Money grubbers
The only reason Dallas Observer Editor Julie Lyons is taking a big public stand for giving Dallas City Council members a living wage ["It's the money," April 8] is because Laura Miller, her buddy, probably needs the cash right now to pay off her Neiman's credit card.

Still, regardless of Ms. Lyons' altogether sneaky ulterior motives, it's probably true that we indeed could go ahead and pay for the circus we call local politics--as if we haven't paid through the nose already.

But doesn't it frighten Ms. Lyons just a little to think about what might happen if we gave public walk-around money to local politicians who are really next to nothing more than sock puppets?

Money almost always leads to power, and power ultimately means being able to coerce those who don't feel like it to go against their better instincts, or their ideals, their reasoning, and sometimes even their own well-being.

That, in case we haven't noticed already, has resulted in a number of scandals in recent years--mainly because politicians have been forced to go into the back rooms that have been provided them by our powerful merchant princes and robber barons in order to allow them to gain a little economic incentive for all that otherwise selfless exercise of character The Dallas Morning News is always crowing about whenever it gets to rating its favorite local politicians.

Gordon Hilgers
Via e-mail

INS bullies
Reference your article about waiting in line at INS ["Huddled masses," April 8]. Did someone really say the INS wants to track the number of forms requested? How ludicrous. These can be ordered in bulk from the Government Printing Office. Anyone's free to come by my office and pick up what they need. There are software programs that print out these documents, blank or completed, sold by West, Matthew Bender, etc.

I practice immigration law and can attest that the situation outside the building is mirrored inside. Once upon a time interviews were conducted with dignity and consistency. An attorney would know what to expect and what evidence would be requested. These days, some examiners routinely engage in outrageous behavior, accusing applicants of lying for no reason, demanding totally unrelated evidence, refusing to let the attorney speak, threatening translators. Yet other examiners are polite and try to do their job. An applicant's life is literally affected by which examiner conducts the interview. I've seen an examiner promise to deport persons who were U.S. citizens.

It's gotten to the point where many local immigration attorneys refuse to attend the interviews, viewing it as a waste of time and perhaps resulting in exacerbation. Others push on, some (including myself) recording the interviews in case anyone in the future decides to look into this. I can assure you, no local supervisor cares about how immigrants are treated outside or inside the building. I maintain that if we want to reduce immigration, we should be straightforward and cut the number of visas instead of resorting to intimidation and harassment.

Name withheld
Via e-mail

Bob, you arrogant cuss
I recently read your article on Steve Earle's newest CD, The Mountain [Music listings, April 1]. I have to admit, after reading it, I'm not really sure whether you like Steve or not, but you are obviously extremely jealous of the man. There are several contradictions in your article. You are definitely a fence rider, Bob.

You ask, "When's the last time anyone made Great Art on purpose?" Are you serious? Many musicians consider their art "great," and they don't make it by accident. Also, I listened to Copperhead Road just today, and still can't make the Cougar connection. I like John Mellencamp, don't get me wrong, but his songs are pretty much shallow pop songs. Steve Earle writes with conviction and honesty like no one else today. By the way, your comparing Steve to Mellencamp and Springsteen is as thoughtless as the "critics" who used to compare Springsteen to Dylan and Mellencamp to Springsteen. The one thing you said that is right on was saying that Steve may be Townes Van Zandt. That is the highest compliment you could have paid him (I'm sure you didn't mean it that way). Townes was one of the greatest songwriters in history.

The fact that Steve can step out of his world into the world of bluegrass is amazing. The Mountain is an excellent bluegrass record. Sure, it helps a lot to have the Del McCoury Band playing on it, but don't forget--Steve wrote the songs. You obviously don't grasp the talent this man possesses when it comes to songwriting. Also, how can you say this record is "astonishingly perfect and astoundingly dull"? Dull? Wake up, Bob.

I don't expect everyone to have the same musical tastes as I do--in fact, I'm glad they don't. However, when I read something as malicious as your article, I get peeved. Which I'm sure is OK with you. What did Steve do to you? Steal your girlfriend, embarrass you (like your job isn't embarrassment enough)? You obviously have a bone to pick with him.

All I can say is, in the words of Don Henley, "Get over it." Steve will be around making great records for a long time. Makes you kind of mad, doesn't it?

Scott Smith
Via e-mail

While I am deeply interested in reshaping your opinion of what many people feel is a great record, I will not take on an exercise in such obvious futility.

Anyway, I don't really give a happy damn whether you like the record or not. My question is, What is your personal vendetta against Steve Earle? And who the hell hired you and is letting you get away with writing this tripe? What is the basis for even one of your juvenile presumptions? Please note, "Cuz I said so" is not an acceptable answer to any critical writing instructor in the free world, nor is it good enough for your readers.

I submit that the "arrogant cuss" is not Steve Earle but you. Where do you get off assuming that Steve was just sitting around picking his nose, wondering what kind of stunt he could pull off and whose great name he could exploit to get the attention that you assert he craves? You don't know what's going on in his head any more than I do or anyone else does, yet you write as though there can be no doubt that the man is just plain up to no good.

I am going to go way out on a limb here and assume that a music critic's mission is to convey to the readers whether he feels a record is good or bad or some of both, and why. You have more than capably handled the first part of the task. However, if all you needed to address was the good versus bad question, I submit that you could have saved your newspaper a great deal of space that could have been used to bring in valuable advertising by shortening your review to six simple words: "Steve Earle is a stoopidhead." I cannot find any assertion in your review that this succinct phrase would not have covered.

You say, "...there's...something disconcerting about a man intentionally making music he hopes will live forever. When's the last time anyone made Great Art on purpose?" This puzzled me only for the fleeting moment it took me to realize the obvious explanation: You are an idiot.

Via e-mail

One Ton redeemed
Pinch me, I must be dreaming...Not since 1995 has the Dallas Observer recognized anything One Ton has ever released as anything but predictable riff rock. In fact, every time I drop off a new release for review, I realize that I am dusting off the old One Ton dunking machine and taking my perch over the tank. But under the motto "bad press is still press," I hand over the CD and wait for the mocking to begin.

Then suddenly, someone at the Observer actually listens to Doosu and understands them quite accurately [Out Here, April 14]. Thanks, Christina Rees, for not giving in to the ever-so-tempting One Ton-bashing and actually reviewing Doosu's music. The sound of Aqua Vita is honest, interesting, and without gimmick. And so was your review.

Aden Holt
One Ton Records
Via e-mail

God's gift: Homeschooling
I could definitely tell your bias in your homeschool story ["No place like home," March 18]. You had plenty of anti-homeschooling sources and one short pro-homeschooling source. You made all homeschoolers seem mean and/or lazy. They are neither. They've chosen to educate their children themselves, and that takes true commitment. There are some who abuse God's gift that He's given us in Texas (government-free education), but, like in any other case or profession (even journalism!), they are the very small minority.

Via e-mail

Loza delivers
Rose Farley's article ["Whipping boy," April 8] clearly illustrates the old adage that you "can't please all the people all the time." At the cost of bruising the egos of a few "activists" who are shunned in their own districts, John has done an outstanding job of delivering for District 2.

Todd Casey
Via e-mail

Selling out the farm
Thank you for the recent story on Samuell Park ["Crying fowl," March 4], a long-neglected and ignored city operation. Now that you've brought the problems out in the open, hopefully someone in city government will take steps to right the wrong.

Please keep the public updated on what is going on out there. The "other paper" isn't so informative.

Patricia Pape
Via e-mail


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