A few locals are afflicted with World Cup mania; also: Chango Jackson, KPFT and what touring bands really think of Houston

The World Cup kicks off this week, and in an international city like H-town, the many bands are lining up behind as many different nations. Sure, most people are pulling for the USA, but what's interesting is to find out which foreign countries the bands hope do well.

One such is Dune*TX. The band and its singer-guitarist Chris Sacco are pretty up-front Rockets, Astros and Texans fans, and now they are adding the Dynamo to the mix as well. (The band played the parking lot party before the match at Robertson Stadium last Saturday.) And when the World Cup rolls around, Sacco, at least, gets into it. "There's nothing like country versus country, mano a mano," he writes in an e-mail survey Racket conducted last week. Barring what would be a miraculous American victory, Sacco hopes his Italian paesanos will seize the Cup. And maybe he's more of an Italian fan than an American one, after all. Asked what he would do if his favorite team won, he said he would "have some pasta and a Peroni," which seems kind of a bizarre celebration for an American victory.

Arthur Yoria has no such qualms. The native of Colombia would be pulling for that country, if they had only made it to the Cup. But they didn't, and paradoxically, you can tell what a die-hard fan of both soccer in general and the Colombians in particular Yoria is by the fact that he is relieved that they did not make it.

There's no agony worse than being a fan of Colombian national soccer. Back in the 1994 World Cup, for example, the Colombians were the trendy pick to win it all. On paper, they had a great team, with frizzy-haired Carlos Valderrama anchoring the midfield and an array of fleet, accurate strikers up front. Pelé himself thought they would win, but Pelé underestimated the power of Colombia's drug cartels. One of them pretty much owned the team, while another -- which wanted to see to it that the Colombians washed out early -- is rumored to have wagered huge sums of money on that outcome. It was as if the Crips assembled the U.S. National basketball team, and the Bloods bet against them, except the Colombian cocaine cartels were far more powerful than the L.A. gangs ever dreamed of being. At any rate, the team was knocked out early, and lost to the United States when Colombian defender Andres Escobar put the ball in the back of his own net, a miscue that cost him his life after he returned home. (The killer is alleged to have shouted "Gol!" for each of the 12 shots he pumped in Escobar's body.)

So it comes as little surprise that Yoria is relieved to be free of this drama. "I celebrated when Colombia didn't make it into this Cup because I knew that I'd be able to relax and enjoy the tournament without having my heart shattered by those bastards," he writes. "The Colombian national team are not unlike the old Red Sox, except try to imagine Babe Ruth getting shot in a shithole Boston bar instead of being traded to the Yankees."

Yoria, who also played college soccer at UH, plans to kick back this time around, catching the matches either at his place or at fellow soccer maniac Tody Castillo's apartment. (He advises an in-game diet of "drugs and non-alcoholic beer.") He's even planning to ease back his gig schedule for the event: "I actually plan on not having any shows while good games are on, and I think that my soccer fan/musician friends would agree that the World Cup is a good opportunity to forget about the Houston music pain in my ass for a little while."

But here at Racket HQ, we never get the opportunity to forget about the Houston music pain in the ass, so here are some local music news bits and bites while Racket wonders what ever happened to Paul "In Vietnam the average age was n-n-n-nineteen, nineteen" Hardcastle...Seven years in the making, Chango Jackson's self-titled debut CD is finally out. Featuring a striking cover -- a gold-toothed chimp grinning amid swirling orange and yellow stripes -- the album sounds as good as the demos did back in 1999. I caught up with three of the hermanos Jackson -- bassist-singer Tino, guitarist-singer Chango Van and guitarist Mo -- in front of Sig's Lagoon. Amid a rambling conversation that touched on throwing TVs off highway overpasses and the music of Jimmy Buffett (or was it the music of TVs and throwing Jimmy Buffett off a highway overpass?), the guys expressed tremendous relief to finally just get the damn thing out there.

"We're working with a new label, and we told 'em we didn't want to release any new stuff until we got this out there," says Chango Van. "And after all those years, we have a lot of new stuff. We're thinking of coming out with a double album now -- we hope to start recording it this fall. We've accumulated tons of stuff in the last seven years."

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