By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
A real poetry slam
No doubt Robert Wilonsky has heard, being as he is music editor for the Observer, the never-ending litanies of Dallas' popular-music community and how band members and fans alike still feel the media give local music short shrift. But when this staunch supporter of the local music scene comes to writing about poetry, he denigrates the entire local poetry community while falling all over himself with little love bites for the half-dozen well-established voices on Leaning House Records' first spoken-word CD ["Rhyme and reason," May 16]. And you know what? That bugs me.
Tell us all, Dallas Observer--arbiter of what Dallasites should or should not believe about goings-on in our city--tell us what Robert Wilonsky's petty value judgment did for anyone? Tell us all how his divisive cheap shot helped encourage the 50 or so fledgling poets who are barely out of high school but are still flirting with a discipline far more complex than the petty fact-stacking journalists in Dallas seem to believe deserves "reverence" and "star quality."
And tell us all how reviewing the likes of Billy Goat, Butthole Surfers, and Pump'n Ethyl gives Wilonsky the license to determine for us all which genre of poetry is "good" and which is "bad."
Maul at City Hall
On May 8, I attended my first city-council meeting. I went as an opponent to the zoning changes in Deep Ellum, where I live and work ["A tale of four streets," News, May 2]. As disappointed as I was with the final vote to approve the zoning changes, that does not compare with how disappointed I was with the behavior of our city council.
For those of you who have never been, I strongly urge you to go once to observe our elected officials in action. I have never been more disgusted and discouraged by the political system. I was amazed at the sheer childishness of their behavior and at the fact that the whole Deep Ellum issue seemed to take a back seat to petty in-fighting and political "back-scratching."
Chris Luna, our councilman, had firmly made up his mind not to compromise on any of the recommendations put forth by the City Plan Commission. Of course, he couldn't afford to, because several of his larger contributions come from the Deep Ellum property owners who requested the changes. His position was no surprise. However, I was shocked to hear Mayor Pro Tem Max Wells state he would vote against anything the other council members brought before the council if they voted against Mr. Luna's motion to pass the zoning. Anything.
How absurd is this?! Is it fair to vote on the integrity of a neighborhood with threats like that hanging over your heard? It's blackmail.
Although absent for the majority of the discussion, Mayor Ron Kirk reappeared just in time to give his support to Luna and call for a vote. On the vote to amend the zoning proposal to allow tattoo parlors and piercing salons without special-use permits--the only change we wanted to the entire proposal--the initial vote was 8 to 7 to amend the zoning change. That is, until Larry Duncan changed his vote, rendering the vote 8 to 7 to deny any change to the proposal. He said he pushed the wrong button, but I wonder if Wells' threat was in the back of his mind.
I could go on and on--and not just because "my side" lost. The actions of the majority of the city council were appalling. I'm glad I went to a city-council meeting. I learned a lot about the political workings of our city. I learned that there really is no forum for discussion at a city-council meeting as long as a majority of the council votes with its own political agendas in mind. I learned that actual issues are secondary to selfish political gain.
Specifically, in the case of the rezoning of Deep Ellum, I learned that Dallas does not appreciate the unique attributes of its most-diverse neighborhood, that a few developers can force their "vision" of what a "desirable place to live" is on an already thriving and viable community, and that, in the end--as always--money matters.
Speaking up -- and out
The article "Power of words" [News, May 2] is the perfect article to explain some of the hostility between races.
I believe Doug Hellman has the right to feel threatened when American people are asked to vote on a national language of either English or Spanish. I would not dare ask people to give up their cultures, native languages, or beliefs just because they live in other countries. But I would ask they be able to speak the language of the country in which they decide to live.
The question I have is: Would the Hispanics in Mexico learn to speak French, German, or English because someone had decided to move from their native country? Or would the Hispanics expect that person to learn their language?
