Party Like It's 1899

Hes Nader-riffic!

Just how much of a sinful den of debauchery and decadence was Houston during Super Bowl week?

Apparently, not much.

The after-action reports are in and the stats have been tallied by the Houston Police Vice Squad, and it looks like Super Bowl week was a bust (insert Janet Jackson joke here).

In a typical week the vice squad makes 64 arrests, says Lieutenant David Klinger. During Super Bowl week, he says, it made just 42.

Officers were more "proactive" in stopping vice-related activity, he says, as opposed to observing and then making arrests.

Only nine arrests were made in the city's topless clubs for violations of the sexually oriented business code, such as the three-foot rule. But do you see any of the liberal media writing stories about how everybody followed the rules and did absolutely nothing they couldn't have done in front of a cop? No, of course not. The media doesn't want to report the positive stuff.

We just hope all the girls were able to make money even as they kept their routines to a PG-13 level.

And all those hookers who were supposedly descending on us? Forget it. Typically there are 28 arrests for prostitution each week in Houston. The week before the Big Game, exactly 11 such arrests were made, Klinger says.

Gosh. Hundreds of thousands of free-spending football fans in town with money to burn, and less than a dozen prostitution arrests. We are a God-fearing people.

Then again, HPD was somewhat stymied in its anti-hooker efforts.

"One of the really difficult situations we had to deal with is that a lot of the girls were passing out business cards or leaving cards out for people to call," Klinger says. "The trouble with that is the girls were only wanting to go to someone's hotel room, and we could not get a hotel room to save our lives."

Setting up a sting would have required two adjacent rooms, and the vice squad couldn't find any to borrow. They tried a year in advance but, like everyone else, were told to wait until closer to the game. When they checked back, the rooms were gone.

"I put it in my after-action report," Klinger says. "If we ever do this sort of thing again, we have to come up with some way to get hotel rooms."

Hookers of America, consider yourselves warned.

Ministry of Truth, 20 Years On

Friday night, February 20, viewers of KUHT (such as they are) were settling in to watch The Charlie Rose Show. Rose spoke a bit about how they'd be discussing the Bush administration's Iraq adventures, specifically the Valerie Plame spy-outing and a movie called Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War.

Which they proceeded to do. Until a few minutes later, when the show suddenly was cut off and replaced by an episode of the snorefest Washington Week in Review -- an episode that had already aired that night, no less. When WWR finished (again), KUHT returned to Rose, just as he was wrapping up his Iraq segment.

Suspicious? No doubt. "Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I really wonder if Bush Senior, who I have heard watches The Charlie Rose Show, or some local big-time conservative PBS contributor called to have the show feed stopped," one viewer wrote Hair Balls.

Not to worry, says Ken Lawrence, KUHT's director of programming. Absolutely no bigwigs were involved in the killing of the segment. Instead, what happened is…well, he's not really sure what happened.

"As near as we can determine, it was either a computer malfunction or an operator error," he says. "And as far as I know, neither one of them is particularly political." (The station broadcast the complete show a week later, after receiving a dozen or so complaints.)

There's much techno mumbo-jumbo involved, but essentially, at about 15 minutes into the Rose show, KUHT's computer server switched to the other show. By the time a staffer discovered it, put on a backup tape of Rose and fast-forwarded it so the show would end at the scheduled time, the Iraq part was over.

That's their story, anyway. But we would expect the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy to be well versed in deception.

Glug, Glug, Glug

Houston, as most residents know, is on a swamp near the sea. No one builds basements here; you don't have to dig far to get wet.

So what do we need most? A subway.

At least that's what the folks at Metro think. A subway, officials believe, might alleviate the embarrassing tendency Houstonians have of ramming their cars into street-level light rail trains.

Put aside the thought of how Tropical Storm Allison flooded the downtown tunnel system, which now features submarinelike watertight doors. Never mind that the light rail system has to be halted if there's three or four inches of water on the track.

We're going underground!

Metro spokesman Ken Connaughton confirms a subway is being considered for at least part of the downtown section of the new east-west line. Mayor Bill White says it's more of a traffic issue, so rail won't clog up intersections: "We should be open-minded," he says.

Subways can cost four times more than street-level lines, experts say.

Not to mention all the mops and squeegees Metro will need whenever it drizzles.

Lawyers, Guns and Money

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reaped a ton of bad press recently when it barred book authors from interviewing inmates. True-crime writers were not "news media," prison officials ruled.

The ACLU got involved, and the prison system has now backed down. Sort of.

In February, TDCJ general counsel Carl Reynolds allowed authors Kathryn Casey (A Warrant to Kill: A True Story of Obsession, Lies and a Killer Cop) and Suzy Spencer (Wages of Sin) to interview prisoners.

But he's making no promises about other writers who don't have a daily, weekly or monthly deadline.

"We continue to have serious reservations about treating book authors as tantamount to news media," he says. "However, we are exploring the possibility of some access for legitimate book authors."

Somewhere a lawyer or two is smiling, envisioning the billable hours.

He's Nader-riffic!

Ralph Nader -- or, as he's known in the White House, "The Kingmaker" -- came to Houston February 24, a few days after announcing his latest GOP-pleasing presidential run. He appeared at the University of Houston in conjunction with the National Day of Awareness and Action About Military Profiteering, a day that also included protests at Halliburton's downtown headquarters.

The folks who put together Harper's Index weren't there, but Hair Balls was:

*References per minute to corporate damnation at Nader's press conference: 1.375 (based on an eight-minute sample)

*Signatures needed to get Nader on the Texas ballot: 65,000

*Texans who voted for him in 2000: 138,000

*Alleged amount of time Nader needs to solve the Middle East conflict: "A very short period."

*Number of ominous white guys in suits inside Halliburton lobby during protest: 4

*Number of uniformed HPD officers outside: 4

*Number of protesters: 9

*Amount of "reality check" paid to Halliburton on behalf of "the people" (cue Dr. Evil voice): One billion dollars.

*Length, in seconds, of standing ovation Nader received from jam-packed crowd: 33

*Number of dudes sleeping in the sixth row by minute 17 of the speech: 1

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