But How Was the Sunset?
After reading your choice for "best park" (Cullinan Park) in the Best of Houston issue [September 18], my girlfriend and I decided it would be a wonderful place to watch the sunset.
We also decided that whoever picked this godforsaken spot as the best park forgot to include several things in the rosy review of the location: an abundance of trash floating in the water, a thick layer of pond scum, a gang of teenagers who had commandeered the observation tower for what looked like gang initiation rites and, most importantly, all of the people wandering around with copies of the Houston Press in their hands wondering if they could possibly be in the right place.
Willie and the Poboys
I am one of the investors in 10 Downing Street, which your paper named "best place to smoke a cigar" in Houston. For that, I thank you. However, your editorial about our bar missed the mark. It is sad that Ward Schumaker colored his description of Downing Street in racial tones.
To suggest that there is only "one black man" at Downing Street named "Willie" and that all he does is "shine shoes" proves that Mr. Schumaker didn't do much investigation. Indeed, many of our patrons are black. Several of the humidor locker owners are black. However, I am not sure why that matters so much to Mr. Schumaker in the context of an article about local bars.
Until your article, Willie was very happy at Downing Street. Your article offended him. Willie is not just a black man shining shoes. He is an inspiration to many and a good friend to most. Willie is blessed with intelligence and wit. He is one of the most charming people I have ever known, and I am proud to call Willie my good friend.
I think that Mr. Schumaker owes Willie an apology and that he should do his homework next time. It is unfortunate that he felt the need to fabricate a racial issue as part of his review of our bar. Perhaps next time, Mr. Schumaker will spend some time talking to Willie and getting to know him before he writes about him. We could all learn a thing or two from Willie.
Steven M. Zager
Editor's reply: Ward Schumaker is an artist who drew some of the illustrations used in the Best of Houston issue. He doesn't live in Houston, and, as far as we know, has never met Willie. The item in question was written by Randall Patterson, who was struck by the image of a white man smoking a big cigar and expounding on "class and comfort and an easy lifestyle" while having his shoes shined by a black man. It's a bit anachronistic, y'know?
Elyse Is Right
Your Best of Houston issues are classics, and the 1997 edition was true to form. The combo of serious and wacky, splashed with your often-irreverent commentary, makes for a fun read that's a treasure trove of tips and tidbits about what's to enjoy in this unique town.
Elyse is right: Houston is a world-class city, albeit one that would come to a screeching halt without the ubiquitous automobile. But these machines require lots of TLC, and I was pleased that "best category we forgot" included "best service station," Voss Road Exxon, which I presume garnered a number of write-in votes other than mine.
For the last four years, the ace mechanics at this exceptional facility have kept my all-time favorite car on life support and still cruising at almost 200,000 miles, with never an incorrect diagnosis or faulty repair -- an awesome track record! Top off this expertise with a courteous, down-home ambiance, and there's no doubt these folks earned a slot in Best of Houston.
Louise S. Durham
Elyse Is Wrong
How can Houston be a world-class city, as suggested by your cover of September 18, without a rail transit system? Elyse Lanier's husband bears much of the blame for Houston not having such even in the planning stages yet.
I had to write to say how much I enjoyed your Best of Houston 1997 issue. It is a must for anyone who has out-of-town guests who have already seen the "beer can house." I must share with you what made this issue special to me.
A few years ago, my then-fiance and I were looking out on "Bob Hope's View" from the 12th-floor banquet room at the Wyndham Warwick -- the winner of your "best place to pretend you're in a beautiful city" category. We had chosen the room for our wedding reception, but hadn't found a site for the ceremony. Logistics had nixed our hopes for a wedding in Mexico, and we were less than enthusiastic about finding a beautiful, unusual location in Houston. Looking down upon Main Street, Miller Theatre and the museums, my fiance suddenly said, "How about there?" I followed his gaze to the Cockrell Butterfly Center. "Really?" I asked. "I don't know if they do weddings."
