Pimp My Ride

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

Sticker Shock

Montrose resident Karen Clouse figured she lived in one of the city's best neighborhoods for sporting a bumper sticker touting John Kerry. She thought wrong.

Clouse's Toyota Corolla -- with its "Librarians Against Bush" sticker -- drew attention two weeks ago from a giant pickup truck that tailgated and even lightly bumped her, she says. Then, on July 27, she walked out to her car and saw two of the tires slashed and the bumper sticker partly ripped off, with half of it crumpled on the ground.

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.

"The police officer who took my report said, 'I'm voting for Bush, but that's just not right,' " says the 32-year-old master's candidate in library science. "He asked if I was going to put another on, but I just can't afford to. I had to miss a day of work and replace two tires."

Hey, Clouse -- stop with all this GOP-bashing, man. You ever think that maybe someone just has something against librarians?

"That might be true, except that my husband's John Kerry sticker has been ripped off his car, too," she says.

Oh. Better just vote Republican, then.

It Takes a Train to Cry

After early struggles with horrendous traffic jams, the Houston Texans hit on a solution: Use Metro's Park & Ride lots. About 4,500 fans a game parked at satellite lots around the city and were bused in to Reliant Stadium.

It worked so well that the idea is being dropped. Dropped like an end-zone pass to a wide-open Jackie Smith in Super Bowl XIII (just needed to introduce some Cowboys heartache here).

Metro and the Texans will now Just Say No to Park & Rides. Instead, everybody without a parking pass will have to take light rail, and fend for themselves finding parking along the route.

Riders could pay a yet-to-be-determined price to park at the Fannin Street station -- and then pay $1 for a 30-second train ride -- but otherwise it's going to be a free-for-all.

Texans spokesman Kevin Cooper says, "The train route was put in from downtown to Reliant Stadium for a reason, and this is it."

So the reason is not to maim innocent Houstonians? What a relief.

The now-tedious regular scoreboard updates on light rail collisions had a new twist July 22. In reporting on the latest SUV vs. train fender-bender -- the 51st mishap since testing began in October -- Metro said the incident was being counted as No. 50 because an earlier crash had been determined to have been an attempted suicide.

What? There was still an unsightly meeting of Man and Rail, right? We're now trying to divine the mental states of Houston's errant drivers and pedestrians?

"It certainly was a collision," Metro's Ken Connaughton says, "but it just was not an accident. It was something that someone did purposely."

Well, they certainly could have been sure of getting publicity.

Starry, Starry Fight

Baseball's All-Star Game last month was a pretty dull affair. Unless you were in the photographers' work area of Minute Maid Park.

There, two Houston Chronicle photogs decided to duke it out.

No one's sure what triggered the brawl between veteran John Everett and Karl Stolleis, who's been with the paper for almost four years. Everett is generally regarded as a laid-back sort (a description that doesn't necessarily apply to Stolleis), so the fight is even more baffling.

Everett didn't return calls and Stolleis won't discuss details, but both of them no longer work for the Chron, victims of a "zero tolerance policy" toward, we guess, punching colleagues during All-Star Games.

That's not the only turmoil in the chronically understaffed photography department of the paper. Chief photog Dave Einsel has left, and consultants have been brought in -- you can imagine the Office Space-type fear that can inspire.

The current consultant, former Dallas Morning News photographer John Davidson, says there's nothing to worry about. And Davidson, who admits he "stepped on a few toes" at the News, says he isn't making any personnel decisions here.

That'll be up to whomever the paper hires in a month or so. That, of course, leaves even more time for the shooters to stew in uncertainty.

We just have to hope things get settled before the NBA All-Star Game comes to town in 2006.

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