Winning the Big Game

March 1, 2006 by  
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Houston native scores big for his team,

David Lattin doesn’t need a Hollywood script and a Bruckheimer big budget for a trip down “Glory Road.” He lived the night a college basketball game changed the sport forever – and, perhaps, changed a nation, as well.

“My take is, better late than never,” says Lattin, of the recent Disney film in nationwide release since January. “It’s a great story that needed to be told.” It’s a story often lost on Generation Next some 40 years after a fateful night in Cole Field House in College Park, Md.

“Glory Road” is the big screen version of Lattin and his renegade band of ballers from the badlands of West Texas who dethroned the emperors of college basketball, March 19, 1966. Texas Western College (now University of Texas – El Paso), playing five black starters – as well as two black reserves – stunned traditional, blue-blooded, four-time national champion Kentucky, which suited up only whites. An all-black lineup had never played an all-white team in the NCAA title game, much less beaten one. The hoops version of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka would take years, if not decades, for Lattin to fully appreciate and comprehend.

“We were not on a crusade,” Lattin remembers. “The team never even thought about it. We had seven black players. One Hispanic. One white. We just played together and practiced hard every day together. Color was barely mentioned by the team.

“This was not about beating a white team. We were just trying to win a championship. It was just business.” The film is that quintessential ’60s tale, set in the era of Vietnam War protests, civil rights battles, revolution and rock ‘n’ roll. The nation’s sociopolitical atmosphere was volatile, the 1965-66 season sat roughly halfway between the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

“Glory Road” is based on fact but takes typical Tinseltown liberties. Embellishment and distortion aside, the message remains the same. “It’s Hollywood,” says Lattin, who has taken part in nearly a dozen screenings in various cities. “But the producers and directors maintain the integrity of what happened. That’s what is important. Anyone who sees the film leaves with a good feeling.”

The nation’s feelings and emotions had been worked raw when dust-blown, absolutely unheard of Texas Western arrived at the NCAA championship game. At the time, pure-bred Kentucky was hardly the exception. In several major conferences, including the Southwest Conference, not a single varsity basketball player was black. Yet Don “The Bear” Haskins, the 36-year-old white coach who masterminded the Miners to the title, was hardly an emancipator. Rather, he was simply a coach who did what coaches do – play the best players who give you the best chance of winning.

“The perception at the time was that you needed to have at least one white player on the floor at all times,” remembers Lattin. “For some reason, the contemporary thinking was that black players couldn’t think. Coach Haskins crashed the door on that. He took a chance. And we made it work.”

And the winning formula centered on “Big Daddy D” Lattin, a 6-foot-7-inch, 240-pound star at Worthing High and the first high school All-American from Texas. “When I walked out of the locker room to see Kentucky for the first time, I had no idea what they looked like,” says Lattin. “There was no ESPN, no CNN. We rushed out to see both Kentucky and Duke (in one of the nation semifinals), and both teams were all white. That was a shock to me, especially Kentucky, the No. 1 team in the nation all that year.”

Big Daddy D delivered an early shock to Kentucky in the title showdown, nearly bringing down the house with a pair of heavy-duty dunks that sent a message loud and clear to the Wildcats. Lattin scored 16 points in the Texas Western’s 72-65 championship win.

Forty years after College Park, Lattin remains a fixture in his native Houston. He’s molded a successful career in the adult beverage business and as a real estate investor. This spring, he is promoting his autobiographical account of the season and its aftermath, “Lattin’s Slam Dunk to Glory.” He’s beyond proud of his role in changing the landscape of more than mere college basketball.

“It made me feel good that we were doing something to help race relations in our country and help youngsters get major college scholarships,” says Lattin. “The lasting impact on me of that experience is that winning changes everything. When you win, you make things better. It also gave me confidence, taught me the value of discipline for business and to have a structure in my life.”

Lattin’s only regret is that former teammate Bobby Joe Hill, Texas Western’s spirited point guard, their soul, their steering wheel, is not alive to see the team embraced and commemorated. Hill died of a heart attack in 2002.

Little Texas Girl with a Big Texas Voice

March 1, 2006 by  
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What were you doing when you were 2 years old?

How ’bout at age 11? LeAnn Rimes, the little girl from Garland, Texas, was singing at 2 and released an album at 11 – so much for the child labor laws.

What do people do when they think they have a child prodigy? Her father, a part-time guitar player, recognized the potential in his little girl, and by the time she was 5, LeAnn had won a talent contest. Her parents sold her copies of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Dallas Cowboys games and at the National Cutting Horse Championships in Fort Worth. By the time LeAnn was 11, her dad had produced her first record, “All That.” Only a couple of months later, she was signed by a major label.

LeAnn was off and running, or off and singing, rather. Her first album included a duet with country legend Eddie Arnold, singing his famous, “Cattle Call.” But it was her recording of the old-time favorite “Blue” that put LeAnn at the top of the country charts for an unprecedented 22 weeks – with 3 million-plus copies sold. At 13, LeAnn became a superstar, a household name and the youngest nominee at the Country Music Association Awards. In 1997, she won the Horizon Award, a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Singer and Best Country Song for “Blue.” That same year, she won six more honors at the Billboard Awards, including Artist of the Year.

