Private Playgrounds?

Private Playgrounds?

Driving off beachgoers: While I realize that all sides needed to be presented in this article ["Line in the Sand," by Richard Connelly, February 13], I feel that an atmosphere of doom for vehicular beach access was cast throughout it. The final two paragraphs leave the reader with an overall negative impression.

There is the paragraph that parallels the outdated practice of liquor stores giving cups of ice to patrons for drinking while driving with being able to drive on the beach. It is followed by the assumption that "the change will probably end up helping the beach." These leave the reader with an unfair negative insinuation that the idea of vehicles on the beach is some kind of archaic damaging practice.

It seems obvious what's happening on the west end of Galveston Island: privatization of the beaches! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the beachfront homeowners, the 1,100-acre landowner and the City of Galveston all have self-serving reasons to oust the general public from their beaches. This affects all people who enjoy trips to the beach, not just the fishermen. These beaches that are closed to the public become private playgrounds for those who own adjacent land. What a deal!

I hope most people are able to see the transparent nature of the beachfront property owners' arguments. Texas beaches, by law, are public, for all people to access and enjoy.

Don Gemmer

Taking a Bow

Wonderful research: That was a fine and well-researched article in the Houston Press this week concerning the Houston Symphony ["Going Baroque," by Jennifer Mathieu, February 20]. In my 36 years as a member of HSO it is encouraging to see reporters like this one doing serious research into the organization and then writing such a thoughtful piece.

Richard Nunemaker

War Fever

Horrors, not Hollywood: What a nauseatingly beautiful cover story, Wendy Grossman ["Young Guns," February 6]! I've always loved the way several of the Press's feature writers can write so dispassionately about people, issues and phenomena that clearly make their skin crawl. The article makes an excellent "counterpoint" to Craig Malisow's terrific story on the peace bus to Washington ["Peace Signs," January 30].

You don't need an advanced degree in reading between the lines to see the main point: These young cadets and enlistees are children who have been fed a steady diet of military manure, and thus graduate from high school with no idea how the world really works. Their sentiments about serving their country are mostly admirable; their sense of what purpose our military serves in the world is delusional at best.

That gung-ho young gentleman from George Bush High School who found combat alluring after seeing Full Metal Jacket and Platoon has clearly missed the point of those films. War breeds and thrives on insanity; more civilians than soldiers get killed; American troops display the worst features of humanity and do things they couldn't get away with in their own neighborhoods. This side of the story does not get enough play in our schools.

Ms. Grossman should continue the investigation with a profile of local LOTC programs. I never knew that LOTC existed until I saw hundreds of uniformed middle schoolers and even elementary students mustering to march in (ironically enough) the Martin Luther King Jr. parade last month. There are plenty of ways to boost discipline in our schools; promoting military life to that age group is just plain perverse. We're becoming like those third-world nations where real preteens shoot real AK-47s in real wars.

David B. Collins

Rebel with a cause: The feature stated how many people from Harris County served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Gulf War.

It did not mention how many served in the Confederacy. They were called the Fifth Texas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company A, Bayou City Guards. The company was organized in Harris County, enrolled at Houston July 19, 1861, and mustered into the Confederate service at Richmond, Virginia, on September 30, 1861. They numbered 164.

David Williams
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Race and the GOP

Give us the proof: Sylvester Anderson in his "Minority Report" [Letters, February 6] is certainly passionate in his complaints about the Republican Party. I, for one, would like to know on what facts his opinions are based. He said the GOP has pandered to racial prejudices, but I saw no evidence to substantiate his opinion. If there is a "policy," what exactly does it look like? If it is "long-standing," shouldn't we all know about it? Again, Mr. Anderson says the party should rebuke itself from its "racially divisive strategy." What is the strategy that it should rebuke?  

He says Bill Clinton "maintained the Democrats' commitment to human rights." Is he implying that the Republican Party has no commitment to human rights? How does he know that? How does he know that the Democrats do? Clinton reluctantly signed the welfare reform bill, but only after Dick Morris convinced him that he would never be re-elected in 1996 without signing it.

Last, Mr. Anderson refers to the Republicans' Southern strategy of "exploiting race for political advantage." How exactly does this work? Where could one research this topic?

I'm sure Mr. Anderson is sincere in his beliefs and opinions about politics. Wouldn't it be interesting to know how he formed them?

J. B. Luther

Plane Ol' Copies

Creatively challenged: I guess I'll just have to see the other works by Vija Celmins ["Picture in Picture," by John Devine, February 6]. The painting shown in the review is an exact copy of an original photograph of a B-17 (not B-29) Flying Fortress that was damaged during a mission over Europe sometime in 1943. It was rammed by a German fighter plane while being attacked. Believe it or not, the plane made it back to its base.

The original photo is a tribute to the plane's strength and a crew's determination to survive. Even though the copy is a good rendition, to me it is still lazy art. Nothing was changed. There was no original thought to it. I did the same in junior high and high school with some of my favorite photos. I appreciated the photographer's work and didn't slap my signature to it. It wasn't mine.

The same could be said for this work. I guess I have to see her other works to gauge a better opinion. Copying pictures and calling it your original work doesn't cut it with me. Sorry.

Jim Yarbray

Eating Her Words

Menu mayhem: I read with disbelief your review of Boulevard Bistrot ["Teachings of the Pope," by Robb Walsh, February 13]. I've eaten there on many unfortunate occasions and have never left satisfied or even in the belief that a single person -- employee or management -- gave a happy damn about my satisfaction with the dining experience.

Monica Pope is an excellent cook. Her shopping abilities are unparalleled. She has many techniques and an extensive larder on her side, so in a sense she is like a well-prepared wordsmith. Unfortunately, I would compare her results to that of a dictionary. Like a dictionary, she has all of the words and techniques, yet she has not been able to connect them in any kind of coherent vocabulary with which to tell a story. The products that she offers are so often out of context that, instead of saving something historical or showcasing a wonderful heirloom, she distorts it in such a way as to make the item a bit of Frankenstein on the plate. If, as you say, she is educating customers one at a time, then perhaps it is because her menu is a flawed, wordy, trendy leaflet rather than a serious menu.

Such a mishmash of items without any thought as to how they are prepared, blended and presented, without the understanding of how they are properly eaten or what they represent, often leaves the diner bewildered and wanting to know what all the fuss is about. Like listening to someone struggle with a foreign language, her words may all be correct, but her syntax earns her a solid F.

Tom Williams

Reeled In

The missing fish: After reading your articles on Ba Ky [Best of Houston issue, September 26, and "The Durian Dare," by Robb Walsh, June 27], I went there for lunch with my cousin and ordered the ca chien nuoc cot dira. This came with a choice of fish: $8 for flounder or more than $16 for white bass. I was told the white bass, which strangely resembled a carp from Brays Bayou, would be more than enough for two people.

We received a marvelous-looking fish that upon further inspection turned out to be a fish head, a fish tail, some fried bones and skin, with no meat. What should have been an 18-inch fish was missing its middle. We complained at the dish's arrival to the waitresses who spoke no English -- they made no attempt to rectify the problem.

I contacted the manager, who also spoke no English, but through the translation assistance of another staff member, I was offered a 20 percent discount. He allegedly had to speak with his wife, as I had apparently eaten the fish; he could see there was none there. Explaining that it showed up that way did no good.  

I'm not used to dropping $28 at a Vietnamese restaurant and leaving hungry. Very disappointing -- definitely the worst meal I've had (or not had) in a restaurant in a long time.

Jeff Champlin

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