We were one of the first couples to be married there, and we have great memories of our guests peering out from the lush foliage and ducking butterflies. What a great surprise to find the Cockrell Butterfly Center listed as the "best place for a wedding" just as we celebrate our second wedding anniversary!
Over 30 years ago as a young police officer, I came under gunfire on two separate occasions. The first happened in 1965. I was dispatched to a shooting in progress at a farmhouse. I was the first officer on the scene, but was soon joined by a deputy sheriff who backed me up. The house had a screened-in porch, and we could see the suspect there, gun in hand.
As we approached the porch, the suspect spotted us and fired his gun at me through the screen, at point-blank range, but missed. The deputy sheriff quickly returned fire with his shotgun, killing the suspect, saving my life. We later learned that this man killed several farm workers in the house before we arrived.
The second incident was in 1966. I was sent to the home of a man who was holding his wife and children hostage. I quickly managed to get the hostages out of the house, but as I was leaving the yard, the man came to the window, fired his gun at me and missed. I called for reinforcements, but the man ultimately shot and killed himself.
I relate these incidents to you because of an "Outsider" article in the September 25 edition of the Press that attempted to make a joke out of these life-and-death situations.
This type of ill-placed humor degrades the bravery of those police officers who -- not as lucky as I was -- gave their lives or suffered serious injury. I hope this sets the record straight.
You Must Have Seen Our Group Photo
I suspect that your editorial and advertising departments must be manned by a herd of testosterone-challenged, pubescent-minded, chinless rubes clinging desperately to the '70s since, for the second week in a row, the Houston Press has pandered to the interests of its titty bar advertisers.
First we had the soppy article about the dresser in your Best of Houston issue [September 18]; now we have the Press Picks promotion for an autograph party at one of these trashy establishments [September 25].
Isn't it enough to let the advertising department bend over and cater to the sleazoids? If you had any respect for the product you produce, surely you would not add the editorial bonus of free ink to places that you already ghetto-ize -- thankfully -- in the back of the paper.
Same to Ya
The next time you criticize one of my articles, at least have the decency to read it. To say that my story about the Rice School was a glossover is highly inaccurate ["What Went Wrong at the Rice School?", by Tim Fleck, August 21]. Yes, I did say some very positive things about the school, which it rightly deserves, but I also said that the school was having serious problems. For example, I pointed out that the multiage and dual language programs were struggling, that a diverse student body was a challenge to teach, and that the school had too many agendas to handle. I also mentioned that the goals the school had set for itself were perhaps too many, and that it would take a number of years for the school to meet them. Please, if you plan to bash someone, at least try to be fair about it.
David D. Medina
Staff writer, Sallyport Magazine
Too Many Fish in His Sea
As one of the people interviewed in the article about the Desi club scene ["Desi Dance," by Shaila Dewan, September 25], I wanted to add something about the comparison with salmon. Right now, there's about a 3:1 male-to-female gender ratio at some of those events, and, well, those aren't great odds for anyone. With the Press first mentioning Desi parties as the best place to see beautiful people, and now with an entire cover story about it, I imagine that these events will now get a horde of gawkers and scammers -- basically, people looking to pick up some sort of "exotic" person. If those people match the general stereotype of other Asian fetishists, the already bad gender ratio isn't going to be getting any better.
In other words, overfishing (back to the salmon analogy). Maybe you could mitigate the impending damage by running a follow-up where a non-Indian male reporter attends the event and gets shot down mercilessly by every girl he meets, or better yet, have a reporter discover Hmong women and declare that they're even more beautiful, thereby creating a new "exotic" trophy and diverting everyone's attention.
Now You Know
Alex Hecht's article on Magic ["Do You Believe in Magic?", September 4] was an interesting look into one of the decade's craziest fads. I never knew much about Magic, except for the fact that half the people in my freshman dorm played nightly. Thank you for your insight and focus.
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