LeAnn released two albums in 1997, “Unchained Melody: The Early Years” and “You Light up my Life: Inspirational Songs,” followed by “Sittin’ on Top of the World” in 1998. Next came her self-titled album, “LeAnn Rimes;” and “I Need You” was released in 2001.

At age 20, she changed her image somewhat with the sexy, pop-oriented “Twisted Angel.” She returned to her contemporary country roots with her new album, “This Woman,” which produced the top 5 hit song “Nothin’ But Love Makes Sense” and “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” that debuted at No. 9. The album has already been certified gold, and LeAnn describes it as “the best one I’ve ever made!”

Never has she been so busy. Actually, as they say in the biz, “LeAnn is on fire.” At the moment of this interview, she is smack in the middle of recording a new album and working on two videos, two versions of her new single, “Something’s Gotta Give” from the album “This Woman.” The first version is true to her country roots; the second is for release worldwide, where she has a huge fan base as a rock artist. “It’s too hard to say which I enjoy most,” she admits. “It’s like I have the best of both worlds.” Maybe when you have that much talent, it’s almost too hard to contain it in one genre.

She’s grown up since she stole our hearts 11 years ago, and she feels her music reflects that. “I used to get offended when I was a kid and people told me I’d interpret music differently when I’d gotten my heart broken or fallen in love,” she admits. “Well, I completely get that now. Bottom line is that “This Woman” is exactly who I am right now.”

“I met my amazing husband, Dean Sheremet, when he was working on the Country Music Awards,” she divulges. “He’s a professional ballet dancer and a writer. We’ve been married four years now and have only been separated for three nights. He’s really my rock – like my other hand.”

A big change for LeAnn has been her move from Los Angeles to Nashville three years ago. “I’ve always loved Nashville,” she says. “It provides us a quiet, secure, peaceful home base. And, my dad has lived here for about eight years, and my mom just moved here with my stepfather. It’s a great place to work and to be able to get all my priorities in balance.”

If you hadn’t tuned in to a country channel in a while, you were surprised with the rest of the world at the beautifully composed woman that sang in the half-time program of the Rose Bowl. LeAnn looks nothing like she did at her illustrious start – she’s all grown up.

“Yes, my look has changed because I’ve grown into a woman,” she comments. “Remember, I’ve been in the public eye for 11 years, so what you’ve seen is a young girl grow into a grown up. I feel a confidence now that I’ve never had in all these intense years.”

And she should. She expels a happy and healthy radiance that speaks of her core. “Health wise, I really try to stay on a healthy diet plan most of the time, like eating a lot of fish, chicken and whole grains,” she says. “I cheat and have sweets some time, but for the most part, I’m pretty good. You know, none of those crash diets work. I think if somebody wants to eat healthy or lose weight, they’ve got to adopt a plan for the rest of their life. It’s so wonderful to have Dean to exercise with. We go to the gym, lift weights, do yoga. Having him with me makes everything so much fun.”

With so much going on in her career, it’s a wonder that LeAnn has any time to herself. She assures that she does take time to relax. “I love to see my friends,” she says. “We have seven dogs, so I love to play with the dogs, maybe go to a spa, get a massage. Some days, I just like to turn off the phone and do nothing.” It’s never easy for an musician to discuss his/her favorite artist, but LeAnn, always gracious, is sincere when she says, “Because I love to sing so many different types of music, of course, I enjoy many different artists. But, I will narrow this field and say Barbara Striesand because of her incredible voice control. I admire her talent so much. Also, the first person I ever listened to was Prince, and I admire his writing ability and his performing ability, as well. Then, I would say Janice Joplin because I love the angst and passion in her voice. I love her soul and how free she was onstage. She has inspired me to sink deep into my voice and use every bit of it.” Though LeAnn is regularly compared to Patsy Cline, this musician is one-of-a-kind, a certified original. “I’ve always been honored when someone compares my singing style to Patsy’s,” she says.

Though she admires an eclectic mix of musical masters, her confidence shines through when she reveals that her favorite songs are her own. “There are a couple that come to mind instantly, two songs from my new album, “This Woman,” “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” – and “Some People,” which I did in one take and by the end of it, I was crying,” she divulges. “It’s very touching, and the words really mean something to me.” Beyond her legions of fans, LeAnn has become the musical champion for many who aspire to her success. What does it take to reach these heights? “Well, I always say that it takes practice and dedication,” she says. “You’ve got to do something every day. Of course, you have to have the talent, but it’s more than talent. This is a tough, tough business. I’m driven in my soul. It all goes back to practice and dedication. And, you’ve got to try to enjoy what you’re doing. Life’s too short not to love and enjoy what you’re doing.”

