Illustrations By John Forse
EDITORS NOTE : Just about everything you read below is total and utter balderdash. We take this space to rant about what sometimes bothers us and not to stake our claim as ground-breaking journalists. Personally, I disagree with 95% of what has been written here. Actually, I probably disagree with 95% of what has ever been spoken in human history. With that said, I would like to say sorry to the following people and that I owe them a drink : White people, dead people, Brandon Young, Annise Parker, HPD, and the Jews ( for good measure ).
— Omar Afra
Worst Loss of History: The Astrodome
Houstonians do not have a sense of preservation. Instead, we just tear down and put up something else. The past fades into oblivion. This is what we have done in the past with places like the Sam Houston Coliseum, Music Hall, etc. This is sad because there is a lot of history buried within those walls of the Astrodome; from the “battle of the sexes” tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, to when Madonna performed there during her “Who’s That Girl” tour in 1987.
The Astrodome has a rich history. For many kids, such as myself, going to or even seeing the Astrodome was akin to a rite of passage in ranking with going to Astroworld next door. Now, we will never be able to see a homerun hit one of the stadium lights above, or show the future where Nolan Ryan pitched a no-hitter.
In a way, the Astrodome was a sort-of identity for those of us who don’t want to be thought of as “cowboys” or “cowgirls.” But now, thanks to low voter turnout, that identity of “the eighth wonder of the world” will be no more.
Worst Sports Team: The Texans
What happened to Houston? Last year the beloved Texans were cruising along the glorious, gold-studded road to the playoffs–no issues in sight. Fans were high off of the pure joy of not being “that team” for once. But two playoff runs seems to be enough for the Bulls, as what was supposed to be “our year” has become a harsh contest to get into the Houston record books for a losing streak. I mean c’mon, you know there is a problem when the die-hard fans are treating the starting quarterback since ’07 like the living embodiment of Satan. Even the fans over in Washington at least like their own team enough to not heckle them to the point that they probably have learned to cherish their road games. Many teams face injuries and I understand, but the Texans have the tolerance of an angry TSA screener with 11 straight losses and counting. Ouch. I like to compare the Texans to that crush you had in high school: The most beautiful girl you had ever seen. The most flawless human being in the whole world, right? Wrong. You come back to see that after a grueling freshman year at college, she has returned with a hunched back, an extra 50 pounds, and the face of a bridge troll. All you can think is: “What…” As a casual football fan, I don’t expect too much, but I really am getting sred of bursting into tears every time I turn on CBS on a Sunday.
Worst Reopening: Moon Tower Inn
Since the reopening I have only been here twice and both times were a very lackluster experience. I mean really guys, you were closed for over a year, then when you finally open you basically changed two things, how many beers you serve, and your prices. What happened to all those pictures of indoor eating? I know a lot of people that still go eat there, but for me Houston is either too hot or too cold outside. That’s why “indoors” was invented. Not to mention your eating area is more or less a mosquito-filled yard. For anybody reading, go to Sammy’s Wild Game Grill: Same prices, same food, and they offer indoor seating and french fries–no foodie coleslaw bullshit. Oh, and they have a real website, in case you’re not one of the cool kids who memorized the menu and hours.
Worst Band Name: Zimmerman’s Gun
Up tha punx, right guys?
Worst Voter Awareness: Houston Community College System District II voters
What makes a worse voter, apathy or fraud?
Trick question. The worst voter is the one who doesn’t take two seconds to Google their chosen candidate. Take, for example, the 5,961 people in Houston who voted for a man because they thought he was black.
Dave Wilson, a candidate in the Houston Community College System District II Trustee race, basically trolled his voters. Wilson essentially won with an online ad and some mailbox flyers (showing black families probably from Google images) that said, “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.”
According to the news outlets, Wilson beat the 24-year incumbent candidate by only 26 votes. I love how local politics is the single confirmation to the “every vote counts” fodder they shoved down our throats in public school. Blame Wilson because he’s a white Republican who campaigned for a seat in a district consisting of black Democrats. Blame Wilson because none of his promotional material showed his dastardly melanin-poor mug.
Blame the voters who couldn’t give a damn to notice.
The reason this piece isn’t titled “Worst politician tactics in Houston” is because politicians are evil by default. Voters should know better. Hell, Wilson told KHOU 11 News he didn’t expect to win. He used old-school mailbox ads and put disclaimers under the endorsement from his cousin Ron, who, if it isn’t obvious, is NOT the Democrat state representative Ron Wilson. Wilson taught everyone a lesson: This is what you get.
This is what you get when you treat politics like a popularity contest. This is what you get when you choose the presidential hopeful whom you could have a beer with, even though his hobbies include defecating on the US Constitution.This is what you get when you want to make a difference, but do not do your homework.
