THE SCHOOL GYM — “Billy Ralph. Good to see you. How’s MinnieMay?”
“She ran off with a shepherd, and left me with our 12 kids.”
“Hi there. Your nametag says Sally Joan Mugwump, but you look, uh nothing like I remember.”
“I’m now George Joe Mugwump. I guess the beard fooled you. Which reminds me, thanks to Governor Abbott, it’s murder trying to use a bathroom in this school.” This is my class reunion. Highland Park High School class of ’56. The January class. The State of Texas did away with midterm classes that started and graduated in January. So our class was only about 90 kids, compared to the June class of 22,000 or so. Most of us began in the first grade in four elementary schools, meshed in junior high, now called middle school for the same unknown reason there are no longer midterm classes, and spent the next six years together. (Actually, I didn’t graduate until June. Something about biology – my fetal pig survived.) So here we are, gathered for our every-five-year get-together, which is more often than most classes hold reunions, but we like to meet. Actually, some even married classmates.
“Studs Studly, president of our class, all-state quarterback, elected Mister Best. How are you doing?”
“If you’ll give me your ticket, I’ll bring your car around. Tips are appreciated.” At class reunions, one must be careful what to say. Across the room I spot Marvin Munchkin. “Hey Marv. Whatever happened to that floozy you went with, Mary Lou Easy? Remember how she, uh, dated almost every guy in school, if you get my drift?”
“We’ve been married for 50 years.” Here comes Sally Shrewd. “Sally, how did life go?” “Not bad. I was no-billed by the grand jury, but the civil litigation took all the money I made from insider trading at Merrill Lynch.” Then there were the failures.
If you are planning to attend a class reunion, here are a few tips. Lose weight. Maybe 20 to 30 pounds. Get a tan, even if it means visiting a tanning lounge that gives you skin cancer in only 10 easy sessions, then explain it by casually mentioning that you just returned from your estate in Jamaica. Don’t explain that it’s Jamaica, Queens. Don’t wear you Vietnam War military decorations, especially if they are from North Vietnam. Every reunion should require nametags, so bring a pen and add: “The Honorable” in front of your name. I suggest you don’t push the matter by sticking in “Pope,” “King” or “Grand Kleagle.” Looking around the room, you will notice how everyone else in your class has aged. You’re the exception, but don’t rub it in by doing wheelies with your walker.
| These many years later, I figured out what we should have done when we graduated. We should have created a Tontine, which is named after an Italian banker named Lorenzo Tonti. In 1695 he came up with the idea of everyone putting in some money and the last person to survive would inherit it. If, say, in 1956 we had each put in $10, today that would be about a half million dollars. The money would go to whomever in this group lived the longest. The problem with that is every time we gathered we would be counting heads. Who would outlast who? We would bring along our food tasters.
Ah, yes, it’s been a while. When we graduated, Bill Clinton was 9 years old. Hillary was 45. Top TV shows included “As The World Turns” and “The Price is Right.” Mothers could buy disposable diapers and Teflon non-stick frying pans. Elvis Presley appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and entered the music charts for the first time, with “Heartbreak Hotel.” Top movies were “Guys and Dolls,” “The King and I” and “Around the World in Eighty Days.” Average cost of a new house: $11,700. Average yearly wages: $4.450. A gallon of gas: 22 cents. Average cost of a new car: $2,050. The first computer hard drive was introduced, and none of us bought stock in Texas Instruments. Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary and, for the first and last time, OU beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl 45 to nothing. Here’s the kicker: People born that year have been eligible for Social Security these past two years. Back then we should have told our folks to buy some land. Austin now has more people than Houston did when we graduated. There was no place called the Metroplex, but in these 60 years Dallas population has almost tripled from about 500,000 to today’s 1.3 million. And we didn’t buy land.
Someone asked, “Whatever happened to Crazy Carl?” A good question. Every class has a Crazy Carl – someone who didn’t fit in, hadn’t a clue what was going on and, as a result, was the butt of jokes. No one knew anything about Carl. Suddenly, out front a long limo pulled up, the chauffeur ran around, opened the door, and who got out but Crazy Carl. He had a beautiful wife, he was wearing a $2,000 suit and a diamond stickpin the size of an egg.
I went up to him and said, “Crazy Carl! You’re in the big time, but back in school you couldn’t pass a blood test with a tutor. You had trouble counting past your thumb. What happened?” He said, “Oh, it’s easy. I bought something for $100 and sold it for $200. Then I bought something for $500 and sold it for $1,000. Last month I bought something for a million and sold it for five million. You know, after a while that 10 percent profit adds up.”
In five years, we shall meet again. We should bring our food tasters — and tell our grandchildren to buy land. Finally, we must remember our class motto: It is not enough that you should succeed. All your friends must fail.
Ashby reunites at email@example.com
Dr. Maria Calcina was born in Tientsin, China, before immigrating to Venezuela. She studied dentistry at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, and went on to pursue her postgraduate degree in pediatric dentistry at New York University College of Dentistry.
After winning a battle with endometrial cancer, Dr. Calcina pursued her licensure in the U.S., where she taught at the University of Maryland College of Dentistry. In 2007, Dr. Calcina relocated to Houston, and after beating breast cancer a year later, opened her practice in Katy. Dr. Calcina is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the Association of Women Dentists, the Greater Houston Dental Society, the Hispanic Dental Society, the Houston Asian Dental Society, the Texas Dental Society and the Texas Southwestern Society of Pediatric Dentistry.
Maria Calcina, DDS
19214 Clay Road, Ste. D
Katy, Texas 77449
I’ve noticed a slow down. Plants that were surging, growing like crazy, have paused. Beautiful blooms are not turning into fruit; tomatoes refuse to take on color. The routine has not changed. I’m feeding weekly, watering daily and praying a lot. Today I notice shade covers the garden at 11:30.
