Just read your article on the Rodney Ellis verbal gaffes [Insider, "The Rodney and Lenoria Show," April 30].
Keep up the good work.
In regard to Russell Contreras's biased article on the University of Houston's Frontier Fiesta ["Frontier Fiesta," April 30]: I've read his racist whinings in The Daily Cougar for years; now it looks as though he's got a new, bigger soapbox. Oh well.
With regard to Russell Contreras's Frontier Fiesta story on April 30, 1998: He doesn't have his history facts about Frontier Fiesta completely correct, but who should be surprised? He probably gathered his facts from the Dean of Students Office, the Alumni Office or the Athletic Office.
First of all, in 1959, the University of Houston was a private institution, and the Texas Legislature had no say-so as to how it was run. For what it is worth, the Frontier Fiesta Gazette was a satire published once a year for Frontier Fiesta. If Contreras had looked in a 1959 U of H yearbook, he would have found Mexican-Americans attending the University of Houston and seen that they participated in Frontier Fiesta. Back in 1959, no one felt the need for ethnic-based organizations. If he had done a little more investigation, Contreras would have discovered that the real reason for the demise of the "old" Frontier Fiesta was old-fashioned greed! Sure, there were certain students who "majored" in Frontier Fiesta, but the "greed" of special-interest groups provided the death sentence. All students were required to sell Frontier Fiesta tickets for their major, fraternity, sorority, clubs and nearly every class they took! Everybody wanted a cut of the action.
To a great degree, it sounds like some things never change. Special-interest groups are still flexing their muscle. Unfortunately, there appears to be revisionist history in the making at the University of Houston. The black cougar on U of H decals surely looks like a panther. Who changed the school colors from red and white to red and blue? What is going on?
When I first saw the blurb on the front page of the Press saying "Theater: Eating Raoul isn't funny anymore" ["No Laughing Matter," by Lee Williams, April 30], I had to question if the writer had seen the same performance that I had. Williams stated, "So some people do find this kind of thing funny -- still.... I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why." I have to admit, I am one who found it wonderfully entertaining (and judging from the audience's reaction, Williams's experience is definitely the exception).
I do appreciate Williams's questioning why we still find ethnic and stereotypical jokes as funny. As an openly gay white male (transplanted Cajun), I am certainly familiar with prejudice. I am also the first to want to deck the "bubba" (maybe this is some prejudice on my part?) who would viciously use this type of humor.... But I am also the one to laugh hardest at a good Cajun or "queer" joke. I am blessed to have three beautiful, grown daughters and a family who can equally enjoy the same type of humor -- because it is without maliciousness. My daughters do not have the same prejudices that were bestowed on me in my "formative" years. I was in a two-year relationship with a Hispanic male (and I think he would have loved this show). I am currently involved with a Pacific Islander and have innumerable friends and colleagues who are "nonwhite" -- and my experience is that we can all enjoy a good laugh at ourselves and our stereotypes -- depending on the context and the arena.
Great and very informative article ["The Mean Spirit of Texas," by Tim Fleck, April 30]. I find it most interesting that news management has missed the fact that people like stability. It is comforting to grow old with a familiar face on TV news. The new faces seem too busy with the popularity issue, acting out the dramatic role in a movie rather than effectively reporting the news. Who wants "in-your-face, cram-down-your-throat reporting" when the information itself can do that on its own? The younger crowd of reporters lacks the experience and intellect that only comes with age, but hey, they sure do look good, don't they? It's no surprise that most people prefer Channel 13's news lineup. They are familiar -- you watched them grow up and go through life's stages and mishaps.
Seems like most changes come without any real investigation regarding the desires of the viewer. I think they've missed the boat on this issue and hope Uhl and Getter find sunnier roads ahead -- they deserve them.
Close, But No Cigar
You had potential for a great article on Houston radio ["Played Out," by Hobart Rowland, April 23], and especially KRBE, but you blew it because you failed to identify the schizophrenic and inconsistent nature of their programming (and any real logic that repetition is desirable). On Saturday nights, they broadcast live from local clubs with some fairly refreshing dance music. Who do they think is listening then? Don't the station managers think these same people enjoy the change of format and that they would listen throughout the week to new material? How do ratings compare then to the midweek mundane?
