Kate Spade

September 6, 2002 by  
Filed under Blogs

When Kate Spade came through town, we had a chance to meet with her.  It was like getting together with your best girl friend.

Randall and Heather Davis

September 1, 2002 by  
Filed under Edit

At Home with Randall and Heather Davis

by Sharon Brier

Randall Davis is often given credit for single-handedly revitalizing downtown Houston. He certainly has changed the landscape of the million-dollar home market and has had a major impact on Houston as the first loft developer in the Bayou City. The Dakota Lofts were the beginning of a series of projects for Davis that included the renovation of the Hogg Palace and Rice Hotel. One of his early projects, the Metropolis, was the first high-rise built in Houston in 12 years. It was followed by Gotham and Renoir and now the Manhattan, a partnership with Gerald Hines in the Galleria area.

Randall and Heather Davis, publicly and privately, exemplify the bold color red that is found throughout their home. They are passionate about their hobbies and do everything in style. They love to cook gourmet food, dine in the best restaurants, travel often, read mysteries, host gatherings and participate in various sports. Their location near Rice University is perfect for their lifestyle. Heather runs at the Rice University stadium and Randall, whose office is only minutes away, plays tennis at the City Club. On pleasant evenings, they ride their bikes into the village for dinner.

Randall describes himself as a man who has one foot in the past and one foot forward – who always looks for new and fresh ideas. He designed his current house, a contemporary floor plan with flourishes of a bygone era, on a scrap piece of paper before he took it to the architect. As a decisive person, he knew exactly what he wanted when he built his home – well, sort of.

The “loft king” designed his home to be a red brick traditional. After the foundation with a brick ledge was poured, he made a dramatic change to use stone and stucco instead. The outcome is an exterior that blends the style of a grand New York bank and a Mediterranean villa.

One of his priorities was to have a foyer that reflects a sense of arrival. And indeed it does, with six towering Ionic columns stretching to reach the 12-foot ceilings. One day, as Randall looked for antique doors to put in one of his projects, he saw columns from a St. Louis courthouse. He instantly knew he had to have them for a future house. He used them in the model of the Tribeca lofts for 1 1/2 years before he started construction on his home. Little did he know then that he would later be married amid the columns in the foyer of his own home.

True to the character of a Renaissance man, he selected limestone seconds for the flawed effect to use around the fireplace and entertainment center in their great room. Spaces were cut out for surround sound speakers and a big screen television, ever ready for Super Bowls, prizefights and holiday parties.

These newlyweds of three years are still getting to know each other’s friends. Their formal dining room gets plenty of use for these casual gatherings. Ten or 12 friends dine comfortably under an antique chandelier, against the Chinese red walls. Some of the Davis’ favorite dinners include Galveston imported stone crabs or an orgy of Randall’s homemade clam and pasta specialty. The grand finale is when Heather’s masterpieces, chocolate tollhouse pie, strawberry and cream cake, and magic chocolate and coconut bars, appear on the table.

Although Randall, the decorator at heart, designed the home when he was a bachelor, he gave Heather the liberty to make changes once they were married. She rules supreme now as the official “re-decorator.”

The kitchen, which opens to the great room, went from contemporary stainless to warm ambience with dark rich wood and glass cabinets. Heather also whisked away the funeral drapes and twisted metal bed in the master bedroom, which she called the “den of inequity.” To create a cozy and charming “French apartment” atmosphere in the boudoir, she added an antique mirror they bought on a shopping spree at the Paul Behr market in Paris.

The master bathroom originally had a whirlpool tub in the middle of the room, but Randall wanted an unobstructed view of the television so he could escape and watch sports from the oversize shower. But Heather found just the right couch to put in front of the shower, making herself the view. As director of their social calendar, she likes to discuss their schedules from her couch. She definitely has his full attention when he is in the shower.

Often the plans they discuss include charities they support such as Casa de Esperanza and Baylor Breast Center. When they lent their home for a March of Dimes dinner, they added a surprise to the Moulin Rouge-themed event. A Nicole Kidman look-alike singer entertained guests from the raised marble foyer.

Although they say they don’t keep secrets from each other, they do have a secret room. The hidden study, which connects to Heather’s bathroom, is behind a mirrored door. Randall jokes, “I lost the study when Heather moved in. It was to be my refuge if I ever had to hide from lenders.”