Worst drug trend that wont go away : Sizzurp
Look, I get it. Some of you think codeine cough syrup, otherwise known as ‘lean’, ‘drank’, or ‘sizzurp’, is part of our local cultural heritage. With so many references made to it by H-Town rappers for 20+ years now, you would think that we manufacture the shit right here in Houston. But we don’t. This drug is one that makes people dissociative, is known to cause male impotence, and kills people everyday. Often, the dead are the rapper’s who so affectionately promote it. Also the way people display their use of it on social media just stinks of poser-dom. Did I mention it causes male impotence? Maybe if we changed the slogan from ‘City of Sizzurp’ to ‘City of Limp Dick’ then it would not be so popular?
— Omar Afra
Worst Thing to See While Driving : People Holding Signs
Listen, I dont give a fuck if your sign says “Fags R Dumb,” “Will Rap 4 Weed” or the latest “You’re PERFECT,” anybody who feels they HAVE to stand on a street corner for hours with a tacky sign needs to reevaluate their existence. You could literally be doing almost anything and it would be a better use of your time. The people who feel the need to do this obviously have some dire need to be the center of attention NO MATTER WHAT. You are basically the equivalent of every 16-year-old, Hot Topic atheist goth, rocking a pentagram necklace, just waiting for someone to pay attention and be shocked by your shitty white boy dreads. Put down the poster board, go home, call your parents, tell them what you did for 3 hours today, and beg for forgiveness.
Worst Gentrified Area: Bellaire
A lot of people I know would pick the untimely gentrification of Montrose as being one the worst things happening in Houston right now. Yeah it sucks, businesses are tearing down the cheap apartments and old houses and forcing a bunch of 20-something-year-olds to either move to the east side or get jobs that aren’t at Agora or Buffalo Exchange to pay rent. However to me, Bellaire is a much sadder tale. For years, friends and I would go over to places like Fit and FuFu Cafe and be the only white kids. Not saying we were cool because we were the only white people there, but when I want really good Chinese food I want the full experience. I want the waitress to treat me like the dumb white kid I am. I want them to make fun of me in Chinese for ordering the “…General..So’s (?) chicken..” I want them to turn their nose up at me for ordering water and still not really knowing all what’s in Sake. I want to not understand the menu and have no fucking clue what’s going on on the TV. I fear those days are lost. Now populating the once-sacred area is slues of early 30-year-old bankers and soccer moms looking for “Hello Kitty” bullshit for their nieces. I see it slowly turning into Clear Lake. Of course, like good businesses, these shops are attempting to accommodate all of us white gluttons and its depressing. Fuck, last time I was in there, there was a guy asking if the steamed pork dumplings were organic, after loudly talking about the last time he saw Judge Reinhold in a movie.
Worst Complaint: “This city sucks/I can’t wait to move”
GUESS FUCKING WHAT — We here who are pretty damn proud of the strides our city has made towards providing creative opportunities to ungrateful assholes like yourself, COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED TO SEE YOU (MAYBE) LEAVE. Oh please, threaten us with something we want! I don’t know how Houston will ever make it without your incessant complaining or phantom threats to leave. This city was nothing before you and definitely will landslide once you, who has been an armchair observer to the progress of our community, actually fly away to whatever fairy tale land you seem to believe things are actually different in.
If you are doing nothing here, what makes you think that somehow the world is going to start rewarding you with the benefits of someone that has, just because you relocated. You’re basically spreading the suck. You are a reflection of the environment and people you surround yourself with so, if your life here is THAT terrible, maybe stop going to Boondocks every day at 5.
Worst complaints about changes in neighborhood demography : White on white gentrification
It seems like the only people who complain about gentrification are white people who are complaining about the wrong kind of white people moving into their neighborhood. Nary a word is spoken about diversifying a neighborhood such as the Montrose. You never hear an utterance like ” We need more South Asians or Jews or Gays or Irish.” No. The only demographic complaint is from white people who wear Converse complaining about white people who wear Colehan’s moving into the neighborhood. ” Oh no! Yuppies are moving into the neighborhood!” Guess what asshole? Just because you have a neck tattoo, listen to the Replacements, and eat artisanal doughnuts does not preclude you from being a douchebag yuppie. On the contrary, those are the reasons you are one.
— Omar Afra
Worst Residential Eyesore within the Inner Loop: Anything with Realtor Mike Spear’s Name on It
Let me correct myself first and state that there is a possibility that this dude ISN’T solely responsible for the shit-stucco townhomes and high rises replacing historic homes within the inner loop, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t make sure to put his Professor-X-lookin’ ass on 8-foot tall signs in front of everyone, advertising to “contact Mike Spear for information on the property.”
