Bayousphere: Spiritual Spinning: The DJ "Polyphonic" was suitably attired as he played everything from Mexican polkas to hip-hop at the Day of the Dead open house at Lawndale.
Deron Neblett

Mental Health Madness

Pained over priorities: What a sad state of affairs for the mentally ill that need these services ["Catch Us If You Can," by Brian Wallstin and Margaret Downing, November 9]. Readers should be made aware that just because you are not insured doesn't mean you are indigent. For the past seven years, I've been on a maintenance medication, Prozac and do quite well. I am a self-employed female and have officed in my home for the past 20 years.

I have tried to get health insurance for myself but when you take Prozac and have a history of mental problems not only are the insurance rates sky high, but they will not cover you for the pre-existing mental condition and medication for at least two years.

I can not afford to pay for Prozac at $2-$3 a pill, plus health insurance that will not cover what I need, so I have no insurance. I was told I might as well forget trying to get disability insurance as no one would write me a policy.

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What it all boils down to is our priorities as a state and country. Do we continue to pass off the problems of the mentally ill to a government that doesn't want to care for them properly, while the health care (?) industry and its shareholders are only concerned about making a profit off illness and misery? Why are we the only industrialized country in the world without a national health care plan? Do we only think of ourselves and how much money we can make and taxes we can avoid? What kind of people are we?

name withheld by request

Jail's swell: Margaret Downing and Brian Wallstin did good work on reporting the details of Steve Chesser's last days, and his assault on his wife. I believe that Steve should have been picked up for assault and attempted murder, and jailed after the initial assault. Whether or not he thought he was suffering from a "mental illness", he committed very severe crimes on that day.

In our country, we have a criminal justice system that is firmly established to deal with violent criminals. We all have a responsibility to ensure that that system is put to use.

Andy Prough

Change is overdue: I have been following Margaret Downing's pieces on Mental Health issues in Houston -- most recently her articles with Brian Wallstin. Please convey my thanks to both of these fine journalists who have the courage to address an issue that is both critical and controversial. Maybe through the public awareness resulting from their work and the advocacy of selfless individuals like David Clark and Robert Hager, people with mental illness will finally get the assistance and compassion they desperately need, and the resources intended for them will actually be received.

Gail Held
Hot Springs, AR

Residental Revelations

Bourgeois buildings: Lisa Gray's avant-article ["Not Your Standard Issue," November 9] cut through the suffocating atmosphere cast by recent bourgeois Houston buildings (MFA's sorrowful Beck addition and the grotesque Enron Field among others) to illuminate the fresh face of design innovation emerging in the Fifth Ward.

Congratulations to Mardie Oakes and her prescient urban architects for restoring vision and creativity to residential design in a city awash in bland "towne homes" and bloated "more schmaltz on your schmaltz" mansionettes. Her deep dedication to tour-de-force architecture is a quantum leap for all mankind.

Doug Michels

Big Apple envy: I found this article very interesting and inspiring , and I e-mailed it to several friends. It's so great to hear about things like this! I'm a former Houstonian living just outside NYC now, and I check in with the Press every so often. I'm glad to hear about creative housing projects, the Fifth Ward (I've driven all over Houston) and yards with actual grass in them (something I don't see so much of around here -- ha). It's too bad that both Mardie and Michael have since left town, but I'm glad that Mardie plans to visit.

Catherine Arnold
New York

English or Else?

Race to the finish: Tim Fleck's November 9 Insider column regarding the Buchanan campaign ads filmed in Houston is an all-too-obvious effort to incite blacklisting of a business which had the audacity to produce ads for a candidate Fleck dislikes. It should be an embarrassment to the Press, which prides itself on controversy and owes its corporate existence to the First Amendment.

The ad in question did not deal with race at all, but rather with the usefulness of English as a common language. And the "everyone" cited consists of an ideologue who saw neither the ads nor their filming.

The rest of the column depicts Fleck making the rounds of the firm's other clients, asking how they feel about doing business with a vendor involved in a "racial controversy." The "controversy" existed largely in his own mind, and I doubt that he bothered to mention the ad's unremarkable contention that a multicultural society runs more smoothly when people have at least one language in common. Fleck appears to hope that some of Love's clients will panic and drop the agency.

Many of the opinions which appear in the Press on a regular basis are a lot more controversial than Buchanan's contention that all Americans should learn English. For the Press to try to scare corporate Houston away from media outlets that express controversial positions is not just Stalinist, it's self-destructive. In addition, a cheap shot like this costs you credibility you might need some day when there is real racism to be exposed.

Oliver Moses

Teeing Off

Taking measurement: Absolutely loved Gregory Weinkauf's review of The Legend of Bagger Vance ["A Snooze Runs Through It," November 2]. The subtle Caddyshack references prove that while it's easy to grin when your ship comes in, what's truly worthwhile is the review that can smile when the film's too tight in the seat!

Thomas J. Collins III

Chris Crossed

StarFX shines: I read the article by Chris Smith about StarFX [Local, November 9]. And I was not impressed. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. His review was so unoriginal and "canned." I can't tell you how many times I have heard the same crap repeated over and over by wanna-be music critics. He tried to slam the band StarFX by comparing them to bands that don't even make sense to his argument.

I saw StarFX at the BuzzFest and at the Engine Room, and true, their CD is not them. But they are a great band and I am a fan. If you are going to slam bands with "National" standards as your premise...try not to do it with high school newspaper writing!!" There are many writers for the Houston Press who would shred his writing. My suggestion: Lose Chris and get someone who holds up to Press standards. You get what you pay for, and Houston deserves better.

Traci Johnson

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