Remains of the Dead
Service workers: It was refreshing to see the interest in crime scene remediation ["Without a Trace," by Keith Plocek, August 3]. I work as a public relations director for a company out of Ohio, and I have encountered extreme resistance to not only any type of press relating to the company, but to discussion of it in general. It reminds me of how sex and pregnancy used to be censored in the early days of television. Unfortunately, death is a fact of life. On the professional level, it is frustrating that many do not see the value of such a service. We help to make the environment much safer. We do it because it is the safe thing to do. Contamination can affect many lives, not only of the victim's family, but also anyone with whom the family, workers or even bystanders come into contact. And yes, bleach and a mop not only fail to properly decontaminate the area, they actually make it worse.
On the personal side, it is reassuring to know that companies are out there to help. It is traumatizing enough for a victim's family to have to deal with the emotional trauma; they should not have to physically remove the remains. Again, it is one of those things that isn't discussed and is rarely at the top of anyone's list. In this age of disaster preparedness, it is something that needs to be addressed. So kudos to the Houston Press for not only recognizing a great public service but also having such an excellent writer show both sides of the story.
Sad but true: First, I could not agree more with your review of Gaido's ["Fish on Its Laurels," by Robb Walsh, July 20]. It was a family favorite and part of the holy trinity for eating out, along with Don's in Beaumont and the original Sartin's in Sabine Pass. My grandmother ran a local diner where SYSCO was reserved for the bulk steam-table items, and everything else was purchased locally and fresh, so our standards were pretty high.
Gaido's, in my personal experience, has shown the same sort of decline of most Landry family restaurants: a cynical reliance on past glory, tourists who won't be back anyway, and people who don't know any better. My wife and I recently drove from Texas to South Carolina and back, eating at three different Landry-family places, and we found that none of them does more than a perfunctory job of deveining their shrimp! I shudder to think of the tongue-lashing my grandmother would have delivered if any of us had served a meal as poorly prepared. Anyway, I'm just another Texan lamenting what Gaido's, Landry's and Don's used to be.
Let's Get Cooking
Hope for Robb: I'm impressed that ole Robb Walsh liked Kelley's Country Cooking, which is a favorite of mine ["Chicken-Fried Breakfast," August 3]. It often seems like he's pretty dang picky and a finicky eater who might turn up his nose at real food. Maybe there's hope for him yet.
Enough for everybody: I was sitting here reading your article about Kelley's, and I noticed that you mentioned only one location. Kelley's has multiple locales, one of which is on Spencer Highway in Pasadena, and another of which is on the Gulf Freeway.
Yes, their portions are enormous, and I have tried, too many times, to clean my plate -- each time to no avail. Great story.
A pass on the gravy: I enjoyed Robb Walsh's review of Kelley's Country Cooking. I used to eat there on trips down I-45. I was surprised and disappointed, however, that Walsh didn't take issue with what Kelley's presented as "gravy." I don't even want to think of the origins of that yellow chemical concoction. Real chicken-fried steak aficionados want cream gravy with their steak or biscuits. I personally think they use it as a method of crowd control. If they served real cream gravy, the chicken-fried-steak lines would be out the door and down the block. When I hear that Kelley's is serving real gravy again, I will be back.
What a Trip
An oasis: Your article on canoeing the bayou was admirable and amusing ["Dark Water," by Josh Harkinson, July 20]. A little over the top, sure, but I think it captured the romantically filthy image most Houstonians feel toward their relentlessly abused little river.
I'm not a native and have twice taken a little canoe down the river. The most striking thing I remember is the difference made by the Sabine renovations. Sure, the sentiment may be misplaced, and the actual improvements urbanistically shaky, but someone somewhere cared enough to actually change that stretch of bayou from a trash collector to an under-freeway garden.
Memories: Many thanks for a great article. I am sitting in (old) England with temperatures in the mid-'90s and wallowing in memories of Houston. You really set my mind going! I hope it was worth it.
Winchester Hampshire, United Kingdom
Great explorations: I thoroughly enjoyed your article. It was a brilliant pastiche of those classic explorer tales (like Steinbeck in The Sea of Cortez) but with a sort of haunting undercurrent as Harkinson nonchalantly reported on the trash and surviving nature he met on the way.
I must say I thought the ending was a little abrupt. I would love to have had a little bit more of an after-reaction: How did it feel when you were safe on dry land again? Did you feel like you had "discovered" anything?
Thanks for a cool and compelling article, quite easily the best thing I have ever read in the Houston Press.
Question answered: I really enjoyed your article. Having lived in Houston since 1983 and seen the bayous daily, I have always wondered what it would be like to canoe one to the Gulf. You answered my question with wonderful detail.
Tales Out of School
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Rules and reason: I come from a fairly extensive military background. Rules are good. Rules are necessary.
But there's a reason we don't have robots leading our nation's schools ["Cut Short," by Todd Spivak, June 29]. Considering circumstances the new law suggests (self-defense, intent or lack of intent, disciplinary history) should not be issued as a "may" to principals but a "must." Indeed, the old way was robotic, unthinking and ignorant of reality. By saying principals must consider a variety of student factors is essentially telling them to think, to consider, to evaluate. Principal Patricia Paquin did none of those in Pavlos's case. Let's hope other principals choose more wisely with similar situations in the future. Blindly throwing the book at Pavlos and other kids like him is a horrible decision, not to mention lazy.
And Houston, don't forget to change that to a must. Thinking instead of just reacting is a good thing, especially when it comes to our children's future.