Maybe it’s just me but, I probably would NOT want to be the face of gentrification in any particular area. More than likely, neither he, nor any of the other realtors raping the history our of our downtown area, even live remotely close by. That’s okay! The inner loop has never needed the silver spoon frat kids that currently fist pump the night away on the tops of african american slave burial grounds (Washington Ave.) more than we need them now. I’m curious what the selling points are for Montrose–like, when you sit down with the realtor and they explain to you all the perks of moving to the area. I’m guessing it goes something like this:
Realtor: “…yes ma’am, the Montrose area is growing both culturally and economically, and in the next 5 years, we’re expecting it to be the new (___insert trendy community elsewhere___). Have you read the Forbes report on Houston?”
The irony is that the building you’re looking at moving into was more than likely built to replace something “cultural” that already existed and/or defined the area. I’m not one to condone arson, but a quote from the book Lords of Chaos comes to mind — when Varg Vikernes (Burzum) was asked about the church burnings in Norway his response was, “They desecrated our graves, our burial mounds, so it’s revenge.”
Worst Intersection: Shepherd and Westheimer
True, we haven’t had this problem for all of 2013, but since mid-autumn, this intersection has been the bane of my existence every time I come back to Montrose from my home on the northwest side of town. As with most Houston construction projects, I still feel like I have no idea what the hell they’re trying to accomplish with said rigamarole, but no matter what that is, I feel like they’re doing a horrible job. There’s nothing cute or funny about this one. It’s no kneeslapper–but it needs to be said. It sucks. Bad. Hopefully it won’t be on the 2014 list as well.
Worst case of diarrhea: Bad Tequila / Good Indian
It very well may have been a confluence of factors which caused this nightmare of a bowel situation. Perhaps it was the dehydration brought on by too much Tequila? Or maybe it was the 2 bowls of Chana Masala I ate before drinking said Tequila? Or maybe it was a ‘gift’ form the same wrathful angel of God that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? Either way, that shit was so crunk that I woke up with a flooded upstairs bathroom and a kitchen on bottom floor that was raining toilet water. This one was for the history books.
— Omar Afra
Worst Street: All of Them
In terms of potholes, bumps and other road imperfections, in Houston. All of them. Seriously. I have not driven on a road in this city that hasn’t had me swerving and weaving to avoid potholes and deceptively huge bumps that bitch slap your tire into submission, in… say… 15 years! Heck! Before I even started driving, I remember putting my hands up and yelling ‘Weeeeeeeee’ as my parents swerved and slowed to miss all the road imperfections this city chooses to ignore in lieu of… what are they spending their money on? Do something, Houston. I’m tired of the flat tires and side swipes.
Worst Election: November 5th
I couldn’t decide between two colossal fuckups. One being the election of Dave Wilson, that asshole who used the voters’ laziness against them by tricking them into thinking he was black. Well, I’m not sure which is worse, the fact that he did that or the fact that people fell for it and voted for someone they didn’t know anything about. In some ways you have to respect this man’s genius: he knows the weakness of the people. We are all sheep and tend to follow what others do and believe what we are told. “Ain’t nobody got time to research. I’m just going to vote so I can say I voted.” This makes Houston voters look like a bunch of idiots. Thanks, as there aren’t enough reasons to look down on our city.
The second being the vote against the referendum to turn the Astrodome into a convention center. I will not go further on this, as someone has already expressed their disgust on this subject.
Worst Activist Buddy: Taylor Bloom
Poor people across the country get evicted from their homes. Those in the ownership class eventually profit from whoever buys the place next, while the evicted tenants suffer. In response, sometimes dedicated individuals try to hold onto property, occupying it, to force banks to re-negotiate. In the U.S., “Occupy Homes” and other movements have used such tactics. All across the world, housing occupations have been used to defend the territories of the poor from absentee landlords who have done nothing whatsoever to contribute to the value of a property.
As Occupy Houston started to wind down, people who had been involved began looking for new projects. Protesting is important, but folks wanted to build. Occupying a public park is cool, but the idea of occupying houses that bailed-out banks might foreclose on, well, that seemed even cooler. Jamin Stocker and buddy Taylor Bloom were two of the activists in Houston that decided to work on an urban occupation. They got involved in a squat in the Third Ward, not just to occupy a house, but also to fix it up and add value to it.
After a few months, Fannie Mae wanted the activists out of the house. Jamin was accused of the crime of criminal trespass. Sadly, his former buddy Taylor Bloom turned state witness against him. Ostensibly in an attempt to save his own butt, Bloom sold out his friend and all for nothing: Jamin was eventually found not guilty.
Quick rule of thumb: If you start off doing a civil disobedience for a good cause, and you end up testifying against your friend for that same act of civil disobedience, you will lose the respect of everyone: other activists, your friends, your local newspaper, and even the deputies and prosecutors you thought you were helping.
