More kudos for Benji
I've been a reader of the Dallas Observer for quite a while, and I've come to expect quality articles that are truthful and sincere.
I have felt that your articles are well thought out and researched. However, I was very disappointed in your recent article, "The little punk that could" [January 2]. To me, this shoddy piece of writing was petty and simply a basic slam on a personal level. I, in fact, have some doubt about the accuracy of the facts themselves. Maybe Benji Bollox should get one of those cute little punk dog collars and muzzle it!

S. Corbin

Editor's note: Matt Weitz responds to Benji's fans in this week's Street Beat column.

Happy New Year to all the folks at the Observer. This is the first time I have ever written to a periodical or magazine. I just got the latest issue and read a disturbing article, "The little punk that could." I hate to say it, but you guys lost credibility in my friends and my book.

We are in the Dallas punk scene and know Benji Bollox (fake name). He is not in U.K. Subs, a well-known punk band. He was also kicked out of Riot Squad, not fed up with playing in a non-serious band. Why are you writing about this guy who is leaving Dallas for overseas because he thinks the music scene here sucks?

Maybe it was an attempt to be witty on your behalf, but I doubt that. There are many lies written there; you should check the facts and the people you hire to write articles. Can you guys write an article about me? I'm going to be George Clooney's co-star in Batman & Robin because Chris O'Donnell couldn't handle the pressure, yeah, that's the ticket.

Can you also get that brilliant young writer who wrote "The punk that could" to write my article? That kid's got quite a bright future, as you guys know! Anyway, I pick the Observer up every week and use it as a guide. I also work for a company that advertises in your paper on a weekly basis. Hmmm, I hope I don't voice my disgust in your reporting to him. Keep up this work and I will use my managerial position for something other than customer services.

John Canes

Cat fans
Regarding your story on the Texas Exotic Feline Foundation ["Cat fight," January 2]. In spring 1996, I had the chance to visit TEFF with a science club from Nicols Junior High. I met Gene Reitnauer. After thinking it over, I believe that David Cook, Louis Dorfman, and Robert Reitnauer are crazy, sue-happy people.

Mrs. Reitnauer has made those cats her one and only mission in life. She would rather starve than have those cats starve. She does not deserve the grief she is getting. Those men should be the ones standing trial.

Mrs. Reitnauer knows what is best for the cats and keeps that in mind with every decision she makes. If Mrs. Reitnauer does not get TEFF, they are making a huge mistake. They are not only hurting her. They are hurting the cats that live there now, the cats that will be killed because they have no place to go, and the public. No longer will TEFF be a sanctuary for cats that have nowhere else to turn. It will be a zoo.

Rebecca Gette

We would like to compliment Ann Zimmerman on the incredibly insightful article she wrote about the legal battles of the Texas Exotic Feline Foundation. As former volunteers and current friends of the foundation, we were struck by the fairness and accuracy of the story. We found that her poignant tale lacked emphasis on only one major aspect of the story--yet one so critical to the severity and cruelty of the situation--the relationship of the cats with Gene Reitnauer and the volunteers.

Gene has been separated from the cats, with the exception of one-and-one-half hours each Monday through Friday, and the volunteers have been banned from the property. Though these cats are a wild species retaining much of their inherent instincts, they are individuals with very distinct and sociable personalities. They have formed bonds with Gene and with particular individuals, much as people would.

The cats are much like small children in that changes in their routine are distressing for them. People that visited the sanctuary prior to the time during which the legal battles began could confirm that TEFF's cats were happy. They were comfortable, relaxed, and outwardly sociable, unlike zoo cats.

Just as inconsistency in parenting creates difficulties for children, inconsistency in handling of the cats results in a breakdown of their relationships with humans. Those relationships have now been compromised, as has the mental health and well being of the cats, by the decisions to limit their interaction with Gene and to totally eliminate their interaction with volunteers. We understand that some of the cats have become more aggressive at feeding time and are not receptive to their new keepers.  

It is important to establish relationships to socialize the animals so that they find some enjoyment in human companionship. We are deeply saddened by the impact the visitation restrictions have had on these relationships. The damage may be irreparable.

