By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Not a review
This letter is in regard to P.B. Miller's review of A Degree of Death at the Pegasus Theatre ["Dead serious," January 18]. First let me say I am not associated with Pegasus Theatre in any way except as an occasional patron. I was very disturbed by the review of this production. I hesitate to use the word "review" to describe an article in which a critic superimposes a ludicrous and highly fantastical interpretation on a play.
In my humble opinion, the purpose of a theater critic is to review a theatrical event as to whether or not it meets certain standards of quality which are to be strived for when participating in the theater arts. Granted, these standards, as with most of art, are subjective, but then the critic must use his own personal standards from which to gauge by. This was not what P.B. Miller's article was. P.B. Miller's article was a fantasy college game enacted on the readers of the Dallas Observer.
P.B. Miller states that Queer Theory is popular on college campuses. While that may be true, it does not justify its use as a means of theatrical criticism. P.B. Miller did not write a review. P.B. Miller wrote a class paper. No wonder the arts in Dallas have such a bad reputation. When the Dallas media spend valuable space and time making fun of the arts, then it just creates a feeling of alienation.
Your music section finally compelled me to write. Now I fully accept that the Observer is a so-called "alternative" street rag, and thus mostly targeted at horse-haired trippy hippies and mall air addicts, but your music section persists in dropping the names of hip-hop, R&B, and soul acts frivolously.
Let me point out that I roundly agree that 1995 was a hopeless year for all kinds of music ["Who gives a Hootie?" December 28, 1995]. In fact, I used to like rock, but I haven't in the last few years because nothing decent has been released (except perhaps Nirvana's first album). You correctly include the Dogg Pound and TLC as examples of production over inspiration, but when it comes time to give kudos to good albums in a bad year, you proceed to ignore so-called black music now that you've made your token noise.
You ignored brilliant albums by KRS-One, Mobb Deep, Brooklyn Funk Essentials, and D'Angelo on the East Coast, and though the West Coast has largely disgraced hip-hop with its Doggy-Pound-2-Pac-of-stupidity--Dr. Dre-adful--there was still the inspired LabCabinCalifornia by the Pharcyde. Just as a note, few people, especially the press, seem to know what hip-hop is. Hip-hop is KRS-One, A Tribe Called Quest, Common Sense, O.C., The Rock Steady Crew, Chubb Rock, Jeru, Guru and Premier, the Pharcyde, De La Soul, MC Lyte, The Fugees, and other creative groups that have stayed true to the genre. It isn't anything from Death Row or the N.W.A graduates: That's just plain rap.
If the Observer doesn't claim to know about, or handle, hip-hop and R&B, then don't mention it, and I'll respect you more that way. But don't drop names as if you have a clue, and then proceed to gambado about dressed in your ignorance!