By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
I was struck dumb upon reading P.B. Miller's otherwise excellent review of the live production of A Clockwork Orange.
P.B. (Porridge for Brains, perhaps?) seems woefully misinformed as regards the identity of Anthony Burgess, the author of the novel upon which the stage play is based.
Mr. Burgess, who died in 1992, was arguably the most celebrated British man of letters of this century. In addition to A Clockwork Orange, certainly his greatest claim to fame on this side of the Atlantic, he also authored the acclaimed, semi-autobiographical Enderby novels; Man of Nazareth, a fictional retelling of the life of Christ; and Napoleon Symphony, a darkly comic take of the less heroic aspects of the French Revolution.
Moreover, his works of nonfiction (the biography Little Wilson and Big God, plus innumerable volumes of literary and linguistic criticism) earned him several awards and the grudging respect of the European academic establishment.
As versatile and accomplished as he was, however, he never played the Penguin on the old "Batman" TV series.
Editor's note: The Observer received numerous letters pointing out the real identity of the Penguin. P.B. Miller, however, insists he was joking when he stated that famed author Anthony Burgess--in addition to his many other accomplishments--"...still found time to play the Penguin on the old 'Batman' series."
I'm a fan of Robert Wilonsky. Even though I disagree with about half of his opinions, he writes intelligently and honestly. Best of all, he seems to actually love music and care about the "scene" in Dallas. It is a scene that, in truth, is no better or worse than others, depending on whether you're looking from the inside or the outside.
But now we are in serious disagreement. Michael Corcoran [Street Beat, May 4], one of our best writers? I'm not sure how Robert means "best." Maybe the guy had good punctuation.
Lest we forget: Michael Corcoran said Stevie Ray Vaughan and Otis Redding were overrated. He called Bonnie Raitt an over-hyped lounge singer. He said Brian Wilson did so many vocal overdubs to hide the fact that he couldn't sing!
When he criticized, many times he was cruel. That shouldn't come with the job. I'm glad he's gone.
In the contentious climate surrounding abortion, the challenges that service providers face are frequent and certainly complex. For this reason, I thank you for the part of "Charlotte's Web" [May 18] which focused on the dynamic vision and philosophies Charlotte Taft brought to the Routh Street Women's Clinic.
Charlotte Taft's dedication to providing a top-quality service despite significant obstacles speaks to the integrity with which she ran the Routh Street Clinic. Although Taft no longer directs the clinic, her powerful vision lives on in those whose lives she has touched. She reminds us that even with the most painful of choices, women's lives can be enriched when their needs are approached wholistically--and compassionately.
Aimee Diane Israel
This is not a letter from a far-right extremist. In principle, I support a woman's right to choose. Abortion is not therapy or a rite of passage, nor should it be used as a method of birth control. After reading Charlotte Taft's views, I realize Gurdjieff was right--people need to check their heads and wake up.
The article about Charlotte Taft and the Routh Street Women's Clinic was interesting and informative. However, the point that the Routh Street clinic was the only one providing "in depth" counseling and treating women as individuals is just plain wrong. The idea that the pro-choice movement "hadn't been honest with women" was actually Charlotte's idea and not representative of what was happening in all abortion clinics.
I have been with the Fairmount Center for 16 years, and its executive director for the past 10. The center has always respected the fact that a fetus is alive, and we have never led women to believe that it is "just a blob of tissue." Our philosophy and policy has also always been to provide individual care and individual counseling. The article was correct to point out that this is not cost-effective or efficient, but we believe it is the best way to provide care.
Executive Director, Fairmount Center
In the absurd morality of the '90s, Mark Donald would have us pity Charlotte Taft for her falling out with Dr. Braun. Did she really think a man with a stilled conscience like Dr. Braun would keep a verbal commitment to sell her an abortion clinic? Certainly not when he needed money for himself.
We have long since accepted that Indians have souls and one man cannot own another. Very soon I hope that we will accept that aborting babies is murder. Flexible notions of life and "personhood" put all of us and our civilization at risk. It is a blot on the soul of our democracy that men like Dr. Braun can earn a handsome living killing the unborn and that Charlotte Taft interprets killing children as helping mothers.
I find it supremely ironic that feelings, those uncomfortable things that Charlotte Taft bravely helped women address for years concerning the difficult decision to abort or continue a pregnancy, were what forced her to resign under siege from Routh Street Women's Clinic. To be specific, Dr. Lea Braun's inability or unwillingness to confront and resolve his own feelings of financial nervousness led to the temper tantrum that forced Ms. Taft out. Maybe Dr. Braun should get some Taft-style gentle, unhurried counseling.
The larger tragedy, of course, than the surely temporary loss of Ms. Taft to the women's reproductive health field, is that this incident is the quintessence of what is wrong with our so-called health care system. (I say so-called because it is not healthy, and the only systematic part of it is how poor people are denied care.) When profits and human needs collide, guess what loses.
Health care is a right. Let's act like it.
Son of a preacher man
Perhaps Robert Wilonsky should do some research before spouting off about his most despised band du jour [Street Beat, May 18]. Surely a journalist of his caliber could have discovered that Zac Maloy, lead singer of the Nixons, is a preacher's son from a small town in Oklahoma. Perhaps that is why their music is "loaded with religious icons and references."
I have to agree that the Nixons send out mixed messages, but any fact-finding mission on Wilonsky's part would find the source of that confusion to be Maloy's upbringing. I think Maloy has grown up questioning, "Is there a God?"
Is there? Who hasn't pondered that age-old question? We are obviously confused, and that's what Maloy's songs are all about. Music isn't always self-explanatory. The beauty of music is that it makes you think and question what you know.
Country's pretty boy
You seem to bemoan commercialism in country music by trashing Ty Herndon's first effort ["Thank God he's a pretty boy," April 27]. I am neither a fan nor a detractor of Mr. Herndon, but I do contend that the noncommercial song has never been recorded.
Recorded music is commercial. Why, Mr. Wilonsky, do you think music of any kind is recorded? To give away? To lose money? Recorded music may be profound, sugary, silly, dispassionate, disposable, dissonant, desperate, dissolute, distinctive, or downright dumb. But it is all commercial.
Adventures on the far right
It's ironic and appropriate that articles addressing Al Adask and Richard Armey were in the same issue ["True believers" and "The improbable rise of Richard Armey," May 4]. Your writers found many of the reasons which caused me to oppose these two men in the 1994 congressional race for District 26.
Armey is clearly a recognized political leader of the far right. He has actively worked on behalf of this faction's positions on education reform and restrictions on individual freedoms throughout his rise to political power. "They" know how we should live and are busy making sure we conform to their ideals. Voters in recent Richardson and Plano school board races spoke out strongly against this agenda. It is time for everyone else to wake up.
By the way, Armey delights in denouncing demagoguery while he practices the art form at its highest level.
LeEarl Ann Bryant
Mi Familia is that rarity of rarities--a genuinely entertaining film that just happens to be about Mexican-Americans. The film itself is so good it even lives up to Matt Zoller Seitz's praise ["America, America," May 11].
See it once. See it twice. See it as often as possible. Consider Mi Familia the ultimate protest against Hollywood Hispanophobia. Let's face it. The only thing that keeps Hollywood stereotypers in business is the fact that people make money off their stereotypes. What more poetic justice is there than to suggest to the Establishment that there is more money to be made not catering to Hispanophobia that there is in encouraging it?
Helping to make Mi Familia a success at the box office is certainly a more positive accomplishment than simply shaking one's fist in the direction of Howard Stern. And more entertaining, tambien.
Rogelio Mendoza, Jr.