Frontier Justice

If We Crash -- I Will Survive!
Joe Rocco

In the movies, when an aggrieved victim decides to take justice into his own hands, things go great. When Brian Knight of Waller decided to do it, he ended up in the slammer, facing five to life.

Knight, 46, who police say owns a car dealership, was pissed that stereos and sound equipment kept getting lifted from his cars. So when he heard that Joshua Blanton, 18, allegedly had broken into one of the cars, he went looking for him.

And, like in the movies, he decided to set Blanton back on the road to the straight life by administering a little tough love. "It is our understanding," says Sergeant Gary Hammond of the Tomball police, "that he forced the individual to get in the vehicle with him to go back to [the dealership with the stereo] and reinstall it into the vehicle he had taken it out of."

Which, according to all that is Hollywood, eventually would have developed into an almost father-son relationship of gruff, unspoken love, mentioned only when the boy Blanton eventually started heading down the wrong path himself.

Shockingly, things didn't work out that way in Tomball. On his way out the door, Blanton told his girlfriend Knight had a gun, and she called the cops. And now Knight faces felony charges of aggravated kidnapping.

Why didn't he just call the cops? Neither Knight nor Blanton could be tracked down, but Hammond has a theory. "If I'm not mistaken, he states that he had been burglarized before and that he just decided to take it upon himself this time," he says, which isn't really much of a theory after all. "This is one of those situations that I wish he -- not only I, but I imagine he -- wishes he would've notified the police. It would've saved him a whole lot of trouble."

No charges have been filed against Blanton, even though he did have the seemingly suspicious stereo equipment with him.

Hammond can only shake his head at the case. "I mean, for a gentleman to have actually considered himself a victim to begin with -- within a matter of hours [he] turns into a suspect that is looking at serious punishment," he says, and you can all but hear the shrug over the phone.

So we guess real life isn't like the movies after all.

If We Crash -- I Will Survive!

Gay guys and lesbian gals like to go down, but they'll be going up -- in style! -- if Houstonian Guy Felder has his way. He and a friend are starting an air charter service called Fabulair, which aims to be to gays what HootersAir is to pathetic businessmen.

The idea started out as an e-mail spoof, but Felder (VP of marketing and officer of On-the-Ground Fabulousness) became convinced it could really work.

"We want to have the perception of a fun airline," says the 26-year-old University of Houston student. "We're not intending to fly bordellos…Our flights are not going to be sex orgies; there will be no drugs, none of that."

There will be drag-queen fashion shows, mid-flight seat switches and movies like Mommie Dearest. (Gee, couldn't they have named the thing Stereotype Airlines?)

Details are still being worked out -- which is entrepreneur-speak for "Believe it when you see it" -- but Felder hopes to start offering flights by August.

"We want to make getting there half the fun," he says.

You are now free to move about the cabin…girlfriend!

Promises, Promises

A group of parents has been trying for more than a year to have the former Milam Elementary transformed into an all-Montessori school; they've been raising funds and at one point even had model classrooms installed in the Heights-area school.

So they were a little dismayed to discover HISD's plans to make Milam into office space. Loading the building with files and bureaucrats wouldn't exactly fit the Montessori ideal of loose grade distinctions and hands-off education, after all.

They raised a ruckus and got a meeting with HISD superintendent Abe Saavedra, who told them on January 12 that he is still committed to the project. Another school slated to be closed will be picked as the new site, he said.

The parents are mollified, somewhat. "Right now it's like the old Reagan-Gorbachev days: 'Trust but verify,' " says Brad Sullivan of Houston Friends of Montessori. "The problem we've been having is that we've been hearing a lot of 'Free Beer Tomorrow' language from the school district all along, so we're being careful. But I feel reasonably good about it…Dr. Saavedra laid out a time line that is fairly aggressive."

In fact, Saavedra's time line calls for students to start being enrolled as soon as next month.

And the parents say they'll make HISD stick to the timetable, which includes naming a replacement building by January 20. "We're going to hold a rally on January 20 -- if they've done what they said, it'll be a 'yippee, way to go' thing; if they don't, we'll be calling the media and letting them know another promise hasn't been kept," Sullivan says.

Buyer Beware

Anyone who's followed the saga of the New Year's Eve Forbidden City fiasco will no doubt be shocked to learn that some people are having trouble getting their promised refunds. Equally shocking, the promoters are saying they don't know of anyone having any trouble at all.

Folks who couldn't get into the party were supposed to come back the next day for refunds, but hellish lines discouraged those who actually gave up their New Year's Day to get reimbursed. So forms could be faxed in and money promptly returned, the promoters said.

At least two people say that hasn't been the case. M.D. Anderson research analyst Cory Null has been a grant writer, so he knows a little about getting money out of organizations. He says he called the promoters twice and e-mailed them as instructed four times without getting any response; fortunately he had charged the tickets on a credit card that allowed him to cancel the purchase.

Chris Wineinger, a photographer, wasn't so lucky. He paid cash for three $150 VIP tickets but got stranded outside when the fire marshal closed the gates.

"I started calling the office -- I did get a girl the first time; she told me to fax a form," he says. "I filled out the form, faxed it back in…and that was last week on Tuesday [January 4], and I haven't heard anything back. I've left messages, e-mailed."

John Seppy, a coordinator for Forbidden City, admits things have been a little hectic but insists $40,000 has been refunded to 350 people so far. "Every single person has actually been talked to and spoken to, and the procedure's pretty easy for them that's trying to get a refund," he says.

Seppy is still steamed about the party, insisting that Houston fire officials at one time said 3,700 people would be allowed in. Houston fire official Richard Galvan says the city always put the capacity at 2,500.

So is Galvan telling a lie? "Not actually a lie," Seppy says, as only a promoter can. "It's just that there's mixed interpretations of what people are hearing."

Just like there's mixed interpretations of how easy it is to get a refund, we guess.

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