It may have lacked the lyrical strength of Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," but the burning scars of Injustice Endured still shone through. Kind of.
Actually, the anonymous fax sent to Houston media, alleging police brutality on a Metro train, was pretty damn funny.
On April 23, the fax said, a woman and three others were arrested for not having a ticket, and police were "using Nazi Gestapo tactics in a reign of terror."
The victims weren't just any old scum who normally take the train, the fax said: "Just 24 hours before being handcuffed and abused the four patrons had been guests of Massimo Ferragamo, the chairman of Ferragamo USA and one of the world's premiere shoe and fashion houses." They were on their way to The Barber of Seville at the opera, for crying out loud, not heading to the unemployment office.
The fax told, heartbreakingly, of the woman "walking barefoot throughout the filthy jail building and wearing a designer evening dress." Metro police, it said, "illegally searched their purses, including a $10,000 Judith Leiber evening bag that [an officer] threw haphazardly around the Metro rail bench." Officers "made the handcuffed women and the teenage girls sit straight up on the hard metal benches."
What is this, Abu Ghraib?
The fax analyzed that Metro was picking on "middle-class looking white females" because "Caucasians can't use the race card." (If you're looking "middle-class" while toting a $10,000 handbag, ma'am, you probably got ripped off.)
Metro spokesman Ken Connaughton says the incident was investigated, witnesses interviewed, and the officers did nothing wrong.
"She was asked for a ticket, told a variety of fibs and started yelling," he says. "She refused to give her name or ID, so they took her in."
The phone number listed on the arrest report is "not in service," so the shattered victim could not be contacted.
Nevertheless, the self-described "socialite" has staked out bold new legal ground in her missive: "The idea," Connaughton says, "that just because you had Ferragamo shoes on 24 hours ago, you therefore should not be arrested, is new to me."
What Foreign Leaders?
That Tom DeLay, what a card.
Here he is in The Washington Post, hitting the RNC talking points that John Kerry is an elitist by talking about Kerry's claim to have met foreign leaders in Manhattan restaurants -- "I tell you," DeLay said, "at the Taste of Texas restaurant -- it's this great steakhouse in Houston, Texas -- the only foreign leader you meet there is called filet mignon."
Good one, Hammer. Although filet mignon sounds a little too Frenchified for the leader of the "freedom fries" brigade. Not to mention that Taste of Texas -- besides being Dittohead Central, the gathering place for Rush Limbaugh fans and light rail foes -- will set you back $32 for a New York strip. Maybe that's cheap in man-of-the-people DeLay's circles.
At any rate, DeLay apparently has a short memory for foreign leaders. Less than three years ago he took Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian to lunch at the Taste of Texas.
Chen told reporters he enjoyed the meal very much; apparently it didn't make much of an impression on DeLay. Maybe he should have tried the filet mignon.
"Erehwon59" sounds like the alias of some Pringles-stuffing, pasty-faced Dungeons & Dragons addict, but one Houston company is spending big bucks to find out just who he is.
Erehwon -- and yeah, we realize it's "nowhere" backwards -- has been saying bad things online about Cyberonics, a medical-device company, and its CEO. And they're not happy about it.
They've sued "John Doe No. 1 a/k/a Erehwon59" in state district court here and are pressing to find out the mysterious fiend's identity.
It's not because he's made disparaging remarks on Yahoo bulletin boards about Cyberonics management, says company attorney Lawrence Schreve. "This guy is posting confidential information on the Internet," Schreve says, although he won't point out just what the alleged confidential information was.
The company subpoenaed Yahoo for Erehwon's identity; Yahoo didn't disclose it but passed on word to him (or her!!) that a lawsuit had been filed.
Erehwon hired attorney Carla Longhofer, who says the entire thing is ridiculous. "It's not like the whole world is reading" the board, she says. She notes that the eight examples cited by Schreve in court documents are "the ones that call [the CEO] names. Well, guess what? If you're a CEO of a public company, you're probably going to get called names." (Actually, there aren't very many "names" tossed about in the examples. One does say the CEO "has no prior experience in this business and does not seem to listen to those that do." Outrageous!)
Longhofer no longer represents Erehwon, because she filed an affidavit saying her client did not live in Texas. Now Cyberonics wants to depose her to find out what she knows. (Cue ominous music.)
We expect the "Free Erehwon" shirts to show up soon. And we're sure when he finally appears in court, he'll look like Brad Pitt in Troy. Eating Pringles.
Nader's Man in Texas
Where does Ralph Nader get his Texas mojo? Right here in Houston.
Nader has raised about $300,000 in his Bush-helping presidential run; about $20,000 of that has come from the Lone Star State.
A large chunk of the Texas cash -- more than $6,000 -- comes from a single Houston company, Farouk Systems. Obviously, the "systems" must refer to an ingenious method of using soy milk to get 124 miles per gallon in a tiny car, right?
Wrong. Farouk Shami is a "hair artist." He didn't return our calls, but his Web site says he was disgusted by the chemicals in hair products and started his own line, which includes "spray fizz," "casting putty" and aromatherapy.
It takes real conviction for a hair artist to support Nader, who is to coiffure what George Bush is to postwar planning. So we salute you, Farouk, and your system. See ya in the White House!
They're smuggling contraband into the schools of Fort Bend ISD, covering up their illegal stash as they sneak by sharp-eyed spies eager to make a bust.
Pot-smoking kids? No -- parents who brought the wrong brand of soft drink to the PTA meeting. Many aren't even aware they're on the wrong side of the law, and some school staffers even help the reprobates on their crime sprees by hiding the smuggled goods from the ever-watchful Soda Narcs.
Fort Bend has a ten-year, $5 million contract with Coca-Cola as the exclusive beverage distributor for the district. Not only does that mean lots of healthy Coca-Cola products in vending machines, it means the person bringing bottled water to the Honors Club damn well better not try to sneak in Aquafina instead of Dasani.
And Mountain Dew? No way.
Parents have grumbled about the new enforcement of the policy, but FBISD chief financial officer Charles Dupre says the district is contractually obligated to enforce it.
Except for brewed coffee and tea, "any beverage dispensed must be a Coca-Cola product," and that includes drinks given out to kids at practices, in meetings and on field trips.
He says he's unaware of any parent actually getting a bootleg Dr Pepper confiscated, but school officials are supposed to make the policy clear if they see Brand X.
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And it can get brutal out there: Some FBISD teams initially had coolers with "Gatorade" shown on the side, even though they held Powerade. "Some 'spotters' called Coke, and we had to tape over the Gatorade logo until we could get Powerade coolers," says Dupre.
The "spotters," who no doubt take precious time off from counting everyone else's items in the supermarket express lane, are often Coke employees who are aware of the contract, Dupre says.
Houston ISD has a similar contract barring groups from bringing non-Coke products to events, but enforcement is rather lax.
Not so at Fort Bend, although Dupre insists they've not yet instituted parent strip searches: "We try to enforce the contract," he says, "but we're not out there being watchdogs at every little event."