Hobart Rowland no doubt bought in to the teenybopper hype that plagues the "Rave Scene" ["Houston's Underground Spin City," October 15]. Why? Because he missed focusing on the talent that goes into DJ-ing. The focus of his story should have been Chris Anderson and Andrei Morant, who both recognize DJ-ing as an art, not just a bizz-ness.
Between the two of them, Anderson and Morant have developed mixing to a mental level that rivals academic culture, professional quality and discriminating artisanship.
However, Rowland's story did shine light on a side of DJ Bizz the Houston scene has probably never seen before: true respect for another -- that other being, of course, Chris Anderson.
Name withheld by request
Nothing to Rave About
Your Spin City article [by Hobart Rowland, October 15] was tastefully done and fair from my point of view. All of the "party kids" I know really enjoyed your article. One thing I cannot let go without mention, though, is your quote from Christina Schuman. She has been to maybe 20 raves, not 250, and we are all enraged to see her talk about it like she knows what the hell is going on. This is not the girl we want representing something that means so much to us.
Like, Man, Wow!
I am shocked at how uneducated and far from the truth the article on Houston's underground was! We have enough scene-illiterate people trying to either bite off it or act like experts on it! If you would be so kind as to make yourselves more aware of the truth before you start to dog the scene, myself and all "ravers" would be most thankful.
I am a 24-year-old woman who has been going to parties for the past five years. When I got into the scene I was on drugs and could not find one ounce of self-worth to save my own life! Immediately after entering the scene I was feeling more energetic and positive about life. I mean I was, for the first time in my life, seeing the beauty of a tree! The kids in this scene are not fighting, not carrying guns, and most of all, not bringing each other down. I am not denying there are drugs, but I am saying that the "sin-soaked vibe" comment and the "preferred mode of cranial transportation for ravers" statement were obviously not written by someone who has ever been to a party.
Death of a Salesman
As a licensed funeral director who's practiced here in Houston and elsewhere for nearly 20 years, I'd like to comment on Randall Patterson's "Last Chance to Save" [October 8].
Most of us choose funeral service as a career because we truly want to help people -- it's a science, an art and a caring profession. But the bottom line is, we have an opportunity to be of service to others at a trying and confusing time.
The disillusionment begins in school. Mortuary school, like medical school, emphasizes chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, etc., plus business and religious customs, but devotes virtually no time to "bedside manner."
The first lesson you learn in a big firm is that the status jobs (and money) are in management. So, instead of concentrating on taking care of customers' needs, the focus becomes climbing the ladder.
I worked for over 20 years for SCI, the largest such conglomerate in the world, and I can tell you for a fact that what's important is convenience for the company and making money. Funeral counselors received quarterly printouts, which were posted for everyone to see and compare, grading them on their sales. There was one brief category that listed whether the customer felt satisfied by how things went.
While perhaps some owners of mortuaries may make $100,000, that's not out of line with the income of a successful business owner. The average funeral worker, however makes far less.
Contrary to your report, the funeral industry is highly regulated by many local, state and federal agencies. Incidentally, the cost of complying with OSHA regulations is quite high. Every body must be treated as if it were contaminated with a contagious disease.
Your attitude was flippant when you quoted Dick McNeil in his defense of embalming expenses. I don't want AIDS (or TB or hepatitis or anything else). I've had embalming fluid and body fluids splash in my face and eyes. I may look like a space walker, but by golly, I'll wear all the protective gear I can wrap around my body.
There are plenty of small firms around who can conduct dignified, no-frills services for a fair price. (An amazing number of these are run by former SCI employees who got tired of the way they and their customers were treated.)
People should sit down ahead of time and think through what they want. They should visit funeral homes and see what's available in terms of merchandise and services. They should ask prices. They should compare one firm with another.
Not all bereaved families are the poor, hapless, preyed-upon innocents conveyed in your article. You would be surprised at the people who contract to buy a funeral, then simply don't bother to pay their bill. There's an old saying in the industry, harsh, perhaps, but based in fact: "If you haven't gotten your money by the time the casket is buried and the tears are dried, you likely won't get it."
Name withheld by request
In the Judge John Devine article ["Insider," by Tim Fleck, October 22] you wrote: "According to [Planned Parenthood's Susan] Nenny, the [pregnancy] centers' staffs have used tactics such as delaying pregnancy-test results, locking clients in a room and forcing them to watch graphic antiabortion videos, and breaching confidentiality by contacting women's families to try to stop abortions." Did the centers that Devine contributed to engage in these activities? Or are you speaking about antiabortion centers in general?
Editor's note: The reference was to the entire chain of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
While I think Fleck's article on "Castles for Welfare Kings" ["Insider," October 15] is the sort of reminder that we all need, I am left with some questions:
The verbiage "mandated by City Council" leaves the impression that Council somehow took the initiative -- a conclusion that is doubtful given (then) Mayor Bob's control. Still, how did this get by City Council? Who was sitting then that is sitting now? And when are they up for re-election?
Where was the Press, the Chronicle or the general public when this deal was going down? Were we all asleep at the switch?
In broader, more historical terms, how does this event compare to the traditional "private/public" partnerships that have played a role in Houston's growth? My limited grasp of local history suggests that Jesse Jones did his share of arm-twisting when it came to getting local bankers to support the bonds necessary to improve the Ship Channel. How civic-minded were those guys, really? To what degree is this lining of someone's pockets a more recent phenomenon? The answers might add perspective to the current situation.
