By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Racist and sexist: I'm writing to clarify a couple of points in an otherwise extremely good article about Ron Kirk ("Ron Kirk's Crying Game," March 14) and the way he bullies his way into getting whatever he wants by "playing the race card," in which I am quoted.
Having Ron Kirk tell me that he didn't have to listen to me and that I am "pimping black men," which occurred in a church, in front of witnesses, probably is one of the most stunning things that has ever been said to me. I'm not exactly sure what I said in return, but it involved his lack of character.
The question of color is relevant since this occurred in a prominent black church in Southern Dallas and I was in the company of black male activists who had invited me to attend a debate on the Trinity River project. However, the next morning Ron Kirk showed that he does not only make racist and sexist remarks to white women, but that he can make racist and sexist remarks to people of color as well.
My husband, who is a person of color, and I went to City Hall the next morning, because I had already signed up to speak at the open mike about the Trinity bond election. We encountered Ron Kirk and what we assumed was his bodyguard in the basement of City Hall. Of all things, he told my husband that he was going to say that I accused him of pimping black men (even though this was said to me in front of numerous witnesses). Then, when my husband said he was lying, Kirk told my husband that he was "pimping black men also." This all happened in front of a witness.
At the open mike I spoke of the encounters my husband and I had with Ron Kirk and said that this type of behavior was unacceptable. Kirk did not respond. I was fortunate that people expressed support for me, at the time and since, and that a number of female leaders did go to talk to him about his behavior.
This encounter goes way beyond being "scorned," as was stated about me in this week's letters to the editor. This type of behavior from anybody, but especially from an elected official, is unacceptable, and I agree with Jim Schutze that people need to know the "real Ron Kirk." Because this is not the only incidence of his bullying people to get his way.
Just look at how Ron Kirk verbally abused council members who disagreed with him, and then would not give them leadership positions. Look at him telling the Dallas League of Women Voters that they were "abominable" because they opposed the Trinity bond election. Look at how he called environmental advocates "ragtag environmentalists." The list goes on. I'm not sure he can function outside an environment where he can't bully his way.
This is not the type of person who should represent the citizens of Texas. We all deserve and expect a higher standard of conduct from our elected officials. I would urge you to vote for someone else.
Anna M. Albers
Four out of five critics agree: After reading Elaine Liner's comments on The Countess, we almost threw away our previously purchased tickets. We went anyway, for a laugh, but the joke was Liner's review ("Queen of Pain," March 21). In my opinion, the play was beautifully directed and acted, and we saw nothing to justify Liner's hatchet attack.
Liner hated the play itself, e.g.: "turgid," "a neurotic collection of colorless factoids," "grim and vexing," "two hours' worth of dreadful dialogue" and more. When I checked reviews of the original off-Broadway production, I found the Times saying, "The Countess is tremendous fun"; The Village Voice said, "This eminent Victorian love triangle makes for great dish and riveting drama"; and the New Yorker called the play "vivid...funny...intelligent." These are not misleading blurbs, but summarize those writers' enthusiasm. Reviewers of other productions around the country also found the play praiseworthy. The Countess was also very popular with audiences.
With regard to Liner's opinion of the Fort Worth production, she said the director made "spectacularly boring casting choices," the actors were "stiff and unlikable" and "it is an effing disaster." She criticizes Ruskin's "silly glued-on mutton chops," although they gave him a startling resemblance to a photograph of the real John Ruskin displayed in the lobby. She criticized the set, which she claimed represented "a manor in the Scottish Highlands." Actually, the Scottish set was a schoolmaster's cottage and was used in only six scenes out of 15 in the play. She said the lead actress lisped, but that was undetectable to my hearing.
Contrast her venom-laden critique to that of Tom Sime of The Dallas Morning News: "Gripping drama...a smashing production...the moving performance of Heather Child as Effie...the actors playing Ruskin's parents are superb."
Contrast her words to those of Mark Lowry of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Magnificent acting performances...Susan Sargeant's telling direction...everything else about this production is first-rate as well." Neither S-T nor DMN reviews had any criticisms or even faint praise.
If you agree Liner was totally off base, you have to wonder why. Was she out to avenge some old grudge, expressing some unstated angst that was affecting her judgment that night, believed the role of a critic is to criticize mercilessly or was just getting off on an undiluted ego trip--"Look at me; I'm vicious!"
We would like to see a critic who could write a balanced review, including criticism when warranted, and could give your readership a good idea of what a play is like. Such reviews wouldn't open the Dallas Observer up to damages that a Liner spitefest with factual mistakes could do. If Liner stays on, the least you should do is assign a competent editor to review her work before it's printed.