The Year of Living Anxiously

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

* Ode to Harris County Jail, by Richard Minns: The heartfelt outpourings of the ex-health-spa tycoon as he languished in the county clink awaiting his trial on passport-fraud charges. A highlight from the 76-line opus: "The roaches play in my cell night and day / Though I loathe their company. / The walls are gray, there's no night or day / And only the roaches are free."

* The Cheerleader's Guide to Life, by Cindy Villareal: The director of the Derrick Dolls and former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader wrote this perky how-to tome -- including a helpful chapter called "Life after Cheerleading" -- hoping to rehabilitate cheering's image in the post Wanda Holloway era.

* Bonna Comes to America, by Francie Willis: The socialite and owner of the Urban Retreat beauty salon recounts the misadventures of a plucky Vietnamese potbellied boat pig.

THOSE INGENIOUS HOUSTONIANS

Mattress Mac Has Already Bought Space
Houston bullfighter Kirk Farrell devised a controversial plan to sell space for advertisers' logos among the pearled designs on his matador's suit of lights.

Menu: Flying Fish & Jumping Beans Seasoned With Loco Weed
Lexie Masterson, of the prominent River Oaks clan, worked on a pilot for a TV food show that would feature her parachuting from a plane and picnicking on the way down.

They Ran Out Of Elmer's
NASA confirmed that one of its contractors had used super glue as a bonding agent on a critical space shuttle part.

Tastes Great, Less Filling
The outmanned, outspent Houston Post made lemonade out of its anemic condition with an ad campaign that touted its brevity as a time-saver for busy Houstonians. Quoth the ads: "It's the only Houston paper that gives you what you want -- without wasting your time."

Jean-Paul Sartre Couldn't Have Said It Better
Houston singer Mickey Cohen developed a patented anti-auto-theft device that thrusts the driver's seat under the dashboard, explaining, "My motto is, if you can't sit in a car, you can't steal a car."

A Winning Ticket In Every Pot
The feisty La Politquera newsletter tried to boost voter turnout in an obscure HISD trustee election by conducting a $500 lottery for participants.

But George W. Says It Works Great For Killdeer
A 71-year-old Houston man and his two sons were convicted of manufacturing barbecue pits from 55-gallon drums that had contained toxic chemicals.

They Forgot The Donkey Food For Themselves
Richmond State School employees bought Hot-Shot Power Mites -- hand-held cattle prods sold at feed stores -- to use on their mentally retarded residents.

She'll Never Run Out Of Material
A Houston woman appeared on a cable channel displaying tiny vignettes she assembled from roach carcasses.

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE LAW

Let Them Eat Exhaust
Blue-chip downtown firm Fulbright & Jaworski proposed to cooperate with federal employer mandates to reduce vehicle usage by sending fax-and-computer-equipped limos to pick up top lawyers at home.

Let Them Eat Punitive Damages
Lordly downtown firm Vinson & Elkins got nailed with the biggest legal malpractice verdict in Texas history -- $35 million in actual and punitive damages, plus attorney fees and interest, for mismanaging the estate of the late oilman W.T. Moran.

Memo To Ron: Just Say No
Criticized for agreeing to defend Houston's ban on alcohol in city parks for $25,000, lawyer-legislator Ron Wilson (who had torpedoed the same ban in the House) first said he'd cut his rate from $225 an hour to $175, and then, when his rates were criticized as exorbitant for a neophyte attorney, said heÕd do the work for free.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Forget About Wanda Holloway
Cheerleader lawsuits emerged as a growth industry, as a Pasadena mom sued because her daughter was kept off the high school squad for excessive detentions and a state district judge heard injunction arguments against the Pasadena school district, where a 12-year-old straight-A student was prevented from trying out because her teachers said she lacked leadership ability.

They're Taking Over The City Morgue Boutique Instead
Hakeem Olajuwon was sued by the operators of his Hakeem the Dream Fan Team club for allegedly failing to pay them for appearances the club arranged and withholding the club's share of proceeds from sales of T-shirts, hats, jerseys and coffee mugs.

From Each According To His Ability...
Lawyer Gary Miller billed accused pyramid scamster Teresa Rodriguez $225 for discussing her case with a Houston Chronicle reporter for an hour. He didn't charge anything for his conversations with the Post.

He Thought The Bow Tie Was Loaded
In the anal-retentive mini-suburb of Southside Place, officer James McBeth was accused of pummeling a motorist he'd stopped for an expired inspection sticker. The official explanation was that the motorist had appeared threatening. Unfortunately for McBeth, that motorist was a frail, 65-year-old cardiologist given to bow ties and braces.

No, But His Accountant Understands
After defending U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison against charges she abused her public office for political advantage, well-paid attorney Dick DeGuerin told a Republican group he was voting for Hutchison and said he thought his late father, a lifelong Democrat and friend of Lyndon Johnson's, would understand.

The Good News Is He's Been Retained To Help Steve Mansfield And Steve Stockman Re-Draft Their Resumes

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