While their physical needs are being met, their emotional needs are not. Our hopes and prayers are for the long-term safety and happiness of these majestic creatures, our friends. These were the goals of the sanctuary.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson wrote: "Animals are, like us, endangered species on an endangered planet, and we are the ones who are endangering them, it, and ourselves. They are innocent sufferers in a hell of our making. We owe them, at the very least, to refrain from harming them further. If no more, we would leave them be."

Scott and Debra Sanford
Brandenton, Florida

All bills come due
The article "Thank you Ma'am" by Miriam Rozen in the December 26 issue of the Observer wrongly stated that "Parkland [Memorial Hospital] doesn't face the same cost issues as the other institutions." Indeed, that inappropriate editorial comment couldn't be further from the truth.

Parkland faces the same issues that private hospitals face, such as declining reimbursement from payers, restrictions mandated by managed care companies, market forces requiring us to become more efficient, and many others. Parkland has an added challenge of prudently managing funding for indigent care provided by Dallas County taxpayers. Some of our patients have private insurance or are members of managed care plans.

In the Division of Women and Children's Services, we have chosen to provide the same level of care to all our patients, regardless of their funding sources. The medical staff believes that it is best for mothers and babies to be medically ready to go home when discharged. That is why all of Parkland's OB patients have the option of staying for 48 hours after a vaginal delivery.

From a financial perspective, Parkland is able to allow mothers and babies to stay longer because we operate efficiently. In fact, we have analyzed the cost of our maternity services and found that it costs Parkland far less to provide care to OB patients than other hospitals in the area.

It is unfortunate that Rozen did not include this perspective in her article.

Paula Turicchi, Vice President
Women and Children's Services
Parkland Memorial Hospital

Hollywood deserves Flynt
Hmm. Michael Wilson gets blacklisted for writing a film--Salt of the Earth--about Mexican-American union members and consequently ends up being completely forgotten by Hollywood. Larry Flynt, on the other hand, throws a tantrum over his right to get rich publishing dirty pictures, and Hollywood consequently makes him a hero ["Bottoms up," December 26]. Gee, that seems fair.

Granted, anyone who has seen Jade or Basic Instinct can hardly blame Hollywood for not waxing self-righteous about pornography. But must Peter Rainer jump on the Larry Flynt bandwagon, too? (Talk about conga lines!)

And what's this garbage about Mars Attacks! being a better film than John Sayles' "bad novel" of a film, Lone Star? Being both Mexican-American and a longtime Tim Burton fan, I expected to like them both. Yet I found Mars Attacks! to be incredibly tedious and surprisingly predictable for such an expensive film. Yes, it had its moments, but one can only watch only so many scenes in which a self-righteous fat cat gets zapped by aliens after making a predictably long-winded speech before one starts waxing nostalgic for a relatively subtle film like Beetlejuice.

And is it too much to ask that a parody show at least some kind of imagination in its targets? I'm sorry, but I don't exactly consider trigger-happy generals an original target for satire. It's far easier to name the number of films in the last ten years that have not poked fun at them.

Rogelio Mendoza, Jr.

Shining a light
I want to thank the Dallas Observer and reporter Holly Mullen for the excellent article "Grateful Dead" [January 2].

The procedure which was used to decertify the six acres of Greenwood Cemetery land that included a five-acre pauper section was shady, to say the least.

Your paper is to be commended for bringing this situation to the attention of Dallas citizens. Without the Observer, certain controversial issues would never appear in print.

Thanks for being here.
Sandra Kincaid

Faddy food
With all due respect, a "pizza" with pineapple on it is not a "pizza" in the truest sense of the word ["Fashionable Dining," December 12]. There are no pineapple trees in Brooklyn, where my uncle Victor, a Babylon, New York pizzaman, insisted pizza originated. And I believe my uncle; after all, he made fresh pizzas for Captain Kangaroo. These food items that include toppings that would curdle Mama Leoni's blood should find a more appropriate nomenclature. Perhaps Fashion Food Fad Dishes.  

Sheila McKay

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