roman imitators, who worshiped animal representations of gods. There is no similar theological dispute about cats. Cats are companions of witches and return to hell when they die.

John D. Griffith

Dead issue: I expect a thoughtful and talented journalist like Margaret Downing to take a strong position now and then in her column, but this one goes so far overboard in its one-sided coverage of this sad story that even a hard-core animal lover like me has to cry foul.

I agree that J.D. Wiggins's use of open containers of antifreeze was a careless way to control the animal pests on his (private) property. But the primary cause of the loss of Corey Ledwell's pet dog was Ledwell's blatantly irresponsible approach to pet ownership: letting his dog roam freely on other people's property.  

I felt sorrier for Wiggins than for Ledwell. Mr. Wiggins committed an error in judgment for which he has expressed regret, and he'll have to live with it. It's not enough that Mr. Ledwell has stopped tormenting Mr. Wiggins, however; he should now accept responsibility for his role in Gerda's death.

Edward Gumnick

Final judgment: I lived in East Texas from 1994 to 1998. I'm not surprised about the stupidity of this redneck hick who runs around killing animals in cold blood and then runs to church with his Bible. I am beyond disgusted.

I don't believe in the death penalty for anyone, but I believe that people who cause suffering and pain should be made to suffer. And if it can be done publicly, all the better. I hope they get this man.

Why didn't they charge him with animal abuse? I know how stupid they are up there, but surely they could have found something to charge him with. People like that respond well to having their money taken from them. They usually don't have a high enough IQ to change unless they are punished physically or by taking their money or autos away.

I think someone or some persons will find a way to punish him here -- I hope so, anyway. And I know God will get that SOB in the end.

Name withheld by request

In the John

Democrat bias? Saw this blurb ["Tax Rebate Waste," by John Suval, July 26] about Congressman John Culberson's mailing to his constituents about the tax cut, and I have to say that I can't quite decide if this is the product of someone being disingenuous (most likely) or just plain incredibly ill-informed.

I've got a news flash: All members of Congress are allocated funds to do these sorts of mailings to their constituents. There is nothing the least bit unusual about this, except in the fevered imaginations of the Democrat flacks who write for the Press.

Or to put it another way, you can bet your ass that Sheila Jackson Lee or Ken Bentsen send out exactly the same sort of "taxpayer-funded" notices to their constituents, proclaiming "look whut I brung ya" and bragging about all of the assorted taxpayer-funded largesse from Uncle Sugar's golden teat that they voted for.

Can you say "hypocritical"? I knew you could.

Pat Myers

Editor's note: This was not just another congressional newsletter that mentioned the tax rebate. It was a full-color, government-paid flyer used by Culberson exclusively to "announce" the refund and claim credit, even after the IRS had already spent $34 million on notices. To use your own terms, it is indeed disingenuous and hypocritical of politicians to needlessly spend taxpayers' money to advertise how much they abhor the needless spending of taxpayers' money. Culberson was the only one caught at this trough. But be assured that we will continue to expose such waste -- whether the offender is Republican, Democrat, Whig or Socialist.

Fort Bend Follies

Church and state: Check the number of "temporary buildings" in use at each of the FBISD campuses ["The Tithes That Bind?" by Susannah Chen, July 26]! Even with this, teachers in some schools never have a room to call their own; I know -- I was one of them.

It seems to me that since our "customers" happen to be students, the customer service areas should be upgraded before anything else.

Hooper has disregarded the separation of church and state since I began in FBISD almost a decade ago. Every year he paid to have the school "convocation" at a Baptist church on U.S. 59. We have an athletic arena that would cost the district nothing to use and that would not put state funds into any church's pocket, but that seems to be conveniently ignored.

FBISD has some terrific teachers, parents and students, but few administrators could keep their jobs until dark if they were required to function in the real world outside education. Every year it amazes me that we start school with facilities that are not ready, technology that is never prepared and teachers who don't know what their assignments will be until the day before the students arrive.

Wishing everyone would get off their duffs and scream loudly as a united voice.

Name withheld by request

Another Side

A mother's story: I am the ex-girlfriend of Tony Vega, and the mother of his daughter. I am so glad that Tony is making a living doing what he was put on this earth to do ["Dear Sweet Goodness," by Aaron Howard, July 5]. I know that he has worked very hard to get where he is today and wish him continued success. However, some items in the article either were misconstrued or Tony has a very poor memory.  

I was more than understanding of his unfortunate position to care for his father; in fact, my efforts to help him were refused. I was also more than understanding when it came to his music "career." There were many times when I was literally the only person in the club listening to Tony play, and I spent my vacations in music stores with him.

I spent six weeks in the hospital when I had my daughter, and Tony seldom came to visit. He was not present when my daughter had surgeries for her heart, eye and hernias. He did not pay any of the medical bills, or any child support until my daughter was 18 months old.

So, you see, it wasn't his father's illness or my objection to his career choice that presented problems in our relationship -- it was his inability to be faithful, honest and responsible.

Tony had me served with custody papers, not the other way around. I never denied him visitation. I never used my daughter. He did seek and receive standard visitation rights, which he has not exercised in recent times.

My daughter loves her father dearly, and we do wish him the best. Milan loves to search her father's Web site, and I would hate for her to read an article that was not the truth.

Name withheld by request
San Antonio

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