Thursday, December 31, 2024

Shake Your Noise Maker

posted by Free Press Houston @ 4:25 AM

By Anna Garza

Exeunt, 2024!

In between the glasses of champagne and midnight smooches, don't forget to peek outside and take a gander at the blue moon tonight because it won't happen again until 2024.

Out of curiosity, where will you be ringing in the new year? If the prospect of celebrating NYE with Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest doesn't float your boat, below are a few options to explore. Assemble your crew and don't be tardy for the party.

The Back Room / Mink: Flowers to Hide, If the War Should End and a DJ set by The Watermarks. Doors open a 9pm. 18 + $10. Back Room / Mink 3718 Main St.

Mango's: Do yourself a favor and arrive early because parking will be a beeeyotch if you don't. You know the place will be PACKED! Check out the lineup: Sideshow Tramps, B L A C K I E, Grandfather Child, Robert Ellis and the boys, The Manichean, Female Demand ( EP Release), Hollywood Floss. All ages. $10. Mango's 403 Westheimer.

Super Happy Fun Land: A show where the probability of the fireworks, party favors & noise makers will be used as actual instruments. QUESTION: WILL RUSTED SHUT EVEN SHOW UP? Bryce Clayton Eiman, The Annoysters, Muzak John, Andrew Weathers, Instinct Control, Peter J. Woods, Richard Ramirez, Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except, a Fail Association, Concrete Violin, Zahava, Cop Warmth, Dogs Hit Taco, How I Quit Crack, Rusted Shut, Kyle Evans, & Thunder Puppet. 8pm. $10. SHFL 3801 Polk St.

Fitzgerald's: Put on your best outfit, polish those shoes, grab your favorite gal / guy and dance the night away with Felipe Galvan & Los Skarnales. This show will be F to the U to the N! The Jungle Rockers, Subrosa Union, The B Sharps, Suckerfish. $10. Fitzgerald's 2706 White Oak Drive

White Swan: Aw damn.... billed as the "last all ages show" at White Swan, grind into 2024 Gulf Coast Hardcore style with War Master, PLF, Dissent & NIBIRU. The show is FREE FREE FREE. Word on the street is there will be an after party too. Ask Pretty Little Frank for details. Did I mention this show is free? White Swan 4419 Navigation Blvd

Boondocks: DJs galore will be spinning you round like a record, baby. Go Go Garcia, Damon Allen, Fredster and Johnny Moon Townsend will get yo booty on the dance floor starting at 10pm. 21+ free / 18 + $5. Boondocks 1417 Westheimer

Numbers: a $2010 cash balloon drop at midnight, free party favors, CDs and plenty of classic 80's music to showcase all your gothic dance moves. I attended this bash last year (don't judge, I got in for free) and didn't catch one freakin' dollar from the balloon drop. Naw, I'm not bitter but maybe you will have better luck tonight. $10 before 10 pm. #'s 300 Westheimer

Cheers to 2024 and another chance for us to get it right. So let's get it right, people! Now pass the cabbage and black eyed peas, please.

Tuesday, December 29, 2024

Contradictions in James Cameron's Masterpiece "Avatar" _ The Jungle of Technology

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:35 AM


"I'll sell it to you for $12 what I paid," she says to a man holding a pale sign that says "Needed, 1 ticket." Cheery thank yous move the long line forward, one step closer to Avatar on the last day of this box-office-busting Christmas weekend.

Inside the IMAX theater, just before the house lights come down there will be two more tickets to exchange. Mother and son pay cash at the door to strangers and locate a small, impromptu space where they can sit together against the wall, giving the rest of us the chance to see what we look like with our 3-D glasses on.

The one and only preview belongs to the Disney-branded Tim Burton edition of Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp. Everything about it looks brilliant in IMAX 3-D. The Mad Hatter does not fail to chuckle. Imagine seeing all of us from his point of view, looking like a wall of human flies on flypaper, all bug-eyed.

As for the main feature, which opened Dec. 18, 2024 worldwide, it is true what the fan said who chased in vain after James Cameron's grumpy autograph at LAX: "The plot is so simple a three-year-old could follow it." Yes, okay, the formula of colonial imperialism is a cosmology that every preschooler can comprehend. It used to go by the name Cowboys and Indians.

