Chances Are...

Popular lesbian bar Chances is done.

SURREAL ESTATE

Chances Are, It's Done

By Richard Connelly

Chances Bar, the semi-landmark at the corner of Westheimer and Waugh, may soon be no more.

On the heels of Mary's, Hollywood Video, Skybar and Felix all pretty much biting the dust, the owners of Chances have put the property on the market:

Entire block in busy Midtown commercial area with frontage on Westheimer and street access on Waugh, Waughcrest and California streets. Prime retail/restaurant/redevelopment space with already existing building, currently in use as a nightclub.

"It's a very hard decision, and it makes me sad to even talk about it," part-owner Anne Vastakis tells Hair Balls.

But the economy and, perhaps, a change in habits have brought some hard times.

"We have been running it for 15-16 years and loved it, but the last four years — let's just say business has not been getting stronger," Vastakis says. "With the economy the way it is — these mega-lesbian bars — there are four bars there, and in the '90s they were thriving. Now, I don't know, maybe there's too much competition."

She says a number of potential buyers have expressed interest, but the relatively small group of owners hopes to sell to someone who won't change things too much. She cited Felix and the Tower Theater as landmarks that will be redeveloped but not torn down.

"We would love for someone to keep it with the same feel it has, maybe stay as a bar...kind of a neighborly restaurant-pub type of thing," Vastakis says. "We wouldn't want to see it become a Baby Gap or a strip mall."

The owners will continue to run it as Chances until they sell, if they do.

The place has been on the market "for a couple of months, very low-key," she says.

The building was put up in 1954, and the lot for sale is more than 27,000 square feet, the listing says. The bar had a brief flurry of fame last year when the punk group Girl in a Coma got into a scuffle there.
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EDUCATION

Nerd Revolution
Top high school's students hate new dress code

By Margaret Downing

DeBakey High School for Health Professions (aligned with the Baylor College of Medicine) is one of the city's toughest schools to get into — a 2007 report said for every 1,200 applicants, 250 are accepted.

Students there are hard-core dedicated in terms of studying, attendance and hard work. And they win a lot of awards and recognition.

So it's kind of hard to understand why there needed to be a crackdown on the school dress code there — essentially dropping from five to three color choices (white, navy and royal blue were retained, forest green and brick red got the boot), adding a mandatory patch and, most important, handing the uniform sales franchise over to the PTA.

Some of the students aren't reacting to it very favorably and have launched a petition drive and a Web site for comments. They say the uniforms cost too much and while they appreciate the aspect of the PTA using this as a fund-raiser, they think the Parent Teacher Association could find a better way to go about it. (One student termed it "heavy-handed" at a school where 55 percent of the students are on free or reduced-price lunch.)

Altogether, they are being a lot more polite about it than Hair Balls would ever be.

Under the new rules, the shirts as well as the jackets must carry the DeBakey patch on them, "which only the PTA has the right to distribute. This has allowed the PTA to monopolize the economy and charge extravagant prices for their product," rising senior Sahifah Ansari says.

A look at the DeBakey uniform Web site doesn't show hugely expensive clothes; polo shirts range from $14 to $18 and hoodies are $28, but several students say they were able to purchase the appropriate dress clothes much cheaper at Walmart and Aéropostale when the latter had sales.

DeBakey Principal Linda Lazenby was on an out-of-state camping vacation, but delivered this response by e-mail:

The new uniform was initiated by the PTA and discussed in several PTA meetings, student advisory meetings, and by the Shared Decision Making Committee. The parents and teachers voiced a concern about the past uniform code as being too varied and somewhat difficult to enforce. As far as the ability for our students to pay, there will be funds available to support our students in need. It should also be noted that the current uniform will be grandfathered until 2013. The old uniforms are fine as long as they have the DeBakey logo, which most students have. The new uniform code has generally been well received, especially on Friday jeans day. With students being able to wear jeans and a cub or spirit shirt, the uniform code actually allows for more diversity in what the students can wear. One of the new colors has been coined "DeBakey blue" and is the color of scrubs usually worn in hospitals.

Number one, students say, the Friday jeans day isn't as big a deal as the administration is making it out to be.

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