Bayousphere Rites of spring: Girls' afternoon softball practice kicks off at Dunlavy Park.
Deron Neblett

Big on Little Joe

Dead-on alive: Beautiful work on the Little Joe feature ["Hitting the Highs and Lows with Little Joe Washington," by Jennifer Mathieu, March 22]! I enjoyed reading it, immensely. It's easily the best piece of writing ever to focus on LJ. You get way beyond the surface facts and really evoke a sense of who this strange and wonderful and bewildering person is, where he comes from, how he lives.

What I appreciate most: It evokes Joe's humanity (both the good and the not-so) in a way that any reader, blues fan or not, can connect to. The portrait of the friendship between Joe and Reg is wonderfully crafted too. And the ending is dead-on perfect.

Thanks much for your interest in Little Joe and his world.

Roger Wood

A Capital Idea

Execution without excuses: I am very afraid that America is becoming a real hell of violence for victims and a factual paradise for cold killers ["Knowing Right from Wrong," by Steve McVicker, March 8]. Some "lawyers" are struggling hard to pull the killers out from death row. They never stand on the victims' side. Rather, they are doing everything to hurt the victims and their survivors.

The new governor is a crazy guy; is he going to eliminate the death penalty in Texas? Why?! Do you think it's a fair trial in the long-delayed Pan Am explosion case when the bomber got only his life term in prison, while hundreds of passengers had been forced to "live" in a real hell with their demolished skeletons for more than ten years?

The guy you described deserved to have been executed in December '79. I hate to see such social scum still in prison 22 years after he killed an innocent. I hate to read such stories in the Houston Chronicle or your publication. They are very unjust to the victims.

Any tricks, such as insanity or insobriety, or "low IQ," or whatever is invented by defense attorneys, should not be allowed to become exculpation from the death penalty.

G.Y. Xu

Trunk Lines

Act on animal abuse: Wow, incredible article you wrote about Benny ["Vanishing Act," by John Suval, March 15]. I was moved to tears and have contacted PETA to become involved in some way to help crusade against the abuse of circus elephants. Thank God there are people like you who bring these stories to life so many people will be aware of awful things like this that happen to animals.

I was taking my son to the doctor and was waiting for our appointment when I picked up the Press. Your story was shocking and hard to read -- I put it down once but then picked it back up and kept reading.

I have to tell you -- those pictures of Benny have stayed with me constantly, and I have not been able to get his story out of my mind. I hope your profound writing moved others as much as it moved me. We can either choose to ignore animal abuse or take a stand.

I'm going to help make sure Benny gets a life he deserves away from those horrible conditions. I might not make a huge difference, but I intend to contribute in any way I can!

Thank you for bringing his story to light.

Julie Penna

Finding Minerva

Ties that bind: Channel 13 prefers another Oprah "wanna-be" -- i.e., Melanie Lawson, Debra Duncan -- to a knowledgeable reporter, like Minerva Perez, who has made ties to the community [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, March 15]. The only ties that Gina Gaston ever made to the community was finding a professional athlete to date.

Pedro Ayarzagoitia

Her Own Success

Mom's the word: I am curious what exactly you find surprising about my mother's "life span" as Mayor Brown's agenda director [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, March 22]. I agree, as a talented and incredibly competent person, Marty Stein has managed to be "all things to all people" in her role as agenda director. Perhaps it is fair to report that city officials might be intimidated by her closeness to my father because of his public presence.

But her "life span" has to do with her proven capabilities and nothing with my father's career. At best, I suppose your spin on the situation did provide interesting gossip and certainly made me chuckle. On the other hand, I feel it belittles hard work and competency that should be commended.

Annie Stein

Reform Wreckers

Blame it on Congress: I found it interesting that Suzanne Poole is admitting to the solution to a vast part of our problems in the Houston towing industry by saying that the best thing a citizen in an accident can do is to "have the cops handle your tow" ["Getting Wrecked," by Margaret Downing, March 15].

She's right. It should be and is law enforcement's duty to protect the public's interests when people have very little, if any, information available to them to make a judgment at an accident scene. It is not the "bargain for exchange" situation that Congress envisioned when it deregulated the motor carrier industry and, by accident, included tow trucks.

I still am amazed at how long it has taken for the public to demand change about what has been going on in the towing industry since 1994. Those of us who have better than 30 years in this industry knew what would happen. We still find it hard to believe how much the public will take and how little help we have gotten from folks like the insurance industry in trying to piece back together a system that will work for "all" concerned.

The good guys in the industry are still trying to get laws passed to protect the public. Some of us just cannot sit by while incidents happen like those discussed in your article. Some of us feel an obligation to try to make things better.

Jeanette Rash

Tow-rrific: Well done. Now, that's journalism (with a capital J, indeed).

John Drever

Flower Power

Nice arrangements: As president of Allied Florists of Houston, I was very concerned about your article ["Late Bloomers," by Wendy Grossman, February 22]. I called Sicolas Florist and got a totally different version of the same delivery.

This story was one-sided, biased and emotional. There is definitely a place for emotions and opinions in a newspaper, but it is under the title of editorial, not news.

Having owned a downtown florist shop and having survived 26 Valentine's Days, I can certainly attest to the challenges this one day poses. In the offices especially, it has become a contest rather than a sign of love or affection. We florists have the choice of limiting the number of deliveries that we can guarantee, giving the option of early deliveries or offering to have orders ready to be delivered by the sender. Wendy seemed to condemn us for giving all of these options.

Her brother should use a reputable local florist rather than an order-gathering company. The local florist will understand the problems involved on the other end and will locate a florist near the recipient.

As for jacking up the prices, this is not a choice for the florist. With over 110 million roses sold on this one holiday, the old rule of supply and demand has the trickle-down effect.

I hope your readers will remember how hard we florists try to get this sign of love and affection to the recipient on the day requested.

Judy Rutledge

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