How Do Today's Surf-and-Sand Hits Rank Against Yesterday's?

Comparing 2014 to 1984 beach tunes.

1984 Michael Jackson vs. 2014 Michael Jackson: As is often the case, it all comes down to Michael Jackson. His posthumous duet with Justin Timberlake, "Love Never Felt So Good," is getting good buzz, with some listeners recalling "Off the Wall." Surely, the talented Timberlake takes the song to a better level, but Jackson is an idol of his, so let's give credit where it's due.

Nice to see Mike can still be a thriller. Since the song was actually written 30 years ago, is this a 1984 song or a 2014 song? Doesn't matter. When music makes the day under the sun and on the surf better, we're all winners. Advantage: Push

Only in Houston

A man plays upright bass on a Mexican beach...not the kind of beach music we had in mind.
John Picken via Flickr
A man plays upright bass on a Mexican beach...not the kind of beach music we had in mind.
Peter Beste

Spotlight on Metal
The leather-and-spandex past of a top Houston karaoke bar.

Alexa Crenshaw

Spotlight Karaoke is a popular Galleria-area destination that has been open for more than 15 years. Located at Westheimer and Fountainview, it houses a large space with several rooms' worth of karaoke and an adjacent store equipped with scads of karaoke music and machines.

A man named Charlie Chang is Spotlight's general manager, running both the Fountainview location and the newer one in Midtown, as well as the karaoke shop. He's also a closet metalhead, and remembers frequenting a club called Cardi's, which stood in Spotlight Karaoke's place a decade before Spotlight opened.

"I have to say that nothing's lasted in that spot as long as we have; we've been there as Spotlight Karaoke for 15 years," says Chang. "But Cardi's, man, that was just a huge thing. They had so many party times [laughs], and so many big names in heavy music played there."

Chang attributes his rites of youth and rock-and-roll glory to Cardi's, which hosted an encyclopedia of '80s hard-rock and hair-metal icons: Lillian Axe, Megadeth, Pantera, Madame X, Styx, Lita Ford, Zebra, Motörhead and more. The club came after a place called Fool's Gold, which was central to that era's growing honky-tonk trend, when disco clubs in Houston were being replaced by country-western joints. Then in came the '80s and all its leather and spandex in full force.

"The Cardi's spot did really feel different years later when we took it over," says Chang. "There's a lot of wide-open space in this building and you could go in different rooms, which worked out for all this music and stuff happening then, and now it is what it is today."

Cardi's opened in 1981 and lasted until 1988, or at least it was registered under that name for that length of time; from 1989 to 1998, that spot remained vacant, or at least was without a registered name. Then came Spotlight Karaoke, just as we know it today, where you can at least karaoke most of the bands who once played there from the bar's large song registry.

"Some of those bands from Cardi's came back recently," notes Chang. "They were meeting and taking a lot of pictures under the direction of a man named Hank who actually used to work at Cardi's."

That would be Hank Balz, a filmmaker who is now putting together a documentary about the scene at Cardi's. He plans to finish the film, which was originally called Spandex and Mandrax, in the next few months.

"This is a historic place...this is holy ground," says Balz. "Cardi's is what brought heavy metal to Houston, really creating and making that scene happen."

Balz encourages people who would like to share their Cardi's stories to contact him at or visit his Facebook page at

Ask Willie D

Back in the Game
A reader is ready to start dating after a divorce, but needs a little push.

Willie D

Dear Willie D:

I am a 37-year-old recently divorced mother of three with a successful career. I've been divorced for about eight months, but we were separated for around four years before we divorced. During that time, I never dated or stepped outside of my marriage. I have always felt as if I was doing something wrong even though he had moved on and had two kids with two different women. I still saw myself as a married woman, and never wanted to disrespect my husband.

Also, I never wanted my kids to think badly of me knowing that I was still married to their dad. I'm a small-town girl with small-town values and I was always taught to stay true to your husband no matter what. Well, now it's time for me to get out there in the dating world again and I don't know how. I don't go to clubs. I just moved to Houston and I really don't know anyone. Online dating is out of the question. How and where do I start with this dating thing?

Getting Out There:

The best way to meet people is to put yourself in social situations that reflect your interests. Since you don't have friends in Houston, volunteering at a nonprofit organization could be an excellent option. Giving back is a great way to surround yourself with good-hearted people and live a life of purpose. Get a gym membership and sign up for a cycling, dance or swim class. Take a computer or language course. Join a church.

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