Old Friends Add Up

I want to thank you for writing about Mickey Dunlap ["Turnstyled and Junkpiled," by Brad Tyer, February 17]. I went to school in Graham with Mickey from sixth grade through eighth. I have since moved away, but I often think about him and where he is now.

Mickey was a unique individual. I never thought that he would ever go anywhere, because he was not good in school at all. Obviously I was wrong. I look back now and wish that I hadn't made fun of him or ignored him.

He was always very friendly, though, as I remember. I distinctly recall that he used to sit outside the gym and talk to us when we would get out of athletics in the afternoon. We would always ask him what two plus two was, and he would always answer 22. We got a kick out of it, and he actually brightened our day many times. Reading this story about him makes me smile, and makes me happy. Thank you for writing it!

Tyson Stewart


Your article about Mickey Dunlap both renewed my faith in the world and reminded me how unfit so many parents are. Luckily I decided to focus on the good deeds of the people in Pasadena who are working with Mickey to help him help himself. Thank goodness for people like Miss Lilly and detective Shirley and all of the others who are giving of themselves.

It is nice to see a feel-good piece in the Houston Press.

Katy Wolff


I went to school today at the Art Institute of Houston and saw the Houston Press on a table in the student lounge. And I noticed the kid on the front page.

I am 18 years old. I didn't know of a Mickey Dunlap until I started hearing about him when I got to Pasadena High School. Every day that boy was taunted, teased and just about everything else by students. Some people were nice to him, but most were not.

I never said anything bad about him, because I'm one of those people who keeps my mouth shut about things and doesn't talk mess about people. But I did see people treating him badly and did nothing to stop it. Which I feel extremely bad for now.

I want to thank you for writing about Mickey. When I read where you quoted him on the "yes ma'ams" and the "yes suh," I laughed to myself because I remember him saying that all the time. Never did I know what he had been through, as far as family goes. Once again, thank you. I give much respect to Mickey now, and hope he stays happy.

Crystal Garcia


Take This Job and Love It

So the workers at Quietflex have issues ["Awakening Giant," by John Suval, February 24]. Hey, we all have issues. I suggest (as your article pointed out) that if they don't like their job, go somewhere else and get another one.

As for the forklift driver who "already invested 13 years of his life in the company," I say a big "So what?" Quit yer whining and do the job or leave.

And I couldn't help noticing that the last worker mentioned in your article, Lazaro Garcia, seems to make enough to afford a cell phone. Gee, what a tough life. My heart bleeds -- not!

Mark Taylor


Heavy Subjects

Thank you for finally addressing the issue of the ridiculous standards the drill teams in Katy ISD are creating for dancers ["The Scrunchie Skirmishes," by Brad Tyer, February 24]. Being someone who used to live in that area, I know how hard it is to be chosen for the team.

In my case, I think it was a matter of race. I now live in the Alief School District, and the girls on my school's drill team are very comfortable with their weight. Some girls are even overweight, but it's not an issue among the team members or with the director.

Drill team is, like you mentioned in the article, a sisterhood. Sisters do not comment on each other's weight unless it's a positive note. Weight is irrelevant as long as they can perform their dances. I feel sorry for the girls who don't have an "attractive physical shape" in KISD. Their dancing ability was overlooked when the judges were focusing on their physical appearance.

Shadia Uddin


I am a sophomore at Cinco Ranch High School. I am not a Star, nor did I try out for that drill team. I was with my best friends at the tryouts when two of them did not make it and one of them did.  

I think all the accusations about the tryouts are the result of an angry mother who is obviously overly obsessed with her daughter's life. Every girl there was given a fair chance, and of course the past Stars were gonna make it. They deserved to, after all the time and money they had already put into it.

I saw girls there who made it who weren't exactly skinny and who weren't exactly gorgeous. This proves that choices were made on talent alone. Y'all have a lot of nerve judging something you didn't even experience. So what if her daughter didn't make it? She's not the only one, and I can guarantee you that your article would never have been written if the daughter had made the squad. Next time consider the truth.

Casey Breaux


From Mr. Tyer's article, it would seem that "the Lord" had very little indeed to do with the drill team tryouts at Cinco Ranch. Even the lessons of Columbine quickly get lost, or conveniently covered up. As always, lots of kids will hurt themselves and be hurt (and a few will die) for the "glory and recognition" of a school or related institution that doesn't care about the "losers," except to make damn sure they know that "God" is on the side of authority.

