By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Semi-Comeback for the Tower Theater
Back in November 2009, the Hollywood Video store that occupied the erstwhile Tower Theater on Westheimer at Waugh closed for good. Since then, the property has sat vacant, the same sad way as the Alabama Theatre has been empty since Bookstop finally sold its last book in August 2009.
But a recent drive past the theater revealed some new life for the old building, which was originally a movie theater when it was built in 1936 and was once the home of the popular nightclub Clubland in the early '90s before becoming Tower Theater. Workers were unloading what looked like shiny new marquees from flatbed trucks, marquees that match the orange and blue facade (albeit with far less Westheimer wear and tear). Could the theater finally be making a comeback?
A call to Beeson Properties, which currently owns the theater and the surrounding properties, revealed that we shouldn't get our hopes up quite yet.
A representative from Beeson confirmed that they were renovating the facade. "It looks fantastic," Hair Balls mentioned. "Oh, does it? I need to drive by there and look," she replied. "I didn't even realize it was going up today."
Sadly, no tenant is planned for the space. The representative merely stated that they were hoping the renovated marquee and exterior would attract a client, steps that Hair Balls is happy to see taken. There were worries that the theater would lapse into total disrepair and further depress the area, which also has to contend with the vacant Mary's and the almost empty Tower Community Center nearby. Yes, the languishing building which houses empty storefronts, a Spec's and Half Priced Books has a name; it was built in 1937 as a companion to the theater across the street.
At least Beeson seems to be taking steps to prevent another beautiful Houston landmark from slipping away into the ether of demolition and decay. Weingarten? Pay attention. This could be you, too.
Rites of Bellaire
It's not hazing, it's fun
Here's what you need to bring if you go to the annual Bellaire High School girls' freshmen volleyball team sleepover: Beans, shaving cream, a plastic tarp and plenty of Saran Wrap. No, you sick bastard, not for any immoral purposes, but because it's a tradition for new team members.
The incoming athletes' arms are bound with the plastic and they're told to slide around on the spray-food-soaked tarp. Hair Balls received an anonymous letter and photos from a "concerned parent" who's worried that this violates HISD's hazing policy.
"...it was swept under the rug by the team," the letter states. "The freshmen were told they had to be there, and the girls were wrapped up in plastic wrap, had their heads covered so they could not see and put in a van." (Here's a general rule of thumb: Van + young girls = something totally legitimate and life-affirming is going to happen.)
"These embarrassing pictures of the freshmen were then put on the [I]nternet."
But HISD spokesman Norm Uhl assures us that this doesn't violate HISD's hazing policy: "This doesn't seem to fit the definitions in the policy," Uhl said in an e-mail. "In addition, this is not a school-sponsored event." (That last part made us wonder if any hazing would be considered "school-sponsored.")
Uhl also assured us that the event "is supervised by adults," and that "the activity is voluntary and does not have an impact on whether a student makes the team. I'm told that several team members were not able to attend this year due to other obligations." (Note: In our initial blog item, we used wrong information provided us by HISD, describing the "fun" ingredients as chocolate pudding and whipped cream.)
Those obligations must have been pretty important, because we can't imagine passing up an opportunity to be bound up, covered in a slimy sauce and made to roll on the ground like a dog in front of a laughing mob.
But Hair Balls spoke with one mother who felt the activity was well-monitored and none of the girls were pressured into doing anything they didn't want to. She also said that the girls who didn't participate weren't ostracized or thrown off the team.
"I felt no pressure that she had to go, and I felt no danger about the whole thing," she said. "...I just don't think of it as a hazing kind of thing."
Fortunately, the awesome thing about crowds is, they're just so right all the time; God bless the good parents of Bellaire for teaching their girls that, in order to signify an achievement in life, they must first debase themselves for the pleasure of others.
But we're sure that none of these girls would be ostracized if they didn't participate. After all, every adult knows that 14- and 15-year-old children have the confidence and maturity to speak up if they don't want to participate in an event that all their peers are involved in, right?
Don't Forget the Jolly Ranchers!
When you think about it, anytime you try to get a toolbox delivered to a prison, you're going to raise some suspicion. You'd have to figure the authorities aren't just going to carry it down to Cellblock D and say, "Here you go, here's the file, screwdriver and chisel you ordered!"