The Wheel World
Online readers comment on "Don't Kill the Messengers," by John Nova Lomax, January 6:
Nostalgic: I miss my short days of being a bike messenger. You live on your bike, and it's you versus the world. Well, mostly you versus pedestrians and pesky taxicabs. If I could make a great salary at it, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The messenger scene: I'm not sure how much more these folks will have to say, and I'm not really sure how important the good old days are, but it is true: There are messengers in Houston who love the job and add to the scene, whether it is throwing races or throwing parties and having their bands rock the living room. Many of the new guys also travel and represent Houston in national and international messenger races. In any case, everybody and nobody is an authority.
Respect: I have worked in downtown many years and remember the heady Enron days when it seemed messengers were everywhere. I remember watching a messenger get hit by (or hit) a Metro bus. He eventually got up and pedaled away (doing S-turns). Earned my respect that day.
Online readers comment on "Eating to Live in the Third Ward," by Katharine Shilcutt, December 30:
A hate group: I generally enjoy Katharine Shilcutt's reviews, but I have to question why she chose to review a restaurant associated with The Nation of Islam. Certainly that association has no bearing on the quality of the food being served, but reviews do serve as a form of promotion and advertisement for the restaurants covered.
The NOI is considered a hate group by many watchdog groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, and with good reason, in my opinion. Farrakhan is a racist who has verbally attacked whites, Jews and homosexuals many times over many years, and I question the wisdom of promoting a restaurant allied with him or the NOI.
The owners may be the nicest people in the world, and not racist or homophobic at all, but I would expect some criticism if I opened a restaurant associated with the KKK or another hate group, regardless of my own beliefs.
I'd say that if a critic chooses to review a restaurant associated with things such as hate groups or religious cults (for example), she should also mention a fuller description of what that group may support before sending new customers in their direction.
Dialogue: Unfortunately, Skintaster forgot the wise saying, "You know a tree by the fruit it bears." If the NOI truly was a hate group, then that would reflect in the service of customers who are part of the targeted groups. Can anyone provide evidence that anyone who was Jewish, white or homosexual was treated with anything but courtesy and humanity? At a certain point in time, everyone is going to have to come to grips with the fact that the NOI didn't start the fight but has been defending black people and itself for years against false charges.
Get up to date with where the NOI is today and stop listening to people like the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center, who use the NOI as fundraising material. Pay close attention to the Homeland Security Assessment of the NOI after 9-11; the report not only said that the NOI was not violent or a threat to America, but it shouldn't have been investigated in the first place. Come to the Consciousness Cafe for good food and maybe some dialogue and peacemaking. Bean pie, anyone?
Beliefs important: While the food sounds good, sadly it's lost in the agenda of its owners. If the shoe were on the other foot, then the place wouldn't get off the ground. Perhaps what should have been a focus of the review as well is what the owners, on the record, believe. While food and beliefs are two separate issues, when a place puts it out on the table like they do, it plays a pivotal role in its identity.
State of the Arts Orgs
Online readers comment on "Suggested New Year's Resolutions for Three Houston Arts Orgs," Art Attack blog, by Troy Schulze, January 5:
Finally! Great to read someone at last calling the Alley out on their own ridiculous casting practices and seasonal programming. Years ago, the Alley actually had a local rep company where the majority of the actors were not shipped in from New York and L.A. The only locals in Alley productions have been doing those same shows for more than 15 years. Are those actors the only ones in Houston at all with talent? I'd venture to say that's not true.
The sad thing is that the Alley is not the only Houston theater that ships in actors/productions from New York, L.A and elsewhere and then has the nerve to complain about cost overhead. If only Stages and TUTS would cast their local productions entirely with Houston-based talent. If only.
Hire locally: I agree 100 percent on the Alley resolution. I would go so far as to recommend it be applied to all facets of many of the arts organizations in Houston. Seriously, take a look. How many are staffed (on stage, back stage, front of house, administration) primarily with people who were already here? Houston has such a wealth of talent, but so many of these orgs just don't seem to see it.
And when they do hire locally, it's quite often just the same (usually imported) people moving from one org to another. I know for a fact that there are more highly qualified people in the Greater Houston area (both born-and-raised and here of their own accord) than are currently being employed or even interviewed by Houston-area arts organizations. I would love to see their application pools — maybe local talent just doesn't even try any more. And that's a shame, because who would care more about doing more for the arts in Houston than someone already invested in the city?
Two thoughts: 1. HGO's Nexus Program could use some promotion, since people clearly aren't aware of their genuinely good audience development efforts — a nice HP feature would be a great start, eh?
2. Art Car Parade: an event attracting up to 250,000 attendees is no longer relevant? I appreciate the desire to maintain artistic integrity, but wouldn't it be ideal to bring those people into the fold rather than to throw the baby out with the bathwater?
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Katharine Shilcutt's review of Pho Ga Dakao, "Gaga for Pho Ga," contained a mistake due to an editor's error. Pho Ga Dakao is the only restaurant in Houston that specializes in pho made with chicken, not the only place that makes it.
The Houston Press regrets the error.