A new edition of the Houston Press hits the web today, so at last it can be revealed -- last week's cover story, on the county's plans to turn the Astrodome into a Tilman Fertitta-owned safari hunt club, was tied closely to the publication date of April 1.
A lot of people figured it out pretty fast, of course, but then again a lot of people didn't.
The comments to the story show some of that split, but it was in private e-mails and phone messages that the dichotomy between those who got it and those who weren't sure came out.
Oddly enough, a surprising percentage of those who weren't sure included lawyers. Maybe they're just used to taking things literally, or maybe -- and here's something to worry about if you're a Harris County taxpayer -- the whole thing didn't sound totally beyond the pale to them.
The website for the Animal Planet network did a straightforward recap of the article, but the author of the piece -- after readers commented on its unlikelihood -- says she was in on the joke the whole time.
What tipped off some people was odd.
"The first thing that tipped me off (believe it or not) was the remark about "it is not tilman, it is mr. fertitta. That is not like him.," one reader wrote.
And then there was the really odd one.
One guy wrote in -- he gave his name, and the usual social-network research shows he lives in Houston, but we choose to spare him.
Remember, the story was an utterly harmless spoof.
Yet in came this e-mail:
You call the pile of words a story? It's utter shit. The entire thing is nothing more than a bad rant. Go find a new line of work cock sucker.
Ooookay. We replied "Hey, thanks for reading," because hey, we appreciate our readers.
That got this in response:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
I could only make it 3/4 of the way through the article before I had to make a list of all the companies who advertise in the HP and start a campaign to have you canned.
Now here, we thought, is a man who takes his Astrodome very, very seriously.
Best part: His signature line on his e-mails includes the oh-so-green "Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to."
We decided we didn't need to.