LeAnn continues in her role as the voice of the Children’s Miracle Network and as a spokesperson for the Treat Eczema Now campaign. With her life and career pulling her every which way, she stays grounded and continues to stay positive. “Recently, I read a book, “The Art of Happiness,” which features psychiatrist Dr. Howard Cutler talking to the Dali Lama,” she says. “What I think I learned, or am trying to learn, is to have compassion for everyone. In this business, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in yourself, and it gets a little sticky sometimes to stay balanced. What this book has taught me is to see the situation; take it out and look at it; and have compassion for all. This book has changed my life!”

What does she think of when she’s in bed at night, everything’s quiet, and she looks back over the spectacular success she’s had in her short 22 years? She responds quickly, “Blessed. I feel totally blessed. I’ve worked my butt off, stayed focused and feel totally blessed!”

She’s “thrilled” to be performing at the Houston Livestock Show &Rodeo this month. “I’ve performed at the rodeo four times and always look forward to it. The Houston fans are not just country music fans, they enjoy so many genres. I fall in there doing all my stuff. I love coming to Houston. I love Houston fans. I’ll see you on March 16!”

Hometown Renaissance Man

March 1, 2006 by  
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Musical roots in the Bayou City

Steve Tyrell, singer, producer and composer, grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward and, at a very young age, performed in a band as the only white member. In recent years, The New York Times wrote “Steve Tyrell’s sizable voice filters Louis Armstrong through Ray Charles and Dr. John.”

“I grew up on the same street as The Crusaders, Joe Sample, Stix Hooper and Wayne Henderson,” Steve explains. “My biggest influences were all R &B artists, so I’m sure that’s why my style of singing has some blues in it at all times.”

At 16, Steve was producing records in Houston; at 18, he landed a job at Scepter Records in New York and was soon promoted to head of A &R Promotions, where he began to work with some of America’s greatest songwriters, such as Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Barry Mann and Carole King. “One of the first things I did was to recruit fellow Texan, BJ Thomas,” Steve reminisces, “and produce his hits, “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”” His association with Burt Bacharach and Hal David gave Steve the opportunity to work on movie projects. “I suddenly realized that you could take a good song, put it in a movie and release it at the same time as the movie came out,” he says. “So, I started a music supervision company with Barry Mann, a great songwriter. We immediately produced Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram singing, “Somewhere Out There” for the animated Disney feature, “An American Tail,” which was nominated for a Golden Globe, an Academy Award and won two Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Song from a Motion Picture.”

Steve has collaborated with such superstar artists as Rod Stewart, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Bonnie Raitt and Aaron Neville. His songs have been recorded by such diverse artists as Ray Charles, Diana Ross and LL Cool J. Steve’s favorite artist of all time is Ray Charles. His favorite artist to work with is Rod Stewart. “What a great guy, and so much fun!”

A singer at heart, Steve moved on to production and then back to performance. “My cameo performance of “The Way You Look Tonight” in the movie “Father of the Bride” got an amazing response,” he discloses. “Well, I didn’t think much about it. But, when I sang “Simple Life” and “Sunny Side of the Street” in “Father (of the Bride) II,” the response was unbelievable. Even Rosemary Clooney urged me to release an album of standards. I said, “Who would buy it?” to which Steve Martin said, “I would!””

Steve has released seven albums of standards: “A New Standard,” “Standard Time,” “A Christmas Album,” “This Time of Year,” “This Guy’s in Love,” “Songs of Sinatra,” (which Quincy Jones and the Sinatra family urged him to do) and his most recent release a few days ago, “The Disney Standards.” He has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and gained a following worldwide. His first four albums attained top three chart positions on Billboard’s Jazz Chart. Roz Pactor, Foley’s Fashion Director, is Steve’s sister. She says, “Steve’s so very special; he’s made me proud all of my life.” And, Steve loves his Houston cousins, too – they’re the Mandolas, of restaurant fame. When they spearheaded the Italian-American Sports Association fundraiser last April to provide scholarships for underprivileged young people, Steve performed. Emcee Dave Ward, surprised Steve by appearing in the same light blue tux that he had worn in the KNUZ band. “How I was able to get in that suit or why we ever wore that awful looking thing, I’ll never know,” Dave reveals. “It was about 1965, when a few of us decided to start a band. And we were horrible! Then, somebody brought in this kid named Steve Tyrell, who brought over a couple of guys, and before you know it, we were great. Steve and I have been friends ever since.”

“I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to do what I love in life – making music,” Steve admits. “I have such a deep love and appreciation for The Great American Songbook and feel these songs are America’s greatest contribution to the arts. I’m so excited about the renaissance going on for this music and am deeply grateful to be a part of it.” On March 17-19, Steve will be back in Houston performing with the Houston Symphony.

