Pop a Cap on the News

Sickly mutant weed: Eric Celeste has invariably given The Dallas Morning News and Belo a fair hearing ("At the Ripping Point," November 18) and is a wise and humane enough writer to know that one should always try to give his subjects some benefit of the doubt, even if the only reason one can find for doing that is "just because."

So for him to pop so loud a .45-caliber cap on the News as his cover story last week should notify everybody with a horse in the race that the Old Gray Mare is running with a broken leg and may have to be shot in the infield and hauled off with a tractor.

And it's her own fault for being such a persistently stupid old nag.

Celeste's piece is a wonderful read for anyone who has labored in a newspaper vineyard, but is also a compelling yarn for all people who hate to see the good and noble intentions of the "Little Man," in this case the paper's rank and file, thwarted and distorted and sent awry by the greedy ol' Big Players.

It's a cautionary tale about why we shouldn't try to fix what ain't broke: The Morning News would have grown and evolved naturally into a happy future if these know-it-all goobs and goobettes from McKinsey (and their "bean counter" and "focus-group-oriented" predecessors, and just plain greedy-guts Dealey offspring and in-laws) hadn't "decided," in all their wet-behind-the-ears wisdom, to try to force-feed and hothouse-flower the News into becoming some kind of "all things to all people" magic beanstalk and wound up instead with a sickly mutant weed.

But as Celeste probably well knows and just didn't have room to fully recount, this top-down, unreality-based kind of thinking predates McKinsey et. al.; it's been a trend at the News and publications throughout the land for almost 25 years.

And there has been no shortage of people who care about the News, or at least its readership, to sound these and related alarms at the top of their lungs for decades now.

But the funny thing is, the News has behaved just like the flattered folks in the focus groups it put such stock in: It just didn't want to hear the bad news about the News, and thus it wound up doing the virtually unthinkable: It screwed up a perfectly good monopoly.


Brad Bailey

Get the Ax

Another piece of roadkill: Hahaha. Congratulations, Ms. Hepola. Looks like the big joke is on me.

I'm still not sure what your agenda against me is, or why. But you made it clear in the article ("Refuse to Lose," November 18) you have a personal bias of some sort and wanted to slant your article negatively in every way to make me look as bad as you could.

Featuring VERY little information from myself, you instead feature quotes from Steve [Visneau]--an ex-bandmate with a possible ax to grind--that were factually incorrect, as well as featuring false allegations by the Double Wide, which I'm certain are your friends.

So what's YOUR ax to grind? Instead of focusing on the music--and my accomplishments as such, as well as failures musically--you chose to focus on slanderous allegations, outright lies by a former bandmate/friend and suggestion after suggestion that I should quit making music, as well as your offering up that my reasons for low-budget productions on my CDs were "excuses."

Making me the featured cover story with these journalistic inconsistencies also has me questioning the integrity of YOUR editors. I'm certain they must have an ax to grind as well to print such an erroneous story. If I had known it would be an unfair, biased, factually incorrect article, I would have never agreed to even speak with you on any matter at all. I was giving you an opportunity to gain my respect (which I'm sure you don't care for either way), and you blew it. Big-time. So did the Observer.

Which doesn't matter. I'm just another piece of roadkill in your job at making the Observer the biggest tabloid around.

Christy Brigitte Darlington

Sarah Hepola responds: I don't consider Christy Darlington roadkill; I consider him a survivor in an unforgiving industry. The article aimed to portray that struggle, as well as a character who is both impulsive and passionate, as his letter here clearly shows.

Porn to Be Mild

It wasn't very good, but: Ah, the keen critical sensibilities of Elaine Liner. As a gay critic who attended Making Porn ("Porn Yesterday," November 18), I didn't find Ms. Liner's remarks inaccurate exactly, but I had to wonder about her need to hammer the same points incessantly. I agree it wasn't very good, but does she really find it noteworthy that a play spoofing the gay porn industry with profuse male nudity is going to be a big draw to gay men? Who, above the age of 6, needs this explained to them? If it were nude women, does she imagine the hetero-horndogs would be staying away in droves? Does she imagine only gay men are curious about other men's genitals?

It was SRO the night I attended Making Porn as well, but I also noted that about a dozen people left at the intermission. The fact that the crowd she was with was trying its best to appreciate a disappointing experience by laughing at pop-culture references is certainly no proof of low standards. I'm not going to pretend there was much of anything exceptional going on in the play or that the vast majority of men were there for an enriching cultural experience. I do take exception to her singling out members of the gay community as if straight men NEVER lead with their dicks. Is that the best she can do?

Christopher Soden

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