Debra the Driven
Smart, not bitchy: I commend the writer on a job well done ["Heir Time," by Wendy Grossman, February 15]. I found the article to be both insightful and honest; and while some might have interpreted this piece as an exposé or an unmasking of a superficiality, the true essence lies in the hardships that Ms. Duncan has faced in her life. This article paints Debra in a way that most fans and critics alike have very rarely seen: as human.
Hers is a compelling story of ambition and the strength of the human spirit. Her determination is something that others can look up to. She is a woman with a dream, and she's reaching for the stars. The problem is that when a woman is determined to succeed, she is often deemed a bitch, when a man would be praised as ambitious.
Does having an "overbearing" assistant make her a stuck-up bitch or a public relations genius? This is a world of overzealous paparazzi and fanatical TV worshipers who tend to place personalities on pedestals to either knock them down or exalt them as the risen messiah. Therefore, why wouldn't Ms. Duncan choose to keep some degree of distance between herself and the masses? Why should she risk playing "the heavy" and possibly come across as a total "celebrity bitch" when she can hire an assistant to do the dirty work -- thus preserving her "sweet and approachable" sisterly image?
The real Debra Duncan is someone who should embrace the characteristics that make her who she is: pride, ambition and intelligence. They are assets. They are commendable traits when balanced with her humility and compassion. She'd do well to reveal these to her audience a little more, for then they truly would respect her as the rising star that she is.
Awakening the Avalon: I really enjoyed your article on Debra Duncan. You did a great job capturing the essence of her style and the work that goes into putting on a daily talk show.
More important, I enjoyed your writing style. I laughed at all the analogies and metaphors. My favorite was about an anxious assistant awaiting the arrival of the tardy star: "She was more nervous than a stage mother watching her daughter twirl fire batons."
I laughed my ass off and woke up half the breakfast crowd at Avalon Diner.
I hope someday I will be famous enough for you to write about me. Until then, keep up the great work.
Remember the Main
Mayoral mismanagement: I'm a 22-year-old UH student who would like to commend you on your article about Councilman Bell ["First Out of the Gate," by Tim Fleck, February 8]. I am not a committed supporter of Bell, but anyone who will challenge idiotic Mayor Lee Brown has me very interested.
I have lived in this great city all of my life, and I know that Houston is constantly under construction. I followed the news of the broken water mains that plagued the city during the past summer months and saw how impotent Mayor Brown and city government were in handling the situation.
You make a reference to the "Lake Brown" situation, and it outraged me that the mayor put the blame on the contractors. Well, the mayor continues to bungle management. On Wilcrest near Beechnut in the Alief area, a road crew has been "working" on the street for months -- but I haven't seen a crew there in more than a month. A right lane has been closed, and the street is so uneven that car tires are popping. There is still a hole, and the orange barriers are falling apart.
I have called the city, and still no one has come out. The bureaucrats tell me that it's probably the contractors. Well, who the hell hired the contractors? If the mayor can't handle a block of maintenance, then how can he manage a whole city? It seems that only the media will put a fire under this administration's ass to get things done.
I commend Tim Fleck and the Houston Press.
Mark A. Crane
Graph by graph: Your story of the shuttle driver was excellent ["The Ballad of the Singing Shuttle Bus Driver," by Jennifer Mathieu, February 8]. Ellen is an inspiration to all of us who have had our lives turn out differently than we planned. It is difficult to name all the things I like about the writing. In the words of William Zinsser's book On Writing Well: "Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next." Thanks for the work.
Send Leah to D.C.: I was utterly disgusted with the faculty of a school that would break their word to their students as these did ["An Intern's Downturn," by Kamilah Duggins, February 15]. I was under the impression that teachers were there to educate the students in the ways of democracy -- not as dictators -- when an election was involved.
I can certainly understand now why President Bush is pushing for a better education for our children. Maybe he should start with the teachers in this school. I found the poem original and funny and did not see anything disrespectful about it.
I would hope that the school board would step in and award the student her trip to Washington, D.C. In my opinion, she has earned it and deserves it. I also feel that disciplinary action should be taken against the staff that would change rules in midstream because they disagreed with her poem.
Mom knows best: I would like to commend Kamilah Duggins on her fine writing in this article. Although (as her mother) I am slightly partial to the young lady in the story, Kamilah did an excellent job and was an inspiration to Leah in furthering her hopes of becoming a journalist.
Michele Monical Caldwell
Sock it to Rock: Proceeding on the assumption that Melanie Haupt's blowtorching of Kid Weak ["Kid Stuff," February 8] was not some obtuse, postmodern attempt at irony, I must wholeheartedly congratulate her. It is uniquely satisfying to have my thoughts crystallized on the whole über-bad-vibe experience embodied by the troglodytic "Kid."
America is gorging itself on a cultural diet supersaturated with cynicism, and then has the nerve to wrinkle its nose at the resulting flatulent stench. We live in a shit engine of our own manufacture.
Haupt has the brass to call crap crap, regardless of how many times it previously has been misidentified as "happening" or "edgy." And dangerous work it is, considering how unfashionable it is these days to be anything other than coolly urbane and blasé in response to coarse, low-rent dreck parading around in the guise of "challenging" work or harmless in-your-face pop-culture high jinks.
Get Melanie a fresh scalpel, Kid Rock some fresh cash-upholstered Huggies, and me some psychoanalysis for my fixation on scatological metaphors.
Haupt-in-stance: Congratulations to the Houston Press on hiring Melanie Haupt and printing her articles. Her words on Kid Rock are an inspiration to all who have been subjected to his presence yet have not had the forum or the talent to express themselves this eloquently. Thank you, Melanie.
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