The best T-shirt we saw all summer was "Purple What?" Targeting the Willy Wonka-esque theme of rapper Big Moe's "Purple Stuff" video, it featured a purple Oompa Loompa pouring a cup of lean, or drank, or whatever the hell you wanna call it on the floor. On the back was a poem eloquently revealing the evils of the notorious cocktail. ("Welch's grape and bussin' Tussin / mixed to careless killer thickness / the last thang Black folks need / is subliminal chemical degradation.") Both the words and the shirt are the work of local poet-designer Deep Blu See, who also makes personalized tees out of his Liquid Soul Studios company. The "Purple What?" caught the eye of many. Hopefully they grasped the long-overdue message the shirt was trying to convey. Not since the "Die Yuppie Scum" T-shirt of the early 1990s has a piece of clothing become such a fashion and social statement.

It takes a reporter to think like a reporter, and this former KTRH police beater has put his four years of news experience to invaluable use. The 39-year-old Cannon draws top reviews from current police and crime watchdogs for unfailing courtesy and prompt processing of information requests. He understands the different deadline demands of print, radio and television. He offers suggestions on how to find information. He'll even put up with the weird and imponderable question. One of his favorites involved a police car caught in high water. The reporter wanted to know the exact amount it would cost taxpayers to repair the vehicle. "You get so many requests where the reporter just wants you to do the story for them," says Cannon, who with his experience is quite capable of doing just that. Cannon is a welcome change from years past, when some HPD information officers were regarded more as speed bumps on the information highway.

No, diversity isn't the name of a bar or restaurant or nightclub or coffeehouse or loft or even theater or sports stadium. But it applies to them all and more. And that's the ultimate attraction of a downtown that's alive. With the central city's growth (under those clouds of construction dust), no one or two clubs or eateries can lay claim as the ultimate magnet -- indeed, no one sector or group can do it, either. Our downtown is emblematic of a city that has really come together. Where else does an Astros fan belly up to a bar for a postgame beer and wind up befriending the martini couple closing out an evening after the opera? How about the businesswoman kicking back with the bohemian set? The homeless can even remind the high-rollers about the realities of the world -- something that doesn't happen in The Woodlands. There are plenty of good cafes and bars far away from Houston's heart -- but no outlying area can come close to the variety that underscores downtown's vitality. If the city has any sense, it will protect this diversity that makes a trip into town so delightful and dynamic.
Yes, we know. Wayne's not really a weathercaster. This investigative reporter would rather be chasing down unethical pothole fillers than tracking weather patterns. But when Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston hard, Wayne Dolcefino was there. Before it became virtually impossible not to be up to your waist in water, Wayne searched out the deep spots. Displaying no concern for his physical person, he waded in without even a raincoat. Wayne showed us just how deep the water was that first dark night of Allison. He chased after cars attempting to plow through the water; he pointed out the rooftops of those who had already met their flooded fates; he let a hospital know that an employee was going to be late for work. He investigated, dammit. Of course, Wayne might have been smarter to find out a little more about the water before he went in. A few hours later, reporters began discouraging kids from playing in the filth. And the next day, a decapitated body was discovered floating down Pasadena Highway 225, where Wayne had been reporting the night before.
River Oaks accountant Bob Martin may make his living balancing other folks' books and tax accounts, but he has the soul of a reporter, albeit a conservative one. He hangs around KSEV radio and maintains a wide circle of media pals. He also may be the only person in Houston who has developed a time schedule to record all local TV news broadcasts every evening. Martin makes regular appearances on KHOU as a talking head on accounting themes, and feeds reporters a weekly stream of suggestions for stories. In the current mayoral cycle Martin is backing Michael Berry, and is not shy about recommending media strategy to the first-term councilman.

It looks like a painting, a 12-foot square field of blue, oddly placed on the ceiling of the simple Quaker meeting room. But this painting is alive, deepening in color and drawing you in as the sun sets outside. It's the sky, you realize. Light artist James Turrell has cut an opening in the roof and tapered its boundaries into a knife-edge that subverts depth perception. It feels as if you could reach up and touch the sky, or that the sky has crept down through the opening to touch you. A bird or a cloud or a plane passing overhead simultaneously breaks the illusion and makes it all the more wonderful.
It took you three weeks, but you finally worked up the nerve to ask for his number, that sexy hunk at the gym. And you were thinking the hard part was over. But wait! You still have to woo him with your natty clothes, wow him with your classy ride and wallop him with your fabulous taste in dining. You want a second date, don't you? We suggest you slip into a little black dress, roll by and pick him up in your shiny-clean wheels and escort him to Aries, Scott Tycer's showplace of culinary magic on Montrose. With choices such as three-onion brioche bread pudding with confit of tomato, whole branzino in salt crust with asparagus, and Evil Chocolate Overlord Cake, you can't fail to impress the man. Aries has won the hearts of national critics and local diners alike with its upscale American cuisine. Maybe with Tycer's help you can win your date's heart, too.

Veteran land broker and appraiser Tom Bazan first got involved in the municipal arena when he launched a lead paint detection business and fought city contractors who were all too eager to ram through deals without completing proper inspections. From there he ventured onto Houston's transit battlefield -- first producing a Web site that urged the recall of city appointees to the Metro Transit Authority Board, and then e-mailing a sometimes daily antirail bulletin to a list of government officials (mostly Republicans) and media members. He was among the first to call attention to Metro's growing financial problems resulting from slumping sales tax receipts. While some folks have complained about receiving his unauthorized e-mails, Bazan claims innocence, noting that some of his willing recipients often forward the messages on to others. It just goes to show how one man's spam is another's exercise in free speech.

Judging by the interiors of most restaurants, restaurateurs usually don't care deeply about art. Monica Pope is the exception. Her Boulevard Bistrot has art on the plates, on the walls and even in the bathrooms. In fact, the atmosphere of the lavatory was so important to the owner that she commissioned artist Sharon Engelstein to pretty it up with rich floral paintings. Engelstein is no ordinary stall painter. The former Museum of Fine Arts Core fellow has exhibited her work in the Contemporary Arts Museum and in the prestigious Texas Gallery. Now you can catch dinner and an art show all in one building.

With its gleaming silver spindles, strips of barbed wire surrounding the front door and a big red "look over here" star affixed to its roof, the Art Car Museum is hardly the staid sort of building that pops into one's mind at the mention of the word museum. But its collected set of beautiful art cars is uniquely Houston, and a perfect place to take guests who associate this city with only Enron. Not that it's just an art car collection. The museum, founded in 1998, makes a concerted effort to bring unusual avant-garde art from all over the globe to our hometown -- although a fair share of local artists have exhibited here as well. And here's a bit of trivia: The Art Car is probably one of the few museums in America to receive a visit from the FBI after September 11 (see "Quirky Yes, Al Qaeda No," by Jennifer Mathieu, November 15, 2001). Seems someone thought their avant-garde "Secret Wars" exhibit was some sort of terrorist threat. In the end, the feds deemed the exhibit just really weird, so you know it's gotta be good.

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