Star Blazers

Talk about your party foul.

Dolan Smith's "grand celestial opening" of the Pet Columbarium had been going well for most of the night at the Museum of the Weird on 24th Street in the Heights. He had a couple hundred partygoers in attendance, plenty of booze and contortionist-hula hoop-strippers to entertain the crowd. Halloween (on the eve of Day of the Dead) seemed like perfect timing to celebrate the opening of a cemetery that would house the ashes and memorabilia of people's dead pets.

Around midnight, though, a few guests -- one apparently wearing only a stuffed animal loincloth -- brought in ten huge helium balloons, tied the strings to stuffed toy animals, doused them in lighter fluid and sent the fiery furballs off into the sky.

"The first round was really beautiful," says Smith. "It was a beautiful metaphor for the Pet Columbarium opening." The metaphor didn't hold up so well in the second round. The batch caught an errant breeze and lit a neighbor's tree on fire, bringing police and firefighters out to shut the party down. No one was arrested or ticketed, and although Smith thinks that he's landed on some sort of arson list, he calls the fiery shindig a swinging success. As one partygoer enthused: "Great party, Dolan! I love all the police and fireman costumes! What a performance! They really know how to clear a crowd." -- Michael Serazio

East Meets

(Old) West

The New York media acted with its usual restraint and taste in reporting the unexpected acquittal of millionaire Robert Durst, the cross-dressing Big Apple heir who shot Morris Black, hacked up his body and dumped it in Galveston Bay.

The New York Daily News had the sedate headline "Where's the Head, Bobby?" screaming from its front page. The more elegant Post opted for the subdued approach; its huge headline was "Run For Your Lives," a reference to the fact that Durst family members are now, according to the inside headline, "Living in Fear."

There was one paper, however, that chose instead to indulge in cliché, stereotypes and sensationalism. That paper, surprisingly, was The New York Times.

"Durst Verdict Tied to Local Mores and a Shrewd Defense," the headline read (we're illiterate Texans, so we assumed they were somehow tying UH benefactor John J. Moores to the case).

Texas, the story said, is "a state with a legacy of frontier-style justice handed down from the time when it was truly the Wild West."

It noted that some said the killing "did not fit into the model of frontier justice because Mr. Black, although cantankerous, did not fit the image of a villain menacing society." (Also, most frontier-justice models lack the cross-dressing, body-hacking millionaire element.)

The story ended with defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin citing "an old Texas saying about why horse thieves get hung and some killers get off. 'No horse ever needed stealing,' Mr. DeGuerin explained. 'But there are people who need killing.' "

DeGuerin then left to round hisself up some cattle-rasslers, take a swig from a jug marked "XXX" and ride away on Old Paint, the story somehow didn't continue to say. -- Richard Connelly

Book Him, Danno

After years of shouting outraged morality sermons about the perfidy of Bill and Hillary and all depraved Democrats, KSEV-AM's Jon Matthews has been indicted on a charge of indecency with a child.

We have no way of knowing whether Matthews is guilty of the allegations that he exposed himself to a teenage girl October 9, as the indictment claims. (Under Matthews's modus operandi, which is to immediately assume the truth of every allegation made against someone you politically disagree with, there would be no need for a trial, however.) KSEV owner Dan Patrick told listeners Matthews says he's innocent.

So we won't comment on the charges. As a public service, though, we offer an excerpt from the last column Matthews wrote for the Fort Bend Star. It was printed October 22, after the alleged incident but a few days before the charges came to light and Matthews was taken off the air.

It reads: "Would you think that books dealing with sexual activity and including graphic illustrations would be in the children's section of our public libraries in Fort Bend County? Well, that is just such the case," he wrote. Outraged that "out of control bureaucracies" were actually studying the matter, he thundered, "Just go get the books and place them in the adult section. See how easy it is to solve problems?"

Must…not…make…comment… -- R.C.

Post Mortem

It remains, beaten down and vomit-stained, the last reminder of those heady days when reaching for a daily newspaper meant having a choice. The clunky metal newspaper box on the corner of 22nd and Market Street in Galveston, with those fading, scraped script letters Houston Post may be the only battle-scarred shrine commemorating Houston's newspaper wars before the 1995 demise of the Post.

Half of the gun-metal box -- model no. TK100R1 manufactured by Kasparwire Works Inc. of Shiner -- is still used by the Chronicle and the Galveston County Daily News, whose papers don't seem to last long when folks entering the nearby Frost Bank building early in the morning take several for the price of one.

Appropriately, the old Post newspaper box occupies the same block as the Galveston County Museum.

"Well, it does seem like an interesting relic, so we'd have to see if it fits in with our mission statement," museum curator Sue Canup says of the artifact. "We'd just have to have someone with a clear title on it to offer it to us, so we could put it in storage." -- Greg Barr

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