Bayousphere Practicing patience: Smiley High School junior Kevin Harris drums a stool as he waits for a ride home from school. Harris plays snare in the concert and marching bands.
Bayousphere Practicing patience: Smiley High School junior Kevin Harris drums a stool as he waits for a ride home from school. Harris plays snare in the concert and marching bands.
Deron Neblett


Free Benny!

Down with the circus: I was so saddened to read your article on Benny, the elephant smuggled across the U.S. border ["Vanishing Act," by John Suval, March 15]. What a shame such intelligent creatures are humiliated and taken advantage of.

I have always wondered why man has felt it is right to capture these exotic animals and others like them and turn them into something they are not. I sincerely hope Benny and his mate Maggie are rescued from the deplorable situation they are in and are able to live the rest of their lives somewhere where they will not be shackled for 23 hours a day. As for Vázquez, his punishment should be what he subjected his elephants and other animals to. What a disgusting human being. The same goes for all circus owners everywhere.

Nichole Mattingly

Pachyderm POWs: Thank you, John Suval, for making the general public aware of how animals are exploited in circuses on a daily basis. This is the most heart-wrenching article I have ever read in the Houston Press. Swain and Vázquez ought to be chained, shackled, then summoned to live in an electric-wire corral for the rest of their unspeakable, worthless lives. I hope that people get involved after reading this article. As a member of PETA, I know we need more support in order to make a difference in putting a stop to animal cruelty.

Suval's story is an example of what happens to circus creatures on a daily basis. Animals cannot defend themselves. I pray that Benny and Maggie are safely brought to a shelter in the United States so that they may be rehabilitated from the likes of the Vázquez "prison camp." Maggie is most likely the only reason Benny is still alive.

Vázquez and Swain put a bad name to "entrepreneurs." They will ultimately have to deal with their own bad karma. Go PETA!

Name withheld by request

Tow Missiles

Hot at being hauled: I read with great interest your article concerning local wrecker drivers and their zealous "protection" of public property ["Getting Wrecked," by Margaret Downing, March 15]. I too have been the victim of these worthless bastards and their circle of corrupt lot operators and security guards. My former girlfriend and I were towed while parked in the lot of a new strip center that lacked a single operating retailer, yet we were deemed "illegally" parked. I'll never forget the scurrilous vermin on duty at the storage lot when we picked up our car; if he had been eating horse shit for three days straight, his teeth couldn't have looked any nastier.

On several occasions, I have been run off the road by wrecker drivers trying to be the first one to get to an accident. It's not like they're trying to get there quickly to rescue a victim. They're trying to get there quickly so they can get rewarded with the tow.

I would like to say to Suzanne Poole, the spokesperson for these wretched bags of shit, how sorry I feel for her defending such opportunistic predators.

Fred Morales

Screening Out

Theaters of the absurd: As for the closing of movie screens all over the United States, when will the theaters figure out that they are overpricing their product and killing their golden goose ["A Loew(s) Blow," by Richard Connelly, March 15]?

I believe they've jacked their prices to the point where average folks can't go to the movies as often, if at all! If they claim it's personnel that eats up the profits, then let them put in vending machines. I find it very interesting that none of those that are closing ever tried lowering prices to fill their houses.

While I'm ranting about poor management, I also need to make everyone aware that people with hearing loss have been begging for open-captioned movies to be shown on the weekends. One theater in Houston has one open-captioned film for no more than three days per month.

I personally would be attending every week if they made the cost reasonable, charged $3 and showed all the old musicals!

Name withheld by request

Curtain call: The Angelika manager should take his own advice and be careful to "keep up" his own theater. During a recent visit on a lazy weekday afternoon, my question about validated parking was met with a surly grunt by the counter help. A few minutes later, I missed part of the movie Hannibal to alert this same employee (the only one I could find) that the curtain was not pulled all the way off to the sides of the screen. Another grunt. And the curtain remained there for the entire movie!

Ignore the basics often enough, and stadium seating won't keep the Angelika from going the way of the River Oaks Loews.

Name withheld by request

Killer Clothes?

Dress codes or death: With the frightening proliferation of gun violence in America's schools, one would think parents might support school policies enacted to ensure the safety of their children in the classroom ["Mystery Code," by Melissa Hung, March 8]. Instead, parents like Margaret Davis demonstrate why overburdened administrators don't have time to tackle problems like gun violence: They spend all their time trying to accommodate different parenting philosophies.

I admire the fact that Ms. Davis attempts to teach her children to think for themselves, but when she does it at the expense of other students, it becomes a burden to schools and a danger to students and teachers.

School dress codes have become increasingly strict because students smuggle weapons in beneath their baggy clothes, not because there is a vast conspiracy to rob children of their freedom of expression. Dying of a gunshot from a student who smuggled a weapon in his beltless baggy pants does unequivocally prevent one from receiving an education.

Ms. Davis's philosophy would make it okay for students to decide to attend school in a bikini if they so choose. Schools must establish rules and enforce them if they expect to teach students anything.

Strict dress codes do teach students to revere school as an institution.

I sympathize with Ms. Davis's plight. Students do consider their dress a means of personal expression. But educators enforce rigid dress standards because they must. If dress codes are the only affordable way to fight school violence, I say we send 'em in wetsuits.

Jamie Fetner Ford

Freedom fighter: I really enjoyed your story. I am a mother who fought the standardized dress code for more than two years at Metcalf Elementary in Cy-Fair ISD. I was allowed to opt my children out of the Cy-Fair code, but several parents, who submitted identical beliefs to mine, were not. I believe they knew that I would litigate the matter if it came down to it, and the other parents wouldn't.

I requested an exemption for several reasons.

This policy violates my child's First Amendment rights. Even the literature provided in the "principal's packet" states, "As long as this is interpreted by different judges, there will be a debate about whether or not school uniforms are constitutionally permissible." And the administration's argument that the policy is constitutional because "no student is forced to participate" can be substantiated only by allowing my requested exemption.

This policy promotes group-think. My child must first learn to stand as an individual, to form his own beliefs, to make his own choices and to understand that he, and he alone, is responsible for his actions.

It is my right and responsibility as a parent to teach my child what is appropriate and what is not. I will not allow anyone to teach my child that stripes, plaids, prints and inoffensive designs are inappropriate attire.

We are defined by who we are on the inside and what we accomplish, not by what we look like or dress like. And I will not sacrifice this concept because of the notion that a modicum of control will be gained.

Clark Roberts's argument that Davis only voiced a personal choice, and that philosophical differences must be rooted in culture is completely absurd.

He is stating that the only ones protected by the philosophical opt-out are those who have a belief system different from that which is considered American. So we have foreigners with cultural differences protected by an American law for exercising their cultural preference, when Americans themselves cannot exercise their own preference, which is the culturally based freedom of personal choice.

Where is the logic?

Vickie Crager


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