By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
I have never subscribed to the News in my 29 years living in Dallas, precisely because of a continuing inclination by the senior editors and the publisher to tilt the news to favor the downtown establishment. Like others on the Trinity River Corridor Citizens Committee who opposed the Trinity plan, I had long been frustrated because our message that non-structural solutions to flooding problems were the way to go was virtually ignored by News reporters, month after month and year after year. Then Jim Schutze's penetrating report "Flood money" appeared in the Dallas Observer last January and triggered an attempt by the News at least to appear to be "fair".
It is encouraging to know that staff reporters at the News finally are worried about all this, but they should have been worried a long time ago. And kudos to Robert Ingrassia for standing up to the powers that be in Belo-land.
Re: The Morning News and fairness covering the recent bond proposal.
When I was reading Jim Schutze's story in this week's issue, I recalled reading somewhere that the newspaper that evolved into the Morning News began as a circular promoting the original Trinity River levee bond issue. I tried without success checking the Observer's archives to see if I read it in your paper. Anyway, if it's true the News started out as a shill for a levee bond issue, it would be ironic that they are still at it.
Those were the days, my friend
Jim Schutze's article on the Morning News'' lack of coverage on the bond election should have held no surprises for anyone. It is no secret that Mr. Burl Osborne is more interested in being accepted by the wealthy non-entities of the Dallas power structure than in fostering the free exchange of ideas on which democracy is based. What most people do not realize is that at one time, the Dallas Morning News was a fearless champion of a righteous cause. In 1928, the Dallas Morning News, according to a speech a couple of years ago, by a DMN editor, was the only one of 14 newspapers to take on the Ku Klux Klan. I regret the absence of detail, but my wife went to the luncheon and didn't remember the name of the gentleman who spoke. I think it says quite a bit about a paper that its management has to go back 70 years to find something of which to be proud.
The shelter people
Being an avid reader of your weekly, I was greatly disappointed after reading the recent article by Christina Rees titled "Dog's best buddy" [Night and Day, April 30]. The fact that she took the time to write an article promoting the annual Pet Adoption program that is carried out on a national level is an indication that she has some knowledge of the animal population problems that the city of Dallas faces. However, her reporting lacked a thorough investigation of the shelters in our city. She mentioned Operation Kindness being the only local shelter with a "no-kill" philosophy, and although Operation Kindness is one of the better shelters in Dallas County, it is, in fact, located in Carrollton.
The Humane Society of Dallas County has been promoting responsible pet ownership for more than 26 years and has been successfully operating the only no-kill shelter in the city of Dallas for the last nine years. Also noticeably lacking was the mention of the Animal Adoption Center of Garland, which also has a no-kill philosophy in regard to its animals and is located in Dallas County as well. The citizens of Dallas are fortunate enough to be living in a city where many of the shelters work closely with one another to save and provide homes to as many homeless animals as possible. The tremendous amount of work and commitment performed by staff and volunteers alike should be applauded and mentioned in any future articles by your staff.
Sandra K. Luhring, Asst. Director
Humane Society of Dallas County
Thank you for the article titled "The g word" [May 7]. As a parent and member of the chosen minority (other cities target blacks, gays, etc.), I strongly feel it is important to keep educating the public about civil liberties or the lack of them. I live in Oak Cliff near the south Zang and Saner area. That is the area of Oak Cliff where police visibility is nonexistent. If you drive up and down my neighborhood at any given time, you will always find groups of men and women openly using or selling drugs. Along with that are the constant break-ins and theft of property. Such older thieves have become so bold that they are not afraid to steal in the presence of the property owners.
Also, don't forget the high rate of child molesters who live in the area after jail release. These older adults know that their lawlessness is protected by the fact that police are too busy harassing law-abiding teenagers. Sure, the police always pick up some kids who owe traffic fines, but for the most part they are pulled over for the "crime" of being a young Hispanic person.
Or Deep Ellum diversity
I would like to take a moment to clarify a point that was made (repeatedly) in the article "The g word." Deep Ellum does not have a problem with Hispanic men. Nor does it have a problem with gangs. Deep Ellum has had some problems with cruising. This refers to people of both genders and all races who are not old enough to get into most of the bars and clubs down here. They therefore resort to cruising as a way to socialize. The unfortunate side effect is that the people who otherwise can get into the bars and clubs are having difficulty because they get mired in traffic. The barricades and additional police are doing a fine job of resolving this difficulty.
