Conor's Crying Game

The wanker in the mirror: Turn around, Rob Harvilla ("Turn Around, Bright Eyes," June 2).

I'm always impressed with the Dallas Observer's many stories on various artists and make it a point to pick up the latest copy for that reason. The Dallas Observer truly is a superior publication.

However, I was baffled by the lack of basic insight Rob displayed in his latest story slamming Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes for being over-emotional. Hey, Rob, here's two words you hadn't thought about lately--COMMON SENSE. Art is supposed to be emotional. Without emotion, Conor would have no subject matter. I don't believe politics should venture into the arts; however, it's very obvious the right-wing media have lulled this country into a deep sleep. You're slamming Bright Eyes because he thinks for himself and is willing to question authority? Give me a break. Where are we? The Soviet Union? Apparently Rob thinks so. I found Digital Ash in a Digital Urn refreshing. Not only does Conor have extraordinary lyrics, but I believe the production on the album to be absolutely brilliant if not ground-breaking. Thanks, Rob, for giving the underground music community a reason to deliberately not write from the heart. How about this, Rob; why don't all artists stop producing work that has personality and honest sentiment? It's true, Rob, that most Texans don't like Bright Eyes. Conor's statement in Fort Worth wasn't without merit, and the comment he made about roping steers is mindless rock-star banter. It's a shame you can't tell the difference...and another thing, Bob Dylan has (in the past) created politically charged intellectual music. Where do you get off threatening to put people's butts in slings?

Who do you think you are, Rob? Obviously everything you've made out Conor to be. Vain, wanky and occasionally a douche bag.

Adrian Ramirez

Arlington Sinful Stem Cells

Damned in the desert: How saddened and outraged I was to read the comments of Amy Boswell and Texas Right to Life ("Life, Death and Money," by Josh Harkinson, May 26). This article led me to think of several questions: By refusing potential treatment for her son, is Boswell not condemning him to "a desert with no food or water"? Where pro-life advocates are concerned, what is the contingency plan for the 400,000 embryos? Is it OK to destroy them if they're not going to be used? I respect your right to accept or decline the benefits of such research; how dare you attempt to nullify mine.

Name withheld

Via e-mail

A Mother's Loss

Insensitive and sensationalist: When I agreed to talk with the Dallas Observer about Luke [Stone], I understood that it would be Luke's story and the drugs at UTD ("Generation Rx," by Glenna Whitley, May 19). The campus was not mentioned except with respect to where these kids attended classes.

I had no idea that the story would take a slant that changed the story so dramatically from what I thought we had talked about. We talked about a study about how teens were abusing prescription drugs. I really was shocked at how much the focus changed, how the story about Luke was so different from what I expected.

I know that the editor cut out the information about Luke having Hashimoto's thyroiditis. I understand that it was put into the Web version two days after the release, but most of the people I referred there had already read it by then. Dr. Rohr thought it was important enough to put it on Luke's death certificate. Maybe your editor did not think it as important to accurately and completely report the cause of my son's death. That is insensitive. It is cruel. It is only one of the many inaccuracies that twist the story. That is bad journalism. Or maybe accuracy is just more important to me because the report was about my son. I think accuracy is important in anybody's story, especially in any story that rates the cover of the Observer. I hate to say it, but it seems that at least one of the changes the editor made, leaving out what Dr. Rohr wrote about the Hashimoto's thyroid condition, seems like the goal was to put enough of a spin on Luke's story for the sake of sensationalism. It is very sad on two levels--because of what happened to my son and the inaccuracies lacing the article. Where on earth did anyone get the idea that this sweet cat [in a photograph with the story] was Luke's cat?

Can we try this again with a more complete and accurate chapter in Luke's story than the first story that ended up in the Observer? Print that there is alcoholism in Luke's dad's family. Please don't take David's statements that perhaps are skewed by his separation from this family to reflect a complete picture. Luke was not a drinker. Look at that nearly full bottle of Chivas in his fridge. Maybe Luke did understand the dangers of whiskey to him.

I'm a little worried about the stories about their drug use that Luke's friends told you. Are you sure they were being straight with you? I think maybe their stories were influenced by their drug use then and maybe even now. They have had a year to discuss and get their stories together.

"Shelley"'s story has changed so many times that even if she has really changed her life, I am not sure she has told or even knows what the truth is yet. We had three different stories from her by the funeral, which was five days after his death, and none of them agree with what she told you. The detectives also verified that every time someone asked her what happened, she told a different version. Her drug use and her probation were the blame for this. The detectives were referred to her attorney within a month after Luke's death. I am not sure why her story sounded so believable to you. She and "Jason" just lied to you. When we removed things from Luke's apartment, the bongs and paraphernalia had been thrown in the closet, not removed from the apartment like she and "Jason" said. The cleaning of Luke's apartment happened that morning before the police were called, not the night before as she stated to you. We found damp cloths hanging that night. The safe was emptied after the police and medical examiner left the apartment; the first detective on the scene verified this because it was not in his notes that the safe was lying on the floor of the bedroom emptied. They also went through Luke's car after everyone else left since we found Luke's keys in a pocket of some shorts in the car rather than on the kitchen counter where the assistant apartment manager and detectives left them. I do believe we discussed this.

People did lie to you.

The tone of the story seemed to suggest that Luke had consistent drug use. Dr. Rohr told me that Luke's body did not show signs of consistent drug use. Our family physician had seen Luke as well. Our family doctor had seen Luke fairly routinely, and at no time did Luke ask him for drugs, nor did any blood work or behavior suggest to our doctor that Luke had a drug problem. This makes me believe that Luke used poor judgment in his experimentation, but it seems that this is all Luke was doing.

I certainly was not as casual about smoking pot as the article made it seem. Truth is, how much control can any parent have about the behavior of a child when he is not living at home? Luke had told me other drugs were not being used.

Luke's episode at church camp was the only time he was in trouble for using pot. The article made it seem as though there were more.

I do regret agreeing to the article in the first place. And I do understand that you write a story and turn it in to an editor and neither you nor the people you write about can always know the tone a story will take.

Sondra Stone Fishman


Editor's note: Dallas Observer staff writer Glenna Whitley wrote the story she said she would: about Luke Stone's tragic death and the abuse of prescription and non-prescription drugs among his friends at the University of Texas at Dallas, where Luke was a student. She interviewed numerous friends and acquaintances of Luke, who detailed his experimentation with and reliance on prescription drugs such as Percocet and Adderall. Virtually every account from his peers suggested that Luke was a heavy user of prescription drugs as well as marijuana. The story made a point of stating that Luke was not a heavy drinker. The Collin County Medical Examiner, Dr. William Rohr, found that Luke's death was caused by mixed-drug intoxication--the combined effects of morphine, amphetamine and at least three benzodiazepines. The combination of chemicals shut down his respiratory system. Dr. Rohr also noted the presence of an undiagnosed disorder called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which affects hormone production. Ms. Whitley contacted Dallas County's chief medical examiner, Dr. Jeffrey J. Barnard, as well as a specialist in endocrinology at UT Southwestern Medical Center; both indicated this would have played little if any role in the death of someone Luke's age. Consequently, information about this disorder was trimmed from the print version of the story then reinstated in the Web version in response to Ms. Fishman's concerns. As for the cat--which was identified in a caption as Luke's cat--we were in error, and we apologize.


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