Something about Cameron's capital-intensive mythology is laudable for a Hollywood Blockbuster. The stunning experience of nature, culture, and politics does achieve an important spiritual reversal of the Cowboys and Indians plot. The audience is skillfully maneuvered into anti-imperialist sympathies so that we can tearfully commit to an improbable reversal of the kind of history that any three-year-old knows.

I came away thinking that I might like to try the Xbox version of the Avatar adventure, with opportunities to win battles of liberation using fantastic weapons upon exotic landscapes. Of course, I realized as I was pulling out my car key that a more effective spiritual reversal would have me renouncing all my capital-intensive desires and the battles they advance.

A truly improbable Avatar reversal would produce a global back-to-nature movement liberated from plastic 3-D glasses because something like "real nature" was being returned to its sacred center of attention. "I see you," we would say to all living things. Cameron's deeper vision suggests that all living things would be able to sigh a biologically verifiable response of collective awareness: "And I see you."

At the high point of the plot's arc, a masculine body of "skin" touches the feminine surface of a producer's fantasy. In that very moment, the saturated hues of Avatar’s animation affirm what the plot renounces. Experience moves relentlessly toward the desire to be more immersed in the jungle of technology than we already are.

At any rate, the contradictions of the Hollywood Blockbuster are not proprietary to Cameron. They are the contradictions of capital-intensive history itself. With few exceptions here and there, audiences have not failed to purchase their Avatar tickets in advance.

Monday, December 28, 2024

World's Greatest Stage Dive

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:33 AM

By Jacob Calle

I don't think anyone should ever compliment someone's acrobatic skills when they do a stage dive after watching CRegg, the lead singer of the band Boy Hits Car. And I thought I was rad for flipping off the upstairs balcony into the crowd during Andrew WK at Fitzgerald's! I came across this on the internerd and I HAD to pick this guy's brain. WHY! HOW! and...WHY?!?!?!

Jacob: When people stage dive they are merely just falling into the crowd chest first and it looks rather silly. You on the other hand take stage diving to a new level. When did you decide that you were going to be a stage diving stuntman.

CRegg: Ummm, I guess there was never a decision; I grew up with a family of 'stunties', and when I began attending hardcore, thrash, and punk shows as a teen, everyone was diving face first, but I sorta would always roll into a flip, landing in the crowd on my back. When I formed the band, I suppose it naturally carried over into our live shows.

J: You hold the world record for the highest stage dive. Do you own a plaque from Guiness World Records or do you just positively know that this is the world's highest?

C: It would certainly be cool to have it confirmed by Guiness, but that has yet to happen, and I'm not certain its the highest ever, but I wouldn't be surprised.

J: What other heights have you jumped from that were pretty impressive and what made you decide to jump from those heights to your apex jump.

C: Not really sure of exact heights; growing up, my cousins had a fall pad in the back yard next to a telephone pole, so when we'd visit, they would show us the proper way to fall, and do 'headers', etc. Its usually not a conscious decision to launch into the crowd; its being caught up in the energy of the moment and going with it. When I would attend shows back in the day, everyone seemed to be up on stage at some point rocking out with the band before diving back into crowd.

J: Did your band know that you were going to jump? To some people that is suicide.
Just what were your thoughts when you were up there? Obviously you had death in your mind. This wasn't a stage dive stunt that you were just going to walk away from. It was either you lived or you were dead.

C: No, I didn't even plan on jumping. Wanted to get a better vantage point to view the crowd, but once I climbed up and lowered myself onto the speakers, I got a bit of vertigo cause the speakers began to shift and move. I recall not wanting any part of it, but I couldn't pull myself back into the rafters. I was stuck, and the whole crowd was chanting "JUMP-JUMP-JUMP". Looking back, it seems my choices were to wait for the fire department and a long enough ladder, or charge it.

J: And the hands? Some people are taller than others. You weren't afraid of weight distribution and the higher hands caught your spine first and your back would have been snapped?

C: Didn't take the time to think it ALL through. Fact was, I put myself in a bad situation, the crowd seemed into it, and it looked do-able if I pushed out enough. Bottom line is I was very lucky no one else got hurt.

