By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Zac of Kittens
He gets it: If nothing else, Zac Crain's "Sack of Kittens" addition to his Scene, Heard column has certainly given local musicians and local music fans something to talk about. The most common complaint is that Mr. Crain's column is tainting the cohesive image of the local music "scene." As an active participant and fan of local music, I must say that while there are a lot of great bands in Dallas, there are a lot of lousy ones as well. In my humble opinion, Mr. Crain has gone out of his way to give credit where it's due. So, maybe it's not such a bad thing that he has put both his reputation and his physical well-being (let's face it; he's pissing off some really big, scary dudes) on the line in hopes of warning an unknowing public that some bands aren't worth their time and money.
What's more important, though, is that people realize that the Dallas Observer is not the unofficial public relations arm of Deep Ellum. Mr. Crain and the Dallas Observer are in the business of writing news and editorials, not press releases for bands and venues. When I first moved to this city and began reading the Observer, I would often wonder to myself, "How come I never saw an article about that crappy band I got duped into seeing last weekend?" Well, now I think I know. Some people are simply not ready for an editorial column expressing dissatisfaction with local talent.
Bill Evans, a journalism ethics professor and former managing editor of The Dallas Morning News, once told me that a journalist knows that he's doing his job when he pisses off everyone on both sides of the fence. If that's the case, then keep up the good work, Zac.
She doesn't: You've raised your stink, but enough is enough. I think I speak for the majority of local artists and supporters in this area when I say we fondly appreciate the opportunities we've been given to work with and participate in the most dynamic music scene on this planet today. And we feel this "Sack of Kittens" nonsense is in poor taste, obvious "hype," not to mention time and energy wasted that can never be reclaimed and is better spent promoting local music.
Anyone who spends at least one night a month in Deep Ellum knows that there are thousands of superbly talented musicians in and around this area. And with so many places to perform, it shouldn't take long to locate one of many "rising stars" that have never even gotten so much as a mention by you or anyone else in this publication. Who knows, maybe if you spent even half the time writing positive things about these "undiscovered jewels" as you do ripping, raping or ridiculing, you might help discover the next big talent to join Drowning Pool or Flickerstick or any number of other Dallas bands on the national circuit.
Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us. So is it too much to ask that you move on to another venue if you don't happen to care for the performance? InBoX (Scene, Heard, May 16) isn't exactly my cup of tea, but they weren't playing to any empty room now, were they?
Peri E. Brown
Whatever: Hey--good work on that "Sack of Kittens" stuff. I can hardly wait to see the profiles of Deathray Davies, Centro-matic, Eleven Hundred Springs, Chomsky and Pleasant Grove. Don't keep us waiting, now!
Sorry, Bubba and Bubbette: Reading the comments of an irate theater patron last week (Letters, May 16), I shook my head in dismay. How dare this woman, your reviewer, bash the Bard? Or Neil Simon, for that matter? But they do belong together. Neither of them is worth much save as penners of soap operas or light amusement for the "enlightened" masses. "Theatrically insignificant city" is much too kind; theater here is nonexistent in any meaningful way, shape or form, precisely because of the attitude of those who would consider Simon a great (makes a lot of money) writer and dare not shake up established wisdom.
Why do we not see O'Neill, Handke, Innaurato, Strindberg, Friedman, Miller or a bunch more who stimulate minds? For the same reason my mother watches "her shows" religiously. They are safe, nonthreatening, vacuous and easy on the brain, à la Little Willie and Simon. We do not have the stones, balls, huevos--fill in the blank. I have had work done in other cities, including New York, and our city has the worst audiences imaginable. After a play they want to scratch their asses, then proceed to talk of the Cowboys or their maids over a cup of coffee.
Oh, but only after the obligatory standing ovation--to exhibit our class and culture. The only culture we have is in our refrigerators.
Margo Jones started regional theater, as opposed to little theater, in Fair Park 50-plus years ago. She produced Inge, Williams, Parker et alia. Dallas was a pioneer in theater. A pioneer! Alack, alas and damn, we ain't no more, bubbas and bubbettes. No longer do playwrights start here and go on to other venues; rather, we wait until the rest of the world has put its stamp of approval on a piece before we view it.