Us rubes
Thanks so much for "Renoir, Shmenoir" [February 5]. I hope the Kimbell Museum curators are as chastened by Christine Biederman's astuteness as I am. How rueful was my realization that I was one of "the rubes" drawn in by the Kimbell's desire to "toady up to potential donors!" Although I am not sure what an "Eagles Reunion Tour" is, I am grateful to have been warned away from the Renoir exhibition, its "highbrow equivalent." It sounds tacky.

As a member of the masses who was gullibly taken in by the Kimbell's recent Monet and the Mediterranean show, I was horrified to hear that it "was a bit of pandering to the masses." I was especially grateful that Ms. Biederman alerted us to Renoir's "schmaltz factor." We rubes never would have suspected that Renoir's work is "sentimental." I am especially impressed with Ms. Biederman's invocation of authorities that are far over my head. She says Renoir's work is "the art-historical equivalent of sussing out whether someone owns a Barry Manilow CD or votes for Ross Perot." I cannot even find "sussing out" in my dictionary. Ms. Biederman is just too sophisticated for us rubes. Fortunately, the Observer article includes photographs of Edgar Degas' self-portrait and of Renoir himself so that we masses can see for ourselves that they are not the same painter.

As I sit in my wooden house, built in Oak Cliff in 1918, I am ashamed to realize that I am living in a "faux Georgian suburban homestead," and have actually enjoyed the paintings of "blowsy nudes" (sic) (for future reference, Ms. Biederman may note that the spelling is "blowzy") much as I might enjoy the playmate of the month. What could be more low-class than admiring a nude with a ruddy complexion? I was particularly ashamed of having enjoyed the Barnes exhibit. In my own defense, however, I will assert that by Ms. Biederman's standards I am a person of good taste, after all: The Kimbell curators are so discerning that "the Kimbell doesn't even own a Renoir."

I do not own one, either. I wish Ms. Biederman had published her expose of the Kimbell sooner. I would like to have marched up to the membership desk to declare, "I will not become one of the 26,000 rubes who have been duped into membership by the 'recent Impressionist binge.'" It is too late, alas! I have been a member since the "safe and familiar" Blood of Kings exhibit, years ago. We rubes, like Renoir, who had "the soul of a peasant from Limoges," and "a second-class mind," are "not that good at thinking" (sic). (I assume that by "that good," Ms. Biederman means "very good.") Thank God, therefore, we have Ms. Biederman, who, despite her ignorance of English usage, is eager to do our thinking for us.

John Wheat Gibson

Editor's note: We can only guess that Mr. Gibson consulted a dictionary published in 1938. Webster's New World College Dictionary (1996 edition) lists "blowsy" as an alternate spelling for "blowzy." The same dictionary defines the verb "suss" as "to figure out; grasp, as a result of investigation, study or intuition: often with out." It also defines the adverb "that" as "very."

Mr. Balls
[Robert] Wilonsky is the best sports columnist in the Dallas area. His columns are well researched and insightful. He's better than Bayless was or Galloway or even Sherrod. His column on Jones ["The madness of King Jerry," February 12] was on target as usual. You need to keep him.

Via e-mail

After reading Robert Wilonsky's article "Stealing Home" [February 5], I feel the Rangers are in somewhat better hands than with the previous ownership. I feel Mr. Hicks will make a perfect owner for the team. He will bring some stability to the franchise (unlike his neighbor to the East).

Reading Mr. Wilonsky's article reminds me of Clint Murchison and his style of ownership. He always let the "Boys" in the front office and on the field handle the day-to-day operations while he kept an eye on the bottom line.

Mr. Wilonsky's story has sold me on Tom Hicks and his vision for this area.
K. Henderson
Via e-mail

Eddie Knoblauch, mentioned in your Tom Hicks story, never had an at-bat in the big leagues, according to the Baseball Encyclopedia. In 11 Texas League seasons with five teams, including Dallas, the outfielder hit over .300 eight times and won the batting title with .327 in his last year, 1955.

Tom Simmons
Editor's note: Mr. Simmons is correct. We regret the error.

