We named it the Best Festival in Houston in '99 and Largest and Most Popular Street Festival in 2000. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Westheimer Street Festival was founded by a group of Montrose locals and business owners looking to promote neighborhood artists, restaurants and boutiques. By '99, the festival stretched along a whole mile of Westheimer, with more than 200,000 folks -- many wearing albino pythons as accessories -- milling about. But you can have too much of a good thing; at least, that's what a judge decided in 2000 after residents complained about garbage and parking problems. It was determined that the Montrose couldn't accommodate such a massive horde, and the festival moved down the road to Allen Parkway. But Allen Parkway does not a Westheimer Festival make. And when thousands of Houstonians expressed this sentiment to the Westheimer Street Festival board, it listened. After three years in exile, the festival is coming home. There is a twist, though: Organizers don't have permission to close the street, and they're expecting authorities to do so when the masses descend (we'll see how that goes). This year's attractions include a rock-climbing wall, a giant slide, games, a Jacob's Ladder, a cooling mist "rain forest," a gothic fashion show and a wet T-shirt contest. Note to folks who can't make RenFest: The Urban Animals are expected to show up and joust on skates. Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29. Westheimer at Montrose. For information, visit www.westheimerfestival.com. Free. -- Eric A.T. Dieckman
The State Grille's Old-Fashioned
A striking, statuesque beauty nicknamed the Texas Tornado recently blew into town. She was a longtime friend, and we decided to visit one of our old haunts. The Confederate House, a Houston classic, was a quiet sanctuary for folks wanting strong cocktails and traditional fare. A while back, new owners came along and decided the name -- and the life-size portraits of war heroes -- should be retired. The Tornado and I walked arm in arm into the revamped restaurant, now called The State Grille (2925 Weslayan, 713-622-1936). The place had changed, but not that much, and John the bartender recognized us even though we hadn't been there in more than a year. Whiskey was on my mind, and he suggested an old-fashioned. The bar in this place is one of my favorites. You can always count on a couple of geezers hanging around, looking for someone to talk to. And as sure as the sun comes up, within minutes, an old guy with a half-empty glass of scotch was asking my friend how we met. When the Tornado launched into the tale of how our relationship went from one of business to one of pleasure, I knew we'd be there for hours.
2 ounces Crown Royal
Dash of Angostura bitters
Splash of club soda
Lump of sugar
2 maraschino cherries
In an old-fashioned or rocks glass, carefully muddle the lump of sugar, bitters and a tiny amount of soda water. Add a couple of cubes of ice, the fruit and the whiskey. Fill the glass with more ice and top with another splash of soda. -- J.W. Crooker
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Pixies from Hell
Imagine that the Barenaked Ladies had evil twins who were fixated on the Pixies. Then you might begin to understand the sonic blur that is Mink Lungs. The Brooklyn, New York, quartet caroms from one slice of pop to the next with virtually no breathing room, shimmying through an amalgam of neopsychedelic jams, power chords, looped effects and tittering vocals. The Lungs' latest release, I'll Take It, contains snippets about sex, a dishwasher who yearns to burn down frat houses and the man downstairs who "don't like us much." And at a live show this weekend, guitarist Gian Carlo Feleppa will show you why he's one of the most underrated musicians on the planet. Doors open at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh Drive. For information, call 713-521-0521. $6. -- Greg Barr
Crowds gather at Galveston's East Beach to partake in the summer rituals of beer, sun, romance and puking. Oh, and dude, did we mention the chicks wear thongs? On Sunday, East Beach hosts its weekly $500 bikini contest, in which beachgoers get the chance to obtain reasonable proximity to someone named Mikki the Intern, the leader of a pack of silicone sirens. All the while, local bands belt out summertime tunes that'll put you in the mood to, um, pass out. Did we mention the chicks wear thongs? The Buzz Bikini & Beer Series contest: 4:30 p.m. Concert by the SOMA Band: noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 29. Take Seawall Boulevard to Boddeker and follow the signs. For information, call 409-762-3278. -- Greg Barr