Side Note: On the subpoena against Stocker appear two candidates for the category of Funkiest Names of Harris County Deputies on a Subpoena Against an Alleged Trespasser: Andre McCall, Blythe Minneweather, and Willie Winfree.
Worst Food truck trend: Far too niche’ fusion concepts
When it comes to food, I like interesting touches. Not interesting concepts. Add creativity and flair to classic, time tested recipes. I walked through a ‘food truck park’ just the other day because I was hungry and all I could find was trucks with silly, fusion-esque concepts which were seemingly devised by Satan himself. It seems as though the only tacos you can find at taco trucks now are Korean tacos or Thai tacos or Ugandan Philly Cheese Steak tacos. Get with the program people, you are not that fucking creative.
— Omar Afra
Worst Switcheroo by a Candidate / Legal Analysis by a Lawyer: Ben Hall
Early in the election season, 2013 mayoral candidate Ben Hall filled out a questionnaire indicating he would support a an ordinance in Houston against LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation. Then a few days before the election, he went on the KUHF radio program “Houston Matters,” and either forgot his previous statements or spontaneously changed his mind.
When an anti-gay-rights caller named Mark expressed concerns about transgender people in public bathrooms, Hall chimed in in agreement. He said he would he rescind Mayor Parker’s executive order giving transgendered people the right to use the bathroom of their chosen gender. Hall explained that he isn’t prejudiced, but he worried about police officers’ ability to protect public bathrooms. He went further, expressing opposition to laws providing legal protections for LGBT individuals from discrimination in employment and housing. Hall also alienated listeners by referring to homsexuality as a lifestyle choice.
When asked to explain his opposition to a non-discrimination ordinance, Hall said that under such a law, preachers could be found to have acted discriminatorily if they read biblical passages against homosexuality. Also, Hall thought that under the law, individuals who spoke out publicly against homosexuality “would not be able to be hired.” This analysis was particularly absurd, especially coming from a lawyer. Anti-race-discrimination laws have existed for decades, and those laws don’t prevent racist speeches or interfere in the hiring of those who give them.
Worst Prediction About the New Pope: Mine
In April, when the new pope had been chosen, I wrote an article about the history of Vatican collaborations with Nazis, Latin American right-wing governments, and torturers. Though I quoted a nun who had high hopes for the new Pope, my cynicism won out, and I concluded: “… in addition to inheriting a legacy of Jesus, the Catholic Church also inherited the legacy of the Roman Empire. Pontius Pilate, who authorized Jesus’ crucifixion, did so to defend the interests of an oppressive government. There is always hope that a new pope may more closely emulate Jesus, but when collaborating with governments that arrest, torture, and kill civilians, popes more closely resemble Pilate.”
Fortunately, my prediction was way off. From saying he was in no place to judge gay people to decrying the wickedness of unbridled capitalism, Pope Francis has been defying my expectations. Before becoming pope, Jorge Bergoglio gave many indications that he supported a conservative oppressive Vatican. He called gay marriage “a dire anthropological throwback,” and said, “Let’s not be naïve. We’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
However, once elected pope, he quickly began preaching tolerance. Instead of denouncing homosexuality, he denounced greed, saying, “Not paying a fair wage, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking to make a profit, that goes against God.” He decried Vatican riches, saying, “Ah, how I would like a poor Church, for the poor.” He denounced judgmental priests, “In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today’s hypocrites.” Lastly, he called out capitalism itself, “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.”
At 76, Francis seems to have laid low enough for an entire lifetime to be able to get into a position of power, earning him the new honorific, “The Sleeper Pope.” Mandela had mellowed when he became President at the same age, but Francis seems ready for new battles. I now look forward to the rest of his papacy, and hope he isn’t killed by some crazed capitalist cardinal.
Worst Way to Get Around Town: Cars
I polled all the people on my Facebook (only about 10 responded), asking them what they thought was the worst thing about Houston. Several people said traffic, and I couldn’t agree more. At any given time of day, 610 is a clusterfuck. During rush hours, all the freeways and tollways and some streets, including, but not limited to Richmond, Westheimer, Memorial and Montrose, are backed up so badly that it takes about 5 minutes to move one block.
I know there is no one magical solution for this dilemma, but–and I have been saying this for years (since they started work on Westpark Tollway)–a good public transit system would greatly benefit this city. Especially now, since there are hundreds of people a day moving to our great city. Whether they live inside the loop or not, they most likely travel for work and would probably appreciate a stress-free commute, a commute where they can read a book or the newspaper or listen to the new Beyonce album that came out, or watch an episode of their favorite show. Imagine that!
Here is my solution: Get a train from the ‘burbs to the city. Give us proper sidewalks for walking and bike lanes for biking. We have a bus system, let’s make it more appealing to commuters, get more bus routes and more buses. Build it, and they will come. I know Houstonians like their big obnoxious trucks and SUVs, and I am sure those people will still prefer to drive those honkin’ pieces of shit, but some people, such as myself, will make use of a good public transit system.