Kudos for your recent article on a true villain and scoundrel! ["Making a Killing," by Steve McVicker, October 22.] I was familiar with the Wanstrath case from the excellent novel, The Cop Who Wouldn't Quit, and the persistent and tenacious pursuit by Johnny Bonds to bring the perpetrators to justice despite the bungling disposition of the coroner's office. It was gratifying to hear that Duff-Smith had received just punishment, and that Janecka's is pending! Just as horrifying, however, was finding out Walt Waldhauser Jr. had slithered through the cracks like the slime that he is, and that he is still a threat! Hopefully Bruce Marshall and Bonds will be a thorn in his hide for the rest of his life.
William T. Ocel
Great job, Steve McVicker. I'm glad Johnny Bonds is as interested in Walt/Mike as he was when Rick Nelson wrote the book on the case. I hope your friends at the Dallas Observer send a copy to the Dallas copshop.
When the story of [Judge] Annette Galik's long-term affair with a married doctor broke in the Houston Press ["No, No, Annette," by Tim Fleck, October 1], I told a friend of mine that the Chronicle would not publish this information and would go on to endorse Galik in the general election. My prediction came true.
I suppose that the Chronicle might overlook its own stories on Judge Galik's campaign contributions from gambling casinos, but is it now arguing that having an adulteress as judge of the family court is a good thing? What's next, an endorsement by the Chronicle of convicted criminals for criminal court judgeships? Imagine the special insight they could bring to the bench.
When that newspaper bought out the Post, it moved from being incompetent to outright evil. This is only one example of many. A city of three million relies on one newspaper to shed light on goings-on in city and county government, and that newspaper is corrupt beyond measure.
I am not a fool. I know that someone at the Chronicle will chuckle upon reading this letter and then cast this into a wastebasket, perhaps not even pausing for a moment to reflect on what it is like to work for a totally base and corrupt business that has betrayed the public trust.
James A. Gieseke
Change of Heart
Thank you for your article about Annette Galik. I have been an excited promoter of hers in past elections, and I would've endorsed her and voted for her again if it hadn't been for the Houston Press article exposing her as Houston's own Bill Clinton.
Likewise, as a Chronicle reader, I'm dismayed to discover how unreliable their local reporting is, and I plan to share their failure with other subscribers.
I have three sites on Houston in my "Favorite Sites": Houston Chronicle, Sidewalk and Houston Press. The Houston Press is simply the best in providing a guide to everything in Houston. I used to go to the other two sites first, but no more. I often find in the Houston Press what I could not find in the other two sites. Keep up the good work.
The Gay Men's Chorus of Houston is humbled and grateful to be named "Best Community Chorus" in the 1998 Best of Houston issue [September 24].
Our musical message is that we all are fundamentally alike in more ways than not, and that every person has inherent dignity and worth.
Our artistry was commended by our invited performances with the Houston Symphony and its chorus last spring. Thank you for honoring our broader efforts.
President, Gay Men's Chorus of Houston
Mary's Not Merry
Crossroads Market was chosen as the best people-watching location. I don't agree, but beyond that, the article proceeded to trash an institution that I cherish and to state outright misinformation.
Specifically, your article stated that Mary's and the Boobie Rock were in a competition for bad taste for decades, and you trashed the front-window art at Mary's.
Texas Monthly ran a double-page spread of Mary's front window and roof showing the annual community Christmas tree decorations, and the mural on the east side of Mary's was recently judged in the top ten murals in Houston. I feel that the Houston Press owes this institution an apology.
Benjamin Wilson Jr.
Mies and Marzio
Thank you for the "Best of Houston" kudos -- it was a deep pleasure to see our reinstallation of the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion noted and praised.
However, I would like to take issue with your comment on Peter Marzio's negligible appreciation for contemporary art. Dr. Marzio has enthusiastically supported every aspect of the Twentieth Century Department's engagement in the contemporary arts. In the past year alone, he was responsible for bringing The 1/4 Mile or Two Furlong Piece to Houston, for acquiring works by significant artists and for guiding the staff in our rethinking of the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion.
Alison de Lima Greene
Curator, Museum TK
Duck and Cover
There was no Best of Houston category titled "The Best Place to Go Shooting," which is odd considering that American Shooting Centers is one of the best in the United States. I am shocked!, shocked! to discover milquetoast liberals in the alternative press!
Relish the Thought
Thank you! Mille grazie! Thank you!
We appreciate your naming us Best Burger Joint and loving our Burger No. 1. We work very hard to serve the best fresh goods to our customers, and it means a bunch to us to be recognized.
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Frankie B. Mandola
Must Have Been the Margaritas
In our October 29 Cafe review ("Of Time and Tila's," by Margaret Briggs), we misstated the proprietor's name; it is Tila Hidalgo Leach.
The review also wrongly stated that the first Tila's closed after the restaurant burned. According to a spokesman for the 616 Westheimer Corporation, which now owns the building, its windowsills were blackened by fungus, not fire.
Furthermore, Tila Hidalgo Leach tells us that her margaritas never included the gentle splash of orange juice that our reviewer remembered, nor is there now a touch of cumin in the black-bean soup. Cumin, she says with disdain, is a Tex-Mex spice and isn't allowed in her kitchen.