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"We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution."

Since his death from cancer at age 32, comedian Bill Hicks's (very previously) legend and stature have only grown; American: The Bill Hicks Story (previously) fills in the details of a life cut tragically short, blending live footage and animation, and is narrated by the 10 people who knew Bill best. A comic's comic and unflagging critic of hypocrisy and cultural emptiness, American: The Bill Hicks Story is now streaming for free on Snag Films.
posted by Room 641-A on May 28, 2014 - 76 comments

Healthy cities: public health and urban planning

A new Report on the State of Health + Urbanism (pdf) from MIT looks at the relationship between urban planning and public health, with some surprising findings. The cities covered are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. [more inside]
posted by gingerbeer on Dec 31, 2013 - 52 comments

Look at that guy with the typewriter on the Eagles' bench!

The NFL's Modern Man: How Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin — a bike-riding, socially conscious, Animal Collective–loving hipster — is redefining what it means to be a football player.
posted by Drinky Die on Nov 20, 2013 - 52 comments

the composer of the future meets the city of the future

In 1985, Houston was preparing for a party: 1986 marked the city's 150th birthday, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Texas, and 25 years since the opening of NASA's Johnson Space Center, the hub around which the city's aerospace industry blossomed. In comes French synthesizer pioneer Jean Michel Jarre, the "composer of the future", known for his spectacular 1979 Bastille Day show that attracted a million people to Place de la Concorde, and for being the first Western musician to play China in 1981. With the Space Shuttle Challenger due to take off on mission STS-51-L in January, Jarre penned a piece for Mission Specialist and saxophonist Ron McNair to record in space. The nation watched as McNair and his crewmates prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, only to perish in a haunting and iconic explosion. As Houston mourned the loss of the seven crew, who called the city home during their preparation for spaceflight, Jarre wasn't sure if the upcoming festivities should be held, but was convinced by astronaut Bruce McCandless that the show must go on. On April 5, 1986, 1.5 million people gathered downtown to witness Rendez-vous Houston, a massive tribute to America's pioneering spirit that used the city as its backdrop. [more inside]
posted by avocet on May 14, 2013 - 19 comments

Privately Owned Public Spaces

When is a private space a public space? When it's a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS). In accordance with the planning codes of some cities, owners or builders of buildings are mandated to provide members of the general public access to spaces which include rooftop gardens, courtyards, and plazas. [more inside]
posted by larrybob on Aug 31, 2012 - 23 comments

Technology Enhancements for Sensory Impaired

Recent technologies developed at American universities are making communication easier for the sight and hearing impaired. Last summer a Stanford undergrad developed a touchscreen Braille writer that stands to revolutionize how the blind negotiate an unseen world by replacing devices costing up to 10 times more. Thanks to a group of University of Houston students, the hearing impaired may soon have an easier time communicating with those who do not understand sign language. During the past semester, students in UH’s engineering technology and industrial design programs teamed up to develop the concept and prototype for MyVoice, a device that reads sign language and translates its motions into audible words, and vice versa.
posted by netbros on Jul 3, 2012 - 4 comments

Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!

Jim Valvano and 6th seeded North Carolina State completed one of the all time greatest Cinderella upsets in basketball history, winning the 1983 NCAA tournament title over the top ranked "Phi Slamma Jamma" out of Houston, featuring two future Hall of Fame and Top 50 all time NBA superstars Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. On March 3, 1993, shortly before his death from bone cancer diagnosed the previous year, Jimmy V delivered an iconic speech at the inaugural ESPY awards announcing the creation of The Jimmy V Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. Jimmy V week is celebrated each year on ESPN and has since raised over $100 million for cancer research.
posted by T.D. Strange on Dec 2, 2011 - 14 comments

SciGuy Eric Berger

One of my favorite blogs happens to be local to me. Eric Berger, the Houston Chronicle's "SciGuy" usually reports on the weather. But he also posts entertaining and serious stuff as well. [more inside]
posted by PapaLobo on Nov 22, 2011 - 3 comments

Bringing the toys home

The Sheriff's Office in Montgomery County, Texas near Houston has become the first law enforcement agency to buy a weaponizable Shadowhawk MK-III UAV. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Oct 31, 2011 - 116 comments

Lois, you're a tease. And you stink.

