Fowled out
[Robert] Wilonsky is on the way out. Sources in Washington, our nation's capital, report that the Observer is going to release the reporter for his four-letter word usage ["Pssst..." November 13].

Ken Hurrington
Via e-mail

Wilonsky, psychoanalyzed
Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about places, and small minds talk about people. You read the November 13 article concerning the Cowboys, and I'm sure you will agree it leans toward the latter. Respectfully speaking, the author is self-centered and rebellious. Try to portray your attitudes respectfully.

We often wonder why there are so many problems in the world today, yet we fail to see that all of the problems are rooted in self-centered behavior and rebellion against such behavior.

If you want to do something to make the world a little better, use your platform to lead by example and treat others with respect whether they deserve it or not. Disrespect for others shows how little respect you really have for yourself, and this in turn is a result of (and results in) self-centered and rebellious behavior.

It is so easy to do as I ask, so can you overcome a rebellious nature to make our small part of the world a little better?

R. Brown
Via e-mail

Chomp, chomp
Once again, Laura Miller has firmly planted her teeth in a meaty issue, the new arena deal ["Flying blind," November 20]. Until her recent return, I hadn't realized just how much I had been suffering from her "post-departum" depression. This arena deal stinks so much, I can smell it all the way out here in DeSoto. It just doesn't seem like too much to ask the principals to put all their cards on the table and let the local citizenry make an informed decision. Regardless of how futile this may all seem, Laura, keep up the good work.

Art Tedeschi
Via e-mail

Thank you, Laura Miller, for continuing to expose the rotten arena deal. I know that our city fathers would be having a much easier time of it, if it were not for your publishing the truth. I know that we will be bombarded in the coming months with slick ads and promotions for the new arena. While the city touts the benefits of the new arena, I wonder if they have considered what the new hotel and rental taxes will do to our convention business, which, I suspect, brings in more money than the Mavericks and Stars combined. So, here's to hoping that the citizens of Dallas recognize a bad deal when they see it and tell the greedy owners no deal!


Arkansas hype
The Lubbock arena may have been built with private funds. However, whether "it would become the finest arena on any college campus in the United States" [Letters, November 13] is quite subjective. Also, it is not "the only campus-bound arena with those all-important skyboxes."

Mr. Peter C. Welpton should get his facts straight about college campus arenas, and the Observer should check out all claims of "finest in the country" and "only arena with skyboxes" before you publish these false claims. Let me add that the University of Arkansas opened Bud Walton Arena (definitely on the University of Arkansas campus) about four years ago. It was built at a cost of about $32 million. (Aside: Why will the new arena in Dallas cost $230 million?) Walton Arena was built entirely with private money, because state law dictates, and the people of Arkansas were never even asked to contribute public money to the project. The University of Arkansas claimed at the time that the arena was the only on-campus arena with skyboxes. Television announcers often said that the arena was the finest in the nation. How about that, Mr. Welpton?

Tell Laura Miller to stay after the millionaire arena bandits--let 'em build it with their own money. If you rob a man with a gun or with a pen, he's just as robbed.

Jay Kimmerly
Via e-mail

A life unobserved
Please do a follow-up story about this ["Nobody noticed," November 13] and let us know what you find out about the family papers that are in the possession of the Cox man who started searching for Miss [Marilu] Dennis. How could he have gotten the papers?

Thanks for the story.
Joe Sheets
Via e-mail

The Rotten Apple
I completely agree with Jimmy Fowler ["Cool city blues," November 13]. As an ex-Dallas actress now living in New York City, I am getting to the point of being boring in my praise for the theater in Dallas. I enjoyed my time immensely in Dallas, met an entire community of truly lovely people, and found as much or more variety in the theater there as I had found in my 10 years in Chicago.

The show that I wanted to address specifically was As Bees in Honey Drown. While I thought J. Cameron Smith was wonderful, in the second act, I almost didn't have the opportunity to see the second act because I was so appalled by the first. I was remarkably disappointed and even more homesick for the daring, truthful actors of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

I have nothing more to add, except that I enjoy checking out the Observer online.

Rhea Anne Cook
Via e-mail

Jamming the mailbox
I just wanted to tell you that I thought the piece on the jam bands was very well done ["Jerry's kids," November 13]. Easily one of the best articles I've read on the subject--especially the part about Panic. Kudos!

Brian Sofer
Via e-mail

This is for the person who calls himself a writer who wrote the article about Blues Traveler. Blues Traveler is an awesome band. How dare you say those things about them!

Steven Chapman
Via e-mail

I would like to voice my displeasure with Matt Weitz's article about improvisational music. I am a fan of Blues Traveler, but I am not going to complain about someone else's musical tastes. I can understand that some people do not like BT or other improvisational bands, like those mentioned elsewhere in the article.

As a former musician myself (saxophone), I can say with certainty that improvisational music is the hardest to perform. Sure, one can go up and blow random notes out of an instrument, but it is obvious even to those who don't study music when a wrong note or chord progression is played. To translate music from inside your head to play it on the instrument spontaneously is a tremendously difficult task. I would have a hard time believing that Mr. Weitz could say the same thing (aimless bullsh-t) about the improvisational music of legends like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, etc.

Though jazz and rock are totally different musical genres, the underlying concept of improvisation remains. Popper went through years of schooling to pick up his harmonica skills. I have a great appreciation for his talent, because I, in fact, own a harmonica and cannot play a single song. The techniques that are used to play as quickly, clearly, and freely as Popper are very difficult to master. To call him inept is like claiming that Ken Griffey Jr. is a bad baseball player. Again, I can understand that some people are not fans of this music, but to make uneducated claims like this is ridiculous.

