By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Nothing but the truth
To Laura Miller--great work on "Combat zoning" [September 19]. You and the other great writers at the Dallas Observer go underground to tell the real truth about the stuff the Morning News will not touch. Keep up the great work, and we will keep abreast of what is really going on in the Big "D."
Erase the board
Your article about Wilmer-Hutchins schools ["Last in the class," October 3] excised the truth many of us suspected was buried there, but didn't get. I remember quite clearly visits to the schools--and with administrators--some years ago when I was a "cub" reporter for the now-dead Dallas Times Herald. You could sense something was wrong.
A rotten dew of adult guile dampened the students' earnest, youthful optimism. High school there meant several wasted years lacking the merest chance of intellectual awakening. But I hope your article, and some followup coverage, quickly helps restore the chance.
It's a pity children in search of an education should have to put up with a school board such as has been visited upon the innocent in Wilmer-Hutchins. The voters are to be pitied as well, but at least they could, if they wished, vote the rascals out of office.
I recently learned that politicians in the city-state of Singapore must pass an IQ test before they can be offered to the public. Perhaps if the state Legislature had any cods at all, it would pass a similar law in Texas.
How would it be if anyone who wanted to be a member of any school board would first have to show a proficiency in education: a passing mark on the G.E.D. or an SAT score of at least 800?
The W-H school district is the epitome of everything that is wrong with the democratic system of government. Perhaps a little education of the elected officials might turn things around.
I appreciate your bringing up the fallacies of the City of Dallas in dealing with its classical music station, WRR-FM 101.1 ["Static quo," September 19.]. I do not, at this point, think that the city has the integrity or the knowledge necessary to manage the station. However, I believe commercial takeover would not help at all.
Even if a private owner decides to keep WRR classical, commercials and announcements necessary to his livelihood would prevent him from playing long classical works (complete symphonies and operas would be out!). However, there is one major alternative you overlooked: conversion to nonprofit radio. (The Friends of WRR can do this!)
I do not understand the statement that "proposals from Stanton and North Texas Public Broadcasting [were rejected because] neither could guarantee that the station would make adequate profits." Isn't the function of public broadcasting to receive funds from the public and use them without profit? Take the example of Texas Public Radio, which manages KPAC-FM 88.3 in San Antonio. This jewel of a station collects $200,000-plus twice a year in pledge drives. When a listener makes a $40 pledge, he acquires a year's membership in Texas Public Radio. Though absolutely no profit is involved, the station has built up a respectable CD library and hires tasteful announcers.
[The station airs] shows like "Performance Today" and "First Hearing" from National Public Radio, and plays complete operas every Tuesday night and Saturday afternoon.
Native music gurus like Gerald Self produce their own shows focusing on particular areas in classical music. In short, KPAC supplies San Antonio and the surrounding area with great classical music--commercial-free, 24 hours a day.
If classical music lovers in San Antonio can pool their resources and create an excellent classical music station, why can't the citizens of the Metroplex do it? Why does great music have to provide powerful people with financial benefit to be feasible?
Via the Internet
Regarding A.C. Hall's Comments [Letters, October 3] on the WRR story: He is obviously an avid classical music fan. His comments about Chris Douridas are therefore biased; Douridas did more to improve KERA-FM's programming than anyone in years, and he is sorely missed. Hall's point, however, is well taken. If WRR would pump some money into itself instead of continuing as a low-budget operation, it would be a standout.
Those of us old enough to remember radio in the '50s and '60s know that playlists of 60 records at a station were not uncommon, and programmers willing to take a chance were rewarded with a greater audience share and a larger piece of the advertising pie.
This is a far cry from radio of today, with its tight playlists and lack of imagination. Apparently, a solution is as near as a pioneer with deep pockets. I know that Gordon McLendon, pioneer in his own right at the old KLIF in Dallas, would agree. Ted Turner, are you listening?
