White Linen Fight

As event grew, so did promises, expectations and disappointments.

White Linen Fight

Jackie Harris has her machete out again, if only figuratively this time. Years ago, Harris brandished one literally. Tired of having patrons parking in or blocking her driveway, she strode with cold ferocity and with great blade in hand into the cantina next to her Sunset Heights bungalow and asked them to kindly stop. That solved that problem, but still, the cantina's unsavory clientele, alleged Mexican Mafia-connected owner and the all-night thumping from the jukebox irked her. Once she found out the putative owner had never registered the deed, she engineered a takeover, and the cantina has since been reborn as mod Yale Street wine bar the Boom Boom Room.

And on a blazing white-hot July evening, at a table out in front, that's where Harris, the creator of the Fruitmobile (Houston's very first art car), talks all about the latest target of her fearsome ire. That would be Mitch Cohen, long the man behind the First Saturday Arts Markets on West 19th Street in the Heights and now, the Man Who Would Be King of White Linen Night, the relatively new and increasingly popular summer shindig in Houston's most quaint, Austin-like neighborhood. (As Lights in the Heights is to winter in Woodland Heights, so White Linen Night is to summer in Houston Heights.)

Harris has been a burr under Cohen's saddle pretty much since the morning after last year's event, which like this year's installment was held on the first Saturday in August. While Cohen has been a part of White Linen Night since the event's inception in 2006, he says that 2010 was his first at the helm. Last year Cohen teamed up with art gallery owner Lori Betz. She is president and founder of Houston Art and Culture, a mentoring and scholarship-awarding nonprofit. Betz believed that HAAC could serve as an umbrella for White Linen Night, enabling alcohol sales in some of the dry precincts of the Heights.

White-clad crowds converged on West 19th Street again this year despite the lack of shuttles, booze for sale, and a crazily annoying duo of hard rockers smack-dab in the middle of the art market.
Chris Curry
White-clad crowds converged on West 19th Street again this year despite the lack of shuttles, booze for sale, and a crazily annoying duo of hard rockers smack-dab in the middle of the art market.
Jackie Harris of the Boom Boom Room says she will never participate in another White Linen Night so long as Mitch Cohen is at the helm.
Chris Curry
Jackie Harris of the Boom Boom Room says she will never participate in another White Linen Night so long as Mitch Cohen is at the helm.
Flor Amado of Pepper's Hamburgers and Tacos says Cohen did not put her business on last year's map even though she paid in full and turned in her information on time. Cohen promised a refund of her fee but never delivered.
Chris Curry
Flor Amado of Pepper's Hamburgers and Tacos says Cohen did not put her business on last year's map even though she paid in full and turned in her information on time. Cohen promised a refund of her fee but never delivered.

Details

Last year Cohen became CEO of Houston Arts and Culture, which made him White Linen Night's chief cook and bottle-washer, all while simultaneously running what is likely the largest and most lucrative installment of his for-profit First Saturday Arts Market. Cohen says the event exploded in popularity last year, with somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 braving the blazing heat.

While many businesses in the Heights enjoyed red-letter nights, some, like the Boom Boom Room, did not. In fact, several felt downright screwed.

Harris says she paid Cohen $100 to participate and in return was promised shuttle service, parking-lot flags, printed promotional materials and inclusion on the event's map. She says she also laid in extra staff and spent an extra $3,500 stocking her bar with ice, coolers and glasses.

She had misgivings almost immediately. It seemed to her the event was too sprawling. It was no longer walkable. Where once the event was firmly ensconced on 19th Street, the city-within-a-city's quaint main drag, last year Cohen decided to cast a much wider net, one that took in the area's fringes, from White Oak Boulevard on the south, to Durham/Shepherd on the west, within earshot of the thrumming traffic of the North Loop at the top, and Studewood/North Main on the east.

When none of the promised maps, flags or flyers appeared, Harris's misgivings curdled into anger, if a mild one at first. It was when she finally tracked down a copy of the official event map that she started boiling over into something approaching rage. The Boom Boom Room, and several other participating businesses in her neck of the woods on the fringes of the Heights, were not even on the map. And then the final straw: She says she stood in front of her bar on the big night and watched as the shuttle buses came up Yale tantalizingly close to the Boom Boom Room, only to lumber back west a block or so down the street.

"And we didn't have nary a customer," she says. "Not a one until we got slammed as usual at ten o'clock. But that was after White Linen Night was over. In the past, we had gotten business from it."

In the days and weeks that followed, she heard similar tales from, among others, her neighbors at the pasta-and-cheese restaurant Jus' Mac, Texan-proud boutique Urban Western and, worst of all, from Pepper's Hamburgers and Tacos, a hole-in-the-wall taqueria on Durham whose owner Harris had personally encouraged to participate.

"We were all pissed. None of us had any business, and we'd all spent a bunch of money. Last year was so hard for businesses everywhere, so many of my friends went out of business, and there were these teeny little businesses that paid their hundred dollars and were left off the map."

Harris confronted Cohen, wanting to know why all the promised materials had not arrived and why so many businesses were left off. She demanded to see the financials for the event and says now that Cohen refused. She wanted to know if he had collected cash from food trucks and alcohol vendors, and if so, if he could account for it. Cohen has denied receiving any money from those sources, and no one that the Houston Press contacted said they had given him any. Even though Harris managed to get her $100 back from Cohen, she says she has reported him to the IRS and has publicly told Cohen that she has taken the case to the FBI.

Harris casts Cohen as a greedy, bullying egomaniac who believes he is not just White Linen Night but the embodiment of the Houston Heights.

The new treasurer at HAAC, Beth Guide, says the initial proposal Cohen gave the board this year had no numbers in it. "Back in May, he gave us what he called his 'vision' for White Linen Night," says Guide. "But it was all rainbows and unicorns, lollipops and sunshine."

