No-Balls Buzz

Every city in America is cursed with a "wacky" morning show on FM, where outlaws who can't be tamed by the FCC or those suits in corporate push the envelope and stick it to The Man.

In Houston, one of those shows belongs to Rod Ryan on The Buzz. So when those craaazy out-of-control laffmeisters proposed a race of homemade cars based on the Cub Scouts' Pinewood Derby, they just couldn't stop themselves from calling it the Morningwood Derby. And the censors be damned if they got all uptight because "Morningwood" is the Beavis-and-Butt-head term for a wake-up boner!! (Heh, heh - he said boner.)

Ryan and his crew - which includes, of course, a flaming is-he-gay guy - left no brain-dead innuendo unsaid as they promoted the event, a benefit for the Cub Scouts.


The Buzz

Cory Nelson, who makes art cars here in Houston, got fully into the spirit of the thing. She built and entered "Pencil Dick," which looked like it sounds - a large pencil with balls and a dickhead. She paid her $30 fee, the folks putting the contest together loved her entry; she thought everything was golden.

Until the day before the February 18 event, when Nelson got a call from the organizers telling her she'd been disqualified for taste reasons.

Oh, edginess, where art thou?

Vince Richards, director of rock programming at The Buzz, said the station decided to tone down the entries because Cub Scouts were going to be present at the event.

"It probably wasn't that good to have a contest with a car named Pencil Dick to be racing while we have seven- or eight-year-old kids," he says.

Then why all the giggling innuendo leading up to the event? Oh, right, we forgot - it's FM radio in the morning.

Rock on, you outlaws.

I'm Sheila Jackson Lee, Bitch!

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee took time out from her busy schedule of showing up at every funeral, press conference and C-SPAN event February 23 to appear on stage with comic Dave Chappelle.

Chappelle brought his Block Party Tour to the Verizon Theater that night, and Lee - who recently has wormed her way into pictures with such notable celebrities as Michael Jackson - knew a good publicity opportunity when she saw it.

Just before intermission, Chappelle invited Lee on stage, where she reminded everyone they were currently in the midst of her very own 18th Congressional District and welcomed Chappelle to town. Which had -- we can only guess - at least some of the crowd going, "Wow!! We paid $55 to see Dave Chappelle and we get a chance to see Sheila Jackson Lee too!! Sweeeet!!" (This would be the portion of the crowd working directly for Lee.)

Not that the Troubled Comedian (as he now seems to be permanently called) seemed that impressed. He reminded Lee that he may be a campaign liability because, as he so eloquently put it, "I turned down 50 million dollars, I ran away to Africa and, according to the media, "That nigga is CRAZY!!'"

Chappelle, it seems clear, has no idea just what standards Lee applies to whether she should make an appearance. Anyone who can say "Michael Jackson, in the midst of child-abuse charges? Sign me up for that photo op!" isn't going to balk at a troubled comedian.

Knowing Lee's often unique fashion sense, we're just pissed Chappelle didn't go all Silky Johnston on her.

Still Fighting

The always-struggling Rutherford B.H. Yates Museum in the Freedmen's Town section of Houston has found a new way to struggle.

The museum, dedicated to the city's black history, has been fighting gentrification and developers who are scarfing up what it sees as historically significant property. Now the museum is fighting the taxman.

Director Catherine Roberts says the museum is owed about $20,000 in taxes it has already paid for property that should have received either historical or charitable exemptions from such levies.

She's not having much luck convincing the county and city. "We have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into doing this work and we get less cooperation than the other developers [do] who are putting in high-density, shoddy houses. Their priorities are wrong," Roberts says.

Among the properties in dispute are three vacant lots, and Jim Robinson, the county's chief appraiser, says that disqualifies them for an exemption "Just the fact a charity owns a vacant lot doesn't mean it qualifies," he says. Roberts claims the lots are used for archeological work (when they aren't being flooded because of nearby development); Robinson says his inspectors didn't see such work being done when they visited.

More frustrating is the museum's fight with the city. For ten years, Roberts says, she has filed to get a historical exemption that would provide a tax break for the museum's main building.

It seems a no-brainer, since the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as an official state landmark. Apparently it is a "brainer" to the city, though; each year they've tabled the request or denied it.

Mayoral spokesman Patrick Trahan didn't respond to a request for comment. Roberts says she's applied for the exemption again this year. She isn't holding her breath.

Cat-Trapped Fever

It's the feel-good story of the week. Lynn Langmead is having a new two-story house built in Spring, and she's been checking on it frequently as construction winds up.

Two weeks ago, with only minor interior stuff remaining to be finished, she thought she heard some mewling while she was in the master bathroom. Which was odd, because there were no cats that she knew of in the house, and it had been pretty much permanently sealed for at least two weeks.

She and her girlfriend searched all over and finally narrowed the location of the noise to the Jacuzzi. Or, to be more specific, to the wall behind the Jacuzzi.

They called the contractor, who cut a hole in the sheetrock with a pocket knife and out popped a cuddly little gray tabby. He'd apparently been inside the wall for weeks, maybe surviving with water from a dripping pipe and tossed-away food scraps.

"How nobody else heard this cat is beyond me," Langmead says.

She posted flyers in the neighborhood, and an 11-year-old girl from a few blocks down identified her missing Smokey, who'd been gone for two weeks.

Langmead says no further entrapped animals have been found. Yet.

These Boots Are Made for Running

The 14th Congressional District, which includes Brazosport, has long been blessed with entertaining representation in the form of Ron Paul, the staunch libertarian who loves medical marijuana, hates abortion and was the only House member to vote against honoring Rosa Parks, Mother Theresa, and the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

He's got some primary opposition this time in the form of Cynthia Sinatra. Knowing the penchant for strangeness in the 14th District, you couldn't be blamed for thinking that the candidate is probably an actual Sinatra, and not just someone with the same name.

And you'd be right. In a sense. Cynthia McMurrey ended 50-plus years of bachelorhood for Frank Sinatra, Jr. in October 1998; alas, 22 months later the marriage ended.

Newspaper reports said Junior waited until Dad died to marry McMurrey, who didn't seem The Chairman's type of stay-home Italian mom. She clearly isn't - she was a defense attorney for accused Bosnian war criminals in the 1990s.

The 14th District - what would we do without you?

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