JR.'s JR.'s is a standby in the Houston gay community -- for more than a decade, it's been the place to go for a good buzz and the hook-up that often follows. With its sexy ranch-house atmosphere, $2.50 domestics and other notoriously cheap drinks, beefcake dick dancers in tight shorts, and ceiling-mounted TVs showing hot guys doing hot things, this playground is a turn-on for partyers of all sexual orientations. Fun-loving, loquacious queers and their straight brethren populate this Montrose institution, where you can find lively conversation and good old debauchery any night of the week. On Sunday nights, when other bars around town get sleepy, the crowds descend for karaoke.

JR.'s JR.'s is a standby in the Houston gay community -- for more than a decade, it's been the place to go for a good buzz and the hook-up that often follows. With its sexy ranch-house atmosphere, $2.50 domestics and other notoriously cheap drinks, beefcake dick dancers in tight shorts, and ceiling-mounted TVs showing hot guys doing hot things, this playground is a turn-on for partyers of all sexual orientations. Fun-loving, loquacious queers and their straight brethren populate this Montrose institution, where you can find lively conversation and good old debauchery any night of the week. On Sunday nights, when other bars around town get sleepy, the crowds descend for karaoke.

Josh Pena In a city chock-full of world-class breakers -- so many of whom deserve accolades for using their art to stay out of trouble -- the safest bet for B-boy of the year is busting out from Youth Advocates and its home crew, Havikoro. There have been some up-and-comers in 2004, including Nathan Cano and Kirk Beecher, who join the established legends at the rec center off the Gulf Freeway. Just barely edging them out, though, is Josh Pena, an 18-year-old graduate of Dobie High. Pena's not the gaudiest breaker around. He relies on tight, technical styles, fluid threads and more footwork than power moves. It might not grab your attention like a head-spin-to-air-flare combo, but the discerning observer knows the boy's got flow.

Josh Pena In a city chock-full of world-class breakers -- so many of whom deserve accolades for using their art to stay out of trouble -- the safest bet for B-boy of the year is busting out from Youth Advocates and its home crew, Havikoro. There have been some up-and-comers in 2004, including Nathan Cano and Kirk Beecher, who join the established legends at the rec center off the Gulf Freeway. Just barely edging them out, though, is Josh Pena, an 18-year-old graduate of Dobie High. Pena's not the gaudiest breaker around. He relies on tight, technical styles, fluid threads and more footwork than power moves. It might not grab your attention like a head-spin-to-air-flare combo, but the discerning observer knows the boy's got flow.

Matthew Drutt Matthew Drutt, chief curator of the Menil Collection, is on a roll. He curated the stellar "Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism," a wonderfully cogent exhibition and indispensable catalog exploring the artist's development of the movement. The show presented Malevich's seminal 1915 Black Square for the first time outside Russia, as well as the artist's lesser-known architectural models. The exhibition was awarded first place by the International Association of Art Critics/USA for Best Monographic Museum Show. (That's like an art-world Oscar.) And this summer, Drutt brought Olafur Eliasson's stunning photographs to the Menil. Less well-known than his installations, Eliasson's photographs investigate nature and man's interaction with it. And in his hands, the results are lush and riveting. The show took three years to plan, but Drutt's timing couldn't have been more perfect -- Eliasson was just coming of his phenomenally successful show "The Weather Project" at the Tate Modern in London.

Matthew Drutt Matthew Drutt, chief curator of the Menil Collection, is on a roll. He curated the stellar "Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism," a wonderfully cogent exhibition and indispensable catalog exploring the artist's development of the movement. The show presented Malevich's seminal 1915 Black Square for the first time outside Russia, as well as the artist's lesser-known architectural models. The exhibition was awarded first place by the International Association of Art Critics/USA for Best Monographic Museum Show. (That's like an art-world Oscar.) And this summer, Drutt brought Olafur Eliasson's stunning photographs to the Menil. Less well-known than his installations, Eliasson's photographs investigate nature and man's interaction with it. And in his hands, the results are lush and riveting. The show took three years to plan, but Drutt's timing couldn't have been more perfect -- Eliasson was just coming of his phenomenally successful show "The Weather Project" at the Tate Modern in London.

Cafe Adobe
Cafe Adobe On the streets below, late-afternoon motorists are still battling the maddening crowds, unaware of the blessed sacrament of happy hour unfolding nearby -- that unique time zone of decompression between the rigors of work and an evening's adventures. But fans of Cafe Adobe are already assembled and ascending, literally, to postwork bliss, with a little help from a bonanza of good Tex-Mex eats. Little wonder that the throngs keep pouring into the cafe's serene outdoor area and up the steps to the Acapulco Bar. There may be places with better prices on happy hour drinks or more exotic food, but the Adobe is the best at blending quality drinks (like $2.75 margaritas) with casa-comfort eats like queso and chips. And the mix of straights and gays -- all dressed to the nines -- takes people-watching fun to new heights.

Cafe Adobe On the streets below, late-afternoon motorists are still battling the maddening crowds, unaware of the blessed sacrament of happy hour unfolding nearby -- that unique time zone of decompression between the rigors of work and an evening's adventures. But fans of Cafe Adobe are already assembled and ascending, literally, to postwork bliss, with a little help from a bonanza of good Tex-Mex eats. Little wonder that the throngs keep pouring into the cafe's serene outdoor area and up the steps to the Acapulco Bar. There may be places with better prices on happy hour drinks or more exotic food, but the Adobe is the best at blending quality drinks (like $2.75 margaritas) with casa-comfort eats like queso and chips. And the mix of straights and gays -- all dressed to the nines -- takes people-watching fun to new heights.

Bayou City Concert Musicals Five years ago, Houston theater veteran Paul Hope gathered some friends and staged a nightclub production of Follies, giving the proceeds to the Center for AIDS. Since then, what's become known as the Bayou City Concert Musicals has grown into a huge gift -- not only for the center but also for Houston's musical theater fans. Under these circumstances, Hope can pay performers very little and still attract Houston's best talent. He can be a little risky in choosing what to put on, too -- in 2002, for instance, a sparkling version of Sondheim's A Little Night Music, with a large orchestra, outshone the three-piece combos many local troupes have to settle for. The only thing the organization scrimps on is the scenery, but hey -- use your imagination. In four years they've raised $77,000 for the center; this year they're leaving the nightclub behind and presenting four performances at the Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall, so the annual donation could climb to $65,000.

Bayou City Concert Musicals Five years ago, Houston theater veteran Paul Hope gathered some friends and staged a nightclub production of Follies, giving the proceeds to the Center for AIDS. Since then, what's become known as the Bayou City Concert Musicals has grown into a huge gift -- not only for the center but also for Houston's musical theater fans. Under these circumstances, Hope can pay performers very little and still attract Houston's best talent. He can be a little risky in choosing what to put on, too -- in 2002, for instance, a sparkling version of Sondheim's A Little Night Music, with a large orchestra, outshone the three-piece combos many local troupes have to settle for. The only thing the organization scrimps on is the scenery, but hey -- use your imagination. In four years they've raised $77,000 for the center; this year they're leaving the nightclub behind and presenting four performances at the Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall, so the annual donation could climb to $65,000.

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