Letters to the Editor

Cheers: Jim Gainous relaxes with his corncob pipe at one of his regular happy-hour spots downtown, the Red Cat Caf. He freelances in architectural restoration construction.
Deron Neblett

Cross Ways

Altar the angle? Have you become a fucking Christian newspaper or something? I know you probably won't listen to me, and you probably won't even read this letter because of the profanity in it. But like I said, WHAT THE FUCK?

Ever since the Press changed its cover design, it seems like every other story has been about how the Christian God has touched someone's life. There's the gangsta rapper-turned-Christian preacher ["Turn the Beat Around," by Jesse Washington, January 18], racquetball player-turned-Christian boy ["Speed of the Light," by Jesse Washington, November 23] and many others. Now you publish a story about a Pentecostal bus driver ["The Ballad of the Singing Shuttle Bus Driver," by Jennifer Mathieu, February 8].

I'm not saying that I don't think the lives and experiences of these people are valid, I'm just saying that they are boring, pitiful, unexciting reading. Those kinds of stories happen all the time. Every Sunday, some wretched, evil drug addict or whatever is getting saved. That's great for them, but their stories don't belong in the Press!

How about a story about someone who was in a Christian church, got burned and then found peace and fulfillment in good ol'-fashioned agnosticism? Or how about someone who left a Christian church and found satisfaction in satanism, or in Wicca, or in whatever?

What I want are some hard-hitting news exposés, or if you want to publish "human interest" stuff, maybe something that doesn't read like it's from a copy of Daily Devotion. Jesus Christ! Just please, no more Jesus!

Jack Ditko

Editor's note: When it comes to religion, we're equal-opportunity -- not ecumenical. In recent times, the Press has had features on a pill-popper passing himself off as an evangelical preacher, Wiccan converts and wild testimony on the killing of the former top U.S. atheist. Articles have occasionally scalded the religious right, hammered hard-core fundamentalists and had fun with fringe sects and unusual lifestyles -- from Buddhists to worshiping nudists. There's an, uh, ungodly number of compelling faith-related stories, and we'll keep bringing them to you.

Pilgrimage: It was a refreshing experience to read a well-written article about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in such a typically liberal magazine. The subject of rapper Darryl Scott's salvation was approached respectfully, and the information given about Christians was accurate. The article made me want to take a trip to Martin Luther King and Old Spanish Trail to meet this man.

As for Scott, I pray that God may bless him with love, wisdom and strength as he fulfills the ministry set before him by his Lord.

DaLona Niland

Marking Up Maxine

Plugging a baron: I very much enjoyed your article about Maxine Mesinger ["Goodnight, Miss Moonlight," by Lisa Gray, February 1]. I did find it incredible, however, that you could write it that long without mentioning Baron Ricky di Portanova and "his Baroness Sandra." I rarely read any of "Big City Beat," especially in recent years. But from what I know about the column, it seemed like she plugged that couple most of all.

There were a few times back in the mid-1970s, when I worked on the night copy desk at the Chronicle, that I was given Maxine's column to edit (she often had her maid deliver it to the night city editor toward 10 or 11 p.m.; it was still the era of pencil-and-paper copy back then). At first I tried to change such Maxinisms as using "secy" as an abbreviation for "secretary" because I thought it was kind of stupid, but I soon gave up and just corrected any typos, factual errors or misspellings that the night city editor missed.

Roger Tanner

AfFront to the Senses?

No cover-up on this one: "Sometimes the art is shocking: An R-rated series titled 'Cemetery Girl' mixes blood and full-frontal nudity" ["Caveat Vendor," by Lisa Gray, February 8]: Whoa, let's stay away from full-frontal nudity -- shocking indeed. I experienced full-frontal myself just this morning. I hope the bucks you spent on this junk were not your own.

Susan Craig

Home Runs

Builders are bullies: Shame on Toy Wood ["When Life Gives You Lemons…," by Brad Tyer, January 25]. She makes no mention of the modifications to the Residential Construction Liability Act of 1989, under the guise of protecting the building industry from "frivolous lawsuits" and "disruption." The standard builder's contract with the buyer states that the builder isn't liable for any claims made by advertising or salespeople. Doesn't that legalize lying?

Recent amendments allow the builder to recoup the cost of litigation from the buyer and for Texas courts to "compel mediation." Then there's the threat, "but the cost will go up," to intimidate consumers so corporate irresponsibility can continue. Has Wood not read the home warranty that says the buyer pays the builder's cost of litigation even if the claim is legitimate?

The reality is that skilled lawyers, not skilled laborers, are building homes. Buyers are expertly manipulated and duped into accepting a shoddy, disposable, unsafe product because builders have written themselves above the law.

If litigation costs are draining profits, why are home builders able to contribute staggering amounts to candidates? Is there a conflict of interest when, as Tim Fleck reported [Insider, June 9], Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack earned an additional income of $12,000 per month as consultant to a real estate developer? Or when Texas judges accept campaign contributions from someone with a case before them?

Please urge your representatives to support both a lemon law for homes and campaign finance reform.

Mary Betzler

Night Fright

Musician's mortuary: Please hire Aaron Howard as your next music editor. He is the best music writer in Houston.

As for live music clubs, the local scene leaves a lot to be desired. Why don't more people support live music here ["Staying Alive," by Aaron Howard, January 4]? Simple: It's too much of a hassle to go out in Houston at night. Parking, cover charges, late starting times, mediocre talent and stiff drink prices are some of the many barriers keeping the public away.

Why go out when you can see concerts on your satellite dish? Houston has some fine live music venues. However, most folks aren't willing to risk a trip if they've been burned.

Some of the best local acts simply won't appeal to a mass audience. They must be seen to be appreciated. I'm glad we have them in town. Live music may be a dying art form. I hate to see it go, but all things must pass.

Michael Richard Laman

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