Swinging Dallas
I can't quite figure this out. Dallas Ken Doll vice officers spend two hours inside the Jet Set (read barn off the beaten path that no one knew about) before they noticed anything of note, and they had to clear two doors to do so ["Intent to arouse," December 4].

A quick stroll through one of Dallas' many public parks near the same area would have provided the officers with instant gratification (arrest-wise) for little effort. Every time I walk my dog, she gags on the used condoms all over the ground.

Funny, I agree with the attorney--Bob and Harriet visiting from Topeka are more likely to run into what I have than be caught unwittingly inside the Jet Set.

Via e-mail

In response to your article on swingers...I live in a nice neighborhood that has been riddled with crime recently. My neighbors have had to wait hours after reporting a crime, yet it seems that our local vice department has plenty of time on its hands. Perhaps they should be reassigned to help the uniformed officers handle serious crimes.

To my shock and amazement, the city of Dallas has decided that it is going to be our guide to morality. Please spare us from this "Big Brother is watching you" cliche. If you want to worry about the morality of this city, perhaps we should start with DISD and the city council. If you want a larger project, vote differently in the next Presidential election--perhaps we'll get someone with moral character.

I have never patronized a swingers club. My personal moral beliefs are not aligned with that lifestyle. Fortunately, I am intelligent, spiritual, and confident enough in my own morality to allow others to explore their preferences. Alas, there are always those who think they know what is best for the masses.

Via e-mail

I find your article very honest, something you don't always find in regard to this lifestyle. Having been a swinger for some 25 years, it has become very complicated for those of us who practice this to seek a fun time anywhere except in a private location. This leaves very few choices as to how to meet or contact people. The off-premises clubs allow a direct contact with others to discuss and get to know them before any other activity occurs. Without them, the contacts become personal classifieds and the Internet. This is a great area of concern for safety and security about those who respond. The area of "perverts" is considerably expanded in both of these areas. On-premise clubs give the lifestyle participant a greater sense of security, though, as history tells, sometimes false.

Your honest and nonjudgmental reporting on this subject is very commendable, certainly not what the other written, verbal, or visual media would do. Keep up the great reporting!

Via e-mail

Sucking sounds
Ms. [Laura] Miller, I have been a fan of yours for a long time, and I was pleased to see you return for the arena issue. I think "That giant sucking sound" [December 11] was great--I only wish all voters would have to read your articles before voting.

I have many concerns about the arena deal and feel it couldn't get any worse than it is currently structured. Since I have been involved in construction for almost 30 years, the fact that Hillwood Development gets total control of the design and construction--plus that there is no competitive bidding--is unbelievable. This will be something to watch if the vote is yes.

What happens if the arena doesn't cost as much as the projected cost? Will the city get a rebate on their $125 million investment? I would like to see a comprehensive breakdown (including cost) of other arenas built in the last few years, such as the Pepsi Center in Denver that just broke ground. Engineering News Record reported this week (December 1 issue) that this $160 million, state-of-the-art arena will be on a 50-acre site that will include 6,400 parking spaces, offices, restaurants, retail, and store development. It will seat 17,600 and 20,100 people, depending on the configuration, and have 95 luxury suites.

This sounds like another arena in the local news for about $65 million less.
Mark Henderson
Via e-mail

My wife and I wish to congratulate Laura Miller for her reporting on the bad arena deal and the fact that the city thinks that the citizens of Dallas are a bunch of idiots. We see through the smokescreen and are able to decipher the truth on the issue thanks to Laura's reporting. We just wish that her articles could be published in The Dallas Morning News so that the type of people who read the News get hit over the head with what is really going on.

We are avid readers of the Observer and hope that Laura Miller continues to write the truth so that others can see the light in voting down this ridiculous idea. Keep up the good work!

Paul and Sharon Fullington
Via e-mail

Henry R. Perot, Jr. is the personification of Dallas. He talks like Dan Quayle and does bidness like J.R. Ewing. Quayle wished he had taken Latin in school so he could have talked to the folks in Latin America. Henry II wants to create Times Square in Dallas. Not a bad idea if you subscribe to the belief that Dallas is nothing more than the wide spot in the road where Oklahoma comes to sin. Times Square, being famous for prostitutes, drugs, and XXX-rated movies for every persuasion, ought to draw sin-bent Sooners in the thousands.

Tom Stewart-Gordon

Your article about the giant sucking sound was so great. I think, however, that the sucking sound is coming from under Perot's desk (where Mayor Kirk is kneeling).

This is such graft, I can't stand it. I live in Garland, so I guess it's none of my affair, but I feel for the people of Dallas who are about to get screwed.