How can this be? Back in the spring I meticulously tracked the sun, then removed and trimmed trees to ensure the garden was getting at least eight hours of sun a day. Now I see the world turned. The sun is no longer rising in the gap I created. It’s coming up behind my neighbor’s big oak tree and over one of my giant old crepe myrtles. It’s well after noon before the sun hits my tomatoes. Shade starts creeping back over the garden about 4:30, a tall fence and an awning covering the door to the storage area blocking the sun’s rays. Four hours of sunshine ain’t getting the job done.
Obviously these trees aren’t coming down, but after a couple days of research, I find some branches I can trim on the crepe myrtle and gain 90 minutes of sunshine for the garden. Not ideal, but every bit helps. I climb up a ladder and onto the roof of the guest house. I take a long stride from the roof into the tree and begin shimmying up the tall trunk with my trusty tree saw. The view is different from here and I can’t really tell which branches intended to cut. I’m not climbing all the way back down for a second look; I select a branch and start sawing. The limbs are heavier than they look and I worry about fences and pots below as they crash to the ground. It looked like a few little branches needed trimmed. Next thing I know I’ve got a ten foot pile of tree limbs in the yard that need cleaned up. There goes my Saturday!
The results were not instantaneous, but by midweek things are happening. Little cucumbers appear on the vines. Eggplants form and peppers that seemed dormant for weeks gain color. My Tabasco pepper plant had never produced a pepper; suddenly the bush is full. All it took was a few strokes of a saw, and gardening is fun again!
It’s working! I have been breaking off pieces of corn tassels and spanking them against corn silks as they appear. Corn cobs have formed on several stalks.
On a lesser note, I went inside for two minutes to get my twins some water. When I came back out they were running around very excited, each holding a green tomato. Drats!
I’ve had many failures in my little plot, but now having some success. Jalapeno and Serrano peppers are in the refrigerator, along with six Bok Choys, a bag of radishes and a few ripe tomatoes (plus two very green ones). Onions are ready to pick and I’ve been pulling them up as needed; the herbs, growing in pots around the elevated garden, are absolutely beautiful. I pulled up four of my five unproductive broccoli plants and threw them into the compost barrel (a new purchase). I noticed the fifth had a crown about the size of a quarter, it has grown to egg size in the last couple of days. One of the two eggplants has a fruit and okra has sprouted and stands about three inches tall. Cantaloupe, cucumbers and squash are blooming and climbing the trellis I put along the back of the garden.
There are 10 pepper plants. So far the Serrano is the workhorse, pumping out nearly 20 peppers. Poblano, Anaheim, habanero and Thai peppers have lots of flowers, little to no fruit. Somehow I ended up with two dragon cayenne plants. One has eight peppers; the other just one. I’m hoping the non-producing plants are just waiting for the summer heat and will over perform in a month or so.
Meanwhile, I’m hungry. My wife is at an event, the boys are in bed; I’m dining solo. There is 1/2 of an uncooked rib-eye, some mushrooms and garden harvest in the fridge. Part of my writing job takes me all over the world, at most stops I meet with chefs who teach me their signature recipes, which I recreate for H Texas‘ Dinner Club section. I draw from lessons I received in Mexico and Tennessee for tonight’s dinner.
Seared Rib-eye with Bourbon Mushrooms
6-8 ounce steak (choose your favorite cut)
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/8 cup chopped onions
1/8 cup chopped fennel
1 large Serrano pepper- halved
1/2 cup red or white wine
1 shot of Tennessee whiskey
Preheat oven to 400. Preheat small, well seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat. Season meat with an ample amount of salt and pepper, rub into the meat. Melt butter in skillet, add steak and sear for three minutes. Flip steak and put pan and all into the oven for 3-6 minutes (depending on thickness). remove beef, re-season with salt and pepper and set aside to rest. Put the pan back on high heat, scrape bottom with metal spatula to loosen all bits and juices, add whiskey and cook for 30 seconds. Add veggies and wine and stir to coat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Remove lid, turn heat to high and cook until liquid evaporates. Top steak with veggies and enjoy with your favorite adult beverage.
Amazing things are happening in my 84-square foot patch of fun. I can literally watch cucumber vines climb the trellis; I’m picking peppers and tomatoes as corn stalks are blooming tassels.
If you’re into gardening, you know how addictive watching things grow can be. My 18-month old twin helpers are as caught up as I am. Yesterday one picked a mint leaf to chew on, and as he slowly negotiated the plant to mouth transition, noticed tomatoes growing on the vine just past the mint plant. He instantly reached; luckily, I was close enough to prevent the premature plucking.
The twins are constantly chewing on mint and parsley, and they love onion tops. They like to keep themselves busy around the garden fussing with dead and dying leaves; they are natural cullers. They also like to throw mulch and dirt on the deck. I think they like the texture of the wood mulch and temperature (and taste) of the dirt. In the past I’ve found ways of distracting them from unwanted actions, but they find throwing dirt and mulch beyond distraction and worthy of a good scolding. I’ve had to resort to old fashioned time out. I start their outside time with a visit to the garden and tell them they can play with the plants as long as they don’t throw dirt and mulch on the deck. When they violate this rule they are banished to another part of the yard for a few minutes. One has caught on; the other really likes dirt!
All my creepy vines are crawling. The speed in which their tentacles can wrap around the trellis, and corn stalks, is mind boggling. My cucumbers can get a couple of loops around the trellis in just a few minutes and be strangling a corn plant by the end of a sunny day. If I had a few too many adult beverages and napped in the garden, I’m not sure I would make it out alive!
My squash and cantaloupes sprouted tentacles yesterday and I assume they’ll start to climb the trellis today.
I’m in a dilemma on fertilizing. Since I put down a heavy layer of mulch, as prescribed in Dr. Randall’s succinctly titled Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston, A Natural Organic Approach Using Ecology, 12th Edition, its a major task to rake MicroLife fertilizer into the top few inches of soil. I have to rake up the mulch, fertilize then lay the mulch back down. The people at Wabash recommended a fish based liquid fertilizer; my wife was unhappy with the odor, “It smells like a bad day at the beach,” she told me as she escaped back into the house. Cousin Steve, who is no relation to me, says he gets great results with Miracle Gro liquid and holds a cold Budweiser in one hand as he sprays Miracle Gro on his garden with the other. The NASA rocket scientist and life long gardener has dropped by to give me some zucchini and crooked neck squash; says he’s picking about 20 per day. I barely have a bloom and he’s harvested nearly a hundred squash. This has my attention; I guess I’ll give the Miracle Gro a try.
