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New Year's Resolutions for Houston

Joe Rocco

As workaday Houstonians, we are all united in one thing: We will make New Year's resolutions, and we will break them by Groundhog Day. But what of the high and mighty, the rich and powerful, the bold and the beautiful? Don't they have anything they want to change in 2006? Here are our ideas -- offered free of charge -- that some prominent Houstonians might want to consider.

Tom DeLay, U.S. congressman: "I resolve to always look as good as my mug shot during 2006."

The man who recently stepped down as House majority leader is facing more indictments and court time than Michael Jackson after a month in Boys Town, but did you check out that mug shot? Jesus. The guy looks like a million bucks, flashing that megawatt smile and a demeanor that says "I enjoy screwing donkeys up the ass" (in the figurative sense, of course). Take out that Harris County booking slate, and you could easily transfer that photo to the cover of GQ -- or at least Fat Cat Quarterly.

DeLay should forget all that muckety-muck about influence-peddling, exotic paid-for golf trips and putting most of his immediate family on a hefty salary for "consultation." He should clear his troubled mind and become a male model. The houses of Hilfiger and Versace should be vying desperately to clad the Sultan of Sugar Land as he strolls down the halls of power in Washington. In the words of Fernando, you, Tom DeLay, you look fab-o-lus!

Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church: "I resolve to preach more from the Bible in 2006. "

We certainly don't want to take anything away from last year's ultimate Local Boy Done Good. After taking over the pulpit from his late father, Joel Osteen has become a global religious phenomenon with an immense TV ministry, a No. 1 book (Your Best Life Now) and a new home for the nation's largest church in the former Compaq Center, a place more familiar to, say, the devout followers of the Houston Rockets and Mötley Crüe than the Holy Spirit (we do hope the renovators got all those used condoms out of the bathrooms from the Shout at the Devil era).

But often Osteen relies heavily for source material on the Book of Tony -- Tony Robbins, that is. There's much talk about "discovering the champion in you" -- but not much about Jesus Christ -- in his mainly motivational sermons. After hearing them, you want to not only give your life to God but follow "Ten Steps to Increasing Positivity" and sell more copies of Grit than anyone else in your class. Still, if one of the earthly rewards is getting a hot mama like Victoria for a wife (despite her recent travel problems), can you blame someone for not spending too much time on the boring old Book of Leviticus?

Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child: "We resolve to really stay broken up in 2006."

These three bootylicious babes are the most successful music act to come out of Houston. But come on now, ladies, how can we miss you if you won't leave?

After going on hiatus once to pursue solo projects -- during which time Beyoncé's solo star shone brightest (it helps to stand out when your parents run the group and you're in the center of every photo) -- the trio released Destiny Fulfilled and launched a long good-bye tour and media blitz that made Howard Stern's look like a smoke break. And as if to sop up every last potential dollar, Destiny really amped up their endorsements, despite the fact that it's unlikely they actually frequent said businesses. ("McDonald's fruit and walnut salad? We're lovin' it!" "We always buy our family Christmas gifts at Wal-Mart!") And, of course, who can forget the BET Awards Show, where these self-professed good Christian girls gave on-stage lap dances so steamy that many viewers felt compelled to stuff dollar bills into their cable boxes.

But let's face it: The modern-day Supremes busting apart is hardly in the same league as the Beatles' rooftop farewell. And there's little doubt that the trio -- or at least Beyoncé and some ringers -- won't get back together "because the fans demanded it" sometime in the future. Just take some time off, though, before staging a "Destiny Reunited!" tour. Or at least wait until your latest projects do a Mariah Carey-style Glitter tanking.

Robert Durst, millionaire crossdressing murderer: "I resolve to stay out of prison in 2006."

Forget about O.J. getting away with murder. Here's a guy who admitted to killing, dismembering and dumping the body of a neighbor in Galveston Bay and still managed to get a not-guilty verdict back in 2003. Even the black cloud of suspicion in his first wife's still-unsolved disappearance and his, um, unorthodox dressing habits didn't sink him. So you'd think this guy would do everything he could to not tempt fate again, right?

