Beer Island (2631 White Oak Dr., 713-862-4670) is a beer joint, and beer joints do not exist to surprise. They exist for the sustenance of those greatest of barroom traditions: sloppy billiards, conspicuous consumption of cheap beer, chasing unrequited "love" and eventually descending into an alcohol-induced argument about religion.
I'm checking out Mash-Up Friday at Beer Island, where droves of unpretentious drinkers baptize their livers in light beer and have their souls rattled by the very latest pop-music mash-ups. A "mash-up," for you uninitiated, is two songs played simultaneously. It's sort of like a remix, except that it's simply two tracks woven together. It grates on the ears of most seasoned listeners, but it's like junk food for people who spend their time listening to Top 40 radio. You'll hear nothing challenging or obscure it's one of those gimmicks that leaves a good taste in the mouths of the young and easily impressed.
The DJ doesn't just let the tracks fly against one another he/she mixes the two, filling the spaces and, if possible, drawing from disparate sources (e.g., Skynyrd and Beyoncé) or working around a theme. It's not my thing, but it is certainly impressive, in its way. The Light-Beer-Only faction of the 21-to-24-year-old crowd seems to think it's pretty neat. And even I can't help but have a strangeÉrespectÉfor anyone with the cojones to play "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Crazy in Love" in the same set, much less at the same time.
A mash-up of "White Wedding" and Pink's "Get the Party Started" is pouring out of the club's speakers when I notice three female Houston Press Street Team members carousing with a confident (read: drunk) fellow.
I check with my new buddy Roy (we met five minutes ago) and decide that it is, indeed, time to get the party started, and approach the Street Teamers.
"Are they going to know who you are?" he asks me.
"Hell no," I laugh, "I'm like an enigma, except that I'm an enigma that doesn't provoke any tangible interest. Like Daniel Baldwin."
Roy and I grab our pints and move toward the vacant pool table next to the Street Team. We introduce ourselves and the apparent leader steps forward to deal with us. I ask where else they've been, any good stories and so forth, then give her one of my business cards.
"Oh," she says, "You're a freelance writer." She says "freelance writer" the same way most people say "rotting animal carcass." Were I trying to impress her, I'd be vaguely offended. The drunken fellow is rightfully curious about the two guys who have crashed his scene. We're introduced let's say his name is Matt and he is immediately on the offensive. Roy smells trouble and wisely moves to the side, but I'm determined to make an impression. Matt and I exchange some witty banter. His hackles are raised, though, and he switches gears from awaiting provocation to becoming the provocateur.
"...and here's this guy," he points at me, "coming over here like he's Jesus."
Roy raises an eyebrow at the turn of events, just as confused as everyone else who heard Matt's asinine proclamation. I can't help but laugh.
"What?" Matt asks, "Do you think you're Jesus or something?"
"Well..." I say.
Matt is shocked. He turns to one of his friends, who seems to be enjoying a game of pool and is probably very content not to be currently accused of blasphemy.
"Did you hear that?" Matt asks. "This guy just said he was Jesus, man."
"No, I didn't," I chuckle.
"You did," he says. "I asked you and you said, 'Well.' You're not Jesus."
I know this. There is no one more sure of my non-Messiah-ness than me. Still, I respond: "Prove it."
Matt is incredulous. He eventually responds with a string of profanities and laughter. "You do miracles? Can you walk on water?" Matt asks. "I can't believe you just said you're Jesus."
"Hey," I wave, "I never said that. This isn't about me claiming to be Jesus. You seem pretty hung up on proving that I'm not, though, and I want to give you that opportunity."
"Walk on water," Matt demands. He picks up a cup of water and pours it in front of me. I put both feet in, eliciting a belly laugh from my accuser. Roy and I decide to step out at a high point and leave Matt and the Street Team to the rest of their night. I'm left to ponder how the ordeal luckily ended without someone me getting punched in the throat.
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Later, Roy and I are setting up for our second game of pool. We're being assaulted by a "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" mash-up when I look up to see Matt coming over, his hand extended. He tells me it was good talking to me, then he turns to Roy with whom he'd not spoken all night and shakes hands.
"And, I know you hate me," Matt says to Roy, "but it was nice meeting you, too."
Roy is confused by yet another left-field Matt-ism, but he doesn't miss a beat.
"I don't hate you, man," he says. "I've got Jesus in my heart."