Archive for October, 2006

Veg out for Vegetarian Awareness Month

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October is Vegetarian Awareness Month (who comes up with these themed months anyway?) and the Houston Society of Peace (People for the Earth, Animals, Compassion and Enlightement) is holding a vegetarian feast at Field of Greens (2320 W. Alabama) this Saturday, October 21 at 5:30pm.

For some brain food, Shirley Wilkes-Johnson will be presenting on ‘Vegetarian Roots: The Fascinating and Little Known History of Vegetarianism’. You are encouraged to attend even if you’re a non-veggie. The food sounds super fantastic and hey, when’s the last time you got to chow down with hippies anyway??

Reservations are required and the deadline has been extended to today (October 18th). Price is $15 at the door. Photo thanks to massivev

Houston janitor’s battle makes glam mag news

Ercilia Munoz Sandoval, a Houston janitor, was nominated for Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year award. She is one of 5,300 office building janitors fighting for better work conditions and benefits. From the Glamour magazine site:

Nominated by Amber Goodwin: “Ercilia Sandoval is my hero. I work for the Justice for Janitors Campaign in Houston, and Ercilia is a janitor at an office building. Along with thousands of her coworkers (predominately women), Ercilia worked all of last year to form a union with SEIU, and is now in the midst of a contract campaign with her employers. Ercilia and the other 8,000 office-building janitors in Houston make $5.15 an hour for part-time work, with no benefits and no health care. Health care is important to all of us, but especially to Ercilia, who was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of months ago and is the mother of two children. She still fights on a day-to-day basis to help her coworkers so that they can win their contract and make Houston a better place for all working people. Please check out her story at www.houstonjanitors.org.”

Janitors across Houston may start striking today if negotiations with Houston-area cleaning companies don’t lead to a contract.

Eden After Hours No More?

If you’ve been wanting to go to after hours this past weekend, you’ve undoubtedly heard the latest news: Eden, a relatively popular after hours venue, was the target of a police sting operation this weekend. The Click2Houston article incorrectly states that the sting occured on Saturday night; in fact, it occured on Friday (the 13th!).

For those of you that have never been to an after hours place similar to Eden, the scenario usually goes something like this: get to the door and either know the door guy or convince him that you are friends with someone inside. Proceed to pay a cover, and go inside a dark room, where electronic dance music pulsates away until early morning. There’s energy drinks, water, and other refreshments to keep you hydrated.

According to allegations, that’s not all that goes on during after hours. Recently, drugs have poisoned much of Houston club culture, leading many to openly and freely consume whatever they please without fear of gettng in trouble (anyone that has been out recently can attest to this). The recent sting will likely be a wake up call for many: not only were the bartenders arrested, but people that were on the property and were in possession of any drugs were taken into custody as well.

It’s unclear what lies for Eden; hopefully it can still survive after the effects of the sting. It would be nice to assume that there can be a place where people can go after the regular clubs close, sit back, and listen to some good music. I guess that isn’t an attractive idea to most people, which is why this happened. Will it happen again, with some other club, at some other place? For sure. Illegal drugs and after hours drinking are part of the Houston scene, and it’s something that we have to accept. I’m certainly a little shocked to hear about this, but I knew it was coming sooner or later. I expected the “sting” to involve the police rushing in and just closing the place down. I didn’t know they could arrest customers as well. For now, many people are freaked out and I’m sure that some of them will be taking it easy for a while.

So what do YOU think about the recent sting, and after hours clubs in general? Good, bad?

Downtown Houston discovers some green

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The Houston Downtown Park Conservancy announced the new $93 million downtown uber-park’s name at the groundbreaking ceremony this afternoon: Discovery Green.

The winning name, submitted by a Mr. Kim Borja, was chosen from over 6200 entries. Some other rather creative name suggestions included ‘Chuck Norris Park’ and ‘The Big Howdy’. I personally would’ve voted for the latter.

The 12-acre park site sits across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center and is going to add some really great (pretty) features to our otherwise concrete jungle of a downtown. Some things to look forward to:

* One-acre pond
* Playground and children’s areas (with puppet theaters!)
* Interactive fountain
* Outdoor ampitheater
* Doggie park
* Jogging trail
* Wifi accessible indoor and outdoor ‘reading room’ areas
* Old oak promenade
* Recreation fields (ultimate frisbee anyone?)

Opinion Needed

I received the following message, which I believe warrants posting on the Houston Metroblog.

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The University of Texas School of Public Health (SPH) Student Association would like to call your attention to an important public health matter currently under active consideration in the Houston area.

Possible workplace exemptions to the smoking ban in Houston are up for debate among City Council – with voting scheduled to take place on TUESDAY of next week (Oct 24th). Current proposals up for debate concern (a) bar & restaurant exceptions to the ban, (b) bar-only exceptions, or (c) no exceptions (100% smoke-free workplace ordinance).

