1. Cadeaux means “gift” in French, and that’s exactly how to describe this adorable shop with the same name. Owned and operated by one of my former colleagues, Paola Furber, who recently opened up her own advertising and PR agency called Furber Villarreal, Cadeaux offers handbags, jewelry, candles and more. Pictured (l to r) are: Cadeaux co-owners Paola Furber and Jonathan Stup
2. The sixth annual luncheon for the Society for the Performing Arts was a huge success at Houston Country Club. The authors of the best-selling novel “The Nanny Diaries” were the guest speakers for the event. Hollywood is in the process of turning the popular book into a motion picture. Pictured (l to r) are: Chair Marcy Taub Wessel, authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus and SPA’s Toby Mattox.
3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar at West Alabama and Kirby is buzzing with business. The California-based restaurant officially opened its doors with a benefit for Child Advocates, Inc. One hundred percent of the proceeds went to the nonprofit group that provides a voice for abused children. Fleming’s also offers 100 wines by the glass. Pictured (l to r) are: Lisa Lin, Fleming’s operating partner Maeve Pesquera and Mike Mangum
4. Halliburton’s Professional Women’s Group has sponsored an event benefiting Dress for Success Houston for the past two years. Recently, Ocean Energy came on board as another sponsor. More than 200 women attended the event that raised $10,000 – enough to purchase 200 suits. Pictured (l to r) are: Halliburton community relations manager Ellie Francisco, Dress for Success co-founder Nancy Levicki and Ocean Energy vice president of communications Janice White
5. The Stanford Group USPA Silver Cup was celebrated in grand style at the Houston Polo Club. Top players from around the world, including actor Tommy Lee Jones, joined the best local talent for a match. The three days of activities even included a dinner at The Palm restaurant and a huge “Bayou Bash” at John and Leigh Anne Hall’s polo ranch. Pictured (l to r) are: Stanford Group’s Jay Comeaux, Dawn Laurel Jones along with her husband, Tommy Lee Jones
6. The future is big for the Alley Theatre. Its new, innovative Center for Theatre Production, covering 75,000 square feet, includes five floors devoted to the workshops, rehearsal halls and offices for artistic, production and administrative personnel, making it one of the largest contiguous theater support spaces in the country. Pictured (l to r) are: Composer and songwriter Frank Wildhorn and the Alley’s Gregory Boyd.
7. St. Joseph Hospital Foundation’s 36th annual gala, “Imprints of Paris,” was held at the Westin Galleria. The gala raised a record $375,000. The foundation presented Dr. James and Mary Barden Keegan with the first-ever Bishop Claude M. Dubois award. The Keegans have been a part of the Christus St. Joseph Hospital family for more than 40 years. Pictured (l to r) are: Michelle and Greg Elliott and Larry and Lyn Jones
The Unnecessary Defense Evidence Apparently Included Breshears’ Threat to Scratch His Eyes Out ?
Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford may be a lot of things, even a mediocre police chief, but being insensitive to the feelings of an assistant chief was probably not a charge he expected. Accused of using, gosh, really, really rough language when talking to a police veteran of Lord knows how many years, the chief was acquitted in a case that never truly got underway. Judge Brian Rains listened to the prosecution’s argument against Bradford, which was basically that the chief called Assistant Chief J. L. Breshears a ?m??r f??r,? and then equivocated about the actual word. The judge then said, in effect, “You’re kidding. Case dismissed.” The incredibly anal prosecutor in this affair, Assistant District Attorney Don Smyth, said he thought he had a real case here and another judge might have ruled differently. He also said he had further evidence to indicate that Bradford is, evidently, a real mean boss who’s, like, really strict. When we hold a group of battle-hardened cops to a standard of decorum roughly equivalent to a Mary Kay meeting, then it is obviously time to consider serving brie at Camp LeJeune.
Men are From Mars; Women are From – Well – Mogadishu, Apparently –
OK, Honey, I get the message. When I read headlines about Clara Harris making hubby tortillas with a two-ton piece of German ironmongery and Susan Wright deciding that the old man looked better tied to a bed with nearly 200 stab wounds to his nether regions, then I get the drift. And these events have moved me to resolve, whatever it costs, to go that extra mile on our anniversary.
“Bring Your Seat Backs to Their Full and Upright Position –
Your Seat Backs, Sir!”
