WE, THE PRODUCERS OF BARNEY & FRIENDS, do have a sense of humor about how the big purple guy comes across to adults [“Bum Steer Awards,” January 1999]. However, the possibility that a person in a bogus Barney costume might harm a child is no laughing matter. That is why, even after seeing your cover of Barney, we will continue our effort to stop costume shops from selling or renting adult-size Barney costumes. The reason is simple—if we don’t know who is in the suit, we can’t protect the children nearby. Our concern has nothing to do with money. We made the decision not to license any adult-size Barney costumes, even though that could be a lucrative source of income for us.
Tim Clott CEO,
Lyric Studios

THE COVER PHOTO OF BARNEY is offensive. How do you tell a child that the character in the photo who is smoking and reading the Starr report to children is not the real Barney?
Joseph Hilliard

KEN STARR, BUM STEER OF THE YEAR? A better choice would’ve been Clinton apologist Paul Begala for his anything-but-the-facts defense of the president’s lying under oath. Unsurprisingly, you elected the mainstream media’s favorite target rather than any of the Texas Democrats who have prostituted themselves to keep their boy in office.
Trace Howard

I WAS SURPRISED TO SEE IN THE “Bum Steer Awards” a misrepresentation of a project that I originated. You portray the greeting-card project as something sleazy and sordid. It was not. It was conceived for a limited number of Spanish-speaking prisoners to make cards for Spanish-speaking children who are far from home, who get little or no mail, and who are often in the hospital for months. Many of these prisoners are talented artists and parents themselves. Most are locked away with little to do but slowly go mad. I thought drawing cards for sick children might give them a chance to do something constructive.
Marta Glass
Prison Issues Director
East Texas Division
ACLU of Texas

YOUR “BUM STEER AWARDS” were hilarious, although one cover line was misleading. I doubt very much that Tommy Lee Jones’s pride was wounded with the cash results of U.S. Marshals. And his fans loved it.
Mary Ann Cavalleri
New York, New York

Drug Test

WHY DO YOU CREATE EXCUSES for the sons and daughters of Plano’s Legacy Drive executives [“Teenage Wasteland,” January 1999]? The idea that these kids are strung out on heroin because they have extra pressures to succeed put on them by their parents is absurd. Teenagers all over this country, regardless of socioeconomic background, have the same pressures. The problem is simply that parents of privileged children have always held the belief that drug problems are only in the inner cities of Dallas and other metropolitan areas and that their kids are “good kids.” Dallas has had drug problems for years. Funny how it took Plano kids’ overdosing on heroin for people to take notice and the money to combat the problem to start rolling in.
Mark Guindie

I READ “TEENAGE WASTELAND” with sadness but not surprise. I attended Plano East Senior High in the mid-eighties and remember the affluence. Many of my friends lived in “tract mansions,” drove the latest model cars, and wore expensive clothes and jewelry. The acquisitiveness was like a virus and contributed to the spiritual decay of what could have been the perfect suburb. However, the Plano school system provided me with an excellent education and a desire to succeed in the professional world. I thank God that my parents taught me values like hard work and perseverance and never substituted money for love.
Lisa Hunter Ryden

IF THE PEOPLE OF PLANO WANT to solve their drug problem, they need to get serious, quickly. There is nothing wrong with striving for excellence, but not everyone is meant to attain it. There is a happy, less stressful medium between above average and average. Helping a child do his or her best and accepting that best is a far better scenario than pushing a child over the edge. I hope Plano wins the fight. The death of even one more child is too many.
Terry Stewart
Jacksonville, Florida

AS A GRADUATE OF PLANO SENIOR HIGH, I’m finding all the hype about heroin to be just that: hype. Any death as a result of a drug overdose is tragic. Even one. However, drug use in Plano is not news, just as it’s not news in any metroplex. Plano is not going to pass the white-glove test on any topic. But it is a great place to grow up, and there are many more happy-ending stories in Plano than one would imagine after reading an article such as yours. I hardly think that even with a long-standing battle, the story lies in the latest few tragic deaths. I believe the story lies in the overall success of Plano as a community.
Rachel Harner

Bad Note

HAVING BEEN IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS IN Texas for many years, I couldn’t help but wonder why Nanci Griffith cares what Michael Corcoran of the Austin American-Statesman thinks or writes about her [“You Can’t Go Home Again,” January 1999]. A critic cannot make an audience dislike a band. When Michael reviewed our show, the focus of his paragraph the next morning  was that we smiled too much. As long as we knew we were good to our audience, we never cared what was written. Nanci should meet him; then she might be inspired to take revenge in a song. A possible title, “The Oily, Disheveled Troll.”
Laura Lynch Tull
Formerly of the Dixie Chicks

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ARTICLE ON Nanci Griffith only because you had beautiful photographs. I found your harping monotonous. I hope Nanci keeps the perspective that regional publications like Texas Monthly, the Dallas Morning News, the Austin Chronicle, and the Houston Chronicle prove their irrelevance by bashing a Texas treasure.
Jeanie Slack Wyatt
San Antonio

Home Sick

I AM A FOURTH-GENERATION MARSHALLITE [Cities: “Not Black and White,” January 1999]. My parents and my sisters and their families still live there. I chose to leave in 1987 and have never regretted the decision. It is true that Marshall revels in its past. This is perpetuated by the families that control the political and economic bases of the town. The prejudices that exist in there are not just whites against blacks or Hispanics. It boils down to the haves and the have-nots. Marshall’s problem is that the people in control of the town do not want to change. I love Marshall for giving me a sense of history and family roots, but that is all. When I go back to visit, the nostalgia I feel can be bittersweet.
Samantha Munden Woolley
Fayetteville, North Carolina