I don’t have enough corn properly planted to ensure pollination. Evidently this a common problem for recreational farmers; I found plenty of instructional articles on line. I’m helping the birds and the bees by hand pollinating. Corn plants sprout tassels at the top of the plant that contain pollen. When enough corn is planted properly, wind blows the pollen onto silks sprouting along the sides of the plant. By cutting off part of a tassel and rubbing it on the silks, one can get pollen on the silks and hopefully cause a cob to grow. My research says to repeat the process several days in a row. My garden is a very loving environment.
Things are looking up! I have plucked some early tomatoes from my Celebrity vine. The mocking birds have been watching them ripen; I beat the birds to the punch and moved the tomatoes to the inside windowsill when two thirds of the fruit were pink.
I count another 8-10 fruits and tons of blooms. I plan on letting some of these stay on the vine and note at what stage the birds attack; going forward I’ll start picking just before the birds are attracted. I’ve also got about a dozen Serrano peppers and half a dozen jalapenos that can be picked at anytime. I can combine my harvest and make garden fresh salsa.
I’ve overcome obstacles and garnered some mild success with radishes, Bok Choy, peppers and tomato.
I’ve kept the soil loose around the base of my onions and they have started getting fat at the bottom; I’m hopeful. I’ve had complete failures with Brussels Sprouts and cauliflower (planted too late) and cabbage (did not feed properly). I have two more failures looming. I starved my broccoli the first half of their young lives. I began aggressively feeding and they grew like crazy, but it looks like too little too late; I see no signs of florets after ninety days. My corn is also in jeopardy. I planted two rows, 8 stalks each. I have since found out I should have planted four rows of four to ensure the wind does its job during pollination. I’m trying to pollinate by hand, we’ll see how that works out.
Cantaloupe, cucumbers and squash are planted to crawl up a trellis I installed at the back of the garden. The cucumbers have already started the climb. I notice a couple of plants had latched on, so I propped a third cucumber up next to the trellis with a small stake, within thirty minutes it had grabbed hold. I put four okra plants and two eggplants in the ground and gave them a good feeding. Hopefully they will be feeding me soon.
I returned last night from a whirlwind trip to Ireland’s Ballyfin Demesne. The exclusive manor sits on 614 acres of orchards, gardens and rolling pastures.
Ireland shares the same latitude as my birth place, Edmonton, Alberta Canada. My parents claim it was 30 degrees below zero when I was born in March. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean hold some heat and protect Ireland from these frigid temperatures, but it’s safe to say the Emerald Isle has different growing seasons than the Bayou City. When I arrived on April 30th, they were planting cabbage, carrots and cauliflower, things we sow September – October. They rarely get temperatures hot enough to grow tomatoes or peppers (unless done in a greenhouse) and their harvest is completed by August; the gardens stay dormant until March when they sow onions and leeks. The gardeners at Ballyfin grow all they can in this limited season and can usually reap enough fruits and vegetables to feed resort guests nine months out of the year.
After nearly a week of sleeping in a castle, hobnobbing with Lords and Ladies and enjoying the Irish countryside, I’m ready to see my babies. My 18 month old twins are out for the night by the time I get home; it’s too dark to get a good look at the garden. My wife is still up; she tells me there is a problem with the boys and the garden. The twins really like the mulch I recently installed to retard weeds and prevent water evaporation. They want to play with it, throw it, chew on it and make a general mess. She suggests I put up a fence.
When I first planted, I tacked up some chicken wire around the garden to keep the boys from pulling up my seedlings. I left some established herbs I have growing in pots outside the little redneck fence and encouraged to them tear off leaves and taste the mint parsley, sage and rosemary. This was a decent distraction, but I soon realized they were far more interested in the colorful plastic identification spikes that came with the plants. They would reach over the fence, pull up the little markers and bring them to us as gifts, so we made a big game out of thanking them, then sneaking over and hiding the markers back amidst the plants. It’s like a never ending Easter egg hunt. They have so much fun with the plastic spikes they ignore the plants and I took down the little fence. However, the mulch is new and has too much texture to ignore.
I finally see the boys this morning. I steal a few minutes of playtime and cook them a healthy breakfast, then sneak out to look at the garden. Mulch is scattered all over the deck. Otherwise, the garden looks great. Plants have good color, some of the peppers have fruit more than two inches long, a couple of celebrity tomatoes are showing shades of red and my radishes have really taken off. The Sevin Dust got rid of whatever was dining on the cabbage, broccoli and Bok Choy. Everything has grown.
I’m a little concerned the garden is doing better because I was gone; my wife is certainly taking credit for the success. I plan to give it another good feeding. The cauliflower and the cabbage are failures; today I’ll rip them out and sow eggplants and okra in the space. I also need to devise a new strategy to keep my assistants out of the mulch.
The complexities keep building. I have rebuilt my elevated garden with a plastic liner and multiple layers of filler to give my veggies the best chance to thrive. I gave Miracle-Gro garden soil too much credit and lost six weeks of growing time; then planted several out of season plants. What a rookie! Now the sun is finally shining; I watch the shadows creep across my garden.
Historically, this area of my yard gets the most sun. Unfortunately, a couple of giant old crepe-myrtle trees and some forty year old magnolias are flexing their muscles; they’re showing the sun who is boss. Shade is hampering my harvest; corn stalks in the sunny part of the garden are three times the size of their shaded siblings. This is not the my first fight with these trees, but this time I’m fighting for my vegetable garden.
I spend a sunny Sunday charting which trees are causing problems, then call the tree trimmers. I have three trees completely removed and give the giant old crepe-myrtles serious haircuts. Now the yard looks completely different. I was thinking only of the garden; when the trees were gone I began thinking of my wife, her attachment to the missing trees and her opinion of my decision to make the trees go missing. Luckily she loves the new look. The trees were not hiding buildings or neighbors, now we see a big patch of Texas sky framed by large oak and magnolias. We can even lay in the sun by the pool. The garden will get 10 hours of sun, and we still have lots of trees.
