Pandering in the Void
I have been Fayez Sarofim's personal secretary for the past seven years. I have known Linda Sarofim for 15 years. It hurt to see the Press gratuitously divulge details of their unhappy divorce ["Secrets of the Sphinx?" by Lisa Gray, August 1].

What did this family do to deserve such treatment? In her opening paragraph, Gray implies she targeted the Sarofim family because they are rich. Whose agenda did the Press promote? Certainly not that of the Sarofim children. As is usually the case, the gossip and court details reflect little of the actual situation. The Press has an opportunity to step into a journalistic void in Houston, but instead chooses to pander to the gossip mongers.

Taine Rockwell

Closet That Linen
I read with great interest, but with utter disgust, the article in the July 25 Press regarding the Variety Club ["Variety Club Follies," by Tim Fleck]. While I will not dwell on personalities or finger pointing, what is so obnoxious to me is that a charity as successful and visible as the Variety Club would choose to air its petty jealousies and supposed dirty linen in such a public and vindictive fashion. It is undignified and, quite frankly, it's sick! It suggests to me that some individuals connected with the Variety Club are spearheading this smear campaign strictly for their own personal agendas and obviously have no real understanding of the tireless efforts and hours extended by Laura Rowe, at great sacrifice not only to her personally but to her family, in order to make Variety Club the number one charity in the Houston metropolitan area when it comes to delivery of money and services to needy children.

My five-year history of donations to Variety Club will cease immediately and will be refunneled into other charities that display and demonstrate a much higher level of maturity and compassion.

Larry Sinclair

Gals Love Laura, Too
Your recent article regarding the Variety Club and Laura Rowe failed to mention the women who worked with and supported the club. You made it sound as if the Variety Club was run by Laura and "her guys," but you are sadly mistaken. There was no mention of the Gold Heart Committee, a group of 30 to 40 women who proudly supported the Variety Club and Laura Rowe. This group is by invitation only and helped organize the annual Gold Heart Gala. I know because I have proudly served on this committee for the past three years. This group was chosen by Laura because it was women she knew she could trust, rely on and work with on a daily basis to plan the events leading up to and at the gala.

Over the past two years, this committee has raised more than $35,000 by selling ads in the program that is handed out the night of the gala. The ladies of this committee are all volunteers. No one paid us to be a part of this committee. We did so because of our friendship with Laura and to help the children of Variety.

I have been a friend of Laura Rowe's for almost ten years. I have been in her home and have seen her with her family. I have worked side by side with her at almost every Variety Club children's party in the last four years. I have never seen her raise her voice or act in any manner other than that of a lady. I have always seen Laura Rowe as the Variety Club's biggest promoter. Entertaining at Houston's top restaurants leads to table sales, ad sales and auction items. If a few lunches with present and future supporters of the Variety Club help lead to thousands of dollars being donated, so be it.

Laura Rowe brought life back into the Variety Club Tent 34, and without her, the Gold Heart Committee and the supporters of the Variety Club, I do not think the Tent will survive. It sounds to me as if the Variety Club had some jealous people and disgruntled employees. I feel they have done Laura Rowe and the Variety Club a great injustice by airing personal vendettas in public.

The Houston Press, because of this article, has stooped to the level of the Enquirer or the Star.

Karen E. White

American Women? You Can Have 'Em!
I have never been a fan of the conservative "media bashers" who continually state that the "media" is terribly liberal and completely out of touch with modern society. However, after reading Randall Patterson's article about "Lovely Latin Ladies" [August 1], I may have to reconsider my current opinions about the media -- or at least about your newspaper. The article was absurdly unfair and almost totally biased against the companies who run marriage services and the individuals who participate in such services. Please allow me to tell you why.

