They don't call him "Dick" Cheney for nothing.
They don't call him "Dick" Cheney for nothing.

Those Damn Kids

There was, no doubt, a lot of mumbling about "kids these days" as police investigated the recent vandalizing of a classroom at Pasadena's McMasters Elementary.

And then, well, two teachers and two clerical aides confessed to the crime.

A teacher in a special-needs classroom had come to work May 12 to find all the desks in his room piled into a corner and files thrown about everywhere. It took a half-hour to clean up the mess.

Police spent the day questioning people at the school, and eventually -- a little too eventually, really -- the Gang of Four fessed up.

The four fun-lovers were all women, but the district did not release their names.

Sure, your first reaction is likely to be Can't We Just Have Fun Anymore? But a split second later you're likely to be thinking, Ummmm, Where's the "Funny" in Piling Up Desks?

Pasadena officials want it known that they enjoy a good joke as much as the next person. As long as the next person is not piling up desks in a classroom.

"Typically pranks will be done and it's okay, like a lot of balloons in a classroom on a teacher's birthday," says Pasadena ISD spokesman Kirk Lewis. "But this one kind of started off in the wrong direction and got worse."

It especially "got worse" when the employees tried to bluff their way through the aftermath. "Essentially the police spent all day investigating it as vandalism [by kids] and then found out who it was, and that's where the rub was," Lewis says.

"A couple" of the pranksters initially denied any involvement to police, but the whole criminal scheme soon crumbled. The two aides resigned and the two teachers received a letter of reprimand.

No "time-outs" were given, however, and no one had to write a 500-word essay on Why Desks Are Better Unpiled.

Schools have gone soft, man.

I'm Dedicated, But I'm Not Crazy

Among the performers at this year's annual Halliburton Shareholders Meeting & Street Festival was Jeff Grubler, a member of the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane in San Francisco, who stood in front of the Four Seasons Hotel in a trench coat and a Dick Cheney mask. He parted the trench coat often to reveal his two-foot oil-derrick phallus and oil-can balls.

A stunning and brave move, to be sure, but apparently there are limits to just how much Grubler is willing to sacrifice to bring down the evil empire. He said, "It's good to get out of the Bay Area, the liberal bubble," but the red-state front lines appear to be too daunting:

Q. Why not just move to Houston and base your operations here, since we have plenty of "criminally insane" people?

A. Well, that's why I'm trying to get the outpatient clinic working here, so I don't have to work here, so I can continue my life in San Francisco. And that's not a hit on Houston…[T]here are incredible people here. And really beautiful things flourish in places like Houston; there are so many cool people and a lot of cool underground culture. So it's a great place.

Q. So how long are you here?

A. I'll be leaving tomorrow morning.

Q. So what are your impressions of Houston in general?

A. Well, it's a little skewed, because I've been around people who are really progressive…Anybody in San Francisco can be against the war and have a bumper sticker on their car…but I think it takes more guts here to do that. So I think the activists here are pretty amazing.

Q. So why not move here yourself?

A. Um, I think activists should, like I said. I, ummm, I kind of have my life in the Bay Area…It's where my woman is; it's where my job is right now, where my friends are. But I do think that's a good point. People like myself should move here. Or people in Houston who are progressive should stop moving to San Francisco. That would be a start -- if they stop moving to San Francisco, maybe I will think about moving to Houston.

Now that is one gutsy offer.

I Love the '90s

The Halliburton shareholders' meeting, by the way, has totally taken over as the place to be for hip young Houston protesters. A few days after it, the shareholders of Maxxam -- remember them? -- got together in the Galleria area, and only a dozen activists showed up, outnumbered by bored cops.

What -- someone gets billions of dollars' worth of blood money from a bogus war, and everyone forgets about the environment? Shareholder meetings of Maxxam, the company that never met a redwood forest it wouldn't obliterate, used to rule the local protest scene. Now, not so much.

The protesters who did show up said they hadn't had much warning about the meeting. They also decided against any Halliburton-type theatrics.

"We weren't really trying to be very raucous," one said.

Maxxam is now, officially, the MC Hammer to Halliburton's 50 Cent.

Redwood forests, you're on your own.

Neighborhood Threat

Housing prices being what they are inside the Loop -- and what they are is hideously high -- people looking to sell their homes have to offer a little extra.

At least that's what appears to be happening in the fashionable Avondale section of Montrose, where one homeowner put out a sign covered with the kind of tasteful, sexy silhouette art usually displayed on the mudflaps of 18-wheelers.

"Welcome to Houston's Red Light District -- the Nation's Only Legal Drug Dealing & Prostitution Area!" the sign read. "Please wait here for the next available customer-service representative."

"3 BR/2 bath/WBFP/Convenient to all vices," it didn't continue.

The owner of the sign apparently believes Houston police have been lackadaisical in curbing the private businesses that tend to spring up on some Montrose street corners.

The owner of the sign (which comes and goes, apparently) couldn't be reached, but Jack Rose, president of the Neartown Association, is of two minds about the DIY advertising.

"We're kind of torn. It's a clever sign," he says. "It's accomplishing, I think, what it set out to do, which is to raise awareness."

On the other hand, raising that kind of awareness may not help property values. Or at least attract the "right kind" of home buyers, meaning the non-drug-dealing, non-hooker-using kind.

Rose admits complaints about dealers and prostitutes have increased lately: "It does seem to be worse than usual," he says.

Rose, however, has somehow held off on ordering a large "Welcome to Cracktown" banner for Pacific Street. If he needs art ideas, though, he knows where to go.


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