Vanguard Battles

Vanguard Battles

Get out of Jones: As a graduate of Jones High School who grew up in the neighborhood, attends church, volunteers and mentors many of the students in the neighborhood, I am appalled with the reporting of the situation that is going on at Jones ["The Great Divide," by Margaret Downing, March 7].

We are having a lot of problems with infighting and the Vanguard Parent Organization members who have caused a drastic decline in trust and morale in the school and community. The reported division and accusations are over 25 years old, not just two and a half.

The article that you ever so one-sidedly presented only heightened resentment and added fuel to the fire. It did not report that many from Jones High, not Vanguard, have gone on to graduate from universities. Jones was successful before Vanguard and will continue to be successful when Ms. Udden and Mr. Wilson get their segregated way.

After investigating, I find that both of them have made it a personal -- not academic -- matter to have Mr. Allen removed as principal. I question their motives and agenda for what is best for Jones High as a whole.

Contrary to their personal beliefs, James Simpson is not the answer; every lobbyist needs its token. His academic credentials are impressive, but what are his social credentials?

Not a single HISD administrator has addressed the PTO or Jones Alumni Association since this began. I cannot with a clear conscience recommend the Vanguard Program because of the socioeconomic education it is teaching and its leadership of the VPO and South Central District office.

The battle is not between VPO and the local community; it is between right and good.

Keith A. Perry

Bring back Pace: It is with great sorrow that I read about the growing divide at Jones High School. We were always proud to call ourselves "The Jones Family."

We had problems in my time as well, but I always felt the administration and then-principal Arthur L. Pace were friendly, receptive and approachable.

I would think that the Vanguard parents and students are probably more demanding on school administration than most. When I started school at Jones (in '81-'82, the first freshman class), I had the chance to go to school with the children of some of our area's leaders and with kids who would certainly be leaders -- the kind who work, not wait, for change.

Perhaps Mr. Pace should be brought back to Jones. I can remember him speaking in the assembly hall to the students, saying, "We care about you this much. I hold my arms straight out, reaching into infinity."

Charles H. Carter Jr.

All in the Family

Yates needed help: You pointed out several possible outcomes other than the Yates children being murdered ["Otherworldly," by Margaret Downing, February 28]. It's a shame no one in Andrea's life had the sense to get her away from those innocent children.

Rusty Yates and Dora should have made sure Andrea got the help she obviously needed. Talk about "all the signs were there."

Rusty Yates is disgusting! A Web site?! There's a grieving father for you! I agree with the man on the bus -- he should have been on trial with her!

But instead, you have Dora saying walking in circles 45 times was just Andrea exercising? And the great family man who works at NASA provides his family a Greyhound bus to live in. From what I can tell, the whole family's disturbed!

Lynn Beard

Slam Dunk

Stereotypical tripe: The young woman's coach ["Foul Out," by Wendy Grossman, January 31] said she can't run, she can't jump, and she doesn't have a jump shot. The evaluation was that she is a lazy, inconsistent player who lacks leadership skills.

The NAACP's reported response was that this was "stereotypical and negative." Of course it's negative. If the girl is not good enough to play on the team, then the remarks will be negative. And as far as the remarks being "stereotypical," stereotypical of what? Her race? If so, they've gone too far.

The coach's remarks have nothing to do with race. I am a former collegiate athlete and understand firsthand the "extra" punishments brought against athletes with regard to academics. If this young woman's mother is going to cry out every time she gets "extra" punishment, the girl may as well give up playing competitive sports. The mother needs to accept that if her child is going to participate in athletics, she will have to uphold higher standards. If she can't cut it, she shouldn't play. The rest of the dedicated athletes don't need whiners distracting them.  

Name withheld by request

Car Killer

Keep him in prison: I was at a punk rock show recently and saw a flyer about Brian Deneke's killer being able to go free ["Punks, Jocks and Justice," by Julie Lyons, October 21, 1999]. The American justice system should recognize that Dustin Camp is a killer and that's that. There is absolutely no way that he should be able to go free until his eight years are up. It wasn't like it was an accident; he blatantly ran over Brian, therefore it was murder!