Conducting a Masterpiece

March 1, 2006 by  
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Amplifying the beauty of music

Picture a little girl in rural Pope, Miss., population 200, mid-20th century, curled up listening intently to the radio. She has dark, dark hair, big blue eyes and pale white skin. She looks remarkably like a little Scarlett O’Hara. She is listening to a live symphony orchestra broadcast, transported by the music and yearning to be in the audience so that she might hear it more clearly. Her eyes sparkle with every note, as she makes up her mind that one day she will be in the audience – and that she will do all she can to make sure others have the opportunity to do the same.

Now, jump forward to today, that same little girl is in Houston making her dreams come true, a thousand fold. Her wide blue eyes are still sparkling with every note, as she regularly attends the Houston Symphony’s live performances at Jones Hall. She has traveled the world listening to beautiful music, and she is even more determined than ever to make sure that others have the opportunity to hear it, as well.

On April 7, that little girl, Betty Tutor, will welcome guests to The Old World Symphony Ball. It is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Houston Symphony, with proceeds going for the Education and Outreach Programs. Those are the programs that help people discover the life-altering benefits of symphonic music. Her co-chairs are husband, Jess, and Diane and Harry Gendel. Jess Tutor is president-elect of the Houston Symphony Society, the governing board of the symphony.

This will be Betty’s second time chairing the Symphony Ball. Chairing such a huge event is an almost unbelievable undertaking. One has to have the skills of a CEO and the charm of Scarlett at her best. Betty has both.

No resounding trumpets heralded the arrival of newlyweds Betty and Jess Tutor that warm June Sunday in 1968 when they arrived in Houston. If members and supporters of the Houston Symphony had a crystal ball then, the young couple would have had a flock of helpers when their car and U-Haul broke down. As it was, they knew no one. Fortunately, there was an apartment complex across the street, and they had just enough money to rent an efficiency.

Jess had just received his degree in accounting from the University of Mississippi and had a job lined up with Arthur Andersen. Betty had just obtained her Masters in Education with a specialty in reading. Jess was off to work the very next morning. Betty soon found a teaching job at Chimney Rock Hall.

Betty had to get over her fear of freeways and getting lost quickly. Houston is a whole lot bigger than Pope. There, directions consisted of, “At Mrs. Pettigrew’s house at the top of the hill, take a left.”

Betty and Jess have raised two accomplished children, Sherida and Brooks. They are now grandparents, twice over. Sitting in her lovely Tanglewood-area living room, the tears fell and her smile beamed as Betty discussed the beauty of parenthood and grandparenthood.

“It’s the best!” she exclaims. “It helps you know that time is short. It gives you a better perspective on life, and it teaches you all over again how important it is to be a happy person.”

Betty is a happy person. She made her goal in life “being of service to God, family and friends;” and she has accomplished that goal. Betty has worked tirelessly as a volunteer, raising money for many worthy causes, including Houston Grand Opera, Chrons and Colitis, Diabetes, the Women’s Fund, Wellsprings and Ole Miss, just to name a few. Betty is fortunate in that she can honestly say, “I am able to look at my life and feel at peace.”

Pure Texan History in the Lone Star State shines on

March 1, 2006 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

March is Texas History Month. A good choice, since the month is named for Mars, the god of war, and in March of 1836 those early Texians spent a lot of time both warring and marching. A month devoted to dwelling on our past is an easy sell in the Lone Star State because we love to noodle around in our attic, which is why we have nearly 12,000 historical markers, more than all the other 49 states combined. The study of our past is required in all public schools, but there is a problem. Texas history is often taught by dull teachers, using dull textbooks.

Perhaps times have changed, but when I was a Texas schoolchild no one told me Sam Houston had three wives and an untold number of kids of various hews. My studies missed the fact that Santa Anna used opium and that Robert Potter, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, performed an un-requested sex-ending operation on his wife’s lover and was later murdered by his neighbors. Everyone knows the Republic of Texas had an army, but few know that we also had a navy. We were so poor the entire fleet, including ships and sailors, was once rented out to Mexican revolutionaries for $8,000 a month.

We even maintained a Texas Marine Corps, which had its own money problems. Any Texas Marine who died or was killed on duty had all his effects but his uniform auctioned off, the money going to his next of kin. The Marines then re-issued the uniform to the next in line. Even that uniform was a hand-me-down from the U.S. Marine Corps.

You don’t have to be a Crockett scientist to appreciate the colorful, exciting story of Texas. It is one of those odd situations where, the more you look into it, the more you want to know. So let’s take a look at some overlooked stories of our past.

– To this day, a Texas Ranger’s badge is carved from a Mexican silver coin.

– Outside Brownsville was the Battle of Palmito Ranch. It was the last land battle of the Civil War, more than a month after Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. The Texans won.

– The city of Marble Falls was laid out by a blind man.

– As we all know, William Buckley Jr. is a wit, columnist, TV host and sophisticated Ivy Leaguer extraordinaire. What isn’t very well known is that his grandfather, John Buckley, was high sheriff of Duval County. Honest.

– In Cisco, Conrad Hilton bought his very first hotel, the Mobley. After a later West Texas acquisition, Hilton observed, “At Lubbock, I found that Texas had no use for an imported French chef.”