One of the rooms Randall admits that Heather did not change was the master bedroom closet. But she filled it up. Since there are not less than 50 built-in drawers, it was no easy task. With both of them being neat-niks, their closet is always perfectly organized and color coordinated, and nothing is out of place. Heather admits her bookcase of treasured books is like that as well.

Keeping with past and present, Randall had four paintings by old masters re-created for him by licensed master painters at the Louvre, and together, he and Heather commissioned whimsical French artist Ernesto to paint a vivid party scene to hang over the fireplace. In the bend of the stairway, he had an artist combine and hand rub two old master paintings to cast a feel of what one might find in a castle. But Heather admits the best combination of “master” and “original” in the house is Randall, himself.

A sense of history and character continues with a photomontage of both their families in their upstairs game room. The memorabilia includes photos and original 1920s love letters from Randall’s father, Ocky, to his mother, famed bridge player Pigeon Davis. An empty frame near photos of his two daughters, Natalie and Samantha, awaits a photo of a future child. Randall touts that he has a child and a hole-in-one about every 10 years and that he will be due for one of each in about a year. Another Davis masterpiece.

Terrorism Preparation

September 1, 2002 by  
Filed under Edit

One Year After 9/11: Is Houston Ready?

How is Houston equipped to deal with the threat of future terrorist attacks?

by Rob Folk

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, Houston and the entire country has been on heightened awareness for terrorist activity. But how has Houston’s raised awareness really prepared our city for such an attack, and how well are we equipped to deal with one?

Many local government officials feel that dealing with terrorism here would be very similar to dealing with industrial accidents – something with which Houston is all too familiar. Common characteristics of these two catastrophes include explosions and hazardous chemicals resulting in mass casualties. David White, publisher of Industrial Fire World magazine, defines a terrorist attack as a “hazardous materials incident with attitude.” But White also stresses that the risk and potential size of multiple, simultaneous incidents present a challenge. Houston continually faces the possibility for some kind of major industrial accident with refineries, ships and cargo in the Port of Houston and hazardous materials traveling through our city. In recognizing this, city leaders have made numerous preparations for industrial disasters, including those associated with terrorist attacks, some dating back nearly 50 years.

Some may remember the Texas City disaster of 1947. The Grand Camp, a ship loaded with fertilizer, exploded and caused the Monsanto Chemical Plant, among others, to burst into flames. More than 600 people were killed and thousands injured. The disaster was one of the largest ever to happen at an American port.

To respond to future events, the Channel Industries Mutual Aid was formed in 1955. CIMA is a nonprofit organization that combines firefighting, rescue, hazardous material handling and emergency medical capabilities. Its goal is to protect the refining and petrochemical industry in the Houston Ship Channel area. CIMA members include industrial companies, municipalities and government agencies. Maintaining a corps of highly trained emergency personnel, CIMA manages a pool of more than 200 pieces of specialized equipment, including rescue trucks, high-volume foam pumpers and fully equipped ambulances.

For the past 17 years, Industrial Fire World magazine has hosted a conference each April in Houston. The past two conferences have focused on the issue of terrorism. White feels that Houston would be a poor target for terrorism because Houston has such good security and such a well-trained emergency community.

The Houston Police Department has provided anti-terrorism training for its officers for the past five years. And since 9-11, HPD has conducted refresher courses for officers and required this training for all civilians working for the department. HPD also has increased its presence at large events, such as the Fourth of July Freedom Festival. According to John Leggio, HPD spokesperson, the main difference since 9-11 is that ?the HPD is on higher alert and more vigilant for this type of threat.?

The Houston Fire Department has been preparing and training for a terrorist attack response for years. In March 1998 and again in January 2002, the department conducted field training exercises that simulated an explosion and chemical weapon attack at Reliant Arena. These exercises included training not only for HFD but also for HPD, EMS, the city and county offices of emergency management and the Houston medical response system. Assistant Fire Chief Jack Williams says, “Nine-eleven made us more aware of what can happen. Nine-eleven has been a jolt of awareness to the entire emergency response community.”

