Gossip Girl

I was honored to be a small part of Bernie (I played one of the town “gossips”). And I am thrilled with Skip Hollandsworth’s “Lights, Camera, Carthage!” (and even more thrilled with the screenplay he co-wrote with director Richard Linklater) [May 2012]. Thanks for such wonderful coverage of this groundbreaking cinema experience.

Teresa Edwards

News Stands

Thank you for “Truth or Consequences,” by Joe Hagan [May 2012]. I have known Dan Rather since 1949, and I had needed to read more facts regarding Bush versus Rather before I leave this planet.
Ernestine Lloyd Jackson-Humphrey

As far as I am concerned, this article is just “hash and rehash.” Surely there is more interesting copy to be found.

Andy Ritch
Santa Fe, New Mexico

While “Truth or Consequences” was interesting as a reminder of Dan Rather’s idiotic act of using forged (or at the very least, highly questionable) documents to try and skewer George Bush and get John Kerry and John Edwards elected, the article did not persuade me that anything really happened. One of the linchpins of the piece is the absence of military records to prove Bush’s presence at National Guard drills in Texas and Alabama. As a former Army Reservist—I joined in 1968—who once requested his military records only to find significant gaps among them, I know firsthand that this was a particularly chaotic time, when apparently a lot fell through the cracks.

As to Dan Rather: when I was growing up and something bad happened to me, my mother would tell me to first always consider what part of the problem was my fault. Rather apparently does not have the ability to come to grips with his role in this fiasco. 

Mike Bentley
via email

True Blood

Blood of Heroes author James Donovan, who dismisses José Enrique de la Peña’s account of the death of David Crockett while still praising the Mexican officer as “an astute observer” of the Texas Revolution, might have taken de la Peña’s account more seriously had he read the revised 1997 English-language edition of the officer’s memoir instead of the rather flawed and incomplete 1975 first edition (both editions are from Texas A&M University Press), which he cites in “The Writes of Spring” [May 2012]. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I wrote the more recent edition’s introduction, which contains a good bit of new information supportive of the memoir’s authenticity and accuracy.

Donovan also says that the description of Crockett’s death appears “in a different hand—on a slip of paper that was inserted into the original manuscript.” In fact, the entire de la Peña memoir is written in a different hand—four or five different hands—at a time when correspondence between de la Peña and Mexican government officials shows us that the imprisoned officer was so ill that he could not even write his own name. Moreover, the “original manuscript” of the diary is now lost—what exists is a “clean copy” of the diary made in Matamoros in 1836 and a much longer unfinished memoir, based on the diary, that de la Peña did not live to complete. (The long-lost final week’s diary entries, which did not make it into the memoir either in the 1975 A&M edition or the 1955 Mexico City edition in Spanish, were translated and published for the first time in the 1997 A&M edition.)

Finally, interested readers should consult a much more solid piece of evidence about just how Davy died, the long-unknown “Dolson letter,” which was unearthed by a Rice University graduate student in 1960. This letter, which was published in a Detroit newspaper in 1836, and the controversies surrounding it are the subject of an article that I published in the spring 2007 issue of the Journal of the West, a respected historical publication available in most research libraries.

James E. Crisp
Professor of history, North Carolina State University

James Donovan responds: I’m aware of the Dolson letter, which is only marginally more convincing than the other alleged sources supporting Crockett’s execution. And besides the 1975 Texas A&M translation of the de la Peña memoir, I’ve also consulted the Spanish-language original, at the Briscoe Center for American History. The method of Crockett’s death is the subject of the longest endnote in my book, in which I analyze the sources used to support the execution theory. I stand by my opinion—that Crockett may have been executed after the battle, but it’s doubtful, and there is certainly not enough reliable evidence to write it as history.

No Nuge Is Good Nuge

Is there no end to TEXAS MONTHLY’S fascination with Ted Nugent [Object Lesson, May 2012]? “Charity work” is giving children sniper lessons? I, 169 hogs, and 11 coyotes would love to see him dropped naked in Brazil (or any place other than the United States).

Erwin Franke
Pahrump, Nevada

Have you actually read Ted Nugent’s ravings? Does it not matter to you that he makes veiled physical threats against the president, refers to Catholic nuns in a despicable manner, and derides African Americans and Jews? I cannot in my wildest imagination believe that TEXAS MONTHLY is so desperate for material that it has to stoop to such depths to provide publicity for this embarrassment to Texas and humanity. 

Robert Jones
San Antonio

Off Pitch

Mr. Burka, from one baseball fan to another, I commend you on your loyalty to the Astros [Behind the Lines, May 2012]. I share your passion, but my hometown team is the Cardinals. Because of that, I have a bone to pick with you. You referred to the Astros—a club founded in 1962—as a “storied franchise.” As a fan of the American pastime, you should know that isn’t a storied franchise; that’s a new kid on the block! The Reds, the Cardinals, the Red Sox . . . those are storied franchises. Go Cardinals!

Linda Grace Solis
San Antonio