Archive for June, 2006

What is art? Could Houstonians decide between desirable graffiti and trash?


There has been a lot of local controversy over the recently proposed law to fine business owners for not cleaning up graffiti on their buildings quickly enough (see Shawn’s previous Metblog post). Personally, I think this is unfair.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do get that there has been an increase in gang and racist graffiti in the Houston area (see Chronicle article here) and I do think it’s a problem.

But can citizens and business owners really be expected to pony up the funds and the time to paint and re-paint tagged buildings and fences? Talk about pricey… especially when in some parts of Houston chances are the tag will be back up there by sunrise the next day.

But that’s not my point — the real question I have here is do we have to classify all graffiti in the same lump category as gang, racist and homophobic graffiti? What about the good stuff? The murals? The pieces of urban art that sprout up from time to time?

The City Council is Bristol (England) has come up with a novel idea – let the people decide for themselves what is art and what is trash…. what should be kept to appreciate and what should be removed.

Case in point, Banksy (a really amazing artist) recently put up a stencil on the wall of a sexual health clinic in Bristol. By law, it is vandalism – but the building tenants adore it!

Dr Annie Evans, who works at the Brook Young People’s Sexual Health Clinic, said the team there were ‘bouncing with joy’ about the stencil on their building.

She said: ‘The latest “Banksy” is on the side of our clinic building… Did you realise how utterly appropriate your latest subject matter was, given what goes on in the building? ‘Thanks a bunch and we will do our best to look after it.’

No word yet on how successful Bristol’s citizen vote has been — but do you think that this is something that could work in Houston? Thanks to Wooster Collective for the story tip.

Whole Foods wants to ‘Go Local’ – at least a little bit


Whole Foods has launched a ‘Go Local’ marketing program to encourage customers to suggest local products to be placed on their shelves. This initiative is intended to help support local food producers and to benefit the local economy.

From their press release:

Food enthusiasts, shoppers and local growers are encouraged to email with suggestions for exciting and delicious local products. Please include brand name, product name, and a short description….

When a product is officially brought into area stores, the shopper that originally recommended that product will receive a $100 Whole Foods Market gift card as a token of appreciation.

I’ve long heard rumblings about Whole Foods stores ignoring local growers/producers and I doubt this will really help heal any old wounds. (Read Houston Business Journal article here) But for us average-Joe shoppers, it could bring us some new cool seasonal products to stuff our gullets with I suppose.

To be honest, I don’t really see how a ‘Go Local’ campaign works when Whole Foods is a national chain mega-store. Perhaps each region gets to pick from any proposed local products? It’s a nice thought – hopefully there is some real substance behind it.

What are some Houston-area food specialties that you think should be sold at Whole Foods?

Where Am I?


Is this the entrance to hog heaven?

Answer in the comments section to see pigs in zen.

Communication breakdown – avoiding old problems with new technology this hurricane season

So as of June 1, hurricane season is back. How well prepared do you think we are to handle any upcoming crises? Stocking up on bottled water and canned goods is one thing, but how are we as a city going to deal with potential communication challenges?

Last year’s mass Houston exodus from Hurricane Rita was atrocious and fatal – I personally feel like a lot of that could’ve been avoided with more efficient and accurate communication. And what about on a national level with Hurricane Katrina – there were some major issues going on coordinating relief efforts, evacuations, alerts, etc. We were seriously unprepared.

My point isn’t to beat a dead horse, but seriously – are things any better this year? Granted not everything can change overnight (or in one year), but do you feel good about where we are?

If you are technologically inclined and this is an issue that matters to you, you really need to go to the Refresh Houston meeting tonight at the Buddha Lounge (2670 Sage Road).

They’ll be discussing pro-active technology solutions to make sure we don’t face the same issues again. With basic formats – like Common Alert Protocol (CAP), People Finder Information Format (PFIF) and microformats – there’s no reason we can’t communicate efficiently in times of crisis – on a local, national or even international level. It’s all about working together and being prepared. Hope to see you there!

Calling for Entries


I’ve meant to post about this earlier, but it’s been so hectic for the past couple of months (and I’ve forgotten about this! My sincere apologies!)…

Anyway, Houston. It’s Worth It. and Houston Center for Photography are calling for submissions to be entered into their exhibition opening on Friday, August 4th, 2006. So…it doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or a professional, just as long as you love photography (and the beauty of Houston)!