During a recent visit to the Inn at Dos Brisas (the only Forbes five-star restaurant in Texas) I got to tour their organic gardens. Their operation is impressive. The farmers harvest seed from the crops, which sprout and grow in greenhouses and are transplanted as soon as threat of frost is gone. The chefs pick fresh produce everyday for their tasting menus. I shared some of my gardening issues with Farmer Jane. She encouraged me to replant the radish and Bok Choy, even though it’s no longer the ideal planting time. By her instruction, I planted where the tomatoes and corn will protect them from my newly found sun.
My Bok Choy sprouted, and with plenty of food, quickly grew a couple of inches. Overnight most of it disappeared. As I look more closely I see the plants are still there, something has eaten the new leaves. The eating has continued, now spreading to the broccoli and cabbage.
We’re having friends over for some good old Texas BBQ. The smoker is puffing away when one of my guests tells me I need some Seven Dust. I don’t know what Seven Dust is I confess. He explains Seven Dust will cure most of the bug problems in my garden. Moments later another friend asks if I’ve ever heard of Seven Dust. Ten minutes after that, 70 year old Robert says, “Tommyboy, you need to get to the store and buy you some Seven Dust.”
I guess bugs are eating my plants, and the cure is Seven Dust. At Buchanan’s Native Plants I find and purchase a shaker of Sevin Dust.
Randy Fenoli appears in Houston.
Click here to purchase tickets.
Set Your Sights on San Diego
By Kelsea Russo
San Diego is a top destination for thrill-seekers and romantics alike. La Jolla, just 20 minutes outside of downtown San Diego is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. This small, coastal community is ideal for adventure, relaxation and year-round sunshine.
Stay at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, one of the few hotels in the area. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, the amiable hotel is nestled on beachfront property. Ninety-eight guestrooms, 12 hard-surfaced tennis courts and a 9-hole golf course are just moments from the San Diego Underwater Park, a600-acre ecological reserve. August is Texas month! Snooze amid the sounds of waves crashing on the Pacific shore while the Lone Star Flag waves in the breeze above you.
La Jolla activities are abundant. Start your day with a soothing session of yoga on the beach. Trained professionals lead you through stretches and meditations for an hour of mental and physical relaxation in the cool, San Diego morning. Once you’re rejuvenated, embark on a free fall bike tour with San Diego Bike and Kayak Tours. Feel the wind on your face as you glide2 invigorating hours from the top of the historic Mt. Soledad to the famous seal harbor, an open community where dozens of endangered seals seek shelter.
For a peaceful afternoon, visit the Grand Del Mar, San Diego’s only 5-star and 5-diamondresort. Slightly east of the coastline, the resort combines Mediterranean charm and modern elegance; and activities that don’t involve the beach. Saddle up at the equestrian center for a romantic trail ride through lush greens and picturesque vegetation surrounding Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
One does not survive on activities alone. We need food! Power up at The Shores Restaurant where they combine healthy seasonal/regional menu selections with ocean front views and exceptional quality. Lunch on Burger Lounge’s patio in the San Diego sun as you sip their signature Lounge Milk shakes. They use only the greatest organic and grass-fed beef in their patties. The local eatery offers vegetarians Quinoa Veggie patties and fresh salads. Brockton Villa is a fairy-tale dinner setting. Request a table overlooking the La Jolla Cove and the light breeze from the coast will compliment wine and their renowned Cioppino. Brockton Villa is known for American cuisine, seafood and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.
Slip into your swimsuit and head over to Surf Diva for a stand-up paddle board lesson. Surf Diva is one of the world’s premier women’s surf schools, offering year-round classes on surfing and stand-up paddle boarding for men and women of all ages. The friendly owners match you with the correct wetsuit and paddleboard, lead you to the water and walk you through each and every step of the process. With these expert instructors you’ll stand-up and be paddling in no time.
The afternoon presents mid-day coastal winds on top of the hill of Torrey Pines Gliderport. That’s right! Gliders. Sail nearly 300 feet above La Jolla’s Black Beach and take in incredible panoramic views of the ocean, as you are strapped alongside a certified instructor in a comfortable seated position. Bring a camera so you can capture the 30-minutes of highflying adventure along the sparkling coastline.
At La Jolla’s best-known restaurant, George’s at the Cove, Chef Trey Foshee presents fish tacos and George’s specialty- smoked chicken, black bean and broccoli soup along with their house-made organic tea that highlights fresh ingredients of the region. The open-air rooftop terrace is spectacular, buzzing with chatter over the sights below. For something a little more secluded, try a romantic dinner for two on the beach at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. They will set up a candle lit table next to the ocean so you can dine and savor wine as you watch the sunset. A barefoot stroll along the beach with your loved one is a perfect end to the day’s activities.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines staff will guide your hike in the 2,000-acre Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Get your blood pumping as you make your way through the indigenous wildlife and natural landscaping up to the vista point, where striking views of Peñasquitos Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean will leave you breathless. Snap a few photos and head back to the Lodge’s in-house restaurant, the A.R. Valentien, for one of the nation’s top ten farm-to-table experiences.
Recuperate from your adventures with a treatment at the Torrey Pines Spa. With a full menu of holistic and specialty care services, the Spa aims to utilize local marine and botanical-based products for a truly rejuvenating experience. These professionals have you feeling relaxed ad restored.
Observe life on La Jolla’s charming streets from the covered patio at Roppongi Restaurant and Sushi Bar. This contemporary fine-dining facility serves excellent Asian fusion cuisine. Wine and dine with a glass or two of true Napa Valley vino and make sure to save room for a scoop of coconut gelato for a sweet end to this trip.
LaJolla’s floating sea breeze, clean air and adventures await you. This small jewel just outside of San Diego’s downtown is paradise.
