by gabrielle cosgriff
Enough-too much-has already
been written on the visit of Pope
John Paul II. The media, for the
most part, wallowed in it, abandoning
objectivity and paying scant attention to
the pope's neo-neanderthal pronouncements on women, sex and homosexuals.
(For reactions from local Catholic feminists, see story, p. 20)
The only other media event to approach it, at least locally, was the
garbage garbage surrounding John Travolta and the filming of Urban Cowboy.
Just think what would have happened
if the pope had come to Houston. Imagine His Holiness at Gilley's—riding the
papal bull. (I shared this fantasy of the
ultimate media hype with David Cross-
ley, who immediately dubbed it The
Urban Cow-Pope. Wish I'd thought of
Alan Brien described the pope's stopover in Ireland in Punch, the British
humour magazine. ". . . for many Irish
people" said Brien, "the pope's visit is the
most transcendental happening of the
Christian era, comparable only to a stopover by Jesus himself."
Brien found it odd, among a rich haul
of oddities, that Aer Lingus, the Irish
airline, had restricted the crew of His
Holiness' plane to practicing Catholics
"No one knows (the pope's) views on
the decision," said Brien, "but it is hardly
likely to persuade Northern extremists
that they should not dish out jobs to
their fellow citizens on the basis of religious allegiance.
"Personally," he continued, "I harbour an uneasy prejudice that good
Catholics may make bad pilots. With an
agnostic or an atheist at the controls, I
can at least be sure that he shares with me
the conviction that the end is the end,
and after a fatal crash there is nothing
"Who knows that for a dedicated,
pious flyer up front, there may not be an
unconscious thought flitting about that if
he has to go, he couldn't arrive at St.
Peter's gate with a better tour guide than
Pope John Paul, St. Peter's successor."
Another religious observation came
from Martin Sheen, star of Apocalypse
Now, who was interviewed recently in
Rolling Stone. Sheen grew up in a
staunch Catholic atmosphere—in fact, he
took his name from Archbishop J. Fulton
Sheen. Speaking of his strong ties to
Catholicism, tempered now by agnosticism, Sheen explained his religious convictions this way: "I no longer believe in
the existence of God," he said, "but I
still believe that Mary is his mother."
One would have thought that the
rnanagement of KTRH Radio
had done their worst to Nikki
Van Hightower when they fired her last
spring. (See Breakthrough, April 1979.)
Apparently not, judging from the latest turn of events.
Van Hightower won first place in
1979 Women at Work Broadcast Awards
of the National Commission on Working
Women, for her commentaries on KTRH.
Last August, the commission wrote
Van Hightower at KTRH, informed her
of the award and invited her to accept
it at a National Press Club awards program.
Station manager Hal Kemp wrote
back saying someone from the station
would be in Washington to collect the
award since Van Hightower had left
the station. Kemp implied that they
didn't know where to contact her.
Van Hightower received news of her
award from a woman at the commission,
who became "suspicious" of Kemp's
response and called around until she
located Van Hightower.
When Van Hightower called the station, news director Ben Baldwin assured
her they had forwarded the information
to her "weeks ago." Van Hightower
then suggested that, since she intended to
pick up her award in Washington, and
since KTRH had promised to send someone up to collect it, KTRH should pay
Baldwin said he agreed and asked her
to call back. Van Hightower called station
manager Kemp "numerous times" in the
next two weeks. (Baldwin was away from
the station.) Kemp never came to the
phone, nor did he return her calls.
There's a certain poetic justice to the
fact that Van Hightower received a
national award for her KTRH commentaries. Kemp cancelled them with no
explanation to Van Hightower. He later
said that more advertising time was
needed. Van Hightower felt it was because her commentaries were too controversial. (Her last one was particularly
critical of the police chief and the
"It was a thrill for me to receive that
award," said Van Hightower. "It was
something outside of politics. It was a
statement about a particular talent and
I just loved it. Obviously," she continued
"my time there brought credit to the station and I would have thought they could
acknowledge that with dignity, even
though they didn't want the commentaries to continue."
Van Hightower was shocked, she said,
"at the childishness and pettiness of
people who hold responsible positions at
Congratulations to Van Hightower on
a well-deserved honor. (Her commentaries
in Breakthrough will resume next
month.) Congratulations also to Betty
Maldonado, of KUHT TV, whose Frida
Kahlo, a short feature on the Mexican
artist, won her an honorable mention in
And a dishonorable mention to the
small-minded management at KTRH.
In our special election issue, two
weeks ago, we reported that
State Rep. Lance Lalor, running
for a city council seat in predominantly
white, middle-class District C, had
angered some liberals and gays. He originally shied away from the Harris County
Democrats endorsement and then accepted it. He placed conditions on his
use of the Gay Political Caucus endorsement—he would only use it in Montrose.
Lalor now has an updated campaign
brochure. Gone is the quote from the
liberal Texas Observer: "He can be
counted upon to stand tall for the progressive cause." In its place is this quote
from Texas Business Magazine: "Lalor
is a man who works long hours developing well-thought-out positions. Not one
to speak without knowing what he's
talking about, Lalor outshines many of
his more vocal comrades."
Gone also is the domestic-looking
photo of bachelor Lalor with a former
aide and her baby-and two baby bottles.
We try to keep tabs on the white
knights as well as the blackguards.
We support Eleanor Tinsley
for City Council because she has a
proven record of leadership and
accomplishment for women.
As President of the Texas
Mother s Program and she
Council of Child Welfare
chaired the committee that
Boards, she secured passage
of legislation to fund foster
Diane W. Kilpatrick
care for neglected and
abused children not pre
Melba Ann Barr
viously covered by AFDC.
As President of the
Rema Lou Brown
Houston School Board,
she initiated project EVE to
vocational training for
women. She had tha Dean
of Women raised to the
Martha N Coats
rank of Assistant principal
Nikki Van Hightower
equal in pay and status to
Alice ft Whatley
their male counterparts.
Betti Rose Driscoll
She was a strong supporter
for the I ligh School for the
Performing Arts, the Noung
AT LARGE POSITION TWO
Pol adv paid by Eleanor Tinsley Campaign Committee. Dick and Dianne Bynum, Craig Washinton. Treasurers
, i /.
The Nation's Number 1
Women's Professional Basketball Team
Texas' Number 1 Women's newspaper
A season ticket, only $108
from Houston Breakthrough, P.O. Box 88072
Houston, Texas 77004
Only 8 tickets on hand.
Choice seats! Season starts November 17.