During the past 4 days, the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science has stayed open 24 hours to accommodate the record crowds filing into the museum at all hours. Why? A rare Amorphophallus titanium, aka “Corpse Flower,” named Lois is finally about to bloom. Now, Lois is not your average, run-of-the-mill stinky plant. Only 28 Corpse Flowers have bloomed in the US, so Lois has become a local celebrity with her own blog, Flickr feed, live webcam and cupcakes. She even has her own playlist, with songs such as “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynrd, “I’m Comin’ Out” by Diana Ross and the classic “Smelly Cat” by Phoebe from Friends. And like any trendy Corpse Flower, Lois also has her own Twitter account. She's also a bit of a diva. Yet despite predictions, Lois still hasn't bloomed as of Wednesday morning. In response, Lois makes excuses, bad jokes, complaints and snarky comments.
posted by yeoja on Jul 14, 2010 - 30 comments

MeFi gon' drip candy an be all screwed up

Robert Earl Davis Jr., better known by his stage name DJ Screw, died almost ten years ago, on the 16th of November, 2000. He is widely credited as the originator of one of Texan hip-hop's unique stylistic quirks - the slowing of a track to create a blurry, psychedelic take on the original. So profound is the association between DJ Screw and this style that it is usually named after him. An 11-part documentary on YT explores Screw's life and music. Part 1, with the rest below the fold. [more inside]
posted by Dim Siawns on Jun 7, 2010 - 12 comments

Super Bowl Weekend of the Auto Art World

Art Car Weekend is just days away! Worth a trip to Houston. I am happy to see the Art Car Ball, a combination of concert, block party, art exhibit, and performance art venue, return to the lineup. If you view the parade from the north side of the parkway in Elanor Tinsley Park, you get to see all your favorite cars twice!
posted by cross_impact on May 3, 2010 - 12 comments

Passage from India

Lori Whisenant, who teaches business law and ethics at the University of Houston, has outsourced the grading of students' papers to a private company, Virtual-TA, who sends them to be marked in Bangalore, India.
posted by Rumple on Apr 7, 2010 - 66 comments

Annise Parker elected mayor of Houston

Annise Parker, current City Controller of Houston, has defeated Gene Locke in a runoff election for mayor. She is the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city.
posted by granted on Dec 12, 2009 - 119 comments

Texas Gulf Coast Disasters: Digital Media Collections

The Texas Gulf Coast is no stranger to disaster - both natural and man-made. The 1900 Storm (previously). The Texas City Disaster (previously). Hurricane Ike (previously). Tropical Storm Allison (previously). New digital media collections, made available through the the University of Houston, shed light on previously overlooked events such as the Hurricane of 1915, and allow a fresh look at well-known disasters such as the Texas City Disaster. A digital slideshow of images and information about The 1900 Storm is also available through the Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas. [Please note that some links include images of the deceased which may be NSFW or unsuitable for some audiences.]
posted by greekphilosophy on Dec 10, 2009 - 9 comments

Good luck not dancing

At Sammy's at 2016 Main, on September 8, a historic jam session occurred, an impromptu reunion of many of the city of New Orleans's finest musicians. Each player who walked in the door was much more than a mere musician that night -- they were an affirmation of life. Not only did their attendance indicate that they had survived the storm, but their collective presence also indicated that their music would survive, too.
The New Birth Brass Band (and friends) tears it the hell up in downtown Houston post-Katrina. The whole show is great, but if you're short on time, parts one and three are especially smoking.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas on Dec 14, 2008 - 3 comments

ML73-3356, ML73-3378

For many people who lived in Houston in the early 1970s, trick or treat brings up memories of "The Candy Man," serial killer Dean Corll. He, along with accomplices David Brooks and Wayne Henley (YouTube), kidnapped, raped, and tortured to death 27 boys between the ages of thirteen and eighteen between 1970 and 1973. Thirty-seven years after the bodies of their victims were discovered in mass graves in southwest Houston and the Bolivar Peninsula, three still were unidentified until recently when the efforts of forensic anthropologist Sharon Derrick identified victim ML73-3349, now known to be Randall Lee Harvey.
posted by WolfDaddy on Oct 31, 2008 - 32 comments

"I wanted to hug him, for him to meet my son."

