Bayousphere: Free-form: An improvisational jam session at the Sound Exchange record store on Richmond at Hazard calls on the talents of Ed Valot (left) on trumpet, Rosa Lange on violin and John Atlas on sax.

Boiled by Oil

Lube job: Well, finally somebody's blown the whistle on America's biggest thieves: oil companies ["Paying the Price" and "Pumped Dry," by Bob Burtman, October 26 and November 2]. Thanks, Mr. Burtman. When I worked for Texaco in the late 1960s, it was obvious they were fucking their dealers at every opportunity. (Any credit card problem? Just charge it back to the poor bastard dealer.)

The way the credit card operation went reminded me of walking barefoot in the hen yard as a kid. I quit the assholes in 1970. Unfortunately, back in those days you better keep your mouth shut unless you wanted a "bad" job recommendation. Texaco was truly an equal opportunity employer: They treated everybody like shit.

When I inquired at Chevron (né Gulf) for employment, I was told their operation was the same as Texaco's.

Robert Young

Try Gas Station Work

CPS woes: I can only say I agree with the letter ["Crisis Management," October 19] about management policies within Children's Protective Services ["A Father's Retribution," by Brad Tyer, October 5], as do several other investigators in the Rio Grande Valley.

Here's another point that could be made: How can an agency that is supposed to have a caring attitude about kids and the elderly be successful when it doesn't have a caring attitude about its employees?

It is difficult enough for a CPS investigator to go into dysfunctional homes on a daily basis to make an investigation and then have to return to a dysfunctional office setting to complete the investigation. Could that be part of the reason CPS has a turnover rate of 45 to 50 percent annually?

Antonio Lopez Goldberg
McAllenRollin' with Ralph

Taking issues: Thank you for reporting that hometown folks have created a ballot-qualified Green Party, our town's best-kept media secret ["Green Horns," by Brad Tyer, October 19].

A faintly patronizing tone and a keen eye for stereotypes apparently are de rigueur for major-media reports on well-intentioned nonprofessionals, and who are we to complain? But I might correct a few superficial impressions:

Starting a political party from scratch, recruiting candidates, getting them on the ballot and running campaigns, all without the backing of corporate bucks or a friendly billionaire, involves something other than a leader's "big, orgiastic party." Parts of it are a blast, and it sure beats plodding along with cash-register politics as usual, but mostly it's a lot of people working hard and smart.

So that's why the media refused to cover Ralph Nader -- because the Green Party had too many issues? Every political party has more issues than you can shake a stick at. Here are the issues our campaign material focuses on: universal health care, a living wage, environmental protection and campaign finance reform. Is four too many?

Regardless of Nader's vote percentage, we're going to continue working to build a progressive movement -- and planning that "orgiastic party."

Oh, and the Green Mobile art car is not an Eagle, it's a Hornet. And green. Get it?

Beverly Hayes
Co-chair, Green Party of Texas

Home Again

It's all relative? I was intrigued to read that Councilmember Todd took a city-paid trip to Seattle to research its civility laws [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, October 26]. In a conversation I had with him a year ago, he mentioned that his parents live in Seattle. I think a good guess would be that the two are somehow related.

Name withheld by request

Busy signals: It's bad enough to have "compassionate" relations with another city councilman's wife behind his back. And it is worse while being the self-proclaimed "conservative" moral leader of Clear Lake. This can all be expected from Councilman Todd, but to use a taxpayer-supplied cell phone to do his compassionate wooing?! This is crossing the line. It's time for an investigation.

John R. Cobarruvias

Fist and Last

Bush whackers: I live 1,000-plus miles north of Texas, and I do enjoy KTRU on the Internet ["License to Steal," by Lauren Kern, October 19].

KTRU is an extremely valuable commodity for the Houston area. Rice University heads should be ashamed of themselves for wanting to cannibalize such a valuable station. Students and citizens of Houston, stand up to this insult. And while you're at it, get rid of that Bush fellow who's pretending to be your governor. From Minnesota, with my fist held high in support:

Ron Madson
Bemidji, Minnesota

Mom knows best: Thanks for the article about KTRU. The Rice administration's actions needed to be exposed to sunlight. Students should be allowed to broadcast what they want within FCC regulations. Many resources are devoted to college sports in most universities. The arts, however, are Cinderellas.  