– In 1924, Warren Pruett’s hardware store in Real County was hit by an airplane. The pilot was Charles Lindbergh.

– During inauguration ceremonies for the president of the Republic of Texas, among the dignitaries walking in procession to the podium were the editors of Texas newspapers. That seems only proper.

– Although the Heisman Award is given by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City, the prize was named for John W. Heisman, football coach at Rice, 1924-1927.

– Speaking of sports, while stationed at San Antonio, Lt. Dwight Eisenhower coached football at St. Louis College, now St. Mary’s University.

-Sam Donaldson, Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Day O’Conner were all born in El Paso.

– The movie prizes, the Oscars, were named for a Texan. In 1931, an employee of the motion picture academy, Margaret Herrick, upon seeing the little statue, said, “It looks just like my Uncle Oscar.” Oscar Pierce was a Texas rancher.

– The first award for Best Movie was given in 1927. It went to “Wings,” made, not in Hollywood, but in San Antonio.

– It is a myth that Texas can leave the Union anytime it wishes. We tried that once in 1861, and it didn’t fly. Another myth is that only the Lone Star flag can fly at the same height as the U.S. flag. Any state can do that.

– President Sam Houston was once handed a note demanding a duel to the death. Houston returned it to his secretary, saying “This is number 24. The angry gentleman must wait.”

– Among the governor’s powers listed in today’s Texas Constitution is the authority to call out the militia to repel invasions. In 1999, the governor lost a key command that goes with the job: ordering out the militia to suppress Indian raids. Ah, yes. If only the teachings of Texas history in our classrooms were as exciting as the real thing. Nowhere in my textbooks were quotes such as, “… the Texians being entirely a military people, not only fought, but drank, in platoons.” – Western Monthly magazine, October, 1838

During the republic’s days, a shopkeeper in Baltimore sent his partner in Galveston a load of bonnets, writing that they “were old stock and out of fashion, but believe they will sell in Texas.” And remember this line from the movie “Thelma and Louise:” “Look, you shoot off a guy’s head with his pants down, believe me, Texas is not the place you want to get caught.” A Houston newspaper editor, Dr. Francis Moore, got elected to the Republic of Texas Senate and worked for an anti-dueling law. Sen. Oliver Jones labeled it, “An Act for the Protection of Cowards.” The measure became law, and until 1939, all Texas officials had to swear an oath that they had never taken part in a duel.

When we consider the story of Texas, a mere month is not nearly long enough to absorb it all. While Massachusetts and Virginia have good state histories, their juicy parts ended eons ago. Ours continues like a stampeding herd: Enron, Katrina and Rita, Runaway Scrape II, DeLay, Kinky and the continuing saga of the astronauts. The best part about Texas history is that some of it is true.

Remembering the Holocaust

March 1, 2006 by  
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Remembering unspeakable horrors

Since 1996, the Holocaust Museum Houston has been a source of information and education about the “dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.” The museum is dedicated to remembering more than 6 million Jews and other innocent victims exterminated by a regime of hatred and honoring the legacy of Holocaust survivors. Numerous school children and adults have sent the museum passionate notes, poems and art, noting the changes in their lives caused by visiting this awe-inspiring museum. This is a place that you can read about many times over, but you need to experience first-hand to really grasp its depth.

Tales of survival
The Holocaust museum’s permanent exhibit, “Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers,” shares the stories of Houston-area Holocaust survivors, from their lives before the Holocaust to the start of Nazism and Adolf Hitler’s regime to the disturbance of everyday life, segregation and imprisonment. The various artifacts, films, photographs and texts reveal the roles of collaborators, bystanders, rescuers and liberators in the Holocaust. Also included in the exhibit are children’s shoes collected from the Majdanek concentration camp, which serve as a grim reminder of the countless children who were killed. Visitors end their tour of the exhibit with two films: “Voices” and “Voices II,” which include the verbal testimonies of the horrors of the Holocaust from Houston survivors.

Piece of history
March 5 marks the unveiling of a new permanent exhibit at the Holocaust Museum Houston. A World War II-era German railroad cattle car, the kind used to transport Holocaust victims to concentration camps, will be on display. Such railroad cars have become a symbol of evil and oppression recognized throughout the world. Due to the absence of any records of what particular cars were used by the Nazis, no one can say with certainty whether this particular car was used during the Holocaust, but it was built in 1942 and is the type used by the Nazis to transport victims to Auschwitz and Treblinka.

It is estimated that trains transported more than 3 million Jewish people to their deaths, involving more than 30,000 rail cars. The car will be left empty to honor the lives of those who died there, and visitors will be allowed to enter the rail car and visualize what it would have been like to have 200 people inside with no food, water or necessities.

The faces of the Holocaust
The central gallery of the museum currently features photographs by Mark Seliger, praised portrait photographer and native Texan. In “When They Came to Take My Father,” his portraits depict survivors, including brothers Max, Sol and Sigmund Jucker and artist Alice Lok Cahana. As an artist, Seliger focuses on combining the experience of Holocaust survivors with portraits that capture their personality. The exhibit will be open to the public through April 2.