I've been into the punk rock scene for a while, and I just think it is outragous that someone could even think about running over another human being because he was different. Camp should get a reality check and learn that life isn't about running people over with cars.

Sarah Wheeler
Windsor, Canada

End Results

Mitchell's magnificent: Fortunately, my wife and I saw Doug Mitchell's new set of plays, A Necessary End, prior to reading Lee Williams's review ["Dead on Arrival," February 21]. If the order had been reversed, we might have skipped them and missed an entertaining evening. What Williams called "illogical and unmotivated dialogue," I found to be humorous exchanges by couples placed in extreme or absurd situations. It certainly helps that the dialogue is delivered (expertly, in my opinion) by two of Houston's most experienced stage couples, William Hardy and Susan Shofner, and Tom Prior and Leslie Maness. I have seen several of Mitchell's plays and believe his dialogue is of the highest standard.

Maybe Williams was in a sour mood or just doesn't like this style of comedy. However, I would encourage your readers to see for themselves. I can testify that the audience laughed almost continuously and enjoyed themselves the night I went. Lee asked "why these plays were ever produced in the first place." In this age, we need all the humor we can find. These plays help.

Doug White

Out of Service

Ling's lacking: Kudos to Robb Walsh for exposing how little attention to detail is paid in the kitchen and to the service at Ling and Javier in the new Hotel Derek ["Supermodel Cuisine," February 7].

My friends and I ate there recently, and the music was great, but that was about all that was memorable. With the exception of one entrée, the food was deplorable. The roasted pig was so overcooked it was virtually inedible.

Even worse was the inattentive, arrogant and clueless service. Our ashtrays were never cleaned, our entrées each arrived five to ten minutes apart, and there was a collection of empty wine glasses and plates at one end of the table for the duration of the meal. We even had to get up and find our waiter twice.

All of us dining that night have been in the service industry and know what to expect from a restaurant with such prices and elegance. None of us got anything close to what the Hotel Derek is surely striving for, nor will we return. Except maybe for the DJ.

Loris Zucca

Gaul Stones

There's life in the burbs: Apparently Robb Walsh's editor sent him on "an awfully long drive" out to Eldridge Parkway to review the Le Mistral in "les suburbs" ["French for Beginners," February 21].

What a shame he had to rub shoulders with "the suburbanites in their ribbed turtlenecks, blazers without ties and freshly coiffed gray hair."

Indeed, "Eldridge Parkway is a long way from France," as is all of Houston. Many of us suburbanites are well traveled. We even travel to other parts of the city. Can you believe, we may even travel to France and other parts of the world as well?

We even read your paper way out here and buy the products your newspaper advertises, and there is a huge group of us potential customers out here in suburbia.

We are sorry that Walsh had to travel out of his usual surroundings, which obviously put him in a sour mood. We would appreciate subjective ratings of restaurants way out here in the "boondocks" as well as the ratings of the "inner-city" restaurants. Someone, if not Walsh, will have to do such.

Nancy Meeks

Stirring It Up

Cuban it's not: Your Stirred and Shaken column [by James W. Crooker, February 21] states that mojitos are perfect "with spicy Cuban food like arepas and jerk chicken." Your writer has a hazy concept of what Cuban food is about. Cuban food is not spicy. It is mainly derived from the cuisine of Spain and the Mediterranean, and it is well seasoned, but never spicy.  

Arepas are typical of Venezuela and unknown in Cuba, and jerk chicken is typical of Jamaica. Saying that they are Cuban specialties is as incorrect and uninformed as saying that pizza and goulash are typical French dishes.

Oscar R. Gutierrez

Straight to the Cory

Bone Morrow: Nice job on the Cory Morrow piece [Local Rotation, by Rob Patterson, March 7]. You said a lot of things that needed to be said.

Michael Johnson

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