BP MS 150 April 17 – 18

February 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

The 26th Annual BP MS 150 Bike Ride, Texas’ largest non-profit sporting event and the largest MS 150 in the nation, will take place April 17 – 18, 2010. An estimated 13,000 cyclists are expected to take part in the two-day, 180-mile trek from Houston to Austin. This year, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star aims to raise a record $18 million to support multiple sclerosis (MS) research and fund programs and services benefiting an estimated 20,000 people affected by MS in 174 Texas counties.

Registration is available at www.ms150.org. Individuals, families and groups are also encouraged to volunteer for the more than 3,000 positions in Houston, Austin and along the route. Log on to www.ms150.org to volunteer or donate online.


The ride starts at sunrise in Houston on Saturday, April 17 and finishes in downtown Austin near the Texas Capitol on Sunday, April 18, after an overnight celebration at the Fayette County Fairgrounds in La Grange.

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women as men being diagnosed with the disease.  MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2.1 million worldwide.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS NOW — to move together toward a world free of multiple sclerosis.  We mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS.  MS stops people from moving.  We exist to make sure it doesn’t.  The National MS Society: Lone Star serves an estimated 20,000 individuals and their families affected by multiple sclerosis in 174 Texas counties.  Lone Star has offices in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Join the movement to create a world free of MS at www.JointheMovementLoneStar.org.

Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about your options by talking to your health care professional and contacting the National MS Society at www.nationalmssociety.org or 1-800-344-4867.

Kenzo Sushi Bistro

February 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Dining


23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd, (281) 371-8200


All of your favorite sushi options are great here. Other choices include lobster ravioli and a nutty seaweed salad with mandarin orange.  $$$

Jenni’s Noodle House

February 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Dining

Jenni’s Noodle House

3111 S. Shepherd @ Alabama,  (713) 523-7600

Order your salt-n-pepper shrimp or ìart carî curry at the counter of this casual, takeout noodle shop.  (yes, there is a Jenni) Closed Sundays. $


February 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Dining


2168 Texas, (281) 242-1121


A Sugar Land favorite, Japaneiro infuses traditional Japanese dishes with Latin American flair.  It’s like two great restaurants in one. Tempura dishes, signature sushi rolls, and charbroiled churrasco sirloin are delicious. $$$

Gigi’s Asian Bistro

February 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Dining

Gigi’s Asian Bistro
5085 Westheimer, (713) 629-8889

Thai-fusion cuisine such as Saigon pork skewers are served in a stunning contemporary setting. Great spot for birthday celebration.  Channel 13’s Miya Shay celebrated hers with dumplings. $$$


February 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Dining


9595 Six Pines Drive, Ste. 900 (The Woodlands)

(281) 298-6600

For a comfortable meal in an urban-chic setting, The Woodlands offers up a Dallas transplant that fits the bill just right. In the heart of Market Street, this posh eatery serves modern outdoor fare – it’s barbecue, stepped up quite a few notches. Though the entrees are many times hickory smoked or wood roasted, the results are delicious; and the sides are simply outstanding. No wonder this original has been showered with praise from some of the top critics.
L, D, R, $$$$

Discovery Green Gala leaves other galas green with envy

February 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The popular downtown Houston park has been getting rave reviews since opening in spring 2008. The 12-acre park designed by Hargreaves Associates with design team PageSoutherlandPage and Lauren Griffith Associates features natural green spaces, dynamic programming, and a one-of-a-kind destination restaurant, The Grove. In 2009, the park marked its one millionth visitor, achieved LEED gold certification, and added helium-filled balloon rides to its seasonal menu including outdoor ice skating.

Proceeds from the biennial Gala on the Green benefit the non-profit Discovery Green Conservancy to support the operations of the downtown park as well as the 400+ free events per year. Co-chairs Carolyn and Matt Khourie and Bobbie and John Nau and the Discovery Green Conservancy Board  hosted VIP guests for a 7 p.m. cocktail reception on the Grace Event Lawn and then join more than 1,000 guests for an 8 p.m. dinner feast prepared by Jackson & Company and dancing to the tunes of Fried Ice Cream under the magnificent tent set up on the Jones Lawn of the park.


