Rose Farley's article on Bill Simpson ["Mr. Nobody," August 14] was a classic example of the Dallas Observer's characteristic writing style: reprehensible.
At every word and turn of the page, Simpson was sneeringly portrayed as some sinister and meddlesome "do-gooder." He was even brazenly labeled a "Mr. Nobody." Yet the writer's ill-intended implications proved absolutely nothing apart from her own prejudice. (Very unprofessional!)
Let me tell you something. There are plenty of us "nobodies" out here who still value the family lifestyles and wholesome beliefs that have made our country great. Simpson is simply one who has the raw courage and strong conviction to stand up for those either too timid or unsure of how to thwart the permissive direction our nation is surely heading.
Since when does one have to have "showcase credentials" to become an accepted leader in our community? After all, the true measure of performance is results. And within a relatively brief period of time, Simpson has taken a remarkable stance for morality and decency in our community while others do virtually nothing about the advance of societal corruption and degradation.
Isn't it about time we give support to those willing to fight for the common good instead of attempting to ridicule their well-intended efforts?
Maybe that approach doesn't sell tabloids or newspapers. But it certainly helps preserve a more stable marketplace of readers--and advertisers. Think about it.
Robert E. Carl
While perusing Jimmy Fowler's review of a local production of Pinter's The Hothouse ["A word's worth," August 21], I felt moved to address our good fortune; by "our" I mean the Observer, its readership, the theater community, and the city as a whole. Now that I no longer have to worry that my effusiveness may be misconstrued, I can openly proclaim my opinion that Fowler is a rare find in a reviewer. Not only does he honestly and eloquently own up to his own subjectivity as a matter of routine, but week in and week out he applies himself to his job with verve, wit, and integrity.
One of the most endearing characteristics of his writing style is the exuberant yet unpretentious intelligence with which his commentaries are always imbued. As a reader, I sense that he approaches each performance with hopeful anticipation, respect, and the genuine desire to learn something from every experience. Thus, your readers are able to learn vicariously through him, and whether or not he particularly "likes" a given production, one always senses that he is motivated both by an authentic interest in the arts and the desire to see them flourish in an often indifferent milieu. He never seems to succumb to the facile temptation of being gratuitously mean-spirited or self-servingly glib, traits that tend to make reviews unhelpful to artists as well as their potential patrons. Encouraging, insightful critical voices like Fowler's can make a big difference in a community like Dallas. So give this guy a raise--or at least buy him a beer!
Former Artistic Director
Extra Virgin Performance Cooperative
Mark's bad day
I just read through Mark Stuertz's review of Jungle Red ["Bungle in the jungle," August 14]. Insipid--not insightful--is the word that comes to mind. He gave me yet another reason why I don't pay attention to restaurant reviews.
I read this one because I have visited the new digs with several friends, and all agreed that the decor and fare were extremely refreshing. Does Mark have a personal problem with the place that he's trying to keep everyone from partaking? With regards to the cuisine, since I knew that 'gourmet' cuisine was the treat, I did not expect a 'down-home' helping of food. From my standpoint, gourmet loses going up against 'mom's down-home' every time. However, I still attend a gourmet spot where I expect servings big on presentation and flavor.
That is exactly what I received from Jungle Red. Honestly, I've never heard of 'down-home' Caribbean dining. But my experience obviously shines in comparison to Mark's. I guess if I had a bad PMS day (as, apparently, our 'holier-than-thou-on-all-things-gourmet-Caribbean' critic), I would drag a new, refreshing experience like Jungle Red through the mud, also.
Matter of judgement
I am compelled to comment on an article appearing in the August 21, 1997, edition of your paper concerning Judge John Marshall ["Bad judgment"].
I should say, initially, that Judge Marshall is one of the finest judges at the courthouse, scrupulously honest and a tribute to the judiciary. He applies the law strictly but fairly and calls it as he sees it. He has been on the bench for over 15 years, and to see him unfairly criticized was distressing to many of us who practice regularly before courts in Dallas County.
I will not address all of several aspects of the article with which I disagreed. However, I will comment on two aspects of the story that I feel cannot go unrebutted. First, you say that I did not dispute the allegations made regarding alleged contacts with Judge Marshall. This is untrue. I vigorously denied those allegations. The article suggests that a Bickel & Brewer paralegal met privately with Judge Marshall "numerous times" and "discussed the lawsuit." That statement is patently false. In fact, none of the witnesses who testified at the hearing was present during any of the meetings in Judge Marshall's chambers between [Suzanna] Proctor and Judge Marshall. The witnesses confirmed on the record that they do not know what was discussed. The inference that Ms. Proctor was discussing the merits of the lawsuit is unfounded and without basis in fact. Ms. Proctor has matters unrelated to any litigation in Judge Marshall's court. Mr. Upshaw, who is quoted in the article as having the belief that Ms. Proctor was having ex parte communications with Judge Marshall, obviously did not know the definition of ex parte. Of course, there was no suggestion by any of the "witnesses" that I, or any other Bickel & Brewer attorney, discussed the case privately with Judge Marshall.
