Hasta la Vista, Brad
How dare you attack Ken Gerhard and Bamboo Crisis [Recordings, by Brad Tyer, February 3] -- and it was an attack, not a review.
Really, Brad, slamming us for our music is one thing, but the way we dress and look? You have sunk to a new low I did not believe possible. Not even for you.

Well, let me tell you something. If you would let yourself get a little "fashion happy" (tip from experienced scenester here), dress up, bathe and shave, and put on some good-smelling cologne, you would not spend so much time on your barstool, you would be out on the dance floor with beautiful people like us! But then again, you can't wash away prejudice, can you, Brad?

I do not like the music you listen to, but I don't slam you for listening to it, nor do I hold any ill will for the people who make it. I respect any artist who has what it takes to make a record, and you should too, Brad.

Instead of driving a stake through our music scene because you do not like something, write something positive, support us, bring us together. Like the music awards last year, remember Brad, all the diversity of the Houston music scene together at one time? "Thanks for putting stylistic differences aside." You showed pictures of my beautiful Bozo Porno Circus to illustrate those words you wrote.

And yes, Ken Gerhard is our resident mastermind and don't you ever forget it! Anyone who at 26 years of age can produce a super-clean disk like Bamboo Crisis' Shapeshifter or Pinque's Hush... The Drama deserves better than that worthless drivel you printed under your byline.

One more thing, Brad. I am like the Terminator. I will not stop ever until my artists have reached their goals and proven how wrong you are. And I have overcome bigger obstacles in my life than you, Brad Tyer. So get out of my way!

Bobby Joe Rose
Personal manager for Ken Gerhard, Bamboo Crisis, Bozo Porno Circus

English Lessons
My, my, aren't we just too, too... well, blase? I rarely miss an issue of the Houston Press, but sometimes I must heave a weary sigh when your contributing writers try to out-yawn one another. I experienced such a reaction to Brad Tyer's review of the Paul English release party for his CD Beauty ["The King's English," February 17].

As a recent refugee from California via west Texas (long story... just trust me) and a new resident of Houston, I was gratified to stumble into a Paul English gig at a local restaurant/bar. I credit jazz as part of the reason I have made it into a healthy middle age, and Paul English for easing my transition to "the big city." Not only is he a virtuoso, but he seems to have a startling knack for gathering the creme de la creme of musicians to his particular ambiance.

If sometimes something doesn't work quite as well as we onlookers would like, perhaps we should chalk it up to the risks artists take.

The evening did create a "nice feeling" (as Tyer admits), and I'm sorry, too, that the feeling doesn't last. But how thankful we should be that we have the opportunity to feel as that event made so many of us feel. We got to get dressed up (fun every now and then, even though some can dress it up better than we), we got to see some incredible performing, and we were worn out when it was over.

Maybe the party after should have been at Whole Foods. We all would have felt right at home, I'm quite sure. Even with Brad Tyer and his date.

Valerie Sanders Bryan

Volunteers Don't Work
Both Beth Hill and Charlene James neglected to discuss the crucial issues concerning the shortcomings of the ombudsman program and nursing-home care [News, "Nursing-Home Blues," by D.J. Wilson, February 24]. Beth Hill is obviously a conscientious and compassionate volunteer. Charlene James is much more competent than the majority of public servants I know. There are two underlying systemic problems with the ombudsman program: first, the majority of nursing-home residents would prefer to live at home, but do not have that opportunity; and second, volunteers are capable of significant contributions to the delivery of health and social services, but some functions, i.e. the role of ombudsman, are best left to paid workers.

Volunteers perform an essential role in the delivery of health and social services. Without their contributions, the delivery of these services would be much more expensive. However, few individuals -- particularly the "young old," as Ms. Hill aptly points out -- are willing to become ombudsmen. The less-disabled elderly are for the most part hesitant to visit what may become their final residence.

In addition, many potential volunteers of all ages are unable to muster the fortitude to visit many nursing homes on a regular basis because of the poor care, unmanaged incontinence and unanswered calls for help often encountered in a nursing home. Most volunteers would prefer to contribute in a job that is not a constant reminder of their own aging process and mortality.

The ombudsman program, created by the Older Americans Act, is based on the incorrect assumption that a sufficient number of volunteer ombudsmen could be recruited to perform the overwhelming task of advocating for the rights of nursing-home residents at every nursing home in the United States. It is simply impossible. Compensation of those who act as ombudsmen would certainly increase the coverage of nursing homes. However, given the enormity and expense of this undertaking, the use of paid ombudsmen would not be cost-feasible.

The energies of Ms. Hill, Ms. James and others may be better channeled by communicating with their state and federal legislators about the need for less expensive alternatives to nursing-home care which provide funding and access to service at home rather than in institutions.

Donald R. Smith
Former manager, Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging

Boat-Rockers Need Not Apply
Is there good advocacy for the elderly, infirm or disabled in Houston ["Nursing-Home Blues"]? No. Are the Mimi Stebennes effective in their selfless endeavors to help? No. Is this the way social services should be run?

The problem of effective "services" in our town is entrenched in the fear that something might get done, and that would create real work for the city, county, state and federal bureaucracies. Our tax dollars go to hiring more and more staff that we (as good citizens) hope will create good services -- but do not.

This is like what some of us see happening not only in governmental jobs, but regular industry as well. It's a world of yes-men (and women), and people are hired who won't "rock the boat." Nothing ever gets done.

Check out your favorite 501(c)3 nonprofit group, especially the ones that tout their "mission" as delivering help to their membership of need. Check to see what percentage of the nonprofit boards of directors are actually the persons who will be receiving the help. Read their quarterly reports of assistance. Talk to their staff of volunteers.

Mimi's and Frankie Fox's frustration is not at all unique. It has been mine as well. Should Mimi and Frankie seek employment out in the real world, I hope their prospective employers do not read D.J. Wilson's article. Why? Because people who want to do a job well and make a difference don't get hired anymore.

Name Withheld

Say No to Management
D.J. Wilson's ombudsman story ["Nursing-Home Blues"] makes it clear that the problem is with the management. According to Ms. James, chief of the program in Harris County, the ombudsmen have "unrealistic expectations"... complaints come from "disgruntled family members."

The ombudsmen who quit were very realistic. There are people with whom you pass a point of no return and you should give up on them.

Sam Perlin

Cigarettes Kill Reading Pleasure
I've always enjoyed reading the Houston Press, and I pick it up on a regular basis. However, after picking up yesterday's edition [February 24], I've probably read my last issue.

Your inclusion of the Camel cigarettes advertisement was very upsetting. I think it is morally wrong for publications to promote such a disgusting product that kills so many people each year.

If your publication ever decides to stop accepting tobacco advertisements, then please write and let me know. Until then, I've read my last Houston Press.

Tony Alcock
Missouri City

Watch Your Language
This morning at a local Rice Food Store I picked up one of your newspapers for the first time. When I got to work, I was flipping through the newspaper looking at advertisements. I personally feel that advertisements tell you a lot about a newspaper. I turned to page 43 in the February 17 issue, and Whoomp, there it was -- an ad about Sweet P***y Pauline. [Editor's note: The ad was for Sweet Pussy Pauline.] I was shocked at first, and showed it to my boss and co-workers, who are all guys. They said they had never heard of her but would like to meet her.

When I was growing up, I was taught that that was a bad word. And being a 29-year-old wife and mother of a nine-year-old son, I still think so. I think that advertisement was very tasteless, and now I see why your newspaper is free. No one with good sense would pay a dime for it.

K. Cato-Romero


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