Trail Riders arrive today!

February 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

4,000 Trail Riders arrive in houston for the

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ downtown RODEO parade


More than 4,000 trail riders will begin traveling the city’s streets today, Feb. 26, as they move toward Memorial Park for a last night of camping before Saturday’s Downtown Rodeo Parade. After traveling a combined total of more than 1,900 miles, 13 trail rides will merge and camp overnight, continuing a 58-year-old tradition and helping to kick off the 2010 Show.

Beginning as early as Feb. 5, trail rides, ranging in size from 65 to 1,300 members, began making their way to Houston from points as far east as Logansport, La., as far south as Hidalgo, Texas, on the Texas-Mexico border, and all points in between. Riders traveled between 70 and 386 miles en route to Houston, using traditional equipment of the Old West.

Trail ride information and maps: http://www.rodeohouston.com/events/trail-rides/index.aspx


February 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Historic downtown Galveston is the site for the inaugural Galveston Island Food and Wine Festival on April 16 – 17. This two-day event includes an invitation only Chaîne black tie dinner on Friday and a public wine tasting event on Saturday from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. in Saengerfest Park, 23rd and Strand. This year, the festival will feature South American wines complemented by live Latin music and entertainment.

For more information on the Galveston Island Food and Wine Festival, call 409-762-6676. Festival goers can purchase tickets and make reservations at The Tremont House, the preferred hotel for the festival www.Galveston.com/FoodAndWine.

March 27, 2010 University of Houston Photography/Digital Media graduating class exhibition

February 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Mother Dog Studios  March 27, 2010 –6:00pm-9:00pm 720 Walnut Street                  (713) 229-9760

Photography has transformed into an Art and as artists interests change, their reactions to the world around them change as well.  The 2010 University of Houston Photography/Digital Media graduating class are expressing themselves in Everything Has Its Place by producing compositions our interests and reactions to the new millennium.  Our diverse works share one unifying factor – Everything Has Its Place – in life, in art…in our filing systems.

Texas Quotes

February 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

When spy novelist Alan Furst was asked why he sold his papers to The University of Texas-Austin, he explained: “It’s like why do you subscribe to The New Yorker? It’s the best.”

“It was the worst time in my broadcasting career, and I wish people would stop bringing it up. It’s the most embarrassing thing I ever did on radio. If I could make everybody forget about my time in Houston, it would be good.” – Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck about his years at KRBE.

Q: “Why do Texans get married so much?”

A: “Well, I’m real old. I’ve been married over 50 years of my life. And I am not going to give you that information without you paying for it.” – T. Boone Pickens, who’s been married four times.

Yes, once again it’s time to see what we are saying and what others are saying about us. Sometimes we wish we hadn’t and they hadn’t. There is, for example, this gem

at the height of the controversy about President Obama’s citizenship: Tom DeLay asked Chris Matthews, “Will you ask the President to show me his gift certificate?”

Gov. Rick Perry made headlines when he threatened that Texas might secede. His opponent in the GOP gubernatorial primary, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, when asked why she was running for governor, replied, “Texas deserves the best.”

In sports we have: “It’s quite violent, but there’s a lot of technique and strategy and a lot of discipline – being from Texas – almost militaristic discipline.” – Austin native Ben McKenzie, star of “Southland” TV drama, on Texas high school football.

“A brighter shade of orange.” – Vivid, orange signs at D/FW and Houston airports from Oklahoma State seeking to attract Texas high school football players across the Red River. It works: last season 56 of Oklahoma State’s players were from Texas including 11 starters,

“You should be ashamed to accept that trophy!” — Nebraska assistant coach Carl Pelini to the UT Longhorns after they won the Big XII football championship by beating the Cornhuskers on a last-second field goal.