Second, in one important regard the proper context of my comments was not included, resulting in the potential for my statements to be misunderstood. The quote under my picture and in the last paragraph concerned the importance I place in keeping good members of the judiciary in office. In that regard I told the reporter that members of the bar should acknowledge and show their appreciation for the judiciary's service to the citizens of Dallas County. The examples I cited to the reporter--which I offered as proper demonstrations of gratitude--are the annual American Board of Trial Advocates dinner for the sitting judges and individual law firm sponsorship of the Visiting Judges Reception. I continued by saying words to the effect that doing something small like this to show appreciation for the efforts of judges is not improper. (In both instances, judges do not reimburse the select lawyers and law firms who sponsor these events). I stated that it is a small acknowledgment of the fine service they render to our citizens. In fact, Canon 4 of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct specifically permits a judge to accept "ordinary social hospitality." Unfortunately, your reporter did not include the proper context of these comments or inform your readers of the legal guidelines.
I did not suggest nor do I believe that contact with a jurist which is designed to influence their handling of a case is proper. No such contact was made in this case, and no one testified under oath that they personally knew of such.
I would appreciate it if you would so advise your readership. Thank you.
John W. Bickel II
Editor's note: All allegations of ex parte communications between Judge Marshall and Bickel & Brewer paralegal Suzanna Proctor were reported based on sworn court testimony. In his denial, Bickel selectively cites the available court record. On pages 58 and 59 of the transcripts of the hearing in
question, Carine Evers--a witness and Judge Marshall's clerk--testified under oath that she was present on one occasion when the judge and Proctor discussed a substantive motion in the pending lawsuit. In his testimony, clerk Charles Upshaw did acknowledge that he was not in the room when Marshall and Proctor met on "numerous occasions." But Upshaw testified that Proctor often emerged from the meetings with orders signed by the judge relating to the case.
Benefit of the doubt
In response to your "Meter cheaters" article [August 28], I agree that cracking down on disabled parking placard abuse is needed and that people who are not disabled should be prevented from using the very limited parking available to those who truly need it. It really disturbs me, however, that your reporter would assume that just because someone was not using assistive technology (i.e., a cane, crutch, or wheelchair) or is not visibly limping or blind that they must not be truly disabled.
I have multiple sclerosis. Fortunately my disease has not yet progressed to the point where I require any assistance in walking, and I'd like to think that my disability is in fact hidden from the general public. (I prefer that people see me, rather than my disability.) But one of the most common symptoms of MS is crippling fatigue. And MS symptoms are exacerbated by heat.
If I had to park my car blocks away from my destination in August, I would never make it to the door. Just because somebody makes enough money to buy a fancy car and has the ability to drive it, doesn't automatically mean they are cheating the system. I don't know the person in your building who drives the nice sports cars, but maybe he is living proof that people with disabilities can overcome them and go on to achieve financial success through their own efforts. Maybe not, but I'd like to think so.
On strong backs
The Rebeca Rodriguez piece on the breakup of the famous East Dallas open-air labor market drew attention to a fascinating socio-economic fact of life in Dallas, and demonstrates our propensity for biting the hand that feeds us ["Day trippin'" August 21]. Let's note that the Hispanic day laborers who are being quietly pushed away from Ross & Carroll are roughly the same folks who built the beautiful Chavez Learning Center.
The construction industry in Dallas has depended on these often highly skilled workers to grow this city. Sometimes documented, frequently not, the workers could say no to busting concrete for 10 to 12 hours in the 100-degree sun for $5.00/hour without overtime. But often, the men are strong enough and the financial need is pressing enough to accept it without much complaint. Exploitation? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Still, economically feasible for the man who is sharing a crowded apartment here and standing in line on Saturday to wire the bulk of his money home to Mexico in support of his family. Not to mention the woman who left her children with her mother in Mexico to do domestic work here and leverage her earning power.
Economically sound also for the contractors, and for those of us who want beautiful landscaping, affordably priced. For a small remodeling job in my old East Dallas house, I hired a (documented) worker to help my carpenter. I got skill, hard work, and pride in craftsmanship for the same wages the sorority girls ask to babysit at SMU. In contrast, I paid the educated American real money, and he literally plumbed hot water to the toilet. I don't mean to generalize from one experience, but it taught me something. There is a larger lesson here for ourselves and our children.
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