Hotel ZaZa's Hidden Dungeon

Highlights from Hair Balls


Spaced City

Hair Balls is kinda flipping out over online pics purporting to show a secret, mysterious room at Hotel ZaZa with concrete floors, a bed chained to the wall, a giant skull-and-bones painting and a portrait of a dude who looks a lot like a guy who used to work at Stanford Financial.

The pics were posted on Reddit by someone who claims to be friends with someone who was recently given that room (322), and who was subsequently told that the room was rented to him by mistake.


Here's the dude's post:

stay here frequently when on business. Hotel was booked solid and my colleague managed to score a room unplanned. We all had normal zaza style rooms (swank) and he ended up in this goth dungeon closet.

Seriously- the room had a chain holding the bed to wall, pictures of skills and a creepy, incongruous portrait of an old man. Room was about 1/3 the normal size with the furniture blocking part of the TV, bed and window.

We asked about it at the front desk and the clerk looked it up and said "that room isn't supposed to be rented.' and immediately moved him.

The pics don't correspond to any of the theme rooms featured on ZaZa's site. So we were sorta puzzled. And we want to rent this room really, really bad., so we called hotel spokeswoman Kyra Coots.

She said that it is in fact one of the hotel's theme rooms — it's called Hard Times, and it's a play on a jail experience. (We'll note again it's not mentioned on the Web site, which lists and describes the other "theme" rooms.)

While it's a "compact" room, it has one of the hotel's largest balconies, which overlooks the pool area, she said. She says neither room is secret or kept from being rented.

Coots also told us that, at one point, the company's president lived in the Hard Times room for two months, five days a week. We asked about the portrait of the distinguished, mustachioed gentleman, and she said she'd look into it. (She's also checking into the claims made by the guy who posted the pics in the first place.)

Bad Teachers

One Teacher, Four Students
Pasadena educator hit with sex charges.

Richard Connelly

LaShawn Simmons, a 41-year-old former middle-school math teacher in Pasadena, is facing a slew of charges in connection with her having sex with four students, police say.

Simmons, who has resigned her position at the Pasadena district's Beverly Hills Intermediate School, is charged with sexual assault of a child, two counts of improper relationship between an educator and a student, online solicitation of a minor and possession of child pornography, according to court records.

The records indicate the teacher and students exchanged dirty texts and inappropriate photographs until a parent discovered what was going on. A two-month investigation showed, cops say, that Simmons had sex with four students at PISD's Dobie High: Two adults and two minors, all males.

Among the chats discovered by investigators was one allegedly from Simmons to one of the defendants, an adult: "That's my favorite," she allegedly wrote. "Ima make you cum fast with my mouth. Then swallow everything you give me."

Simmons has been a PISD teacher for 14 years.


League City and Guns
Federal law doesn't apply here.

Casey Michel

Heidi Thiess wants you to know that this isn't about her. This resolution that League City's just passed, banning any federal limits pertaining to guns, to ammunition, to the Second Amendment — isn't anything personal. This is something larger, she says. This isn't a woman and a mission and the first resolution of its kind in the nation. This is bigger than any one councilperson in any lone exurb in Texas.

"If I'd wanted to leave it alone, I could have," says Thiess, who submitted the resolution earlier this week. "And now there are kooks out there who say, 'We'll drop a drone on her head,' and because of those kooks this [resolution] has marked me. But I don't want it to be about me."

And so, the resolution's not about her. And it's not about any of her fellow council members, who voted 7-1 this week to nullify any federal restrictions on both ownership and sales of firearms and clips. This is different. This is bigger.

"I swore an oath to defend the constitution in the military, and I had to swear it as a city council member," Thiess, a Tea Party Republican, said. "I've gotten push-back from members saying that I should just be worried about ditches and drainage and sidewalks — but [then] what's the point of swearing an oath?"

With the backing of such constitutional dedication, League City has now become the first city in the state — and very possibly the first city in the nation — to pass this form of firearm nullification. It has become the first municipality in the country to grant itself the ability to ignore any federal statutes relating to the sale and possession of firearms.

As the language states, "[a]ll federal acts, laws, executive orders, agency orders, and rules or regulations" relating to firearm confiscation, clip limitations, taxation or registration will now be considered "invalid" within League City. Despite any potential legislation Texas's federal Senators and Congresspeople may help pass in the future, League City will remain immune to the dictated change.

The federal government "is filing legislation, [and] the thing that infuriates me is that they exempt themselves from their own legislation," Thiess added. "It's the same thing as they did with Obamacare. How dare they?"

It makes a certain sense that League City, which boasts the largest percentage of concealed handgun licensees in the state, would spearheard this measure. But Thiess noted that more than a dozen other cities — "from here straight through to the west of Texas" — have reached out to her for copies of the resolution. Furthermore, a bill, HB 553, has been filed in Austin expanding League City's suggestion to the statewide level. Filed by Dayton's Representative John Otto, HB 553 not only mandates that the state nullify any federal firearm and clip regulation, but would also turn any attempted confiscation into a criminal offense.

But even if HB 553 doesn't pass, or if it's struck down in the near future, League City will continue its policy and will continue its legacy as the first city in Texas to invalidate any federal statutes pertaining to firearm regulation. Regardless of what the elected representatives in Washington declare, League City has granted itself the ability to ignore such laws.

There are questions, naturally, about the legality of the entire resolution. Much like marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado, socioeconomic issues become blurred when multiple bodies govern the same statutes.

"I do staunchly believe this will hold up in court," Thiess said via e-mail. "If our federal government attempts to sue our town to crush lawful and necessary dissent, it will prove their utter lawlessness and oppression. And then all Americans everywhere will see the threat of tyranny for what it is."

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Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow