Malicious: I am a big fan of the Houston Press, and I look forward to each week's paper, from the music to theater sections. However, I cannot help but comment on the malicious nature of the recent article on Chris Knudson ["The Edge of the Spotlight," by William Michael Smith, August 24]. I am the first to commend honesty in print -- candid, albeit constructive, criticism is always my favorite kind, even if it is critical of my work or the work of my friends. However, this article seems to be motivated by something else. We're not talking about Knudson's music, his lyrics or even his message and image. Instead, this is a clear attack on his character, and it reads as vindictive and petty. Yes, I'm acquainted with Chris, and I'm the first to admit that many, if not most, artists and musicians can be difficult. Chris is surely no exception. But an opportunist? An asshole? Neither would be the first terms I would use to describe the man. And what was the point of the article, aside from being unkind? I'm intrigued by why this extreme attack was necessary. Furthermore, I'm intrigued by why this article was allowed by the powers that be at the Houston Press. If I want to read gossip or slander, I'll pick up the Star or Mirror next time.
Childish: As eloquent as you were by ending your article with the closing "bullshit" statement, I'm afraid your readers may now begin to take your critiques less seriously. Why read a music column if it doesn't talk about music? This kind of childish slander really doesn't help Houston or the Houston Press stand out as a major source for information on local culture. It paints Houston as an uneducated, petty city with journalists who don't know enough about art, music or culture to report it and instead write about something completely irrelevant. Although this may describe only the journalist who wrote this article, it reflects on the city as a whole.
I have worked with Knudson on more than one occasion and have no idea how any of this slander could be factual.
I hardly think reading a bio from Knudson's Web page makes anyone an expert on his relationships with his colleagues and longtime friends. All artists self-promote; if we went around telling everyone we were awful, no one would want to listen to us. It's our job to sell people on how wonderful we are. The opinion of a local artist no one is familiar with, or who doesn't have enough courage to back up her petty gossip and doesn't even work in the industry, is an even less impressive way to back up your argument. Finally, criticizing a musician for wanting the dimensions of a performance space? Give me a break -- any musician knows that's standard.
However, I suppose it's much easier to make up your sources or perhaps take one person's skewed opinion rather than track down real leads, behave like a real journalist and do what they're paying you to do. Good luck with your career in journalism. You'll need it!
Bullshit: I found William Michael Smith's piece on Chris Knudson to be little more than a mean-spirited rant. It told me nothing about Knudson's singing. It instead focused on his alleged bad reputation, which probably has no bearing on the average live music fan, at least not me. Smith seems to use "ham-fisted" just because it sounds cool, and I think he's got a personal beef with Knudson for some reason, like maybe Knudson slept with his girlfriend or something. Try to print more useful and informative stuff next time. I call "bullshit" on William Michael Smith.
Buy a clue: I found the article on Chris Knudson to be just plain rude. It seems like this is a personal attack on him (perhaps that "local artist" is an ex-girlfriend who's just upset that she's no longer with him) instead of a real critique of his music. I mean, come on, this article is for a show that hasn't even happened yet.
I think the entire article is just in poor taste and that William Michael Smith's journalistic abilities are nonexistent. (And what's up with using three names -- perhaps someone is a little too full of himself?) I wonder if he's now dating this "local artist."
William (sorry, I'm using only one of your names), why don't you both go to the bank, take out a big loan and buy a clue, as well as spring for some real journalism classes so you can write articles that are actually worth reading?
Doing the robot: Thanks for your bit about the poor excuse for customer service that is Reliant Energy, and on top of that, throwing a smack at Best Buy in there ["Reliantly Unhelpful," Hair Balls, as told to Richard Connelly, August 31]. I just got off the phone with Reliant on Tuesday, August 29, and got batted around before ending up with a robot that just repeated an excuse to me that he read off a sheet of paper. For the mountains of money that Reliant rakes in, you'd think they could spend some of it on hiring friendly, helpful people to help other friendly people. Whenever I spend time on the phone with anybody's customer service, I make my best effort to be polite and courteous, knowing that they spend most of their time dealing with unruly people. However, Reliant Energy (and Best Buy, for that matter) refuses to return that courtesy.
Breeding bigots: I'm an avid reader of the Houston Press and am disappointed in the quality of the articles and letters written and allowed to be printed in your fine paper. I'm referring to your "Ask a Mexican" column. Allowing racial slurs and cowardly comments only adds to our social unrest. Articles such as these create a breeding ground for bigots and cowards who would never voice their views in an open format. I am a person of African heritage and am very disgusted with Gustavo Arellano for even addressing such a disrespectful question as "How come niggers don't like Mexicans?" [August 24]. It's bigots like him and the gentleman who wrote the letter who keep hatred alive and well. I've shown this paper to my family and friends, who are black Americans and not niggers, and they too are appalled. I challenge you to print this letter as freely as you did the foul-mouthed Mexican's.
Dear Mexican: In one of your previous responses to a question regarding grooming by Mexicans, you stated that "No self-respecting Mexican man shaves his head..." [August 10].
I am a clean-cut Latino, no tattoos. A few years ago, I began experiencing a receding hairline. The alternative to this was to use Rogaine, have hair transplants or let the remaining hair grow long and then comb it over in a "swirl" so that it looks like a plate of spaghetti. In my opinion, men who do this have no self-respect, and they think no one will notice they're going bald. Ha! We all notice...especially the rucas!
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So I began to shave my head, for that "clean" Yul Brynner look. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the ladies began running to me. Damn...Had I known this, I would have shaved my head when I was ten. I go into a club and sit at a table, out of nowhere, a pair of lady's lips kiss my head from behind, or a lady asks to rub my head (I warn her that it makes my ears stand up). Maybe I had that zip when I had my hair but just never noticed it.
I receive many compliments on the look I've had during the past seven years. Now, the important thing is to have the correctly shaped head. If you have a camel-hump head, then don't shave it, get a toupee.
By the way, pass that e-mail address to me from that Enamorada Gabacha with the broken heart, or just send her mine.
"El Sancho Pelon," a.k.a. Camilo Contreras