Religious Rapacity
What a combination! A homo-hating and AIDS-fearing neighborhood coupled with a greedy preacher who will go to any length, including exploiting AIDS victims, to snatch up federal tax dollars ["The Battle over Brentwood," by Claudia Kolker, March 16].

While some in the gay and lesbian community have lauded the efforts of the Reverend Ratliff of the Brentwood Baptist Church to "help" those with AIDS in the black community, it is clear that Ratliff sees clearly that the AIDS industry is a big one and he wants a piece of the pie. Forming a front corporation in order to qualify for federal housing funds and then planning to use the money to make improvements upon church property shows that Ratliff is yet another greedy preacher trying to feed at the public tax-dollar trough.

Ratliff is doing his best to dismantle the bridge of separation between state and church so he can pluck the carcasses of the dying. Sadly, many in the gay community support him.

Don Sanders

Cy's Our Guy
Yes, Susie, forever is a long, long time and Cy Twombly expresses so eloquently his contemplation of our journey through time and space (forever) and of our preoccupation while on this journey with love and war, poetry and passion, the beauty of nature and the effort of humans to make their mark on forever [Art, "Taken with Twombly," by Susie Kalil, March 9].

What better place to keep these treasures of contemplation for contemplation than in a vault of light. And how fortunate for us that this vault is in Houston.

Name withheld

Protect and Serve
I'd like to applaud D.J. Wilson's "Towed Away" [March 9]. It's about time wrecker drivers are depicted as the depraved, unscrupulous vermin most of them are! The article was quite an eye-opener regarding their unethical ties with garages, body shops and storage lots. However, I believe you overlooked another major contributor to "Wrecker Hell" ... the Houston Police Department.

Although I have no proof to substantiate my allegations, HPD's apathetic attitude toward theft and accident victims has convinced me that HPD is somehow benefiting from the wrecker scam. What else could explain the excessive, and often unnecessary, use of their power to authorize towing?

Here are some examples: About three years ago, my mom's van was stolen from the parking lot of her northwest Houston apartment complex. After a short pursuit by HPD, the perpetrators hit a lamp post in a parking lot only a block and a half away. Damage to the van was minimal and superficial. But did the officers do the logical thing by notifying my mom that her van was just yards away and simply let her take it home? No! They had it towed all the way downtown and stored in a lot. Sounds like somebody made some easy money that night!

When my car was stolen from a local nightclub a few years ago, it was located the next day by HPD. It was completely intact and even had half a tank of gas left. Of course, HPD slapped a bright orange tow sticker on it and the "vultures" snatched it up immediately. Only then did HPD call me to tell me they found my car. Why couldn't they have called me first and given me the option to come pick it up?

If it's HPD's policy to slap a tow sticker on practically every innocent victim's auto, then it's time for this absurd, unfair and outrageous policy to be reviewed. HPD's blatant disregard for victims' welfare is appalling. I thought their motto was to "Protect and Serve." I guess that only applies to the wreckers.

Heather Davis

Bad Flashback
Your recent article entitled "Wrecker Hell" [By D.J. Wilson, March 9] gave me flashbacks of my own personal night from hell.

The article seemed to focus on those pillars of wrecker society that congregate at accident scenes and subsequently whore their prized tow to the highest bidding collision repair business. However, my experience was undoubtedly as common. I parked my vehicle in a strip center on Richmond after business hours. After returning within ten minutes, I discovered my vehicle missing. Stolen? No. Towed by one of the many vulturous wrecker drivers of Richmond.

It took an hour and a half just to find out where to pick up my car. An hour to get a cab ride ... only to discover that the impound lot wanted $100 cash only. I called another cab to get to an ATM machine. I finally got my car back around 3 a.m. only to be threatened with a baseball bat by a driver who demanded that I get out of his way (he was bringing in "fresh meat").

Let this be a word to the wise!
Name withheld

Elyse is News of the Weird!
Your puff piece on the mayor's wife ["All About Elyse," by Alison Cook, March 2] was not what I would call hard hitting news. Why don't you use your space for important items, such as the URL for the News of the Weird web server?

John Edens

Don't Diss the Irish
I am a regular reader of your publication and have enjoyed many of your articles and reviews through the years. I must say, however, that I am rather disappointed with the comments made at the beginning of the St. Patrick's Day Guide [March 9]: "Hail St. Patrick ... show your respect in the traditional Irish way -- drunkenness and debauchery." I must say that having a grand aul piss-up on St. Patrick's Day has become an American tradition and is not the "traditional Irish way." Suggesting that the way to show respect for St. Patrick is to engage in drunken obnoxiousness could be likened to encouraging people to eat fried chicken and watermelon in respect of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It's just not a very nice thing to say about a people and their traditions and values.

I try to have a pretty good sense of humor about these things, but I think you were a bit out of line with this one.

Michael F. Quigley

... Or the Subcontinent
It is typical of R.T. Castleberry's insularity and arrogance that he has chosen to deride India and her problems instead of applauding the considerable progress she has made in becoming self-sufficient in the fields of science, trade and industry, agriculture, medicine, etc. [Letters, "Save the Tears," March 9].

In spite of India's overwhelming poverty, famine, disease, religious strife, illiteracy and apparent backwardness, it has a lower rate of homicide (religious or otherwise), teenage pregnancy, juvenile crime, child abuse, incest, violence against women, divorce, single-parent households and mental illness than the U.S., a relatively affluent society. Think about it, Bubba!!

K.L. Rebello

... Or Even Brad Tyer
Since I moved to Houston last summer I have been a reader of your publication. I have been particularly impressed with your music section. Brad Tyer's writing about national and local music was always a fresh alternative to the general music press. Tyer is a good writer. He writes intelligently without intellectualizing and is not afraid to express his own opinion, wherever it may happen to lie on the critical spectrum. At the heart of his writing is an appreciation of the music; the music -- not the current scene or latest fad -- seems to matter most. I will miss his writing and point of view.

This past issue I read Randall Jamail's response to Tyer's comments about Jamail and Justice Records [Letters, "Job Hunter," March 23]. It is clear to me from the plain meanness of Jamail's letter that Tyer's comments were probably grossly understated. Jamail's comments also underscore Tyer's independence and honesty: if Tyer were trying to curry favor with Jamail he would have never written the piece. What is far more troubling is the fact that the Houston Press would print a letter that is nothing more than a personal attack on Brad Tyer. But what is most troubling is the Press' retort, in which the editor appears to take glee in having the opportunity to kick Tyer when he seems to be vulnerable. I am used to a world with too many people with an excess of money but who are sadly bankrupt of class, character or other saving graces. It is startling and ironic to find these insensitivities in a paper that appears to espouse the causes of the individual.

If Brad Tyer has a chance to read this, I wish him well and hope that his bright future saves him from suffering the petty indignities of employers like Randall Jamail and the Houston Press.

David E. Schoenbaum

Editor's note: Thanks for the letter. We hear Brad's still available.


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