Take a Hot Bath Instead
Tim Fleck's article "Station Break" [February 8] about Channel 8 was right on the mark. Channel 8 does indeed have a problem. It runs a few -- a very few -- really good programs; some elitist, politically correct programs; and a lot of what Fleck accurately calls fluff. It brings up a question: if Channel 8 were the only TV station in town, with its present programming, would people spend as much time in front of their TV sets as they do now? I think not.
If that were the case, people would rediscover reading, visits with neighbors, movies, long evening walks and hot, soaking baths.
Of course, commercial television hasn't covered itself with glory, either. It has abdicated responsible programming in favor of sex, violence, sleaze, trash and dysfunctional misfits.
Television in general is in the pits. It has come nowhere near what it could have been. Perhaps it's time to un-invent it.
Ben W. Taylor
Friends of Public Television
I found the Tim Fleck piece concerning Channel 8 verging on the naive. Who cares about local programming? Public television should simply stand back and let the for-profit stations continue focusing on this area of low viewer interest. It is probably prudent of me to speak for the majority ( I watch at least 15-20 hours every week) who only care for the national shows like the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Frontline, Computer Chronicles and Charlie Rose. I haven't the slightest curiosity in taking time to view programming where, innately, the participants tend to avoid ruffling feathers. Only the print media can usually keep a certain distance and objectivity in critiquing a local community's talent and organizations. TV demands an intimacy that makes this duty awkward and less likely to occur.
One gets the distinct impression that certain people will never be happy until no one turns on Channel 8. With friends like this, public TV doesn't need any enemies. Public TV does not have to do everything -- it should just continue doing what it does best.
What About Me?
Tim Fleck repeats a mistake made by members of the University of Houston faculty in his piece on KUHT. He writes that faculty opposed the allocation of $10.5 million for the Public Broadcast building by presenting "the regents with an opinion from Texas Attorney General Dan Morales indicating state law banned the use of educational funds for campus television stations."
The faculty obtained that opinion from my editor. I obtained the letter during my research into a story that ran on the front page of the Daily Cougar the day of that board of regents meeting in December. What Fleck's article didn't say was that the letter, which was issued in 1991, indicated only that money from a specific pool, the Higher Education Assistance Fund (HEAF), was not allowed to be used for broadcast facilities. Specifically, the HEAF money, which is designated for construction or capital improvements, could not be spent on any building which would also be used for "auxiliary" uses.
Most important, what the faculty making the presentation didn't know was that that letter was overruled in 1993 by a constitutional amendment allowing HEAF money to be spent on buildings and improvements that would be used for both educational and auxiliary uses, "to the extent of their use for educational and general activities." In other words, if the new building would be used for 50 percent educational use, then up to half the cost could be paid for with HEAF money.
All of that information, along with the numbers that result from the spending plan for the building, was contained in the article I wrote, which the regents saw before they made their decision to table the project. Fleck's omission of my article makes that portion of his story as inaccurate as the faculty presentation that supposedly convinced the regents to reconsider the building.
James V. Geluso
Assistant managing editor
The Daily Cougar
Tori's Joycean Innards
I am writing to defend Tori Amos' third album, Boys for Pele, which Hobart Rowland describes as an "incoherent, confused scramble of unfinished thoughts" [Rotation, February 1]. I could understand this if he were to say the same about her first two albums, but the "incoherence and confusion" he encounters on this album are nothing new in Tori's work.
I enjoy her music because it is abstract and eccentric. The listener may not always "get it," but this does not invalidate her music. Her writing represents life in a lot of ways -- sometimes it makes sense, and sometimes it does not. Like James Joyce in Ulysses, Tori Amos expresses ideas the way human beings actually think -- in jumbled fragments of experience and imagery. Also, Boys for Pele, like Ulysses, contains interesting allusions that I think Rowland should have noted.
Rowland says the new album "has no innards," but I think it has more "innards" than the other two because she produced it herself -- gave more of herself. The first two albums are excellent, but very polished. The new one is the rawest and most unnerving -- the way she wants it!
Rowland thinks Tori needs an "outsider's levelheaded input." I praise this album because it is not levelheaded -- it's typical Tori, and that's good enough for me.
A Girl for Pele,
Why, Brad, Why?
With regard to Brad Tyer's review of the Twisted Willie compilation [Rotation, February 1], I think that he is missing an important point. Music is all about collaboration. Obviously, the people involved in the making of this record have a lot of respect for one another, and besides, it sounds like the project was fun for all. Brad asks, "Why?" Without getting too philosophical, I can offer a few humble reasons. A lot of people may be fans of all the "alternative" (let's beat the term to death, shall we??) bands, and if this is a way to expose them to Willie Nelson's songs and perhaps make them want to delve deeper into his music, I think that gives enough justification to the project. Besides, I happen to like a lot of the tracks on the record. C'mon, Brad, lighten up, will ya?
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