The Year of Living Anxiously

Are We Having Fun Yet? Or is it just the jangly buzz of advanced urban stress syndrome?

The Look That Says, "Arrest Me"
Clad in Looney Tunes shorts and a Charles Manson T-shirt, Mike Starr -- founding member of the Seattle grunge band Alice in Chains -- was nabbed at Intercontinental Airport for stealing a suitcase. Next fashion statement: a Harris County jail jumpsuit.

The Look That Says, "Convict Me"
The high school nickname that Tyrone Jerrols acquired for wearing a trench coat every day -- "Hitman" -- followed him into court, where he was tried and convicted for murdering one of his drug customers.

Or Maybe It's That Banana Thing
The Houston Astros finally ditched those cheesy orange-and-yellow stripes and started looking like a real baseball team in gray, white and midnight blue -- right down to skintight nylon stirrup pants that showed visible panty lines.

Don't Hold That Line
It was revealed that among the University of Houston's past athletic infractions, silicone spray was applied to football uniforms to make players more slippery.

Paul Bunyan Is Spinning In His Grave
A La Marque nuclear family -- mom, pop and stepdaughter -- were denied entrance to a Mall of the Mainland video arcade because they were wearing flannel shirts, which the security officer on duty deemed gang-related apparel.

DEEP THOUGHTS

* Police chief Sam Nuchia, explaining why he changed the wording of a Public Integrity Review Group letter to say that certain witnesses had been interviewed for an ethics probe, when in fact they had not: "I can't tell you why I did that. It's not accurate. It's not incorrect, but it's not accurate. To tell you the honest truth, I don't know what I was thinking when I did that."

* Unsuccessful congressional candidate Beverley Clark, after hounding opponent Ken Bentsen to take a drug test, declared that "if they were to wake me up at

2 o'clock at night and ask me to take a drug test, I would say, sleepily, 'OK, pass me a urine cup.'"

* KRBE/104 FM disc jockey Psycho Robbie on his continuing "Cool Feelings" shtick: "Everybody understands that cool feelings aren't cool feelings, but they're cool feelings -- if you understand that. Kind of like when you say, "that's pretty bad," it's not bad."

* After selling one of the Inner Loop's last remaining undeveloped land tracts for a fancy new shopping center at Holcombe and Buffalo Speedway, Betty Ann West Stedman reminisced that her late father, Wesley West, "always said when he died the Bellaire property would go to heaven with him. The day he died, I just had to look up and be sure it wasn't going to heaven with him, trailing behind like a kite."

* Boutique owner Carrie Schindewolf, wife of Mayor Lanier's co-chief of staff, said she was qualified for an appointive position on the influential planning & zoning commission "because I'm me."

* Languishing in Salt Lake City during the Rockets' NBA playoffs with the Jazz, the Rockets' Vernon Maxwell opined, "Nothing against the city [sic] of Utah, but there is no way any of us wants to go back .... That's the most boring place in the world, if you ask me." Added Mario Elie: "It's like being in Pittsfield, Mass. I think they've only got one mall in Salt Lake, and the stuff they sell isn't exactly to my taste."

FUN COUPLES
In a year when Houston's Marryin' Man, Harold Farb, got back together -- again! -- with Diane Lokey, ex-wife number four, anything could happen. And it did.

Sam Cassell & Madonna
Fresh from his Madison Square Garden exploits, the Rockets' egg-headed shootist got collected by the omnivorous Herself, who accompanied him to a Rangers' hockey game and the nightspot Rouge -- not wearing her John Starks Knicks' jersey.

Robert Horry & Tiffani Dawn Murphy
All in the family: the daughter of former Houston Rockets' star Calvin Murphy sued current Houston Rockets' star Horry for paternity of her infant son.

J. Howard Marshall & Anna Nicole Smith
When Houston does May-December, we do it big. As in excessively geriatric oilman Marshall, one of America's richest men, and Guess? Jeans poster girl Anna Nicole Smith, owner of two of America' s largest man-made breasts. Their improbable nuptials at the White Dove wedding chapel launched an international media blitz that improved Houston's economy, if not its image.

Robert Eckels & Jet Winkley
Bob & Elyse Jr.? The city's latest power couple teams the newly elected Republican county judge with Metro's director of governmental affairs. And they're mediagenic, too.

Michele Collins & Kenneth Smith
These two HPD cops ended a quarrelsome dinner date with an exchange of gunfire, sending Smith to Ben Taub for emergency abdominal surgery.

Ben Reyes & Marc Campos
Ain't love... er, expediency... grand? After feuding noisily for eons, the city councilman and the consultant finally wound up on the same side of the political bed during Reyes' failed bid for Gene Green's congressional seat.

State Representative Glenn & Helen Vickery
Nastiest divorce of the year honors go to the local pol who convinced his wife that because of a malpractice suit against him, they had to split to protect their assets. Actually he wanted to marry her best friend. Her court award: $9 million.

David B. Chalmers & Marlene Kent Cooke
Whoops! Jack Kent Cooke, the excessively geriatric billionaire owner of the Washington Redskins, suddenly claimed that his Bolivian-born wife had never been legally divorced from Chalmers, the low-profile president of Houston's Coral Petroleum. Perhaps Cooke's change of heart had something to do with the episode in which Marlene hurtled through Georgetown with a man pounding on the hood of her Jaguar and later threw a gold shoe at an arresting officer.

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