Randy Carnes
Via e-mail

This is really a note to Laura Miller. She has mentioned the DMN and its lack of objective coverage of the arena deal. In a recent article in the DMN on the front page of the business section, there was a glowing report about the new arena in Washington, D.C. It told how beautiful and lavish it was, and about the new wave in arenas, just like ours is going to be, etc. But it left out one major point. The arena in Washington was funded completely with private funds. It received no public subsidy. How could an article, particularly in the business section, leave out such an interesting point?

Joe Collins
Via e-mail

Reality check
Clearly, Laura Miller will go to any length to prove that she is a poor man's "public defender." In her article on the arena debate ["Get real," December 4], she profiles the "poor workin' folk" who will get hit with the car tax. She suggests that the city is misleading the public when it says that the majority of car renters are tourists. Well, by Ms. Miller's own mini-poll, the majority of renters are just that...out-of-towners. By her own calculations, 266 out of 1,306 renters were from the metroplex. That means 80 percent of renters were from out of town! Sure, there are some exceptions, but anyone can write the sob story of what amounts to the minority.

My suggestion to Laura Miller is to recognize that most readers of the Observer are not fooled by her transparent "champion of the people and exposer of corruption" role. She's just a no-talent hack who writes for a minor publication that, by the way, makes its money mostly by running ads from pornographic businesses (strip clubs and 1-800 numbers) and cigarette companies.

Oh, ye of such high moral standards.
Via e-mail

Once again Laura Miller is right on the mark. If John Loza thinks this is such a good deal, then why the rhetoric and hard sell? The powers that be are ignoring the people that have the facts, and the local Morning News refuses to print the truth. Now we come to the heart of this letter. If Laura Miller would like to retire for a short while from the reporting business, until, say, after the January vote, we can probably collect enough money here in Arlington to make it worth her while. Many in Arlington are pulling for Dallas to pass this thing and keep the albatross in Dallas. Remember, we already have the Ballpark at Arlington. So go Dallas, and pay no attention to this Miller person, or the cheering in Arlington.

Bob Spiegel
Via e-mail

What a fascinating tale Laura [Miller] has woven regarding the tourist-based arena tax. Let's see what it consisted of.

The tax is composed of two parts--hotel tax and rental car tax in the city of Dallas. On the one hand, she concedes that the hotel tax is generally paid for by tourists (or businessmen). On the other, she criticizes the rental car tax because she actually found a few people in Dallas who rented cars. Presumably, she tried the same with Dallas citizens using Dallas hotels but was shut out.

What she did not mention is that the hotel tax is the primary revenue generator; hence, she concedes that tourists will be picking up most, if not all, of the bill.

We should be ecstatic that people from other cities will be paying for us to build a modern arena in an environmentally and economically depressed area of our city. This arena will generate $6 billion dollars to the local economy over the next 30 years. This is money Joe Average Citizen will not pay in taxes.

Unless Laura has an economics degree, limit her commentary to DISD. We need more positive energy from our citizenry instead of the negative vibes Laura gives off. Peace.

Bill Radtke
Via e-mail

Laura Miller's article "Get real" was a solid follow-up to "Flying blind" [November 20], exposing the smoke and mirrors used to promote the illusion that the proposed arena deal won't cost Dallas taxpayers.

While I agree that the car-rental tax will surely cost Dallasites more, don't minimize the hit we will take because of the hotel tax. I'm sure that thousands of us have found more than enough justification in paying for a night away from the primary residence. Inclement weather, escape from an abusive relationship, romantic encounters (surely the politicians should understand that), and too much to drink at happy hour are all valid reasons to rent a room in town.

The real issue for me, however, is more basic. Taxpayers (low-income, middle-income, or wealthy) shouldn't be forced by their government, at any level, to provide financing for billionaires who choose to invest in sports franchises or anything else.

This may be the issue that finally gets me voting for Libertarian candidates.

Michael Warren Smith
Via e-mail

Lazy judges
The article on the judges did not go far enough ["Courthouse coup," November 27]. A more slothful, ignorant, rude, and arrogant group cannot be imagined. It is not limited to the criminal courts. The civil judges are just as lazy and ignorant as their criminal counterparts.

People should not be surprised when Republicans tell them they want less government and then work half-days. Makes sense to me.

If anything, the article but scratched the surface.
Don't use my name since even cornered rats turn and fight back. If you think these are not the most vindictive people on earth, you haven't been to the courthouse to see them in action.

Name withheld
Via e-mail

Good ol' Sandy Kress
Thank you, Ms. [Miriam] Rozen, for being the first reporter at the Observer to get to the actual issues in DISD ["One fine mess," November 20]. Princess Laura [Miller], apologist for [Sandy] Kress, never quite got it. As a result, issues that should have been exposed years ago were hidden by her continual whining about what a martyr Kress was for wasting his important intellect on minority children. How ironic that his opinion of their representatives so resembled Dan Peavy's.

