Warning: If a homeless man wandering around the artists' Warehouse District of north downtown tries to sell you a 19th-century painting -- specifically, a watercolor by Thomas Flintoff, an English romantic period artist -- chances are it's stolen.
A thief made off with the historic painting, valued at $10,000, from the lobby of Christ Church Cathedral late last month. On the same day it was stolen, a suspect tried to hock it -- during Houston's annual Art Crawl tour/sale at downtown galleries and studios, no less. Art Crawl director John Runnels had just stepped out of his studio at Walnut and Sterrett to check on the event's banners when "this fella comes waltzing up the street and accosted" him.
The fella -- felon? -- tried to sell Runnels a gold-colored wood-framed, glass-matted painting of Houston's original Christ Church. Runnels thought that perhaps an artist had concocted a brilliant sales device by hiring street people to sell paintings. When Runnels declined the man's offer, the Begging Bandit approached other artists. No one was interested.
Runnels says he's seen the man in the neighborhood before. He describes the guy as a thin, middle-aged African-American transient, about five foot eight with graying hair.
An image of the painting is posted on www.theartcrawl.com. It depicts the original Christ Church, built in 1847, and the county courthouse.
The church, located at Texas and Fannin, has its other valuable paintings safely secured, according to church spokeswoman Diana Untermeyer. The stolen piece was being held temporarily and therefore was not placed on hard-to-remove safety hooks, she explains. -- Craig Malisow
Lost at Sea
House speaker Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, eager to spend as little time as possible on the island of Manhattan during the 2004 GOP Convention, looked at docking a cruise ship to act as a floating hotel for him and his fat cats.
We've all seen the ads for cruise ships. Even if we pay attention only to lament their use of Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" as the soundtrack and wait for the moment where they edit out Iggy's heartfelt celebration of "liquor and drugs and the flesh machine." Still, you can't miss the wide range of fun activities these ships allegedly offer.
What about Tom DeLay's cruise ship? DeLay has -- at least temporarily -- abandoned the idea, but we can still dream.
First off, the theme music wouldn't be "Lust for Life." It'd be the Carpenters' "Close to You" with, of course, a judicious editing of the racy lyrics "the angels got together."
And instead of rock climbing and Las Vegas-style nightclubs, the entertainment would be more DeLay-ish.
Don't fool yourself that it would all be squeaky clean. The S&M scenes where DeLay whips submissive conservatives into doing his bidding -- even if it means blowing up the federal budget to pay off corporate donors -- are definitely not for the squeamish.
But mostly the S.S. DeLay would be a pleasant world where Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American" is constantly piped through the PA system, where the only minorities are at your service, and where every hour another gullible moderate who's been lured on board by the "compassionate conservatism" banner is made to walk the plank.
Would it be too much to ask that, sometime during the convention, they take a three-hour tour (a three-hour tour)? We think DeLay would look great in Gilligan's hat. -- Richard Connelly
Just in case you didn't watch Fox 26 News last month, here is some earthshakingly important information you missed: Guys, don't take your pal's freshly used condom, turn it inside out, and then have sex with your girlfriend.
Reporter Reshonda Tate filed what we have to believe -- if only for the sake of our already shaken faith in TV news -- was an exclusive report that contained this gem. Positioned in the front seat of a car and brandishing a Trojan wrapper, Tate told viewers about a frolicking foursome hampered by a rubber shortage.
Couple No. 1 had their fun in the backseat, then handed the used condom to what had to be a very smooth-talking male half of Couple No. 2. That male half, who apparently did better in debate club than he did in biology class, turned the wienie wrapper inside out and made sweet front-seat love to his own woman. Does it get any more romantic than that?
At any rate, that second woman now turns out to be pregnant from the male half of Couple No. 1, Tate said. Which is really a tough break for that guy, not having had at least the momentary pleasure of doing her and all. (At least he got to listen.)
We look forward to more seemingly obvious sex tips from Tate: "Don't Do It with Your Dog" and, of course, "Wash That Dildo!" -- R.C.
Angels in America
Many of us have been distraught since the cancellation of the TV series Touched by an Angel. Well, perhaps "distraught" isn't exactly the right word. And you could certainly quibble with "many."
At any rate, those who have been distraught are about to find salvation. Dan Patrick, former ultra-goofy sports anchor, current Clinton-hating right-wing radio host on KSEV-AM, is about to give to America a show called In the Presence of Angels.
And forget all that wimpy fictional stuff you saw on the canceled show. This here is a reality program. (About angels.)
Patrick, who is by all accounts a very sincere -- not to mention excessively enthusiastic -- former sinner and born-again Christian, says the show will re-enact true stories of dying people who encountered angels as they prepared to exit this Vale of Tears.
The idea came when Patrick stayed with his dying father at a Houston hospice a year ago; he heard stories from workers about unexplainable visions and occurrences.
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"I felt these stories could bring hope to people, that death is not a time to dread," he says.
They also brought relief to more than 30 Houston-area actors, who were cast in the $150,000 pilot episode shot this fall at an almost-finished new tower at Memorial City Hospital.
Publicist Rod Mitchell says a major deal for airing the show will be announced in a month or so, although details "cannot be divulged" now. Already there's enough material for 13 one-hour shows, he says.
That is one helluva lot of angels. We assume they're all Bush supporters. -- R.C.