Cohen, who says he has never withheld numbers from anybody, says he is the victim of a vendetta. His friends and supporters agree. The man who likes to call himself "The Overlord" says the flak just comes with the rare air in the lofty skies. "Anyone in the position I am in, fingers will be pointed at me. I am at the top. I am trying to put on this massive event that no one has expected to get this big."
_____________________

Fittingly for an event that has become so strife-torn, White Linen Night was born of a storm. Specifically, Hurricane Katrina, whose floodwaters sent not only the Big Easy's poor this way, but also more than a few prosperous merchants, some of whom settled in the Heights. With its historic homes, mom-and-pop restaurants and boutiques, and oak-lined streets, the Heights bears a passing resemblance to certain Crescent City districts, and it was there that the refugees took White Linen Night, name and all, from New Orleans.

It's a cool idea for the hottest time of the year: Attendees are invited, for one night, to embrace the muggy climate at its most energy-sapping by donning blinding, lightweight ivory attire and coming out after dark to businesses that normally adhere to traditional American nine-to-five schedules. For a single night, the Heights adopts a Mediterranean schedule and way of life, with thousands coming out to enjoy a Madrid-style, wine-propelled evening paseo from boutique to restaurant to gallery to coffeehouse to food truck to vendor's booth to music stage. For some Heights businesses, it's Black Friday in August.

Especially last year, when by all accounts the event truly exploded. At an interview at Berryhill Tacos, which was also attended by White Linen Night publicist Sara Jackson, Cohen admits to being overwhelmed by the festival's growth, in numbers of people, general logistics and geographic scope.

"I would say the biggest issue I had last year was that it was too big and I wasn't prepared for the spreading out to two different locations," he says, referring to the twin nexuses on West 19th and White Oak. "There were a few oversights. I didn't plan ahead for a few things that could not have been foreseen before they happened, primarily the delivery of water, and the shuttle service was overwhelmed. But that was not something we could have foreseen. We had ten, no 17, shuttle buses, and after a certain point there was just so many people in the neighborhood that people wouldn't get off."

Lauren Barrash, owner of the Wave shuttle service, says that White Linen Night was one of her company's most challenging nights ever, and that includes several rodeos, one Final Four and the NBA All-Star Game. She says the problems began in the Northwest Mall parking lot, where Cohen had arranged remote parking. He was supposed to have had volunteers manning an orientation booth there, but Cohen says the volunteers flaked. Commuters to the event, many of them strangers to the Inner Loop, had no clue how to proceed. "There was supposed to be water, tents and brochures, but none of it was there," Barrash says.

Barrash also says that Cohen furnished her with a needlessly complex system of color-coded shuttles and confusing north-south routes that required transfers. (Had she gotten her own way, she would have had circulator routes.) Many of these streets were clogged with people, she says. "Some routes were impossible for my drivers to navigate safely," she says. "He had half as many buses as he needed, and he needed to educate his customers better. My drivers ended up being the information booths. We did the best we could with the instructions we were given — we had water and good music on our buses, and some people told us they were riding them for fun."

Another problem came in the form of Pink Street, a cordoned-off area of White Oak featuring 18 booths raising awareness for breast cancer research and treatment. Here also was some of the booze, and Barrash says that was where all too many of her riders were headed, as bees to nectar. "So many people were going there, nobody was getting on or off anywhere else." (In Barrash's experience, all Houston events, no matter how high-minded at their inception, eventually devolve into boozefests.)

Though the night was more difficult than any other in the Wave's history, Barrash says that her hard work was not rewarded financially. She says she lost money at the end of the night. Among other expenses, she had to subcontract vehicles.

Barrash and Harris weren't the only merchants who took baths that night. One angry Heights merchant who sounded off to the Press last year declined to comment this year, explaining that she had since sold her business and thought it would be unfair to the new owners. In two other cases, business owners Harris claimed were upset refused to say so on the record and cited the very same reason for clamming up: They believe that this paper has some unaccountable anti-Heights bias. (For the record, we don't: We turn over rocks and kick over anthills in every neighborhood. What's more, this writer lives in and loves the Heights.)

One merchant who would talk was Kimberly Revis, owner of mobile bakery/cupcake truck Custom Confections. She was told she could park her truck in the parking lot of a furniture store near West 19th Street. (While Cohen didn't charge her any money to participate, she says he did solicit a contribution to go toward "marketing costs," since his was a charity event.) She can't remember exactly where it was, but says it was about four blocks from the action, as she would find out, much to her dismay. She arrived at her allotted spot around 11 a.m. and started baking — as a mobile custom bakery, Revis cooks on site. She says she spent hours in that sweltering truck, whipping up 800 brownies, 300 cookies and 700 cupcakes, and by the time it was all over she had sold fewer than ten of them. Her grand total: $15 in sales for the evening. (Revis says her husband scouted the area and saw rival cupcake trucks with lines of people dozens deep mere blocks away.)

Revis says she donated scores of baked treats to a fire station at the end of the night, but since there were only six people there, the rest wound up in the trash. "I've never had to throw so many cupcakes away," she says.

Given the cost of supplies, child care and generator costs, Revis estimates her loss on the evening as totaling between $2,000 and $3,000. "I felt like the kid in gym class who got picked last for the team."

Urban Western, a Texas-centric clothing boutique, also had a bad night. A man who wanted to be identified only as James, the manager of Urban Western, says that Cohen broke his promises to him. He says he never saw any Wave buses. White Linen Night also hosts a fashion show in which boutiques that pay a premium (last year Urban Western paid a hefty one) can have their stuff strutted on a catwalk. "The models just threw all the clothes in a bag and left," says James. "It wasn't too good for us."

Last year, Urban Western was located on North Main, and it has since moved to Heights Boulevard near I-10, not far from White Oak. Even though James believes that White Oak was promoted at the expense of North Main last year, he doesn't believe he will be participating this year.

"Last year I donated $1,000," he says. "People were like, 'You did whaaat?' I just chalked it up to a learning experience."

