Upbeat on Brown
I read your profile of Lee Brown ["Muted Mayor," by Tim Fleck, July 2]. I watched him fail as New York police commissioner, but your account gives me some cause for optimism. It looks like he's on the job this time, and I'm delighted by his interest in rail.
You may have read or known about my last book on cities -- The Future Once Happened Here: N.Y., D.C., L.A., and the Fate of Big City America (Free Press). I'm working on a new book, and while it won't encompass Houston directly, I'd like to be able to incorporate some material from your city.
Enjoyed your article ["Rocky Landing," by Richard Connelly, July 2]. Two things really got my attention:
The first was the quote from Steve DeWolf: "One of the best things about it -- it's a greenfield site...." Does this mean that our government should make the decision to build on unused land because it is nominally cheaper than previously used industrial land? Is it really cheaper, considering the inevitable court and environmental battles? This sounds really backward to me. If there is no better site, that is one thing. But it sounds like they would not even look at converting other industrial property. Is that so?
Also, the statements about the land having been intended for this purpose all along, even though it was not zoned industrial, are suspicious. I'll bet the county has been collecting taxes on those houses as if there would be green pastures around them forever. If it had always been zoned properly, most of this issue would not be worth discussing.
Even though my bungalow is located in the shadows of an even bigger townhouse, I will always be suspicious of zoning.
My reactions to the article about the Memorial Hermann issue were both belief and disbelief ["Tell It to the Boss," by Margaret Downing, June 18].
First, I was not surprised by the existence of such a questionnaire or Mr. Wilford's disingenuous response to the controversy. Corporate policies such as this threaten the core values upon which this country was founded, and are, tragically, all too common.
I was, however, nonplused to read that there has been no reaction to Memorial's policy until now and that the majority of Hermann employees followed it with lemming-like tractability. Are people so unaware of their rights that the erosions in personal freedom such policies portend can be so boldly served up and consumed with unconscious abandon?
These questions bear some thought by all of us, whether we are affected by such a policy or not.
Name withheld by request
Whip Up into Shape?
["Naked Ambition," July 2] ... Scandalous Quest, "whose mammoth June issue boasts 148 pages of advertisements for all-nude revues, modeling studios, "stress" clinics, outcall and escort services, lingerie and kink emporiums, dungeons and dominatrixes, phone-sex lines, Viagra, fetish boutiques, etc. including any number of discount coupons and the stray editorial column and syndicated review."
Without the pictures, kind of like the Houston Press? Are you guys so afraid of the competition that you have to trash it? I have never seen his publication, but it is nice to have freedom of expression, even if it does not suit Mr. Brad Tyer's sense of right. Mr. Tyer doesn't seem to mind working for a publication that also advertises many of the things mentioned above.
I still like the Press.
Take Away Tenure
Please spare us from tear-jerking stories like Dr. Castaneda's clash for tenure ["Punches, Passion in Tenure War," by Russell Contreras, June 25]. If I were Dr. Edward Sheridan, I would have fired Castaneda for using the word "fuck" out in public, as quoted in your article.
I'm even more insulted that such an educated individual as Castaneda would claim to be a Hispanic. Maybe we need to eliminate tenure altogether. That way, we would have more productive professors, or they could go elsewhere and get a real job.
His problems with colleague Rebecca Storey have the tone of "soap opera" rather than professionalism.
Dr. Sheridan, who's responsible for making the determination about what to do about Castaneda, need not fear the other professors on campus, but should do what is right for the taxpaying public. We don't live within the walls of the ivory tower; we have more pressing things to deal with.
Boxes of Ticky-Tacky, Anyone?
Re: "Lovett or Leave It" [by Brad Tyer, June 11]: One of the most frustrating things about Houston is the lack of respect for architectural history and things that are old. Much of the old (and historical) has been bulldozed under in favor of gargantuan crackerbox apartment complexes, glass office buildings and nondescript, factory-built, suburbanesque single-family homes.
It seems like every week in Montrose, another building is being razed to make way for more high-density townhouses, apartment complexes and so-called lofts (most of which look like office buildings, banks or funeral homes). Admittedly, much of what has been razed was not worth saving. However, I fear that once those properties are gone, the developers will set their sights on those properties worth preserving.
Houstonians must ask themselves: Do we want to live in a city entirely made up of little boxes made of ticky-tacky that all look just the same? I sure don't. There is much here in Houston worth saving, and we must fight to do it.
Mark C. Wilde
I was very excited to see Susie Kalil's review of the James Turrell show at the Contemporary Arts Museum ["Seeing the Light," July 2]. After I read it, I realized just how much I'd missed reading her writing. She is such a good, articulate and responsive reviewer. Houston is lucky to have her here.
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Which is not to say that I have not enjoyed reading Shaila Dewan's art reviews. It seems like an unfair scoop that you got both of the best art writers in the city, but since you do, share them with us!
A June 18 story, "Tell It to the Boss," should have said that the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System's employee insurance-enrollment form was 81 questions long, not 81 pages.
The Press regrets the error.