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Letters

Boobs Galore
And the winner of the booby prize for the best boo-boo 'bout a boob-flick goes to ... Edith Sorenson!

Okay, actually, Sorenson didn't do a bad job of reviewing a cult film she didn't like as much as I [Film, "Best of the Breast," June 8]. But as a fan of Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, I've got to call her on an egregious error. The character of Varla does not make a snide comment about the impromptu dancing of Billie; that comment comes from Rosie. And Rosie's complaint is hardly "for some unfathomable reason"; events up to that moment have left her rather cheesed off at Billie. Consider what leads up to the exchange: (1) Billie takes off on a joyride and obliges partners Varla and Rosie to follow; (2) when Billie goes for a swim, Rosie is forced (by Varla) to "go get her"; and (3) as a gesture to keep both women in line, Varla forces them to meet her in a game of "chicken," which both lose. With all that coming down on her, I believe Rosie might be justifiably put out at Billie, and ready to carp about anything she said or did.

I don't agree that "much of the dialogue seems to have been written as an afterthought," and I don't see that Sorenson manages to prove it. I contrast her views with those expressed by the writers of Research: Incredibly Strange Films, who note that "the dialogue rings in the ear like beat poetry." I'd love to go into detail about how Sorenson misread the nuances of the demonic Varla, or the true meaning of the train metaphor, but I've just about exhausted this forum. A really incisive evaluation of Russ Meyer, I will note, would not depend on pigeonholing him as either a proto-feminist or a simple purveyor of "tight clothes and big tits." But I did get one good thing out of Sorenson's review: I will be checking out the work of B. Ruby Rich to see what she had to say.

Gene Phillips
Houston

Subsurface Explorations
It's a conspiracy, I tell you! When I left for my first year of college on September 1, 1994, everything was right with the world (well, at least with the city ... well, at least with the newspapers of the city). Now, nine months later, I return to the city I grew up in, and what has happened? One of the largest cities in the nation only has one major daily newspaper -- a trend started in Dallas, and, regretfully, is continuing here. I didn't mind, really -- music and movie coverage in the Post was the only redeeming quality I could find in it. But after reading "Deano's Disclosure" [News, by Tim Fleck and Jim Simmon, June 1], Houston's got to wonder what else is going on beneath the surface.

The thing that got my attention was Lanier's comment about how "it (the Post's closing) will make things a lot easier for me." I'm not quite sure what this means, but it isn't good. Singleton is apparently a product of the '80s, when it was big business and get out of my way, you private citizens you. This guy is the stereotypical bad guy ripped right from thousands of B movies. Rather than sell the paper to someone willing to invest the time and money to improve a lousy product (Drayton McLane comes to mind, for lack of a better example), the guy shut it down in a hush-hush deal, leaving a whole heckuva lot of people jobless. He obviously doesn't care, and the Chronicle certainly isn't going to make him look like the bad guy he is. I hope you will get to the bottom of this -- I'm sure some part of his little scam was less than legal.

I applaud you -- as should every other Houstonian, I think -- for taking the time and sneakiness it took to get this story. This is how journalism should be handled -- getting the important news, not latching on to the ButtafuocoMenendezHardingBobbitSimpson of the moment. I hope you will continue to do so, and as you do, I hope you can rise to be the Chronicle competitor the Post was, if not better. I look forward to the day I can pick up a daily copy in my front yard. It is not, after all, too far-fetched -- Austin's Daily Texan, the daily University of Texas publication, is the second largest newspaper in the city, competing on the same level with Austin's major daily. I never read the Dallas Morning News until nine months ago, but as a journalism student, I recognize inferiority when I see it. If the same should happen to the Chronicle, or even if it doesn't, I hope you can rise to the challenge. Pardon the pun, but I hope you'll keep your readers posted.  

Adam Woodyard
Houston

Editor's note: Thanks, but we prefer to think of ourselves as "enterprising" rather than "sneaky."