Worst Walkability: Houston
I’ve been mulling over this for weeks and I am no writer, as you are about to see, and to make this even more difficult, I love Houston. To me it’s a vibrant, warm, and inclusive place where there’s always something to do, some organization to get involved with, or some opportunity at your fingertips. So what would I change, if I was forced to choose (and I am), about Houston?
I only have one answer. Walkability. I do not know of one pedestrianized area, in all of Houston. You might say, “No Shadi you’re wrong. What about the River Oaks Shopping Center?” No. That is a fancy strip mall with a parking lot in the front. Just because they string lights in the trees for 6 months out of the year and station police officers on the road at the weekend (because who can expect busy shoppers to observe crosswalk signs?) does not mean an area is pedestrianized. Well then you might implore me to consider St. Martin’s Square downtown, or even Rice Village. Okay, I smell what you’re cookin’, but it’s still a no. Pedestrians in these areas are confined to a space surrounded by roads focused on vehicle access.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the development of downtown Houston. The light rail is the closest thing we have to public transportation next to businesses, residential homes, restaurants and bars (for the people who can afford it), but it’s still not quite what I’m looking for.
This is my utopia: a place where I wake up on Saturday morning, roll out of bed, and walk to the local coffee shop. I can choose to sit, in the middle of the street, and watch as the people who live in my community walk past me, shopping, eating, drinking, working, or whatever, because there are NO CARS ALLOWED.
This simple act of pedestrianizing an area does the following:
1. It forces us out of our bubbles and into the opportunity to meet new people. Let’s face it, we all live in bubbles. We have a bubble at work, at school, even at our favorite bars and coffee shops. We navigate from our homes, to our cars, to our destination, back to our cars, back to our homes. When do we have time to meet new people? Sure, we go to bars after work for happy hour, with our coworkers. We see the same people we see every time we go there: people with similar socioeconomic backgrounds, but we almost never interact with them. When we give ourselves the opportunity to interact with a larger percentage of the population, it opens doors, engenders creativity, music, art, empathy….le sigh.
2. It stops us from being so damn fat. When you have to walk further than from your car to the entrance of Target, it’s called exercise. Houston is a fat city, and has been for years. I am not saying this is solely because we do not have decent pedestrianized areas, but it is a contributing factor.
3. It’s good for the economy. When you have to walk past business after business, you’re more likely to go inside it, albeit to buy some shit you probably really don’t need, but that’s besides the point!
4. Less cars = less pollution. Look, I know where I live. I know the only reason Houston is what it is today is because of oil. But I have this crazy idea that, even if we had three or four (or hey, let’s go crazy and say ten) city blocks that had NO vehicle access, somehow the oil companies would survive. Maybe I’m wrong?
5. Less drunk driving.
6. It’s cheaper. Imagine if we didn’t need cars? Imagine if having a car was actually more hassle than not having a car. Imagine not having to pay for oil changes, gas, tires, insurance…just imagine how much money you could spend on vacations, or clothes, or whatever it is that makes you happy.
Worst Neighborhood Nickname: EaDo
Stands for East Downtown, and chosen over names like the Warehouse District. It’s like calling Montrose MoRo. EaDo–the triangle sliced by the Gulf Freeway and a railroad–was once known for Houston’s first Chinatown and for the warehouses that still dot the area. However, it is now mostly known for white people calmly wandering back into the pricey new apartments and condos replacing Old Chinatown, due to its prime proximity to increasingly-trendy spots. The air is flavored with the heady smell from the Maxwell-turned-Maximus Coffee Plant, but new EaDo residents don’t work there or drink it.
Houston’s in the midst of a fairly revitalizing makeover, and it should extend to neighborhoods falling to the wayside like East Downtown. The BBVA Compass Stadium is badass, too. But EaDo is like an arm of Midtown’s elite, awkwardly pushing between several of Houston’s homeless shelters and the just-now improving top of Houston’s East End. Instead of building with EaDo’s original warehouse and Chinatown history (as the city is doing just just next door on Navigation) EaDo is simply jumping on current trends–Little Woodrow’s in EaDo, anyone?–and pushing out what’s left. Smacking a cutesy nickname on top of it is like adding insult to injury.
Worst Prepared Caller: Reverse-Racism Joe
On July 23rd, a week after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin, Hitaji Aziz was taking calls on her KPFT radio program, Earth 101, and heard from a man named Joe…
Hitaji: Joe, you’re on the line.
Joe: Hey, just wanted to call and give you my perspective in the interest of being all-inclusive. I’ve lived here all my life in Houston, and these days the only racism I’ve seen is from blacks against whites. I have yet to see a white person get away with a racist act in the last 20 or 30 years. Yet, I see white people as the victims of blacks all the time. So, in my view the only racists around, or the majority of the racists around, are blacks.