As for Kinchla, it has been over a year since he's had any hair to whip around. So he's an average guitar player; I will not dispute that. But he has vastly improved. He plays the parts in the songs effectively, and his unique sound adds another dimension to the band. He dances, moves around, and makes faces on stage for two reasons: The female fans like it, and he is genuinely enjoying himself. I notice that the drummer and bass player were not insulted. Could it be that they are actually good at their instruments? Bob Sheehan is easily one of the five most talented bassists I have heard. Brendan Hill is a competent drummer as well.

OK, you don't like the album. Why discourage others from listening to it? Many people who find the live music annoying still enjoy the album, especially this one. The style of play is different, and much more of a poppy, Top-40ish style of music. I question what type of music Mr. Weitz is a fan of, for I am sure that similarities can be drawn between one of his favorite bands and Blues Traveler.

All in all, I don't see any reason for this article to have been printed. To write an uninformed, inaccurate piece that slams a band in front of a large audience is wrong. It would be much like me printing an article that makes unfounded negative claims about your publication, when the only exposure I have had to it was this one article.

David S. Bernreuther
Via e-mail

Although I disagree with some of your views (I think Blues Traveler is definitely better than you give them credit for), you definitely hit most of the bands that I would place into this "jam band" category.

I have to say something about your Blind Melon "clueless" remark. Have you ever listened to their albums? Paid attention to any of Shannon Hoon's lyrics? I have to say that Blind Melon was one of the most refreshingly different bands to come around in a while, and it was truly a shame to lose them.

I was really into the direction they were taking their music. I've never really heard anything quite like it, and when they were on, the live show was pretty intense too. You either didn't give it a chance, or you just didn't get it.

Via e-mail
I appreciated your article on the wonderful growth of post-"Dead" improvisational bands. I'd like to point out, however, that you failed to mention one of the most remarkable bands in the mix--that is, Zero, from the Bay Area. Until recently, Zero has remained content to stay close to home and to release only the occasional recording. But there exists an astounding number of taped Zero shows in circulation. Many feel that they are among the few bands whose live act comes very close to that "magic" that the Dead had. The relative merit of such a statement notwithstanding, Zero's guitarist, Steve Kimock, is clearly among the most compelling guitarists of the present generation. He is nothing short of astounding. Again, thank you for the interesting article, and here's hoping you have a chance to check Zero out a bit.

Mike Babyak
Durham, North Carolina

Well, you disappoint me! You left out the most obvious choice for the position of heir apparent to the Grateful Dead, and a band that has close ties to the Dead family at that. Yes, I am talking about the David Nelson Band.

David Nelson is once again riding high on the music scene. He has assembled a superb musical unit and turned them loose on some exciting and provocative new tunes, many with lyrics by Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.

Keeper of the Key is 70 minutes of music recorded live at Baltimore's 8x10 Club in 1995. "John Hardy's Wedding" and Bob Dylan's "Wicked Messenger" reflect the band's traditional music influences; "Impressionist Two-Step" is a re-tooling of an obscure gem by Pop Wagner; "The Wizard's Son" and "See So Far" propel the band into space for some improvisational excursions; while "Kick in the Head" and "Four: Fifty-One" are solid rockers. The new CD also features a dynamite version of one of their most heavily requested numbers, the Grateful Dead standard "The Wheel."

Michelle McFee
Via e-mail

In response to your "Jerry's Kids: Jam Bands burst into bloom" article: Dave Matthews Band a "lesser light"? Not as "essential" or "influential"?

DMB sold 150,000 copies of their self-produced, self-distributed first album. That's more than REM's first album sold. They did this, in part, because tapers like myself helped spread the gospel of DMB, if you will. We would go to DMB shows twice a week, and know that we wouldn't hear the same song twice, even if the set list was exactly the same, which it never was, of course. They now sell out every arena they play. Carter Beauford, their magnificent drummer, fared well against the best drummers in history in a Modern Drummer magazine readers' poll last summer.

Their tours are always marked by numerous special guests, from Bela Fleck and John Popper, to Tim Reynolds and Trey Anastasio. The highest compliment one musician can give to another is taking the stage with them. Plus, Steve Lillywhite has produced their last album and is in the studio with them again as we speak.

These guys put on one hell of a good show. Get your hands on some tapes, and play them around the office for a couple days. I guarantee you will be on the phone to TicketBastard when DMB goes on tour again this spring.

Nicholas Tolson
Via e-mail

Matt Weitz's "Jerry's Kids" article was illuminating. As a Phish fan, I'm pleased to see an article that downplays the importance of the Grateful Dead to American jam bands.

However, Weitz's analysis fails to mention one of the most important improvisational heroes of our time: George Clinton. His most popular bands--Parliament and Funkadelic--took the "primitive" rhythms that influence so many jam bands, but applied them to a funk format. His jamming and musical conceptualizing helped to create brand-new genres, the most important of which is rap.

P-Funk changed the way Americans looked at improv, with tight arrangements and chant-like lyrical structures. They've influenced rock--check out Phish's new album "Slip Stitch and Pass" to hear the grooves--and ushered in rap. As a contemporary of the Dead, Allman Brothers Band, and Pink Floyd, George Clinton's significance cannot be understated. His music, either heard directly or through countless samples, still gives us shivers.

Walter Biggins
Via e-mail

Congrats for such a great start of an online presence! I certainly prefer going online to having to scramble every weekend to find a copy of the Observer.

However, I hope that soon you'll be listing more events. For a city our size, it would seem that Dallas would have many times more events than those listed.

Via e-mail

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