Best lauds, and gripes
As I sit reading the 1996 "Best of Dallas" issue [September 26], I find myself wondering when this paper became a mere tool with which its editorial staff can deliver petty jabs to the community it serves. I realize that it may be a stretch for your staff to fill a 256-page paper with the liberal dose of venom that drips from the pages of a 112-page book, but "Nordstrom with an S"? Please. How, exactly, does that figure into the "Best of" theme? I am pleased to discover that your staff feels superior to the clientele at Grinders. (I suppose that when you visit, you do open your German philosophy books, and that makes all the difference.)
And how fitting for a Dallas publication to imply that there's something wrong with a preference for lunching at home. For those who have worked hard at making home a place worthy of enjoying, what, exactly, is wrong with dining in peace away from the obtrusive eyes of small-minded people who feel you must be "seen" at Star Canyon or Joey's for every meal to be worthy of the envy that every "true" Dallasite craves? I think it's a shame when a publication looks down its nose at its readers, because without us, who are you?
Your recent "Best of Dallas" issue was an entertaining and amusing read about the many offerings of the city's great eateries, entertainment, services, and more. It was with great surprise that I read your comments on The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The writer made two errors of fact, and several assumptions that are not correct.
Assuming the writer was referring to a "family of four" as being two adults and two children, he states the cost for enjoying the gardens as $25. In fact, the most a family would pay is $20, with two adults paying $6 each, two children ages 6-12 paying $3 each, and a parking fee of $2, with any children younger than 6 being admitted free. These fees are comparable to an average moviegoing experience. And as 10,000 people are already aware, the best value is an annual membership of $50 allowing free admission and parking year-round.
These fees enable this organization to operate a safe, family-oriented attraction and respite without burdening the taxpayers of Dallas. Less than 15 percent of our annual operating costs come from the City of Dallas, while the majority is derived from corporate and private contributions and admission fees.
I'm also afraid we should be disqualified from your category of "Best public park," as we are a public botanic garden and arboretum, not a public park. An institution of our founding and mission charges us with the responsibilities of education, research, and display, as well as a recreation site of art and beauty.
As a 66-acre garden created to educate visitors from North Texas and around the world, it is our responsibility to exemplify all types of gardening capabilities. The writer quips that we display a garden as a "how not to" when, in fact, we are teaching Texans "how to." The Palmer Fern Dell, which is located on less than one acre of our 66-acre property, is equipped with the most economical mist system available in commercial use. It utilizes spray at a minute size of .005 microns at quarter-hour intervals in order to display and show one of the largest fern collections in Texas, as well as one of the largest azalea collections in the United States.
Oh, and by the way, on xeriscape, The Dallas Arboretum currently displays and promotes every shade tree, ornamental tree, shrub, perennial, and ground cover recommended for a xeriscape garden by the City of Dallas Water Operations Control Center.
Jill Magnuson, Director of Public Relations
The Dallas Arboretum
This letter is in regard to the "Best of Dallas." Saying Tripping Daisy is one of the reasons Dallas had a bad music scene is unbelievably ridiculous. The first time I heard them, I thought they kicked ass. I've seen them many times and met them all, and they are the most down-to-earth guys. Considering they swept the 1993 Dallas Observer Music Awards just goes to show this magazine is purely hypocritical. One year they rock. The next they don't. Whatever!
One past article in the Observer was about the UFOFU and Tripping Daisy show in Commerce. It said the crowd barely noticed the change from UFOFU to Daisy. My friends and I were the only ones standing for UFOFU, and we sure noticed the change, seeing as how we were pushed five feet front and back, left and right, every five minutes. Obviously, if you can sell out a show or two, something is working. The next time you want to exclude Tripping Daisy from the best-band-in-the-world list, do your research. They rock and I will love them forever.
Miss you, too
I moved here in July, carrying with me all my material possessions, three issues of the Observer, and no regrets. Montgomery, Alabama, has its symphony, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and museums, as well as landscape, rivers with real fish, and lots of quality bluegrass music, which requires far more skill than any band with a name like Slobberbone will ever muster, should they live to be 100.
What it doesn't have is John Wiley Price, the Dallas City Council, or the Observer. The first two you can have. The latter will never be matched in these parts during my lifetime. You produce a level of journalism that is too easy to become accustomed to. I miss it.