Bon Iver, Hipster Doofus

Only in Houston

HISD's Gangnam Style: No Joke

Rocks Off saw something so disturbing last Thursday on the morning news, but it was early and we were sure it couldn't possibly be real.

Bon Iver at the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival, long before the Grammys.
Mark C. Austin
Bon Iver at the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival, long before the Grammys.
Ben Folds tickles the ivories.
Craig Hlavaty
Ben Folds tickles the ivories.

It was.

The Houston Independent School District has produced a video to promote early voting featuring teachers, faculty and other district staff — including what must be the HISD board itself — throwing their hands in the air in the style of PSY's "Gangnam Style," the inexplicably popular line-dancing video by a Korean dance-pop singer that is now approaching some 300 million YouTube views.

Even more surreal, HISD's version has "lyrics" captioned onscreen, like "voting early makes me dance, makes me dance like a silly cowboy."

This video begs several questions: How much tax money was used for this? Shouldn't these kids be in class? How long did take to explain to those bus drivers what "Gangnam Style" is? And why didn't we get to do things like this when we were in school? But most of all, huh?

Ah well, at least everyone's exercising. And anything that gets people to vote early (or at all) is worthwhile, we say.

HISD is hardly the first organization to jump on the Gangnam bandwagon, though. Other parody/tributes have come from the University of Oregon football team, some cadets in the U.S. Naval Academy's 22nd Company, Saturday Night Live (featuring PSY himself), some dude dressed like Gandalf and "Hot Moms and Cute Babies."

Early voting begins October 22. CHRIS GRAY

Only in Houston

Musically, Houston Sells Itself Short

Look, we all know Houston has a lot going on and a lot to be proud of. As one of America's biggest and busiest cities, it offers an almost infinite array of diversions and amusements to go along with world-class shopping, restaurants, universities and medical care.

But some of us also believe that Houston is one of the best music towns around and has been for a long time. Seems like we've been beating that particular drum forever. (Yes, it is our job.)

Lots of other people know it, too, from the Europeans who line up to see some of our venerable blues and R&B musicians to the indie-rockers shocked at the packed houses and enthusiastic crowds that greet them here and the city of Austin, which sometimes seems like it is entirely populated with former Houston musicians.

So Rocks Off was a little dismayed when last week we started poking around the city's official visitors site to see what kind of musical assets Houston was touting to the world in its quest for those prized tourist dollars. There wasn't much.

Right up front, the site,, is first-class (almost) all the way. It would take a smarter computer person than us to identify the specific software used by the Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, which maintains the site, but they have to be happy with the results. The site is easy to load, graphically rich and aesthetically pleasing, packed with information, and even fun to explore.

It's just really difficult to find anything about music on there at all, even more troubling considering many of the people in the GHCVB's current "My Houston" ad campaign are musicians like Beyoncé, ZZ Top and Lyle Lovett. CHRIS GRAY

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