Meet Rosemary Daniell, author
of Fatal Flowers on Sex, Sin and
Suicide in the Deep South
Monday, July 28, 7 p.m.—9 p.m.
three TV network affiliates in Houston
covered it. Bob Wright, assignments
editor at KHOU-TV, called KTRH to
obtain information for reporter Judd
Mcllvain. The radio station refused to
give out any information on Rather's tenure there, leading Mcllvain to remark to
Breakthrough, "Dan Rather is still being
protected in Houston, Texas."
Now that Rather has an $8 million
contract with CBS to replace Walter
Cronkite next year, one can only hope he
doesn't decide to do a story on botulism.
To those Houstonians who have
wearied of wading through
Houston City Magazine's trend-
ier-than-thou issues—look again.
There are muscles flexing lately beneath
that flashy exterior.
The June cover story, by freelancer
Mimi Swartz, took a critical, not-too-
complimentary look at popular Houston
Post columnist Lynn Ashby. "Is Lynn
Ashby just a paper tiger?" asked the subhead. "Yes," answered Swartz.
While paying due tribute to Ashby's
grinding schedule (five columns a week)
and his occasional brilliance, Swartz came
down hard on the "not-so-merry punster"
for his insensitivity to minorities, women
and gays, and his soft, belated stands on
thorny local issues.
"Ashby makes us laugh," concluded
Swartz, "but he doesn't always help us
learn. Certainly Houston needs a sense of
humor; Houston also needs to think. Beyond the need for better reporting, there
is a real need for thoughtful analysis and
explanation. Ashby believes he presents
an opinion and asks people to think
about it . . . The trouble is that the questions he raises aren't tough enough. A
good columnist should do more than
show us who we are; he should ask us
whether we want to stay that way."
Swartz, incidentally, has just hit the
bigtime with her first article to appear in
a national magazine. July's Esquire carries
her story, "For the Woman Who Has
Almost Everything"—a consumer's guide
to vibrators—"with some interesting philosophical observations," qualified a City
In that same issue of City, Alan Wald-
man's "Water Hazards" presented a refreshing (albeit depressing) alternative to
the old "ten-best" bill of fare. Waldman
listed the 10 worst corporate miscreants
who are dumping pollutants into the
Houston Ship Channel. (The City of
Houston is finally Number One in something—it heads the list of offenders.)
In "City Slickered?" Editor Tom Curtis took an impassioned stand against the
projected Galveston superport, calling
deep-draft ships in narrow, congested
channels "a ticket to disaster." And Senior Writer Joanne Harrison, in "The Apartment Complex," explained Texas' "medieval" landlord-tenant laws.
The July City was even better. Senior
Editor Alison Cocjf and freelancer Kaye
Northcutt (who has rated many a legislator for the Texas Observer) spent weeks
researching their cover story, "Rating
Houston's Judges"—an informative, critical appraisal of the "political hacks and
martinets and terminal dummies among
the Houston judiciary, as well as some
outstandingly fair and thoughtful men
Since Texas is one of the few states
that elect district judges, Cook's and
Northcutt's insights and interviews (they
talked to almost 100 people) make this
piece a handy reference guide for judging
the judiciary come election time.
That same issue had a story by energy
writer Andrew Sansom on Edward Teller
("Papa Strangelove") who has apparently
recovered from his Jane-Fonda-induced
heart attack. Sansom effectively de
scribed the logical consequences of
Teller's premise that more is better, as
long as it's nuclear.
Joanne Harrison capped off the July
issue with a blistering "Last Punch"
aimed directly at the solar plexus of
Channel 8 and the University of Houston.
In "Death of a Principle," Harrison revealed "the best-kept secret in public
broadcasting: there's a PBS affiliate alive
and comatose in Houston Texas."
Calling the university's TV station "a
masterpiece of mismanagement, with a
pitiful budget of around $2.5 million (less
than six percent that of WNET in New
York)" Harrison claimed that the station
has been kept on a short rein by the university for so long that most of the
people who work so hard for its fund-
raising arm, the Association for Community Television (ACT), don't even realize
how badly they're being used.
"The ACT people proudly point out,"
wrote Harrison, "that approximately 65
percent of Channel 8's funds come from
the annual auction and from individual
subscriptions. They should instead be
screaming bloody murder."
Harrison claimed that it is impossible
for the UH Board of Regents to run the
station in a fair and impartial fashion,
since they are "political appointees whose
principal responsibility is to the state-
supported university structure. It is
absurd to expect them to be responsible
public broadcasters as well.
"Things have actually reached the
point," wrote Harrison, "that the university bureaucracy is using Channel 8 as just
another public relations tool. KUHT is
now being required by its licensee to use
the university logo on ail its communications and to insert scenes of the UH campus along with the city of Houston scenes
used in its sign-off."
That's not all. UH President Ed Bishop
was recently the scheduled guest on
Channel 8's "Project 80." He was to be
questioned by three reporters, including
Harrison. "On the day before the taping,"
reported Harrison, "VP Nicholson (who
had cancelled fhs Channel 8 airing of
Death of a Princess) convinced Bishop
that it would be a better move to run film
of the university's presidential investiture
ceremony together with a voice-over description of the ceremony written by
Nicholson himself. The Channel 8 staff
was ordered to comply, which they did
Harrison suggested that "if the Board
of Regents will not voluntarily allow a
responsible coalition of civic leaders and
community groups to assume the license