Access Texas is a glossy magazine that tries to be a step or two above the dreary level of those rags consisting mostly of party photos surrounded by ads for plastic surgeons who also write health columns. (How best to lose those holiday pounds? Try liposuction!)
The December issue of the publication, based in both Houston and Austin, features interviews with movie director Christopher Guest (Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman) and even Michael Chabon, the author of the current critics' fave The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. They're not the most insightful interviews around, but you've got to give the mag points for trying.
The issue also features a classic column from its fitness editor, a no-doubt finely chiseled chap named David Feuer.
There's an unsigned editor's note introducing the effort, one that begins by saying, "The holiday season brings out a lot of changes in people." It goes on to say that in the May issue of Access Texas, Feuer "in a less than professional manner attacked the livelihood and well-respected standing of World Gym of Austin."
It's then Feuer's turn. "I feel as if the general public and those who know me as a respected member of the fitness community in Central Texas," he writes, "have a right to know exactly what transpired before I proceed any further with this formal apology."
Having thus firmly established the public's Right to Know (not to mention that of the Central Texas fitness community), Feuer basically says that one day he got really, really pissed when he saw employees of World Gym's pro shop throwing out stacks of Access Texas because it had ads for gym stuff at lower prices.
"Unfortunately, I had the displeasure of witnessing this first-hand and was unable to maintain control of temper," Feuer writes. "My common sense and level of maturity were clouded by the fact that every day I had spent working through the course of the previous months was being thrown away by someone I hardly know. My actions were not only to defend my personal honor as a contributor to this publication, but also that of the publishers who employ me."
And his reward for defending their honor? "Sadly, my privilege to perform one of my favorite daily tasks, training at World Gym, was taken away," Feuer laments, lugubriously.
Ah, but hope is not extinguished. "My holiday wish," he concludes, "is that a working relationship may be reestablished between the magazine and World Gym as well as a professional relationship in my ability to once again have the option to train at your facilities.I know that laughing this whole thing off more than likely isn't going to happen in the near future, but I'd like to try to work at starting somewhere to see this thing through. Happy Holidays!"
In an interview, Feuer says his altercation over the magazines "got a little physical," but he doesn't want to go into details.
A month later, he wrote the column that further angered World Gym, citing in it someone who told him "training at World Gym [was] more painful than having her wisdom teeth removed without any anesthetic."
World Gym's lawyers made threatening noises, Feuer says, and an armistice was worked out. But the deal included banning Feuer from the company's facilities, he says.
After months of frustration, he's trying to make amends with the December column.
"Here in Austin, when it comes to working out, it's pretty much World Gym or nothing," he says.
And so a column was born. It beats spending 33 cents for a stamp, we suppose.
No Nudes Is Good Nudes
KPRC-Channel 2 sports anchor Chris Wragge has been painted as a grinch by the folks at Page Six, the famous gossip outlet of the New York Post. In a brief item December 11, the Post said that Wragge's wife, former Playmate of the Year Victoria Silvstedt, "is giving up nudity to save her marriage. [Wragge is] trying to talk her out of some steamy scenes in a movie titled Jacuzzi."
Wragge says it ain't so. For one thing, the movie is a Disney production called Out Cold. (According to Variety, it's a film that combines elements of Animal House, Caddyshack and whatever might come from a film about a man determined to open a snowboard park.)
For another thing, Wragge says, Silvstedt said no to a nude Jacuzzi scene on her own volition. "My wife is making a conscious decision not to be fodder for that type of stuff," he says.
Ummm, how about when she was Playmate of the Year in 1997? "She's European, and when you're in Europe, you have a whole different outlook on things," says Wragge, who's not from Europe. "We all make mistakes, and she looks back on that [Playboy gig] as a mistake."
Wragge married the Scandinavian model seven months ago. They met while he was interviewing her for Entertainment Tonight, the job he had before coming to KPRC in January.
"Speak to me as a normal American male -- would you want your wife doing a nude scene?" he asked us on the phone, as we desperately looked around the Houston Press newsroom for a "normal American male."
Some guys might get a kick out of the publicity, or at least the inevitable good-natured joshing, but Wragge ain't laughing. "I am not some joke, nor is she, and we will not be perceived that way," he says. "And any of my friends know that and wouldn't bring the subject up."
Chill, guy. You don't want to end up like David Feuer, going ballistic over the vagaries of magazine distribution.
Like a Virginian
The December 3 Houston Chronicle featured a wire story with this headline: "Drivers' Attention on Everything Else: Virginians Eat, Use Phone, Even Shave, Survey Says."
The accompanying story went on to say that a survey of 600 Virginians by Progressive Insurance showed that motorists ate, used the phone, even shaved while they were driving.
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Fascinating enough, we guess, if we were planning to drive through Virginia.
But if the Chron was determined to run a story about a survey by Progressive Insurance on driving habits, why not one about Texas?
The company sent out releases tailored to various states in October. A survey that featured the driving habits of Texas drivers -- including a section focusing entirely on Houstonians -- was sent to major and minor media outlets. One would presume that includes the Chron.
In case you're interested, Texans are more likely than Virginians to eat, use the phone or even shave while driving.