Is anyone else getting Clinton fatigue? Before you take sides according to your political beliefs, is anyone getting Bush fatigue? It seems like both names have been in our faces since the Boxer Rebellion. Just recall how many times they have sought our vote, not to mention, “I hope I can count on your support.” (read: money).There was a Bush or a Clinton in the White House or cabinet for 32 years straight. And does this cause us to be MIA on election day? Our no-shows are particular true if you have lived in Texas or Arkansas – especially Texas.
Bill Clinton’s first race was for the U.S. Congress. He lost, then ran for Arkansas attorney general and won, then ran for governor and won, then lost, then won back the governorship. He was on the ballot twice as president. Hillary was a high profile First Lady, U.S. senator, ran for president, was Sec. of State, has two books about her just out, and now she will no doubt run for president again. A goodly chunk of our citizens have never known an America without a Clinton on page one. This just in: Bill Clinton is campaigning for daughter Chelsea’s mother-in-law, Marjorie Margolies, to be sent back to Congress. The beat goes on.
Same for the Bushes It’s not generally known, but George the Elder first ran for political office in 1978 out in West Texas. It was for Congress, and, like Clinton, Bush lost. He was a Republican before that was cool. Even worse, he was from Connecticut. Here’s a story I picked up about that race: Kent Hance, the Democratic candidate and a smooth-talking good old boy, was telling a yarn about working in a field along a rural road. Then along came a fancy car. “It was a Mercedes,” drawled Hance, raising his eyebrows, and the audience tittered at the hint Bush was the kind of man more comfortable in a Mercedes than a pickup. “The guy rolled down the window and wanted to know how to get to a certain ranch.” Hance recounted how he’d given the man directions, telling him to turn right just after a cattle guard. “Then,” Hance continued, “he said, ‘what color uniform will that cattle guard be wearing?'”
Bush moved to Houston and ran for Congress again. This time he won — twice. Ran for the U.S. Senate and lost. But he was always in the news, usually for holding down some dirty job: Ambassador to the U.N., head of the GOP right after Watergate, emissary to China — sent me some notes with great panda stamps — head of the CIA (remember that bit of background when someone sneers that Putin was a KGB agent). Briefly ticking off the rest: ran for president in the GOP primaries, lost, two terms as vice president, one term president, etc. How many times has Bush the Elder been on a Texas ballots?
Then we have George Bush the Younger who Texans have voted on at least four times. But there’s more. Brother Jeb Bush served for eight years as Florida’s governor, and his son, George P. Bush, is running for Texas Land Commish, a well-worn stepping stone for seeking higher office. George P. easily won the Texas GOP primary so we will see a Bush on next fall’s ballot. Now Jeb is being mentioned as a presidential candidate. We may be able to vote for or against both a Bush and a Clinton in the same election. Even Bar Bush seems to getting tired of all her kin always running for something. And, Bar being Bar, said so.“If we can’t find more than two or three families to run for office, that’s silly, because there are great governors and great eligible people to run. And I think that the Kennedys, Clintons, Bushes — there are just more families than that. And I’m not arrogant enough to think that we alone are raising” presidential candidates.
Perhaps Texans have a special fatigue, or at least it’s a good excuse for our miserable voting record that allows a handful of hard-charging citizens, some would day zealots, to decide who runs Texas. Just to refresh your memory, this is now a red state, a handy title invented by TV newscasters that is shorter than “a state that is dominated by members of the Republican party.” Any candidate who gets the GOP nomination here is almost certain to win, especially in a statewide election. Ah, who but picks these candidates? A small band of Tea Party members. Thus about 7 to 10 percent of eligible voters chooses our governor, lite gov, attorney general, and so forth. The Tea Party did not kick down the door, hold a pistol to our heads and demand control. Their actions were legal and effective.
So where are the other 90 to 93 percent of us? Texas ranked 51st in voter turnout in 2010 — behind every other state and Washington, D.C. We’d probably be behind Saudi Arabia and Oman if they ever had elections. The situation is so bad in Texas that not long ago in several counties not even the party chairmen voted. Santa Anna was right – Texas is not ready for self-government. This same survey, conducted by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at The University of Texas at Austin and the National Conference on Citizenship, determined that we rank 49th in the number of citizens who even bother to contact public officials.
Our laziness continues when it comes to civic participation rates, ranking 43rd in donating and 42nd in volunteering, according to the Texas Civic Health Index. And 61.6 percent of eligible Texans reported being registered to vote in 2010, but just 36.4 percent reported voting in the general election when the outcome had already been determined. For Texans, when it comes to running the government, it is a spectator sport. Where are you, Santa Anna, when we need you?
Ashby is running at firstname.lastname@example.org
HOUSTON CINEMA ARTS SOCIETY ANNOUNCES FIRST FILM OF 2013 FESTIVAL, PLUS SCREENING OF HOUSTON IN SEPTEMBER BOTH PREMIERES TAKING PLACE AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON
HOUSTON – Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) today announced two coming attractions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) in Fall 2013: The Bayou City premiere of the award-winning film Houston on Sept. 6, and the world premiere on Nov. 10 of a documentary on the rich five-decade history of Houston Ballet at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival (HCAF), the first film announced for HCAF 2013.
HCAS will host the screening of Houston in collaboration with MFAH, Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) and the Houston Film Commission on Friday, Sept. 6, at 7:00 PM. Writer/director Bastian Günther’s feature film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize for Narrative Feature at the 2013 Independent Film Festival Boston. The film’s service producer, Anne Walker-McBay , has produced many films for HCAS Honorary Board member Richard Linklater.
Houston portrays Ulrich Tukur as Clemens Trunschka, a corporate headhunter tasked with finding a top CEO in Houston. Günther, who will be in attendance for the screening at MFAH, expands Trunschka’s headhunting expedition into a captivating and subtle examination of failure as drinking increasingly isolates the lead character from his life and leads him away from reality. According to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival film guide, “Houston dives unflinchingly deep into the heart of Texas and comes up with something as surprising as it is precious: hope.”
