Somebody ought to give Jim Schutze whatever award of excellence you journalists get for his story on the Asian Gardens of East Dallas ["The garden of life," December 3]. It is a beautiful, moving piece that chronicles the endurance and triumph of valuable refugees-turned-neighbors, brought here from Asia by turmoil and war.
Their gardens not only symbolize their struggle, dedication, and success; in a much broader sense they call us to come back to a sense of community and awareness. They remind us that in a city with so much pretension and haste there are too many values that we are allowing to escape our notice and our grasp. Without question, Schutze's piece is one of the best I've read in your paper.
That brings me to my second and related point. The letter from Bob Rissing, the Albertson's Inc. real estate manager [Letters, December 3], defending his company's proposal to plop a 62,000-square-foot Albertson's in the middle of residential East Dallas made me want to choke the cat. If you believe the rubbish about residential sensitivity and economic opportunity, you don't know much about Albertson's. Look to New Orleans, where Albertson's developers sued residents who vocally opposed Albertson's attempt to erect a store in one of that city's historic districts. Or look at the October Albertson's-endorsed public attack on East Dallas residents who oppose the current project, recently discussed in this paper in an article by Rose Farley ["It's your store (like it or not)," November 19].
Likewise, Rissing's claim that such a venture will create jobs is bogus. Forget for a minute that neighborhoods are meant to be lived in, not worked in. That aside, it's widely known, even by Rissing's own admission, that this neighborhood albatross will put at least two of our area's larger grocery stores out of business. Countless other shops will fold, according to local merchants, leaving nothing but hollow carcasses. You know, the Wal-Mart Effect. The ultimate result will be to eliminate jobs, not create them.
And what about this concern for working people? Talk to the thousands of Albertson's current and former employees who are suing this corporate Goliath for forcing them to work "off the clock" and for threatening them not to file insurance claims if they are hurt on the job. Or better yet, take a look at the U.S. government's recent civil indictment of Albertson's for consistently "interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of [their guaranteed] rights." The truth is, if the bottom line on the balance sheet doesn't look good to the boys in Boise, and if skimming from workers or adding a gas station or mini-store to the parking lot (as they are doing in many locations) doesn't pick up the numbers, then what was at first "your store" will become an "underperforming asset," standing vacant.
Of course, they can close it if they want. It's their store, and don't forget it. The only thing that Albertson's is committed to is your grocery-buying dollar. Rissing doesn't quite get it. This is not about architecture. It is about evicting people, destroying residences, vaporizing and injuring important diverse communities, increasing traffic congestion, threatening historic districts, killing small businesses, establishing a terrible zoning precedent by converting residential property to commercial use when vast commercial properties lie only blocks away, demolishing historic property, and eliminating livelihoods.
I think that one of Albertson's reasons for selecting this site is precisely that this corporate titan believed that the residents nearest the location--many or most of whom speak no English and have little financial wherewithal--would be powerless to stop them.
According to the Asian community of East Dallas--the creators of the priceless gardens of which Schutze writes--Albertson's "strong commitment" means the very destruction of these gardens and the annihilation of the community known as Little Asia. I assume that's what Rissing is talking about when he casually says, "Unfortunately, we will have to move a few people."
Crime and punishment
I was delighted to read in the Observer's November 26 edition that Walter Waldhauser a.k.a. Michael Lee Davis is again in custody ["Arresting development"]. Somehow 3.3 years per person murdered did not seem a reasonable punishment.
Jason P. Kazarian
I read your article about Mr. Davis, who has been convicted of a triple murder. Mr. Davis did his time and legally changed his name after he was let out of prison. Mr. Davis has not done anything illegal since his release but find a job and pay taxes to the city and federal governments. While Mr. Davis did kill three people, it was the state of Texas who let him out of jail, allowed him to change his name, and allowed him this mail-in parole option. It is the state of Texas who is to blame for this mess, not Mr. Davis. It should not be a crime in Texas for a convicted and punished man to start his own business, even with other convicted and punished men, if they are not doing the state any harm.
