A decent man
Congratulations to Robert Wilonsky for his fair and accurate portrayal of former chief Jesse Curry and his work ["Officer down," November 26]. True, Curry made an unforgivable mistake in moving Oswald on November 24 in full view of the international media. Yet, as Wilonsky notes, this event was not a "defining moment" of the chief's otherwise distinguished career.
One cavil: Wilonsky does not mention Walt Brown's Treachery in Dallas. Brown writes that DPD officers killed the president as part of a larger conspiracy involving a confederation of anti-Kennedy interests. Curry is heavily criticized in the book for taking the lead in planning the assassination and then covering up his department's involvement. This thesis comes from a Ph.D. historian and serious student of the assassination.
Though Wilonsky was apparently unaware of Brown's book, his account of Curry effectively deconstructs Brown's arguments. Mr. Wilonsky's portrait is just not consistent with a man who would arrange a president's death and then cover up his tracks. Curry was, above all, a decent and fair man. He wanted the world to see that Oswald was not harmed while in custody; that was the rationale for the most unusual handling of Oswald's transfer. Further, published reports of Chief Curry's ties to white supremacists--a purported character flaw and key piece linking him personally to the assassination conspirators--do not hold up under Wilonsky's scrutiny.
Congratulations again on a well-written, fair, and accurate story.
Department of Sociology
University of North Texas
Hip-hop ghost town
If hip-hop music is a reflection of a city's street culture and attitude, then there should be no surprise that the Dallas hip-hop scene lives just below the surface ["Beat down," November 12]. Tremendous potential, but out of sight and out of mind. Dallas is probably the largest city in the United States without an attitude. The minority community is torn between assimilating into the mainstream and being forced to exist quietly, on the south side of town, out of sight and out of mind. In short, there is nothing original to rap about (please note that gangsta rap is dead).
When I moved to Dallas, one of the first things I noticed was that there was no city--just large sprawling suburbs and a ghost town masquerading as a city center (downtown). Uptown was yuppie heaven (the McKinney area), and there was something that I still quite haven't figured out yet called the West End. No wonder Vanilla Ice lied and the DOC chose a West Coast affiliation. K104 is a sorry excuse for a radio station, save the morning team. Have you listened to Nippy Jones and CoCo Butter without putting on a CD halfway through the show? Every other African-American station on the air is dedicated to the golden-oldies circuit (making sure that Dallas has a chance to listen to the originals, not the samples). If hip-hop props ever rain on this area, they will probably land in Fort Worth.
High-tech indentured servants
Miriam Rozen's article "Invasion of the body shoppers" [November 12] presents an excellent look at the abuse and exploitation of foreign workers (H-1B visa holders) who work in the American high-tech industry. The other side of the coin, which she did not discuss in detail, is what the use of H-1B labor has done to the American work force, particularly older workers who have been replaced and excluded from job consideration in favor of cheap, indentured foreign labor. A set of letters covering the impact on American workers titled "The Misfortune 500" was published by the IEEE-USA on their Web site at http://www.ieee.org/usab/FORUM/H-1B/misfortune500.html.
Academic research has also been done on this subject, most notably by Professor Norman Matloff of the University of California at Davis. His work can be found at http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/itaa.html. This is a topic of fierce and ongoing debate within the technical community, and the Dallas Observer has performed a valuable service in exposing it to a larger public.
Mark A. Mendlovitz
I enjoyed Ms. [Christina] Rees' review of the Shelby Lee Adams photographs ["The holler dwellers," December 3], which I have not seen. Thanks for publicizing his work. The people who live in the hollows of Appalachia do pronounce it "hollers," so I understand why you wrote it that way. The hollows are everywhere in a mountainous region, small valleys where a few houses cluster, and I visited quite a few of them in West Virginia and Kentucky while working for the Huntington, West Virginia, newspaper years ago. As Ms. Rees suggests, the subjects in these photographs are not pitiable people; they are proud survivors of unending difficulties from birth to death that an outsider finds hard to believe. They do live amid great beauty, and in my experience, they appreciate it.
The Observer is a superb publication, often sublime. I wish I were talented enough to write for it. Robert Wilonsky certainly is. His piece on Randy Newman ["Maybe he's doing it wrong," November 5] was well-crafted, warm, directly on point--informative but affectionate. Three things about the Observer really impress me. It's gutsy. It maintained a high level despite the loss of Laura Miller. And it has a complete archive so that readers can go back and find the gems they missed, such as the Randy Newman essay.
Long live the Observer and its real-world, break-through-the-bullshit journalism. It's fine with me if you don't print this--probably better--but let Wilonsky know he's appreciated, OK?
To the dumpster
I was right with you until you lumped Peyton Manning with the others ["A fan's sour notes," November 26]. Your whole article went to the dumpster with that inclusion. Manning is just the type of hero that our kids need--regardless of whether you disapprove of his paycheck. It is obvious that we are of the same time period--and as I said, I was right with you, but Manning is one of three NFL heroes that I have as an adult. You obviously don't know much about him. I want a retraction and an apology, as only a man of integrity would offer.
I couldn't agree more with "A fan's sour notes." I am a fan of football, but I am not a fan of what football has become. It would take only a couple of weeks of professional sports boycotting before the salaries would come down. Supply and demand!
Here is an even better question to ask you, Wilonsky: Were journalists better back then than they are today? I think so. You write a sorry statement about several of the Cowboys from this decade's team. How about Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, who had cocaine on him during the Super Bowl? How about some of the off-field problems with some of the other Cowboy players--Golden Richards, Mel Renfro--just to name a few?
You make comments about Emmitt Smith. Why don't you try carrying a football at least 330 times a year for about six or seven years and see if you have a drop-off from the punishment? Why don't you quit being a lackey and stop trying to further your own selfish needs by downgrading this decade's Cowboys?
Defending the defenseless
Patrick Williams attacks pro-lifers for holding pictures of innocent babies murdered by abortion [Buzz, December 3]. Mr. Williams doesn't like the showing of these pictures. If they are so horrible to look at, maybe it is something we shouldn't be doing. God commands us to defend the defenseless. He also commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Innocent babies are torn to pieces each day in the United States while millions of Christian men stand around with their hands on their hips. We should obey God and defend the defenseless. We should defend them the same way we would want to be defended if someone was about to murder us. If the abortionist were about to murder you, what would you accept to save your life from being taken?
The Rev. Donald Spitz
Why U2 still matters
Please let me have your job. Please, before reviews like this send me to an early grave. I am so very, very tired of reading U2 reviews ["Out There," November 12] that never talk about music. Anyone reading your article can tell you wrote it before ever listening to the CDs. You are great at telling everyone about low-rated U2 TV specials and how people in your industry put ridiculous labels on the band, but you never talk about anything that really matters. Talk about Bono's vocals in the "Bad" chorus--how he hits notes that Eddie Vedder only dreams of. Talk about Edge's guitar tone in "Pride"--how no guitar has sounded like it before or since. Talk about how for 20 years, U2 has dared to be something different in the boring oblivion of rock music. Maybe U2's popularity is slowing down, but who cares (do you think Springsteen's Nebraska is a poor record because it sold poorly?). Get your thumbs out of your ears, Robert, and listen for a change--you will be amazed not only by what you hear, but also by what you feel.
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.