Actually, Hakeem Said It First
Satan and Hakeem?
Your lack of class was apparent in your recent story ["Geezer Follies," by Richard Connelly, March 19]. More than once you made reference to Hakeem turning to Satan due to a brawl that erupted a few weeks ago. You give journalists a bad name.

And hey, I'm no expert on the Muslim religion, but I do know that it does not entail the worship or belief in Satan. As a freelance journalist, I must tell you that your lack of class is extremely disappointing. Even gossip rags produce more credibility than your story. I believe Olajuwon deserves an apology for your five references linking him to Satan.

Chris Curry
via Internet

No Right to Criticize
I find your article highly offensive. You are criticizing three of the best players to ever play the game. It is true that they aren't what they used to be, but that doesn't mean they cannot play. Why is it that they are still leaders in many categories on the team? As for the internal problems -- every team has them. Even the mighty Bulls have had internal problems -- what do you expect? The team hasn't fared very well this season, but they are coming back.

Just because they aren't what they used to be, doesn't give you the right to question their abilities and their intentions.

Mohammed Burney
via Internet

Did We Hit a Nerve Here?
Aren't you just a bit biased there, buddy? All the facts you wrote were true, but why keep stressing the same things over and over again? You keep mentioning the Barkley bar accident every second chance you get and about Olajuwon marrying an 18-year-old (wondering why people don't even care).

Let me just remind you of the hundreds of so-called NBA stars (whether they're Iverson or one of the supposed "good guys" like [insert name here]) and what they do on road trips when they're not playing. Heck, even Magic pumped groupies from city to city.... How else you think he got AIDS? Sharing needles?

At least Olajuwon actually marries and sticks with a girl instead of saying good-bye every other night. Look, if you wanna diss the Rockets, go ahead, but make sure to compare them with every other superstar in this league.

Oh yeah, one more thing ... about you saying Drexler whines too much.... If Drexler had the same treatment Jordan gets on the floor, he wouldn't have to whine.

Razi Thalib
via Internet

Submission Fighting
Randall Patterson must have been at a different tournament than I was ["Choke, Hit, Bash, Cha-Cha-Cha," March 19]. I witnessed an event that served as a very positive learning experience for those involved. His view of the event seems very biased toward the negative.

The sport in question is called submission fighting. In Patterson's attempt to exaggerate the severity of brutality in this event, he states, "You can twist his feet, distend his arm, choke him, hit him anywhere at any time." This tournament allowed no strikes above the shoulders, nor strikes to the knees, spine or groin.

This is a very safe combative sport. Participants can submit at any time by tapping their hand on the mat or on their opponent. It is much more humane to skillfully apply a submission hold than to pound someone's brain to unconsciousness.

Patterson also failed to mention the incredible level of good sportsmanship. The competitors aren't there to hurt each other. They are there to learn and test themselves.

After analyzing the competitors' fighting styles, Patterson also claims that the competitors could not handle themselves in a real street fight. As a matter of fact, a trained fighter will always have a better chance in a real fight. That's not really the point though. Instead of commending the fighters for having the courage and discipline to put themselves on the line, he decides to insult their abilities.

I guess it is easier to insult than to praise. By the way, great job to all of those who had the guts to get out on the mat.

Tim Mousel
Owner, Mousel's Self-Defense Academy
via Internet

Randall Patterson replies: There was no exaggeration: Arms and feet were twisted, necks were choked and bodies were hit. It is true that no strikes were allowed above the shoulders or to the spine and groin. It is also true that I said so.

Mr. Mousel and I watched the same tournament from different perspectives. I am a reporter, and he is the regular host of the local submission fighting contests he calls Party Slams. The last one was scheduled for March 28 on the Westchester campus of Houston Community College. Like the dungal, Party Slams are illegal in Texas.

Insidious Plans
Great article on the Beach City Landfill ["Waste Not, Want Not," by Bob Burtman, March 12] battle. This as well as other insidious plans for our rural landscapes are motivated by the Grand Parkway proposal. USX was a major donor of lands and funds to bring the highway close to their landfill site. Now, the Grand Parkway Association is changing the rules. They want the motorists and the taxpayers to pay for their porkway.

Soon we can look forward to mountains of trash, cement and strip malls (then we have floods, more air pollution, less quality of life) in a 360-degree circle all around our city. Our county commissioners and chambers of commerce from the entire seven-county Houston-area circle are signing away your tax money to promote this road. For mobility, for evacuation? I don't think so.

The latest endorsements said it loud and clear -- "encourage development." Bring on the NAFTA I-69 corridor! Send our representatives and senators off for more tax money. Soon we will be able to dump our trash in mountains in every corner of our area -- from Galveston Bay to Brazos Bend to Katy Prairie to the Piney Woods. After the Grand Parkway loop is finished, there won't be anything else to protect out there anyway, except our pocketbooks.

Marge Hanselman
via Internet

Grand Funk Railroad
Your article on GFR ["Funk Revival," by Bob Ruggiero, March 19] was special for me, since I grew up in Flint, Michigan, and went to school with Farner and Brewer. Brings back a lot of memories, from watching them play the local talent show all the way to Shea. Thanks Houston Press and GFR for the memories.

Rick Jackson
via Internet

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