Humbled: Thank you for "Crossing Lines" [by Margaret Downing, February 16]. I have been a supporter of the School of the Americas Watch for a few years now and felt virtuous for writing a few letters and making the occasional small donation to the cause. After reading about Donte Smith, I feel humble, small and grateful that people like him still exist.
Some might hesitate to compare him to Martin Luther King, but I don't. They were both willing to leave their comfort zone and make personal, real sacrifices for total strangers. They set aside racial, cultural and national differences for a belief in a shared humanity. Both were imprisoned for their beliefs, while still resisting violence. As a parent of a young adult, I can understand his family's pain, but hope that they can, at least, take comfort in seeing proof of the values instilled in him.
Please keep your readers updated as to his fate, as well as any way we can offer our support and assistance to him and the other brave, righteous protesters imprisoned with him. Peace,
Is prison worth it? I hope you will do a follow-up on Donte. I am interested in how he feels about all this after his prison term. Here is a link to a site where I posted exactly that question some short time back: prisontalk.com/forums/showthread .php?t=179239.
Do you think political prisoners think prison is "cool" once they're really in there? And was it worth it? And did their actions really cause any changes to come about?
Dear Donte: I'll send you letters while you're in prison, if you'd like. What you did was brave, but one day, you'll understand what upset your parents so much. What we do as individuals affects those around us as ripples from a pebble affect a pond. That said, I think you're amazing. Finish up at Georgetown, and join those of us who try to make even small differences through the practice of law. This country and this world need more people like you. Blessings.
The Band Wagon
Takin' care of business: My name is Jonathan, and I am a member of the local group by the name of .Belville. I just wanted to comment on your article in the Press this week ["Band Suicide," by John Nova Lomax, February 16].
I must say this, thank you very much. As I was reading this piece, I was thinking about the group I'm involved in. I was finding some of the things you said ringing true with us, both negative and positive. So I thank you for pointing out some of the things that bands that are successful do and don't do for comparison.
I also have to say that I agree with the point that you made about how bands here are mainly making music and having fun, but...at the same time, I will say that's not true for all bands. .Belville, for example, is having fun with what we create, but at the same time we are beginning to take the steps needed to be successful in the business. We are working on getting some money together to make a recording of our new material since I have joined the group. And we also are preparing for a show during SXSW on March 16.
I understand that you probably were not saying all bands in Houston are apathetic, for lack of a better word, towards the business aspect of music, but I wanted to let you know that there are some out there who are anyway. And that your article was very helpful in turning them in the right direction to "make it," so to speak.
Thanks again for the article; it was very helpful, at least to this band. But I'm sure it was as helpful to others out there.
Push it: Excellent article. For 15 minutes after a musician reads it, he'll be motivated. Then he'll be distracted by something and forget. I decided back in 2000 to move on with my life, drop the bands I was managing, and start fresh in Austin. I-45 had the motivation and lost it after being cooped up in a Geo Metro on the road for two months, and Secret Sunday could never decide to save money by drinking and smoking less and hit the road.
So I dropped them, hit the road, and was doing well DJing until the collapse of the electronic dance music scene. In 2003, I picked up photography, and now I go out and shoot bands and DJs. And as of January, I am back into the music industry full force, handling bookings for a new club in Austin called Red 7. I brought in Allan Holdsworth tonight, which was a success, and look forward to also bringing in more regional and national artists. I look forward to bringing in as many Houston bands as I can to support my hometown. Houston has the talent -- they need to push it like it were a drug.
Into the Abyss: Ah, Houston bands in the '90s. I worked my ass off having five practices a week and shows every month for 57 Farm Dogs. There's nothing like playing the Abyss in August with no air conditioning. We never wanted to be rock stars either; we just wanted to make enough money to quit our crappy jobs and play music for a living. Oh, well. I did have the as-yet-unsurpassed experience of getting to play on the Lemonheads' drums once, at the request of an inebriated Evan Dando. Good times, good times.
Dead-on correct: "Band Suicide" is the best Houston Press piece I've read, on any subject, in many years. The three sentences that make up the second paragraph are a near-perfect metaphor for your subject, The Plus and Minus Show's unexplainable journey. The first Press announcement, which compelled me to order the disc online sight unseen, was an immature reaction to the record. You compared it to a lot of great bands without hyperbole, and as much as you gushed it seemed you weren't ready to make your definitive statement on the record. Fifteen months later this record has you invoking Dostoyevsky and the New Testament, still without hyperbole.
Tom Bunch is probably the only person who could speak with this kind of authority in this article. And while I've heard a lot of very knowledgeable people grumble semi-publicly about members of Haaga's band holding back the supposedly inevitable success of the record, Bunch explained it in the harsh terms it deserves.
Medina and Varley are both dead-on correct, even if they don't agree with each other. I've seen both of them play breathtaking sets in rooms full of people who didn't seem to notice. But that is why I think the Houston music scene itself got off easy in your piece. I've seen Haaga's shows get ruined (if that's possible) because he was only given 20 minutes to play or because the club's sound was so bad, but mostly it's been rooms FULL of people steaming the place up for mediocre bands who leave en masse just as +/- takes the stage. That kind of crap is what people are really talking about when they say the Houston music scene sucks.
The photo of the crowd at the MFAH's Starbucks Music Series in "Art Girls Are Easy" [Nightfly, by Ray Hafner, February 23] was not credited correctly. The person who took the photo was Houston Chronicle photographer Bill Olive.
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The Houston Press regrets the error.
The Night & Day article "Tons of Tonk" [by William Michael Smith, February 23], about the February 25 Honky Tonk & Hot Rod Music Festival, stated that the Road Kings had disbanded. While it is true that the band disbanded for a time, it has gotten together for several gigs in the past couple of years and recently completed a new album. As a result of an editorial error, "Tons of Tonk" omitted this information and the fact that the band was on the bill for the festival. In addition, the piece incorrectly stated the festival's price of admission. The correct price was $20.
The Houston Press regrets the errors.