Up the academy
I am shocked and dismayed about the horrific attack against Marine Military Academy Cadet Gabriel Cortez ["The few, the proud, the battered," December 25]. The perpetrators of this cowardly and criminal act need to be brought to the most severe justice. However, I am more shocked about the fallout stemming from this terrible incident by the media wanting to capitalize on supermarket tabloid sensationalism and paranoia. Like articles in most tabloids, Ann Zimmerman's contains a lot of interesting soap-opera text, seasoned with a few choice facts, smothered with innuendo from "anonymous" sources (unnamed former cadets and staff), and topped with what I consider just plain poor journalism.

Comparisons between New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell and the Marine Military Academy are of the "apples and oranges" variety. New Mexico Military Institute has "twice MMA's enrollment" as you reported, but NMMI is a secondary school and a junior college (and they admit females). The disparity of service academy appointments (120 NMMI vs. five or six MMA) is because many high school graduates (called "post-graduates") are sent by the service academies to NMMI for a year of college prior to induction. MMA does get a few "post-graduates," but most opt for a year of college (at NMMI and several other military junior colleges) instead of an extra year of high school at MMA. (FYI: Roger Staubach attended NMMI a year before he attended the Naval Academy. He played freshman football at NMMI; after winning the Heisman his junior year, he could not play his senior year at Navy because he used one year of eligibility at NMMI.)

The reference to "in the early 1990s, increasing enrollment from 350 to more than 500 students, achieved in part by allowing eighth-graders into the school for the first time" is simply inaccurate. Eighth-graders (and seventh-graders) were first admitted to MMA in August 1968 in a separate "Lower School." I know: I was in the first group of eighth-graders admitted. In 1968, we didn't have air conditioning in the barracks; the plebe system was nine tough weeks, and the cadets ran everything! Only one drill instructor was on campus at night--that's all they needed. I graduated in 1972 with a full scholarship to college (as did most of my class). Today, I am retired from the Reserves after 20 years; I have earned two doctorates and serve on the faculties of three universities.

I owe a lot to the Marine Military Academy. My DIs were tough veterans of WWII and Korea who fought and bled for this country and understood sacrifice and courage. The values instilled in me by the drill instructors and staff define my character today. There may be some problems at MMA today, and the Cortez incident is a most regrettable chapter in an otherwise honorable history. However, I am confident that the integrity and principles of the Marine Corps will bring forth the final vindication for MMA.

Kuni Michael Beasley
MMA '72

A judge's resume
My court, the 292nd Criminal District Court, was first for criminal judges in total dispositions over the last court term and in the top half of all courts in total dispositions and jury trials over the last fiscal year. These figures are according to Dallas County statistics ["Courthouse coup," November 27].

Over the past seven years, I have served as dean of our state judiciary's continuing educational program. Judicial education is mandated by statute, and my duties include teaching, writing curriculum, and recruiting faculty for training the trial and appellate judges of this state. Often when my day's docket is cleared, I come home to work on my computer, do research, and make telephone calls in connection with my duties as dean. During my stewardship, our state judicial training has become one of the very best programs in the nation.

It is a conservative estimate that I spend 60-plus hours per week on statutorily mandated judicial duties. I have not taken a vacation for the past several years. I choose to spend my time working to improve our justice system.

The highest honor Texas trial and appellate judges can pay to one of their own is to elect him or her to lead our professional organization. Over the past year, I served as chair of the State Bar Judicial Section. In that capacity, I coordinated our legislative efforts supporting the Supreme Court Task Force of Judicial Efficiency's recommendations. As a result of our efforts, programs developed under my direction have sensitized judges to the unique problems inherent in family violence and child abuse cases and have saved lives. The trial management courses have enabled judges to streamline jury trials to the benefit of jurors, victims, and witnesses. Our ethics course is the model for states throughout the nation.

In my campaign for Court of Criminal Appeals, I have the support of leading prosecutors, district attorneys, bar leaders, and citizens statewide. They believe I have served the cause of justice well.

Judge Mike Keasler
Grand Prairie

Jeers to Jimmy
I just read Jimmy Fowler's review of Dreams From a Summer House ["Bland holiday treat hard to swallow," November 27], and I think Mr. Snide Smartypants Europhobic Theater Reviewer should be thrown over the back of the nearest chair, handcuffed there, and spanked until he cries for his momma. I experienced the musical play as quite touching at some moments, and there's not a soul on this planet who could convincingly argue that all stage drama since Socrates, Aeschylus, and Shakespeare hasn't been built on thoroughly recycled themes. Besides, the play made me laugh a lot and often, and that seemed to be its chief intent.

