Going for the (Fool's) Gold
Kudos to the Press for an informative and enlightening article concerning Houston and its possible Olympic bid ["Let the Games Begin," by Bob Burtman, May 27]. As a lifelong Houstonian, I would be the first to admit that the city has a chip -- er, boulder -- on its shoulder when it comes to self-esteem.
Let's acknowledge the obvious: We are somewhat of a mutt. With a climate like Calcutta, L.A.-like pollution, a transportation system that would make Mexico City proud and a dearth of hotel rooms, Houston could possibly be the worst place in North America to host the Summer Games.
Memo to Councilman Robinson: Central Florida has just a few more "attractions" than the Texas Gulf Coast, and the Bay Area might be just a shade more esthetically charming than the vistas to the north, south, east and west of Loop 610.
In all seriousness, hosting the Olympics for a few weeks in an effort to be seen as a world-class city will not erase decades of poor planning, overdevelopment and billboard insanity that have marked our city as the world's largest flea market.
If we do somehow get the games in 2012, all the city's warts -- and we do have more than a few, Mr. DeMontrond -- will be there for all the world to see. Getting the Olympics here may serve at least one purpose: Maybe we can finally get rid of all the orange barrels that plague our freeways like so many mosquitoes.
It is interesting that the state comptroller will base Olympic-related revenues on a comparison of actual tax revenues versus estimated revenues had the games not come here. A recent National Public Radio report on sales tax receipts for Dade County showed that they actually decreased during years that Miami hosted a Super Bowl. I'm sure some politician could have estimated that they would have decreased more without this "sure thing" for bringing money into the area.
I enjoyed reading Bob Burtman's article about the efforts to bring the 2012 Olympics to Houston. It was another example of the kind of informative, investigative journalism that is so hard to find elsewhere in Houston.
However, Atlanta does not have a light rail system, which typically runs at street level and goes no more than 30 or 40 mph. That city has a commuter rail system, which uses heavier track and equipment, and may travel as fast as 70 mph.
Hopefully, one of these days Houston may have one or the other, or perhaps even a combination of the two.
William S. Wilson
The article about my aunt, Deena Nichols, hit the nail on the head ["Exit Strategy," by Wendy Grossman, May 27]. In an age when the media is often accused of misquoting, blowing stories out of proportion and spinning the truth beyond the point of recognition, the Houston Press hit a journalistic home run and got this story right.
Wendy Grossman obviously did her homework, as there were a few parts of the story that even I didn't know until I read her article. (For example, I thought Deena's dog really did run away.) After speaking to about two dozen people close to my aunt, the general consensus is that the story was accurate, balanced and told in a way that would have made even Deena proud.
I would like to thank you also for linking your Web site, houstonpress.com, to my personal Web site, SliceOfParadise.com. The response has been overwhelming. (The company that manages my Web site actually had its server crash over the weekend due to the Web traffic on Deena's site!)
I extend my thanks and congratulations on your sensitive treatment of this lovely lady's demise.
Tirey B. Counts
I think you did a great job in your article. I believe you captured Deena as if you knew her personally. I think Deena would approve.
It's no wonder no self-respecting publisher has offered to print Tirey Count's Mercy for Deena. Mercy is reserved for people who live the very best they know how, and when you can't do that you get help. Deena's death was the same as her life: a waste. A spoiled brat who didn't get her way!
I also am battling a neurological condition that might leave me completely dependent on others for simplistic needs. My husband also left me when the going got tough, and it certainly wasn't with an expensive house and $5,000 a month. John is the one who gets my sympathy for putting up with Deena's shit for as long as he did.
Name withheld by request
What a wonderful piece! I am amazed at how sorry I feel for Deena while the very same time admiring her strength of conviction. Keep up the good work!
What a heartwarming and totally moving story. Thank you for your compassionate writings and for sharing this magnificent life with so many others.
Regarding the article "Sick and Fired" [by Brad Tyer, May 20], how do I redirect my tax dollars from the support of the Houston Zoo to a more humane city service?
I don't know whether to congratulate the writer for an article written at the level of a New York City newspaper (you need to do whatever it takes to keep this reporter on staff) or congratulate Karl Peterson for his tenacity at righting a clearly insidious wrong that could save his successors and other zoo employees from the same treatment.
My instinct is to side with human respect and refuse to put one more dollar of my hard-earned money toward a city-controlled division that thinks part of what "Parks and Recreation" means is playing dirty games with its employees. If Olson can do this to his employees, I shudder to think of what he does to the animals in his charge.
