Study: Free Press Summer Fest Brought Houston $14 Million

Only in Houston

According to the results of a University of Houston economic study released October 5, Free Press Summer Fest brought in more than $14 million to the local economy this year.

The study was conducted by Steven G. Craig and Evert Crawford, a professor in the UH Department of Economics and the director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the Hobby Center for Public Policy, respectively. Among their findings:

• More than 26 percent of the total 81,000 Summer Fest visitors were from out of town.

• Businesses and services affected by Summer Fest included food services and drinking establishments, facilities-support services, entertainment promoters, employment services, private hospitals, and even oil and gas extraction­.

Food and beverage and facilities support brought in approximately the same amount ($1 million) in labor income, but food and bev yielded almost a full million dollars more in output than facilities at $2.7 million vs. $1.9 million.

Stuff You Should Know About

Miss Mykie Named New 106 & Park Co-Host

Ms. Gray is a proud mama.

It is the first really chilly night of the year, and Gray is fighting a sore throat, but she remains firmly planted at the head table in House of Blues' Elwood Room. A waiter brings her a cup of hot tea with honey, and she is grateful.

"I hope this makes me feel a little better," she says.

Behind her, the wind chill blows through a tree's branches furiously, contrasting with the warm red tones of the Elwood Room and the funky tunes playing overhead — "Ladies Night," "Word Up," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered."

"Hand me that sugar," she says to a friend seated beside her. "I want real sugar!"

With a Cincinnati Reds baseball game playing on a TV in the room's center, the scene looks like one of easy domesticity, as if Gray's husband might come in at any moment and plop down with a nice cold one.

As it would happen, Gray is out on a Saturday night to celebrate. She is mother to another Ms. Gray — Mykel Gray, that is — who performs under the moniker Miss Mykie and has just been handpicked to be the new host of BET's music-video countdown show 106 & Park.

Ms. Gray is undoubtedly a proud mama.

Mykie enters minutes later; her bubbly charm and fierce, curly mohawk brighten the subdued red room. She's only been on the job for a week, but she already behaves like a polished professional, flashing a bright smile, a "Hi, how are you?" and a warm hug to everyone present.

But it's easy to be pleasant after bouncing from being a local talent to hosting a bastion of urban culture. "I feel blessed," says Mykie about being chosen as a host. "It was something that I didn't expect."

Mykie's road to 106 & Park began with a guest co-hosting gig in July. Once the stint was done, she came back home, thinking that was that, but BET had other plans.

"They had me come out three times," she says, explaining that she didn't know she was actually trying out for a permanent position.

The third time must've been the charm, for Mykie was finally offered the job. She joins three other cast members for the show's new lineup: Bow Wow, Kimberly "Paigion" Walker and Shorty da Prince.

Mykie currently flies between cities to tape, but she's planning on making a permanent move to New York soon. Altamese Osborne


The 5 Greatest Goth Albums of All Time

5. Christian Death Catastrophe Ballet (Cleopatra, 1984): Theatre of Pain was a great album, don't get me wrong, but Catastrophe Ballet is where Rozz Williams stopped trying to be some kind of beat poet and showed that he really could do some awesome singing. He was also doing a lot of mushrooms and getting into Dada when he wrote it, so it's deliciously surreal. Warning: This album is basically a gothic aphrodisiac. Don't put it on if you don't want to knock boots. JEF WITH ONE F

4. Siouxsie & the Banshees

Kaleidoscope (Geffen, 1980): Like Joy Division's Closer, released the same year, the aptly named Kaleidoscope helped set goth apart as something different besides strictly post-punk rock, with the added benefit of being a lot more fun to listen to. Singles "Happy House" and "Christine" showed the Banshees' growing command of popcraft, but with plenty of darker nooks and crannies ("Tenant") and odd instrumental touches — the clicking camera shutter of "Red Light," wheezing accordion of "Skin" — to go along with it. Elegant and mysterious. CHRIS GRAY

3. The Cure

Disintegration (Elektra, 1989): Somehow the Cure managed to secrete two of their best pop songs (and biggest hits) into the forest of despondent keyboards and guitars that is Disintegration. But strangely enough, lengthier meditations like "Fascination Street" and "Pictures of You" are just as melodic and captivating as "Lovesong" and "Lullaby." Eventually Disintegration drifts off into, well, "The Same Deep Water as You" and songs that grow to seven, eight and even nine minutes, but before that happens, the Cure has already made a record of stunning beauty and haunting sadness. Stick around to the end and it gets sadder. CHRIS GRAY