“I really think it’s one of the worst fields I’ve seen.” – New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick after a star player hurt his knee in a game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.

“It’s interesting that people of good will keep trying to tinker with the current system, and to my mind it’s a little bit like — and I don’t mean this directly — but it’s like communism.” — Texas Congressman Joe L. Barton upon introducing legislation that would prohibit the NCAA from advertising the BCS title game as the “national championship” in football unless it was produced via a playoff system.

At this point I must remind you to cut out this column, because you never know when you have to speak at your Rotary Club and need a good quote, such as: “If the best darn cancer researcher in the country suddenly fell in love with barbecue and cowboy boots and excellent financial support from (the institution) it would be great for cancer research in Texas.” – Dr. Alfred Gilman, Nobel laureate and head scientific officer for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

The Alcalde, magazine of the UT alumni, came up with some great quotes uttered by former Longhorns and collected by Fred. R. Shapiro. Here are a few:

“You had me at ‘hello.’” – Renee Zellweger, UT ’92, in “Jerry Maguire.”

Ever wonder where the term “black hole” was born? “Light and particles incident from outside emerge and go down the black hole ….” –Astrophysicist John A. Wheeler, UT prof, 1968.

“And that’s the way it is.” — Walter Cronkite, UT ’35.

“Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?” – Janis Joplin, UT ’62.

A blast from the past: “Permit me, through you to volunteer my services in the present struggle of Texas without conditions. I shall receive nothing, either in the form of service pay, or lands, or rations.” – James Bonham to Gen. Sam Houston, 1836. And Bonham was a lawyer!

Moving on, this one is worth repeating: “The Texas Rangers have a pretty long history of getting who they are looking for.” — Allan Polinsky, chairman of the DPS commission, on the Rangers’ search for the Governor’s Mansion arsonist. (We’re still waiting.)

“There’s nothing worse than when a Texan feels under siege, and this could be seen as his way of life being under attack.” – Ian Peddie, professor at West Texas A&M, on protest songs.

Here are a few observations about both Texas and its largest city: “I expected it to be tumbleweeds and cowboy boots. I didn’t expect this urban place. I didn’t expect this diverse place. I didn’t expect the arts. Coming from New York, I didn’t know.” – Shawn Leventhal, Rice student.

“Growth has been the religion of Houston and Texas. That’s a measure of our virtue and success.” — Stephen Klineberg, a sociology professor at Rice University.

“I think the rest of America had the wrong impression of Houston.” – Houston Mayor-elect Annise Parker, the first openly gay mayor of any major American city.

This factoid from The New York Times, Aug. 20, 2003 (OK, so I’m behind in my reading.): “Around company headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., an hour’s plane ride from Dallas, when anybody asks, ‘Why are there so many Wal-Marts in Texas?’ the answer they get is, ‘Because it’s so big.’”

Finally, the winner of our Breath of Fresh Air Trophy (Adopt an Ozone Dept.): In a hearing on attempts to clean up 25 of Texas’ worst polluted counties, the chief toxicologist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Michael Honeycutt, opposed tighter rules saying that “outdoor levels of ozone are not indicative of what people actually breathe.”

Ashby is quoted at ashby2@comcast.net

Greetings from Beijing

February 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Mr. Lynn Ashby
H Texas

Dear Lynn,

Greetings from Beijing.

Where plans to expand solar power in the United States look a lot different from
my seat in a cafe near Tiananmen Square than from my office in Northern California
— where I am the CEO of one of America’s larger solar power companies.

Many of the measures — and half measures — that we read about every day in
American papers are things the Germans and Chinese and Spanish and French decided
to do 10 years ago.

So now we are playing catch-up — but still not taking the steps our foreign
competitors have long since regarded as routine.

Germany, for example: Hardly a sunny hot spot — but it has more solar installations
than any country in the world. 200 times more than England.

