Cheap drugs
This is one hell of a story with interesting reporting ["Busted," July 10]. I happen to know Special Agent Julio Mercado personally. Mercado is one of the most decent men I have ever known. I would do anything to work for him. If someone can clean up and shape up the Drug Enforcement Administration in Texas, not to mention the streets, that will be Julio Mercado.

Samuel Rodriguez
Via Internet

The DEA and law enforcement officials who are paid by our tax dollars have made cocaine and marijuana 60 to 75 percent cheaper for my teenage sons than it was for me.

Keep up the good work. Maybe we'll vote you a 60 to 75 percent pay increase next year.

Name withheld

Thanks for the Christine Biederman piece on the DEA. As a veteran DEA agent, I thought it was very accurate and informative.

John Marcello
Via Internet

Psalm of praise
I want to commend the music staff for finally writing a profile on the most powerful and original band on the Dallas scene, Psalm 69 ["Warm guns and weathered souls," July 10].

I first saw Psalm 69 about two years ago and have attended their shows ever since, because Judy Hill and the boys just plain kick ass. Your writer did a fine job of capturing exactly what makes this band tick. They all have a very different approach to the music from various influences, but it is all tied together with Judy's heartfelt and introspective lyrics. These dark, tormented themes are as real as it gets.

I hope your article is merely the beginning of the recognition these artists so richly deserve for making what is truly creative, original, and emotionally moving music. Keep up the good work.

John Marlow

Different planets
Your review of Contact was brilliant ["To coldly go," July 10]. The movie was soooooo lame. Of course, most people will think it is thought-provoking stuff. Anyway, very well written and true.

Michael Harris

After seeing Contact and reading your review of the film, I am struck with a clear parallel. Peter Rainer discusses how the film aims to be on a more "elevated plane" in its presentation of the topic of extraterrestrial life, and that it doesn't deliver on its "deepthink." I truly believe it is Rainer's article, not the Jodie Foster film, that aims for an elevated plane, and fails to deliver its so-called "deepthink."

His negative article uses words and phrases such as "poleaxed," "frivolously feral," and "derring-do" that make the article so awkwardly written that it seems as if Rainer has newly discovered the use of a thesaurus and its vocabulary-enhancing rewards. His article comes across with a "holier-than-thou" attitude that not only encouraged me to see the film, but led me to think less of Rainer and his abilities as a reliable film critic.

I feel that Contact was an extremely well-crafted and well-thought-out film that excited us with what could be out there, but kept us grounded in reality when it showed us. It offered both personal and global examples of our world should such an event be present in real life.

I offer to Rainer a challenge. I feel that Contact is one of the best, most intelligent films I have seen in quite some time. Since he seems to feel the opposite, I challenge Rainer to do better. I would like to see how his film would do when put up against critics employed by a free newspaper who rarely have anything good to say, unless it is about their own "deepthink"-ing intellects. I doubt he would fare any better. For you see, those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize.

Johnathan Wells
Via Internet

A letter to the editor published in last week's Dallas Observer challenged the characterization of Dallas Mavericks General Manager Don Nelson in Miriam Rozen's recent cover story on Ross Perot Jr. ["The son almost rises," July 3]. At issue was whether Nelson is more appropriately identified as former coach of the New York Knicks, or former coach of the Golden State Warriors. Nelson is, of course, both. He served as general manager--and sometime coach--of the Warriors for 7 1/2 seasons, but his most recent stint before joining the Mavericks was coaching for part of one season in New York.