This former gatekeeper for Mayor Lee Brown lost her desk at City Hall after ducking a drug test. A former employee of Brown crony Danny Lawson, Mackey served the former drug czar as secretary and appointments coordinator since he returned to Houston in 1995 to establish credentials for his successful 1997 mayoral race. After she ousted several competitors for the ear of the mayor, Mackey met her own waterloo when asked to take a spot drug test. She initially avoided it by going home, took the test the following week and then resigned before the results became official. But don't feel too sorry for her. A loyal mayor Brown quickly found another position for Mackey: raising money for his current campaign for re-election.

Here's to not letting work interfere with your priorities. On January 11 at the intersection of Milam and Congress, a man who had apparently been hit by an oncoming car and looked to be a minute from his death was being wheeled into the back of an ambulance by three paramedics. Before the driver sped away to the hospital, however, he was seen making a beeline for the Houston Press stand. Had the driver simply grabbed a copy and jumped back into the vehicle, we might have chalked it up to the hectic pace of his profession, but what makes this reader tops in our loyalty department is the fact that he then took the time to read our fine publication. In recognition of his dedication, from now on his copies of the Press will be free at all participating newsstands.
This former education dean at Texas Southern University rode the Republican express from an HISD trustee post to district superintendent to George Bush's secretary of education. Paige, whose college doctoral thesis was on the response times of collegiate football linemen, embraced the TAAS testing mania to score glory and hype as top public educator in the United States. But the blush may be off the rose for the newly minted Washington bureaucrat. A number of publications, including U.S. News and World Report and The New Republic, have reported that both the Bushies and Paige have soured on one another, and Paige may be thinking of returning to Houston.
From beginning to end, Rick Hurt spent a total of 15 days impersonating the Easter Bunny under a giant Fabergé-like egg at the Galleria this last spring. For a little over a fortnight, Rick gave up his other gigs -- impersonating Bette Midler, dressing up as a fairy, or a host of other costumed characters with Eastern Onion Singing Telegram service -- to don a white bunny suit with a blue tuxedo and ruffly sleeves. Because of the particular variety of characters Rick regularly dresses up as, he asked his friends to be respectful of the bunny should they see him working the "Big Time." The days are long and the odors unenviable, but Rick said one of the most memorable moments was when he held on his lap a newborn baby -- so tiny that it hadn't even been born when Rick started the gig.
The Diana Ross of Destiny's Child is the crossover queen of pop at the moment, with platinum albums and a starring role in MTV's sultry Hip Hopera, Carmen. It's a Knowles family affair, with father Mathew as Svengali manager, and mother Tina as group costume designer and beautician. Not only is the group a survivor, as its signature song declares, but it seems to be omnipresent. From the Houston Chronicle fashion columns to that NBA playoff game where Philadelphia fans nearly booed them off the stage for wearing Laker jerseys, Destiny's Child is everywhere. Beyoncé and her co-stars, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, have become so overexposed in the media they are in danger of contracting the video version of skin cancer. For the good of us all, won't someone give these girls a well-earned vacation?
Sure, this jurist was plenty enthusiastic about assuming the bench. Tad Halbach came equipped with a solid sense of humor and a levelheaded nature that meant that the most voracious of attorneys weren't going to push him around. But other newcomers also have landed a judicial post with that kind of energy. The big difference is that Judge Halbach, six years later, shows more of that eagerness and obvious dedication than ever. He was well grounded in civil law when he arrived -- he's only increased that expertise, without losing any of that good-natured, down-to-earth approach to the people who appear in his court. His Houston Bar poll rankings reflect that. The former Eagle Scout has impressed an ample number of cynical old civil lawyers and first-time civilians with his clear opinions and judicial presence, in the toughest of cases. If only more of the once-new judiciary had his ever-fresh love for the law.
Do you remember the '80s dance song by Yello, the one that had the vocal line that stretched out in a deep bass? That's the feeling you get on a Friday evening in September when the flaming fist of Queen Bitch Summer has begun to loosen and you stroll out onto the second-floor balcony of Ernie's with a fresh cold pint of Fat Tire. What's left of the sun is sparkling golden and pink through the branches of the Museum District's massive oaks, and you prop your feet up on the round plastic table, lean back in a comfy chair and lazily muse about nothing in particular while gazing down at the sylvan tranquillity of newly renovated Bell Park. Ooooohh, yeaaaaahhhh.
A little friendly ribbing between competitors never hurt anybody. For more than seven years now, Khyber Grill's Mickey Kapoor has been using his marquee to taunt the neighboring Pappadeaux's. When the seafood restaurant wrote, "Hiring today 3 to 5," Kapoor replied, "My, You Do Start Them Young!" When Pappadeaux posted, "Happy Hour 4 to 6," Khyber responded, "DWI 8 to 12." When the establishment bragged, "Our Softshelled Crabs Will Reach Out and Grab You," Kapoor fired back, "Pervert!" People have been known to drive out of their way just to see what the restaurateur will come up with next, and so far the targets of Kapoor's barbs have taken them all in good humor. Keep it going.
Montrose Clinic started as a agency to treat sexually transmitted diseases including syphilis and gonorrhea in Houston's gay community 20 years ago, but the onset of the AIDS epidemic redefined its mission. Throughout the plague years, Montrose Clinic has served Houston's HIV-infected patients with compassion and competence, something not always seen in AIDS nonprofits. When the AVES Clinic that served Hispanic HIV clients closed its doors last spring because of financial mismanagement, Montrose Clinic stepped in to take part of the caseload. The agency provides a wide range of services, from confidential and anonymous HIV testing to community outreach for HIV education and counseling. Montrose Clinic also recently added a fitness center after merging with Body Positive. As new treatments transformed AIDS from a terminal disease to a chronic but manageable illness, the services at the clinic evolved as well. Fitness and nutrition programs now have a much higher priority, and clinic executive director Katy Caldwell is eagerly awaiting further medical developments that will revolutionize the fight against HIV. "What we're looking forward to is when our outreach workers are out in the community and giving vaccinations," says Caldwell, "rather than waiting to do testing after people are infected."

The beer joint or honky-tonk that really had the best name in Houston, Bugeyed Mary's, sadly went out of business this past year. The runner-up is the Stroker Club. A stroker in car salesman parlance is a customer who does not have the means or the intention to buy an automobile but who takes up the salesman's floor time with a show of interest and enthusiasm for a particular car. This comes from a pop psychological term, stroking, for making someone feel better through interaction; stroking the ego. A stroker can also be, of course, a masturbator. As such, it is a harsher term for slacker. Who would you likely find in a beer joint in mid-afternoon? A bunch of strokers, perhaps? Score one for truth in labeling.

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