That is because German citizens gets 75 cents per kilowatt hour for the solar
power they sell back to the grid. Spain is similar
Great Britain and France and Ontario recently raised their so-called ‘feed in
tariffs’ to comparable levels.

In California, we get less than 10 cents. And that is more than most places.

In the United States, we limit not just the price but also the amount of solar
energy an owner can sell back to the grid.

So we limit our results as well.

If we allowed the price to rise, and removed the limits on how much solar energy
a farmer or business owner or school or police station could generate, we would
see an explosion in demand for solar and other renewables.

That would reduce our dependence on foreign energy and stimulate domestic manufacturing
as well.

It’s a two-fer.

That is our best chance of creating solar panel manufacturing jobs in the United
States. But it is already very late in the game. Half measures won’t work anymore.

If this sounds like a story, I’d be happy to help any way I can.


Tom Rooney
President and CEO
SPG Solar
Novato, California

p.s. I will return from China — where I am visiting solar panel manufacturing
companies in Beijing and Shanghai — this week.

STOMP-ing the Screaming Mimi’s

February 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs

by HT Cannon
I’m a tolerant person.

Long fuse and a healthy respect for the trials of parenting – done it twice, myself. Please explain the rationale to me, however, of taking anyone under the age of five to see the world-acclaimed show STOMP?!

I recently attended the sold out performance at Jones Hall – still one of our best acoustic venues, with its honey-combed ceiling – and, though the show is now 20+ years old, it is as fresh and entertaining as the original British production.

But it is loud.

Not just momentary pitches of uncomfortable measure and frequency, but LOUD! Clap your hands and holla, loud! Nerve thrumming loud! Old people bringing earplugs loud! Fantastically moving, feel it in your bones, loud!
So why, when one would assume the audience is comprised of fairly educated, bright aficionados of art or at least cultural diversity seekers who are capable of a Google-preview, would any of them bring babies to this performance?!

Not only were the strategic moments of silent tension punctuated by the shrill cries of shocked and terrified infants, but those parents with the grace to be embarrassed then peppered the stage with unintentional floodlights as they exited stage right and left with howlers in tow. We didn’t pay for a strobe effect, people!

What did they think would happen? Perhaps that their prodigy would somehow develop a more effective way than shrieking to tell mom and dad, “my ears hurt, you idiots!” before they’ve developmentally managed to coo “mama” or “dada”? Or maybe the parents assumed sleeping through a two-hour show of crashing trash can lids and high-energy percussion was an option?

Whatever the case, do yourselves, your kids, and the rest of the audience the courtesy of getting a babysitter. If you need permission to have an adult-only night out, it’s granted. Make a point of getting to know some teenagers you trust to watch over your brood, and plan a couple of trial runs beforehand. At a minimum, weigh the risk of two hours of unmonitored influence from your mother-in-law against the risk of damaging your child’s hearing at a show not intended for their appreciation.

“Age Appropriate” does not just apply to content!
It is a much more far-reaching life lesson for your children to understand that they aren’t entitled to enjoy everything mom and dad get to just because they exist, and that there are some things in life worth waiting to experience.

I’m sure the cast would’ve appreciated the display of respect from our parenting community, as well.
Bravo for STOMP-ing on through!

H-town’s too fun not to share!

February 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs

by HT Cannon

So what are you doing here?! For any mag follower, nothing says README like a Lifestyle page – it’s what’s going on about what’s going on! I hope you’ll find this blog to be occasionally cerebral, sometimes full of fluff, perhaps intriguing, but above all, having confab points to ponder over coffee, martinis or some fine wine. We’ll talk about interests, ideas and maybe ideologies. Pretty people, pretty places and pretty cool things to do.

So where to start? Let’s start with you. What’s on your radar for the year? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to see? What do you want to do (easy, now!)? I’m all ears, in a manner of speaking, so bring it on!