I also believe that the people who come to this country and work hard to become citizens, and learn the language so there is not a wide barrier between them and the native people, should be able to receive help (welfare) if they need it. The problem is that Americans are being turned down to receive the Social Security benefits due them, but if you are not from this country, you can receive welfare for as long as you want to (or so it seems).
The problem is there is not enough money to go around, and I believe you cannot take care of others if you do not take care of your own first.
So hard to be hip
The letter from Jeff Liles regarding metal and its followers ["Nail in metal's coffin," Letters, May 9] was pathetic. Don't ever presume to speak for "the public"; you don't speak for anyone but yourself.
Remember Theater Gallery? Jeff, your letter has the sour stink of hysteria about it--the smell of fear. What's the matter, Jeff? Are you running into fewer and fewer people these days who even remember who you were? Do you look the same now as you did in 1980? Is your own age catching up to you? Do the kids laugh at you behind your back when you try to hang with them?
Sucking up to youth culture won't make you a single year younger or a bit more hip. So much for your credentials. Mine include playing just about every type and style of music, past and present, without any qualifiers other than that the music be good. Genre-bashing is the last refuge of the insecure and self-righteous, and it is as wrong as you are. At least most of the bands you apparently revere have the honesty to acknowledge the groups that laid the foundation for what is mistakenly labeled "alternative" music.
Perhaps you should try on a little tolerance. I have my favorite music as well, but you know, Jeff, it gives me a musical center that the flavor of the month can't. The record companies are so glad that they are in control of the market again. You should hear them smirk in product-management team meetings when the bad old days are discussed: "Thank God the days of disposable artists are back!"
Doesn't have to be good, just has to be new! Poseurs and style-over-content advocates don't impress me, either, but do you really believe in your heart that metal has a corner on this market? Make music if you wish (or can), but don't belittle it if you can't contribute. Don't forget: In 10 years, the Foo Fighters will seem as silly as Cinderella.
ASKA and you shall receive
This letter is in reference to an article that ran in the April 11 edition of the Dallas Observer ("1996 Dallas Observer Music Awards"). The article was about the recent nomination of ASKA for best metal band.
I have a great deal of concern about this article and the so-called journalist who wrote it. My concern is the close-minded approach the article's writer, Michael Corcoran, took. I consider myself a fairly well-rounded person, and while ASKA is not one of my favorites, they are very good at what they do.
I have attended several ASKA shows, and whether one prefers their style of music is secondary. They are very entertaining; they put on a good show. I believe if you are going to publish a critique of a musical group, that critique should be based on talent, not appearances. It appears to me that Corcoran is jealous of ASKA's status.
I do not believe the main point here should be who is getting laid and who is not. As Corcoran himself stated, ASKA has been around for at least four years, and they still draw a crowd. There is something to be said about that.
However, there is something else that bothers me about the harsh tone of this article. We are supposed to live in a society based on freedom of choice and respect for diversity. I think this small, seemingly trivial article is exemplary of close-mindedness and disregard for others' feelings. Not only did Corcoran insult ASKA, he also insulted their fans (and you never know who may be a fan). In a day and age filled with intolerance, racism, and random crime, wouldn't it be nice to open a newspaper and find either kind words or at least words based on an educated opinion?
The media could lead the way. I know it sounds unimportant, but I see no need to make one's opinions quite so harsh. We, as a society, must start somewhere improving the hatred mind-set we have. It is usually better to start small. The Dallas Observer could be that small start the media need to induce in society respect for diversity.
Wrong woman on top
I settled in today to read Arnold Wayne Jones' ruminations on the state of women in the cinema ["Women, on the verge," May 2], but I stopped reading in the middle of the third paragraph.
If Jones cannot even accurately report the name of the actress announced just six weeks ago as winner of the Oscar for best supporting actress--it was Mira Sorvino for Mighty Aphrodite, Mr. Jones, not Kate Winslet for Sense and Sensibility--then why should I expect veracity from his subsequent observations?