I have done a lot of flying in over 32 years of journalism including three trips to the Middle East, two to Germany when it got back together, several to Mexico, Ireland, France and the United Kingdom, and in all that time, there were maybe 5 percent or so of my fellow travelers that I yearned to see naked. That’s why, when I read of the naked flights to Cancun being offered by something called Castaways Travel in Spring, I was moved to rise from my easy chair and shout to the astonishment of my wife and daughter, “Houston will never clasp this concept to its bosom!” OK, that’s a bit baroque, but let’s face it, the idea of seeing that 350-pound guy in seat 5C who’s spilling over into 5B in the altogether is enough to make you want to bathe clothed for the rest of your life. That anorexic chick in seat 27D is rough enough in her baggy sweater; but naked – I’m ready to take the vows. Can we be candid here, folks? Unless you have a planeload of Fabios and Carmen Electras, then this idea is a non-starter, unless you suffer from some sort of sexual addiction and are looking for the cure. The FAA says there are no regulations prohibiting this sort of thing, but frankly, I’m writing Kay Bailey Hutchison to propose some.
Of Course the Highland Park Branch Has a Dining Car ?
The Main Street rail line has been making life rough for businesses of late, and that is regrettable. But despite the nonstop rant of those who somehow see traffic jams as a symbol of good old free enterprise and mass transit as some sort of Chicom plot, let me point out that Dallas (yes, that pompous blight on the otherwise lovely north Texas region) has just stretched the DART system to Garland. Trains will run every 10 minutes, and each day it is estimated that 2,000 people and their cars will be off the roads to that Dallas suburb named for a Christmas tree decoration. And that is by the end of 2003. This is what Houston has in store, and, unless you agree with one moron I used to work with that thought we have more to fear from trees than from the tailpipe of an Explorer, this is a good thing. Be patient. Houston will have world-class transportation one day. World-class opinion makers may take awhile.
Dive Into Downtown
Once again, downtown Houston is simply the place to be for wining and dining, clubbing and lounging, hanging around and stepping out. Downtown is the “spot” for, well, anything you want to do, but only after one serious, year-long roller coaster ride.
The downtown renaissance hit its stride mid-2000, attracting the entire population of the city for dining, concerts, street festivals, bar-hopping and dwelling. It was then dealt a few hobbling, but not crippling, blows. In addition to a slowing economy and Tropical Storm Allison’s soggy visit in the summer of 2001, downtown streets were, well, ripped up. The sidewalks that had been teeming with diners and partiers were blocked by piles of dirt and broken pieces of former street, as the city updated its aging downtown utilities, put down the MetroRail, expanded the George R. Brown Convention Center and installed a new home for the Houston Rockets.
The roller coaster ride is nearly over, and downtown Houston is back – bigger, better and stronger than before. In fact, it’s bionic.
At the top of the list and rapidly becoming the city’s premier destination is one of downtown’s only new hotspots, M Bar. Located in the historic Citizens Bank building on Main Street at Preston, M Bar is simply the city’s most sophisticated hangout. It is the creation of downtown reveller Joe R. Martin, co-founder of PDQ.net and, most recently, eCitySuites, and architect Isaac Preminger, creator of the most exciting and unique interiors of Houston’s night life, including The Fish (formerly Blowfish), VII, Spy, Grasshopper and the new La Strada in Montrose, opening in 2003, among others. This is the second project on which Martin and Preminger have joined forces. They first teamed up in 1999 to create the modern interiors of eCitySuites, high-tech executive office suites located on the West Loop near the Galleria. Their efforts were well appreciated – the Houston Chronicle awarded Preminger and eCitySuites first place in commercial corporate design for the city in 2000.
Martin and Preminger have seemingly done it again, this time combining Preminger’s talent for design with Martin’s talent for having a good time. Martin is the creator of the Race Car Club, downtown’s most fashionable, festive and highly anticipated annual party and named Inside Houston’s “Best Downtown Party” last year. The culmination is M Bar, a nighttime spot different from any other in Houston. It is part swanky lounge, with a dozen plush custom-made sitting areas hidden among sheer floor-to-ceiling drapes, including a massive faux-fur bed laden with over-sized cushions for the ultimate lounge experience. It is also part dance club, with two intimate dance floors and disc jockeys spinning until closing time. It is also definitely part pure spectacle, with unscheduled performances by Houston’s most cutting-edge artists surprising M Bar?s patrons throughout the night. Catherine Burnside and her electric violin played along to DJ Sean Carnahan’s tracks one night and cellist Derek Menchan another. London’s modern artist David Hardacker painted from atop one of the bars.
