Talento Bilingue De Houston
Lilting accordion swirls over rhythmic dance steps echoing through the auditorium. The dancers are not professionals, just community members of different ages polishing some basic "folkloric" steps. For 24 years, Talento Bilingue de Houston has fostered and showcased the cultural wealth readily mined in Houston's East End and beyond. The center recently featured an exhibit of the area's mural art. Shot by photographer Richard Sanchez, the photos highlighted the astounding array of this popular form, which graces walls along Navigation, Maxwell and other local streets. Talento began in 1977 as a theater program and has since branched out to include mariachi music, video and film production, dancing and a summer art camp for children. The center frequently teams up with institutions like the Houston Symphony for special events.

Tony Diaz read science fiction until, at the age of 20, he discovered there were authors out there who had similar experiences and backgrounds. Despite a growing Hispanic population, he found he was one of the few Latinos in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, in a city bereft of outlets for Latino voices. Tired of having his book rejected because "Latinos don't read," he started a little reading series on the fourth Wednesday of every month with the humble goal of giving Latinos their say. Three short years later, he showed that not only do Latinos read, they also write, act, direct and do sketch comedy. He's got his own Tuesday-night radio show, a public access television show, and hosted the New York Times Speaker Series "Latino Voices," all of which has helped make Houston a national center for the boom in Latino literature. New York is just beginning to try to catch up.

Tony Diaz read science fiction until, at the age of 20, he discovered there were authors out there who had similar experiences and backgrounds. Despite a growing Hispanic population, he found he was one of the few Latinos in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, in a city bereft of outlets for Latino voices. Tired of having his book rejected because "Latinos don't read," he started a little reading series on the fourth Wednesday of every month with the humble goal of giving Latinos their say. Three short years later, he showed that not only do Latinos read, they also write, act, direct and do sketch comedy. He's got his own Tuesday-night radio show, a public access television show, and hosted the New York Times Speaker Series "Latino Voices," all of which has helped make Houston a national center for the boom in Latino literature. New York is just beginning to try to catch up.

Reading series come and go, but ever since Robert Clark rescued a dying gathering of beatniks at the Sand Mountain coffee shop back in 1975, First Friday has been plugging along under his direction. The location may have changed over the past 25 years, but loyal scribes have followed Clark to every nook and hobbit hole. Past venues have included Bowles Auction company, Hard Thymes soup kitchen, KPFT studios (where the series was broadcast live), the Firehouse, DiverseWorks's old location, and even outside in the elements on the Orange Show grounds. But Clark has happily spent the last three years at the snug but word-friendly Inprint House, featuring one established poet the first Friday of every month, followed by an open reading.
Reading series come and go, but ever since Robert Clark rescued a dying gathering of beatniks at the Sand Mountain coffee shop back in 1975, First Friday has been plugging along under his direction. The location may have changed over the past 25 years, but loyal scribes have followed Clark to every nook and hobbit hole. Past venues have included Bowles Auction company, Hard Thymes soup kitchen, KPFT studios (where the series was broadcast live), the Firehouse, DiverseWorks's old location, and even outside in the elements on the Orange Show grounds. But Clark has happily spent the last three years at the snug but word-friendly Inprint House, featuring one established poet the first Friday of every month, followed by an open reading.
The newly renovated auditorium debuted with the premiere of a redone version of the 1984 Oscar-winning film Amadeus to show off, among other things, its new sound system. (The Oscar-winning sound man, Mark Berger, was even on hand to talk with the audience about the restoration.) The theater has family flicks, and movies like Star Wars and the works of Robert Frank to accompany the museum's exhibits. A whole festival was devoted to Iranian movies, which film connoisseurs consider to be among the most innovative in the world today, and the theater just launched the Latin American Film Festival this year, to great acclaim. The filmmakers themselves are often able to appear and personally answer audience questions. What's more, the admission remains a bargain at just $5 a ticket ($4 for students, seniors and members). That makes this the place to go to see quality films you won't find anywhere else.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Brown Auditorium Theater
The newly renovated auditorium debuted with the premiere of a redone version of the 1984 Oscar-winning film Amadeus to show off, among other things, its new sound system. (The Oscar-winning sound man, Mark Berger, was even on hand to talk with the audience about the restoration.) The theater has family flicks, and movies like Star Wars and the works of Robert Frank to accompany the museum's exhibits. A whole festival was devoted to Iranian movies, which film connoisseurs consider to be among the most innovative in the world today, and the theater just launched the Latin American Film Festival this year, to great acclaim. The filmmakers themselves are often able to appear and personally answer audience questions. What's more, the admission remains a bargain at just $5 a ticket ($4 for students, seniors and members). That makes this the place to go to see quality films you won't find anywhere else.
Fusion is most often associated with jazz, but this CD begs the question. A blend of flamenco, jazz and rock, Spoken Mercy has fused the three in this locally produced compact disc. The band's debut CD features Gary Norman on guitars and bass, with Tyler Essex doing the percussion and programming. Perhaps ironically, there are no vocals, but none are needed when the music speaks volumes. "Mission San Juan" is the first track, beginning with the sound of church bells tolling as they have in the California mission for centuries. The music is timeless, though. "Bitter Winter" is more traditionally jazz in sound, with "Inca's Revenge" presenting an interesting transition, tribal-like, with unsteady, low rumblings. Even after you listen to the entire CD, you're still left wondering, well, is it?

Fusion is most often associated with jazz, but this CD begs the question. A blend of flamenco, jazz and rock, Spoken Mercy has fused the three in this locally produced compact disc. The band's debut CD features Gary Norman on guitars and bass, with Tyler Essex doing the percussion and programming. Perhaps ironically, there are no vocals, but none are needed when the music speaks volumes. "Mission San Juan" is the first track, beginning with the sound of church bells tolling as they have in the California mission for centuries. The music is timeless, though. "Bitter Winter" is more traditionally jazz in sound, with "Inca's Revenge" presenting an interesting transition, tribal-like, with unsteady, low rumblings. Even after you listen to the entire CD, you're still left wondering, well, is it?

New York has the Statue of Liberty; Paris has the Eiffel Tower; St. Louis has the arch; even Huntsville has big old Sam Houston. And what does Houston have? Well, if architect Doug Michels, industrial designer Peter Bollinger and sculptor Cybele Rowe have their way, this car city will have a giant hood ornament. The 555-foot Spirit of Houston is imagined as the world's tallest woman, her hands raised to the heavens, her dress and hair trailing behind her in the wind. In fact, in artist's renderings, the dress is blown so tight as to reveal this Amazon woman's curvalicious bod. What will she be made of? Chrome, of course.

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