Hitaji: Can you give me some examples?
Joe: … (4 seconds pass)
Joe: Yeah, let me think… (5 seconds pass) My mind’s a blank right now.
Hitaji: If it’s that critical, if you’re surrounded by racist black people for the last twenty-something years, and they do it all the time, I know you got about five or six examples you can teach us about. We’re here and we need for you to teach.
Joe: … (4 seconds)…. Well. let’s see.
Hitaji: Give me the examples, and then give me some remedies…
Joe: If I come up with some examples in the future, I’ll write them down, I can call back….
Hitaji handled him like a pro. Instead of responding to his initial assertion, or decrying his stance, she gave him the space to take himself out.
Worst Houston Road Trip Experience: Three Tulsa Dancers
Landry Thompson is a white 13 year old dancer from Tulsa whose mom sent her on a trip to Houston to Planet Funk Dance Academy to study hip-hop with Chachi Gonzales. Landry was in the custody of her black instructor, Emmanuel Hurd, and another black dancer joined them. At 3 am on December 3rd, after practice, they were at a gas station when they were surrounded by HPD. Despite having a notarized letter from Thompson’s mother granting guardianship to Hurd and extensive other documents, they were handcuffed and Thompson was turned over to Child Protective Services.
According to Thompson’s mother Destiny, an HPD officer called and asked her, “Are you aware your daughter is in Houston, Texas with two black men?” Destiny Thompson informed the officer that she was, and that she had been long-time friends with Hurd and his wife.
Hurd was also convinced of discrimination, claiming that one of the cops told him, “Sir, you’ve got to understand, you two men are black and she’s white.” The men weren’t charged with anything, but Landry was taken to a CPS facility.
At first, HPD told Thompson’s mother she would have to come herself to Houston to get her daughter out of CPS custody, but after a whole morning of negotiations, they finally agreed to turn over the badly shaken up girl to her legal guardian, Emmanuel Hurd.
If the cops said the things that the dancers and Landry’s mom quote them saying, these innocent dancers had their weekend ruined by HPD racial profiling.
Worst Pitchman: Jim Pruett
For those of you who are too young to remember, Jim Pruett once went by the moniker, “Radio God,” on his buddy show, Stevens and Pruett. But, since Clear Channel switched the Rock 101 format from rock to, well whatever it is now, Pruett has gotten into the gun business. A gun shop owner, Jim has a vested interest in promoting gun culture. Whether it’s recommending an AR-15 similar to what was used at Sandy Hook Elementary, or almost falling over from shooting a fully automatic rifle, Pruett’s “Bullet Points” segments are ridiculous. You could give Pruett a little bit of positive credit for promoting responsible gun ownership and gun safety, if he was selling only shotguns. I have to wonder what the powers that be at CW 39 are thinking with Pruett’s segments, as his lead in for NewsFix is Maury Povich.
It was billed as “good for the city,” as are most things that are hard to swallow. So when the city allowed the NRA to host a Youth Day event at The NRA Annual Meeting, kids were allowed to play with firepower. Free six-month memberships and gun safety events were toted alongside, allowing kids to handle pretty much any gun on the floor. While gun safety is extremely important, especially with children, it’s a lesson that most kids should learn from their parents. The act of allowing children to handle semi-automatic rifles and an airsoft gun shooting event have very little to do with safety, and the act of such an event is a promotion of violence, while it allows the NRA to market to minors. It was easily the most shameful use of tax dollars by the city in a long time.
I promise that there’s a lot more profit in a $1200 AR-15 then there is in a $300 shotgun. We all know deep down, that there’s no plausible reason to own an assault rifle. Hopefully in 2014, the city, the media and the gun shop owners will start looking deep down, and not deep in their pockets.
Worst Discriminators: Harris County GOP and Houston Area Pastor Council
While Texas citizens have progressed in their acceptance of gay marriage and human rights in general, the Harris County GOP is blocking Mayor Parker’s recent approval of city employees’ health and insurance benefits for their same-sex partners. Family District Court Republican Judge Lisa Millard issued a temporary restraining order on the decision to extend these benefits to couples with matching genitalia, due to a lawsuit filed by local haters Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks. The lawsuit is being led by Harris County GOP chairman Jared Woodfill, while plaintiff Larry Hicks is Woodfill’s campaign treasurer, and Pidgeon is a pastor at West Houston Christian Center. HAPC’s executive director is David “I enthusiastically endorse Jared Woodfill for reelection as chairman of the Harris County Republican Party” Welch.
Woodfill—no jokes about his name, y’all—had the audacity to say, “This is one of the most egregious acts by an elected official I’ve ever seen. They just decided to, unilaterally, as a lame duck, thumb their nose at the will of the people and just spit on the U.S. Constitution.”