I, for one, deleted KRBE from my radio presets long ago. Except for Saturday nights.
With a Broken Tape Deck, He's Trapped
Not that you asked, but thanks for letting me rant.
I agreed with everything in Hobart Rowland's article on local and national radio. As a suburban soccer dad who commutes two hours per day, with a broken tape deck, I get a depressingly thorough exposure to local pop radio. It's gone from mediocre to miserable in the past three years.
My six radio preselects are set at:
107.5, KTBZ. Obviously struggling to keep its listeners. Did you notice them playing back-to-back Pearl Jam songs and hawking "Yield" constantly for about a month? To their credit, they played Nirvana's "Aneurysm" to death when it first came out, but I suspect the audience had moved on. Stopped playing the Clash and any reggae about two years ago.
102.9, KKPN. A very cautious version of 107.5, and probably going Spanish-language soon. Plays radio-shortened versions of "I'll Stop the World" and "Spiderwebs." Soulless. I'll miss it only for the competition.
101.1, KLOL. I don't know why I keep it. I haven't listened to a ZZ Top song all the way through since 1983. Their "one-song-per-hour" policy during morning drive time means I'm only there long enough to make sure they're not in the middle of their "one REM song per month."
94.5. Sometimes they play the Animals, or the Bobby Fuller Four or Mary Wells. It fills a spot.
93.7. Not quite as soulless as they used to be, but I've never listened to a Styx song all the way through. Unless there's a country station I don't know about (and there's probably a bunch) then this is the only station in town still playing Neil Young (pre-Rust Never Sleeps, of course). In this local wasteland, Led Zeppelin sounds incredibly fresh.
91.7, KTRU. Sure, the DJs are always too close to the microphone and they throw in lots of pauses to let us know how disinterested they are, but I don't want to think where I'd be without them. If KTRU is broadcasting static in the morning, then I switch to KPFT (where my life was changed the first time I heard Dinosaur Jr.) but man their drive-time music is dull. Nothing but white guys trying to sound country-funky by mixing mandolins and congas.
My bias is still, at 37 years old, toward "alternative" or "modern rock" (I don't say grunge), and my tastes probably fossilized about 1995. Naturally, I blame some of radio's decline on "the kids these days," but today's entry-level 1834-year-old was 11 when Nirvana arrived and 15 when Everclear arrived, and all that stuff had to have been sort of depressing to them, so I guess I can't blame them for helping to convert my drive time to "Contemporary Hits Radio/Pop" hell.
Oddly enough, when I drove through Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Kansas City last summer, my impression was that those markets had at least slightly more adventurous white pop radio stations, maybe because they're smaller markets. I think Houston is ahead of the curve in stations that suck.
There is hope. After hearing "Explosion" for about the fifth time on KTRU, I bought Shonen Knife's latest for myself. My eight-year-old glommed onto it immediately.
I enjoyed the April 23 feature "Played Out," by music editor Hobart Rowland, regarding problems with Houston radio. However, concentration was on three major stations, addressing none of the actual good music in town. As a former DJ for the old KIKK (FM/AM) in its glory days of real country music, when we were the number one country music station in the entire United States, I can safely say that music and radio today are not what they used to be.
Loyalty to a single radio station today is practically nonexistent. Yet, in the 1960s and early '70s, we had continuous listeners at KIKK. Why? Not because of gimmicks, freebies, giveaways or come-ons ... but due to real, honest-to-goodness, local personalities who selected their own music, said what was on their minds without "benefit" of a format clock (and did so without hype or pretentiousness).
Stations talk about ratings points, with a 3 percent market share being average, 4 percent meaning you're doing fine, and going above a 6 percent share is something for which to break out the champagne. Well, believe it or not, I had a 14 percent share while on KIKK-FM. In fact, I am the original KIKK-FM disc jockey, having signed on the station for its very first time back in 1966. Back then, I went by the name of Sonny Ray. I got those high ratings because of listener loyalty and giving back to the audience what they gave to me ... honesty, sincerity and believability. You don't find that in today's marketplace.
