By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Still laughing: This was great! I laughed out loud so many times while reading it at 6 o'clock this morning, my neighbors are probably writing letters to the manager right this minute ("Fretting," by Ken Bethea, February 19). I've been an Old 97's fan since the afternoon I saw y'all play The Tonight Show in 1999, and things just keep getting better. Thanks for all you do to make music I truly can't wait to hear.
Los Angeles, California
Best band ever: I am 16 years old. I live in a small town in Tennessee, and I have been a fan of your band, the Old 97's, for almost four years. Your music makes my life easier. When I have a shitty day, I go home and put on one of your records, and it's like all my cares go away. I really enjoyed your article, and I hope some day soon to see you guys live. I've seen Rhett two times, and he and I were sort of buddies last year. We talked on the phone, and he put me on the guest list for both of the shows. He really changed my life with his kindness. I hope that you and the 97's continue to be the best band ever.
Rhett is such a babe: Interesting article, Ken. I liked reading about the underbelly of your tour. I used to be a lead singer in a band many years ago, and though it was my passion, I gave it up for the married-with-kids, day-job life. Now, seeing how much excitement you guys generate, I jealously wish that I continued with the music gig. Anyway, I took the two kids (ages 15 and 17) and the husband to the Philly show. Some day I'll share how the kids view the music and the mom who embarrasses the hell out of them. I am overwhelmed with the raw intensity of all you guys. Yes, Rhett is such a babe, but more important, his songs and lyrics are intelligent and ever-so-catchy. Phil and Murry are a tight little rhythm section. Finally, I love that you take chances with your playing. When it clicks, it rocks up there with the best of them. Thanks for all the great music. I remain an appreciative fan, one who would and will make a fool of herself but never ask for an autograph on any of her body parts.
Red Bank, New Jersey
Rockin' daddy: Ken, I absolutely loved your diary of the tour. I was at the Washington show, squeezed in like a sardine, trying very hard to get a glimpse of the band every now and then. I managed a few, even tried to make it to the front of the stage once. Even without being able to see, though, I loved the show. The new songs sounded great, and I'm looking forward to the new CD.
After the show, I've been almost on a pure Old 97's kick. I seriously can't seem to stop listening to your stuff, even almost a month later. I finally got around to buying Poor Little Knitter on the Road to round out my Old 97's collection. So, don't go so long without touring again! Great show. Great article. Good luck with the dad business.
Falls Church, Virginia
Beauty and the Bridge
Channeling old Laura: Ever since I read "Spanish Fly" by Jim Schutze (December 18) about the proposed Calatrava bridge across the Trinity River, periodically an image will flash across my mind of another city and another group of bridges. That city is Seville, Spain, and the bridges across the Guadalquivir River. In 2001, I took a nighttime boat tour of that river, crossing under more than half a dozen bridges, including two amazing ones designed by Santiago Calatrava, the Alamillo and Barqueta bridges.
Although a bridge's main use is to get cars and people over a body of water safely, that is not its only purpose. The bridges are a continuation or connection between two districts located on either side of the river. In Seville these two sides differ significantly by the way they have developed over the years. The east side of the river contains the historic center, and the west side contains new development, including convention centers, expositions and themed recreation areas. The two sides are dramatically different, as they are here in Dallas. Santiago Calatrava's two bridges link these two divisions with simple yet breathtaking designs that respect the past and drastically move into the future.
Frank Lloyd Wright said that form follows function. Schutze's error is in thinking that form replaces function--in that case, we should build a Calatrava bridge to connect the Meyerson Symphony Center with the Dallas Museum of Art, so that all can admire its form.
As John C. Capello, chairman of the board and president of the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce, said in his letter, the bridge would make West Dallas part of the city.
My advice to Schutze is to stop channeling Laura Miller circa 1995, and think about how a real city works.