Best Western

I enjoyed the October issue on “ The Real West Texas .” I loved reading about Hallie and all of the Big Bend area. Forget the big cities—West Texas is where my heart is and where, someday, I’ll be!
MARY S. STUMAN
Amarillo

PAUL BURKA SEEMS TO LOVE our great state with all his heart, just as I do. I do feel that his portrayal of Fort Worth as “Bassville, another dot on the Interstate 35 corridor” misses the mark. I will defend our status as where the West begins. There is a definitive East-West line somewhere around the Mid-Cities area of the Metroplex; this line marks where all the pretentiousness of Dallas is lost, and the change is palpable in Fort Worth people and their attitudes. On the map the real West Texas is West Texas, but you’ve got to look deeper to see where the West begins. Paul, stop and visit the stockyards, sit down, drink a beer, and talk with some folks, but please don’t just drive through on I-35 and dismiss us. The West begins in Cowtown just like it always has.
NOEL E. GUTIERREZ
Fort Worth

I’VE ALWAYS HAD A PECULIAR fascination for Loving and its county seat, Mentone, just because of its loneliness, isolation, and stark barrenness [The Real West Texas: “ Not-So-Loving County ,” October 1997]. I’ve never lived in West Texas but have spent a lifetime trying to figure out a way of doing so without starving to death.
LARRY MORRIS
Pleasanton

Color Clash

SHOULD SANDRA CISNEROS BE ALLOWED to shirk the historic-review and permit process simply because she can impassion people with her writing [“ The Purple Passion of Sandra Cisneros ,” October 1997]? The real issue is about process, not color or history or emotions. The rest of us who don’t pull permits and don’t obey the rules are fined. This is not a white versus brown issue, nor is it about Aztecs or Laredito or Latina writers for Texas Monthly. It is about one person knowingly breaking rules and then grasping for excuses and issues to hide behind.
OSCAR ALVARADO
San Antonio

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KUDOS TO KATHY LOWRY for her fine piece on Sandra Cisneros. To those of us who have read about the purple incident in only the national press, Lowry’s clear thinking was a much-needed breath of fresh air. In my opinion, Cisneros is a gifted writer (Tejana, feminist, whatever you want to call her, her writing is wonderful) who is making a fool of herself with this purple caper.
KATHRYN MARSHALL
Birmingham, Alabama

ByrdWatcher

TRACY BYRD HIT THE NAIL right on the head [Music: “ Rare Byrd ,” October 1997]. Western swing and the traditional sound of country music will surely die if it is not kept alive by the fans and the performers. Tracy, just go with your heart. You have not let us down. I can tell you right now, as soon as a line dance comes on, my husband and I are off the dance floor. Give us a good old waltz, please.
CINDY STROMAN
Lancaster, California

Plane Tax

WAIT! PAUL BURKA FORGOT a tax in “ Air Fair? ” [Reporter, October 1997]. There is also a $3 Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) fee when you buy your ticket. The fees pay for planning, environmental, and construction projects approved by the FAA. It’s collected by airlines and given to the airports that have the tax. It can add as much as $6 to the cost of a one-way ticket and $12 for a round-trip ticket. If the airport you travel through doesn’t have the tax, you don’t pay, and an airport can collect the fee only until it’s construction projects are paid for. A little over half the airports in Texas collect the PFC.
BEN GUTTERY
Fort Worth

What a Hoot

I’M SURE YOU ARE AWARE that hypocrisy exists in places other than Abilene [Reporter: “ Titillating,” October 1997]. Texarkana, for instance. The good citizens recently shut down a Hooter’s-type establishment. The fear was that the sight of a young, scantily clad woman might hamper the drive to stamp out sex in any shape, form, or fashion. Despite their best efforts, the children somehow learned the mechanics and are diligently exploring the applications. Women still get pregnant, and sexually transmitted disease is on the rise. Something in the water, perhaps?
C. H. HUTTANUS
Hooks

Overruled

IF GREGORY CURTIS IS GOING to support the death penalty, he should do so across the board; it is unfair (and unconstitutional) to apply it to only one sex [Behind The Lines: “ Seven Women ,” October 1997]. To follow through with his suggestion of giving the governor an increased ability to commute sentences would undermine the system and remove power specifically vested in the jury. A defendant’s punishment is based on the circumstances of the crime itself, not on how the defendant manages to reform himself or herself in the years following conviction. If Erica Sheppard managed to live the kind of life Karla Tucker has renegotiated for herself, would Mr. Curtis still support her death sentence? And I don’t hear him lobbying for males who have found God in their post-sentence lives.
SERENA MILLER
New York, New York

IF A JURY OF CITIZENS has made a finding that the death sentence is warranted and the sentence has been “approved” by the judiciary, no elected official should be able to override that decision. The system in place requires two-thirds agreement by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles before the governor can even consider commuting a death sentence. This sufficiently provides a mechanism for that “extraordinary case” to be handled if it arises. It also ensures that a death sentence is not commuted because it is the politically correct thing to do. It also prevents governors from making arbitrary decisions to commute death sentences based on calls from the religious community, civic leaders, or death-penalty opponents; an idea that Mr. Curtis seems to support. It also prevents a governor from

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