In addition to stylistic and artistic ambitions, M Bar raises the bar for Houston’s night life amenities. It features bottle service, hors d’oevres from neighboring restaurants and one of the city’s few caviar menus. M Bar is Houston’s newest jewel in a crown that needed some new sparkle.
At the top of the “still hot” list are David Edwards’ Mercury Room and Boaka Bar. Mercury Room has been one of Houston’s premier clubs since it opened in 1999, being named one of the “top nightclubs in America” in Playboy’s May 2000 issue and the “best chic and chichi bar” by HoustonCitySearch. Boaka Bar, adjacent to Mercury Room, is a smaller venue but just as stylish as its big brother, with ornate gold-leaf frames, a dramatic centerpiece chandelier and sweeping colonial-style staircases straight out of “Gone With the Wind.” Mercury Room and Boaka Bar are two of the very few downtown clubs to have weathered the construction storm. Their survival is Darwinism at work – the fittest have survived and, now that the crowds are returning to downtown, are deservedly destined to flourish.
Gourmet dining has never been a problem in downtown Houston. It perhaps became a tad more difficult for a while, but some of downtown’s best eateries are open and ready to turn on your taste buds. St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin, on Main Street, serves up casual comfort seafood, including some of downtown’s only raw oysters, in a sports-bar atmosphere. St. Pete’s owners, brothers Pete and John Zotos, tip their hats to their Greek heritage with authentic Greek salad and baklava also on the menu.
Saba Bluewater Grill continues to be one of downtown’s most visually spectacular restaurants. At the center of this hip eatery is a 500-gallon saltwater tank, which is not only stunning to watch but also a sort of homage to its coastal cuisine. Named after an island off the coast of St. Thomas, Saba serves Yucatan and Pacific Rim cuisine with Asian and Latin influences and an upscale late-night attitude. Saba’s concept is to offer a large variety of smaller portions, in addition to full-sized meals, to accommodate the diner with a long night to go.
Arturo Boada’s international menu at Solero has been winning awards and tantalizing the palates of Houstonians for years now. Recently, Solero has done what we probably all wanted it to do all along. On Friday and Saturday nights, after the kitchen has closed, the tables are pulled out, the music is turned up and Solero is transformed into an impromptu dance club until late in the evening. Another great spot for dancing the night away or just mingling is TOC.
And finally, the newest addition to the Landry’s restaurant empire, the Aquarium. In fact, the Aquarium is such a massive project that it is as much a town in and of itself as it is an addition to downtown. Located along Buffalo Bayou, the Aquarium is a $38 million, aquatic-themed entertainment center accommodating up to 3,000 people, with a seafood restaurant, a 200,000-gallon shark tank, a ballroom, a 90-foot Ferris wheel and a train that will circle the five-acre area. Landry’s president and CEO, Tilman Fertitta, is truly a visionary. His new Aquarium has changed the Houston skyline forever.
Two years ago, Houstonians turned downtown into the city’s entertainment mecca. They were then driven away by bulldozers, street closures and traffic and have been adrift ever since, waiting to return and pick up where they left off. Well, it’s official. You can go back now. Downtown Houston is not only open for business; it’s chomping at the bit.
Secrets of Getting Your Kids into College
You’ve made countless brown bag lunches, endured the mosquitoes during arboretum field trips and stayed awake until 2 a.m. putting finishing touches on science fair projects. But the peskiest, and perhaps most stressful, part of educating your kids stands before you: getting them into college.
Here’s the good news – the college admissions process doesn’t have to be as frantic as a late-night run for Cliff’s Notes the night before the Huck Finn test. Experts from colleges and high schools around town say you can relax if you prepare yourself and your kids early.
Start in the ninth grade
Experts agree that by the time kids enter high school, they should be thinking about college. According to Jenine Amaki, college counselor at the Kinkaid School, students and parents need to talk generally about the academic rigor of college students and specifically about the courses they should take early in the students’ freshman year.
Parents need to be realistic about their children when discussing curriculum planning, says Wendy Andreen, a college counselor at Memorial High School. “Not every child is an honors student, and that does not mean they won’t be successful,” Andreen says. “Work with their strengths. Don’t panic if they’re not straight-A honors students. On the other hand, if they’re looking at very selective colleges, grades, class rank and test scores are going to be important.”
Amaki warns against students trying to pad their resumes with activities and clubs that aren’t meaningful to them. “Pick one or two activities that closely mirror your passions, and pursue those,” Amaki advises students. “If you participate in clubs or organizations, get involved enough to be in leadership.”
