Art, shmart
We live in a city that tears down beautiful architecture and replaces it with tanning salons and condom stores, considers its shameless sports heroes "art" (in their case, "non-performance" art), and "boasts" a public school system that, well...you guys have written enough about that.

After reading the Dallas Observer's Renoir expose ["Renoir, Shmenoir," February 5], I believe that someone's dog might have eaten the Observer's tickler file the day you decided to bash the artist formerly known as Renoir and his exhibit at the Kimbell.

Your story seemed to be a bit of over-the-top Annie Hall pretentiousness gone awry. And maybe the result of one of those swanky Harvard-of-the-Southwest university liberal arts master's courses for the professional who wants to immerse himself or herself in a little bit of culture but quick.

Don't you know by now that Dallas' idea of art is often a successful Internet convention at the InfoMart and the drug and gun checks at Valley Ranch? Bashing Renoir in a place like Big D is analogous to conducting a drive-by shooting at the Louvre.

Some of us know our art and have done our fair share of traditionalist-bashing, but still pant when we actually get exhibits like this one within an hour or two's drive from Dallas. With all of the money in this town, we still have to drive out of town to see Monet or Renoir. This is the real story: the one about the DMA never being able to pull off the Kimbell's significant showings (even if they are traditionalists!).

Given a chance, anyone who loves art, and doesn't have lunch plans at The Palm, will voluntarily enlist to do time at the Kimbell when Renoir breezes through. If we have to milk the cows in the morning before we go, so be it.

Camille Krug
Via e-mail

Why doesn't Christine Biederman just go ahead and say it: "I was cultured before culture was cool." While I understand her lament from the critical point of view, her attitude toward the suburban masses smacks of snobbish elitism.

Via e-mail

Christine--Can you spell "s-o-u-r g-r-a-p-e-s?" Perhaps your next article can feature all the internationally famous museums in Dallas, followed by a description of the series of blockbuster shows held in Dallas. We would also love to see a list of the Dallas resident art collectors--major or minor.

And, we especially liked your faux-western lingo--good for a Dallasite.
Via e-mail

Art, shmart Pt. 2
I agree with Mr. [Jimmy] Fowler that Richard Hamburger ["Deconstructing Richard," January 29] has taken Dallas audiences to the "edge of the abyss." In my opinion, over the abyss would be closer to the truth. We love the successfully innovative material like Santo Y Santos, but gave up our season tickets after one too many productions that sent us fleeing to the car at intermission. It seems a shame that the theater community in Dallas can't find a medium between Mr. Hamburger's "abyss" and the Summer Musicals. We got to enjoy Six Degrees of Separation, but how many interesting and provocative "box office" plays never made it to the DTC in favor of material better suited for a workshop or experimental stage? After all, "box office" is just another way of saying "a lot of people like it," and frankly, I can't see the harm in that.

John Funderburgh

Water on the brain
When a mayor of Dallas laments our town's lack of natural beauty, he risks comparison to the child who murders his parents and then begs for sympathy as an orphan. When he further suggests that installing a huge flood-control scheme on the Trinity River bottoms will "give us some beauty," he sounds rather like Dr. Frankenstein ["Flood Money," January 22].

Prior to 1958, the two-mile course of Five Mile Creek between Highway 35 and Lancaster Road was almost a scenic paradise. The creek ran deep and clear in its natural limestone bed, under the shade of ancient cottonwoods, elms, live oaks, and groves of native pecans. A wonderful variety of wildlife found refuge there.

Unfortunately, reckless real estate development in areas upstream had created a flood hazard for houses adjacent to the creek, particularly on Pentagon Parkway and Five Mile Parkway. And what was the Dallas solution to this problem? Why, to cut down all the great trees, of course; and to fill in the stream's natural bed and then excavate a new, straighter one--a wide, boggy swale no less--on a path more or less parallel to the old.

The result was ecological disaster and engineering failure, because serious flooding ensued. Ultimately, the endangered houses had to be condemned and razed, and the stream banks, denuded of trees and plant cover, were thus transformed at great expense into a dismal eyesore and wasteland that exists now and for the foreseeable future. Will Dallas do better by the Trinity River? This remains to be seen, but one thing seems sure: It can hardly do worse.

A.C. Hall

Big ol' hairy band dudes
I am usually not one to take what is written for publication too seriously. As a former journalist for a weekly publication, I am very aware that at times you can write things that are easily misunderstood by the general public. I feel that this may be one of those instances. I am referring to Matt Weitz's review of the band Bowling for Soup ["Head 'em up," February 5].

I completely understand that this was intended to be a fair and just album review. Unfortunately, that was not the case. First of all, what gives you the right to say a band's name is "stupid"? I know your answer--free speech, right? In that regard you are justified. But please remember how it felt growing up when the schoolyard bullies teased you about your name. With a name like Weitz, I'm sure you can recall very clearly.

Second, it is very apparent that you have never even been to a Bowling for Soup show. If you had been, you would see why this band has such a following.

There is one word that sums up a BFS show the best...entertaining. These guys are all about good, clean rock and roll fun--with a stage show that has been perfected over the course of the last four years and always leaves the crowd begging for more. If there is a doubt in your mind, Mr. Weitz, please take in one BFS performance.

All in all, your review was average. My biggest complaint comes from the end of the article. There is a fine line between humor and straight-up insult. You have not only crossed that line, you have hurdled it like a world-class athlete. By calling a certain band member a "big ol' hairy fat guy," you only made yourself look like an ass. Please think before you write.

In closing, I would really like to extend an invitation to come check out a Bowling for Soup show. Afterward, if you feel the same about the music--well, at least you gave them a fair chance. You cannot just listen to an album and look at the pictures on the cover to do a review. You have to see the dream within these four souls...you have to.

Jimmy Wilkerson
Via e-mail

I found it very unprofessional that you thought it necessary to comment more on the appearance of one of the members of Bowling for Soup rather than the music itself. I thought you were supposed to be giving your opinion of the music. If you didn't like the album, that's your opinion and you are definitely entitled to it, but spending the time to comment on a band member's physical appearance just proves to me that you are bush-league. I never thought I would long for the days when Robert Wilonsky was the music critic for the Dallas Observer, but sadly enough, now I do.

William Turner
Via e-mail

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