Using the Internet, I found at least 50 companies that offer marriage services, and there are probably many more. My guess is that Mr. Patterson dug quite deeply until he found a company with a few skeletons in its closet. I am currently using Encounters International, a reputable company that offers to introduce American men to Russian ladies. The lady who runs the company has no "horror stories" to tell Mr. Patterson -- and as far as I know, no client of Encounters has ever beaten his Russian wife.

Simply said, Mr. Patterson went overboard to create sensational news, instead of doing an objective assessment of international marriage services. And I know that almost everybody currently participating in these programs will agree with me.

Finally, the reason why most American men want to marry foreign women is because they feel they have more in common with those ladies. They do not want a foreign wife just so they can have someone to dominate and abuse, and they certainly do not expect them to "disrobe on command!"

While it is a very bitter pill for us all to swallow, the fact of the matter is simply this: American women, in general, have lost touch with the most important values a society can have -- family values. All I can say is "let the American ladies have a ball with themselves." America is, after all, a free country.

I encourage all males who are not satisfied with American women to consider using international marriage services.

John Woodside

Beyond Hip in River Oaks
I am writing regarding your ongoing review of the River Oaks Grill [Cafe Capsules]. While I agree with your high marks for food, I must take exception to your smug and uninformed evaluation of the "piano bar scene."

My husband, Charlie Tilson, has been in a regular rotation with other pianists in the River Oaks Grill since 1991. On any given night when he is there, you'll hear compositions by Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson, along with recent music by R.E.M., Elton John, Bruce Hornsby, Don Henley and everything in between. Whatever is appropriate at the moment. Come on, it's a piano bar. What you won't hear is the tick, tick, tick of a drum machine or an amateur sitting in.

The customers I see at Charlie's performances are of all ages, reflecting the diversity of music he plays. It is insulting to typify them or us as being "worthy of an ethnographic museum." I assure you, we are interesting, literate and A.D. (and I don't mean antediluvian).

Sally Tilson

Underage, Out of Luck
As a local musician (albeit not a very good one, or I surely would have been nominated for something in your awards extravaganza by now), I like to show my support for our city's fine players in any way that doesn't involve a painful outlay of money. Shoot, five bucks to see all those bands at your Music Awards Showcase? Bargain of the year. My son, a bass player, is another big fan of several local bands that were featured on your roster of talent, so we snapped up our tickets at our local Best Buy and sailed forth eagerly on the afternoon of July 28 to stuff our ears with cool sounds.

Imagine our surprise and disappointment upon discovering, at the very first venue we visited (the Rhino Room), that my son would not be allowed in to see his beloved Sad Pygmy because he is underage. The manager of the Rhino Room was extremely kind and apologetic but adamant about enforcing the age rule. Same thing at the Ball Room.

Unfortunately, these two places were the very spots where the lion's share of our favorite bands were playing. On the upside, we were allowed into 8.0 to see 30footFALL, to McElroy's to see the Harry Fish String Band and to Instant Karma to see Atticus Finch and the Jinkies, so we definitely got our money's worth, but I would like to suggest to whomever is in charge of such things that the public should be warned before the fact that certain clubs will not admit 13-year-olds, even if they are accompanied by their moms and/or dads. The day still rocked, Houston bands rule and we had a great time, but I'm sure that my sweet kid wasn't the only disappointed indie band fan that day.

(A brief aside to your nominating committee: is it just me, or is there a massive chunk of local talent going vastly unnoticed in your musical peregrinations? I've never even heard of most of the individual players you nominated for best this or that, and, while I am happy to be informed of their existence and wish them all the best, I can't help being stunned by your exclusion of our local jazz artists. To your credit, you included Harry Sheppard and David Craig and Sebastian Whittaker, but mightn't you travel a bit farther afield one day and also include Tod Vullo, Clayton Dyess, Erin Wright, the Houston Jazz Trio, Andrew Lienhard, Ray Wilson, Erich Avinger, etc.? These are not obscure choices; they are all ace musicians with considerable performing and recording credits to their names. Just a suggestion!)

Julia Olivarez

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