Only in Houston
As I write this, I'm fewer than four days from firing up the grill, knocking back beers and listening to get-pumped music with great friends to watch the Houston Texans meet the Miami Dolphins at Reliant Stadium's 2013 preseason opener, my 12th in a row.
Best week of the year.
When we last saw Texas's winningest NFL playoff team of the current century, they were getting killed by Aaron Hernandez (though not literally, thankfully) and the New England Patriots. Only the Brady Bunch and four more quarters of professional football stood between our Texans and the Super Bowl.
Hopes are high again this year. Maybe it's just my unabashed fervor for the home team, but I'm drinking the battle-red, liberty-white and deep-steel-blue Kool-Aid, people. This is our year. See you in New Jersey come February.
Inevitably, all this singing the Texans' praises got me wondering whether any of them could sing. Can at least one carry a tune the way Ben Tate carries linebackers across the goal line?
In my ongoing attempts to get any of them to read anything I've written, solely so they'll know how much gratification they've brought to me, my family and friends, I'd like to pose those very questions. Which Texans should make an album? And which genres of music are best suited to these fellows?
One note: Every Texans player appears to want to be a rap star. There's room for only so many hip-hop artists and Arian Foster has already begun covering this ground, putting his poetry to beats with the guidance of H-town's own rap legend Bun B — whose name will be frequently appearing in the remainder of this blog — so I'll be skipping the rap category in these suggestions.
This was a no-brainer. Step up to the microphone, Duane Brown.
The NFL's best offensive lineman recently shared his pregame playlist with grammy.com, and it was mostly rap-oriented. But I still see him as the next coming of Gerald Levert.
For one, he's got the voice. You know he can go baritone with the best of them. Also, he's married to radio personality Devon "Devi Dev" Brown, so music isn't an afterthought in his life, it's at the forefront. And by many documented social-media accounts, Brown might be the nicest person in the city. He's a sweet guy. He's got natural lovin' in him.
A couple of our season tickets are three rows up in section 134. From there, you can see how ginormous Duane Brown is. The man dwarfs most of his hapless opponents. He can sing whatever he damn well pleases. Who's going to tell him he can't?
I scanned the Twitter pages of many of the Texans, searching for at least one mention of Slayer or Megadeth. No luck. (However, I did find out that practically the entire roster follows @BunBTrillOG.)
I considered Brooks Reed. After all, he's got the hair for hair metal. His hair is so exquisite, it has its own Twitter page, @BrooksReedsHair.
In the end, my best guess for a Texan to record a metal album is Brian Cushing. Mostly I wanted to mention Cush in this piece just so I could say what's up and welcome back from all your fans in Blue Lot, Section 21.
As proof, I'll offer this: No. 56 is from New Jersey; I'm pretty sure he heard plenty of headbanging guitars growing up there. He went to a Catholic high school; I did, too. When the Jesuit brothers who ran our place got all holier-than-thou (all the time, if you think about it), I personally went to my dookie-brown Honda Civic and cranked up some Judas Priest. You can't tell me Cush never did the same thing.
Also, you have seen that picture of Cushing's face drenched in blood during a game, right? If that's not metal, I don't know what is.
Initially, I thought, it's gotta be Randy Bullock. He's an Aggie and his tweets out him as a Duck Dynasty fan who watches Joe Dirt whenever it's on cable TV (which is pretty much every day). But in the end, I think Antonio Smith is really the man for the job. Maybe the whole Ninja Assassin persona recalls Wu-Tang more than Waylon, but trust me, he's the right man for this job.
For starters, Smith was born in Oklahoma. According to the pre-game package Channel 13 did before last weekend's game, that's where he spent his offseason — tending to cattle and riding horses. So the Ninja Assassin is a cowboy (mercifully, not the kind associated with Dallas).
You know he's listening to Rocks Off's favorite, Blake Shelton, out there on the ranch. I'll bet he knows all the words to "Okie from Muskogee." But don't just take my wild, unfounded assumptions as proof. Last February, the menacing disrupter of offensive plays everywhere posted this very chill, very country tweet:
"In Roosters, an old, down home breakfast spot in Jones, Oklahoma full of old timers, I heard this — 'The faster the woman, the older the whiskey.'"
TV Theme-Song Pop Hit
Back in the day, we had plenty of these songs burning up the radio airwaves, John Sebastian's "Welcome Back" and Jan Hammer's "Miami Vice Theme," to name a couple. There hasn't been a big TV-theme pop music hit since the one from Friends, so I'm picking that song and the group of Texans we need to cover it.
Take a bow, Bryan Braman, DeAndre Hopkins, Case Keenum, Earl Mitchell, Shiloh Keo and Cierre Wood — who could also do a joint cover of "Movin' On Up," the theme of The Jeffersons.
These Texans are all asserting themselves as starters or players who will provide the kind of depth needed to make a serious run at Super Bowl XLVIII. And since all of them love rap music and Bun B, we'll get him to write a dope-ass rhyme to include in the cover.
Plus, I demand a video featuring the prettiest cheerleaders in the NFL — the Texans', of course — and this supergroup doing the George Jefferson Dance. Too much to ask?
You didn't think I'd write an entire blog about my favorite team and not mention J.J. Watt, did you? If you did, perhaps you're one of Houston's I Am Legend-like loners still rooting for the Titans. Remember when that was a big thing around here, LOL?
If you're paying any attention at all, you know Watt is the next true Texans superstar in the making (thanks for being the first, Andre Johnson). Dude's in more TV commercials right now than the McIngvales and the DeMontronds combined.
