The first sign of trouble was an email yesterday from longtime Houston Chronicle art critic Patty Johnson that she was leaving the paper… turns out she's not the only one: a bunch of features writers have either been laid off or offered severance packages, including Louis Parks and Bruce Westbrook, both of whom covered film. Looks like the Chronicle (which did not return a phone call for comment) is going the Hearst-ian way of other national dailies, cutting feature writing to stringers and becoming, if it were possible, even less relevant, less sophisticated, and less out of touch with what's interesting in the city.* There is no expectation that a salaried art critic will be brought on board to replace Johnson, so we can all look forward to coverage of major shows at major museums, and little more — beyond the grotesque T.M.I. and other coverage that assumes the worst of the readership — and delivers it. *If I may digress off the topic of art, the cloyingly named "Flavor" section every Wednesday is an abomination for anyone who knows anything about food.