Jackson and Cohen say it's not their fault if businesses have bad nights. "For them to say White Linen Night promised them X amount of dollars is a bit of a stretch," says Jackson. "We don't promise to bring huge crowds to anyone," Cohen agrees.

And then there was Pepper's, the little taqueria whose owner, Flor Amado, Jackie Harris had encouraged to participate. She had high hopes for a big night but got no business from the event. Small wonder, because Cohen had not put Pepper's on the map or furnished her with any of the parking-lot flags denoting Amado's taqueria as a participating business. "I gave him my information on time, and he did not put me on the map," Amado says. "He offered to give me a refund, and then he didn't give it to me, so I started asking for it, and he said, no, he could not give a refund. I won't do White Linen Night this year."

Cohen says that the HAAC board would not allow him to give any more refunds besides the one Harris was able to extract. As for the map mistake? Nothing more than a "graphical error." He claims that only two businesses — presumably Pepper's and the Boom Boom Room — were left off the map. (Harris says there were several more.) "The map was massive," Cohen says. "That was one of the things I tried to do this year, was to downsize so that there was not so much work involved. Things like that are easy to overlook."

Other business owners saw their bottom line diminished last year but refuse to blame Cohen. One such is Teresa O'Connor's Studemont Street boutique Hello-Lucky. She says she got her money's worth from Cohen even if business was off from previous years. She says her $100 got her several e-mail blasts and other promo stuff. Cohen worked hard and deserved to get paid, she says. As for the decline in business, she says it was on her. She delegated too much last year, and this year she plans to take charge more with her own DJ and her own cool drinks. She also plans to do more of her own promotion.
_____________________

After a series of e-mails and phone calls spanning weeks late last year, Harris helped bring about a schism between Betz and Cohen, HAAC and White Linen Night. "I told Lori, 'You need to distance yourself from him immediately. I think he's using your organization to profit. That's illegal. I'm turning him in,'" Harris said.

Betz didn't know Harris, so initially she did not respond to the machete-wielding artist's concerns. "At first, I thought she probably thought I was some crazy woman with an ax to grind," Harris says. "But now I realize she was asking herself, 'What really is going on?'"

Preparations for this year's White Linen Night began in earnest on May 11, when Cohen held a preliminary budget meeting with new HAAC treasurer Beth Guide. By that time, Cohen says, some of his supporters were gone from the board, and Betz and Guide were openly hostile to him. A week later, he resigned from HAAC. He says he took guidance from a lawyer with Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts, a legal-aid service for artists, actors and musicians.

"They advised me to resign and work as a contractor helping with this event as a fund-raiser. So I did resign and continued my business the same evening, and everything after that was delayed and canceled." Guide denies this version. She says she and Betz asked Cohen to resign the minute she learned that Cohen proposed to profit from his art market at the nonprofit White Linen Night.

At the May 31 HAAC board meeting, Cohen submitted his numberless proposal, the one that had Guide talking about rainbows and unicorns. Cohen says he wanted to go back to the basics and have the event be by and for the Heights merchants, while Guide and Betz wanted it to be a citywide cash cow for HAAC. Cohen says that clashed with an earlier agreement with Heights merchants. Guide disputes the idea that any such agreement had been made and would eventually point out that Cohen had already taken in $2,000 in sales of booths at his for-profit art market.

The real fireworks began when he sent over the budget proposal. It included a request for $22,500 in salary out of a $45,000 overall budget, with the stipulation that Cohen could keep all the money from his art market while HAAC would foot the bill for all expenses — lighting, generators, and tents and the like.

Saying that the contract was not just a bad deal but also illegal, in that it allowed Cohen to make a profit at his art market, which was based right next to the nonprofit Linen Night, Betz refused to sign and asked to renegotiate. Betz and Guide's position was that at that time things could still be salvaged if Cohen would lower his salary and bring the arts market money in through the front door so that his expense could be paid out of the overall take. (Exactly how much Cohen hoped to pocket from the arts market is unclear. He told the Press he had sold 55 booths at $100 a pop. "I do make some money on the art market however with power being so expensive that may not be the case this year," he wrote in an e-mail to the Press. Remember, he once had hopes that HAAC would be paying for that power.)

Instead of renegotiating, Cohen took the deal off the table and went in search of another nonprofit. "I just felt like the differences in the direction of where we were going was not going to work for the benefit of the event or the neighborhood," Cohen says.

Three days later, Cohen had found another umbrella group in the Houston Heights Merchants Association, a nonprofit with whom Cohen had long partnered on the First Saturday events. Along with event volunteer Sandy Castillo, Cohen sent out a letter to dozens of prospective event sponsors stating that HHMA was a 501(c)(3) group and that their participation would be tax-deductible. As stated in the letter: "Your donation is tax-deductible within the fullest extent of the law."

The trouble is, HHMA is not a 501(c)(3); it is instead a 501(c)(6) group. Any contributions to White Linen Night would be tax-exempt, not tax-deductible.

At the June 29 HAAC meeting, Guide got right to the point. Calls and e-mails had been coming into HAAC questioning their involvement with White Linen Night, she announced. After consulting with Will Colgin, their legal counsel, HAAC decided that it was time to publicly walk away from the popular Heights party night.

"Basically they were not comfortable with the way it was being promoted," Colgin later told the Press. "It was being promoted as an opportunity for people to receive tax deductions. The structure within which it was placed — it was not appropriate to advertise it that way...I was concerned that any further involvement under that current structure was, in my mind, just not appropriate."

While Colgin was elaborating on that point at the meeting, Sara Jackson, White Linen Night's flack, reportedly "cut him off." Heights businesses were confused about this year's White Linen Night. How would she be able to break this news to them, that, in fact, the last board meeting had been opened with the claim that the whole event's structure was illegal?

Guide refused to back down — she stressed the point that the contract Cohen had proposed constituted, in the beady eyes of the IRS, illegal double-dealing. Nonprofits could have their status revoked for such conduct, Colgin explained.

