Get ready for shrieking: Torrid is coming to Houston. At openings of Torrid stores across the country, plus-size women have flooded in, crying at the sight of alternative clothes that they can actually wear. "We've had customers coming in and giving hugs and kisses to store managers," says Meg Clymer, divisional merchandise manager.Torrid was started by the mall-rat staple Hot Topic in 2001 after customers complained that they wanted larger sizes. The store is marketing its club, street, rockabilly and punk wares toward 15- to 30-year-olds. In the past, it has been hard to find "fashion-forward, edgy" clothing in plus-sizes. "In a lot of cases," says Clymer, "the customer had been relegated to the back end of a department store, and that wasn't a hip place to be." Often, all they could find were "more mature fashions that her mother might wear." It's doubtful many moms wear little red camis that read, "THIS KITTY IS FEISTY." And lots of Torrid clothes are available nowhere else; for once, says Clymer, chubby girls "can look even more hip than their size 7 friends." The Galleria Torrid opens March 28; the Memorial City Mall store is already open. For information, visit www.torrid.com.-- Cathy Matusow
The Write Stuff
So you've submitted stories to those hip literary journals like McSweeney's, but nobody's biting. You're sick of rejection but ambitious as hell. What do you do? In 2000, Pindeldyboz was hatched when a group of friends in Queens, New York, created a Web site where they could show their work. The first print edition was published in 2001; since then, contributors have included award-winning writers, and every issue has sold out. This weekend, Pindeldyboz editor Whitney Pastorek brings together some of her magazine's Texas contributors. 3 p.m. Saturday, March 29. The Black Labrador Pub, 4100 Montrose. For information, call 713-529-1199. $5. -- Troy Schulze
A Snake in the Grass
A quick glance at Samantha Simpson's paintings might not clue you in to her radical tendencies. The artist uses a deceptively innocent style, complete with cartoonlike graphics, to comment upon "patriarchal hegemony." In one work, a coiled green snake is surrounded by fawning rodent-type creatures in dresses. Also on view: works by Serena Bush. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main. For information, call 713-528-5858. -- Cathy Matusow
A New Philosophy
John Davis gives one lucky town a makeover
Texas needs a new art town. Marfa's too far away, and Austin's overdeveloped.The good news is, we don't have to sit around waiting for a scene to spring up on its own. John Davis wants to build an arts center in a town of 250 to 5,000 people, located somewhere in the United States. The catch: It must be willing to change its name to Philosophy.
Davis has already worked his magic in New York Mills, Minnesota, a prairie town with a population of 900 people. He started an arts center there in 1990 by renovating a historic building, and, he says, "people got more of a sense of pride in the town." Soon a bed-and-breakfast moved in, then a flower shop, and before long, New York Mills was named one of the top 100 art towns in America.
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Proposals will be accepted until October; preference will be given to towns where residents overwhelmingly support the idea. The city that wins will no doubt get some attention just for changing its name. It will also be the site of the now well-known "Kids Philosophy Slam," a national contest for philosophical youngsters.
Towns that already have arts centers need not apply: "What we don't want to happen," says Davis, "is for this program to misplace an existing arts organization." A locale with some creative folks, no formal arts program and a post office would be ideal. Of course, Philosophy could end up anywhere, but, says Davis, "Philosophy, Texas, has a nice ring to it." Especially if it's not too far away from Houston. For further information, visit www.cityofphilosophy.com. -- Cathy Matusow
Drug addiction within the film industry may seem like a played-out subject, but director Bruce Sinofsky doesn't browbeat his audience with tabloid headlines, mug shots or pathetic scenes of celebrities behind bars. Instead, Sinofsky's documentary Hollywood High chronicles the way movies have portrayed the drug culture. The film features interviews with movie icons (John Waters) and new talents (Darren Aronofsky) discussing the ways trafficking, policing and using have been presented since the '50s, with cautionary tales like The Man with the Golden Arm, starring Frank Sinatra as a heroin addict.
Free-spirited movies of the '60s and '70s (Easy Rider, Up in Smoke) accepted drugs as just another part of life until the heavy-handed moralizing of the '80s (Clean and Sober, Less Than Zero) demonized drugs. The '90s saw a more complex take on addiction. Films like Naked Lunch and Trainspotting examined the darker side of addiction while portraying drug abuse as glamorous. As director Mary Harron says in Hollywood High, "I think what happens in a lot of Hollywood films is they present very sexy people doing drugs and having a great time, and then horrible things happen to them. That's Hollywood's idea of a lesson." Hollywood High premieres at 8 p.m. Monday, March 31, on AMC (check your cable listings). -- Troy Schulze