Pimp My Ride

Why buy a Hummer when you've got the army?

Miguel Guzman, a 22-year-old Alvin resident, had recently been discharged from an army reserve unit in Pasadena. With time on his hands and the breeze in his face, he heard the siren call of the Gulf and headed to the beach.

He took a Hummer. Not just any Hummer, but an HMMWV M-998 military Humvee belonging to the Davis U.S. Army Reserve Center in Pasadena.

On the night of July 21-22, police say, Guzman somehow got in a vehicle, flipped the on-off switch that is the vehicle's ignition system and plowed through a chain-link fence. (Hey, it's a Hummer.)

An Army of One…stolen Hummer.
Josh Harkinson
An Army of One…stolen Hummer.
This man's grail is overpriced coffee.
This man's grail is overpriced coffee.

He and his pals took it to Crystal Beach and Channelview, that refinery suburb where necks are generally red and a canvas-topped Hummer decked out in military camouflage is treated as a righteous ride.

You'd think the M-998 would be the most egregious SUV on the road, but it's actually one ton lighter than a Ford Expedition, gets 14 miles per gallon on the highway and only costs $50,000. On the other hand, Ford Expeditions aren't often armed with TOW anti-tank missiles, as some military Hummers are. (Fortunately for the folks at Crystal Beach, Guzman chose an unarmed one.)

In these days of incredibly tight security and paranoia, where the thought of terrorists stealing military equipment is a nightmare scenario, behold your government at work: The knocked-down fence at the reserve center was noticed at 7 a.m. July 22. It took a mere 24 hours after that for them to discover that one of their Hummers had been driven off the lot.

Rest easy, America.

"It's out of the norm, but people do crazy things all the time," says Ben Abel, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command. "You know, it's just good we got the vehicle back and it's in a state that we can repair, you know, and not be a loss to the government."

Tracking down a rogue Hummer is not easy. Even when the genius behind the theft parks it in his girlfriend's driveway.

A motorist looking for garage sales called Pasadena police when he saw the vehicle July 23. Cops went to the house and found the girlfriend's father, someone who apparently doesn't think it unusual when his daughter's pal suddenly rolls up in an unlicensed military vehicle.

The father called the couple, who were out shopping, and told them to come home. When they did, and saw the cops waiting, Guzman tried in vain to run away down the street. (If only he'd had a TOW missile handy.)

Pasadena PD spokesman Martin DeLeon says Guzman has been charged with first-degree felony theft. He says Guzman, who could not be reached, admitted to driving the vehicle but not to stealing it.

With an explanation like that, we can't wait for the trial.

Coffee Pun Headline Here

Seventy-five media outlets worldwide have struggled mightily to come up with a cute way to introduce Houstonian John Winter Smith, so we will simply be straightforward: Smith has visited more than 4,200 Starbucks and is trying to visit all of the almost 5,000 (and growing daily) company-owned outlets in the world.

Hair Balls talked to him at the Starbucks at Post Oak and Westheimer:

Q. What Starbucks has had the dirtiest bathroom?

A. Oh, my God. (Points to bathroom.) In Houston, probably here. Because there are so many people here. I don't know why the manager doesn't take more pride and put more of an emphasis on cleaning it up.

Q. What are the best Starbucks in Houston to meet hot women?

A. Forget [the intersection of] Montrose and Hawthorne; there are a lot of good-looking women, but you don't know which ones are gay and which ones are not…Gosh, uh, you're going to see a lot of students at [the intersection of] Buffalo Speedway and Westpark. But the women here [at Post Oak], they are usually doing something, they are working and studying or something like that. I think at Buffalo Speedway and Westpark, you might be able to get more into a conversation.

Q. Where was the best-looking barrista?

A. [Smith opens up the journal on his laptop and -- unfortunately enough -- reads a long passage describing a San Francisco visit. It includes phrases like "a true angel" and "every single part-Japanese woman I have ever met I've found incredibly attractive" and "I left with a sense of deep longing and sadness, as upon discovery of a previously unknown treasure that promised to remain ever unattainable."]

Q. How about the most tattooed barrista you've ever seen?

A. I'm drawing a blank there. They have tattoos, but she would have problems getting hired if she had a lot of visible tattoos.

Q. Most illicit Starbucks activity you've seen?

A. At a Starbucks in Plano the barristas were serving a group of us -- I wasn't drinking -- but…they were serving us drinks. Like actual, they had a couple of bottles of liquor in the back room and were mixing up stuff.

Q. Awesome.

A. That's definitely illegal, I think. If not illegal, definitely against the rules.

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