Book Learnin'

Another year of textbook follies

Q. Okay, so location-wise, it's in the Midtown area, which carries the context of gentrification--

A. But what does a deer wearing a tank top have to do with gentrification?

Q. I have no idea. When I saw it, I thought maybe it was the love child of Stanley Kowalski and the Jägermeister logo.

Their jailhouse mugs show Doug Eicher and Jeffrey 
Roach are HISD material.
Their jailhouse mugs show Doug Eicher and Jeffrey Roach are HISD material.
Check out the rack on that deer.
Check out the rack on that deer.

A. Well, then, so you're doing better than me. I think the issue is that the neatest thing about art is that there's no right answer for how to look at the piece…[It's] raw and it's about the urban experience as well, just regardless of what it is. But you know, hell, like I said -- deer can wear tank tops, I don't know. It's like, "Have fun with it."

Comparatively Cleaner

Pasadena movers and shakers were ecstatic with the recent groundbreaking of a new industrial plant by a company called Kaneka Texas. That's because this plant, unlike just about every other industrial site in that august city, will actually not be producing chemical- or petroleum-based products.

The mayor declared Kaneka Texas Day. The company also got a huge tax abatement for picking Pasadena, but we're sure they won't treasure that as much as they do the mayor's proclamation.

"There isn't another site that produces like this…There's nothing like this in the region," enthused Paul Chavez of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

The plant will make a dietary supplement called Coenzyme Q10, which certainly sounds delicious. The process is completely organic, Kaneka Texas spokesman Scott Steinford says. "It's going to be a very environmentally friendly facility," he says, "compared with the chemical plants and stuff over there."

Hey, way to diss the city that gave you a nice proclamation, Scott.

All this eco-friendly fawning may be a bit misplaced, though, if you ask the people in Oslo, Norway. Citizens of that city are demanding that three companies, including a division of Kaneka, pony up seven million euros to clean the city's fjord. A group called Friends of the Earth Norway says the companies introduced PCBs into the water while they were sandblasting and painting ships.

A Pasadena city official was unaware of Oslo's complaints.

And Kaneka Texas spokesman Steinford managed to say he knew nothing about the incident without getting in another dig at Pasadena, so maybe he's learning.

No Bikes Here

Peter Wang is a Copperfield resident, way out in the fast-growing boonies where roads like FM 529 are getting taxed to the limit by traffic. He's also an avid bike rider.

So he took notice when he happened to peruse plans to expand FM 529. It was while he was attending a planning meeting of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, making the perusal (slightly) less geeky than it would have been if it were just casual weekend reading.

The FM 529 plans, included in an application for federal funding, showed an estimate for "bicycle/pedestrian traffic." And the estimate was…zero.

"I was astonished," Wang said in a letter to his congressman. "FM 529 is used by many bicyclists on a year-round basis for recreational use on weekends, and by some bicyclists during the week who use it to ride to and from work."

Not to mention that each April, during the MS 150 charity ride, about 11,000 bicyclists pedal down the road.

The inclusion of a bike component can increase a project's chances to get federal funds, so it's a little strange that officials wouldn't even casually mention the 11,000 or so bikers. It'd be like a heart surgeon walking into a singles bar and not casually mentioning he's a heart surgeon within the first five minutes of every conversation.

Dan Raine, HGAC's pedestrian/bicycle coordinator, admits the ball was somehow dropped here. The people who put the proposal together for HGAC just didn't include the info. He's hoping to increase awareness of the issue, letting people know that bike figures are good things.

"If we put in the process and get all the info out there, then hopefully we can work with the project sponsors and get something done," he says. "And I say 'hopefully' because this is the first time we have ever done it. And I'm the new guy."

Until then, drivers should just be careful each spring to avoid the 11,000 bikes that aren't there.

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