Dr. Rossman’s Birthday

February 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Dr. Lucho Rossman celebrated his 40th birthday at Bombay Pizza Co. 914 Main tonight. The highlight of the evening was the karaoke machine. Dr. Franklin Rose got the party started by performing to Lady Ga Ga. He was outdone by sister of the birthday boy Jessica Rossman who serenaded her brother with her own rendition of “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”

Notables in the crowd: Gordon Bethune, Channel 11’s Courtney, Channel 13’s Miya Shay, Cindi Rose

The Staggering Rise in Teenage Plastic Surgery

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, The Glamorous Life / Jo Barrett


When I was a teenager, my biggest tools in the beauty arsenal consisted of cans of Aqua-net hairspray, a pair of skintight Jordache jeans (that could only be worn after a fierce struggle involving me lying flat on my back and kicking my legs to shimmy the denim up) and a comb in my back pocket (to tease my crunchy bangs.) 

At the time, cosmetic surgery was unheard of for girls my age.  We were interested in posters of a young Don Johnson wading through the crystal waters of Miami Beach wearing a white mesh t-shirt and pastel pink pants.  We were interested in singing along to the annoyingly persistent lyrics of Dead or Alive:  “You spin me right round baby, right round, like a record baby, right round, round, round.”  We were interested in Pizza Hut, Lemon-Lime Slice, and banana Bubblicious gum. 

Words like Botox, teeth whitening, breast augmentation, and cosmetic surgery weren’t in our vocabulary.  If someone broke their nose playing volleyball, they typically went to prom and had their photos taken sideways.

And yet, what twelve year old girl today doesn’t wish she was twenty after seeing the rocking life styles wielded by Hollywood’s young A-list reality stars:  the Britney’s, Lohans, and Hiltons.    

HTEXAS recently sat down with Dr. Franklin Rose of Utopia Med Spa, who was flown out to Los Angeles and featured on a teenage plastic surgery special of the Dr. Phil Show, in order to find out more about the dramatic rise in teenage plastic surgery. 


HTEXAS:  When is it considered safe for teenage patients to seek out plastic surgery?

Dr. Rose:   It is common for patients around age 15 or 16 to undergo cosmetic rhinoplasty if they wish to improve the appearance of the nose.  In certain patients, breast reductions can be performed quite safely.  We have also performed liposuction on patients around 16 or 17, that gives them enhanced self esteem, and a reason to lose additional weight beyond what we can remove with liposuction.

HTEXAS:  You mentioned breast reductions.  What about implant surgery? 

Dr. Rose: In terms of breast augmentation, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has really mandated that patients wait until 18 years of age. 

HTEXAS:  Have you ever turned down a young patient for being too young?

Dr. Rose:  One particular case comes to mind.  Several years ago a patient’s mother came in with her pre-pubescent daughter.  She informed me that she was in receipt of a rather significant divorce settlement.  The mother mentioned to me that “money would be no issue” if I could operate on this very small 4’6” pre-pubescent eleven year old.  The mother wanted cheek and lip implants and facial lipo-contouring, and the daughter actually wanted it, too.  I adamantly refused to do surgery on this young girl, and the child burst into tears because her best friend who was also eleven years old evidently just had the same procedures done in New York City.

HTEXAS:   What is the effect of television and magazines on teenagers seeking out plastic surgery?

Dr. Rose:  Patients come to me with magazines in hand about who they want to look like.  People Magazine and US Magazine feature young girls who’ve had these procedures. 

HTEXAS:  On the Dr. Phil show you discuss the Lolita effect.  Describe this.

Dr. Rose:  The Lolita Effect is the increased sexualized depiction of young teens and prepubescent girls in society at large.  Childhood is no longer the sacred realm that it once was.  It’s not so much peer pressure as it is cultural pressure for these children to want to mimic adults.   

HTEXAS:  What are the safeguards for teenagers wanting plastic surgery who won’t take “no” for an answer?

Dr. Rose:  Really the family should be the best support system in this regard.  Choosing a board certified plastic surgeon carefully and wisely is a good caveat for all families.  Of course any patient under the age of 18 requires parental or legal guardian approval.