"Girl, he died a hero with tons of people loving him." A jack-of-all-trades worker from Florida came to Houston to help clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, and was killed while trying to save three dogs on a freeway. At first, it seemed the man, while praised as a local hero, and receiving tons of support in death from animal lovers, would remain an unknown loner in death as he had been in life. Then a Google search and an exchange of e-mails led one Houston woman to the man's daughter, living in Pittsburgh. The young woman had been searching for her father for thirteen years.
posted by WolfDaddy on Oct 8, 2008 - 37 comments

One day you're here, but the next day you're gone.

Pimp C, one half of Texas rap group UGK (along with Bun B) was found dead today in a hotel room in Los Angeles.
posted by hominid211 on Dec 4, 2007 - 59 comments

Make it funky.

When Conrad O. Johnson heard Otis Redding in concert in the year 1967, he was inspired to bring the kind of explosive energy he felt from that performance to the high school band he was charged with leading. He wanted to lead not only the best high school stage band in Texas, but the best high school stage band in the world. And with the Kashmere Stage Band, it's arguable that that's exactly what he did. Check out the Texas Thunder Soul.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 29, 2007 - 19 comments

Y'all mind hanging back? You're jamming my frequency.

Inversion [more pics] [text] "This house has many hearts."
posted by moonbird on Jun 30, 2007 - 31 comments

"There are no remaining body parts"

Houston man kills, then cooks ex-girlfriend on his patio barbecue. Neighbors called authorities when they realized Timothy Wayne Shepard had been acting strange and had spent 48 hours straight barbecuing on two separate grills. Also starring one of Houston's most colorful characters, Quanell X.
posted by Brittanie on Mar 29, 2007 - 53 comments

“We choose not to work for homosexuals.”

“Treating you with respect and honesty are the cornerstones of our reputation.” --unless you're gay, that is, for a Houston landscaper. Step 1: Turn down 2 gay customers. Step 2: Watch furor ensue. Step 3: Profit (to the tune of $40,000 in new business)
posted by amberglow on Nov 11, 2006 - 141 comments

If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all.

Last week, a textbook example of irony occurred in Houston. Last week was also Banned Books Week.
posted by joannemerriam on Oct 2, 2006 - 79 comments

Hot Town, Cool City

Hot Town, Cool City : You live in the best city in the U.S. and you want to go back to Houston, Texas? Maureen McNamara came home from San Francisco and has now produced a web "treasure map" and a film about the hidden gems of Houston. Love it, hate it, is Houston worth it?
posted by Robert Angelo on Jul 9, 2006 - 48 comments

the longest storm

The New Orleans Effect: Crime is up. Schools are overcrowded. Hospitals are jammed. Houston welcomed a flood of hurricane evacuees with open arms. But now the city is suffering from a case of 'compassion fatigue.'
posted by The Jesse Helms on Mar 5, 2006 - 37 comments

Happy Independence Day

Today is Texas Independence Day On March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed at Washington-on-the-Brazos. The document was created by the Convention of 1836 while almost a couple hundred brave Texans at the Alamo held Gen. Santa Anna's army of several thousand at bay for 13 days. On March 6, the Alamo finally fell, slaughtered to the last man. On March 27, 352 Texas soliders were slaughtered at the Goliad Massacre. Finally on April 21, the untrained armies of Texas, outnumbered and under the command of Sam Houston, decisively defeated the much larger and better trained and equipped Army of Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto and captured the Mexican dictator Santa Anna. Happy Texas Independence Day.
posted by dios on Mar 2, 2006 - 89 comments

Houston Loves You

NewsFilter: I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?
posted by I Love Tacos on Feb 18, 2006 - 154 comments

Astroworld 1968-2005

So long, and thanks for all the thrills. This weekend, Astroworld (I refuse to prepend "Six Flags") will close its doors. Envisioned in 1968 by Judge Roy Hofheinz (who also brought us Houstonians a major league baseball team, and a stadium in which they could play), the amusement park was where I spent a lot of my childhood in the 70s. Grass roots movements to save the park have failed, and thus it's time to say goodbye to the place that played host to one of the best rollercoasters in the world, a ride that scared the crap out of me, a double ferris wheel with a twist, as well as the Boogie Fog Disco, where I learned how to do The Hustle. All's not lost, as at least I can download the Texas Cyclone, but I still feel a little misty-eyed for the boy who spent most of his weekends in this magical and wondrous place. Farewell.
posted by WolfDaddy on Oct 24, 2005 - 58 comments

Where have all the fireflies gone?

