By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Wilonsky responds: Nowhere in the article does it state that the Texas Rangers ever played in Dallas, nor does it refer to the Rangers as "Dallas' team." The point of the piece was simply that pro baseball existed around these parts long before the Rangers came to the area in 1972.
I am writing in response to the article about the future of the vendors in Dealey Plaza and to plead that they be allowed to remain ["Conspiracy theory," October 30]. Early last year when I was visiting the USA from Australia, I made the point of traveling to Dallas to see Dealey Plaza. To stand on a site where world (not just American) history was changed was a most moving and enlightening experience.
I have been interested in the assassination for many years, during which I have found strengths and weaknesses in both the "lone nut" and "conspiracy" cases, and to walk the Plaza and stand on the Sixth Floor was incredibly evocative. Equally important, however, was to experience the "circus" that is the Plaza.
The vendors, the tours (including that amazing Lincoln limousine), and the crowds all contribute, in my view, to a greater understanding (certainly to a non-American) of why and how the assassination debate continues to manifest itself.
As someone who has read widely on the issue, I learned nothing new about the assassination from the vendors themselves. In fact, many of their claims I found to be clearly and easily discredited, but that is not the point. To walk about and hear them, and the questions they were asked, was fascinating--and Dealey Plaza would be poorer for their absence.
It is no secret that there has long been sentiment among board members that Robert Johnston was out of control and needed to be replaced [Buzz, May 21].
The action of removing Johnston came the only way that it could--legally. This board can only act during a called meeting with the purpose of the meeting known at least 72 hours in advance. When the board voted to replace Johnston, that was the issue before it at the time.
Johnston was well aware that the votes were there to replace him. A test vote on the subject occurred on April 23. He saw the same five votes that later voted not to continue his services. I believe that he refused to see the handwriting (literally) on the wall and risked being embarrassed because he believed that the board would back down. It didn't. Therefore, it was Johnston who set himself up to be allegedly humiliated.
It was suggested that at least one (of the gang of five) should have gone to him first and tell him what we were about to do. But remember last year when [Kathleen] Leos was accused of doing that very thing in regards to [Matthew] Harden? No thanks, collectively been there, done that, you might say.
Besides, anyone who knows anything about this board knows (and Johnston labored under such a presupposition), a vote is not a vote until it is posted on the board on the wall. I was as surprised at the final vote as anyone. Quite often board members will say one thing before a meeting and then vote contrary to their promises.
It became clear that Johnston wasn't leaving that position until he was thrown out. And he was. And this district is a lot better off for it.
Sinatra: up and down
Robert Wilonsky's article "The Voice goes silent" was very well written [Street Beat, May 21]. His descriptions of Frank Sinatra were penetrating and revealed the man, as much as the performer, near the end of his career.
I should have known. Obviously, Robert Wilonsky's memories of Frank Sinatra's last visit to Dallas are not fond ones. Just another chance to slam the guy.
For one thing, I don't care how a man 79 years old ate his dinner or talked or stumbled over his words. Have a little respect. You, too, will grow old someday. That might not be pretty either.
The point is, after more than 50 years of entertaining folks, Frank had nothing to prove in those last concerts, especially to some schmuck journalist. He had earned the right to just be there, on stage, doing whatever he damn well pleased. No ego, no arrogance, no fear of "being forgotten," just giving the folks what they wanted--the chance to share the room with a living legend for a brief moment.
I'm glad Frank kept performing. He gave a lot of people, young and old, a chance to personally witness one of life's greats. Myself, I regret passing up the chances I had to see him, and sadly now I will never have another shot.
Wilonsky, I'd have gladly traded places with you back in '94!
R. J. Walters
Hashing it out...again
Hey Jimmy, did some mean ol' bluesman piss in your cereal? I don't think Hash Brown deserves your criticism just because some "female blues aficionado" didn't get nominated by the experts (chosen by the Dallas Observer) in charge of such things disgusting ("1998 Dallas Observer Music Awards issue," April 30). After all, Maylee Thomas does very little blues in her sets that I've seen. You could argue that she hires Bruce Springsteen's horn player, but on the other hand Hash Brown has been known to hire Muddy Water's drummer: S.P. Leary (who started here in the late '40s playing behind T-Bone Walker.) Not to mention, I know of no other blues musician working in this town that plays as much traditional style stuff as Hash Brown. He certainly wasn't "ushered directly into the temple and allowed to tend the blooze flame with raunchy, uncommercial purism." Your words, not mine... because I know better!
Hash has been playing mostly traditional style blues for at least the last 25 years. He could have chosen the "chorus-heavy rock-blues" path that the object of your wonderment, Maylee Thomas did. If he had done that, he would have ended next to Maylee, singing Janis Joplin tunes, not recording records with Willie Willis and two days later Mr. Al Dupree! I can't understand your position on Hash Brown--to be honest with you, it seems full of contradictions.
Rip off or ripped off
Thank you for the exposure that Gary Numan doesn't usually enjoy in this country [Music listings, May 21]. But I must take issue with a statement made by Zac Crain. In every single article these days, Gary is referred to as the Godfather of Electronica.
How is it possible for someone with that noble title to "rip off" a "young lion's electronica," as Zac accused him of in his article?
Gary will be the first to tell you he has borrowed an idea or two from other bands. However, Thomas Edison, the Godfather of Light Bulbs, would never be accused of stealing the idea from Nicola Tesla or anyone else. Edison invented the light bulb, like Gary Numan sowed the seeds for modern day electronica.
Jim Napier, president
Gary Numan North American Fan Club
Point of order: Gary Numan had never listened to Kraftwerk until after his first several albums, so it would have been impossible for him to have "ripped off" Kraftwerk. Indeed, Kraftwerk admits to having stolen some ideas from Gary.
As to your general point of "ripping off"--let's just say that every act steals something from many other acts. Gary Numan is no different in this respect, except in one important way: He freely admits it.
Although I was glad to see your newspaper print something about the man, I feel you did him more of a disservice than anything else. He may never again crack the Top 10 on the charts, but I strongly doubt that his return will be "as short lived" as the first time around. The man is a class act and inspires tremendous, tremendous loyalty in his fans.
And that loyalty is two-way. Ask any of the fans at any of the gigs on this tour, particularly those who stood around outside after the show waiting for the man to emerge. Everyone got every autograph they asked for, every photo they asked for, and as much time chatting with Gary and his band as they could stand.
For Gary, talking to his fans is more important than getting on the tour bus and getting a good night's sleep. This inspires people. I've been a fan for 18 years and drove down from Canada to see the shows in Seattle and San Francisco. With every show Gary performs on U.S. soil, he gains more fans, and Numan fans are unlike any other--they're die-hard, never-give-up fans who'll support him through thick and thin.
Gary Numan is back, and this time he's here to stay. He may never appear on David Letterman or Jay Leno, but every time he tours he'll sell out all the shows. And that's good enough for me.
How can Gary Numan rip off anyone who has admitted to his work being their influence to fame and fortune? These '90s acts willingly give credit to Mr. Numan for the path he created musically. Once again, his latest two releases paved the way for other musicians, and the sound captured by Gary has never been done. No one act uses guitars mixed with synth the way that Gary Numan does. A true first musically that has never been attempted will probably be criticized because it is not the mainstream or follow-the-leader way. You can't rip off something that has never been done. Oh, well--he will probably be given credit in 10 years or so.
Dare to compare
The article about Robert Earl Keen was developed by someone who knows nothing about Texas songwriters and singers [Music listings, May 21]. Robert Earl Keen's music sounds nothing like Jerry Jeff Walker's music. They have two different styles of music!