The Houston Ballet documentary will premiere at MFAH at 4:00 PM on Sunday, Nov. 10, the final day of HCAF 2013. There will be a repeat screening at Sundance Cinemas on Monday, Nov. 11 (time TBA). The documentary chronicles the history of the internationally acclaimed Houston Ballet, from the early impact of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1930s and 40s in inculcating a love of dance among Houstonians, to the determination and perseverance of a handful of Houston’s founding families, to the making of legendary ballet stars through color-blind casting, diplomatic struggles and international incidents and exposure to the world’s best artistic talent, to its place today as the fourth largest ballet company in America with a facility unmatched in the United States.
The documentary will capture the voices of many key players who helped propel Houston Ballet to its current international stature. The film will trace the directorships of each of Houston Ballet’s five artistic directors since the company’s founding in 1955, featuring photos and historical footage of the company’s performances from the 1970s onward, in addition to footage that evokes the company’s vibrant present. It also will feature interviews with the four living artistic directors of Houston Ballet, dancers from the 1970s to the present, and board leaders and dance critics who have closely followed the company’s development. Among the noted Houstonians featured will be Jesse H. Jones II, Isaac and Tony Arnold, Lucia Bryant and Eugene Loveland; along with internationally renowned choreographers Debbie Allen, Ben Stevenson, Christopher Bruce and Trey McIntyre; and star dancers Carlos Acosta, Li Cunxin and Janie Parker.
The director of the Ballet documentary is John Carrithers of Carrithers Studio, a Houston-based filmmaker who served as Director of Photography on several recent feature documentary projects including: Mothers At War, a film about women combat veterans; 38 Pieces, a documentary about the Byzantine Frescoes rescued by Dominique de Menil directed by Susan and Francois de Menil, andRelocation Arkansas, a chronicle of Japanese Americans growing up in an internment camp in Arkansas during WWII. Carrithers has also created numerous works for Houston Grand Opera, Asia Society Texas and the MFAH, among others.
The full program of film premieres, live performances, media installations and special guests for HCAF 2013 will be announced at the HCAF launch party for HCAS members and sponsors on Oct. 15 at The Sam Houston Hotel. HCAS plans to announce the official Festival Headquarters and location of the Cinema on the Verge interactive media installation gallery sometime in September.
ABOUT HOUSTON CINEMA ARTS SOCIETY
Houston Cinema Arts Society is a non-profit organization created in 2008. With the support of former Houston Mayor Bill White and the leadership of Franci Crane, HCAS organizes and hosts the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, a groundbreaking and innovative arts festival featuring films and new media by and about artists in the visual, performing and literary arts. The festival celebrates the vitality and diversity of the arts in Houston and enriches the city’s film and arts community. HCAS sponsors include the Crane Foundation, a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Levantine Entertainment, Houston First Corporation, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Champion Energy Services, Amegy Bank of Texas, The Brown Foundation, Inc. and others. The project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. The fifth annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival will be held Nov. 6-10, 2013. For more information, please visit HCAS at www.cinemartsociety.org.
ABOUT SOUTHWEST ALTERNATE MEDIA PROJECT (SWAMP)
SWAMP, the first nonprofit media arts organization in Texas, promotes the creation and appreciation of film, video and new media as art forms of a multicultural community. Creating audiences and opportunities for independent filmmakers since 1977, SWAMP offers on-going education, information and screening programs for adults and youth. In addition, SWAMP produces THE TERRITORY, a short film showcase series broadcast on Texas PBS stations and provides fiscal sponsorship for noncommercial film projects and emerging film-related organizations such as the documentaryRelocation Arkansas and the Houston Cinema Arts Society. For more information, please visit www.swamp.org.
ABOUT MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON (MFAH)
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States. Located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the MFAH comprises two gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, theater, two art schools and two libraries, with two house museums, for American and European decorative arts, nearby. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers some 65,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present. For more information, please visit www.mfah.org.
ABOUT MFAH FILMS
The film program of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), is the largest of its kind in the southwestern United States. The MFAH first began screening films in the 1930s, and Brown Auditorium Theater, located in the Caroline Wiess Law Building and designed by Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, opened in 1973. Often, critics, scholars and filmmakers come to the screenings as visiting speakers to give audiences a deeper understanding of movies and moviemaking. For more information, please visit www.mfah.org/films.
2013 MARATHON OIL CORPORATION
PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT AWARDS SET FOR JANUARY 17
Annual Coaching Awards Welcomes BYU Former Coach LaVell Edwards
and More Football Greats
WHAT: Each year, the American Heart Association offers a unique opportunity for sports enthusiasts to mix and mingle with legendary college football coaches from across the nation while supporting the important cause of fighting heart disease and stroke. On Jan. 17, 2013, the 27th Annual Marathon Oil Corporation Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards benefiting the American Heart Association will take place at the HYATT Regency Hotel in Downtown Houston.
The grand ballroom will be filled with sports legends including the likes of LaVell Edwards, former Brigham Young Coach and 6th all-time winningest coach in college football history, who will be crowned as the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Winner. After 29 years as head coach of the BYU football team, Edwards ranks third among active coaches with a record of 257 wins, 101 losses and 3 ties. Edwards has been recognized nationwide with accolades not just for his accomplishments on the field but for the integrity and class he adds to the profession.
Joining Edwards will be some of the nation’s top football coaches patiently waiting to find out who will take home the coveted Coach of the Year Award, formally given to football greats such as Mike Gundy, Gene Chizik, Nick Saban and Mack Brown. The winner will be announced live at the annual awards dinner.
WHEN: 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013
WHERE: HYATT Regency Hotel Downtown
1200 Louisiana Street Houston, Texas 77002
TICKETS: For more information, or to purchase tickets or a table for the event, contact Kristin Rodriguez at 713-610-5026 or visit www.bryantawards.com. Prices are: $250 per individual ticket, $1,000 VIP tickets with tables starting at $5,000.
