Odd News of 2010
By Lynn Ashby 27 Dec. 2010
Let us continue our stroll down memory lane, avoiding the IEDs, before Texas Monthly steals our list of losers for its Bum Steer Awards.
Plus the Tip: In Beaumont a Domino’s employee was delivering a pizza and wings when a man suddenly appeared and stuck a gun in the pizza man’s face. Police said the suspect cocked the hammer and pointed the gun at the driver’s head. The suspect then took the pizza and hot wings, which cost about $15.
Corpulent Christi: Corpus “Home of the Whataburger” Christi, was judged the fattest city in America by Men’s Health magazine. Houston, which was Numero Uno last year, slipped to the 10th fattest. Over all, Texas was named the fattest state, with five cities ranking in the top 10.
Hours after Houston-based KBR – once a part of Halliburton – was notified by the Justice Dept. that the company was being investigated for taking kickbacks for Iraq-related contracts, KBR was given a no-bid contract for more Iraq work worth up to $568 million.
Vennie Wolf of Houston was injured by a bomb left in a box at her house. Because she was involved in a lawsuit with her brother, Clair Audrey Wolf, over environmental trouble on family property, talk show host Glenn Beck said the bombing could be the work of unspecified “radicals,” and also suggested the mainstream media purposely were not reporting it. Local bloggers swept in, blaming “environmental wackos.” Alas, police suspect her brother, who was jailed. Beck and the bloggers win our Jump Off the Bridge to Conclusions Trophy.
But we’ve got our own conspiratorial kooks. On Cinco de Mayo, a student at Houston’s Klein High School was given permission to display a Mexican flag, but another student tore it down. Local conservative talk show host Michael Berry ran the story on his blog illustrated by a photo of a Mexican flag on top of a pole with the U.S. flag beneath, upside down – the international message of distress. But the photo was not taken at Klein High, which, nevertheless was inundated with angry phone calls, virtually shutting down normal business.
In other local news, the head of the Greater Houston YMCA, Clark Baker, makes $661,634 annually. That’s more than his counterparts in New York City and Los Angeles. It’s even more than the national head of the American Red Cross.
It was a year of losses for Houston: The Angelika, one of Houston’s few remaining art film theaters, closed. A fire destroyed Harris County’s voting machines. After 59 years, Otto’s BBQ closed. Where will George and Bar do lunch? After over 61 years, Variety Fair 5 $ 10 in the Rice Village closed. And after more than 40 years, KILT dropped its morning show, Hudson and Harrigan. The original H&H left long ago. Since then it’s been Stevens and Pruett, Hames and Olson., etc. etc. Both the Houston Fire Dept. and HPD lost their chiefs.
The Howls of Ivy: News that Rice University was selling its radio station, KTRU, to UH for $9.5 million and that the school was dropping Rice University Press, an all-digital operation, set of student protests on South Main.
Throw me under the bus, please! — Metro CEO Frank J. Wilson resigned from his job amid all kinds of accusations, but still got $456,000.
Local Quote of the Year: “You Boy Scouts, don’t’ be a county judge. I don’t give a damn how bad you need a job, don’t do it.” – County Commissioner Jerry Eversole to a group of visiting Boy Scouts at a meeting of the County Commissioners after Eversole gave an obscenity-filled tirade against County Judge Ed Emmett. In December, Eversole was indicted on federal bribery and tax charges.
When City Council members met to close an estimated $140 million shortfall in the city budget, councilmember Jolanda Jones recommended adding showers to restrooms used by council members. The council voted to cut 2 percent across-the-board for most city agencies except one — the council’s own budget.
We Got Couth: Crowds lined up at the Houston Museum of Natural History to inhale Lois the Corpse Flower, variously described as smelling like rotting flesh, dung, old cleats and vomit.
The Casons go rolling along: Becca Cason Thrush was mentioned more in the Houston Chronicle than God.
The jock scene in Houston and Texas during 2010 was a disaster. UT-Austin gave us the first clue just seven days into 2010. In the college football Bowl Championship Series, the Longhorns lost to Alabama 37-21 after star QB Colt McCoy went down on the fifth offensive play. The defeat left the UT Student Co-Op with 14,000 T-shirts and caps whooping up the Longhorns’ non-existence as BCS champions. There was some thought of shredding the sad burnt orange reminders, then Haiti was hit with an earthquake, so the Haitians got them. The Horns win The Shirt Off Your Quarterback Trophy. After such a dismal season, Coach Mack Brown cleaned out most of his assistants.