Betz also believed that Cohen was blurring the lines between nonprofit and for-profit in his solicitations. She told the meeting that she kept seeing the names of various nonprofits strewn about the event's literature even though little if any money would be going to them. She believed it was misleading both sponsors and the public.

Guide wanted to know why almost every penny of last year's event went to overhead, with so little left over for charity, and why Cohen planned the same for this year in the proposal he submitted.

Harris chimed in that she believed it was all about money. She said she would never participate in another White Linen Night until Cohen was gone.

Eventually, the meeting came around to the letter Cohen and Castillo had sent to sponsors three weeks earlier. Neal Sackheim, director of the HHMA, pointed out that he had told Cohen and Castillo that his group was a (c)(6) and not a (c)(3). (According to an e-mail the Press received, this happened on June 13.) Sackheim said that Castillo had been misinformed when she sent out the letter and that it needed to be fixed immediately. Guide then asked if a correction had been issued. Jackson said she had issued a press release correcting the error. Betz asked when, and Jackson said "Tomorrow." (The earliest notice the Press could obtain indicates that the mistake was not rectified via e-mail until July 4, though it had been fixed on the White Linen Night Web site earlier. Cohen admits it was a mistake not to be more proactive earlier and also a mistake to send the retraction only to businesses that had committed to sponsorships instead of the whole original mailing list. Another mistake was apparently never corrected. Cohen claimed on the letter to have been "event director" of White Linen Night since 2003. The event began in 2006, and he did not take a leadership role until 2010. Asked about this glaring misstatement of fact, Cohen said that Castillo was "new.")

Guide reiterated that you couldn't offer a tax deduction on a 501(c)(6). Betz reminded them all that the letter had informed the potential sponsors that they could do so. Betz asked Colgin what doing that was called.

"Fraud," he said.
_____________________

Undissuaded, Cohen marched on, now touting White Linen Night as a for-profit event, albeit one with some proceeds going to breast cancer charities, the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program and a fund to restore the historic Heights fire station.

To enable alcohol sales on dry West 19th Street, he had hoped to bring the 501(c)(3) Spay-Neuter Assistance Program aboard, but after he and its director met with the TABC on July 23, that plan was scuppered. "After meeting with the TABC about the the laws governing a temporary liquor permit in a 'dry' area we have decided against any alcohol sales on 19th Street," Cohen wrote. "As a beneficiary, SNAP was only going to keep funds raised from the beer sales. It's regrettable but we think better for the event." Cohen added that SNAP might have an awareness-raising "presence" at the event.

Cohen learned in mid-July that he was being investigated by the Press. He called to arrange a meeting the next day and brought publicist Sara Jackson along. We talked for about 30 minutes. He admitted to some mistakes and claimed there was a vendetta against him. Jackson and Cohen also urged me to listen to a recording of the testy June board meeting — they insinuated that Guide made them look bad in typing up the minutes. "The meeting minutes that are posted on the Web site are inaccurate, filled with commentary and innuendos in relations to what was said by many people in attendance at that meeting," Jackson wrote in an e-mail." (I did listen, and it was hard to hear what Cohen and Jackson were hearing.)

The newly resurgent neighborhood paper The Heights Leader published a tough story about White Linen Night in the week leading up to the event, characterizing last year's event as a Mardi Gras-like drunk-a-thon complete with shoplifting, wine-sloshing, pot-smoking, mannequin-groping hordes of twentysomethings wreaking havoc on the Heights. An apologetic Cohen said he hoped the event would be scaled back this year. He said he intentionally scaled back advance publicity for the event, and that the PR blitz would neither be as broad nor begin as early as it did last year.

He also told the Press that he wouldn't be furnishing printed materials this year. Asked why the lowest tier of participation for businesses this year was $125 instead of $100, when print costs were $5,110 out of a $45,000 budget, Cohen had this to say:

"The bigger the event, the more everything costs. The cost increases with the amount of people that come out. It costs a lot of money to close down 19th Street. Shuttle buses are expensive, and primarily because I agreed to cut back on the number of vendors that were on 19th Street, like politicians. They paid a lot of the bill last year."

It's difficult to reconcile. Is the event going to be bigger or scaled-back?

Also in the week leading up to the event, Cohen posted that pre-emptive strike against this story. In that missive, he blamed the lack of advance publicity on "the unnecessary drama" of May and June, that it had "been an unfortunate roadblock to WLN progressing on a normal time-line. We were late in getting information out to sponsors, businesses, and our patrons."

So was that the reason for the slack early PR campaign, or was it intentional?

In any event, there ended up being no shuttle service beyond pedicabs at this year's event, and White Oak was not closed off. West 19th Street was lined chock-a-block with Cohen's art market, save for M-Squared Gallery, where an unsanctioned party extended from the gallery to the off-street parking lot, where hipster DJs Glasnost and a food truck held sway.

West 19th Street was the scene of at least one awkward confrontation. Betz told the Press that Sara Jackson had gotten in her face, asking her sarcastically if she was having fun at the event she had severed ties with. "For an event's publicist to do that to somebody in the street...that's a little crazy," Betz chuckled. "The woman has no class."

Cohen's curating of music on the street itself was more than a little questionable. The loudest band on the block at the art fest, one that fairly well drowned out the ones on either side of it, was a two-piece group ensconced in front of Jubilee boutique. In his flame-streaked shirt, the singer-guitarist closely resembled celebrity chef Guy Fieri, while his guitarist bandmate's flowing blond locks put one in mind of Sammy Hagar. The duo serenaded art-loving passersby with dramatic renditions of classic rock chestnuts such as Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" and Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." These dudes were hilarious (in a Tenacious D sort of way), but it was hardly the sort of musical fare you would select to encourage an art-purchasing atmosphere; a stroll through the artists' stalls of the Seine this was not. It seemed more fitting to a night at a San Leon beer joint or Houston's Club No Minors.

