I just came across Stuart Eskenazi's article ["Why Are These Men Dull?" February 4]. Speaking as an aspiring journalist, I'm glad to see that someone finally decried Texas Monthly's arrogance. I'm a student at the University of Texas at Austin, and the journalism department here holds Texas Monthly on a pedestal. Contrary to the praises of the department, I have heard negative comments from several journalism students who have had internships at Texas Monthly. It's nice to see that journalists still think critically when it comes to their own trade and don't succumb to the status quo.
As a past Texas Monthly staffer (1977-79) I noted that Mike Levy doesn't seem to have changed much over the years. Apparently, neither has Greg Curtis (and this is a good thing -- Greg always seemed like a particularly nice guy).
Is the Houston Press suffering from the same "devolution" you attribute to Texas Monthly? How can you ask: "Has Texas grown boring?" Our governor is George W. Bush. Next week your cover will feature a grizzly squatting behind a tree. The caption will read: "Does a Bear Shit in the Woods?"
And Out of Those Woods
I was just browsing when I spotted your article and could not imagine an article on fecal matter ["Fecal Distraction," by Jennifer Mathieu, February 11]. Thank you for a great morning laugh. I laughed my head off, then my wife did.
I live in a historic Inner Loop neighborhood that has been targeted by developers ["Inner-city Shootout," by Brian Wallstin, February 4]. I've watched with mixed emotions as a large tract of heavily wooded land -- on a busy thoroughfare with two derelict and abandoned mansions -- was cleared for the construction of more than 50 townhomes. While I would have preferred to see more than four of the many hundreds of trees preserved, townhome development seemed an appropriate use for such a busy area.
Despite neighborhood protests and calls to the city forester, trees in the city right of way were cut down before our very eyes.
My neighborhood has fought back, filing suit in an effort to enforce our deed restrictions. The lawsuit has stalled a high-density project in the heart of my neighborhood. The density permitted by the Neartown Amendments to the city ordinance is a compromise that gives some protection to neighborhoods. It allows developers to revitalize blighted areas of the inner city, while not permitting them to destroy neighborhoods in the furtherance of their own greed.
Ann E. Webb
Thanks for accurately reporting both sides -- the developers and the efforts of Neartown and Houston Homeowners' Association to get an even break for Houston's neighborhoods.
Certain members of the development community continue to accuse neighborhoods of reneging on a supposed earlier agreement on 30 housing units per acre. However, neither Neartown Association nor the Heights Association was ever part of the committees appointed by the planning department, even though the greatest development densification was in those two areas. And 27 units was a compromise number later proposed by Mr. Litke in the face of fierce community objections to the sixfold density increase. Neither number was neighborhood-endorsed.
It's high time that Houston concerns itself with the interests of homeowning taxpayers instead of planning our city around the development community's profitability.
Neartown Chapter 42 Task Force
Win + Win = Losers
City Planning Director Bob Litke's comment that the proposed extension of East T.C. Jester is a "win-win situation" ["Looking for Answers Down Below," by Brian Wallstin, January 21] shows exactly where the Council's sympathies lie. The city wins, the developer wins. The possibility that anybody else might lose out either has not occurred to them or is considered irrelevant.
Taxpaying citizens who will be directly affected by the project do not seem even to have figured in the equation. They will lose valuable and irreplaceable recreational land in the interest of filling Baxter-Nash's pockets.
In this case, as elsewhere, the mayor's "neighborhood oriented" posturing is being exposed as hypocrisy.
Name withheld by request
Alex Golubitsky is obviously the academic exception at Lamar High School ["Fighting the Power," by Wendy Grossman, January 28]. But what a waste of time, energy and taxpayer money on this sad little case of vindictiveness toward a kid who shows up Principal James McSwain.
My only concern about this case is that Alex is using a belief in Communism/ socialism to fight for democratic rights. In a Communist country such as China or Cuba, Alex would not be able to use the law and human rights to save him. The first time he smarts off to someone in authority there, it's off to prison or they'd put a bullet in his brain right then.
Alex's favorite band lyric -- Rage Against the Machine's "Fuck you, I won't do what you told me!" -- is not just an antiauthority anthem for rebel teens. It opposes everything Alex believes in when it comes to Communism. The band works to fight political and creative mind control in Communist countries. Free Tibet!
Good Humor Man
Your reviewer ["Rushmore or Less," by Michael Sragow, February 4] must not have a sense of humor -- the script for Rushmore was one of the funniest that has come around in a long while. I strongly disagree with the review.
Jingo All the Way
In his Rushmore review, Michael Sragow says, "Watching Murray try to ground this jejune fantasy is like watching Keith Olberman maintain his intellectual stamina when he covered the Starr investigation for The Big Show and White House in Crisis on MSNBC."
Jesus. If the Houston Press must use pretentious, humorless movie reviewers, can't it at least use local pretentious, humorless reviewers instead of syndicated ones?
Very rarely do I get the privilege to read such a concise review. I hope for my sake that Rushmore is not as shallow as you report, considering the fact that I have been anxiously awaiting its release in Houston. Bottle Rocket did not inspire me, but it made me appreciate the specks of fantasy in life that we sometimes overlook. Anyway, I believe that if every reviewer were so analytical and comprehensive, the rest of the nation might not be so easily fooled by the tricks of modern films.
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Elye E. Olson
Regarding the Houston Choreographers X 6 review ["Past Imperfect," by Lauren Kern, February 11]:
We misspelled the word beladi -- a term referring to a form of Middle Eastern dance -- in the "Classes and Workshops" section of the Calendar. We regret the error.