Ring Toss

Fratboy fracas has Aggies on edge.

CRIME, EDUCATION

Aggies & Their Rings
Overreaction everywhere in College Station

By John Nova Lomax

It's been known to happen before: When multiple fraternities get together to booze in attempted Pan-Hellenic harmony, quite often the result is a fracas.

Such was the case recently in College Station, and before it was all over, one unidentified man had twisted the Aggie class ring off the finger of another unidentified man and then flung that ring into a field.

He might as well have bitten off the man's nose, so seriously do Aggies take their rings (as one popular — among Aggies, that is — poem shows.).

Seriously? Poems about class rings?

For those too lazy to click the link, the narrator of "Aggie Rings" meets an old man named Jack who has a worn brassy ring on his finger. They get talking and Jack tells him he's from the class of '38 and smiles his "Aggie smile." Jack relates the tale of his Aggieland mentor, the fellow student/shaman who shepherded him through all the lore, hoodoo and arcana of the Lone Star State's one true homegrown religion.

This being an Aggie Pome, you know there's gonna be some shootin', and sure enough, Jack's not-walking-on-the-grass sensei gets mowed down in a Nazi fusillade on Omaha Beach.

And now the poem reaches its emotional crescendo, as Jack, no doubt as a single manly tear streams down his careworn face, orates the following:

This ring is my tribute and my pride,
In those Aggies who went before me,
And most of whom have died.
I wear it for those who cannot.
I wear it for those who would.
And I wear it too for kids like you,
Who know they really should.

So yeah, the guy who took that dude's ring really committed a cardinal sin. Unfortunately for 19-year-old Thomas Slauter and Slauter's mom, he would be fingered for the ring-flingin'. And though he would be exonerated before the week was out, his widowed mom might still be out five large.

Picked up in the aftermath of the brawl, Slauter's case soon came before a Brazos County Justice of the Peace named George Boyett. And it fell to Boyett to set Slauter's bond. Boyett pondered the gravity of the case and decided that this surely was one of the more heinous deeds committed in his jurisdiction in recent memory. He decided that his bond should be $50,000.

"It makes us look like an Aggie joke," said Craig Greaves, Slauter's attorney. "Someone throws an Aggie ring and gets a $50,000 bond."

For a little context, a Bryan TV station combed through recent courthouse records and determined that no other bond for the same charge (theft) was more than $8,000. The station also found cases of sexual assault of a child and assault with a deadly weapon with bonds lower than Slauter's $50,000.

"I guess he should have turned around and shot the kid because he would have had a lesser bond," said Greaves.

Within days, the district attorney announced that they were dropping charges. The guy who lost the ring said he had misidentified Slauter, located the real perpetrator and found his ring.

The real perp would not be charged with a crime, because the ring-bearer didn't want to press charges and the DA asserted that no theft had taken place anyway, as throwing a ring into a field does not rise to the level of attempting to deprive someone of his property forever.

Unfortunately, Slauter's mom might just be out of $5,000 forever, because thanks to that ridiculously high bond, that was what it cost to spring her son from the pokey. And the payment was nonrefundable.

Mercifully, the guy who tossed the ring has manned up and said he will make Slauter's mom whole. At any rate, let's hope calmer heads prevail before anyone lets Aggie frats drink together.
_____________________

MOVIES

Houston Ain't Hollywood
City lags way behind Austin and Dallas for film work

By Richard Connelly

Recently we spoke with Bob Hudgins, the head of the Texas Film Commission, about the mini-brouhaha over the movie Machete and possible Texas tax breaks.

We then moved on to another subject: Why is Dallas getting all the film and TV work these days?

Currently five major TV series are shooting in and around Big D. Currently none are in Houston.

The answer seems to be that Dallas has a deeper pool of local behind-the-scenes talent. "Projects save by using local people — it can cost up to $30,000 per worker if you have to bring someone on and pay a per diem and for a hotel," Hudgins says. "The crew base in Dallas is pretty strong."

These things are cyclical — in the '80s, Houston was stronger — but people tend to go where there's work. Dallas has a bigger base of ad agencies producing commercials, and those productions serve as entry-level jobs that lead to bigger gigs.

From April 23, 2009 — when the Texas film-incentive program went into effect — to August 31, 2010, spending on feature films totaled $14.3 million in Dallas and less than a million in Houston ($873,000).

Austin, home to directors such as Machete's Robert Rodriguez, Richard Linklater and Terrence Malick, had $54.8 million in feature spending.

San Antonio had zip, zero.

Hudgins says Rick Ferguson, head of the Houston Film Commission, "is doing a great job, but he can't control where people live." (We asked Ferguson for comment, but haven't heard back.)

The five series being shot in Dallas include Lone Star (Dallas is playing Houston in that one), My Generation, Friday Night Lights, Chase (Dallas plays Houston again) and The Good Guys. Not all have debuted yet.

Total spending — including films, TV, video games and commercials — was $219.2 million in Austin, $166.1 million in Dallas and $21.1 million in Houston.

Ouch.
_____________________

DOING IT DAILY

There is a ton of stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; you’re only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs (or “/rocks” or “/eating” or “/artattack”) and under “Tools” on the top-right side of the page, use the “categories” drop-down menu to find these stories:

Sports

The Texans had fans fired up after beating their longtime tormentors the Indianapolis Colts, even though Bernard Pollard said that his "I hate cursing" policy is somewhat flexible. The Coogs continued on their winning ways, although team officials got a little testy with questions about Heisman candidate Case Keenum's injury status. And we continued, perhaps quixotically, with our weekly explanation of why Notre Dame will win the BCS and Texas won't.

Art Attack

We interviewed Frank Davis, one of '70s Houston's hipsters of yesteryear, about his pet "Mammy Goat" (and Townes Van Zandt's love/hate relationship with her). We reported about a pair of historic murals ordered to be destroyed by Texas Southern University's president and the $50,000 renovation job it will take to "make it right." And we talked to Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Director Peter Marzio about the rash of overseas art heists and how the MFAH assesses crime threats and stays on guard.

Crime

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled front license plates must be on the bumper, not under the windshield — especially if you're carrying a half pound of cocaine. Harris County prosecutions for choking family members are way up; two women discovered they were romantic rivals and got in an amateur demolition derby; and with the discovery that one of Martin Luther King's intimates was an FBI snitch, we looked at five other FBI informants, including two presidents.

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