A picture may be worth a thousand words, but we don't have that much space here, and frankly we're not sure what the words would be (though a few squeamish types have suggested "ick"). Oh, yeah, the music's pretty great, too.

Rap-A-Lot Records founder James Prince enjoys the limelight but not the microscope. A 12-year DEA and HPD investigation, which Prince attributes to the fact that cops hate rap music, has resulted in drug seizures as far away as Oklahoma City and in more than 20 convictions against Prince's associates, including a Houston police officer. Prince told reporters, and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, that he was afraid for his life because the lead DEA agent on the case had killed six suspects in the line of duty. Waters wrote a letter to Janet Reno; Al Gore made a campaign stop at a Houston church with financial ties to Prince; the lead agent was transferred off the case; another DEA agent complained in leaked e-mails about political pressure ending the investigation; Congress examined the allegations of political interference; and finally new FBI and DEA agents were brought in to continue the investigation. There are enough twists and turns in this controversial case to make your head spin. At least it makes for some lyrical fodder. In his 2000 CD, Last of a Dying Breed, Rap-A-Lot rapper Brad "Scarface" Jordan brags about "the Rap-A-Lot Mafia" and its ability to ruin the careers of DEA agents. Tune in for the next installment.
Rap-A-Lot Records founder James Prince enjoys the limelight but not the microscope. A 12-year DEA and HPD investigation, which Prince attributes to the fact that cops hate rap music, has resulted in drug seizures as far away as Oklahoma City and in more than 20 convictions against Prince's associates, including a Houston police officer. Prince told reporters, and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, that he was afraid for his life because the lead DEA agent on the case had killed six suspects in the line of duty. Waters wrote a letter to Janet Reno; Al Gore made a campaign stop at a Houston church with financial ties to Prince; the lead agent was transferred off the case; another DEA agent complained in leaked e-mails about political pressure ending the investigation; Congress examined the allegations of political interference; and finally new FBI and DEA agents were brought in to continue the investigation. There are enough twists and turns in this controversial case to make your head spin. At least it makes for some lyrical fodder. In his 2000 CD, Last of a Dying Breed, Rap-A-Lot rapper Brad "Scarface" Jordan brags about "the Rap-A-Lot Mafia" and its ability to ruin the careers of DEA agents. Tune in for the next installment.
Seems like Houston's finest rockabilly band is always either on the verge of great success or on the brink of dissolving. Neither is ever quite true. The Hollisters' last album, Sweet Inspiration, could have been a springboard to national prominence, but a series of personnel changes followed its release. However, anchored by the baritone sounds of lead singer Mike Barfield, who always brings to mind a young Johnny Cash, the Hollisters continue to rock. Hopefully someday Barfield will get the commercial airplay he and his band deserve.

Seems like Houston's finest rockabilly band is always either on the verge of great success or on the brink of dissolving. Neither is ever quite true. The Hollisters' last album, Sweet Inspiration, could have been a springboard to national prominence, but a series of personnel changes followed its release. However, anchored by the baritone sounds of lead singer Mike Barfield, who always brings to mind a young Johnny Cash, the Hollisters continue to rock. Hopefully someday Barfield will get the commercial airplay he and his band deserve.

Speaking up for Texas convicts is a thankless task, but Marta Glass takes it on with a righteousness that more often than not achieves a certain eloquence. Glass was (and is) a volunteer in charge of prison issues for the ACLU's Houston chapter -- she still gets 25 to 30 letters a day from inmates -- when she did an on-air interview with Prison Show host Ray Hill. At Glass's suggestion, he offered her a regular spot on the program. "Her anger is remarkable," Hill says. "She is actually as mad as she says she is." For a self-described human rights "fanatic," Glass's approach is unremarkable, if not exactly mainstream: She believes prisoners are human beings whose needs are worthy of consideration. These days, their biggest complaint is inadequate medical care, which explains why Glass's weekly editorial addresses the subject regularly. "It's their show," she says. "I'm talking to them about what they care about."
Speaking up for Texas convicts is a thankless task, but Marta Glass takes it on with a righteousness that more often than not achieves a certain eloquence. Glass was (and is) a volunteer in charge of prison issues for the ACLU's Houston chapter -- she still gets 25 to 30 letters a day from inmates -- when she did an on-air interview with Prison Show host Ray Hill. At Glass's suggestion, he offered her a regular spot on the program. "Her anger is remarkable," Hill says. "She is actually as mad as she says she is." For a self-described human rights "fanatic," Glass's approach is unremarkable, if not exactly mainstream: She believes prisoners are human beings whose needs are worthy of consideration. These days, their biggest complaint is inadequate medical care, which explains why Glass's weekly editorial addresses the subject regularly. "It's their show," she says. "I'm talking to them about what they care about."
A tiny European troupe of actors who call themselves Spymonkey leaped into Houston this past spring and landed with a hysterical thump at Theater LaB. Their naughty, limber clowning glittered with Monty Python-style absurdity and Addams Family spookiness, but what else would you expect from a show about the burial business called Stiffundertaking, Undertaking? Under the macabre direction of Cal McCrystal, the wild group of actors, including Toby Park, Aitor Basauri, Stephen Kriess and Petra Massey, took giddy delight in creating a hysterical nightmare about the Graves Funeral Home, where a poor, bereaved husband meets up with the most morbidly funny morticians to come along in quite a while. The foursome of goofy characters created a perfectly awful and wildly funny funereal experience as they hammered out headstones and painted over the "ugily bugily" faces of the unfortunate corpses who ended up on their slabs. Happily, this group only exists on stage. Hopefully, they'll bring their strangeness back to town in the not-so-distant future.

A tiny European troupe of actors who call themselves Spymonkey leaped into Houston this past spring and landed with a hysterical thump at Theater LaB. Their naughty, limber clowning glittered with Monty Python-style absurdity and Addams Family spookiness, but what else would you expect from a show about the burial business called Stiffundertaking, Undertaking? Under the macabre direction of Cal McCrystal, the wild group of actors, including Toby Park, Aitor Basauri, Stephen Kriess and Petra Massey, took giddy delight in creating a hysterical nightmare about the Graves Funeral Home, where a poor, bereaved husband meets up with the most morbidly funny morticians to come along in quite a while. The foursome of goofy characters created a perfectly awful and wildly funny funereal experience as they hammered out headstones and painted over the "ugily bugily" faces of the unfortunate corpses who ended up on their slabs. Happily, this group only exists on stage. Hopefully, they'll bring their strangeness back to town in the not-so-distant future.

Toby Blunt, Mary Jane's manager, is the last of a dying breed. If you are a local band and need a place to play, chances are Toby -- an experienced local musician himself -- will work something out. He doesn't book any one genre of band. Over the past seven years (and likely within the past seven days), everything from the cacophonous wails of Rusted Shut to the ghetto-melodious hip-hop of Southern Lights to the down-home honky-tonk of Horseshoe and Jesse Dayton has blasted forth from the funky stage in the dark bar on Washington. It doesn't matter what you play, Mary Jane's is willing to put your name in lights.

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