Via e-mail

If you'd been more familiar with DISD history, you would have witnessed [John] Scovell's greatest screw-up: pressuring Marvin Edwards and the board into laying off teachers rather than increasing taxes. The district has never recovered the trust of teachers, parents, or students. It also left a permanent disability in regard to recruiting bilingual teachers. Those teachers who had left other countries after being recruited by the yahoos at DISD were left with no jobs.

Via e-mail

Down for the count
The piece you did on Kevin Von Erich was excellent ["Wrestling with tragedy," November 20]. I already knew the story, but hearing it from Kevin's lips brought a tear to my eye.

Ryan DeSain
Via e-mail

As a child in Houston, I grew up watching the Von Erichs fight their way into wrestling history. As I grew older and watched wrestling's focus shift from fights to farce, it became clear to me that wrestling was just a joke, as many of my friends claimed. But the tragedy of each Von Erich death hit home--as does the death of everyone's childhood heroes. I am now attending school in California and accidentally stumbled upon the Observer's Web site. The article's focus on the Von Erich history made me pause and examine my life, and how it, too, is completing a circle. (Sorry to sound so cliched.)

Your article, which was surprisingly well chronicled and well written, brought back all my childhood memories. It is good to see that Kevin Adkisson wants to keep his family's memory alive--but more so, it is good to see his positive outlook. There may be some who question the intentions of the Von Erich site; but I, for one, will be waiting for merchandise--with credit card in hand.

Paul Chu
Davis, California

The spin on Spin
Hey, this is Matt outta Las Vegas, Nevada, and I bumped into your article about Spin magazine and its authority on all that is rock and roll ["Too cool for us," November 27]. First off, great article! I just wanna get something off my chest, so this little rant may drag on...

Anyhow, I'm a native of Las Vegas, but I lived in Dallas before returning to Nevada. Since my return, I've made it a point to see as many shows as possible, being the music lover I am. I've seen three shows in Las Vegas. Three. That's in a 13-month period. Not one show was under $15. I saw nine bands in that three-show span, and three bands were local (and by chance, one was from Dallas!). I went back to Dallas on vacation last July, and I saw four shows in one week, most of them being better than any show I've seen here. And not one of them was over $8.

Second, no place on the planet has music appreciation like Dallas. Go to any club in any other large city, and it's impossible not to run into hecklers and hostile crowds.

Furthermore, Dallas defies genres. The West Coast thrives on the latest trends in music, and everyone in the crowd dresses the same and drives on punk ethos. A show is either a "punk show" or a "ska show" (and those are the only two "cool" genres here now), a "metal show," or whatever. Rarely did I ever hear anyone classify what type of music a local band was in Dallas. Everyone was called by the name of the band. Every band sounded relatively different from the next band. Oh man, I don't even want to go on about this; I could write a book on just this difference between Dallas and most other places.

Well, OK--it's off my chest, there you go. I'm pretty damned open-minded, and all eight Las Vegas bands just seem up their asses bent on the mega-record deal, yet they brag about their punk ethos. In Dallas, you can find the Toadies--a platinum record seller--in the crowd watching fellow bands and walk up and talk to them like any other Joe. You can't do that here.

Ah, well, there's my rant. Like I said, I could write a book on the differences. Dallas outdoes the entertainment capital of the world (where there's not much to do), the city that never sleeps (until everything closes at 6 p.m.)--viva Las Vegas.

Via e-mail

Tops ZZ Top
Thanks for the article on Rory Gallagher ["Rory in the sky," November 27]. I was at that Thanksgiving show after a heated argument that rock and roll should have precedence over another boring evening with the in-laws. Rory was always a favorite of mine, even though radio virtually ignored him. I remember being happy for Rory when I heard he was being considered as a replacement for Mick Taylor in the Stones, but ultimately glad that he wasn't chosen because this would have meant a stop to the continual flow of Rory's solo material. His show at the Tarrant County Convention Center opening for ZZ Top was one of his best. Although my loyalty to ZZ Top prevents me from saying that Rory "blew them away," I will say that 15,000 people, along with the three boys from Texas at side stage, saw a man who had passion and licks and knew how to entertain in an arena as well as in a bar. Once again, thanks for the article, and here's hoping everyone out there who appreciates great guitar work will check him out when his albums are rereleased.

Rick Rieckhoff
Farmers Branch

Dallas Observer's November 27 cover story, "Courthouse coup," understated the hours worked by state District Judge Mike Keasler. According to Texas Lawyer, Keasler averages five hours a day--which amounts to an estimated 25 hours a week. We regret the error.


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