It all goes back to what Barrash, the Wave's owner, said: Every Houston event, no matter how high-minded in its inception, devolves, over time, into a beer-bash. Even in the theoretically dry, arts-minded Heights. White Linen Night under Cohen's direction seems less like an art festival or showcase of chi-chi Heights merchants than a mere excuse to stroll, cycle or even drive through some of Houston's most historic districts in a rockin' summer-drunk haze. And then hit the bars.

For her part, Betz believes White Linen Night has strayed far from the event's roots. "We wanted this event to be for the community, not just one person." She and Guide believe that the event could be even better than it is were it handled by a professional event planner, one who did not have a vested interest in an art market.

As for Harris, she is keeping her machete sharpened for next year. "I want to get a bunch of my friends who run businesses together and throw a big party, the week before White Linen Night," she says, cackling.

john.lomax@houstonpress.com

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364 comments
eckhardt.tiffany
eckhardt.tiffany

It's too bad that Sara Jackson has taken over the event.  She is man handling 19th st.... owning the merchant FB page and now owning White Linen Night.  Now that the event is definitely a non-profit, I am worried that the event will take an ugly turn.  She has effectively alienated many businesses on the street by threatening a law suit if they suggest that the streets PR should be subjected to other bids.  I have never seen such an unprofessional business climate.  

mrbbq
mrbbq

Add me to the list of 2011 supporters who didn't get listed on the map or trolly stop. Due to these, and other issues, we did not support 2012.

iamaverb
iamaverb

Did JH really tell the world that she "snitched" to the IRS and the FBI. The last time I went to the Boom Boom IS the last time I go. 

wln12345
wln12345

This is interesting. This tweet was copied as is. It reads as if OVERLORD has the ability to make the Heights wet or dry at his command. Now I see why so many SHEEP follow him. DUH!

 

Heights Linen Night ‏@WLNHeights

@Vascoaztec @heightsleader Thanks for the feedback! We strategically kept 19th dry this year at request of the businesses and neighbors.

 

jackieharris
jackieharris

It was never about me having a bad night . It's about Mitch turning a great event into a con game. The event was put on by the 19th street businesses to help the small businesses that make up most of the Heights. I have participanted every year since it started. It was run by Karen Mann and it was always a good event with no problems. Til Mitch got his greedy hands on it last year. People paid from $100-$1500 and that money was to go for services that in the end were never delivered. Everyone spent a lot of money getting ready for want is usually the best night of the year. It was a very bad year for everyone so we looked forward to what should have been a great night. Instead no one had any business except 6th Street(Pink Street) because that was the only street promoted and I suspect it was because that was where Mitch was selling alcohol in the name of the phony non profit. He did not spend the money on what it was suppose to go for, shuttles,advertizing, printing, etc. and he took money from businesses that he new he could not possibly include. They were to far a way. But most of all it's about the non profit scheme. This is the real story. Out of 97 business that participated last year only 39 joined this year. That is a lot more pissed off business owners than just BBR. Out of the 39 I know many of the 39 that hate Mitch and know he is a con artist but joined anyway because it is a great event. The rest of us will come back to it when we get rid of Mitch. For the puplic this is still a great party. It was hard for John Lomax to really get the whole story out there because so many of the businesses that were involved last year and are pissed off at Mitch are afraid of the type of harassment that Mitch always engages in towards his critics. I am not. I hate scamers especially ones who miss use charties.

UnreliableHoustonPress
UnreliableHoustonPress

When someone has to come here and continually use the word "sheep" as a form of attacking, it shows the intellect of the individual, and level their on. Elementary school age children use those words, because they haven't been taught how to properly formulate a sentence, or, a well thought out approach to their debate. It's a given. 

 

I'd safely guess the comments coming from the "sheep" attackers haven't had much EDU in their life. I've debated with many individuals who were able to present their side, without name calling.  They know how to implement their opinions /facts /differences, unlike what I've seen here. 

 

They don't need to use names to attack & bully, because they have learned how to cultivate their inner ideas, thoughts, and YES, even opposing views constructively, not defensively, peppered with name calling, and attacks behind an anonymous screen name. 

 

Most in support of Mitch, have been well thought out posts as opposed to anyone who is against him. The continuous scream of fraud, is about as ludicrous as the individuals, themselves. Unless someone is able to provide concrete proof (which has NEVER happened), you truly are hurting the business of boom boom room, and others (look it up, there are quite a few on numerous forums who are happy to sit back and watch the demise of Jackie) not my words, in case you feel the need to humour me with your all time favourite operative word, again.

 

This is being CLOSLY documented. Also, Jackie, no one is intimidated or threatened by you.

If that is what you're after, you may need to seek help. It's not a healthy way to live. 

 

Now for those that need to address the spelling above Nazi Police^ not all of us are in America.

FYI 

jackieharris
jackieharris

It was never about me having a bad night . It's about Mitch turning a great event into a con game. People paid from $100-$1500 and that money was to go for services that in the end were never delivered. It was not a mistake, Mitch never paid for these things so he could keep more of the money. This year he paid for even less but the price to join went up. But most of all it's about the non profit scheme. This is the real story. Out of 97 business that participated last year only 39 joined this year. The rest of the participant this year( there were 80) were new to the Heights and did not have a clue about Mitch and alot of the participants were realestate companies. That is a lot more pissed off business owners than just BBR. Out of the 39 I know many, many of the 39  hate Mitch and know he is a con artist but joined anyway because it is a great event. You know we are all friends and we talk. The rest of us will come back to it when we get rid of Mitch. For the puplic this is still a great party. It was hard for John Lomax to really get the whole story out there because so many of the businesses are afraid of the type of harassment that Mitch always engages in towards his critics. I am not. I hate scamers especially ones who missuse charties. And that is the main reason why myself and many others called the Houston Press to begin with. These non profit schemes are a pattern with Mitch. He tried the same thing this year. I'm not Ok with people like Bernie Madof or Mitch Cohen. This should make you love the Heights more because we are not willing to look the other way when there is something illegal going on.

lhardy
lhardy

I use to want to move to The Heights.  It's close knit, dreamy family artistic atmosphere. But after witnessing this mess, I've changed mind completely.  Right or wrong, these things should have been fought in court first before the slandering of every person involved started.  The personal attacks on one's physicality among a bunch of grown ups disgusts me.  I'm not sure this article has done what it was intended to do, whatever that was.  Who wants to do business with anyone that cried to the public when things don't turn out the way they had hoped?  I would be so afraid that it could happen at any time that I would never support any business that behaved in such a manner and then have my life slashed about in a tabloid forum for the world to see.  I'm not just talking J. Harris, it's a general statement that could said about any business. 