If you’re lucky, your submission might be included in the book, Houston, which is scheduled for release in October of 2006.

Entries may be submitted via mail or online, and it ends this Friday, June 30th!

For more information, visit

As as they put it (on a flyer I have): “Now go out there and shoot!”

*Note: Photo courtesy of Houston. It’s Worth It..

Houston on the Cheap: Library Magic


I know this isn’t rocket science, but I’ve been saving money like crazy by skipping Border’s and heading towards the Houston Public Library instead.

The Heights library is the closest branch to our house, but just doesn’t have the majority of the books that we are addicted to. Enter the online catalog, full of pretty much everything (even some out of print surprises) that you could possibly want. Do a city-wide search and have the books delivered to the nearest location to you – and never be book-less again!

Easy as pie and way cheaper than indulging at the bookstore for every little summer reading craving you get. If you like what you see, head over to Half Price Books or, even better, 1/4 Price Books and bring it home for keeps. This is especially a lifesaver for more expensive books – like cookbooks, photography books, etc.

Call me cheap… but alas, my reading habits don’t ever pay any attention to my book budget. Lovely bookcase photo from Chotda on Flickr.

Say it Loud with 3 cases of beer and blinkie lights


This weekend’s Pride Parade was one of the largest in our part of the country – with around 200,000 participants, countless Pride beads thrown out and more techno beats than you could shake a glowstick at.

We only made it to the parade festivities for a few hours on Saturday, but man was it a par-tay. Everyone was PUMPED, wearing a multitude of colorful gear, and keeping cool with their favorite beverages of choice.

The floats were all pretty neat – my favorite was the Chinese dragon they had running around (never did figure out who’s it was…). There were lots of bare-chested men dancing on the back of trucks, but also a healthy representation from groups like the Humane Society and Bering-Omega. I wish we hadn’t missed the festival that took earlier that day…

One thing I was really impressed by – I felt very safe and very comfortable throughout the entire evening (besides the heat of course…). Lots of good vibes. It was truly a celebration and, I thought, nicely done.

What are your stories? What were your favorite floats? Best costumes? Best bars? Thanks to Lauren for the photo – check out the rest of her Pride shots here.

Houston Blogger Goes Bigtime

Via blogger extraordinaire Darren Rowse, I learned that Houstonian Paul Stamatiou will be living the life of a Yahooligan. Getting a Yahoo blog internship at 19 is an incredible feat, but this guy seems up for the challenge. Wishin’ ya well, Paul!



We’re looking for energetic, enthusiastic and motivated paddlers to participate in the exciting sport of Dragon Boating!

Come to our
Kick-Off Practice & BBQ Party on
Saturday, June 24th
8:30am – 1:00pm
Tony Marron Park (808 North York)

Participate in a fun practice session, enjoy delicious BBQ with fellow paddlers, and learn how you can join our winning tradition! We’ll discuss our practice schedules, membership levels, fees & benefits, and other plans for this outstanding Dragonboat team.

$5 for BBQ and practice session (wear athletic attire)
$3 for BBQ only

Register online for this event!

Capoeira in Houston – the dance of war


Through a co-worker (yo, Abi) I have recently learned a bit more about a very cool fight-dance movement in Houston – Capoeira!!

Capoeira is a beautiful fluid school of Brazilian martial arts that is set to traditional pace-setting Portuguese songs. The whole experience appears rather breakdance-esque to me with its kicks, flips and spins – almost like being in a deadly South American ballet with a lot of hand clapping. I am completely fascinated…

In the Heights, you can check out the Grupo Capoeira Brasil (1133 E. 11th St) for Capoeira lessons and workouts, Portuguese lessons and music workshops. Learn how to dance, clap, speak in foreign tongues and kick some ass at the same time – how sweet is that?

If that’s too much of a committment, keep your eyes peeled for events at the The Brazilian Arts Foundation (1133 E. 11th St) where they occasionally offer ‘Samba Nights in the Heights’ with live Brazilian music, free dance lessons and Capoeira demonstrations. (Photo found here)

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