Life after suffering
From March 3 through July 2, visitors to the Holocaust Museum Houston can see the lives of survivors who relocated to Houston shortly after the Holocaust. Their successes are illustrated with artifacts and photographs the survivors and their families generously loaned to the museum. The exhibit illustrates how many Holocaust survivors have not allowed the Nazis to ruin their entire lives.

A place to learn
The Holocaust Museum Houston is involved in extensive education in an effort to ensure there is not another Holocaust. The museum’s Education Center consists of two classroom areas and a research library, the Boniuk Library and Resource Center. The library houses more than 4,000 books about the Holocaust, World War II, religion and anti-Semitism. Patrons may also view or check out one of the more than 300 videos on related topics. The library also contains a catalog of archives, including historic and original photography, documents, letters, diaries and artifacts from the 1930s and 1940s.

Places for reflection
A very special space here is the Lack Family Memorial Room, in which guests can honor the memory of Holocaust victims. The space is quiet and allows for contemplation, reflection and meditation. The Wall of Remembrance, the Wall of Tears and the Wall of Hope come together here to form a three-part work of art that compliments the space.

The Eric Alexander Garden of Hope is just outside the memorial room. This quiet garden is dedicated to the “eternal spirit of children” and the memory of the 1.5 million children lost in the Holocaust.

Education for the future
The Holocaust Museum Houston understands that in order to ensure there is never a Holocaust again, we must teach our children about the dangers of racism, stereotyping and prejudice. The late Chaim Ginott passionately wrote,

“I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness: Gas chambers built by learned engineers, children poisoned by educated physicians, infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot and buried by high school and college graduates. So, I am suspicious of education. “My request is: Help your students become human. Your efforts should never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmans. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more humane.”

The Holocaust Museum Houston provides teachers with curriculum trunks, training, guidelines and packets to enable them to reach their students with the message of the Holocaust. The information enables students to understand the dangers of apathy and to relate the Holocaust to current world issues. The museum also offers contests in which students can win cash prizes and showcase their talents.

Bright Beginnings

March 1, 2006 by  
Filed under Edit

KHOU launches “Great Day Houston”

Stay tuned to KHOU Channel 11 for Houston’s very own morning talk show. “Great Day Houston” will be a one-hour program starting March 6 at 9 a.m. Covering everything “Houston,” this new program will focus on life in the Bayou City, from fashion to restaurants, events to celebrities, relationships to gardening.

Space City, USA, hasn’t had a morning show since the city’s beloved Debra Duncan switched gears back to the news, and the “Debra Duncan Show” ended four years ago. “I felt Houston viewers lost a great deal with the end of the ‘Debra Duncan Show,'” says Michael Hubberd, supervising producer of KHOU’s new program. “Over the past four years, I think there has been a real void for viewers and local businesses and resources alike. Houston is the fourth largest city in America and the No. 10 media market – It was a no-brainer to create this program to meet the demands of our local viewers and to give Houston a voice again for its rich cultural and lifestyle activities.”

With this new show, Houston is able to welcome a new personality – Whitney Casey. Previously with CNN’s “Headline News” and currently a contributor to Star and Celebrity Living magazines, Whitney, a New Yorker, has taken the leap south to host “Great Day Houston.” A tall and slender slice of true personality, Whitney is eager to start viewers’ days on the right foot. Hilarious and endearing at the same time, this effervescent blond bombshell should be able to give audiences a unique perspective into everyday life in the Bayou City.

Alongside Whitney, audiences will be happy to see a familiar face in reporter Cristina Terrill. Formerly with KTBU Channel 55 The Tube’s “Wild About Houston,” Cristina offers an insider’s look at what’s happening in Houston. Fresh-faced and sincere, she not only provides an experienced eye as the girl about town, but also a sweet unassuming individuality with which viewers are sure to fall in love. With a team of professionals that rivals any nationwide syndicated talk show, “Great Day Houston” is sure to be a success – so tune in!

Raymond Plank

March 1, 2006 by  
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Houston man makes a difference

A visionary maverick with a philanthropic soul, Raymond Plank arrived in Houston in the mid 1990s, bringing with him the company he founded in 1954. With the disgrace of Enron still slapping Houstonians daily, Raymond, the chairman of Apache Corporation, is a welcome change.

Early on in the scandal, Raymond said publicly of Enron’s management, “They ought to be breaking rocks in the hot sun.” His blunt, straight talk is just one of the reasons everyone loves Raymond. Growing up on a Minnesota dairy farm, he comments on his formative years by saying, “the most important influence in my life other than my father was a man named Noah Foss. He was a Latin teacher, a towering figure who inspired, challenged and motivated countless young men at the small country day school that I attended in the 1930s. But for Foss, who gave me the focus and self-respect I needed, I wouldn?t have received an honors score on my college entrance exams. And, almost certainly, I never would have gone to Yale.”