J: Ok, obviously you are a crazy fucker. haha What were you taking at the time of that jump?

C: Other than warm tea, and sleep deprivation, I was dead sober.

J: Have you always wanted to jump at this great height or were you in the moment.

C: Totally in the moment.

J: And your parents and friends? I'm sure you got some good talkin' to's right?

C: Oh yah, they wern't pleased.

J: I'm sure your fan base grew rapidly and more attendees came to shows to see your infamous jumps out of curiosity right?

C: Its seems that way, which is cool, as long as thats not the only reason.

J: I'm assuming this isn't the only loud thing you have done. Anything else we should know about?

C: Aside from normal everyday surfing, skating, mountain biking, etc. I've done some stunt work thats been a bit hairy, but nothing like 'the jump'.

J: I've watched your dive literally over 50 times. It's a magnet. I can't stop watching that fall. I'm attracted to it. When you land the crowd is ecstatic and going nuts for you! They have no idea if you are alive. You could just be a crowd surfing carcass and they would have no idea. How did you feel emotionally when you were being carried.

C: Happy to be alive, and that no one else seemed injured. I didn't have much time to really take it all in, as I was in an ambulance shortly after, but all turned out fine.

J: We're you in pain? I'm sure you have a chiropractor now on hand for your lethal jumps right?

C: Ha, yah that would be nice; unfortunately its not in our budget. I had some initial pain, but the adrenalin numbed it I suppose. Was pretty sore the next day though.

J: What's an interview with a band without talking about your band. You've got your new record coming out. Got a release date for it?

C: Finishing up the final recording touch's, so hopefully sometime first half of 2024.

J: What's it called and is there anything else you wanna throw out, name drop, or add?

C: LOVECORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2024

Lest We Forget: KISS' Black Diamond

posted by Free Press Houston @ 1:54 PM

Wednesday, December 23, 2024

H.R.A.'s early Christmas present to you: A FREE SHOW TONIGHT

posted by Free Press Houston @ 8:47 AM

By Anna Garza

Around this time last year, Rosa Ditchwater and I hosted an elegant holiday soiree at Leon's Lounge featuring DJ Bill Fool and live entertainment from Battle Rifle, Chocolate Crucifix and The Assholes. With an intimate yet festive gathering of family, friends and a rando or two (or three or four or five), the night was guaranteed to not be a silent night or a holy night. All was definitely not calm and, definitely, not bright.

To make a long story short, after a few broken beer bottles, a tampered with chandelier, MANY inebriated party-goers and a (very) nervous bar staff, Ms. Rosa and I were kindly informed, effective immediately, our show would be the first and last punk/hardcore show welcomed at Leon's. Sigh. It could have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship. xBAH HUMBUGx I blame all the tomfoolery on Satan, er...I mean, Santa.

What a difference a year makes...or not. The ban on punk/hardcore shows at Leon's Lounge has not been lifted and Rosa and I are still regulars for happy hour. However, the most notable occurrence is the name change of The Assholes to H.R.A.(Heavy Roach Activity).

Formed in 2024 by Francisco Pulido (HypoChristians) and Robert Mena, H.R.A. had revolving band members until now. The most recent and stable line-up includes Orange Robert (HypoChristians and Chocolate Crucifix) on bass and Andy Chaos on drums. If you are a fan of fast, brutal, early 80's hardcore such as Septic Death, DRI, Negative Approach, etc, then run – do not walk to the White Swan tonight to check out H.R.A. Not only will H.R.A. and pals serenade you with beautiful Christmas carols, free food is available too. Included on the bill are Obama Nation, Brutally Normal, Pistoleros De Texas & Los De Verdad. Show starts at 7pm. White Swan 4419 Navigation Blvd.

Friday, December 18, 2024

confirmed: the weekend. whoop, there it is!

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:38 AM

By Anna Garza

It is the third Friday of the month and you know what that means. If you don't, you should. After tonight, you will. Go to the Mink around 10pm and discover for yourself the entire hullabaloo surrounding A Fistful of Soul. Quickly gaining a reputation for being one of Houston's best dance nights, DJs King Ghidora, Bingo Rojo and No Fun play the finest (vinyl only) selections of ska, reggae, r&b; and soul. This is a party, this is a disco and there will be lots of fooling around. As if you needed more of an incentive, there is no cover, $2 Lone Stars and $3 Red Stripes all night long. Dress sharp and dance like there is no tomorrow. The Mink 3718 Main @ Alabama.