WHY: Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant , former coach of Alabama University and winningest coach in college football history, died of heart disease in1983. Three years after his death, a partnership was formed with the Bryant family and the American Heart Association to raise life-saving funds in his memory by renaming an existing coach of the year award to the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award. Through this dedication to his memory, the American Heart Association tries to instill into the community that same, unifying heartbeat that Bryant so often did within his team. The organization has a mission, to build “healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”
DETAILS: Visit www.bryantawards.com.
Hashtag: #bryantawards Twitter: @ahahouston Facebook: AHAHouston
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November 9, 2012
11th Annual Rocket’s Run
17th Annual Children’s Festival
Buffalo Bayou Partnership Kayak Trip
Highland Village Ferrari Festival to benefit Texas Children’s Cancer Center
WHO: Highland Village is hosting the 7th Annual Ferrari Festival, benefitting
Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the largest pediatric cancer center in the nation, ranked #1 in Texas by U.S.News & World Report. Guests will enjoy complimentary bites from Up, Smith & Wollensky’s, Sprinkles and more as they check out some of the world’s most exotic and unique Ferraris.
WHAT: The 7th Annual Ferrari Festival will feature more than 50 exotic cars competing
in five different categories for a crystal horse trophy, handcrafted in Italy and custom made for the event. Among the unique cars there that day will be Michael Schumacher’s 2009 Championship Formula 1 car; a $1.5 million Ferrari FXS, of which only 17 were ever made; the Valobra race car that finished third at Daytona and the Ferrari FXX.
WHEN: Sunday, November 11, 2012
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
WHERE: Highland Village Houston
4078 Westheimer Rd.
WHY: Proceeds from the 7th annual Ferrari Festival benefit Texas
Children’s Cancer Center, an international leader in pediatric cancer research and treatment. Texas Children’s Cancer Center is dedicated to providing novel therapies and family-centered care to children from infancy through young adulthood with cancer and blood disorders – from the most common to rare. U.S.News & World Report ranked the Center #1 outside the northeast United States, as well as #1 in Texas. Texas Children’s Cancer Center treats more childhood cancer patients than any other program in the U.S., with patients coming from 35 states and 26 countries around the world. Learn more at www.txch.org.
COST: This event is free to the public. Guests can make donations at the event
or visit www.txch.org to make a donation.
City of Houston’s Official Fourth of July Celebrations to Light-up Downtown Skyline
WHAT: Mayor Annise D. Parker’s official Fourth of July celebration, Freedom Over Texas, will set the stage for an extraordinary patriotic celebration filled with family fun and a spectacular fireworks show. The 26-year-old tradition and lively outdoor festival will feature star-spangled performances by featured country music artists Billy Currington and Sara Evans courtesy of Reliant. The crowning highlight of Freedom Over Texas, a spectacular fireworks, show will light up Houston’s downtown skyline while combining specially choreographed music with pyrotechnic artistry.
During Freedom Over Texas festivities, KBR Liberty Park will showcase military artifacts and vehicles including representation from all five military branches, and on-site recruiting. Also, patrons can make a donation to H.O.T. (Honoring Our Troops) and send a care packet overseas. The Bud Light Zone will showcase its Budweiser Beer Garden, the Bud Light MXT Vehicle and offer a prime view of the eighth annual Bud Light Texas Volleyball Championship Series Finals. More than 30,000 square feet of free educational entertainment and programming and will appeal to children of all ages in the Walmart All-American Kids Zone and will feature a Radio Disney, Jr. Area. Southwest Airlines will host the Southwest Airlines VIP Hanger and the Sky Stage featuring vintage aircraft from the Lonestar Flight Museum including a B-17 Bomber, B-25 Bomber, a B-25 and two A-26 Invaders making fly-overs throughout the festival.
In the Family Fitness Challenge Area activities will be provided by all five of Houston’s hometown professional sports teams including the Houston Dynamo, Houston Rockets, Houston Astros, Houston Aeros and Houston Texans.
8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Featured Artists: Billy Currington, and Sara Evans
WHERE: Eleanor Tinsley Park @ Buffalo Bayou (along Allen Parkway)
ADMISSION: $8 per person, (children 5 and under, free)
EXPECTED Gated attendance: 100,000
ATTENDANCE: Total viewing audience: 2,000,000 (perimeter viewing + television audience)
SPONSORS: Freedom Over Texas sponsors include: The Featured Artists Sponsor: Reliant; Anchor Sponsors: Bud Light, KBR, Southwest Airlines, Walmart; Additional sponsors include; Sprint, Silver Leaf Resorts, McDonald’s, Camping World of Houston, In-Kind Sponsors: Houston Chronicle; 100.3 KILT; HOT 95-7; Mix 96-5; SportsRadio 610 and Mega 101 FM, , Doubletree Hotel Houston Downtown, Radio Disney, Greenstar Recycling, Metro, Houston Aeros, Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo, Houston Rockets, and Houston Texans. Co-producers: City of Houston/Mayor’s Office of Special Events and KTRK-TV ABC-13. Our Community Partner is the Houston Food Bank. The event benefits Central Houston Civic Improvement, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c)
Before You Shop – Try THE Swap! The BCO Outdoor Equipment Swap & Yardsale on January 28, 2012. Got a bunch of new gear for the Holidays? Trade your old stuff in! ALL types of outdoor (and indoor) equipment will be available – camping, kayaking, diving, hiking, backpacking, biking, indoor exercise equipment, clothes, dirty tennis shoes, you name it – we’ll have it or you can bring it!
If you have equipment you would like to swap or sell, come early (8:00 – 8:30am) to pick a good table. If you are with another outdoor/fitness group and would like your own table please call 713 524 3567.
There is no fee for a table or entry to the event. However, we are taking donations for Workshop Houston which provides resources and support for young people such as the Third Ward Bike Shop – a do-it-yourself bike repair. They are in need of all kinds of bike equipment except helmets, footwear and clothing.
