Houston Chronicle, Virginia Tech massacre, HISD, George Michael

The Chron's blog obsession leaves taste behind

As anyone who's visited their Web site knows, the Houston Chronicle is to blogging what Dick Cheney is to secrecy — they can't get enough.

Included in this “we're so hip” effort is something called “chron.commons,” where regular Joes like you and me can have a blog of their own, whether it's about gardening, politics, books or pets.

Or stand-up comedy, like David Reyes's blog “Laugh 101.”

Reyes is a struggling Houston stand-up, and by “struggling” we mean that, to judge from his blog, he's not really all that funny.

But man, he's edgy. Less than 24 hours after the massacre began at Virginia Tech, he was riffing. He posted jokes he'd found on the net, such as “I'm excited because I just got accepted into a college. Virginia Tech. I hear a lot of people dropped out today.” And “The courses at Virginia Tech are a real killer.”

Later, in the comments section, he offered what's apparently a specialty of his, a reworking of the “Hokey Pokey” song: “You put the bullets in / You shoot the bullets out / You lock the classes in / And you take them all out / You do the Hokie Pokie in the college house / That's what it's all about...Bang bang.”

And this guy is struggling? With great material like this?

Reyes says he's “been pushing the line for quite a while now” and that he posted the stuff “to get people's attention...Remember the tsunami of 2004? I said on stage — right after, mind you — that I didn't know what ‘tsunami' was. I looked it up and it was an ancient Japanese word of ‘Oh no, Godzilla do a belly flop.' That was actually received well.”

Oooooo-kay. At any rate, the Internet was made for anyone to post whatever the hell they want. But what about the Chron? Sure, there's a notice that the paper's not responsible for the content, but having it on the Web site imparts some kind of imprimatur, right?

Blog chief Dwight Silverman says he's fine with what Reyes posted because it was intended to spark a discussion about comics dealing with tragedy, and because commenters took Reyes to task for it.

“You just can't take one comment out of one particular blog entry and say, ‘Okay, that's a bad thing'; you have to look across the whole landscape of it,” he says.

He says the bloggers have to adhere to the Chron's “terms of service,” but he couldn't recall whether those terms included anything about taste.

We pointed Silverman to another reader blog on the Chron page, one which ranked local murderers as potential “Sexiest & Hardest Ghetto Black Male felon.” One candidate got extra points because his victim was a Bellaire teen, whose smiling photo was posted.

That blog then got taken down.

Now, if the blogger had somehow ranked candidates using the “Hokey Pokey,” he might have been golden.

Adapting to 20th-Century Technology

The Houston school district has never been the most open or transparent bureaucracy in the world. They give you information when they damn well feel like it, or when forced to by law.

So maybe it's not surprising that monthly board meetings are not televised for the benefit of those who can't make it to HISD on a weekday afternoon. On the other hand, this is the 21st century, right?

Apparently not, at HISD.

It seems the district would love to make it easier for parents and activists to watch the HISD sausage get made, but this whole televising thing is so hard. Even though the district has its own cable channel.

“Technology resources were not available to effectively and efficiently televise the school board proceedings from the former HISD headquarters building,” says spokesman Norm Uhl, although we seem to remember news stations somehow being able to film reports there.

Luckily, HISD built a brand-new home that opened last year. Surely they would have planned things to address the problem, right?

Not really. The district has been field-testing equipment that would show meetings on large screens within the new building, but sending it out to homes remains a baffling, mysterious process.

“Additional testing would be needed to determine the transmission quality and controls for the district's cable-television programming,” Uhl says.

Good Lord. Maybe they can get the Bellaire High A/V Club in to handle the thing.

Imagine There's No Goofy Peace Projects

Singer George Michael is taking the piano John Lennon used to write “Imagine” and toting it around to different sites, like Ford’s Theatre in D.C. where Lincoln got shot. Don’t ask why. Okay, you know why: It will somehow promote peace. Earlier this month the piano made a stop outside the Walls Unit in Huntsville, which is where all Texas Death Row convicts go for their last meals. And to die. But Michael missed some other peace-needing spots.

 
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