Before Yale, he served his nation as a pilot in WWII. After college, Raymond and two partners began a small accounting services company in Minneapolis. That company became Apache Corporation. Today, Apache has $15.5 billion in assets scattered around the globe. Raymond told Business Week in 2001 one of the secrets of his success, “when others zig, we’re zagging.”

From his very first paycheck, Raymond set aside money for teachers. He did it as a way of honoring his mother and Noah Foss. His private efforts morphed into a public charity, The Fund for Teachers. It provides grants of up to $5,000 for teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade for sabbaticals of their own design. Last year in Houston alone, 94 teachers from 71 schools received grants. Some of their stories can be found at

When I first met Raymond, he was sporting a bright African knit cap. It was to support another educational effort; this one was half a world away. Springboard – Educating the Future, founded by Raymond and Apache, is currently building 36 schools for girls ages 6-14 in Egyptian villages. They are committed to building 200.

In May 2005, the world learned of this effort when the first ladies of the U.S. and Egypt, Laura Bush and Suzanne Mubarak, visited the first school. It is in Abu Sir, 10 miles south of the Giza Pyramids. The innovative, environmentally friendly design is being replicated for the other schools.

That he would make sure these schools work with the environment is vintage Plank. The Nov. 28, 2005, issue of High Country News says of Raymond, “He’s worked to protect Wyoming landscapes, consulting with a series of governors and working with the Sierra Club … The Ucross Foundation, which he founded, runs a 22,000-acre ranch near Sheridan that’s a model of holistic land management.”

The Ucross Foundation has an artist in residence program. Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize novel, “The Shipping News” and Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas did some of their creative work for the Broadway hit “The Light in the Piazza” at Ucross.

A smaller version is now just up the road from Houston in New Ulm, Texas. In looking for a weekend retreat, Raymond found a beautiful vista with a house that was built in 1853. Rather than tear it down, he has saved Restoration House. Apache makes it available for groups during the day.

Plain words, support for education, respect for the world’s people and the environment are more of the reasons Houston loves Raymond.

Abandoned Companions

March 1, 2006 by  
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Local charities save forgotten pets

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we all became aware of the many pet shelters and rescue organizations around our great city which took in the pets that were left behind in the evacuation efforts. Unfortunately, the shelters in Houston are constantly inundated with abandoned and stray animals. Though the first shelters we think of are the SPCA and the Humane Society, there are many animal rescue organizations in and around Houston that offer sanctuary to a variety of animals.

Chihuahua Rescue &Transport Inc. A wonderful group of volunteers dedicated to the rescue, care and adoption of these little furry friends run Chihuahua Rescue &Transport Inc. This nonprofit, public charity is run strictly by volunteers and does not place dogs in a warehouse-style shelter. Instead, Chis are provided with safe, caring foster environments in the homes of dedicated volunteers. The foster parents work with the dogs on housetraining, crate training and socialization while ensuring they feel protected and loved. The little fellers also receive any veterinary care they may require, including being spayed/neutered, fully vaccinated, heartworm tested and placed on a heartworm preventative medication. Known for taking in Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes that are injured, ill and elderly, the group has a strict adoption process. In an effort to reduce the number of dogs returned after adoption, an application, vet and personal reference checks, and home visits are required. (If you are interested in another kind of pup, breed-specific rescue organizations abound.)

Bunny Buddies Though they don’t have offices or a paid staff, the great people at Bunny Buddies are doing wonders for house rabbits around Houston. A group of dedicated volunteers work out of their homes to make up this Houston-based nonprofit organization. In addition to educating the public about the care of house rabbits, the group provides foster homes to homeless hoppers. Here, they get the exercise and attention they need until a permanent, loving indoor home can be found. Bunny Buddies also works with local shelters to try and save bunnies that are scheduled to be euthanized. All bunnies are spayed or neutered and are either litter-box trained or on their way to being there; and the adoption fee is only $35.

Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary The caring volunteers at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary coordinate with local animal shelters to provide a second chance, for adoption or lifetime sanctuary, to animals scheduled to be euthanized. This exceptional center is a no-kill facility that saves both domestic animals and native Texas wildlife. Noah’s Ark now owns acreage in Cypress, which enables them to care for more animals than ever before. Also, the refuge works with the local FFA and allows children who are unable to house their FFA animals at home to care for it here. Many Boy and Girl Scout troops volunteer at the sanctuary to earn merit badges. Noah’s Ark depends on the generous support of the community to keep the vision alive. In addition to monetary donations and volunteers, Noah’s Ark needs cleaning, office, farm and animal care supplies.

National Parrot Rescue &Preservation Foundation The knowledgeable volunteers at the NPRPF understand that companion parrots form a very strong bond with their owners and can be traumatized by changes in their environment. As a result, their first goal is to work with parrot owners to try and keep the birds in their original home. When this is not possible, the NPRPF will accept the parrot and search for the best home for the particular bird. While in the care of the NPRPF, the parrots are kept in a beautiful aviary, manned with patient and caring volunteers who provide the best temporary or lifetime home possible. In addition to rescuing, rehabilitating and adopting parrots, the NPRPF sponsors the annual Parrot Festival every winter. This seminar includes avian experts with tips and advice on parrot behavior, nutrition, health and conservation, as well as avian vendors supplying a wealth of products for your fine feathered friend.