And what about the costly SAT prep courses and private tutoring that are available? Amaki says that while these offerings may help some students gain familiarity with the standardized tests, nothing prepares a child more for these tests than simply reading.
Help your children make a match
“Parents have an important role: helping students understand that they are probably a match at five or six schools,” says Julie Browning, dean for undergraduate enrollment at Rice University. “Don’t tell your kids that only one school is right for them. Students should identify several schools where they would be happy.”
Each of the more than 2,500 colleges and universities in the country has its own culture. Trouble comes when parents and students don’t take the time to find the several schools that are right. “This is a developmental process, not something you commit a weekend to and get on with it,” Browning says.
Most teenagers are still learning about themselves, and the process of shopping for schools helps them develop self-awareness, Browning says. “Students should feel empowered not to put all their eggs in one basket.”
Convincing kids to look beyond “conventional wisdom” can be more difficult than it seems. When Parker Dalton opted to attend Texas A&M University instead of Harvard, his peers challenged his decision.
“Very few understood that A&M was a good fit,” says Dalton, who will play baseball for the Aggies. “The teachers said, ‘Parker, do you know what kind of life you’ll lead when you get out of Harvard?’ There was a little resentment from my friends.” Still, Dalton trusts the sense he got when he visited A&M, that ‘this is exactly where I need to be.’
Visit early and often
Planning college visits may seem expensive and time-consuming, but parents and admissions professionals on both sides of the diploma say they are worth the effort.
“Developing that familiarity with a school means that students will develop preferences,” Browning says. “Pay attention to gut-level responses; they mean something.”
Colleges offer visiting students everything from campus tours to class visits, overnight stays in dorm rooms to meetings with financial aid officers. Browning suggests starting no later than junior year and using spring breaks to make the visits.
Combine college visits with family trips, and take advantage of local universities to sample various types of schools, says Andreen, who recently helped her own son win admissions to the University of Texas School of Architecture.
“If you happen to visit your aunt in Florida, visit a university. See what the campus is like,” Andreen says. “Go to the University of Houston and get a feel for a larger public university. Go to St. Thomas and see what a private, cozy campus is like. Go to Rice and see what a selective, mid-sized, private university is like. HBU is here.”
Nancy Dalton has visited campuses across the country with her son Parker, his twin brother and their sister who is two years older. “Ideally you go sit on a park bench and watch people go by, or you go in the cafeteria if you can,” Mrs. Dalton says. “You get a feel for the university by looking at the students.”
State school admissions are changing
Applying to college isn’t what it used to be. New laws have changed the process for getting into state universities in Texas.
The signing of House Bill 588 in 1997, which mandated that Texas state universities enroll all students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, has placed a greater emphasis on students’ class rank than on their SAT scores or activities. State universities have moved away from a traditional admissions model that takes into account academic and personal achievements.
Although Andreen has seen students wanting to go to the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University most affected by the new legislation, she describes a ripple effect on other state universities.
“I tell parents, ‘Let’s look at North Texas State University, Southwest Texas State University, Texas Tech,'” Andreen says. “Students can no longer walk into those schools. If you’re in the third quarter of the class, Southwest Texas, North Texas and Texas Tech all want at least an 1180 on the SAT. I call it UT-A&M fallout.”
Count the costs
Paying for a college education for your child is like buying a home, Browning says. Parents need to consider the possibility of taking out a loan themselves or allowing their children to do so. View college as an investment, she says.
“Finances matter. Look at your financial situation early in the process. Give your child a real range,” Browning says.
The College Board Web site (www.collegeboard.com) has a feature that allows families to enter financial information and gives them an estimate of the amount of financial aid for which they qualify.
Finally, parents can help their children find the perfect college by minimizing their stress. Working with high school guidance counselors, talking to parents who have successfully sent kids to college and breathing deeply can make the process less trying.
“Try to keep kids calm,” Andreen says. “There is a place for your child. Most of my kids came out thinking, ;I’m in the right place.’ That’s the college’s goal, too. They want students who will be happy there for four years.”
The Houston Look
Marie Myers, Vice president of internal auditing, Hewlett Packard
Who inspires you?
My dad – he has been a great mentor in my life and someone that I really tend to look up to in many different ways. I think about him every day.
What are some of your hobbies?
Anything from collecting antiques, religious art and icons, to creating funky jewelry from gemstones and pearls to reading
What do you enjoy most?
I really enjoy being around my friends and entertaining in my home. I also enjoy traveling.
What Houstonian has inspired you?
Carolyn Farb. Not only is she wonderfully elegant, but she has made a tremendous impact on this city.