HTEXAS:  Give us the percentage of teenage patients.

Dr. Rose:  Teenage patients only encompass about 2 – 5% of our practice, but we are seeing ever increasing numbers of college students, particularly during break periods.

HTEXAS:  What is the bottom line for teenage plastic surgery?

Dr. Rose:  There is always time.  Teenagers have no reason to rush into these procedures.  And of course as we age, we are going to look somewhat different, and sometimes young adults need to allow for further growth before entertaining thoughts of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The Neighbor’s Porch

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby

Lynn AshbyJust slip this little envelope into the mail slot and leave. They’ll never know who did it. When they cash the check they’ll…oops. Come to think of it, I paid by check rather than cash. That blows my cover.

This is my predicament and probably yours, too. The other day in my mailbox was an envelope with my name hand-written on it. No stamp, no return address. Upon opening the envelope I saw a small card asking me to donate to the Save the Scorpions. OK, no doubt a worthwhile charity. But rather than asking me to send my cheap contribution to the national HQ in some far-off city, as is the tradition, I was to put the donation in the enclosed envelope and – get this – give it to my next-door neighbor! The enclosed envelope awaiting my money had a label, with my neighbor’s name and address, stuck to the front.

This good-pences-make-good-neighbors device for charity funds has happened to me before. I think it was the Veterans of Domestic Wars which wanted a contribution. Although I didn’t know there were any aged Yankee or Rebel vets still around, I started to send them some Confederate dollars. But the request was that I stuff the envelope full of U.S. currency and drop it by a neighbor’s house.

The scheme is really sneaky, but, to be fair, quite effective. Soliciting money for charities or even non-profits is based on both guilt and the chance that your neighbors will discover just how cheap you are. If, say, you get a request from Drunk Drivers Against Mothers, you may — or, more probably, may not — send that group a check. Who’d know? But when a neighbor asks for the donation, and you turn down the request, your reprehensible behavior will soon become knowledge at the local swimming pool, adult bookstore or tattoo parlor. 

It is not clear just how a charity selects the block warden, but it shouldn’t be too hard to convince the snitch. “You just open all these envelopes and find out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Then what you do with this info is, hee-hee, up to you. And, of course, you yourself don’t have to give a cent. Who’ll know?”

How often do you receive solicitation mail from a charity, or a non-profit? If you kept a year’s worth of those requests, it might stagger you. I think they must trade mailing lists because I do not personally know any members of SOS (Save Our Smog) nor have I ever donated to Rodeo Clown History Month. 

Some fund drives are not cost effective. For example, I give to the local public TV and radio stations, known to some as PBS and Radio Moscow. But they keep after me to donate even more. They eventually spend more on me than I give. Look, take the money and use it to produce “Sesame Street” or pay Jim Lehrer, but stop spending it on me.

Outside of these legitimate charity fund-raisers are the scams. Police benevolent leagues and state troopers’ funds use soliciting phone calls, especially before Christmas. The first clue to these con artists is their background noise, which is the sound of dozens of others reading from the same boiler room come-on. It’s a racket, in two of the meanings (tennis being the third).

Some charity organizations are lethal. Ever heard of the Holy Land Foundation in Richardson, Texas?  It was once the biggest Muslim charity in the nation until it was found to be channeling $12 million to Hamas. Last May a Texas court sentenced the two top leaders to 65 years in prison, and three others to lesser sentences.

Guilt is a good way to hit us up for donations. How many self-addressed letter stickers have you received in the past year? The charity or whatever has sent us a gift and we are supposed to reciprocate. Indeed, I’d bet anything the sticker on that return envelope given to me came from Friends of Fungus. I’ve got a drawer full of these stickers. The Texas Exes are especially generous in giving me Longhorn stickers, but the UT System has a $15.2 billion endowment (down 15 percent in a year) and doesn’t need my most generous $5 donation.                

