The crazy years: Julie Lyons' article "The Girl Who Played Dead" (July 17) definitely gave me a clearer understanding of what was happening in South Dallas over a decade ago. I was actually in junior high at the time and would constantly hear these horrific stories of Jamaicans taking over the south side of town. It was all well above my head back then, but with such an in-depth article, it answered many questions kids my age had.
Ms. Lyons was correct in stating that it's hard for people who've never known poverty like that to comprehend what would possess young teens to sell drugs out of dangerous traps. I think Lyons does an excellent job of showing the reasons why.
The only thing I wish the journalist would have concentrated more on was the Dallas Police Department's involvement during these short but extremely violent years. She touched a little on this in the "Four Kings" article, but stated that nothing could be verified (how convenient). I certainly believe Mr. Larmond's story about a Dallas officer busting into his trap and taking his drugs and money. I just cannot fathom how these notorious drug lords could come all the way from New York and set up shop, start executing children and the police have absolutely no involvement whatsoever.
Another world: The article about "The Girl Who Played Dead" was very touching and descriptive. I enjoy reading the Dallas Observer anyway, but when I saw the cover photo and began to read, I was transported into a world I've never known before. I felt that the writer had an abundance of sensitivity, put in lots of legwork and had the perceptiveness to get the story so that a person like myself could really feel what the persons in the story lived through. I am sad to hear of the mental and physical state of the remaining victims; it made me cry several times just to read the story, and it made me appreciate just who I am. Thank you for your wonderful reporting.
Ghosts on Grand: I was deeply moved and saddened by this story. Don't get me wrong, it was very interesting...actually, I couldn't put the paper down. See, I've lost two relatives to drug-related violence since 1995. One, Alysia Ann Beasley, was murdered in West Dallas. She was reportedly stabbed more than 50 times. No suspect! Two, Desmond Gibson, murdered in an apartment in Arlington. So, this story touched me in a lot of ways. I couldn't imagine the horror, so I drove down Grand Avenue to see firsthand. Wow! I like to think that I'm the type of person that learns something new every day. What's happening around Cleveland Street is not new...just unknown to many, including myself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me deal with my loss and my inner demons.
Robin R. Johnson
Coming of age: This is a great story on this horrendous event. I was 18 at the time, and I recall being saddened by what happened in that bathtub. Back then, I, too, was at a crossroads and could have easily slipped into this lifestyle and then been destined to experience the fate of so many of my own friends who ended up in jail or dead right around this same time. I was young, my parents were hardworking and, unlike most, my mother and father were together. But I almost became a statistic. I finally realized--after seeing so many people die that were so young and near my age--that I, too, could end up dead. I listened to my parents even though they thought I didn't, saw what happened to my friends and took heed. I didn't make all the fast money that my friends did, but I had something they couldn't buy--peace of mind. Over the years I have seen friends die or get hooked on drugs and not be able to recover. Some died behind the same kind of bullshit that took some of the people in this story. Some are trying to turn their lives around after doing time and can't find a job because of the blemish on their names. I, on the other hand, have been able to do whatever I wanted to do and obtain any job I wanted to go after. I thank you again for a story that talks about myself and a lot of kids who were coming of age at a very unstable and challenging time in Dallas history.
Out there: Your piece on the bathtub shooting is very literally breathtaking. I have to admit, when I got to the page with perp mug shots, I was afraid to have them in my house and folded my copy. May God bless LaTonya and keep her far from theya. Thank you for the time, energy and thought you put in your work.
Dustin Henry Offutt
Eye-opener: This article was an eye-opener. The author allowed me to step into the place where these people live, mentally and physically. Through chance or happenstance any of us could have been born into--or migrated toward--this type of life. The neighborhoods written of and their inhabitants are so far away from the middle-class American dream so many of us aspire to, yet so close physically that you could drive there in but a few minutes. From my experience it is less difficult to spiral down to substance abuse and violence than to pull up out of the vicious circle. Thank you for making me stop to appreciate my life and the relative safety of my loved ones.
Maria A. Sproul
Real again: I lived in Sunny South Dallas from the mid-'80s through the early '90s; I even knew somebody who knew somebody who knew these people, and I couldn't have told it better. Ms. Lyons told this story as if she'd been there and done that...in fact, she left me with only one unanswered question: "Why the hell did you guys give it away?" This story should have been placed between two paperback covers and sold for CA$H! It took me back...it made it real, again.
Human wreckage: I read "The Girl Who Played Dead" last night and wanted to compliment you on a fine piece of work. Your article took me back to the highly charged, crack-fueled days of the '90s. I'm glad much of the violence has subsided, but the human toll is heartbreaking.
Observer fan: I just had to write and say your article "The Girl Who Played Dead" was amazing. Your writing style flowed smoothly, and I had such a vivid picture of the scene and background. I just recently moved to Dallas and am now definitely going to read the Dallas Observer every week.
Ouch: I started reading "Girl" and couldn't stop until I had finished every word. Congratulations on fine, thoughtful work. That said, this was my favorite sentence: "Up until that point, she'd only tried crack once, courtesy of Lizzie's sister, who died recently, and hated it."
I'll bet you're right.
Remembering Lizzie: I have never stopped after reading an article to write a letter of praise, yet here I am after reading "The Girl Who Played Dead." As a Dallas native, I remember that period vividly, but nothing has put it into a better time capsule than your article. Great work. Please do us all a favor and continue to work with the spirit of Dallas in mind, especially when we have to remember people like Lizzie Williams.
The loss was yours: If Ms. Liner were a competent reporter, she would know that the night she chose to view the play and criticized the costumes was the night the actors "made do" with two hours' notice that they had no costumes ("Bard to Tears," by Elaine Liner, July 10). Alas, the actors' costumes were part of a robbery at a cleaners. Also and alas fortunately for residents of Dallas, more notable reviewers gave early and favorable reviews of Hamlet, and by word of mouth and those drawn to the quality of presentation the crowds grew with each performance. If anyone was sucked into poor Ms. Liner's at times illiterate review and stayed away because of it (which I sincerely doubt), the loss was theirs. Ms. Liner's flawed, untimely and predictable review showcased her failings yet again. Ms. Liner presents herself more as a goblin damn'd than as an angel and minister of grace.
Lee Ann Torrans
Editor's note: A few letter writers have stated that an announcement was made about the missing costumes before the performance. Ms. Liner heard no such announcement on the night reviewed.