 

So, no thanks, I'll stay in the burbs.

wln12345
wln12345

It appears as if the SHEEP are starting to put it together in their own minds. Maybe they remember a seed planted in them by these two. (OVERLORD & Jim Adams) It makes no difference if they wake up or not because the eyes of scrutiny are upon their OVERLORD. He will never be able to spout his lies without doubt creeping into the mind of the next victim.

artmarket-x
artmarket-x

Good story, I have known Mitch Cohen since 2004 and in the final analysis I would have to put him in the same category as all the other hustlers and scammers out there. When he was married I think his wife somehow kept him from going over to the dark side although he was still a bit of a hustler even then. Something about him changed, probably about 2006, when he stopped working as an artist and went to work for some of the same real estate people who have destroyed the Heights by helping to drive the real estate prices beyond the reach of the typical artist types who used to live there and by bulldozing the older homes in favor of the overpriced McMansions that are so common now. If you meet him in person Mitch comes off as someone who is sincerely concerned about other people and someone who wants to encourage emerging artists but if you know him long enough you find out it's all about him. It's really sad because the open air art market and the street festival in the Heights are good ideas the could easily generate money for a lot of people as well as providing a good time and bringing some culture to the neighborhood but somewhere along the line Mitch either never learned the basic rules of  ethical business and personal integrity or else decided to willfully ignore those things. The kind of savvy business people who have the resources to contribute to Houston's art community can see right through someone like Mitch Cohen. I knew he had turned when he fired some of the best musicians at the art market... because they wanted to be paid.

MidgetsNTents
MidgetsNTents

I remember about 4 yrs ago listening to some artists who really wanted to start an art market in a parking lot down 19th Street, but one of them spoke up and mentioned a guy named "Mitch Cohen", the "OverLord of 19th" and how it simply would not be possible because he decides 'what' goes on 'where' on the block. There is no denying that Mitch has formed alliances with a small handful of artists and vendors who rent tent space from him on First Saturday's, and that these events are fun and helpful to the community, however, he hides his insidious side when it comes to his gossip and his manipulation. Those who rent the tents are not privy to the dark underbelly of the chronically unemployed Overlord, nor of his desperation to find his way in life, so much so, he unleashes his anger on female proprietors he is deeply jealous of. Evidence would show his conduct towards H Gallery a few years ago when Paul Bernstein passed away, it only took Mitch Cohen (Batman) and his elderly boy wonder, Jim Adams, hours to swoop in for the anguish that would prove to destroy and entire body of artists, all due to Jim's inacuracies fed and fueled by Mitch Cohen's stupidity. Mitch was happy one of his competitors was taken away, drowning in controversy and litigation, and Jim Adams was thrilled that he had received extensive news coverage that he declared would 'spend like a million bucks in publicity' for his clunky cheap junk art, that is not only dangerous, but unsightly.  Jim and Mitch together orchestrated the entire event, exploiting the idiocy and folly of the owners of H gallery, for their own gain. Jim & Mitch gave em enough rope, proverbially, but what was worse is that the co-conspirators had a motive. Together, they played off of the ignorance and cunning business practices of another in order to launch themselves on to perceived greater Heights. Cohen had hoped he'd revel in the secret success he'd orchestrated of the take down, so that he could then move about freely in the wake of the disaster, hoping all eyes would forever turn away from HIS fraud, his deception. Only then, when he moved in towards legitimate Non profits, and towards other female owned galleries, did phase II of his illgotten plans turn and bite him in the butt. Jim Adams is a frequent player in the secret side of all of this, and there's no doubut his dubious noteriety is bringing him great wealth, professing to many that the judegements against H Gallery did indeed spend like a million, to those at least who bought his crying wolf stories. Do people not realize that Jim Adams planned this several years in advance? That he bragged regularly to gallery customers that he was donating money to help the family of Paul Bernstein? And that he bragged to fellow artists, legitimate artists who've been creating and showing longer than his snow cone can hold ice, of how he would make it here, and he could make it anywhere!? Oh yes! New York is next, world! I would go so far as to say that Jim Adams is and always has been involved with Mitch Cohen, clandestinely, in this NOn profit scheming, and in this slow, one by one destruction of female proprietors. Ask any person on 19th street who owns a business and they can attest to the daily gossip, the clatter, the junk that Adams and Cohen have conspired for years on that block. I am only sorry for the artists in the white tents who truly were there just to sell their art, who had no idea of the ugly side of Cohen, or of his good buddy Adams. When those two conspire to take a woman down, they do so with the vile of a cobra in the grass. I also find it strange and odd that Mitch and his "friends" are now going after Max, an owner of yet another gallery on the block. Is Mitch's greatest agony in life that he never had the money or intelligence to start or own his own gallery? What a misfit. Why not simply do things the right way so that you don't feel you have to destroy others in order to have gain in this lifetime? So, to all those who are going to type on this comment thread their ignorant support of Cohen, you have been totally manipulated by a master manipulator, and he has the elderly boy wonder, the 'grey ponytailed skull face' helping him do it. Beware. And, quite frankly, John Lomax, people are AFRAID of both Jim and Mitch and are mostly frightened to speak out because of the fate that typically awaits those who dare try to stop them both.