Joel Thomas
Via e-mail

Praise for Peter
Peter Rainer's review of Jackie Brown ["Punch drunk," December 25] hit the nail on the head. My boyfriend and I saw it last night. We were trying to decide exactly how we felt about the new Tarantino movie, and Rainer couldn't have said it better. He verbalized in a cohesive manner everything that we talked about. His style of writing is great. I look forward to seeing more of his reviews.

Vail, Colorado

Happened to stumble across your column in the Observer while scanning for a job opportunity in the Dallas area. I have not seen Jackie Brown yet, but I probably will, based on your review. I enjoyed your in-depth piece, which was devoid of the usual "star struck," overly simpatico "two thumbs approach."

I found it refreshing that you actually took time to examine the film from several perspectives. I enjoyed the comments of Samuel Jackson, whom you also quoted. I am a 51-year-old African-American man who, typical of the class, does not have the money or interest to charge off to every new movie. However, your review helped prepare me for what I think will end up being, all things considered, a good investment.

Whether I find work in Dallas or not, I plan to continue checking out your columns on-line!

Ernie Mercer
East St. Louis, Illinois

On the other hand
These phone-in reviews by Peter Rainer are worthwhile only in that they tell me exactly what I want to know about a movie. In almost every case, his negative review has led me to an excellent film, while his positives seem to be directed toward the mainstream that I hoped the Observer was not becoming a part of. I miss the local reviewers who aren't affected by being too close to the machinery of the star-making facilities of the West. Piece by piece, the Observer is being dismantled into just another newspaper with no personality of its own. That is a shame.

Percival Rogers
Via e-mail

Roars for Rory
It warmed my heart to read your recent article about Rory Gallagher ["Rory in the sky," November 27]. For years I thought I might have dreamt him up, as it seemed I was the only person in the U.S. who knew who he was. His music taught me the blues. If he covered a Leadbelly song, I sought out Leadbelly recordings, and so on. That's how I learned my blues history, and that was a great path to be set on. Thanks for keeping his name out there.

Kristina Lavoie
Via e-mail

In response to Rick Koster's excellent tribute to Rory Gallagher, I must say many thanks, and I hope this opens eyes and ears to this wonderful guitarist. I have been a fan of Gallagher's for years and was always amazed and frustrated by his lack of exposure and recognition in this country--especially when lesser guitarists are canonized. I first heard Rory's music in Europe on the recommendation of a friend, and have been a fan ever since. I regret that I never got to hear him live, but Mr. Koster's heartfelt tribute goes a long way toward expressing what a sincere and honest performer Gallagher must have been. Thanks again for the tribute, Rick.

Eric Lindquist
College Station

Thanks to the Dallas Observer and Rick Koster for his heartfelt tribute to the late Rory Gallagher. Hopefully, this might enlighten people unaware of him to seek out his music. Onstage, he was a passionate, dynamic performer, and offstage, a quiet, humble gentleman. He continues to serve as a great inspiration to me and my music. Rest in peace, Rory.

Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat

Tribute to Tommy
I really enjoyed your article and interview with Tommy Shannon ["Cry tough," December 25]. I'm a big fan of Tommy's as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter. I lived in Texas for 10 years after I graduated from Mississippi State University and fell in love with your great state. I get Texas fever at least once a year and have to go back for a visit! I lived in Paris--ever heard of it? Anyway, I put you on my "favorites" list. I look forward to other articles about my "adopted" home state!

Lynn Vaughn

A great article on a great musician; a better insight into Tommy than any of the books I've read.

Having worked at Blossoms Downstairs in Fort Worth, I had the opportunity to see Tommy and Stevie on numerous occasions. The photo on Page 85 of Tommy and Stevie was taken by me on Sept. 16, 1984, at Will Rogers Auditorium. This show was a warm-up for their upcoming Carnegie Hall show in October.

I gave a copy of this photo and several others from that night to Tommy at the last Arc Angels show in Austin, at the Back Yard. I also have great shots from this show as well. I thought you might like a little more info on this picture.

Thanks and keep up the great stories.
Jeff Jones
Fort Worth


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