Joe Leydon, an Honorable Man Unjustly Vilified
In my opinion, Joe Leydon's review of Mission: Impossible was right on the money, insofar as I pretty much agreed with all the points he made. Of course, I've disagreed with his reviews over the years, but the fact remains that his is intelligent and often witty criticism. Troy Lambert [Letters, "Once Again, Joe Leydon Brings Shame and Dishonor on Houston," June 6] seems unable to distinguish the criticism from the critic, and his supposition of any problems (or lack thereof) in the Leydon household is irrelevant and uncalled for and does nothing to further the discussion of the film in question.
Perhaps Mr. Lambert should get his film criticism from the Chronicle. As I recall, their review went something along the lines of, "This movie has lots of gizmos and flashing lights. If you don't like it, you're probably a girl." That kind of meaningful insight is probably more up Mr. Lambert's alley anyway.
Nourish the Roots
It was with dismay that I read the article concerning the Theater District Association's proposal that its members be removed from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County's peer-review process [News, "Cash from CACHH," by Michael Berryhill, June 6]. Certainly the Alley Theatre, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera and other members of the Theater District create great beauty and bring much credit to our community. I have deep admiration for our city's major performing arts organizations; however, I have an equal level of admiration for those groups that are not yet considered "major" but which eventually will be, if given proper nurturing.
It is important that we have world-class theater, dance and music companies, but without a vital community of smaller local organizations, the Houston Symphony, Da Camera and the others are like a lovely flower lying on the ground with no root system to feed it.
According to the Press, CACHH grants form 1.8 percent of the Theater District members' annual budgets; Arts Council grants to organizations such as Houston Dance Coalition are a much larger percentage of those smaller companies' operating funds -- often as much as 25 percent. This funding, along with the other services provided by CACHH, are essential to those groups' ability to operate professionally and effectively.
No objective observer would conclude that our major arts companies are not better off now than they were ten years ago, before the current system was put in place. Obviously, the process is working. It rewards artistic excellence and encourages organizations -- both big and small -- to reach out and become involved with all elements of the community. I have been privileged to observe at close hand the Arts Council's review procedure and have seen it to be extremely evenhanded, based almost entirely on artistic merit. If the major performing arts organizations continue to produce at their current high level, they have nothing to fear from the Cultural Arts Council's peer-review process; should that level ever begin to fall, it is that very process -- as opposed to a closed, internal, collegial system -- which will bring them back on course. I hope our City Council will vote to maintain a system that works fairly and well.
Jeffrey E. Salzberg
President, Houston Dance Coalition
Excellent article on Bud Adams ["Adams Family Values" by Bonnie Gangelhoff, May 16]. The Press is one of the few places one can find follow-up or in-depth articles on current topics. Most sources of news cover a topic when it is hot off the presses, if I may borrow that phrase. They usually are somewhat short on detail, and then go on to the next "hot" item. Keep up the good work.
Incidentally, with all the derisive comments being hurled at Bud Adams, I wonder if anyone has thought to thank him for all the years of football Houston did have?
I could never see the direct connection between Bud Adams' ownership of the Oilers and their well-earned reputation for being a perennial shit team. He seemed willing to spend the money necessary to get decent players, going so far as to hire Warren Moon's old friend and coach Hugh Campbell to sweeten the pot and induce Warren to come down here from Canada. So I was puzzled why some analysts claimed that it wasn't so much the Oilers that were hated as it was their owner, Bud Adams, and that the Oilers took the heat via "guilt by association."
Now after reading your pathetic story (not the writing, but the facts) about Cleveland Williams ["On the Ropes," by Bonnie Gangelhoff, May 30], I understand perfectly why the goddamned son of a bitch is so vilified. I'd like to see someone hang the bastard by his worthless balls until his "refusal to comment" is replaced by a full disclosure of his thoroughly sadistic behavior.
Why don't you circulate the story in Nashville so the rubes up there won't be totally surprised when he fucks them over just like he did us (and "Big Cat") here in Houston?
Barry L. Shickman
I certainly agree with Megan Halverson [Dance, "New Shapes," May 30] that Janie Parker is going to be greatly missed by many thousands of ballet fans. However, as both a ballet aficionado and a longtime personal friend of both Janie Parker and Lauren Anderson, I strongly believe that praising Janie at the expense of Lauren's perceived shortcomings is unfair to both dancers.
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First, this type of comparison is not unlike the thousands of articles I have read over the years comparing Mikhail Baryshnikov to Rudolf Nureyev. Like those fine dancers, Janie and Lauren have totally different styles and abilities. In Giselle, for example, I have always thought of Janie as Giselle and Lauren as Myrtha (Queen of the Wilis). In Nutcracker, I see Janie as the Snow Queen while Lauren is the Sugarplum Fairy. And in The Merry Widow, the pairing of Janie with Phillip Broomhead was a natural, while Lauren with Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote brought the house to their feet.
In my opinion, there is not a single replacement for Janie Parker waiting in the wings. Janie, with her unique blend of dancing ability, stage presence, banana-legs and personality, is a rare find. However, there are fantastic dancers such as Barbara Bears, Rachel Beard, Tiekka Schofield, Dawn Scannell and Kathryn Warakomsky who will each fill a part of the void left by Janie. In addition, there are some brilliant young ballerinas now coming up through the ranks who have yet to display their talents.
As you must be able to tell, I think Houston Ballet is one of the best, and I will miss Janie Parker greatly. But Janie has a new life to begin, and the dance must go on.
David A. Herndon