T2T2
T2T2

Late last night, I was going to post another comment here but I could not because, "Your IP address has been banned from accessing this system".  Today however, I'm no longer banned (obviously).  (Picture of ban on HAIF in post #71 - link below.)

 

The comment that I was going to make but could not do so during the ban, I posted on HAIF (post #61) and there have been interesting responses: http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/topic/26930-houston-press-trashes-white-linen-night-organizer/

wln12345
wln12345

Loving the fact you SHEEP are still blaming others for what your OVERLORD has done, and is doing now. Having you spread his hate only proves your sheepish ways. The more you post here, the more people will question, dig, and find the truth. You should point fingers at each other for ripping apart the Heights. The very neighborhood your OVERLORD says he works for will crumble. Stone by stone, and business by business you tear it apart, for your master, OVERLORD.

 

SHEEPLE, raze the Heights to the ground, so you may feed on the dead and the dying. Consume,

incinerate, and smash all he has deemed unfit, unworthy, and vile. Oh unholy SHEEP bath in the blood of others so your master, "OVERLORD" can live again.

lovington93
lovington93

Yeah, don't f%^k with Jackie! 

 

I send her my full support as I have been Heights resident for the past 18 years.

 

She is the heart and soul of the Heights. If you live here, you know.

 

As for John Lomax's questionable journalism. Seriously? Really? 

 

Businesses got screwed on the whitest of nights. Lomax reported it. Since when is questioning accountability vendetta? Should Lomax have written the story about  poor Mr. Cohen and how he is being subjected to scrutiny? Give us all a break.

 

Even the "nicest guys" like Mitch Cohen are accountable.

 

Even if they work next to nothing, giving their heart & soul to whatever, blah, blah, blah.

 

All of Cohen's hemorrhaging of time and energy all over the Heights not an excuse for anyone to make for another's mistakes, shortcomings, etc. That would rest on his shoulders, solely. 

jackieharris
jackieharris

Hey John, Don't  Mitch and his minions remind you of Scientologist ? They sure act like Scientologist when some one questions their "religion" and they all attack like a school of piranhas. Mitch's "religion" is money. He is a green eyed flim- flam man that should be run out of the Heights on a rail after he is tarred and feathered like they used to do in the old days to scamers like him. The Heights is a great business community and WLN was always a great event til Mitch got his greedy hands on it last year. He cheated so many businesses that almost none of the former participants signed up this year. If you look at those businesses who participated this year almost all of them are new businesses that did not know what Mitch did last year. That says it all. My hope is that we can get rid of Mitch so WLN can go on and be the great event that it should be for the small businesses that make up most of the Heights. Many people want to see Mitch Cohen go to jail and while that would be nice and I will try my best, I will be happy to see him just get lost. The article did not tell it all when it comes to the many, many,many businesses that Mitch hurt or all the funny business with the non profits. He was still at it this year with the non profit schemes. There is a lot of money in this event, what with alcohol sales, fees on tents & food trucks, fees from businesses, etc. and if you don't spend any of it on printing or promotion or shuttles, etc. well then there is more for Mitch. And if you don't have to report any of it to the IRS well then that's really sweet ! 

PecanCrusher
PecanCrusher

Kudos to John Lomax for a very well written article about a scoundrel on 19th street.  Mitch Cohen has been a 300 lb Heights gorrilla long enough, what with his jobless mentality of attacking female business owners . To hear that he is attacking Betz is nothing short of disgusting. How many women will Cohen call "crazy"?? It seems to be his buzz word, along with threats, of course. There was a very sad situation on 19th street a year or so ago that invovled a female merchant, who rightfully so had some stripes coming her way for bad business, yet  Cohen, like some proud 'tall' midget, sent daily emails out to every single person who would read or listen to his "diatribe" of insanity, and drivel and joy at the collapse of an entire gallery and art community. He was actually happy that so many artists and vendors were injured, when the rest of society was sickened, and should have been; he was partying, calling names, making a public spectacle of anyone who dared to refuse to get invovled. Only then to turn around in the clutter and fray of a downfall and begin his insidious process of ripping off a very reputable Betz and her group. He is a nutty unicorn, with fairy dust and bus passes. He is also a sad sick puppy with the way he feels he owns 19th street. Since when did he have the right to earn an income off of city property? What job has he held? Where exactly is his "art"? Oh, that's right, his WIFE pays the bills, doesn't she? Little wonder the tall midget would thrive on trying to bilk a non-profit. Sad and sick. I personally feel he should be SUED by Betz and the arts organization he tried to scam. He is a trashy scam artist and if he's gonna wear his eye glasses close to the end of his nose in order to appear more "artsy", he really should invest in a better pair of glasses, if he can afford it of course. I'm sure it's Christmas-time every First Saturday, and WLN. Here come the bucks for the dude with specially short arms he sure can reach far to grab the cash! And to the lady with the art car, owner of the Boom Boom Room, KUDOS to you for helping to expose this piece of white chicken meat!!

wln12345
wln12345

 @mrbbq Yes , this list is growing. So sad because the event could be nice.

jnovalomax
jnovalomax

 @wln12345 Interesting indeed. Why then did he bother going to the TABC to try to get a permit? Here is what he had to say to me in an email from July 24:  John - after meeting with the TABC about the the laws governing a temporary liquor permit in "dry" area we have decided against any alcohol sales on 19th Street. "

PecanCrusher
PecanCrusher

 @jackieharris

 Stay strong Jackie, everything that Mitch and his co-conspirators are doing to you is what they have, and typically do to anyone who is not only a business rival, but a female. Yesterday it was Betz, today it's you, tomorrow it will be yet another unsuspecting female merchant. Hold tight, he's not going to suddenly stop being who he is, or suddenly stop doing what he does.

wln12345
wln12345

@UnreliableHoustonPress

The use of the word "SHEEP" is correct. It pertains to individuals who have no intellectual capacity of their own, and follow others blindly regardless of impending doom. There seems to be a few of you left here, but there are those who have freed themselves of the pin. They are now, “FREE THINKERS.” Removing the wool from the eyes of the innocent and ignorant is all I hope to do. Free yourself now while the gate is open. Be free and think for yourself, or forever be a SHEEP of OVERLORD.