Bad teachers, badder students
As a female minority college student, reading the article "Baby, it's them" [January 29] put me in awe. "Explosive information"? Hardly. I don't think this is earthshaking news to students, whether they are good or bad ones. In my 12 years of public education, I have had my share of noticeably "good" teachers. I've also had my share of bad ones. The fact that some teachers can actually make the students dumber over the course of the year is also not a real shocker. I can honestly remember sitting in class and being so absolutely bored by what was being taught that I would lose all concentration and therefore not listen (or learn) what the teacher was trying to teach. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

However, this fact didn't mean I was a bad student. Anybody who could put one and one together would be able to see that sometimes it's not the student, but the teacher. That DISD doesn't want this information released isn't a surprise either. If they're hiring badly trained teachers, they should be reprimanded for it. The perfect way to do that is to put that information on the Internet like [Russell] Fish is trying to do. This way, those who knew this information already can be reassured, and those who need tangible evidence can realize something they have probably known all along.

Rachel Jacobson

Regarding the "bad teachers make bad students" article, I agree. My first nine years at a public school in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, gave me a horrible education, about the equivalent that DISD offers today to its children.

For high school, I attended a private, coed school that was about the equivalent of Greenhill today. What a difference. I knew these kids were not genetically more intelligent than I was--they were just much better educated than I was.

Private schools can fire bad teachers. Public schools keep bad teachers forever.

Joanne Groshardt
Via e-mail

Drowning out the hype
Jim Schutze's penetrating article on "Flood money" [January 22] was grabbed from the shelves within a few hours, but at least three Dallas councilpersons made copies available at their public meetings for two weeks. Almost everyone who has read it opposes the levee-tollways boondoggle.

That is the most effective local news story I remember. Please tell us more about this $246 million waste of taxpayers' money (more than a billion dollars of state and federal leverage), the largest Dallas waste in 58 years.

Edward C. Fritz

Surplus labor
Mayor Kirk's TV blitz did not hesitate in letting Dallas' minions know that the new arena would create thousands of jobs! When do we start counting?

Ed Frick

Critics' soup
In the Dallas Observer's February 5 review ["Head 'em up"] of the band Bowling for Soup, Matt Weitz asks for a moment of his readers' valuable time and then makes a pointless attack on the appearance of one band member--but only after taking a swipe at their name. He should instead take a moment of his own time to at least go hear the band, if not interview the members and their fans.

I wonder what Matt thought of Gene Simmons' fat, hairy belly, or what he wrote about a goofy name like REM. Bands should be reviewed on their merits. Irrelevant comments about looks or names tell us nothing about their music, their message, or even their entertainment value. All Matt can add to his vent is that BFS has been around for four years--so I guess it must have something going--and that "it is said to be quite winning live." It is also said that some journalists are not so lazy and shallow.


I'm writing in regard to your review of Bowling for Soup. I question whether you even listened to the album, but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your review said less about the music than it did about the band's name and personnel. The only thing you had to offer about the music was speculation on its influences and doubts about its originality.

So you didn't like the album. I honestly don't give a shit about that. What bothers me and makes you sound like an idiot is the personal attack on Bernie. I don't know what you look like, so I'm not sure where your motivation comes from. Perhaps you're a little insecure about your own girth. I feel certain, however, that if he was not fat, you would have looked elsewhere for your comic genius. I'm just not sure what you were thinking. Maybe you were just having a bad day and needed someone to attack. The bottom line is that you were completely unprofessional in your remarks about the "big ol' hairy fat guy."

Brett Wilson

We (me and some other cool people) have recently had the displeasure of reading Matt Weitz's article about Bowling for Soup. We totally disagree with everything he said! Bowling for Soup is one of our favorite bands. They rock! So, I am writing to tell everyone on here to ignore that person's review and to at least go check them out. Is that too much to ask, damn it?

Via e-mail

Eddie Vedder is an artist
Forgive me if I am wrong, but when I opened the Observer to read the review ["All rocked out," February 4] of Pearl Jam's newest album, I was expecting to read about the quality of the songs, etc. Instead, Keith Moerer wastes an entire article about a potentially interesting topic by jumping on the I-hate-Eddie-Vedder bandwagon. If he has a legitimate complaint against the album, then let him say his piece. But how many times must he reiterate the fact that he doesn't like Eddie Vedder? I find it interesting that the things he hates about this band are their ideals and standards. I suppose he probably gets into concerts for free and does not care that a band has respect enough for the fans to fight for their right to pay less for a concert.

Likewise, to deny that Vedder is an artist is completely absurd, seeing as he is one of the few artists left in the business. Pearl Jam is one of the--if not the--most important bands of this decade.

Darcy Hudelson-Lewis
Via e-mail


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