Lady Gaga brought her Born This Way Ball to Toyota Center January 31.

That friend who lacked hygiene, whom you put up with because he had charisma and played good tunes? He has cleaned up, and is looking to party again. And yes, his restrooms have been heavily reconditioned: new sinks, new toilets, new floor boards, repainted walls, the works.

Hinton has a background with Ra Sushi, SkyBar and Gatlin's Barbecue, and even worked in retail sales for the Houston Press from April 2011 to April 2012. She says The Alley Kat's goal is simple: The owners want to continue to complement the neighborhood and offer an easygoing environment in which to enjoy a beverage with friends.

Open since early January, the venue doesn't have any firm plans for a grand opening yet. Hinton says they want to finish refurbishing the back building's bar and upstairs area, which she says will eventually play host to live music again.

The Alley Kat has been spruced up a bit from its days as the Mink, but is still recognizable.
Matthew Keever
The Alley Kat has been spruced up a bit from its days as the Mink, but is still recognizable.
The author's daughter is still warming up to Iggy Pop.
Lynda Rouner
The author's daughter is still warming up to Iggy Pop.

"We don't want to identify ourselves as a club," Hinton says. "A club is a two-year business model, and we intend to be here ten years from now. We want to become a staple of the neighborhood, like the Continental Club and the Breakfast Klub.


It's no easy feat explaining how CDs work to a toddler.


I was strapping my daughter into her car seat when she said, "Daddy, I want my favorite book."

She was pointing at the floorboards in the back, where a stratified layer of various toys, books and random objects she has demanded to entertain her during car rides and then abandoned after 15 minutes continues to grow.

The specific item she wanted this time was Iggy Pop's album Preliminaries, which for some reason continuously follows me into the car no matter how many times I've taken it inside. I handed the cardboard sleeve to her. Sometimes she treats DVDs as books because they open, so I figured this was an extension of that. I got in the front seat and started to drive.

"Oh," she said. "It's a movie, Daddy!"

"No, sweetie," I replied. "It's a CD."


"It plays music," I said, realizing that she had never seen a CD before in her life. "You put it in a special machine and listen to it. It's how we used to listen to songs back in the old days."

Old days... Jesus, God in heaven, I have old days now. I took the CD from her and put it in the player. Iggy's languid pseudo-French cabaret attempt started to play.

"We could just use your phone," she said to me as if I weren't quite getting it.

"Believe it or not, love, phones used to just be able to call people. We couldn't listen to songs on them, or watch videos, or take pictures, or do Facetime. We used to not even be able to take them out of the house because they had to be attached to the wall."

"Really," she said. "Wow. So, we could watch Pinkie Pie on the DC?"


Three famous albums that have been stolen.


Songs are like babies. Some of them drop into the world with barely a push, while others require yanking out with a wicked set of tongs after a long labor. Generally the latter is more common than the former, which is why any musician worth his or her salt carries around some sort of notebook to keep track of ideas, lyrics, chord progressions and the like.

Sometimes these notebooks, laptops and even whole sets of masters get stolen. More often than not, that's the end of the project. If you're out there saying, "Why can't you just start over again?" then you've never really made an album before. Creativity is a capricious mistress that tends to answer every question with "No, nothing's wrong. Absolutely nothing."

If a musician loses his or her all-important records of creative sparks, those sparks are usually just gone. At least three albums have been aborted this way, all because of sticky-fingered jerks looking for a quick score and not realizing they'd hijacked someone's hard work. Sometimes it was honestly for the best, and sometimes it was absolutely devastating.

Let's take a look at what unbridled jerkery has caused.

3. U2's October (The Less Crappy Version): Ask any U2 fan what his or her least favorite U2 album is and he or she will probably say Coldplay's Viva La Vida (zing!). Assuming he doesn't, you'll probably hear him mock the Irish band's second album, October. It's just not very well put-together, nowhere near as cohesive as 1983's War or even previous album Boy. There's a good reason for that.

Bono's briefcase full of October's lyrics was stolen out of the band's limo after a show in Portland, Oregon, with the band due to record the very next month. Bono was literally trying to re-create the lyrics by writing them at the microphone during the sessions while producer Steve Lillywhite paced up and down glaring at him as the cost mounted. As a result, U2 refers to the recording as their worst studio experience, and the album is consistently regarded as one of the band's weakest.

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