New London tragedy: Carlton Stowers' article about the New London school explosion ("'Today, a Generation Died,'" February 21) that killed 294 people in that small East Texas town in 1937 was very moving. Like many Texans, I had forgotten about that terrible incident from our history.
Thank you, Carlton, for bringing us this reminder about how fragile life is. Some of these stories, like the mother you met at her son's graveside who still worried, more than 60 years later, that her boy might have gone without lunch the day he died, can still make us cry. It's good news that a New York author has a contract to write a book about the New London School tragedy, but it would be even better news if you were going to write it. Keep up the good work.
Drawn in: Having spent 15 years in the insurance industry and 12 years as an EMT, I am always interested in how catastrophes occur. I was browsing the firehouse.com Web page today and clicked onto Carlton Stowers' story of the New London catastrophe. I've heard of and studied the Holy Angels School fire and many others, but this one escaped me. I was drawn in by the first few words. It is one of the most sensitive, caring and complete pieces of journalism I have ever read. A great example, particularly for young writers, of how words can drive visualization. Wow! My compliments and more to Mr. Stowers.
I sent it to my son, who is a New York City firefighter. For the entire month of January he was working in recovery at the World Trade Center. I have been trying to understand what he experienced, and while it is certainly not the same situation, it does have similar characteristics. I also sent it to our writing instructor as an example of how excellent writing can span time.
Again, Carlton and editors, thanks for a great story of a long-ago and faraway episode. I'm certain the memories of the lost will never fade.
She's a Keepie
Bravo: It isn't often my cranky pen is pulled out to write in praise. So I will deny this to the death. But the review by Elaine Liner of Rebound and Gagged ("One, Two, Three, Gag," February 21) is perhaps the best review I have seen in these parts in many, many years.
There is more to a play than a set, much more than a group of actors, talented or otherwise. She did a terrific job in separating the players from the play, praising the former while panning the latter. I don't want to get carried away here, but I cannot recall such an intelligent review.
Please thank her for it, and I thank you for choosing her as your reviewer. Kudos all around. Or, I guess, bravos. She's a keepie.
Won't last here long. Shame.
The Fix Is In
How elections are stolen: I think that everybody who's been in Dallas politics for more than three months knows about the slimy underbelly of Dallas elections ("Fixing the Fixers," February 21).
For years I was the friend of a school board member (who is still on the board). I worked during campaigns doing everything from mailings to running errands. During that time I heard bits and pieces about how elections are stolen (within the context of why we needed poll watchers--the scam is easy--the people at the polling place wait until about 6:30 p.m., when it's pretty certain no more voters are going to come in, and then they "vote for you"). As for the people who "pick up the votes": Evidently it's common to have to buy votes (either for or against you).
My point is, they ALL know about it in great detail.
Why are people so intent on this? Because large sums of money are involved--in contracts to their friends--er, preferred providers. Whenever you have centralized spending, you have a terrific looting opportunity.
Kill Us With Crap
Quest for profits: Robert Wilonsky's article ("Flunk You," February 21) was a great read. Although I'm not in the television industry, I've been seeing this growing problem in the arts for a long time. I'm in the music business, and the same has happened there, too.
The real problem is that Wall Street is killing America (as well as the rest of the world). The quest for profits for shareholders is the real problem we're dealing with. Corporations will do anything to make their books look good. Think Enron. Mega-corporations produce crap and try to stuff it down our throats from every possible angle. My 16-year-old daughter is completely bombed by Britney Spears and 'N Stink from every media possible to the point where she actually thinks there is quality to what they do. She turns on her computer and Britney is on her AOL home page. Brit is on the radio, TV, magazines, billboards and in the movies.
Well, they own it all--even the bands/puppets--I won't call them artists. At least when I was a teen in the '70s, what was on the radio was of quality, and you weren't smothered by these artists at every turn. You didn't even know what some of your favorite bands looked like, and Led Zeppelin would probably never have thanked "god" for any award they received. But then no one had thought of how much money award shows could generate selling advertising.
And do we have to see the same Road Rules five times? Like it said in the article, those shows are cheap to make and they collect more ad dollars without increased cost. Then to top it off, these few mega-corporations are all laying off people by the tens of thousands, making survival tough for not only the ones who've lost their jobs but for the few remaining staff who now have to do four times the work and not get home until 10 every night. The CEOs still get their $15 million bonuses, though.
It's time for a new world where freedom of choice is reality.
Santa Monica, California