For years, Mike Spear has been one of the leading realtors in Houston, regularly appearing on the Houston Business Journal's list of top people in the industry.
These days, he's not selling much real estate, seeing as he's in a federal prison in Bastrop after being convicted of tax evasion.
But even though Spear himself might be behind bars, his spirit lives on: If you're looking to buy or sell a house here these days, you might be forgiven for thinking you're doing business with the well-known realtor.
"The Mike Spear Team" is alive and well, and that's leaving some other realtors in town a bit miffed.
"When you dial the office of Prudential Gary Greene after hours and enter Mike Spear's name, you get Mike's recording in his voice saying that he is unable to assist you at this time, 'however the Mike Spear team can be reached,'" says an e-mail from one competitor. "He also stresses that it is important that you not leave a message on HIS voicemail."
Yeah, we guess that'd be important.
We called, and had this somewhat bewildering conversation with Ray Allison at the Prudential Gary Greene office:
Hairballs: You're called the Mike Spear Team?
Ray Allison: No, we are not called the Mike Spear Team.
HB: Okay, what is the relationship —
RA: There's a group of professionals within Prudential Gary Greene that are organized as the Mike Spear Team.
HB: Got it.
RA: But it is not the official name of this company.
HB: Was there ever any discussion to update — I found this bio of Mike Spear online, and it doesn't mention the part about him going to prison.
RA: That has nothing to do with Prudential Real Estate. Mr. Spear did work with this firm. He is no longer with this firm. The Mike Spear Team does continue. It is appropriate for it to continue, but I can't comment on anything else.
HB: So you guys are going to keep the name?
RA: It's a group of professionals that work underneath that team name, yes.
HB: But Mr. Spear, he's no longer affiliated with the Mike Spear Team?
HB: Is there a reason why it's still called the Mike Spear Team, then?
RA: That's what the group of professionals under that team wanted to call it.
Deceptive? Nah. Think of it as a fitting tribute. For a guy convicted of tax evasion.
Where Are They Now?
A diner was enjoying a meal at Outriggers, a pleasant seafood place across the boat channel from the boisterous Kemah complex.
"After we were seated, none other than Jordy Tollett came up to hand us our menus," the guy says. "He also appeared to be busing tables."
Crikey. The longtime, legendary, flamboyant former head of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau — the guy who last year finally, finally, ran into one mayor who wouldn't keep him employed — working as a waiter? Have the mighty fallen that far?
Not really. Tollett says he's an investor with a friend in Outriggers, and occasionally does a stint doing what he does best — schmoozing.
"Mainly I just chitchat, which I do well," he says. "I have had some people come in and say, 'Aren't you Jordy Tollett? Wow, what are you doing here?' It takes some explanation."
Tollett shouldn't need the dough — he's still receiving his $206,000 salary as a one-year consultant for GHCVB, and he's working for the group trying to renovate the Astrodome.
But we all know what he's really doing: Waiting patiently, until Mayor Bill White is term-limited two years from now. There is no way Tollett, the ultimate survivor, doesn't make a comeback.
Which means someone else will have to bus the tables at Outriggers, we guess.
Courvoisier Is for Chumps
Thirsty? Head on over to the downtown Spec's and get yourself a bottle of cognac.
The half-gallon, Louis XIII Black Pearl ought to do you fine. If you have $29,995 to piss away on it.
Spec's is getting one of only seven bottles consigned to the United States of the liquor, which we assume tastes pretty good. (A tip: Mix one-and-a-half ounces of cognac with one-and-three-quarter ounces of amaretto almond liqueur, according to drinksmixer.com, and you've got yourself a Horny Monk!)
You might already be too late, though. The bottle isn't arriving until December, but Spec's manager Ryan Holder says he's already got a local buyer lined up.
"It's not a done deal, but the guy's purchased $200,000 of product from me before, so if he says he wants it, I'm pretty sure he'll buy it," Holder says.
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He won't name the buyer, but whoever it is: We hope you make a toast, good man, to the most profound set of misplaced priorities we've heard about in a while.
And be sure to remember this on that special night when you crack open that titanium bottle: Beer before liquor, never been sicker. So keep away from the Natty Light, just this once.
In the Eye of the Beholder
Texas Monthlys current issue includes a peppy love letter to Houstons light-rail line. Why, were not exactly sure. But the article headlined One-Track Mind clearly demands a closer look.