By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has finally come through with some answers for the bizarre-seeming list of books that were banned from inmates in 2007 (see Hair Balls, April 3).
The biggest news of all: Gay is okay!
In a little-noted policy change that took effect late last year, TDCJ formally declared that descriptions of gay and lesbian sex, no matter how graphic, are just as peachy as such descriptions for straight sex.
That's why a book called Skin Deep: Real Life Lesbian Stories got approved in December, while scores of other books all year long were banned for lesbian content.
And inmates, it's time to try again if you were unlucky the first time: "Books that had previously been denied for containing homosexual activity will be reviewed again should they be received by another offender," says Jennifer Smith of TDCJ's Mail System Coordinators Panel.
Smith also noted that TDCJ — which bans books describing S&M activity — likely made a mistake in approving The Pleasure's All Mine, The Memoir of a Professional Submissive. The book, filled with canings and dripping candle wax, was initially "denied due to four pages containing sadomasochism," Smith says. "However, upon review of the pages by the committee, it was determined those particular pages should not be denied."
That is one kinky committee. Smith says in the wake of our questions, the book is no longer on the "approved" list "and will be reviewed again for further content violations should it be received in the future by another offender."
What TDCJ is not calling a mistake was its approval of the screed The Hitler We Loved and Why, by a noted Holocaust denier. Apparently a love letter to Der Führer is not anything that will cause trouble in a prison.
"Material of a racially inflammatory nature is looked upon as posing a very serious and significant threat to the safety of the prisoner population and the security of our prison system," Smith says. The Hitler book "was a historic account of something bad that happened in the world but did not contain racially inflammatory [epithets]."
Not inflammatory, apparently: "We loved him because he saved us from the alien invaders who promoted the extinction of our Race, the White Race. We loved him because he kept our entertainment media free of the perversion of race-mixing and race suicide."
Hey, at least he didn't write about S&M stuff.Radio Nowhere
Cactus Jack is one wild and crazy afternoon DJ at country station 93Q. At least we're assuming he's wild and crazy, since that seems to be mandatory for such things.
He's also got a very poor throwing arm, if a new lawsuit is to be believed.
A waitress at the Big Texas Dance Hall and Saloon in Spring is suing the DJ, saying he got drunk and tossed a shot glass, loosely wrapped in a T-shirt, into the crowd and hit her in the nose.
Her nose was broken and required extensive surgery, her attorney says.
"My client's standing across the bar serving a customer and kind of turns around and catches a shot glass in the face," says attorney Michael Fuerst. "You're out there and everyone is drinking and going, 'Whoo-hoo! We love Cactus Jack!' or whatever...He hit my client right between the eyes." The folks at 93Q hung up on us when we tried to ask about the suit. So we turned to Cactus Jack's online bio, which lists his favorite TV shows as Grey's Anatomy and Boston Legal, both of which seem appropriate.
And there was this: "I love being able to add some joy and laughter to people's lives."
With the occasional shot glass to the nose, he didn't add.We're Not Alone
On March 28, we wrote about how Memorial Hermann Hospital was being very, very reluctant — ignoring the law while doing so — to provide us with a list of its board of directors.
Hospital officials blamed it on an overzealous temp.
Which didn't ring true with Dan Parsons of the Houston chapter of the Better Business Bureau. Four years ago they ran into the exact same problem, and had to get the Attorney General's office involved to finally get a list.
Eventually a hospital executive apologized for withholding the information and blamed the staff, Parsons says.
Four years ago? That is one long-working temp.