The zoo should pay Peterson a thousand times a thousand for mental abuse, distress, aggravation and downright dirty pool. There are always consequences to behavior -- good and bad. The zoo is not exempt.
Name withheld by request
Last of the Innocents
I would like to express my gratitude to Margaret Downing for her broad-minded article concerning the mentally retarded of Texas and, especially, Richmond State School ["School Outings," May 20]. Most reporters take the view that placing a retarded person in an institution is just a state-approved version of the old practice where families hid their afflicted offspring in a closet.
My 38-year-old brother has cerebral palsy and has an IQ equal to a five-year-old child. He is a long-term resident of Richmond State School, and I wholeheartedly believe it is the only appropriately safe place for him.
Doctors, teachers and counselors told my parents he would never function as a complete person because he would never be able to dress himself, ride a bike, make a bed, etc. Today, he can do that and much more. I believe it is all due to the tactics used and the care administered by the state school system.
Instead of emptying the state schools, let's fire the bureaucrats and use the savings to give raises to the hardworking employees at these state-run facilities.
Everyone should check their history books, lest we forget that Hitler killed untold numbers of mentally retarded people. If the State of Texas plans to follow in the footsteps of California and eject the mentally retarded from state-run facilities, the end result (true objective?) could mandate the same abominable results.
Lauri H. Boen
An interesting article on HISD and "caveman" training [Insider, by Tim Fleck, May 20]. The part about Model-Netics grabbed my attention, as the Houston Aviation Department has seriously -- and I mean seriously -- invested in the Model-Netics program. Classes are weekly, and on Fridays at the Aviation Department you can swing a stick in every office and not hit a soul.
Makes you wonder don't it? When class members asked what other companies in the Houston area were using Model-Netics, they were quickly told to "shut up" and "get on the Northbound Train."
Which in itself is funny, since we work at the airport.
Name withheld by request
Carmine "Tommy" Basso is my stepbrother ["Heartburn Can be Murder," by Steve McVicker, May 27]. Arlene Basso is my mother. We knew from the start that something serious was wrong when my brother died. We met this woman he was supposedly married to at Carmine's funeral. Anyone in their right mind could tell something was not right with the whole situation.
I want to know why the autopsy was so botched and why, after all this, she is still sitting in a jail cell and not up for capital murder for my stepbrother's death in Texas. He will never rest in peace if the truth is not known, and if that means exhuming his body, then so be it! This is a horrible, horrible tragedy that should not go unnoticed and unpunished!
Steve McVicker does a great job and service to the public. Keep him writing!
Years ago, a few years out of college in Texas, I went to work for a company that had just relocated from New York to Houston. One of the senior New York transplants subscribed to The New York Times. When I asked why, he replied that it was probably the best paper in the country, and in fact had better reporting on Houston events than the Chronicle did.
After reading his office subscription copies for awhile, it got to be pretty obvious. I had a nice warm confidence in articles reprinted in my Chronicle with New York Times bylines. In fact, those were about the only articles I read completely.
Poof goes another illusion [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, May 27]. At least I don't think the Chronicle can alter The New York Times on the Web, can they?
Copious Copter Coverage, You Bet
I just wanted to say, "That goes double for me," ["This Just In (And Trivial)," Richard Connelly, May 13]. I've never seen such copious copter coverage in all my life!
I'm only 35 years old, but I can remember when the only thing that interrupted your favorite show was the President. Even threatening weather was relegated to the little blue ribbon across the bottom of your screen. Now the entire news broadcast can be about approaching "severe weather" (usually way overblown). I can hardly finish watching my show before they crop the picture to make room for a preview of what's coming up on the news.
The other day I was watching Oprah as she was saying, "The reason that this is so important is..." and blam! They switch to more copious copter coverage of a construction accident at a local amusement park. Of course (as Connelly accurately stated), there was not much going on there. Now before you call me heartless, consider the fact that the news was about to air in 15 minutes. Could this not have waited?
Do they really think we're so voyeuristic that we want to see every little thing that happens? If we wanted to watch the news all day, we'd watch an "all news channel." Come on, guys, you've got your allotted time, now stay out of ours. You're out of bounds.
What about that terrific thunderstorm watch/warning that took up about a fourth of the television screen during the most critical moments of The Atomic Train the other night! Could they make the message crawl across the bottom of the screen any slower? Won't that make a pretty (and permanent) mark for anyone who was taping the show too.