Another excellent way to drum up funds is fear. Experts note that people will give to solve health problems which they fear may harm them. Thus money drives for cancer, hookworm and the heartbreak of psoriasis work the fear factor. But not too many among us fear leprosy. Do you think Jerry Lewis’s muscular dystrophy telethon could raise the tens of millions of dollars each year if Lewis was pushing funds to cure, say, scurvy or terminal gout? 

Playing the fear card is a classic move in government, too. Local officials warn that, due to a budget shortfall, funds will be cut for the police, firefighters and EMS. The frightened taxpayers shout, “Cut something else!” That’s why we slash funds to parks and libraries, instead. FDR noted, “We have nothing to fear but (pregnant pause for effect) fear itself.” Members of Congress know their constituents will support any bill, no matter the cost in cash, liberties or common sense, if their security is involved. Just warn them of “another 9/11!” and you’ve got their support.   

Incidentally, speaking of Washington and charities, President Obama briefly proposed cutting back on tax donations to charities. It died for lack of a second. Also, note that every year our President and Vice President, whomever they are, release their income tax reports. Then their political enemies swoop in on the leaders’ charity contributions. That’s fine, but wouldn’t you love to know how much their critics give? Seems only fair.

So should I reject this neighborly guilt trip? “Charity begins at home,” Terence, a Roman comic dramatist, famously said. Actually, charity begins at the home next door to your home.  

Ashby donates at ashby2@comcast.net 

Houston’s 25 Most Beautiful

February 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs

Houston’s 25 Most Beautiful

Fifth Aniversary Edition

by Warner Roberts / photography by Gittings

HTEXAS is pleased to present 25 Beautiful Houstonians who have been selected from past winners for their unflinching community service. Andy Cordes and the fine photographers at Gittings created the dazzling artwork.

Author, Warner Roberts

Ask one hundred people on the street the question, “What is Beauty?” and you’ll likely get one hundred different answers. Throughout history, literary interpretations include those by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not,” and John Keats: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into oblivion.”

Our 25 Beautiful Houstonians reflect the famed Kahlil Gibran quote: “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”

Walking the Red Carpet

February 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, The Glamorous Life / Jo Barrett

by Jo Barrett

I’m admitting something here, and I don’t want it to come back to haunt me. Like, I don’t want people coming up to me and saying, “You’re old news, lady.”

Okay, here it goes …

I had my fifteen minutes of fame. There, I said it. The limelight, I’m afraid, has faded into pale limey-ness.

I’m disappointed for a few main reasons:

Number One: I imagined my fifteen minutes to be so much glitzier. I wanted to feel like Victoria Beckham when she landed in Los Angeles with dreamy David and sauntered off the plane in the tight mod dress and the big sunglasses. I wanted to be invited to a “Sushi and Scientology Sunday Night Dinner!” with Tom, Katie, and Suri Cruise. I wanted to be on the “Today Show,” or at the very least, “Top Chef.”

Number Two: And this is the big one, folks. I didn’t realize it was my fifteen minutes, until it was over. You can’t rewind fifteen minutes of fame. It just happens, and then the clock strikes minute number sixteen, and you’re done—zapped of all Angelina Jolie-ishness.

Number Three: My fifteen minutes wasn’t that great. I felt as if I’d been invited to the Oscars, but not the Vanity Fair after-party. Or, to put it differently, like I’d been to the best steakhouse in town, and had bad shrimp cocktail. Sadly, my fifteen minutes passed with a whimper, not a bang.

I traveled to Los Angeles, where I had the pleasure of walking the red carpet at some fundraising event. All I know about the charity is many A-List stars support it and the dinner includes chicken, and fish, and a vegetarian option. People will do stuff on the stage, like auction off lunch with Paris Hilton (can you stand it!) and there is singing and dancing, and general preening and strutting around.