John W. Pruitt
We hate this letter. It sucks
While Mr. [Zac] Crain has every right to express his opinion of Depeche Mode [Music Listings, November 19], he should take into account that devoted fans and readers in general care very little for critics like him--those who are hopelessly caught in the endless recycling of "I hate electronic music" or "I hate bands that have been together for a long time." An original thought or idea from this reviewer would be a nice change instead of just seeing the usual attitude of "I hate this, so it sucks." Perhaps he should try reviewing instead of pontificating. Or perhaps he prefers to keep his brain in neutral and use timeworn cliches.
Feeding little hellions
Mark Stuertz's "hellacious" review of The Winds Bistro ["Hell's paving stones," October 22] prompts this response. We do not mind a bad review (if deserved), but we do mind a bad reviewer. An attitude was taken when a child companion required a high chair or booster seat, which was not readily available. When a high chair was provided, the booster seat was chosen with the following disastrous results. The child threw food and ran through the restaurant disturbing other patrons, who complained unhappily. Bringing a small, uncontrollable child to an upscale restaurant for this review may have influenced his opinions. One also wonders if he has spent too much time in Kmart with Martha Stewart as he refers to her in our review and El Gallo de Oro's review ("Guatemalan beers incapable of conjuring even a smug Martha Stewart"). Customers have raved and returned for Chef Bruce Stein's cuisine, the wine, and service, saying it's "one of the best in the Dallas area." Please consider this an invitation to have another Dallas Observer reviewer dine at the Winds.
Christina Rees' art reviews are getting much better. I actually enjoyed reading her review on the Frank Viola piece ["Break on through..." November 26]. I wasn't regurgitating by the end of your first paragraph like I used to. Keep up the good work.
So hard to be kind
I found your review of Chris Isaak [Music Listings, November 26] to be very harsh. The writer obviously isn't a fan. The review sounded so spiteful, it would seem he has a grudge against the man. I realize everyone has his own musical tastes, but really, to publish a piece like that is unnecessary. Being a fan of Chris Isaak's for almost 12 years, I have noticed that his music has changed over the years and improves with every album. I find his style in songwriting refreshingly different from all the other successful artists out there. Yes, he is compared to artists like Roy Orbison and Elvis, which I feel is a great honor for him. How many current artists are producing albums that sound exactly like Mr. Isaak? In this day and age, the music industry seems only to be interested in cardboard cut-out bands that sound like all the other multimillion-dollar artists. They are more interested in making the money than going out on a limb and backing something different. Chris Isaak is out there on his own, making music he likes and subsequently bringing joy to those who find his music inspirational. So what if he's not in the Top-10 charts every week? Mr. Isaak seems happy enough to be doing what he is doing, and those of us who enjoy his music are also happy he is doing what he does. I love all kinds of music, not just Chris Isaak, and I feel that I have been blessed in the wide range of music I have been exposed to. I know there will always be one or two artists I won't be a fan of, but I don't go around writing or saying awful things about their music. Why in this world are we more negative in what we think, say, and do? Why is it so hard to be kind? It takes so much more energy and time to be nasty than it does to be nice.
No it's not
The objective of a reviewer is to provide an objective perspective of an upcoming event, not their personal opinion [Editor's note: Isn't that what's commonly called a "preview?"]. In the article written by Robert Wilonsky regarding Chris Isaak, the writer's personal opinion obviously clouded his judgment. There is no need to provide any negativity toward someone who is simply doing what he enjoys. Take an ethics course.
The Dallas Morning News doing a story on Councilwoman Laura Miller, on the front page no less, when they've told the people at the Dallas Observer that they don't like their style of journalism? It's amazing. And I thought the folks at the Morning News were supposed to be a bunch of liberal do-gooders. I did love Laura Miller's comments on how she fights for the underdogs. Go, Laura Miller, go! I think she ought to run for mayor and take the reins away from Mayor Kirk. If Annette Strauss can be mayor, then why not Laura Miller?
Editor's note: Our sympathies go to the family of former Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss, who passed away this week.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.