Perhaps he was wearing a Longhorn T-shirt: Jerry Joseph, age 15, was one good basketball player for Odessa’s Permian (“Friday Night Lights”) High School, helping the team make the playoffs. Then it was learned that Joseph was actually 22-year-old Guerdwich Montimer from Haiti (maybe). Things got worse when a 16-year-old girl said she had sex with Montimer, thinking he was the 15-year-old Joseph. He was arrested for sexual assault.
TCU’s football team had an undefeated season, which still was not good enough to play with the big boys in the BCS championship game.
That Good Old Baylor (Punch) Line: Bears’ basketball player Brittney Griner was suspended for two games after punching Texas Tech’s Jordan Barncastle in the nose, breaking it. But the men’s team went all the way to the Elite Eight for the first time in 60 years. And Texas Southern University overcame years of frustration on the gridiron by finishing 9-3 and winning the Southwest Athletic Conference.
The Ones That Got Away: Of the top 100 blue-chip graduating high school football players in Texas last spring, 56 of them went out of state. When Number 4 ranked Oregon played Number 9 ranked Stanford, both quarterbacks were from Houston. Six Texas high school football products were selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin was put on three years probation for recruiting and offering financial aid to prospective football players – in American Samoa.
The lone Samoan recruited was barred from playing varsity football for St. Edwards for life.
In Houston, sports got off to a roaring start on Jan. 5 when the Yates High School basketball team beat Lee High 170-35. It set off a firestorm about sportsmanship. No matter. Yates went on a 34-0 game rampage, making the Lions state champs and unofficial national champs, as well. This season, however, their 66-game winning streak ended with a 95-69 loss to Findlay College Prep from Henderson, Nevada.
Friday Night Lite: Robert E. Lee High School returned to football for the first time in years, beginning with junior varsity and working up to a full program.
UH basketball coach Tom Penders “resigned” after six seasons, a 121-77 record and hundreds of thousands of dollars in his golden parachute.
Sports pros in Texas found life wasn’t much better. Cowboys’ coach Wade Phillips got fired after his team went 1-7. The lone victory was against the Houston Texans. The Rockets finished last season in ninth place overall in the NBA, 13 games out of first place, and this year have spent most of their time in the cellar, with Yao Ming but a memory.
After an 0-8 start, the Houston Astros got worse, finishing 15 games out of first place in their division. Along the way the team’s two (expensive) stars, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, who had spent their entire pro careers with the team, were let go. Attendance fell to 2,331,490 which was down 189,586 fans from last year. So bad were the Astros that in late August the Pearland Little League team had better TV ratings. To be fair, the 12-year-olds were in the playoffs. The Astros weren’t. Now, owner Drayton McLane is trying to sell the team.
The Texas Rangers, however, finally got in to the World Series after 39 seasons. Then they blew it 4 games to 1. The Rangers did all of this after filing for bankruptcy.
Left Hook ‘Em Horns: Former UT football star and current Tennessee Titan Vince Young was cited by Dallas police after surveillance video showed him allegedly assaulting another man in a strip club. Young reportedly attacked when the other fellow insulted UT with a downward Hook ‘Em Horns.
The Houston Texans stunk up the joint – again, and missed the playoffs — again. Receiver Andre Johnson was fined $25,000 for fighting with Tennessee Titans Cortland Finnegan. Johnson was delighted: if he had been suspended for only one game, it would have cost him $422,500. Pro Bowl Texan linebacker Brian Cushing was suspended for four games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Tailgate-gate: Tailgating at Texans games was restricted to season ticket holders and paid ($10) renters after fights broke out in the parking lot following a Texan-Cowboys game.
The Aeros (that’s our minor league hockey team) finished last in their division and Coach Kevin Constantine got the pink slip.
Finally, a new meaning to Lead Belly: Robby Rose, 45, a competitive fisherman from Garland, was participating in a bass tournament in Rockwall County last October. According to press reports quoting the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials, Rose stuffed a one-pound lead weight in the belly of one of the tiny fish he caught, then turned it in. Weigh-in officials noticed that the bass settled near the bottom of the tank it had been placed in. After examining the fish and finding a lump in its belly, they cut it open and found the weight.
Besides being exposed as a cheat in a bass tournament, Rose was in line to win the grand prize: a $55,000 boat. That meant he could be charged with attempting theft of between $20,000 and $100,000, a state jail felony. Rose pleaded guilty to the charge, and received five years probation and 15 days in jail. Even worse — he has to give up his fishing license while on probation.
Ashby spent 2010 hiding at firstname.lastname@example.org