The community’s voice is a crucial element in such decision-making processes. To voice your opinion on this matter, call the office of Mayor Bill White at 713.247.2200. You will likely be asked for your name and address, just as a certification, but you do not have to give it. Once you have voiced your opinion with the Mayor’s Office, ask to be connected to the office of your council representative (determined by zip code).

To make your voice count, make sure to call before Tuesday, October 17th!!! Visit the Houston Chronicle’s website for recent articles about the ban.

Giant puddle, sunken crane

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Remember when your mom told you not to leave your toys out in the rain? The same rule applies to you as an adult, particularly when your toys are multi-million dollar pieces of construction equipment that happen to be sitting in a construction zone underneath an overpass that floods a LOT.

What you can’t see in this picture is all the other multi-ton heavy duty equipment that is completely submerged to the left of the crane. Brilliant. Rainy days in Houston are fun!

Photo thanks to the rocking Ed Schipul

Tornado Watch

Several days ago, Hesam’s entry described how wonderful the cool weather was, and I couldn’t agree more. It was nice to feel the coolness for a change. Otherwise, there’s no such thing as autumn or winter in Houston!

This weekend, however, is anything but the cool weather we just had those several days before. It was raining on and off all day yesterday, and it then rained over night. Go outside and look at all the floods on the roads and streets! I did that last night, and the water was above my ankles! Just minutes before though, Chron.com reported that southeast Texas was under a tornado watch because of all the thunderstorms and rain we’ve been having. Stay safe and dry and be careful when driving, everyone! Very slippery out there!

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*Note: Photo courtesy of Chron.com.

Houston Police Officer Involved in ‘Melee’ with Concertgoers

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An HPD Officer responded to a noise complaint Friday at local music venue, Walter’s. Why there was a noise complaint against a concert venue I don’t know, but after the Officer arrived things just went wrong. No matter how you look at it, someone did something they weren’t supposed to do and things got out of hand.

You can read various accounts of the story in different places, but here’s the long story short:

The Two Gallants were playing a show at Walter’s when the Officer arrives and asks the sound guy to turn it down. Officer says they turn it back up as he’s walking out. The Officer heads to the stage and tells the band to leave. Forceful words are exchanged, Officer grabs the guitar and says Stephens (Lead Singer) shoves him. Stephens denies doing that. Either way, the Officer decides that Stephens needs to be dealt with and takes him down by the neck. Everyone flips out and is trying to cool the situation down and/or screaming. The officer then chases a guy with a camera around the club and ends up tasering Stephens, a college student and a 14 year old boy in “self defense” and arrests 6 people. You can see at least part of that whole thing for yourself after the cut.

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Regulars and ex-employees claim that Officer Rodriguez came around regularly with “a chip on his shoulder.” Nonetheless, local media outlets are selling the story that the officer was attacked by dozens of people and bravely fought off a drunken mob. Tasering people repeatedly is probably an appropriate response to that kind of violence, but its pretty easy to see for yourself that that’s not what really happened.

No matter how you look at it, things could have been dealt with better. I think that the Officer made a poor judgment call and that some levelheadedness might have been a good thing. Oh yeah, and he probably shouldn’t just taser people. After all, this was just a noise complaint.

I should remind readers that the Officer acted alone and this shouldn’t be seen as the action of Houston Police Officers in general. Nevermind that HPD’s Sgt. McDuell. says that the “officer’s approach was commendable.”

Anyway, read more to see the videos of the incident. I’ve heard that the officers were destroying evidence confiscating cameras, so there’s probably more pictures and video out there we can’t see.
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Happy Friday the 13th!!!

Today’s the day – Friday the 13th… that’s right – the day that all manner of bad things are supposed to happen. Careful of black cats and all – that is, if you suffer from paraskevadekatriaphobia. Nope, its not triskaidekaphobia… that is simply the fear of the number 13.

So what happens if you are born on Friday the 13th like myself? Obviously, its a good day. These are the days of great joy for me as I view them as an extra birthday or two during the year. And for the record, this is the last one this year. If you’re in the club of the Friday the 13th birthdays with myself and such other luminaries as Thomas Jefferson, Horatio Alger, Samuel Beckett, Fidel Castro and uh, well… Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen… then happy mini-birthday. If not, then by all means don’t step on a crack or spill the salt today.

Most popular vehicles to steal in Houston

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The Houston Chronicle published a list of the “Top 10” most stolen vehicles in Houston. Trucks lead off the top three (1) Ford (2) Chevrolet and (3) Dodge. Finding your vehicle on the list could be either good or bad depending on how you look at it. You’d never want to go through the ordeal yourself, but it’s nice to know that it’s in demand.

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