First Rate Second Home

March 1, 2006 by  
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Tehama and Monterra are sister communities joined by the Tehama Golf Club and developed in partnership with Clint Eastwood

If you’re looking to become one with nature yet have completely luxurious amenities, you can’t go wrong in Carmel, Calif. Just north of Carmel are some new opportunities in luxury living: Tehama and Monterra. Both communities boast locations like no other – not just because Clint Eastwood calls them home, although he does; not just because of the proximity to the private championship Tehama Golf Club, a membership only course extended to personal friends of Mr. Eastwood – but because residents have fitness and social privileges. It’s truly the perfect place to call home, or second home, as the case may be.

“Tehama” is a Native American word that means “abundance of nature.” On more than 2,000 acres, there are only 90 home sites with 85 percent of the land preserved as open space. In Tehama, you’ll experience nature’s perfect weather in the rolling hills above the Pacific Ocean and a private water supply.

“It’s the beauty of the land that drew me here years ago,” Clint Eastwood says. To keep this natural beauty, homes become part of the landscape here, they don’t dominate it. Any given day, you might see deer, wild turkey and California quail co-existing outside your window. More than 150 varieties of wildflowers, indigenous Monterey pine and moss-draped California oaks frame the landscape. As time has passed, Tehama is becoming a sustainable community.

On my visit, Roger Mills, owner and developer of Monterra, Tehama’s adjacent sister community, hosted at his private home a gourmet seven-course epicurean experience created by Chef Cal Stamenov of Bernardus Lodge. It ended with after-dinner drinks in his underground wine cellar. His home showcased the lifestyle available through the lots at Monterra. This community offers 168 home sites spread over 1,700 acres.

Sleep, drink, spa
While you’re waiting for your dream home to be constructed, you’ll have to stay somewhere! Bernardus Lodge’s grand entrance greets you with the wine selection of the day from the Bernardus Winery and Vineyards and the Santa Lucia mountains as a backdrop. This boutique luxury resort combines country elegance with European luxury. Amenities include French doors that open to a private deck, an exceptionally large bathtub, and turndown service that includes wine and cheese. The lodge is home to the Spa at Bernardus Lodge, a 5,300-square-foot, full-service facility. This nurturing spa has signature treatments, including a grape seed antioxidant facial, harvest crush exfoliation with warmed grapeseed oil massage, and a couple’s massage called vineyard romance. Whether you choose to visit or live, Tehama and Monterra both offer a one of a kind opportunity. And don’t forget the wine!

Tehama (866) 625-2075,
Monterra, 24258 Via Malpaso, Monterey, Calif., (866) 648-9080,
Bernardus Lodge, 5 West Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, Calif. (888) 648-9463,

Ask the Experts

March 1, 2006 by  
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Dr. Joseph Perlman
Plastic surgeon

What?s better for treating forehead wrinkles and crows feet, Botox or Restylane?

Botox prevents nerve transmission to muscles, so the muscles don?t contract. Restylane fills in the wrinkles, so that its action is different. Both will smooth out the wrinkles, and many plastic surgeons are now using them in combination. For the lower face, I find Restylane to be the best filler.

How do I know whether I?m a candidate for tummy tuck versus liposuction of the abdomen?

This depends on whether the problem is loose skin and weak abdominal muscles (tummy tuck) or excess fat (liposuction). In many patients, especially those who have had children, it is a combination of the two procedures. For most of my patients, when I perform a tummy tuck, I will routinely liposuction the abdomen, as well as the flanks and lower back, in order to better develop a waistline.

Dr. Joseph Perlman
Advanced Plastic Surgery Centre
6319 Cypresswood Dr.
Spring, TX 77379
(281) 655-8200

Dr. Steven Wolfson
Cosmetic dentist

I have black lines above some of the crownwork that was done in my mouth. Can anything be done about that?

Absolutely! Black lines above the crown are typically caused by older style crownwork containing metal beneath it. This problem can be resolved by restoring the teeth with pure, esthetic porcelain, like Empress or Finesse. These types of porcelains, which when crafted by a master ceramist and a great cosmetic dentist, are used to create the smile that you are looking for.

I?m considering doing dental implants to replace missing teeth and ill-fitting bridgework. How is this done?

Dental implants are a dream come true for many patients who struggle with poorly fitting bridgework or denture work. Implants that used to require many long months of treatment and healing can now be placed simultaneously with teeth so that you can enjoy a light meal the same day. Call us today for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Wolfson.

Steven Wolfson, D.D.S., F.A.G.D.
The Tanglewood Center for Aesthetic Dentistry
510 Bering Drive, Ste. 450
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 789-1225