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"I love you!" That's how Karen Jennings, homeless liaison for all of Fort Bend ISD for a dozen years, always greets her overworked underlings. It's her way of acknowledging up-front all the good deeds they perform each day, keeping teens in school and out of trouble. This year Jennings took her efforts to help at-risk kids to the broader community, helping prompt plans to build a first-of-its-kind emergency shelter for suburban youths. Now what's not to love about that?
This Southwest Houston neighborhood has had a bit of a bad rap, some of it connected to relocated Katrina victims. But, despite the catfight at Westbury High last year, a lot of that involved the victims as victims, not as perpetrators. Other émigrés in this neighborhood, chock-full of 50-year-old, easily rehabilitated ranch homes, have for the past few years been gay couples. (We've heard Westbury is the new Montrose; we're hoping they mean the "old" version, not the new corporate and condo enclave.) Whether this has to do with transgender lawyer Phyllis Frye, arguably one of Westbury's more famous residents and who works hard on the Westbury Civic Club, is not known. Regardless, Westbury residents are working to make their homes fabulous. Quick access to major highways; great shopping and decent food nearby — the constant traffic on West Bellfort is nothing but white noise to Westbury residents in their little Garden of Eden.
Sure, it isn't as grand as Trevi or as recognizable as Buckingham, but Mecom Fountain hands-down wins the title of Houston's best landmark. The elegant 1960s fountain serves as a gateway to the museum district, the Medical Center, Hermann Park and Rice University. Its Roman-style colonnades and 12-foot-tall water jets provide European flair to our decidedly un-European city.
Outrageous and provocative, the local blog Call of Da Wild offers original reporting and commentary on scandal-plagued Texas Southern University in a voice that is both insanely pissed-off and fall-down hilarious. Be warned: it's filled with race- and sex-baiting, often reducing the school's woes to a steamy, very non-PC daytime soap opera whose major and minor players engage in booze-fueled orgies and unscrupulous backdoor deals. It's written by a veteran TSU employee who goes by the alias Deray Jenkins and describes himself as "the arbiter of truth at a school full of lies." Sadly, Jenkins has been AWOL for the last couple months. We eagerly await his return to writing Houston's best blog.
Hey, Houston magazines, here's an idea: Why not have actual editorial content, as opposed to being all advertorial, all the time? Sure, reading about the "top" dentists, plastic surgeons or tree-trimmers in the city (i.e., dudes who bought the biggest ads) is fun, but OutSmart is one of the few local pubs that has a good balance of entertainment and actual news. But what if you're not part of the mag's target demographic? Listen, when the president wants to muck with our Constitution because of an obsession over the gays (as Gawker would say), we're all part of the demographic.
"If you're against apologizing for slavery, then you gotta be against giving welfare to the American Indians because of the fact that 200 years ago they were whipped in a war. And let's just call it what it is: They lost a war." These erudite words were spoken by radio host Michael Berry — a former Houston City Councilman — last March. Condensing a thousand lifetimes' worth of stupidity into two sentences is kind of like pulling off a triple-gainer or a DVDA — it's downright difficult. But he did it. Berry later apologized and said he didn't have all his facts straight. You can believe him or not, but the fact of the matter is: Saying stupid shit makes for good radio. Listening to well-informed, reasonable discourse gets boring. Listening to someone who makes you want to rip out your car stereo and throw it at a puppy is compelling radio. We'll be tuning in to Berry often, just to hear his stance on federal aid vis-à-vis nappy-headed hos.
Houston has been happily waking up with José Griñan for over a decade now. Part of the FOX 26 Morning News since its inception, José Griñan is on-air every morning from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and then again for the FOX 26 News at Noon. Unlike his "wring the emotion out of every story" counterparts, Griñan is evenhanded and objective, remaining professional even when reporting the most wrenching of stories. It's that calm that viewers have come to trust. The Cuban-American Griñan began his career as a serviceman making documentaries for the Army. From there he went on to work in New York, Miami and L.A. before coming to Houston. While a FOX 26 news anchor, Griñan has covered major events of all types, including floods, hurricanes and the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, where he was one of the first reporters on the scene. Griñan regularly hosts the community affairs program The Black Voice and occasionally sits in as host for Hola Houston.
When you need to know, you need Channel 26 News. Forget about the hype and scare tactics that other stations use to draw you in — Channel 26 News delivers the most comprehensive, well-researched and balanced newscast in the city. Whether it's the tragedy of Katrina or the victory of Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit, Channel 26 is there. The Fox team, one of the largest and most diverse in the city, delivers three weekday newscasts (early morning, noon and 9 p.m.) and nightly newscasts on the weekend.
It's early Saturday morning, you're hung over and you can't sleep. You flip on the TV for something to soothe your aching brain. Local news is the last thing you want — no cheesy, chatty, cookie-cutter face blathering on about red-light cameras, thank you. But there's anchorwoman Chau Nguyen, making sense. She's not talking down to you. And before you know it, you're learning something. And you remember, "Hey, that's the whole idea in the first place." Later in the week you find her out in the field, wearing her reporter hat this time. And you wonder, "Why can't more broadcast news be like this?"