What is your favorite place in Houston?
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. I enjoy nothing more on a Sunday afternoon than to go browse through the new collections and have coffee.
What products do you use to stay beautiful?
I really like the natural products that come out of my country, Australia.
How do you stay healthy?
Working out with my trainer and running up and down the stadium at Rice
What makes you so driven?
I like to be good at whatever I do. I set high standards for myself. I always like to be sure that I gave something my personal best, irrespective of what it is.
Where do you shop?
Saks Fifth Avenue, MaxaMara, Gucci, YSL and Armani
What do you wear?
Dolce & Gabana, Moschino, MaxMara, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Zara and Escada
What can’t you stay away from?
Shoes, shoes, shoes. I am terrible; I cannot even admit to how many pairs I own. I love Jimmy Choos and boots.
What can’t you live without?
My HP Blackberry
What do you most dislike?
What is your favorite place to eat?
Ibiza, The Palm, Aries, Flemmings, Anthony’s, Grotto, Pesce and Arcodoro
What are some of your favorite places to go out?
Going to private parties and dinners, then I like to stop at Zimms or the Wine Bucket
“Blueprint Houston” has just released its plan for a better city with clean air, more parks and fewer crimes. The 450-page report was the work of a blue-ribbon committee made up of the city’s business leaders, academicians and public officials with input from 23 average citizens selected at random.
We must not confuse “Blueprint Houston” with the plan “A Better Houston: Fact or Fiction?” which was put out last year by a blue-ribbon committee made up of leading citizens with input from two public officials. That report called for turning Buffalo Bayou into a San Antonio River Walk complete with boutiques, cafes and kiosks selling “Deep Bayou Off!” by the gallon.
Then there was “Houston – Better than Bangladesh,” which was the work of a California consulting firm hired by City Hall. That $450,000 study found that Houston is hot and humid from June to September. Recommendations included moving everyone to Aspen for the summer.
Another consulting company hired by the city dealt strictly with the city’s image. “We want others to think of Houston as having the charm of Vidor and the efficiency of Laredo,” said one council member. The consultants interviewed a number of people, some of whom had an opinion, and recommended that Houston forget about its image, stating, “Does Dick Cheney care about his image? Does the World Wrestling Federation? Did the KGB? It’s better to be feared than loved.”
Houston may have various problems, but one thing we have in abundance is plans. They are well intended, but most are never heard of again. How can we forget “Houston Proud,” “Expect the Unexpected” and “Imagination Houston?” I loved the Houston and Harris County Committee for a Better Houston and Harris County. It spent five years coming up with a plan to clean the air, build more parks, put a statue on every street corner, do away with computer spam and turn Buffalo Bayou into a Braes Bayou-like river walk only with more concrete.
We all remember the Space City Committee which drew up a plan to turn 47 square blocks of downtown streets into pedestrian malls with fountains and flowers. When merchants and office workers asked how deliveries would be made, not to mention how firetrucks, police cars and ambulances could operate in the area, it was pointed out that the Subcommittee on Picky Points was working on the solution (there was the suggestion that criminals, arsonists and sick people be banned from that part of town). It also called for restoring Buffalo Bayou to its original pristine condition, but the city could not find enough buffalo.
One of my favorites was the Luv Ya Blue Ribbon Committee which, after careful study, said that Buffalo Bayou was meant to be turned into something; otherwise, “Why do you think they call it ‘the Turning Basin’?” The study also called for new sports stadiums for every one of the city’s professional teams and the abolition of public education. “We must prioritize,” the report stated. When it was pointed out that all our professional teams had new facilities but our educational systems did not, the committee adjourned to its suite at Reliant Stadium.
Remember, if you will, “Operation Clean Air,” which listed, among other ideas, a ban on all vehicles, leaf blowers and sweat, not to mention preventing the consumption of chili and cheese hot dogs.
We also had the World-Class City Committee made up of urban planners. Their report called for planning more urbs.
There was the Houston 2002 Committee (originally the Houston 1961 Committee). “So we’re a little late with our report,” said the executive director. “Sue me.”
You may recall other recommendations made by various blue ribbon groups. There was the Our City is Better Than Your City Committee which came up with the slogan: “Houston – Gateway to Galena Park.” (This barely nudged out “Free the Loop 610.”)
The Council for a World-Class City, made up of former Kmart executives and day traders, recommended that Houston should be more like international cities such as London, so everyone should drive on the left-hand side of the street and have bad teeth. The council also recommended that the San Antonio River Walk be turned into another Buffalo Bayou. ih