With an atomic bomb exploding in Denver, a thunderstorm was the least of their worries. Of course, no one got any weather warnings during the broadcast commercials.
Love your column. It's way overdue!
I disagree with the overall tone of your review of Entrapment ["Caught in the Act," by Hal Hinson, April 29]. While I can't dispute any point you make, I nevertheless liked the picture. I enjoyed the twists and turns. It is an action movie where there was no killing or strong sexual overtones.
In short, you can take the kids. Not all kids, but some. Sean Connery is a great actor, and I thought he did a fine job with the script. Judging from the audience reaction, I think you went a little over the top with the review. We liked it and would recommend it to others.
No Fluff Here
In response to Lee Williams's review of The Last Session ["Light But Likable," May 20], I was really surprised to hear it referred to as "absolute fluff" and a two-hour "Hallmark moment." I saw the play and can still feel it sticking to my ribs. The Last Session is everything but fluff to people who are dealing with the pain of having end-stage AIDS or carrying the pain of losing a son, daughter, friend or other loved one to the disease. For many of us who are close to this disease, the play validates many of the feelings and thoughts that we thought we carried alone.
Lee Williams's review does not come close to doing this powerful show justice. A show that is absolute fluff would not be selling out and having its run extended far beyond its expectations. It was unprofessional for Williams to take a couple of lyrics out of context and then use them to support such a cheap shot as "even Hallmark does it better." Tsk-tsk. Even I could have done better than that.
David N. Morales
Lee Williams's review of The Last Session noted many appealing aspects of this powerful musical show, but it missed the point totally in calling it "absolute fluff."
It is not fluff when people are filled with tears, when a show is still in your mind a week later, when the emotions brought out by the music are so strong that they can't be shaken off. Obviously Ms. Williams has no concept of the tremendous emotional impact this play can have on people whose lives have been touched by AIDS or any other devastating disease.
I encourage people to see for themselves that the play is a passionate story of despair and healing coupled with humor, love and memorable music.
Completely Off the Mark
I am an actor in The Moon Is Blue at Stages, and I think that Lee Williams has completely missed the boat in her review of the play ["Mooning the '50s].
It was not a review at all, but rather a feminist diatribe that would have been better placed as an editorial. She made no mention of the play's technical values, which are impressive, and very little comment on the acting. People want to read if it is a show they want to see, not if it is a subject worthy of a doctoral thesis.
All the time that Miss Williams spends brushing up her feminist rhetoric might be better spent in a history class. Williams has shown either a great deal of ignorance or a great lack of humor.
This play was written almost half a century ago! Yes, it would be considered horribly misogynistic if it were written today, but it wasn't! It's a period piece, and most people take that into account when they come to see it. The cast in rehearsal often laughed at how blatant the sexism was in the writing and realized that much of the "laughs" we would receive in performance would come from our '90s audience reacting to this '50s dialogue. Theater does not exist in a vacuum, and when we do plays from another time period, we must realize that the morals, values and, yes, even sexual politics of the time might be quite different from our own.
I hope people come to see The Moon Is Blue. I hope that the audience reflects not on how terribly oppressive the '50s were to women, but on how far we have come since then. And while they reflect, I hope they can do it with a laugh.
Lido serves the best Vietnamese food, and the atmosphere is real and not pretentious ["Lido's Lessons," by Margaret L. Briggs, May 27].
It is a family-owned business, and I really respect the few that still survive in our corporate world that drowns us today. I hope the best for Lido and wish the landlord would realize cruel dealings always come back to haunt those who make them.
Got That Bloated Feeling?
I have been a regular patron of the Houston Brewery ["Food Fit for Drinking," by Margaret L. Briggs, May 20] for almost two years now. I will have to admit that I am somewhat disappointed in the recent changes they have made. I certainly went for the beer, but the fine food was definitely a plus.
I used to go to the Brewery two to three days a week. I am now going about once every other month. I just can't see this new concept working along with the concept of fine craft brewing. The new clientele is not going to be willing to pay $3.75 for a good beer. They will be wanting to pay $1.50 or $2 for a Miller Lite or, even worse, a Coors Light. I just hate to lose a place that I really enjoyed hanging out at. I wish them all the luck.
A Different Opinion
The food at Ziggy's ["94 Percent Dogma-Free," by Margaret L. Briggs, May 20] has consistently gotten worse with every visit, now sucks, and will keep me away for good. Do you really care about what you put in your mouth? Sellout.
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