By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Could it be that the Department of Public Safety scandals and the lack of indictments have any bearing on Coggins' cold feet for the judgeship ["The man who would be judge," December 31]? Seems to me that the Dallas Observer has missed the real story.
It's only rock and roll
Observant ones: Alternative newspapers and their writers never cease to amuse--God love 'em. But occasionally they topple over the top so awkwardly, they're laughable. In particular, I'm referring to your lists of the supposed top albums of the year ["Listen up," December 24]. Your writers, and Robert Wilonsky in particular, have seemingly fallen into the trap of trashing anything and everything that's popular in favor of "high-brow'' artists such as Jets to Brazil, Rufus Wainwright, and (who could forget) Neutral Milk Hotel. Unfortunately, these are performers most of your readers, particularly those of us who live in cultural meccas such as Abilene, will never have the opportunity to hear or purchase. In trying to be anti-establishment, your writers are actually the anti-establishment establishment hired by every other alternative newspaper in the land.
I'm not suggesting Jewel's latest effort should be in the top 10. But Jewel is a fairly benign singer-songwriter. Should we really hate her so much that we'd rather see her living "in her car at the bottom of a river,'' as Mr. Wilonsky suggests? (And wouldn't she have to be Aquaman's offspring to accomplish that feat anyway?) And while Bruce Springsteen's Tracks was hit-and-miss, it wasn't really a "muddled disappointment at best.'' Remember, these are songs that didn't make the cut the first time, and only the most diehard Springsteen fans are going to shell out $60 for the box anyway. It's unlikely many of them were disappointed.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, breathe deeply. Everything's going to be all right. Jewel and Alanis and Garth won't be the end of American pop culture. Chill out. It's only rock and roll.
Abilene, via e-mail
Barenaked Ladies, Liz Phair, and Madonna are on your worst albums of the year list ["The crit and shap poll," December 31]. Who are on your best albums list? 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys, and Third Eye Blind, maybe?
While I loved your essay about Deep Ellum, I was totally appalled at the poor Web presentation for the photo essay that accompanied the story ["Out of the rubble," December 10]. Yes, I know, you guys think it's really cutting edge and all that, but it looks really bad when loading. That putting up a separate window for the photo and another for the text, well, it's a real time waster! I click on the photo essay, and two things pop up, and then I have to try to figure out how to see the next image, and I finally find that tiny > and click on it, and then the next photo and next text boxes take so long to load. Well, sir, I just gave up. I have no patience for poorly designed pages. Think of Web page layout as a classic book--photos and accompanying text. I suspect that you had more than enough page space in the story itself to include all the photos, which would have made your story so, so good! My advice? Don't try to do an MTV video on paper, because it just doesn't make it cool.
Ihor W. Slabicky
Cold on Heat
If you can't take the (Horton) Heat, get out of the business? I don't think so. Congratulations, Mr. Wilonsky, on raising yourself above the lemmings ["Homeward sounds," December 31]. As a former music critic for the now-defunct Dallas rag FM Magazine, where unfavorable opinions or reviews were not printed, I am refreshed to hear the Dallas Observer differentiates between ad space and critic space.
Price of a review
I wanted to say thank you for the concise review of the Prince of Egypt ["The greatest story never told," December 17]. After reading your review, I can wait for the video release, so I can use the fast-forward option.
Out of sync
I totally agree with what you said in your 'N Sync bashing article [Music Listings, December 24]. I personally am tired of these bands who make major bucks just because some teenage girls think the lead singer is hot. I hate how every one of these bands is exactly alike, and how they do the exact same songs but change one word and then put the lead-singer's picture on the cover and go plat. Thank you for this article. I only wish that 'N Sync realized they were doomed from the beginning and stopped while they were behind, but of course they don't, so we all have to put up with listening to them until they crash and burn like so many five-guy pop bands before them.