2. Alien Sex Fiend

Drive My Rocket (Cleopatra, 1994): So much of Alien Sex Fiend's work came to us in singles that your best bet with them is a compilation album. There's simply no other way you'll get to have massive Numbers hits like "I Walk the Line" and "Now I'm Feeling Zombified" on one record. Drive My Rocket is one of the easier ones to find (in physical form), has the best mix of tunes and gets its name from one of their greatest songs to boot. Sadly, it's not on iTunes, so if that's your preferred method, go with The Best of Alien Sex Fiend instead. JEF WITH ONE F

1. Sisters of Mercy

First and Last and Always (Elektra, 1985): How could it be anything else? Actually, both authors are partial to 1987 follow-up Floodland — by which point everyone but Sisters mastermind Andrew Eldritch had split acrimoniously — but First and Last and Always will not be denied. Eldritch begins with the befouled world of "Black Planet" and drives on from there, down a long and lonesome highway full of abandonment and despair ("Walk Away," "Marian"). Eldritch's foreboding baritone makes him sound like a prophet of doom throughout the album, but the true pièce de résistance is closer "Some Kind of Stranger," which stretches past seven minutes of baroque, exquisite anguish that drips off lines like "I'd settle anytime for unknown footsteps in the hall outside." Chris Gray

Hollywood Shuffle

Is Adele's "Skyfall" the Worst Bond Theme of All Time?

Fifty years after the release of the very first Hollywood adaptation of Ian Fleming's superspy, James Bond returns to make his 23rd appearance on the silver screen this month in Skyfall, Daniel Craig's third crack at the character. The media blitz for the film's premiere is already in full effect, led by the release of Adele's new Bond theme song, the sensibly titled "Skyfall."

While the new movie's success has yet to be determined, the theme has all the makings of a hit. With Adele in the midst of a self-imposed hiatus from music as she carries her first child to term, pretty much anything the "Rolling in the Deep" singer puts out right now is going to be snatched up greedily by her fans. Expect it to make a big splash on the charts. Just don't expect a masterpiece.

Sure, Adele has won the hearts of millions worldwide with her bold, rich tone, but "Skyfall" diminishes her somehow. Falling well short of sultry, her soft cooing on the track threatens to disappear into the lush arrangement instead of blasting it into the stratosphere where it belongs. Chart-topper or no, this one ain't likely to appear at the top of any Bond best-of lists anytime soon.

But is it bad enough to rank among the worst?

003. Sheryl Crow, "Tomorrow Never Dies": "Tomorrow Never Dies" starts out fairly promisingly, thanks to a return to the rich string arrangements that have come to define Bond themes. The problem here is with the artist chosen to sing the tune. Sheryl Crow is a fine singer, mostly, but she's spectacularly unsuited to this style.

Crow's easygoin' West Coast whisper simply can't carry a track this big and swaggering. Her voice sounds thin and nasal on "Tomorrow Never Dies," falling far short of the sensuality required to pull it off. You wouldn't think it'd be so easy to rob a star like Crow of her sex appeal, but this dull ditty manages the feat in well under four minutes.

002. Lulu, "The Man with the Golden Gun": The bizarre, syncopated brass-and-xylophone line that opens this track sets a disorienting tone right off the bat, but it's the grimace-inducing double entendres in the lyrics that really crank up the crap quotient. Lulu's voice is entirely wasted on this crippled mess of a song, which longtime Bond composer John Barry considers his worst ever. It ain't hard to see why: It's entirely free of any coherent musical ideas.

Shock-rock demigod Alice Cooper claims that his song, "Man with the Golden Gun," was dropped from the film in favor of this one, begging the obvious question, "Fucking WHY?"

001. Madonna, "Die Another Day": Full disclosure: I'm a huge Madonna fan, and I absolutely can't wait to catch her latest act at Toyota Center next week. But "Die Another Day" is shit, plain and simple. In fact, it's far and away the stinkiest green turd in the Bond theme-song bowl.

Owing entirely to Madonna's hard-won global fan base, "Die Another Day" was one of the most commercially successful Bond themes ever released. Shame, too, because no one should pay money for this dreck. Not even Q employed this many electronic sweeteners!

It's tough to say what's most annoying about the song: The incessant refrain of the title, the egregious use of Auto-Tune or the entirely nonsensical Sigmund Freud name-drop. It's like trying to pick out your least favorite pubic louse.

This embarrassment represents not only the nadir of Bond music, but of Madonna's 21st-century reinvention, as well. It won her a Razzie for Worst Original Song in 2002, and if against all sanity it makes an appearance in Madge's October 25 set list, I'm walking the fuck out. Nathan Smith


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