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A Prickly Pair of Problems

Cactus Music and Video battles to keep its marquee and to get the Eagles on its shelves

And Bishop believes that the little guy who would get screwed the most in the end would be you, the music-buying customer. "If other major corporations embrace this idea, then they may decide on how, when and where music will be made available, to the point where if you're signed to Warner Bros., they might tell an artist, 'Dude, your record's only gonna be available at Target.' "

Racket defies anyone with any disposable cash whatsoever to get in and out of Target without spending over a hundred bucks on essential nonessentials. Likewise, the suits at Best Buy price those blockbuster CDs low not because they're pinkos intent on sharing the music. No, they want to convince you that all your home entertainment gear needs upgrading right now, preferably on some kind of easy credit installment plan. Many's the Best Buy customer who sets out to pick up a cheap 50 Cent CD only to end up with a new DVD recorder, an Xbox, a handful of games and a couple grand in debt. It's Salesmanship 101: Once a store can get you to commit to that first purchase, it's infinitely easier to persuade you to fill up the rest of your shopping cart. Do you want to have to deal with that kind of temptation every time you want to get the latest smash CD?

"This is about the band that has the biggest-selling album in history not giving their fans a choice, and that's wrong," says Bishop, who adds that the Eagles will likely give Best Buy the same deal on their upcoming full-length CD later this summer should this scheme succeed.

Scuttlebutt Caboose

The 610 Arena, a sort of blue-collar Verizon Wireless Theater, opens in what used to be the Trader's Fair II on July 5 with Houston Caribfest, at which the slogan is "Big tings ah gwan!" Trinidadian soca diva Denise Belfon, Barbadian ragga-soca star Rupee, St. Lucian soca singer Gillo and many more are on the venue's first bill. Three days later, the 610 will begin "Tejano on the Loop," a weekly Tejano showcase, kicked off by a performance by Jay Perez, with performances by Ram Herrera, David Lee Garza, Little Joe y la Familia, Roberto Pulido and Tropa F coming up in the following weeks and months. In July, the arena will be host to a Colombian festival, and later in the summer Andean South Americans will be honored with El Condor Festival, while the Salvadorans' turn will come in September with the Central American Independence Fest. Not all the events on the summer calendar are south-of-the-border-themed -- the drum 'n' bass super tour Planet of the Drums, featuring Dieselboy, AK 1200, Messinian and Dara, will be coming through on August 9, while 311, G. Love, Something Corporate and DJ P will turn the mutha out on August 24. The 610 Arena will have a capacity of 4,000 and is located on the South Loop East at the Crestmont exit. For more info on any of these events, call 713-734-SHOW.

Super Happy Fun Land, yet another of Houston's litany of eclectic underground arts venues, has opened for business in the Heights. Occupying the former Ashland Street Theater space, SHFL offers an art gallery, a patio, a theater, and sewing and crafts on Monday evenings, a children's storytelling hour Wednesday afternoons, and movies on Thursday nights. Weekends are given over to experimental bands, among other things. On June 20, Nautical Almanac and A Pink Cloud will be appearing with others. On June 26 and 27, Übertoast will bring its "delightfully disturbing" sketch comedy to the stage, while the next two nights find jazz bands performing there under the auspices of KTRU. (All events are BYOB.)

"We wanted a venue that would be versatile and kid-friendly," says SHFL honcho Brian Arthur. "We have puppet shows there, and political meetings too, but basically we wanted a place that was geared towards artistic endeavors that doesn't take itself too seriously. We don't want it to be a place where everyone's in black and reading angst-ridden poetry. We want it to be a little more lighthearted."

And with a name like Super Happy Fun Land, it's hard to imagine some sort of violent revolution fomenting on the premises. Find out for yourself by going by the joint at 2610 Ashland or visiting the SHFL Web site at superhappyfunland.com/index.html.

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