"Sonny" Ray Stoltz
Who's a Lemming?
I am writing in response to both the article "Played Out" and the letter written by John Violette in which he brands the radio-research callees a "bunch of lemmings." Until recently, I was one of the 100 or so radio listeners called every two to three weeks. I gave my opinion, and it never concurred with the drivel I heard on the radio. Perhaps the other 99 people all love Shania Twain, who knows? However, don't assume that we all drive Chevys or that we all listen to the same music.
I rarely, if ever, listen to KRBE. For that matter, I rarely listen to any station for more than a few moments before fruitlessly searching for something interesting. That is, unless I'm in Seattle and can listen to the "Aire." Houston radio stations should take a "hit" of them and blow it our way. I've heard music on that station that I've never had the good fortune to hear on the Houston scene, and that's a shame.
Sabrina C. Newlin
A Duddlesten Defender
We read your Wayne Duddlesten piece ["Hotel Whitewash," by Tim Fleck, April 23]. Wayne offered to accept minority investors. That meant he would take their money, not give them something for free. You suggested that the price was unreasonable. It didn't seem to be unreasonable for Crescent [Real Estate Equities of Fort Worth]. There is also the possibility that Wayne was taken in by the FBI when he suggested that he had investors lined up. What would you have had him do, under the circumstances? A good case can be made that Wayne acted in good faith --that he worked hard to obtain minority investors and was unsuccessful. At the very least, there is sufficient evidence that he acted honorably to give one pause before trashing him.
I was stunned when I read Margaret Downing's "Poop Happens" article [April 16]. Linda Harris needs to be persuaded to take down that barbaric bird trap. If she wants to enjoy the luxury of trees in the courtyard, she has to accept a few things: tree maintenance, falling leaves and bird shit.
The tenants who "awaken in the morning to the sound of birds" fail to get any sympathy from me. Would they prefer to awaken to gunfire or perhaps the desperate screeches of a bird trapped in Harris's homemade bird guillotine? The issue is tolerance, and humans just aren't good at it. Rather than figure out a way to live with the birds, Harris took it upon herself to just get rid of them completely.
In 30 years, one of every five species will be extinct, so to label "good" and "bad" birds and to say it's okay if you kill the "bad" ones is a practice that is going to come back and bite us all in the ass eventually. Frankly, I'd like my grandchildren to be able to see sparrows, good or bad, someday.
Some people believe that sparrows are responsible for guiding souls in and out of heaven (when a person dies or a baby is born). When that time comes, I would not want to be the person known for trapping and killing sparrows. I mean, come on, Linda Harris, don't you want to know you'll be escorted out properly instead of being forced to roam this bird-shit-covered planet, frantically searching for a way out -- a hole in the net?
Vanessa Brett Jones
Please Waddle Out to Sugar Land and Stafford
I have spent the last few hundred Thursdays using your Dining Guide as the research tool in my lifelong March to Flabbiness. I lived in West Houston, and most of your reviewed eateries were just a short waddle away.
Now, I have moved to the Sugar Land/ Stafford area, and am at a loss. Although there is a large contingency of heavy eaters out here, as well as a brand-new vista of vomitoria, I have lost my longtime pre-weekend crutch. When do you start reviewing restaurants way-out west?
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A Master of Fine Prose
Ever since Eric Lawlor became your restaurant critic, I have read his reviews with the greatest delight. Not that I eat out often or have an interest in gourmet dining. As a professional writer, however, I do appreciate fine prose, of which Lawlor is clearly a master. Each of his reviews is a carefully crafted, well-rounded essay that sparkles with wit and humor. Having also read his equally admirable travel books, I continue to be astonished at his breadth of knowledge. His reviews lend the Press a lot of class.
An April 23 article about after-school programs for middle schoolers should have said that the River Oaks Elementary after-school program will probably show a profit of more than $50,000 for the school year, with extra money going to computers and sending teachers to conferences. The person making that comment was Linda Conklin, a parent who has helped with the River Oaks program.