Mr. Congeniality
Regarding the question of whether traditional groups such as the Men of Houston Morris Dancers should have a separate category in your annual music poll [Pop Moment, "Mucking It Up," by Brad Tyer, May 19]: I don't suppose we really give a rat's arse if you include us in your little popularity contest or not. We've actually done quite well with no help from your publication so far, and I suspect we'll be here long after the Houston Press has gone on to tabloid Valhalla.

I must admit, however, that we were somewhat amused by Mr. Tyer's reference to our "bagpipe shenanigans." We've been together for 18 years now, performing at least once a week. That's a lot of shows. But I can only assume Mr. Tyer has never seen any of them, since we have never once worked with bagpipes. Or perhaps he has seen us but thinks bagpipes are a kind of guitar. In either case, if he's that ignorant about traditional music, perhaps what is needed for the Press to have a little credibility is not a new category but new reviewers. Get hip, Brad, or leave it alone.

William E. Galbraith

The End of Innocence
Robbie Bayley's story ["A Bad Place to Die," by Steve McVicker, May 5] is, by all means, a sad one, and my heart goes out to his family. I find myself wondering, however, what, in essence, is more tragic: the fact that a 16-year-old kid carried a hatchet and cold-bloodedly killed a "friend," or that, after the gruesome murder, dozens of kids wandered into the woods to view the body because it was, as they claimed, "something to do."

The fact that a child (like many others in America) carried a dangerous weapon and chose to use it is, I feel, cause for concern. Equally distressing is the fact that so many kids, most of whom knew Robbie, would treat the whole thing as a simple pastime.

It's obvious there's a problem with society today. Kids nowadays are in great need of a strong set of values, which should be embedded in them by their parents and teachers.

Maia Larios

BMX: A Token Gesture?
Thanks for Steve McVicker's article about mountain biking in Memorial Park [News, "Panic in Memorial Park," May 19]. For years HAMBRA has worked for trail preservation and maintenance without any assistance (financially or physically) from the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. HAMBRA has organized many trail clean-up and maintenance days.

When HAMBRA was finally granted a meeting with William Smith, the new head of the Parks and Recreation Department, on April 28, 1994, the decision to close all the trails in Memorial Park to mountain bikes had already been made. No discussion. Was an environmental impact study ever done?

As a concession, HAMBRA was told that a BMX trail would be made for mountain bikers. Why is there suddenly $75,000 available for a BMX trail? Why was there never any money available to match HAMBRA's funds for trail maintenance? Where is the money coming from for the BMX trail? Whose idea was it to build a BMX trail? Who is the architect who will design what the Houston Parks and Recreation Fact Sheet on Memorial Park Trails refers to as a "new challenging 1.5-mile mountain bike trail"? How much is this architect getting paid? BMX is not the same as mountain biking. The City of Houston might as well build a swimming pool for the mountain bikers as a concession.

The majority of the people who ride mountain bikes in Memorial Park are ready to do anything to keep the trails open. We need to work with, not for, the Parks and Recreation Department. There must be compromise -- not road blocks.

Kathleen Packlick


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