Before the event begins, there’s a red carpet walk with photographers crowded around on each side. They shout out stars’ names to get their attention, and the entire thing takes place in this colorful, circus-tent like atmosphere. The big name stars, like the Will Smith’s and Brad Pitt’s, walk the carpet oozing casualness, as if they’re simply walking down a sidewalk in Portland, Oregon or something. Their body language and attitude brim with this impressive, laissez-faire, it ain’t no big thing, type of nonchalance.

Meanwhile, I’m invited to lag behind some of the A-listers on the red carpet, because I have a new book out, and my publisher wants me to be the next Candace Bushnell. (Which is a lot of pressure, by the way.)

The event is indoors, which is strange for Los Angeles, but people are still wearing big sunglasses as if they are tanning on Waikiki Beach.

Oh, if only I’d worn big sunglasses. What a difference it would’ve made. Instead, I’m wearing a short aqua-colored Cesar Galindo dress and diamonds gifted to me from Bulgari.

I’m kidding.

I’m in a blue dress I bought on sale at Nordstrom’s and rhinestones, baby. But you really can’t tell the difference, I swear.

The publicist in charge of the red carpet rushes up to me wearing one of those imposing black headsets.

“WHO ARE YOU?” she shouts in my face, because everyone shouts at these things.

“Don’t you know?” I ask, crossing my arms defiantly over my chest. “I’m Jo Barrett. The novelist.”

She looks at me and blinks a few times, then flips through the pages of her clipboard. “Jo Barrett … Jo Barrett … novelist … novelist … I don’t have you down,” she says, cutting me with her knife-like smile.

“Oh,” I say, stepping off the red carpet. “Okay. I guess I’ll just walk around.” Apparently, someone in publicity has dropped the ball, and now I’m forced to do this walk of shame around the entire group of photographers who were staring at me, and waiting for my turn.

“Oh wait! Here you are!” shouts publicity girl, grabbing me by the elbow. Then, like Moses parting the Red Sea, she whisks back the red velvet rope and allows me to pass. I hear her speaking these fabulous words into her microphone: “Jo Barrett, the novelist. It’s Jo Barrett, the novelist.”

Stepping onto the red carpet, I expect people shouting my name, the click and flash and bright white flood lights of cameras trained on me, and of course, requests for my autograph.

But as I step into the first few feet of red carpet, it seems like the photographers decide to change their film all at once. I promise, you can hear a pin drop. What had once been shouts of, “Lindsay, over here! Meryl, look this way! Renee, we love you!” becomes sucked into a silent red carpet vacuum void.

I walk quickly, my face flushing in dismay. If you can imagine a woman hustling down the red carpet at top speed, as if her ass is on fire, this is what I look like.

When I reach the end of the carpet, one of the photographers takes pity on me. “Jo Barrett, over here!” he shouts.

I pivot around and flash him a dazzling smile. He clicks my photo, and looks at me the same way the vet looks at a wounded dog.

“Thank you,” I mouth to him. Then I do something zany. I shake my shoulders as if I’m salsa dancing, hike up my dress a little, and flash him some thigh.

“Get a load of this!” I say, as if I’m Zelda Fitzgerald and could pull off burlesque.

The other photographers raise their cameras for a split second, but then Paula Abdul hits the carpet and steals my thunder.

Damn, that Paula Abdul.

Taking a Look at Oporto Cafe

February 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Dining

For a European rendezvous without the arduous trip across the Atlantic, head to Greenway’s intimate tapas bar, Oporto. Gracefully prepared small-plates are served with over 50 choices of hand-selected wines and cocktails. The dim lights, personalized service, and relaxed ambiance make Oporto the perfect spot for a romantic date night.




Try chef/owner Richard Di Virgilio’s nightly specials inspired by fresh, seasonal ingredients. We sampled the paella croquettes, baked Brie with figs, and seared scallops—

each exquisitely prepared to mouth-watering perfection.

Oporto Food and Wine Bar

3833 Richmond

Houston, Texas 77027

(713) 621-1114

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