Details and RSVP at www.BayouCityOutdoors.com or call 713-524-3567
New Year, new friends, new adventures! Come join BCO at the new Christian’s Tailgate location in the Heights. We’ll have our own area and Tailgate has some yummy food and drink specials. Here’s your chance to connect with new people with similar interests. BCO makes it easy to make new friends in a laid back atmosphere or just say hello to your old buddies.Christian’s Tailgate (Heights Location), 2820 White Oak Houston, TX 77007
Parking in lot across the street. Please note the signage of where and where not to park. Details and RSVP at www.BayouCityOutdoors.com or call 713-524-3567
Come out and stretch your legs after the holidays by biking to the Farmer’s Markets of Houston. Is this the year you start stocking your cabinets with organic groceries? This is the way to go! Hop on your bike and let’s take a ride through the side streets, trails, and residential areas in the heart of Houston. This is a very social ride and all levels of riders are welcome. We will start the morning off with coffee at Onion Creek and then cruise through 2-3 markets to shop for fresh produce, sauces, jams, and bread. This is a 12-15 mile ride that lasts about three hours so bring plenty of water and a backpack to carry your goodies! If you’d like to join us but don’t own a bike, West End Bicycles rents bikes for $25 per day at 713/861-2271 or www.westendbikes.com.
If you are a member of Bayou City Outdoors and do not have a bike, we can loan you a bike for the ride. But you MUST call the office one week in advance to arrange for the loaner bike. Meet at Onion Creek, 3106 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007. Please DO NOT park in the Onion Creek lot – there is parking on the surrounding streets but look out for ‘no parking’ signs. Meet at 8:00AM – leave at 8:30AM – Noon. Free for Members and Non-Members alike. RSVP 713-524-3567 or www.BayouCityOutdoors.com
THE CLUB – Ah, there you are. We’ve been expecting you. Take a seat here by the fireplace with its burning Merrill Lynch bonds. Waiter, bring this new member a drink. Now, might I welcome you to the Club One, obviously made up of that select group, the top 1 percent of the richest Americans.
You were approved for membership by making a billion on Bernie Madoff bobble-head dolls – the kind of heads you can rip off. I made my fortune selling picket signs and bullhorns to those Occupy Wall Street folks. My branch offices in Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Oakland — they all did well, especially Oakland, where fire bombs and gas masks were selling like crack pipes. Unfortunately, my efforts to peddle deodorants and razors didn’t work.
Good, the waiter has brought your drink. Thank you, Newt. No doubt you’ve heard about the recession. But not here. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says we top 1 percent of earners more than doubled our share of the nation’s income over the last three decades. Actually, the after-tax income of the top 20 percent now exceeds the income of the bottom 80 percent of Americans, which seems only proper. Incidentally, our “after tax income” is about the same as our “before tax income,” if you get my drift.
Our members are the usual suspects: movie stars, top athletes, drug lords. They made it on their own. Then there are the Wall Street money handlers who don’t actually contribute anything to society, like making shoe-strings or growing corn, but they make a fortune. Oh, there’s Eugene Isenberg, outgoing CEO of Houston’s Nabors Industries. He just received a $100 million golden parachute. This was on top of his $176 million in compensation between 2006 and 2010 during which the company’s stock fell 38 percent. It’s dropped another 20 percent this year. Don’t you just love it?
Even though we own most members of Congress, many already qualify for our club. There are currently 245 millionaires — 66 in the Senate and 179 in the House. The richest of all is a Texan: Rep. Michael McCaul, Republican of Austin, worth over $294 million. He married it. Most candidates for president, including Obama, are in the top 1 percent. We don’t have exact figures, but experts say Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul probably don’t make the cut. Rick Perry’s net worth is estimated at just over $1 million, which is not bad for someone who has been a Texas state employee most of his adult life.
Yes, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates qualify for our club, technically, but they were drummed out as heretics. You know their screed: keep the death tax, spread the wealth, philanthropy. Traitors to their class. How does one qualify for Club One? Your worthiness can be measured in two ways: wealth or income. By household wealth, the cutoff point was $9 million in 2010, according to the Federal Reserve. The cutoff for annual household income is about $700,000. However, the Congressional Budget Office put the 1 percent earnings cutoff at $350,000 in 2007.
The bottom 99 percent deserve to be at the bottom. As Herman Cain said, “I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated, to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks — if you don’t have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself!” He’s absolutely right, although I don’t have the facts to back it up.
I see through the window the great unwashed are stoning our club. Looks like an Athens come-as- you-are party. We here at the club believe in the Trickle Down Theory, or as the 99 percent call it, the Trickle On Theory. So? What’s their point? We believe in the redistribution of wealth – upwards, because we are job creators, although lately we haven’t been creating many jobs. So the gap between America’s rich and poor is widening. In the 30-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only Turkey and Mexico have more economically unequal societies than the United States.
Look at that mob. If it’s class warfare, then we’ve got the class, and we’ll give them the warfare. We should call out the Army, speaking of which, apparently not a single son or daughter of Club One members is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. However, two generals of my acquaintance feel they are doing their part for the war effort – Generals Dynamics and Electric.
If you paid one dollar in federal income tax from 2008 till last year, you paid more than General Electric, DuPont, Verizon, Boeing, Wells Fargo and Honeywell. A new report from Citizens for Tax Justice – a commie front obviously — looked at 280 of the Fortune 500 companies and found, while the federal corporate tax code ostensibly requires big corporations to pay at a 35 percent corporate income tax rate, on average the 280 corporations paid only about half that amount. Or as Leona Helmsley told her housekeeper, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” Helmsley later went to prison for federal tax evasion.
This 35 percent corporate tax rate is often cited as being second only to Japan’s rate, and should be lowered. As we can see, it already has been. This is like the oft-heard canard: “Half of Americans don’t pay income taxes.” Keep saying it long enough and people will believe it. Actually, the figure is not 50 percent but 43 percent, and they pay lots of taxes directly or indirectly: fees and fines, property taxes, school taxes, sales taxes, taxes on gasoline, pitchforks and torches. Individual income taxes only contribute 45 percent to the fed’s budget. Everybody pays the remaining 55 percent. Just remember, Texas doesn’t have an income tax, but Austin still wrings billions out of us.
Here’s to bailouts and TARP. Cheers. We’ll have another round, Mitt.
Ashby is taxed at email@example.com