(Absolutely) Last Word on KPFT
Well, I guess it is probably up to me to give the final word and try to clear up some of the details regarding the latest KPFT controversy [News, "Music of (Angry) India," by Jim Sherman, April 27]. For the past 15 years I produced and hosted the "Shepherd's Hey" program of traditional British Isles music, history and folklore on Tuesday night. Thanks to many wonderful listeners over the years, the program was the most successful evening fundraiser for this supposedly listener-sponsored community radio station.

As many of you know by now, "Shepherd's Hey" was canceled by station management after my April 4 program lamenting the loss of the recently canceled "Music of India" program (a 19-year veteran and the biggest fundraiser in the station's history).

I want the listeners to know that I had no idea that my meager comments between songs that night would be so misinterpreted and extremely overreacted to by station management. "Questioning management decisions on the air" was the charge; "permanent and irrevocable" cancellation the sentence. No discussion, no hearing, no reprimand. And no subsequent explanation to the listeners why two popular, long-running and financially successful programs had suddenly disappeared from the airwaves.

In true bureaucratic fashion, there have been a host of "misstatements" about the controversy which require some correction, although your readers will easily see through the more obvious ones. For example, and contrary to Garland Ganter's recent letter here in the Press, McGonigel's Mucky Duck was indeed "blacklisted" for a short while by program director Jeff Hansen. In fact, it took the intercession of Pacifica in Berkeley to make Garland and Jeff back down.

Station management has also claimed that they have directly contacted me to "reapply." This is totally untrue. They have also accused me of all sorts of illegal and rabble-rousing activities, absolutely none of which have I done. They seem unwilling to believe that listeners and subscribers are fully capable of responding and protesting on their own!

Many people have suggested that "Shepherd's Hey" was already targeted for removal. Perhaps, and in light of recent KPFT and Pacifica actions, that may actually be the case. Over the past five years, KPFT has reduced ethnic and international programming by 50 percent, tripled the amount of non-local pre-recorded programming, and is now doing generic single-format programming (with mandatory play lists) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every weekday. The new format is called "AAA," short for Adult Alternative Acoustic -- basically "white" folk, country and easy-listening music. KLOL has more local information and public affairs programming during the day than KPFT does! The following programs and topics no longer exist in any depth at KPFT: women's issues, environmental issues, New Age thought, Houston arts, Atheist Hour, Native American, British Isles, France, Vietnam, Arab, Pakistan, Indian, Persian, Jewish, plus a host of individual music and public affairs programs.

Garland Ganter and Jeff Hansen are deliberately "dumbing down" the programming in an attempt to "reach a wider audience." They decry the "crazy patchwork quilt" of previous programming and are systematically replacing it with more "consistent" homogeneous programming (much of which is pre-recorded off a satellite). By doing so they insult the very intelligence of our wonderfully diverse community.

For years the listeners have been led to believe that they have some say in the programming they are paying for; however, the current attitude at Pacifica is "we can do whatever we want." Has the local board, station management or national Pacifica office responded to any of your protests or answered any of your letters? I didn't think so.

So what has happened to the concept of community radio, begun in the 1940s by visionary Lew Hill? Unfortunately, professional radiocrats, not the local communities, are now deciding what you should be listening to. Instead of encouraging and valuing local input, they rely on outside consultants to tell them what their own ears are unable to recognize. They have lots of charts and graphs based on some very shaky statistics, and would rather play the mainstream ratings game than strive to serve and enlighten the community.

How well do you really know KPFT and Pacifica versus the ideal that they would like you to believe and buy into? Don't be duped by false statements, promises and claims that are not backed up by facts. A real community-owned radio station could be a great asset to this wonderfully diverse and international community -- it is unfortunate that KPFT has chosen instead to be a "private radio station" that is more than happy to take your money but not your input.  

It is every individual's choice whether or not to continue to support this non-commercial, non-community radio station. However, I am sick and tired of their lies, their arrogance and their patronizing attitude toward this unique community of ours. Due to the extraordinary support and encouragement from so many of you, "Shepherd's Hey" will return to the airwaves soon. Rest assured it will not be on KPFT. The KPFT we all knew and loved is dead. It is up to us as active members of this community to realize the vision of community radio on our own.

Gary R. Coover
Houston


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