I just wanted to thank you for printing the article "See Juarez" [by Charles Bowden, December 11]. It came at a perfect time to follow up on my family's Thanksgiving experience.
When I had to go to California for business over the holiday, I decided to take my sons and do it as a road trip, since they were out of school for the week. My older son lost his father to cancer a year ago and has been in a state of self-pity that I couldn't get him to shake. As we drove through El Paso, I pointed out that the houses on the other side of the Rio Grande were dilapidated because that was Mexico. That helped him to see at a distance how good we have it here (even with life's challenges). A few hours outside of El Paso, we witnessed a pickup truck full of illegal aliens going out of control and then flipping off the side of the road. I pulled over and told my son to mind the baby so I could offer help. I came back to the car after police and ambulances arrived and asked my son to join me in a moment of prayer for one of the men. The truck had landed on top of him. When we pulled him from underneath it, he was conscious but very crushed. I do not know if he lived or not; I do know that my son's concern for him showed that he, for at least a moment, heard my words about appreciating what we have here in the U.S.
He got a vivid picture that day of the sacrifices that people in other countries make, just for a chance to barely scrape out a living here while sending most of their money home. I will share your article with him tonight so that now he will have a clear picture of why those people were willing to leave their families and risk their lives to do so.
Let Red Fly
Lemme guess: Your new feature reporter, Richard Connelly, is none other than "Red Connelly," late of the "Sports for Heretics" column in the Public News and the finest newspaper columnist in the state. Well, I think it's great that Red, er ... I mean, Richard, is at least getting his due of a wider audience (and, presumably, more moolah), but I hope you will let ol' "Red" out every once in a while. Serious investigatory pieces like the one on what's-his-name, the would-be U.S. Attorney, are great ["Sin of Omission, December 18], but you're missing a real opportunity if you don't let "Red" fly every once in a while.
It was really ironic that in the same issue in which "Richard once known as Red" made his debut, there was an article on the demise of Ed Fowler at the Chronicle for the sin of "imagination and cutting satire" [The Insider, "Bad Sports," by Tim Fleck, December 18]. Yeah, Ed was a real knee-slapper all right, but he couldn't hold a candle to Red in the "imagination and cutting satire" department. In fact, I always suspected that Ed attempted his leaden shift from pedestrian prose to ... what was that term again? ... oh yeah, "cutting satire"... because "Red" was writing circles around him.
So, do the paper and all of us a favor: Give us Red back. We want imagination and cutting satire and we want it now!
Randall A. Hopkins
Editor's reply: You must have missed Red ... er ... Richard's actual debut article, "Sports Afield," which appeared in the November 20 Press. But call Sports Authority chairman Jack Rains -- he may have an extra copy lying around.
Let Ed Fly
Please hire Ed Fowler.
No, We'll Take All the Blame
I read with relish the article on Big Bad Bob's condo taxes doubling [The Insider, "Redistributing His Wealth," by Tim Fleck, December 25]. Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas, Bob, and a jolly good-bye. I am sure that somehow the nasty people in Kingwood are to blame.
via Internet, Houston
McDuffie: A Not-So-Easy Street
I would like to add our voices to the litany of protest raised by Bob Burtman's "Easy Street" series [October 30, November 13 and November 27]. Our corner of "Unexpected Houston" was home to the following unexpected events just this year: 1) A sewer-line replacement that had the street closed on a regular basis for nearly two months, 2) a resurfacing job that has already failed and produced a two-by-four-foot pothole in the street, 3) a stop sign at McDuffie and Fairview that sprouts from a storm drain, 4) Lake McDuffie, a pool of thousands of gallons of fetid water that lasts for two to three weeks after any rainfall, 5) a whiff of sewer odor after heavy rains and 6) water-line work that has resulted in unrepaired dirt mounds in front of every house since October. Since that work, rubble and trash are regularly heaped on the sidewalks, forcing pedestrians onto the streets. Walking down McDuffie from Westheimer to Fairview is similar to traversing an obstacle course in basic training.
Any Third World country would be proud of a street like ours. However, since we pay First World taxes and have to endure the millions being spent by City Council on an inane self-promotion campaign (Houston: Expect the Unexpected), we would be happier if we got that for which we're paying.
To add insult to injury, our complaints to Councilman Jew Don Boney's office have elicited a form that all property owners must sign, agreeing to pay for needed street repairs before the nabobs in city government will spring into action.
Alan & Joey Foley
I was forwarded your article on Caedmon's Call [Music, "Heaven Sent?", by Bob Ruggiero, December 18] by a relative in the Houston area. The coverage was quite open, seemingly unbiased and greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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They Got Off Easy
It must be difficult reviewing local talent, no matter how questionable that talent is. Hobart Rowland gave a scathing review of Madman Justice's new CD [Static, November 27], and was immediately harangued by two -- count them, two -- letters [December 25] protesting his review. One of the protesters even compared him to a "deaf toad." However, it should be noted that the letter from Jeanne Wallace ("Hobart Rowland, Deaf Toad"] might be a bit biased, "relatively" speaking. I guess if you don't have any real fans to come to your defense, then a letter from lead singer Stevie MuRee's mama will have to do, especially since this girl has a voice only a mother could love.
P.S. I've heard the album. It sucks, unless you like screeching and repetitive chords.
Name withheld by request