Fireflies in Houston. As a kid growing up in Houston, I remember going out into the front yard every evening and seeing hundreds and hundreds of fireflies dancing through the air, one of the most magical memories of childhood. As I grew older, their numbers declined, slowly but surely (in fact, at one point as a kid, I thought I was partially responsible as I'd caught so many of 'em in Flintstones jelly jars). Now back in Houston as an adult, I haven't seen a one, and am wondering, where have all the fireflies gone? This site aims to tell you, and it's not just for Houstonians.
posted by WolfDaddy on Aug 3, 2004 - 41 comments

Save the Prudential Building!

After 25 years away, I've recently moved back to the metropolis of my birth, Houston, Texas, and have been reminded that a lot of my favorite buildings here are from the Modern Movement in architecture. However, many of these buildings--much less than a century old!--are now giving way to newer ones, and many unique residences fast being replaced with McMansions. Even the Astrodome's fate is in the air. HoustonMod is trying to preserve these buildings and their place in history. More power to 'em.
posted by WolfDaddy on Apr 23, 2004 - 21 comments

U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider anti-homosexual laws

On September 17, 1998, in response to an armed robbery call, Houston police burst in to the home of John Lawrence. The police didn’t find a robber (nor would they – the call was deliberately false), but they did find Lawrence having sex with another man, Tyrone Garner. Lawrence and Garner were promptly charged with “engaging in homosexual conduct,” a misdemeanor under Texas law. They paid their fine and began a long legal challenge to Texas’ anti-sodomy law. That challenge has finally reached the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, which today agreed to hear their appeal early next year. Standing in the way is the Court’s own 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, in which it held that anti-sodomy laws are constitutional. That may be about to change.
posted by pardonyou? on Dec 2, 2002 - 43 comments

Followup on Houston's great K-Mart roundup

Followup on Houston's great K-Mart roundup To the great relief of many in Houston, it does indeed appear that heads are going to roll over the mass arrest last week. Or at least, one head will.
posted by John Smallberries on Aug 24, 2002 - 17 comments

Lesson learned in Houston, Texas yesterday: shop at a 24-hour Kmart in the middle of the night, go directly to jail. If you're a 10-year-old girl having a late dinner with your father at the next door Sonic, well, it's off to jail with you, too.
posted by ewagoner on Aug 19, 2002 - 103 comments

Enraged about Enron? Buy the T-shirt

Enraged about Enron? Buy the T-shirt
The latest Enron related meme in Houston is a slew of anti-Enron shirts. Just today at lunch I picked up the coolest one to date, the Enrage shirt, for $10 with a $2 donation to the ex-Enron employees fund. Other Enron shirts can be found here.
posted by DragonBoy on Feb 14, 2002 - 8 comments

Ex Enron Vice Chair Commits Suicide

Ex Enron Vice Chair Commits Suicide J. Clifford Baxter was found dead in his car in a Houston suburb Firday. Texas police said the cause of death was suicide.
posted by Lanternjmk on Jan 25, 2002 - 40 comments

I think I may have just found the most explicit example of crass American commercialism. At eroticbid.com, you can purchase a porn star's actual labia. No, I'm not joking, and no, this isn't a rotten link.
posted by Spanktacular on Oct 4, 2001 - 17 comments

At least 12 people are dead and damage could be $1 billion

At least 12 people are dead and damage could be $1 billion as a result of flooding in the US' fourth largest city of Houston. Some areas received more than two feet of rain in a 24 hour period this weekend after the remains of Tropical Storm Allison regrouped and poured on southeast Texas. Why does this story only get one page on the major news sites, when the Seattle quake was covered extensively all over the country?
posted by LeiaS on Jun 10, 2001 - 15 comments

Yesterday I went to a local Comic Book Store here in Houston, Texas. I was looking for the hard to find 'Death Row Marv' figure that recently made the news across the nation. After I asked to see the figure (it was kept behind the counter) and dicided that the price was right, the sales person asked me if I was a policeman. I told him I was not and asked why. He told me that the Death Row Marv figure is very popular with the Houston Police Department. The officers like to have them on their desks and in their squad cars - scary huh?
posted by DragonBoy on Sep 10, 2000 - 3 comments

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