My daughter is a DJ on KTRU. She plays all kinds of music that I have never heard before. Some I like, and others, well But I think it is important that the music be heard. Thank you for making public this conflict. The students are very taxed already with their studies and don't have the time to present their views, whereas the university has a full-time paid public relations staff working for it.

Kay Wilde

Aghast at apathy: Thank you, thank you, for your story on KTRU. This stuff makes me so angry. The worst thing is that except for the athletes, almost none of the students care at all, so the only opposition at Rice to this stupid, stupid plan comes from people who work at KTRU and their friends. I can't see a happy ending for this story.

Thank you also for making Neill Binford look like an idiot. He deserved it.

Daniel Mee

Big Apple Void

King of comfort food: I very much enjoyed "Combination Plates" [by Robb Walsh, August 31]. Mr. Walsh quite entertainingly defines and discusses Tex-Mex in general, and focuses on Felix Mexican Restaurant.

Ah, Felix. It takes me back

Like many Felix patrons described in the article, I was introduced to the easy-on-the-palate restaurant when I was a child. Sure, Felix serves what today we call comfort food. What's wrong with that? It's also quite accurate, as Walsh points out, that the Tex-Mex served up at Felix is about "the roots of American culture."

New York is a city justly proud of its vast variety of restaurants. It features a feast of almost every known cuisine. But to my great regret, there's no such thing as Tex-Mex in Manhattan.

Thank you, Robb Walsh, for a thoroughly enjoyable article.

Tom Scoggins
New York, New York

And the Ganja's Great

Idyllic island: I find Buju Banton's musical phrasings truly poetic [Playbill, by Danny Perez, September 14]. As a proud Jamaican living in Houston, I was pleased to see the mention of him (a relative unknown outside of Jamaica except to true reggae aficionados).

I do take exception to Mr. Perez's inferences. Why not assume that Dominicans love baseball with a passion and play it vigorously from childhood, and that Jamaicans love music voraciously and pursue it and so they excel at it? People sometimes are happy with very little in material things because of the great store of natural beauty that surrounds them.

Education is the most important catapult that many Jamaicans from disadvantaged backgrounds use to rise above extremely humble beginnings. We also have a lot of internationally known athletes and actors/performers. Even Colin Powell's parents are Jamaican.

Mr. Perez should not judge so harshly a developing island country of under three million people.

Name withheld by request

Sit for a Spell

Ol' college try: You have fallen for the most abused misspelling in the world ["Affairs of the Cart," by Jennifer Mathieu, October 19]. As a Rice alum, I was a member of Wiess (not Weiss) College, and we always took it personally when others misspelled the name of our dormitory. I remember one of the deans misspelling it as well (who should know how to spell it).

Dan Martin

Sidecar Sider

Club the criticism: I would have withheld my name too, had I written such a terrible letter ["Sidetrack Sidecar," October 26]. The author could be one who is not in a band and hasn't got a clue about what good, honest club owners mean to a band; or a rebellious youth kicked out for being underage or having too much to drink; or a member of a band not quite good enough to secure a show at this great venue.

Who knows if any of these types fit our little hero's mold? The bottom line is that the Sidecar is a good club for a good band. We always get great sound, vibes and drinks at the Sidecar. By the way, I know several good skinheads who are out to get you.

Jeff Boortz

Skinheads and skinback: I guess we are amazed and amused at the anonymous person's comments referring to our venue. I have always and still do consider the Houston Press to be one of Houston's finest music papers. We were also very pleased and proud to have been selected as Best Live Music Venue in 2000 [Best of Houston, September 21] by both the Press and apparently the People's Choice.  

Just for information, the Sidecar Pub has 23 European church chairs (maybe the guy lost a few of his fingers at work), and we've run shows with Blue October and have placed 300-plus people inside the club. We actually do have a patio that is covered and enclosed.

We do have a parking lot, and we use it as needed. If this person did come out to the club and see a mosh pit, it would have been one of the one or two nights a month when we ran a heavy rock show. As to goateed skinheads, you've got me.

Perhaps you should take a quick look at our Web site (www.sidecarpub.com), and you'll see that we try to provide one of the most diverse original music lineups to cover the spectrum from folk to death metal. And we don't discriminate against hippies, bikers, rappers or even goateed skinheads! Anyway, I guess any press is good press.

Peron Einkauf
Owner, Sidecar Pub

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