Keith Plocek for HouStoned Images Ltd., Ulmtd.

Dirty Money

The intersection of San Jacinto and McKinney witnessed a little street theater this afternoon, courtesy of

Billionaires for Coal


Four dapper fellows and one classy lady paraded around in stovetop smokestack hats, trying to give away pieces of charcoal to passersby. No one took them up on the offer, although, as one Billionaire said, "We'll just burn it and give it away in the air."

The Billionaires chose that site because the skyscraper above houses offices for Merrill Lynch, which has made a deal to help finance Dallas-based TXU's plan to build new coal-fired power plants in Texas. Governor Rick Perry is trying to fast-track the approval process, although he was thwarted yesterday when a state district judge told him to slow the hell down.

Typical banter among the Billionaires went like this:

"And now we're offering free asthma."

"Wait, shouldn't we charge them for the asthma?"

"Oh, yes. We're now offering asthma at a discounted price."

The Billionaires made an attempt to deliver a letter to the Merrill Lynch offices, but they were thwarted by a police officer who told them to stay on the sidewalk. When asked if he could deliver the letter for them, the cop pointed at his lapel and replied, "This says Houston Po-lice, not US Postal Service."

To which one Billionaire responded, "I'm going to have to make a call to Austin. I thought we owned you." — Keith Plocek

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