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Letters

The nerve
I had to laugh when I read your article about the supposed decline of Texas Monthly ["Texas Monthly's midlife crisis," February 4]. First of all, I thought it highly presumptuous that a publication like the Dallas Observer would take potshots at what has been and continues to be one of the finest editorial products of its kind--witness the eight National Magazine Awards. Also, the personal attack on Mike Levy was childish and failed to recognize the fact that, without his vision and passionate approach, there would be no Texas Monthly. He has been able to recognize and nurture writing talent in a manner far superior to anyone else in the history of publishing in the state of Texas.

Bill Bruenig
Dallas

He's got rights
No matter what anyone may say about Philip Thomas' character and demeanor ["Raising a stink," February 11], he is still entitled to due process. There was very little of that to be witnessed during the February 8 hearing on a temporary injunction. Mr. Thomas has not been enjoined as the story suggests. Even if he had been, the order is either void for due process reasons or will not support a contempt charge.

If Mr. Thomas were represented by competent counsel, the matter would have long been behind us. If there is any attorney out there who has a concern for the protection of the public's access to information, please step forward.

Don Venable
Via e-mail

Saved by the Internet
Believe it or not, the Internet may be the savior of the undiscovered, unwanted (by a major label), low-volume, or niche artists. It is precisely because of the pain and suffering many artists are going through, well documented in your article ["Major mistakes," February 11], that some artists are turning to the Internet. Until recently there was no technology that would enable high-quality audio to be reasonably sent through a modem-speed Internet link (RealAudio just doesn't produce CD-quality audio).

As of 1998, however, a new technology changed all that. It is one of the hottest trends of the Internet, and it has the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America, the powerful recording industry trade group) hopping mad. The technology is called MP3.

The MP3 compression technology can yield CD-quality sound out of an average four-minute song in around 4-5 MB of disk space. Even via modem, downloading a file of that size takes just a few minutes. Several of the Internet search engines report that "MP3" is one of the most searched topics on the Internet today.

The RIAA is very concerned about music piracy. People around the world can share their favorite MP3 compressed songs by sending them or downloading them over the Internet. Of course, copying digitally encoded copyrighted material that you do not own is illegal, and the RIAA is justified in its actions to prevent illegal copying. However, the RIAA has been going much further than that. Artists that are struggling to get their product some visibility are starting to develop their own Web sites. Some artists have even placed a high-quality MP3 song from a forthcoming album on their Web site in order to attract interest, the ultimate "loss leader." For whatever reason, the RIAA gets inflamed about that.

At Christmas, rocker Billy Idol attempted to place a song on the Internet as a "Christmas present" to his fans and also to gain interest in his new CD. The RIAA forced him to remove the cut from the Internet. Why?

If the artists can produce their own CDs and market them through the Internet, it cuts all (or most) of the middlemen out of the picture. With direct sales, artists make the lion's share of the profits.

I am not an expert on any of this, just a dedicated computer geek. For the best information on all things MP3, go to www.mp3.com. This Web site has loads of information including background information, free (legal!) songs to download, plus articles and links on the music industry's responses and tactics (including the Billy Idol story).

David Gilpin
Via e-mail

Gee, thanks
I have slammed [Christina Rees] in the past for your art criticism (which I do believe you should steer clear of--critiquing art, that is) and was wary of reading your feature story on the music industry. However, I was quite impressed and would like to know more about the actual industry goings-on in Dallas. Perhaps you could start a column keeping us all up to date as to who recently got signed on what label, who got dropped, newest indie labels in Dallas, and the people behind them. (I know Zac Crain and Robert Wilonsky think they are the gods of the Dallas music scene, but I read their articles all the time, and I think that they are just whiny, insecure, nerdy music snobs who have always wanted to be musicians themselves but have no talent--therefore they are just losers who write crap for a local rag.) Ha! Anyhow--keep up the good work, Christina.

Jennifer
Via e-mail

Denial is a river in Dallas
Laura Miller called Tom Luce a liar...well, because he's a liar ["Truth hurts," February 11]. The dictionary definition of a liar is "one who makes a statement one knows to be untrue, especially to deceive." So that makes Tom Luce and Mayor Ron Kirk both liars. And anyone who believes that we won't be taxed for the Olympic bribe...er, bid...is living in denial.

Warren Hudson
Via e-mail

Give 'em hell, Laura. I know that the power elite will get the Olympics, and they'll use taxpayer money to do it. Potholes will overtake our streets. But at least Laura Miller is making it a little more difficult for the city elite's hand puppets or the city council to sell the citizens up the river again.

Anonymous
Via e-mail

Unsatisfied
First of all, let me start off with a joke. Question: What do you call someone who only knows three power chords? Answer: a music critic (or, better yet, Robert Wilonsky).

That is what I kept thinking about while I read Wilonsky's half-assed attempt at reviewing the legendary Paul Westerberg ["Bastard of middle age," February 11]. How would Wilonsky like to be compared to his third-grade essay on the life of a water buffalo for the rest of his journalistic life? Paul does not need to prove that he is an immature punk rocker to impress Robby. Why knock somebody when they bring a lot of joy and admiration from true fans, like myself? You probably never heard of the band until they signed with Warners. You also claim that Chris Mars is the Mat with the best material, but I assume that's only because he has not been on the radio. I think your problem is that you think the word "critic" means "to ruin careers," but in actuality it means "to criticize constructively." Thank you for your time, and think before you write something this horrible again.

Doug
Via e-mail

Robert Wilonsky's article on Paul Westerberg was wonderfully funny, sad, reminiscent, and true. I am a very, very young fan of Westerberg and his old band, the Replacements. I did grow up with them, but not till after they had broken up and either moved on or died. I only learned of Paul during his 14 Songs and Eventually days. But I can still look to his Mats work for inspiration. Perhaps I am lucky that I have seen him as both Drunken Bastard and Sober Sensitive Guy at the same time.

In any case, his entire career has been amazing, and I look forward to whatever more may come.

Meghan Whitmore
Via e-mail

Great article. It made me sad and excited at the same time. Sad that the greatest band is still gone, but excited to pick up new tunes from the world's best songwriter.

Brad Brice
Via e-mail

Like Paul Westerberg, I am a 38-year-old guy. I now have three kids, and I guess I am supposed to have outgrown my love of rock and roll, particularly my love of the good old Mats...whatever. You must be commended on the great job you did of writing about Paul and his past. I'm not sure whether it was just dealing with you or whether he felt the need to get things off of his chest (I have sensed that he has been reticent about the whole issue of Bob Stinson and his death...probably because it's just a nasty memory, and generally it's just nobody's damn business), but his comments regarding the funeral really made me stop and think.

He seems like a guy that wrestles with some emotional demons that I can't even fathom. We all get down, but this guy really seems to go down deeper. I hope his next up cycle keeps him there.

Jeff Hoffman
Loveland, Ohio


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