By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Sheila Sovari and her husband, Mark Sterling, have given up working with the Houston Heights Association, which they say is doing nothing to stop the town-housing of the Heights. (Sadly, it could also be called the Montrosizing of the Heights, since that storied neighborhood now looks like a Perry Homes suburb.)
The couple have started Save the Bungalows, a movement they say will be active and aggressive in fighting developers who tear down old wooden homes with big yards to put up brick-walled, lot-filling monstrosities.
This being Houston, we can only say -- lotsa luck with that, guys.
But Sovari and Sterling are undaunted. They were on the board of directors of HHA until a May 8 meeting with Mayor Bill White and city officials on neighborhood issues.
"It was democratic. It was loud. Sheila pretty much ended up shouting at the mayor," Sterling says. "Nothing he hadn't seen before -- no violence or anything. The coffee was just a bit too strong."
Sovari admits she got loud -- triggered by White bragging how he'd established "one-stop shopping" for developers -- and says many HHA members were scandalized. President Ron Franklin, she says, told her she didn't have "basic human decency." (Franklin did not return phone calls.)
"Quiet diplomacy moves way too slowly for the problem at hand," she says. "All around here there's just this feeling that we're besieged by bulldozers," her husband adds.
Sovari definitely doesn't believe in quiet diplomacy -- here's how she talks about some Heights residents: "Many are here only briefly. We have seen it happen again and again -- when they face the reality of HISD and their own child not getting into the gifted programs, they hightail it to Cinco Ranch."
"Your kids are stupid and you are, too" -- a great slogan for making friends and influencing people.
She doesn't care. She wants to lobby City Hall to give neighborhood residents more say in what gets built near them.
Again, we say -- you're in Houston. Fight on, noble neighborhood-saver, but don't bet your house on winning.
Many have searched far and wide for evidence that former GOP king Tom DeLay has a sense of humor. They have failed. And now there's evidence that DeLay and his followers not only don't have a sense of humor, they are completely unable to recognize it in others.
The DeLay Defense Fund -- and we hope all those lobbyists don't stop supporting it just 'cause Tom's quitting the House -- sent out an e-mail appeal May 24 urging fans to see a DeLay critic get ripped on TV.
The critic was Robert Greenwald, director of the documentary The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress. Greenwald "crashed and burned" in the TV interview, the e-mail said; the host interviewing him "crack[ed] the story on the real motivations behind the movie." The defense-fund Web site even posted a video clip of the show.
The host? Steven Colbert, of The Colbert Report. It is apparently news to DeLay's team that Colbert's funny Bill O'Reilly-blowhard shtick is satire.
As in: "You're an entrepreneur, and I honor that," Colbert told Greenwald. "Of course, the product you're pushing is the destruction of America."
Other Colbert logic the DeLay folks apparently found striking: "When you break the law," Colbert lectured Greenwald, "you go to prison. Tom DeLay's not in prison, therefore he didn't break the law." Or "The last time I checked, the Republicans won, okay? They should get to do what they want."
Brent Perry, the administrator of the defense fund, wouldn't comment on the Colbert clip. Or why any DeLay supporter might possibly think it would help their cause.
Or on the most important question: Do you give up your sense of humor when you decide to support The Hammer, or does the decision to support him show you never had one to begin with?
No Water for You
The Houston Dynamo, the Major League Soccer team that has had its share of public relations disasters in its inaugural season, has had another hiccup.
Team president Oliver Luck has worked hard to make Dynamo games a family-friendly, somewhat cheap outing. Knowing that Houston can get slightly warm at times, he publicly announced that the Dynamo would allow fans to bring in bottled water -- unlike those mean old teams like the Astros and Texans.
Such a policy is great for games like the one May 20, when the Dynamo, in order to get on ESPN, played a day game. In Houston. With no dome. And a stadium full of sunshiney aluminum bleachers.
So why were security guards confiscating all the water bottles people tried to bring in? Because severely dehydrated soccer fans will pay anything once they're trapped in their seats!
Actually, Luck says, it was all just a mistake.
"It was just an old-fashioned miscommunication on the security staff's side," he says. "We had our follow-up meeting after the game like we always do and told them, 'Folks, everyone can bring in a bottle of water. It's hot.' "
The Dynamo drew their smallest crowd of the season for the day game. "They force these games on us, being it was an ESPN broadcast," Luck says. "I wish ESPN would broadcast Major League Soccer in the evening."
(They probably would, if it were called Major League Baseball.)
Only one more day game is scheduled, on July 8 at 4 p.m. "It's one of the few times you root for real thick cloud cover and a threat of rain," he says.
So bring plenty of water. And hope the security staff gets the memo this time.
Separated at Birth?
So we bravely walked past the protesters at the Fountains Cinema in Sugar Land to see The Da Vinci Code. And it's puttering along, not quite the disaster the reviews would have you believe, when all of a sudden a familiar face comes on-screen. We're stuck wondering, "Where have we seen this guy before?" when it hits us: Channel 11 hurricane guru Neil Frank is moonlighting as a movie star! Further research reveals the actor is actually JŁrgen Prochnow, who's obviously studied the Frank style -- such as it is -- rather closely. Click here to view.