According to an Equality Texas statewide survey, not only do the majority of Texans believe in same-sex partners’ rights to hospital visits and end of life medical decisions, but they also support the extension of domestic partnership benefits to government workers 62.3% to 30.8%.
When genitalia is the deciding factor in the extension of health benefits, I’d say that’s pure discrimination. And when progress is blocked by self-serving campaign stunts like this, I’d say that’s purely dangerous to all of our rights.
Worst Extra Charge: Cilantro at Chilosos Taco House
You charged me over a dollar for less than a quarter’s worth of cilantro that should have already been included in my taco. It’s not about the money. It’s about taco integrity.
Worst Lost Makeout Spot: Marfreless
I’ve always been a fan of the unmarked bar. There’s something almost magical about walking into one. If it is your first time, you have no idea what to expect of a place you have likely stumbled across; if you are a return visitor, you are someone “in the know.” Since 1976, tucked behind the River Oaks Theater, an unassuming blue door beneath a fire escape opened to a well-appointed den of iniquity. Marfreless, in business in two locations for more than 40 years, was an infamous spot for a secret rendezvous: A lounge of love. A finely stocked bar, dim lighting, quiet music and discreet staff made this bar comfortable and welcoming; but it was the upstairs sofas and small rooms that made it Houston’s most notorious make out spot. Another great business pushed out by sky rocketing rents (the River Oaks Shopping Center is owned by Weingarten Realty), Houston woke up April Fool’s Day, 2013 with nowhere cozy to meet its secret lover.
Worst Bag Search: Hunter Todd, Worldfest Houston
During the closing weekend of the 46th annual WorldFest Houston (a Houston-based film festival), on Saturday, April 20th, a fire alarm went off at the Westchase Marriott where festival events were being held. After everyone reentered the room, Festival Director Hunter Todd, demanded to search the bag of a person attending the “master class” in session. The person in question was a woman, a festival VIP gold pass holder and a U of H student. She was also wearing a hijab and niqab, and was singled out by Todd for searching while no other people in the room where searched. Another UH attendee, Mike Rudd, stood up for the woman asking Todd why only her bag was being searched, to which Todd replied, “Because she is a Muslim and a suspicious character, now sit down.” When Rudd continued to object to this blatant incident of racial profiling, Todd, according to Rudd, said, “You’re the kind of person I hate the most–an obnoxious little bastard. Now sit down or I’ll have you thrown out.” At this point, a scuffle unfolded, Todd trying to take Rudd’s phone away, Rudd trying to keep it. Finally, Rudd left the conference room to make phone calls as the class got underway.
Did Todd racially profile the guest? He wrote his own response to media allegations over the incident–in his own words:
“As I returned to the meeting room, I noticed an individual sitting down in the front of the room, by themselves. Clad in a full Hijab, with only eye-slits. The individual was carrying a heavy, dark backpack. Frankly, with this–coupled with the false alarm, I called my contact with the police and was told to ask for her ID and search the backpack. In reviewing this situation afterwards with the FBI, Constables and the Police, I was told that I did exactly what they would have done in the total interest in the safety of our 200+ guests in the room. They said this was especially important due to the recent terror attacks in Boston. The officers also told me ‘How did I know it was a female in the Hijab’, as this is a typical terrorist ploy.”
Um, yes. Todd makes it super clear, he singled out one attendee to search and only because she was wearing a “full Hijab”–and might not have even been a woman! Typical terrorist ploy!
I agree with Minister Robert Muhammad, who was quoted in the Houston Chronicle at the time as saying, “If he (Todd) is going to have the behavior where he doesn’t treat all the citizens in this great, diverse city equally, then he needs to take his festival elsewhere.” Minister Muhammad might not know however, that Todd brought his festival to Houston after financial disasters, scandals and accusations plagued his Atlanta and Miami Film Festivals. I’m not sure how many more bridges that guy has left to burn.
Worst Latte Faux Pas: Starbucks
One chilly December morning, I decided to indulge in a pricey holiday latte (yes I am that girl) from Starbucks. I give my slightly complex order for myself and my fellow office buddy, paid and waited at the designated drink dispensing area. Within a few minutes, I had both drinks, carrying tray and an excited smile on my face. I couldn’t wait to sip on the deliciously hot beverage. That day, Starbucks was out of their little drink toppers and so I drove cautiously to the office. As I am walking up the stairs to my desk, a little bit of my drink spills through the top. I notice, but don’t think twice about how the liquid looks a bit pale. I hand my office mate her drink, place mine on my desk and proceed to set up for the day. After settling in, I take a huge, long-awaited gulp of my latte, only to discover that they sent me away with a venti cup of warm, sweet milk. Yes folks, there was no espresso in my drink! Thankfully, when I called to point out this little mishap, they kindly offered me a drink on them. My next drink was extra tasty!