He can do whatever he wants and it'll be solid. That's why I am hoping he wants to do polka music. No matter how bad it might be, people are still going to love it. I know I will. And many of my female friends will too, especially if he dons lederhosen.
And who's to say it'll be bad? On the contrary, it might be freakin' awesome. For one, the kid is nicknamed "The Milkman." He delivers. But also, he's from Wisconsin, arguably the polka capital of the country. Even if he's not a fan, he's heard some polka.
Pair him up with resident badass accordionist Roberto Rodriguez III. True, he's not Bun B, but I'll bet they still thrown down harder on that funky polka beat than Watt throws down puny quarterbacks.
Keep Calm, Fight Cancer
Musicians rally to help beloved Walters owner Pam Robinson.
On Saturday, August 10, an update on Walters' Facebook page announced that Pam Robinson had been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. But if the longtime Houston nightclub owner has taught us anything over the past couple of decades, it's that she's a fighter, and cancer is just another battle she's going to win.
And thanks to Robinson's supportive family, Walters' staff and the help of Houston's music scene, the downtown club will host a three-day benefit from September 6 to 8 to help raise money and relieve some of the financial burden.
Last week Rocks Off spoke with Robinson, who shared that she is currently undergoing chemotherapy and "very aggressive" gamma-ray radiation.
"I had no symptoms," Robinson says. "I went in for a bad backache, and they told me I had arthritis, but none of it was working. Around the end of June, my doctor told me, 'Well, Ms. Robinson, it seems you don't have arthritis; you have cancer.'"
According to Robinson, she had "tumors everywhere," including her ankles, knees, arms and back — which explains the back pain.
Leave it up to Houstonians to stand up and join the cause. In a little less than 48 hours after the Facebook post, the Walters update had already reached 15,000 people through shares, likes and comments.
"It's been overwhelming," says Kat Keeter, who works on the club's booking and management team. "We've had so many people step forward to offer their time or to donate to the benefit, and it just reiterated what an impact she's had on the Houston music scene."
The Suffers' front woman, Kam Franklin, agrees.
"She put bands on bills when no one else would," says the singer. "When other venues banned punk and hardcore acts, she welcomed them with open arms. While the opportunities have opened at other venues since then, Pam and Walters have remained consistent."
Franklin has a point.
Walters and Robinson — who started Walters as Walter's On Washington around 2003, the latest in a line of Robinson-owned venues including Silky's and Mary Jane's — have a reputation for taking a chance on people. Or rather giving them a chance to shine. For a long time, Walters was the only venue booking shows available to all ages and any genre. For the most part, that still holds true.
"We wouldn't be where we are without the help from Pam and Walters, and I'm sure a lot of Houston bands feel the same," says Mikey Seals, lead vocalist of Bury the Crown. "Pam and Walters have done so much for us without even batting an eye, and she has treated us with the utmost respect. When we found out about Pam, we wanted to do what we could to show our appreciation."
But as excited as they are to offer their time, the Suffers and Bury the Crown aren't the only ones. Because the benefit is being spread out over three days, 20 bands have volunteered their time and talents to the cause, which Walters is labeling "Keep Calm//Fight Cancer."
On Friday, September 6, many of Houston's top indie acts will be playing together, from the Tontons and New York City Queens to Second Lovers and Featherface. The next day is reserved for hardcore and punk bands such as Pride Kills, Black Congress and Peloton, before Sunday's show welcomes acts like The Last Starfighter, Pbearadactyl and Safe Haven.
But it wouldn't be a benefit without eats from local food trucks, as well as a silent auction in which benefit-goers can bid on things like Fun Fun Fun Fest passes, local artwork, salon gift certificates and more.
Entry at each show will be $10, and 100 percent of the proceeds from both tickets and the silent auction will go toward paying for Robinson's medical needs.
"I think Pam has done as much for Houston's music community as anybody," says Jeoaf Johnson, guitarist and singer for Knights of the Fire Kingdom and a former member of Walter's on Washington/Fat Cat's staff. "She's been tirelessly helping the local scene for years by giving bands a chance that wouldn't otherwise have a venue to play at.
"Beyond that, she's always been so gracious about working with outside promoters who brought national bands to town at a time when that element was so desperately needed to revitalize the scene here," Johnson adds. "Now it's better than ever, and Pam helped that happen."
Ask Willie D
Advice for a reader whose would-be boyfriend doesn't have a steady job, so won't commit.
Dear Willie D:
I've been seeing this guy I met through mutual friends for about a year now. We're sort of undercover — none of our friends know about us. We go out, have a great time and spend a good amount of time together, but when I bring up taking things to the next level, he says he's not ready for a commitment. It's safe to say I've developed real feelings for him.
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Recently I asked him again to commit and demanded a real reason why he couldn't, and he said he can't have a girlfriend right now because he doesn't have a stable job. I tried to tell him that wasn't important to me, but he insists that it's important to him. But now I'm starting to think maybe he's using me or, worse, he's embarrassed of me. What do you think?
People grow at different rates. Just because he's not ready to go all-in on a relationship at the moment doesn't mean he's using you or is embarrassed by you. Never pressure a person to commit to you in a relationship. Each time you bring up the topic, it will only annoy him and make you seem desperate. If you use arm-twisting tactics to coerce him into a relationship and he isn't ready, he will resent you later.
Money is an important component in a relationship. Perhaps he's seen how being financially unstable can ruin a relationship, and he wants to make sure he's achieved a certain level of success before committing so he doesn't have that problem. Continue to be your wonderful self and if it's meant to be, eventually he will take notice and commit. If not, the sea is full of fish waiting to be caught; you just have to use the right bait.