In addition, Deep Ellum does not cater exclusively to "white people with large disposable incomes." Most Dallasites are aware that, in fact, Deep Ellum is one of the last bastions of diversity, where all are welcome. We have something for everyone, regardless of race, religion, creed, sexual preference, personal taste, and income level. How can a weekly Dallas-based publication not be aware of that?
Seven for Ben Folds Five
I just have to say, What the hell? The writer of your article on Ben Folds Five is certainly entitled to his opinion, but it is very inaccurate [Music listings, May 14]. What makes BFF so special is the fact that they take really boring, run-of-the-mill happenings in day-to-day life and make a song about them. This proves that they are more real than the so-called "deep" musicians who try so hard to be deep that it is they who are actually the poseurs.
I am highly offended that your writer would consider "Brick" to be the best song. And why? Simply because of the fact that it is based on a controversial issue? What makes a song about abortion better than one about a domestic dispute ending in death? Who are we as people to judge the importance of individual acts committed in this world? BFF has given us a window from which to look. It is not a window with a "great view," but it is the view you will see when you look out of any ignored window.
BFF are not the pseudo-musicians that you make them out to be. They realize that their songs may not be particularly literary or metaphorical at first. But if you think about their music as a whole entity, they are actually exposing the ignored, seemingly mundane aspects of human existence, which we all need to be aware of.
Keith Moerer is no critic. For some reason, he seems biased against Ben Folds Five. The majority of their songs are not meant to be taken seriously. They, unlike a certain Mr. Moerer, have a sense of humor and are very talented. Ben Folds Five is a critically acclaimed band and are well deserving of that acclaim.
I can't believe that you even have a job. How do you sleep at night knowing that you have just published lies and rumors about one the best bands of the decade? I wanted to spit after I read that "review" of Whatever and Ever Amen. You were so off the mark. Ben Folds Five music is anything but petty. They sing about life as it is and as they know it. I am truly sorry for you that your life is perfect. If you were to wake up, step back, and look at the album again, you might change your tune. I would hope so anyway. The band is doing a great thing, and I appreciate them for it.
What is the deal with people writing about something they seem to know nothing about? Keith Moerer states in the article how shallow Ben Folds' inspirations for his songs are--what the hell is that? Bands like Nirvana wrote songs about certain episodes of a television show, and shallow is a term I seldom hear for them. And what is this magical "novelty" that you speak of that Ben Folds Five lacks using a piano? What's novel about two guitars, a bass, and some drums? I mean, it was novel in the '50s when Buddy Holly did it.
Folds' lyrics aren't as sharp either: "'One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces' is about a short kid who becomes a powerful man taunting those who bullied him..." This just makes no sense at all. You seem to know what the song is about, but then somehow you don't understand that it is just a simple wish. It's not complicated or as intriguing as I'm sure your thoughts are with your vast knowledge of what is up to your standard for mental stimulation, but if you say that you have never thought similar thoughts as Ben Folds talks about in "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces," I bet that you'd be lying.
Was Keith's piece supposed to be a review of the recent Ben Folds Five show? It seemed more like a feature and a review of the album Whatever and Ever Amen, which he could have done months ago. I'd be curious to see what he thought of the show itself.
If Ben Folds Five is too simplistic for Keith Moerer, perhaps he should stick to analyzing Smiths lyrics in a coffeehouse with his goateed pseudo-intellectual buddies. Just a thought.
N. Richland Hills
I just thought I needed to give some feedback to such a negative article as I just read by Keith Moerer regarding a concert with Ben Folds Five and Superdrag. His pessimistic attitude seems more like an attack than an editorial. He seems to be more unappealing than his view of Ben Folds. I personally am a big fan and love them (which makes me somewhat partial), but the way he approached the piece seemed somewhat childish, and anyway, if they were so bad, would they be popular? Ben Folds Five just rocks. Thanks for listening.
I'm sure you've received a few angry letters already, but here's my take on your review of Ben Folds Five. In your review, you come across as sounding almost jealous of the fact that there is a band that can not only touch deep emotions (as with "Brick"), but also make a mockery of everyday occurrences ("Song for the Dumped"). The versatility of both their subject matter and melodies is one of the aspects about the band that makes them stand out. So every song doesn't sound alike and isn't about falling in and out of love; the irony of "One Angry Dwarf..." still makes me smile to myself. Maybe I relate to the revenge factor the dwarf gets to carry out. Or maybe I just like the piano line. And although I, too, like their self-titled CD more, I don't think it is cause to count the band out. The band's growing tour schedule and expanding fan base seem to prove their lasting appeal.