The next day, one of our interns walks into the office and tells us her story of how the Starbucks she goes to forgot to put the espresso her drink. It must have been one of those weeks for the Starbucks of Houston.
Worst Case of Jumping the Gun: The Republican National Committee
Someone in charge of the RNC’s twitter account sent out a tweet on the 58th anniversary of Rosa Parks’s arrest reading “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism,” and the internet erupted in irreverent laughter.
Worst Windbag with the Worst Grasp of Basic Science: Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX)
Joe Barton is worried about climate change (a.k.a. “global warming”). He’s so worried about it, that he wants to ban carbon-neutral wind power, saying, “Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up?”
Yes he did. He actually said that. This man is represents one of the largest and richest states in the legislature of the most powerful country in the history of the world. Yay Texas schools!
Worst Reasoning For Banning Abortion at 20 Weeks: They Start Jacking Off at 15 Weeks
While the overwhelming majority of abortions in the US take place during the first trimester (12 weeks after the woman’s last period), there may be reasons requiring a later-term abortion. Most people agree that there must be some point at which an unborn fetus achieves what we call “consciousness,” at which point a woman’s healthcare choice starts tilting in the direction of murder, and people generally agree that they don’t want the fetus to feel pain. But what about pleasure?
Congressman Michael Burgess (R-TX) says he has personally watched sonograms of 15-week-old male fetuses with their hands between their legs, which means that they are sentient enough to feel pleasure, which must mean they are sentient enough to feel pain, which must also mean that Michael Burgess is a pervert watching unborn kiddie-porn. For shame!
Worst Example of Outsourcing to India: Miss America
I mean, did you see Miss Kansas? She’s blonde, she hunts with a bow, she’s got tattoos and she’s an Army National Gaurdswoman who looks great in fatigues, who wouldn’t want to tap that–I mean hold her up as a shining beacon of an example to American girls?! How did this dark-skinned nobody from New York even get on the ballot? She’s like, so dark-skinned that she couldn’t even win Miss India, how did she win Miss America?! I demand a recount!
Worst Best Press: Houston FTW Amongst Nation’s Top News Media
It all started last summer when Forbes, in an unprecedented move, named
Houston number one on the list of “America’s Coolest Cities.” On the
heels of that press came more nods our way, inclusion in CNN Money’s
“Best Places to Live” and the ultimate slap to our beloved capital,
Houston as THE travel destination alternative to overrated Austin by
Huffington Post. I know what you are thinking, how could there possibly
be anything wrong with Houston finally getting the recognition it
It is known fact that we Houstonians love and appreciate our fair city in
ways that visitors often cannot understand. In the past, I’ve analogized
my hometown to that worse-for-ware recliner in your living room that
you keep coming back to; guests will never opt to sit in it, though it is
arguably the comfiest in the room. Indeed, the fourth-largest city in
the USA has remained snubbed by outsiders until this past year. Despite
the good press, we still get a bad rap, yet this Houstonian is more
than okay with it.
Take this cautionary tale for example. A little city we all used to love:
Austin, Texas. The small place we escaped to for Hill Country getaways
and a dip in the cool waters of Barton Springs began getting a lot of
positive attention from the rest of the country a couple years back.
This changed our friend Austin: Its ego exploded tangential to its
population. What once was an endearing destination of offbeat Texas
spirit, changed face into a California outpost too big for its
infrastructure and too self-absorbed to notice. Mopac and I-35 have been
parking lots for sometime now. All-embracing hippies have been largely
replaced by liberals as staunch in their close-mindedness of other
viewpoints that they might as well be Republicans. Not to mention, for a city
that has added a couple hundred thousand people over the last few
years, it has not encouraged diversity. That guy in the denim vest with a
full mustache does not think you are cool enough to be on South
Congress, and he doesn’t give a shit about concealing that attitude.
Weirdness is a contradiction and Austinites’ new mantra is, “Thanks for
visiting, please don’t move here.”
If you ask me, I’d be alright not touting Houston’s awesomeness quite that
loud. I love that our freeways, even at their worst, aren’t as bad as
some, and that we are a city full of as many kinds of people as
political ideologies, religions, food and opinions. I love that there
are no two pockets of this city that are alike, and that we are a place
that is unexpected. I love that Houston doesn’t have to try to be
anything other than itself, and that Houstonians on the whole do not have
pretenses towards each other and visitors. It is a city that is
welcoming and non-judgemental, and we are always eager to offer up the
best seat in our home, the old Gallery Furniture recliner, even to our
denim-clad friend from Austin.
I’m not saying I won’t be the first to knowingly smile the next time
Houston is appropriately recognized by the national media for any number
of its wonderful attributes, but I might not rush to repost the article
or tell everyone I know.