The Houston area has an organization called Houston TranStar. This group is made up of the Texas Department of Transportation, Metro, the City of Houston and Harris County. Besides managing and maintaining the Houston-area roads and highways, TranStar houses and supports our region’s emergency management. In April 1996, the TranStar Emergency Operations Center (EOC) became operational. Houston was the first metropolitan area to bring all of the city, county, and regional emergency management offices together. TranStar takes action against any emergency, weather-related or man-made. The EOC coordinates all emergency response for our area. “September 11th and our most recent disaster, tropical storm Allison, have fostered greater agency cooperation and provided a new enthusiasm in training,” says TranStar Public Information Officer Artee Jones. For more information go to www.houstontranstar.org.

If it Bleeds, it Leads 4 Play News, Don’t you snooze, Car wrecks, fires, plus sex and booze –

September 1, 2002 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

– And here with your 10 o’clock news for Houston and all of greater Galena Park is (drum roll with bugles amid flashing lights) Chip O’Hair! And co-host, Twinkie Cleavage (wild applause), with (sounds of thunder) weather warrior Rainer Shine, and finally, (crowd) sports reporter and winner of the Houston Press Club award for best sportscaster on a 10 p.m. newscast on Channel 4, Homer Fields!

Good evening, I’m Chip O’Hair. Our lead story – the “Big Story” – exclusive on 4 Play News (sirens, blinking lights and screams) is a fire in Sharpstown. You can see from the exclusive 4 Play SkyEyeCamShot high above the scene, there is a fire. Come in, Zero.

Yes, Chip, this is Zero Surabachi above a huge fire – a really big fire.

Thanks, Zero, for that exclusive report. Our other big story involves an old faith with new deciphers. Twinkie?

I think that’s “disciples,” Chip. Anyway, botulism is a growing religion in the Houston area. More and more young people are turning to botulism as a way of expressing themselves. We interviewed Rancid, a 16-year-old who has turned to this far Southern, or maybe it’s Eastern, faith. Let’s hear from Rancid.

I find Buddhism a way to the inner me. The secret to finding the inner –

Thank you for that in-depth report, Twinkie. Speaking of holy water, Rainer, it looks like we might get some more perspiration.

Right, Chip. “Rain,” as we call it in meteorogically circles, can be seen here on the weather map, which – seems to be showing downtown Detroit. OK, now we’ve got it. Here in Texas, there is snow over the Peedernals, the Perdernails, that river, and Nacog – Nacogdose. Nacog – a town up in East Texas near Lupskin. Hey, I’m new here, OK?

Snow when it’s 102 outside?

Maybe it’s my radar. The boss caught me intercepting porno channels so I had to retune everything. Would you like to see outtakes from “Debbie Does El Campo?”

Let’s switch to consumer affairs reporter Gaggie Retch. So how many roaches have we found in the salad bar?

Chip and Twinkie, it was awful. I mean, awful. The trash, the slime, the utter lack of regard for the customers.

What restaurant, Gaggie?

Restaurant? I mean the fall TV lineup.

Thanks, Gaggie. We’ll be right back after this.

Hello, I’m Tony Sanchez, and I want to be your governor. In this campaign I will stick to the issues and not indulge in character assassinations. Yes, the issues, like what a dirty, rotten guy Rick Perry is. He’s a liar, cheat, bank robber twice convicted, and I won’t even tell you what he does to small dogs. Vote Sanchez.

Twinkie, is my hair parted correctly? Maybe if I used a bit more mousse. Oh, sorry. We’re back on the air. It’s time now for sports with Homer Fields.

Thanks, Chip. Houston faces a terrible calamity if the city does not underwrite a new curling arena. We may lose our franchise to Marfa if voters do not agree to a $90 million bond issue. Otherwise, we’ll never be a world-class city. As you can see by the map, all we have to do is tear down this emergency clinic and an elementary school. Now let’s go to the scores. 8-4, 6-3 and 2-2 in overtime.

Thanks, Homer. We?ll be right back after this.

Hi, I’m Governor Rick Perry. George Bush loves me. Did I ever tell you about the time – three times, actually – that I saved the life of George Bush? From Tony Sanchez? Vote Perry and get Bush.

We’re back with 4 Play News. There is a gory murder in the Heights (screams while showing yellow police tape) and a tragic truck accident on the Katy Freeway (sirens and flashing lights). But now to international news. There was a gory murder in Holland and a tragic truck accident in Hong Kong. We’ll be back with news about the unexpected beginning of World War III after this word from our sponsors. ih