It would be nice if the Dallas Observer could hire a music critic that could actually write objectively about a band instead of letting his personal feelings get in the way. I suppose this letter is mainly in reference to Robert Wilonsky's review of the new Grand Street Cryers album ["Crocodile tears," May 14], but it also reflects on his entire body of work.
To begin with, Mr. Wilonsky has an over-driven tendency to trash a band he doesn't like, which is just simply not good or proper journalism. Good journalism is supposed to be an objective view of the subject at hand, not a one-sided, egotistical quest for self-gratification. When Mr. Wilonsky actually finds a band he likes, then in his eyes, they can do no wrong. Heaven forbid that Mr. Wilonsky should dislike your band, because then, regardless of what you ever accomplish, you still suck, unless you become famous, then Mr. Wilonsky will love you eternally.
Who really cares if a band puts out a new album that isn't earth-shattering, ground-breaking, or unique to all other forms of music? For starters, everything has been done. Musically speaking, there's nothing so monumental that's going to come out anymore. With today's technology, anything can be accomplished, and everything has. There is a vast majority of people who just enjoy listening to good, well-written, and well-recorded music--music that the listener can sit back and sing, or hum along to while enjoying a great performance. Is there something wrong with that? Apparently Robert Wilonsky thinks there is. But don't let Mr. Wilonsky know that the Old 97's don't have an original sound. After all, they can do no wrong.
Let's talk about the fact that Grand Street Cryers play a new song at almost every show. Let's talk about the fact that Grand Street Cryers are playing shows about 10-15 times a month. Yet Wilonsky claims that the Grand Street Cryers aren't into writing, but recording? I must say, there are several other songs I would have liked to have heard on this album, as opposed to four repeats, but at the same time, I can see and understand why they did it. They're not on a major label. This is the album that will be shopped around to the labels, so they want their best songs to be heard. Quite frankly, the labels are looking for something catchy that has "staying" power, and Grand Street Cryers purely exemplify that.
In conclusion, this all boils down to one thing: I finally got tired of reading the amateur journalism of Robert Wilonsky--a person who can't see past his own ego. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he does this intentionally to stir up controversy in a pitiful attempt to make a name for himself somewhere amongst real journalists, but it's getting old now. It's time for you to practice what you preach, Mr. Wilonsky, and find something new, unique, and ground-breaking to do--like you claim every musician should do--and quit getting your quick surface pleasures from trashing every good album and band that dares to release an album in your neighborhood.
I do want to set the record straight about the comment on Robert Wilonsky's comment about Pimpadelic being racist or their new CD coming off being racist because we have Quincy's intro at the beginning of the CD ["1998 Dallas Observer Music Awards, April 30]. If Quincy wasn't in jail right now, he would personally tell you that we (the DJ and I and Mattison, the drummer) took him off the streets and let him live in our house.
Sean (the DJ) fed him every day, and I would go to stores and buy him all the essentials a man would need. And when he needed cigarettes or a quart [of beer], one of us was going to the ghetto store with him getting it. I have a tremendous amount of love for that man.
We gave him a big surprise birthday bash at the house for his 46th birthday on October 13, 1995. The man was well respected and loves the music that Pimpadelic played--that is why we took him in and made him one of our family members. We are currently trying to get him out of jail so we can enjoy his great humor and his wonderful smile and good heart.
To say that we made some kind of joke out of him is totally the wrong idea you have gotten. We love the guy and would do anything for him, and if he were here now he would tell you the same. The CD was partly dedicated to "Q-Dog," and that is why there is a big picture on the inside of the CD cover--in tribute to our announcer. We made him feel like he had a purpose in life, and he loved the publicity.
He could walk into Clearview or Trees, and everyone would know him and say hi. When he was on stage, the crowd would shout "Q-Dog," and that was his stage name and he was damn proud of it. And if he could see and hear the CD, he would be very honored. Next time you assume that people are a certain "stereotype," just take time to talk to the band and find out the facts before you make comments like that.
I do appreciate your apology and do wish it was sincere. 'cause it was nice. Not everyone has the same taste in music, and it is freedom of choice and speech. They are just a bunch of down-to-earth guys having fun and making money on the process. What harm is that? I just need to tell y'all the truth behind my good friend Quincy Gibbons, because if he had read the article, it would have upset him that you said that about him. Sorry to take up your time, but I figured someone should know the real truth--even if you don't care.