 

Not exactly. Durst was arrested and jailed again last month for violating parole for returning to Galveston and his former residence there. When a former neighbor who testified against him at the murder trial saw him standing there in the flesh (cue the theme from Halloween), that good citizen was undoubtedly surprised. A few days earlier, in a freak coincidence, Durst also ran into Judge Susan Criss, who presided over the trial, while shopping at the Galleria. We suggest that as soon as he gets out, Durst get himself an Xbox 360 and as many cable channels as possible and just chill at his crib for a while.

Al Edwards, Texas state congressman (D-Houston): "I resolve to drop my anti-cheerleading crusade and bust out some of my own moves in 2006."

Edwards drew national attention last year for his obsessive one-man campaign to outlaw "sexually suggestive" routines by usually virginal Texas high school cheerleaders. Apparently, an excess of rump-shakin' and pom-pom-grinding on the playing field is yet another sign of the pending Apocalypse.

Edwards's original bill called for cutting off state funding to schools housing offending hip-hip-hoorayers. When that garnered about as much support as a proclamation allotting a Gay Cowboy Day might, the bill was toned down and passed. But it neither defined what's considered an offense nor laid out any specific punishment. The bill to date has no sponsor in the state Senate.

So maybe Edwards needs to do a little cheerleading of his own and demonstrate for senators some fresh moves he considers acceptable -- like the Twist, the Swim, the Jerk and maybe (if his joints are well oiled) a little Robot. Hell, let's see Al krumping. Now those are good, clean dances to inspire a team of boys whose job it is to pile onto each other, pass their balls around and smack each other on the butt.

Two, four, six, eight!

From now on we won't gyrate!

Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, former chairman and CEO of Enron: "We resolve to restore our business reputation by running the prison commissary in 2006."

And then there were two. Since it seems that most of the former employees under them have turned rat, pleaded to lesser offenses, done their time or are doing their time, that leaves (apologies to Dr. Seuss) Thing One and Thing Two as the top prosecutorial prizes in the biggest business collapse in American history. Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee pleaded ignorance to any financial hanky-panky, blaming it on "lower level" employees who must have possessed Mission: Impossible-level operations to keep dealings secret from the dynamic dunderheads. Skilling faces 30-plus criminal counts and Lay 11, including fraud and conspiracy, in a co-trial that begins January 30.

The smart money says that both men will be spending some time in the slammer, and what better place to work on their business résumés and get back some of their good rep? Buying, selling and trading oil and energy is no different from commerce involving a carton of Camels, phone cards or somebody's bitch named Stanley. If Heckle and Jeckle could just blend the philosophies of Adam Smith and Warren Buffett with the principles of Tookie Williams and John Gotti, they could have the prison commissary running smoothly and efficiently. Sound a'ight?

Bill White, mayor of Houston: "I promise not to respond to any more natural disasters outside Houston in 2006."

No one questions that the city of Houston went above and beyond in its extraordinary response to aiding the tens of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina that poured into the city. City and local governmental agencies, along with churches, community and aid groups and the faceless army of tireless volunteers responded to the needs of evacuees.

Heading the charge of Houston's hospitality brigade was White, who welcomed the evacuees, worked with County Judge Robert Eckels to open city and county buildings and area hotels and basically said, "Take care of the people now, and we'll sort out the details later." Well, later has arrived, and the realities of this generosity are coming home.

Already strained school, job and social service programs are groaning. FEMA has sometimes been vague or slow about concrete answers and financial reimbursement to the city. Charity fatigue, jealousies, greed and a small segment of evacuees criminally acting the fool are starting to turn public opinion from "Welcome" to "Can I help you with your luggage?"

Mayor White, you and Houston have done your part and done it amazingly. But if another massive hurricane displaces an entire populace, hand over the phone numbers for the mayors of Dallas and Miami.


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