The murder trial of Ashley Paige Benton fascinated Houston — a teen girl involved in a gang fight in Montrose, where she stabbed another teen to death. Her first trial ended in a hung jury; as the retrial process began, the trial judge entered a gag order. That kept Benton's media-savvy and sound-bite-smart lawyers, Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer, from telling the sympathetic parts of her story to the city. They immediately went to the appeals court, which unanimously ruled in their favor. Very, very shortly after, prosecutors offered a better deal than they ever had before — five years deferred probation, with possible early termination after two years. Don't mess with the spinmeisters!

No one likes The Man telling them when they can and can't have groundbreaking intellectual discussions about genocide in Darfur or the subprime mortgage meltdown, which, face it, are the kinds of things most people talk about on their cells while driving. But here's one instance where The Man is looking out for The Children, and he's saying: "Hey, dumbass, I know how important it is for you to tell your dumbass friend about some dumbass thing you did last night, but let's put it on hold for the three blocks around the elementary school." Since most people can't even drive well in the first place, this seems perfectly sensible. But don't try telling AT&T that. A company spokesperson argued against the measure before the West University Place City Council put it to a vote. Which means, obviously, that AT&T wants to kill kids. At least in West U. But the rest of us probably don't, so let's all follow this rarest of beasts: a new ordinance that actually makes sense.

Do you like to impress people? Do you have a shitload of money? If you answered yes to both, then you might want to consider a stay in one (or all) of Hotel ZaZa's "­Magnificent ­Seven" theme rooms. These include the Rock Star, with "your own frosted-glass, private elevator access," mirrored walls and a ­stainless-steel kitchen. (Apparently, you have to take care of the coke and the whole asphyxiating-on-your-own-vomit thing.) Or maybe you'd prefer the Bella Vita, where even the furnishings seem to be getting it on — as the Web site says, "large tassels flirt endlessly with plush drapes as they caress the wood floor." (Heh...they said "wood.") But we ­digress. These are just two of the super-swanky choices. Go check 'em out for yourself and see which one fits your style.

There was a time when air travel was not a giant pain in the ass. When you went to sleek terminals that reeked of the romantic adventure of flying, where you walked out to your plane and up one of those stairway ramps past the propellers, where there wasn't a sneaker search or a Starbucks in sight. You can still get a whiff of that time at the old terminal at Hobby Airport, which sits in all its Art Deco glory off to the side of the massive operation that's there now. The museum inside isn't exactly designed for the ADD-wracked video-game crowd, but it's a charming glimpse into the past.

Nobody is ever sad at The Big Easy, at least not for long. So what if your ex got over you in like two seconds and is now engaged to a millionaire? You can't be worried about that, there's music to dance to and booze to drink. There's live music almost every night, and most often there's no cover charge (when there is, it's a measly $5 or so). And Big Easy regulars do something called "blues dancing," a kind of do-your-own-thing-whatever-that-is style that includes lots of semi-grinding, sensual posing and shaking with some dips thrown in. "Blues dance" a couple of times and your ex won't even cross your mind.

Best Place to Look Like You're ­Exercising When You're Really ­Cruising

Memorial Park Jogging Trail

Historic Camp Logan, the WWI military camp, makes up much of the area that is now Memorial Park. These days, so many couples meet and date on its jogging trails, some call it Camp Romance. Memorial Park is one of the largest parks in the country and in addition to the jogging trails, there's a pool, a golf course, tennis courts, and...oh, what the hell...all you care about is cruising. And yes, there's plenty of cruising going on. Wearing skimpy shorts and tiny tops, joggers get a real look at what they're getting. Everyone is already sweating and breathing hard, jogging up and down, up and down, in rhythmic sync, up and down, so it's just half a step from really athletic sex. Love and seduction in running shoes — what could be better?

Here's what you do: Take your wallet out of your purse before walking into this Midtown corporate coffee haven. Once inside, order your drink and dig through your purse. "I think I forgot my wallet," you cry, a damsel in distress. Most likely one of the many good-looking, suited types who frequent the location morning and afternoon will come to your rescue. "Oh, thanks so much," you say with a bat of your lashes. You check his finger for a ring — empty. "Please let me make it up to you. Maybe we can meet here for another cup after work?" Presto. If that doesn't do it, then look no further than behind the counter, because this Starbucks stocks as many cuties clad in green aprons as it does coffee beans. Hey, we hear they have full benefits...

They're cute, dolled up and in cowboy boots — what else could you ask for in Texas? Leon's Lounge's monthly country music installment, Vinyl Ranch, gets all the ladies in a Southern mood. Not only do you get to hear the straight-from-the-phonograph hits of Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and more, but you also get to peruse a nice selection of tight-jean-wearing, cowboy-hat-sporting dolls wishing for a man to sweep them off their feet and onto Houston's tiniest dance floor. All this night is missing is the perfect way to impress a lady — that's right, a mechanical bull contest.

If you've ever been within a two-block radius of the downtown Greyhound Bus Station, you already know just how interesting this place can be. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it's where you can always get your people-watching fix. Cultural foreigners and foreigners in the literal sense of the word, bohemian types and people just passing through — you get it all. Best of all, it's not like the airport, where you have to have a ticket to get into the terminal. This is an all-access people-watching mecca.

The business of Houston has always been business, and while the world knows us as an oil town, real estate is where it's at. Ever since Houston's founding by the Allen Brothers, this city has been all about the art of the deal, Donald Trump style. What we've been lacking until recently is coverage of this industry with the sort of intelligence, snark and panache that brings to the table. Whether rattling off the latest wrecking-ball casualties in their Daily Demolition Report, leaking renderings of upcoming projects for the ridicule or acclaim of the city's architecture buffs or posting photos of random interiors and having readers guess the home's locale, Swamplot covers Houston real estate with consummate humor and a wicked sense of fun. And like they say, "Swamplot didn't flood during Allison. Honest!"

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