 

PecanCrusher
PecanCrusher

 @UnreliableHoustonPress Dear, "PhuckYOUharrisandjohn, aka UnreliableHoustonPress. Howdy there. I like your new found edumakation you have recently come into. "CLOSLY" is actually spelled "CLOSELY", and yes, this is being watched in such manner. And you should be advised, that just because you route your ISP via a Euro server doesn't mean we don't know ;-)

 

And, you should also know that there actually isn't much clatter on the net in support of Mister Cohen, in fact, most is revelatory about him and it's not so favorable. If anything can be said of Mister Cohen it's that he does indeedy have a penchant for, shall we say, "marketing and white washing" his ideas, meaning, frequently he sends hosts of communications out to willing and ready subjects in order to defraud, defame, or harm a rival.

 

So, post away! (especially on your little building forum, you're just making it easier for everyone involved to prove a point.)

 

 And you know what they say, when there's a scream of fraud, there's usually fraud. Outing a fraudster isn't bullying, what that fraudster does and is currently doing is bullying. The only schoolyard stuff I've seen has been from the guy who never really grew. I'm sure you can guess who that is.  

 

And just a heads up, it's one thing to be a prostitute, it's another when you try to rape one and think that no one will care. One is what it is, the other is a well thought out sociopath who thinks they can get away with it due to the  conduct of the victim that seemingly disqualifies the attacker.

 

JamieR
JamieR

 @lhardy If you had the ability to read between the lines, which you so clearly don't, you would understand that this article is meant to expose criminal activity, not to start a tabloid-esque dramathon. Wake up.

lhardy
lhardy

 @jnovalomax Today, that would be a "terrorist" threat.  It's nothing to be proud of.

wln12345
wln12345

 @jnovalomax So he could tell the non-profits, that the TABC is the reason they will receive no money from the event? It's just a guess. Do any of the SHEEPLE have an answer?

jackieharris
jackieharris

 @PecanCrusher Thanks so much PecanCrusher, You are so right. He does that cause he is a pussy. I have recieved a lot of support. Mitch has not really fooled to many people.

wln12345
wln12345

 @PecanCrusher I agree, he is full of hate for others. It looks like the flock of SHEEP is thinning.

lhardy
lhardy

 @JamieR I am awake and that's not necessary, that's my whole point.   I know what your intent was and the intent of the article. But I'm saying it may have backfired into a tabloid-esque dramathon.  And when that happens, it's hard to trust what is fact and what it out and out hate mongering when there is so much unnecessary school yard bulling and antics thrown into the mix.  There are two sides to every story and I don't know which side is 100% God's honest truth because of the way it's been thrown out there. 

UnreliableHoustonPress
UnreliableHoustonPress

 @jnovalomax It's a shame that you have lowered yourself to garbage.

What did I expect though. Also, I may have mentioned,  with all the stories out there to write about, you couldn't have skewed it more. Why the long wait, Jon? Really, over a year to gripe about $100. 

You are as pathetic as they come, and do all those that think you're on their "team" know what you have said about them as well? 

wln12345
wln12345

 @lhardy OVERLORD  and his SHEEP know all about terrorism. 

jackieharris
jackieharris

 @Kylejack There was no supposed only real. I only new the head guys name, his minions did not exsist to me so I never bothered with names. Plus we weren't exactly friends.

lhardy
lhardy

 @electramummy It's a legitimate question.  I've know Mitch for over four years and to the best of my knowledge he is no longer married.  Max, I've never met you but your many personalities are telling me it's probably a good thing I haven't.

 

jnovalomax
jnovalomax

 @UnreliableHoustonPress It's John, not Jon. You and "phuckyouharrisandjon" share that same misspelling. Weird. And nice try with the "divide and conquer" tactic. 

lhardy
lhardy

 @MidgetsNTents Are you saying that I'm Mitch?  Um.... last time I went to the bathroom I had to sit down.  Pretty sure I know who I am.

lhardy
lhardy

 @MidgetsNTents Are you saying "I" sent emails?  You are sadly mistaken my friend.  Be careful where you start pointing fingers because there are always 10 pointing back at you. 

MidgetsNTents
MidgetsNTents

 @phuckYOUharrisandJon Oh yes, track me, track me! Cuz, somebody's trackin' you. ;-) Yews a bees about to finda out just whosa in da knowa wit da lawa ;-) I aint Max, and lots of people love Jackie, so you're wrong now on two more thangs.

 

MidgetsNTents
MidgetsNTents

 @lhardy

 Mitch, I ain't Max, and yer about to find out how easily the Gov't can Sub, SUB, (say it with a hiccup) SUBPOENA your computer records, and emails to prove years of consipiracy. I hope you realize that numerous people have turned in emails that *you* and your *buddies* have distributed that indicate a tangled web of your deeds.

UnreliableHoustonPress
UnreliableHoustonPress

 @lhardy I wouldn't waste your time, this person clearly is incapable of producing their own thoughts. The sheep comments sound of the elementary kind. Any other words would be welcomed at this point. It's tiresome to see. I suppose that is the extent of their vocabulary. 

UnreliableHoustonPress
UnreliableHoustonPress

 @MidgetsNTents You do realize that you are trackable regardless of what you may think. I'd refrain from slanderous content with no backing. It's just a friendly suggestion for someone that clearly isn't in the know with the law. As for Jackie Harris, I'm sure she knows the dislike people have towards her, and just because so many dislike her, has absolutely nothing to do with Mitch Cohen.  

lhardy
lhardy

 @MidgetsNTents How many faces do you have Max?  Nobody is going after you, we just want you to respond like an adult instead of acting like the bully on the jr. high playground.

 
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