Hey, does Katie Betzler get to go to the library during PE class time to do her reports? That would seem fair. Bet the word "fair" could pinch a few toes in Katy.

Tom Paterson


I am an attorney and a 1987 graduate from Katy Independent School District. My drill team service, in part, did lead to a subsequent 12-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. I know the weekly weigh-ins contributed heavily to my constant awareness of -- and obsession with -- the state of my body. The eating disorders, along with low self-esteem, obsessive-compulsiveness and parental divorce, eventually led to a diagnosis of depression. I began psychiatric treatment in 1997.

Today I have a loving husband who has been very supportive. We have a beautiful daughter (whom we almost lost during pregnancy, because of my anorexia and bulimia). I'm not completely healed, but I'm well on my way.

I barely made the cut with my drill team, and to tell you the truth I wish I hadn't. Although I would not trade where I am in life now, I would love to have a different past to reflect on.

Name withheld by request


Rail Bugs

I read with much interest your feature on the upcoming light rail ["Train in Vain," by Richard Connelly, February 24] and have the ever-present question: Don't most world-class cities have some sort of zoning and sign restrictions? When will a light-rail line bring visitors past the neon cockroach on the Southwest Freeway?

Thanks a lot for the real reporting.

Paula Lott


I'm glad Houston is getting rail. And I hope we get more rail, in locations that actually offer a workable alternative to a large number of drivers.

In the meantime, what are you going to ride if our dirty air brings about driving restrictions? Buses, that's what. I commute by bus 32 miles to my job, all within Houston city limits, against traffic. In the early morning, it takes two hours (that's an average of 16 mph); in the evening, it takes two and a half hours. That's more than double my commute time when I drive the same distance in peak rush hour.

When it comes to mass transit, past officials really let us down. So I gleefully anticipate the day when more Houstonians are forced to experience Metro buses at their mediocre best and disdainful worst. When the collective roar of those reluctant riders fills the ears of elected officials and industrial recruiters and various chambers of commerce, perhaps then Houstonians will get the transportation system they're already underwriting.

Park your cars and let's boogie.

Joy Mullett


Billie Bob's Ventures

Your article on Mr. Harrell ["Billie Bob's (Mis)Fortune," by Steve McVicker, February 10] contains mischaracterizations of the truth, particularly about me.

Ms. Gerstner's allegation that I told her that I had finally hooked up Billie Bob with Stone Street is about as far from the truth as you can get. I had never heard of Stone Street until Mr. Harrell and Mr. Hulse introduced me to their representatives. When Mr. Harrell asked me to assist him, he had already made his deal with Stone Street, and the amount involved had already been negotiated. Attorney Mike Stocker can verify that the only reason I contacted Gerstner was to assist her in amending the trust agreement per Stone Street's requirements.  

I vehemently deny that I ever contacted Barbara Jean about getting in on the deal. To the best of my recollection, Mr. Harrell attempted to contact Barbara Jean in an effort to get her to sign the amended trust document, pursuant to Gerstner's instructions. Gerstner didn't know the amount of the loan, and she didn't know the terms, because she was not privy to that information.

What Mr. Harrell did is called a downstream financial agreement, and for Gerstner to imply something was done to skirt the rules is implausible.

Norman Riedmueller knows how to contact me; I am never hard to find. I have spoken with him on numerous occasions.

When Stone Street representatives informed me that they were ready to fund Mr. Harrell's loan, I notified him and never heard from him again.

Vic Bonner


Editor's note: Bonner assured McVicker he would get back to him with answers to relevant questions in the preparation of the article. Instead, Bonner failed to return subsequent phone calls from the Press.

As for the contention that Gerstner doesn't know the terms of the loan, she was the one who provided the Press with a copy of those terms. Riedmueller, who is representing the Harrell children, said in an interview that he was unsuccessful in trying to gain access to Bonner's file on Harrell.

Let-ter Rip

It was appalling to read the letter by Mr. Fred Morales [February 24] in regard to my conversation with Margaret Briggs about the closure of The Gumbo Shop and the changeover to the Just Fajitas concept [Dish, February 10]. Mr. Morales's letter was nothing more than a personal, vituperative and rabid attack on me, which does not account for taste (even yours!). And it strayed from the subject to include the marquee at the Khyber and the wishful demise of Just Fajitas, which does not account for clarity (even yours!).

Please be clear about your letter guidelines and maintain good taste, even if you have to pander to the tasteless.

Mickey Kapoor


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