Spot the hypocrite
Did anyone else notice the irony here? Even as the Dallas Observer seeks solutions to Plano's problems with youth and drugs ["Bad trip," May 6], the publication places an ad for a head shop selling "body detoxifiers" and "[rolling] papers" alongside the text of the article on page 47.

Paul Nelson
Via e-mail

Thank you for Christine Biederman's article about the overdose death of Milan Malina and subsequent events.

The Malina family's frustration with the actions of the police is very easy to understand, although the root is in political decisions. The sad fact is that these deaths are also a result of our failure to treat addiction as a medical problem.

Where clinics are used to sell heroin to addicts, as in Switzerland today or as in Shreveport from 1919 to 1923, none of the participants died from overdose. Instead, these cities reduced crime, saved money, and were more successful than our prison-based approach for reducing use and addiction.

We in Texas are spending billions annually to build and operate prisons that could be spent on programs that provide treatment or directly benefit our young. We know that current proposals to reduce class size in the lower grades could help to eventually change some of the conditions that make our young susceptible to drugs, yet we are dithering about whether to spend some $250 million more to make it happen, even though the amount is only about 10 percent of what we now waste on the imprisonment of nonviolent offenders.

The Arizona Supreme Court has just reported on the success found in Arizona in the last year by ending imprisonment for simple use and possession of small amounts of drugs and ordering various treatment alternatives. Our priorities are all backward.

Jerry Epstein
Drug Policy Forum of Texas

The Rev's fall from grace
While I agree that Jim "Reverend Horton Heat" Heath deserves recognition as a groundbreaking artist as well as one hell of a guitar player, I remain skeptical of his abilities to pull out of his current artistic nosedive unaided [Dallas Observer Music Awards, April 29].

Let's be clear here: Interscope Records was not at fault for the lousy songwriting on It's Martini Time and Space Heater. I think Heath is buying time with that claim. I refuse to believe Interscope--a label famous for giving artists their creative freedom--would mess with a formula as winning as that on Full Custom Sounds and Liquor in the Front.

Let's not forget that Heath suffered a rather, um, significant setback when he lost Patrick "Taz" Bentley, a gifted drummer and extremely talented musician. This loss is, I believe, a serious blow to the Rev's songwriting and to the overall chemistry of the band. Why does no one seem to take that loss into account? Listen to Liquor. Then listen to Martini Time, made after Bentley's departure. The chemistry is so different, you can smell it. The thundering triplets of Bentley's bass drumming just ain't there. In fact, the current drummer can't even come close to filling Bentley's shoes. Sorry, Dave--gotta call it like I see it.

I refuse to believe that Heath has said all that he is capable of saying. I want him to go back to making the kick-ass rock and roll that made me a fan. I want to like whatever he is doing, but I'm not a fool, nor is my patience infinite. Jim, stop screwing around, get Bentley back in the band, and start saying something original, for God's sake. Please--don't make this music award your last gasp.

Any musician worth his salt knows that ya gotta please the audience. You are possibly the greatest guitarist working in America today, but if you want to keep working, take a good, long look at where you are going. If the next thing you put out doesn't stand up with the material on Full Custom and Liquor, then I think it lends credence to the theory that Bentley was more a part of your sound than you--or anyone else--gave him credit for.

Colin Buckley
Via e-mail

Godless and unloved
I have been puzzled by the lack of national news coverage and police follow-up on the Madalyn Murray O'Hair case ["The case of the headless, handless corpse," February 18]. Why did the authorities wait so long before checking to see whether Madalyn had "really" moved overseas? Does the fact that she was an atheist mark her as an unimportant human being? I wish someone would write a book after adequate investigation, to show what happened and what was done, or not done, about it.

Robert C. Bovee
Via e-mail

More huddled masses
Not to beat a horse to death, but I just spent four hours in line at the INS office ["Huddled masses," April 8]. I arrived at 7:30 a.m., and by noon we were told to come back next week because all the "numbers" were taken. As we were waiting in line, we saw an INS worker leaving and telling a woman, "Sorry, I have to go." There needs to be at least five to seven clerks and not just two for the numbers of people that show up daily.

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