If you are looking for something to do earlier in the night, search no further than Sound Exchange for CRASSMAS. Before you sew another Crass patch on your black skinny jeans and run out the door, this show is in no relation to the English punk band. Don't fret, punkers, because the lineup for the festivities is still oh so worthy. Local heartthrobs, The Wiggins, and Rapeworm will accompany VAARG in filling your heart and ears with yuletide joy. The show is free & BYOB. 8 pm, be there or be square. Sound Ex 1846 Richmond Ave.

Make sure to bring earplugs if you dare to venture out of the house on Saturday night.

Super Happy Fun Land will play host to Punxmas. The lineup includes: Blackmarket Syndicate, Molotov Compromise, Rats in the Attic, Ghost Stories, Riot Up Front, Exile, Night Siege, The Quarantines, Roots of Exile, Days n Daze, Deadlines, Comatose and Half Retarded. Try not to rip your leather jacket in the pit, kids. SHFL 3801 Polk Street.

At Walters, The Jonbenet and At All Cost will be playing their final shows EVER. O Pioneers!!! and Fight Pretty complete the lineup. Walters 4215 Washington Ave.

Suffering from seasonal depression? There is nothing a whole lot of black / death metal can’t cure. All in one night, all on one stage. Anti-Christ Mass II at #’s: Imprecation, Panteon, Abolishment, Scattered Remains, Ninth Kingdom, Diminished, Golgotha, Demoniac Vengeance, & Spectral Manifest. BE STILL MY BEATING HEART. $15. All Ages. Doors at 6 pm. #’s 300 Westheimer Rd.

Don't feel like headbanging? You want to drop it like it's hot? Put on your best pair of dancing shoes and head over to The Green Room for Autonomy. DJs Paramour and Mr. Castillo will play all your favorite unrelenting 80's classics and then some. No cover but 21+. Green Room / Warehouse Live 813 St. Emanuel.

Every Sunday is Shock Treatment at Rocbar. I've heard through the grapevine live bands perform and DJ Mohawk Steve spins punk & classic rock. I can kick myself for not braving the cold temps and rain for the Rusted Shut show. This week's live act is none other than Latch Key Kids. Rocbar 530 Texas Ave.

Be nice and don't forget to tip your bartenders!

Thursday, December 17, 2024

Why Obama Flunks the "Just War" Test

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:17 PM


Whether Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize is not the point. He didn’t. The fact is, he got it, and was gifted with the chance of a lifetime to make a classic speech on the politics of peace-making, a speech that in the glare of Nobel could have attained instant standing.

He failed miserably, producing a hodge-podge that resembled the work of a bright but undisciplined sophomore.

He was hoist on the petard of classical "just war theory," a theory that, properly understood, condemns his decision to send yet more kill-power into Afghanistan.

This theory which is much misused and little understood is designed to build a wall of assumptions against state-sponsored violence, i.e. war. It puts the burden of proof on the warrior where it belongs.

It gives six conditions necessary to justify a war. Fail one, and the war is immoral. The six are:

(1) A just cause. The only just cause is defense against an attack, not a preemptive attack on those who might someday attack us. Obama flunked this one, saying our current military actions are "to defend ourselves and all nations from further [i.e. future] attacks." President Bush speaks here through the mouth of President Obama.

(2) Declaration by competent authority: Article one Section 8 of the Constitution which gives this power to the Congress has not been used since 1941. Congressional resolutions instead yield the power to the President. Obama: "I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land." Sorry. Not according to the Constitution.

On top of that we are bound by treaty to the United Nations Charter. Article 2, Section 4 prohibits recourse to military force except in circumstances of self-defense which was restricted to responses to a prior "armed attack" (Article 51), and only then until the Security Council had the chance to review the claim.

Obama fails twice on proper declaration of war. He violates the UN Charter by claiming the right to act "unilaterally" and "individually." Again, faithful echoes of President Bush.

(3) Right intention: This means that there is reasonable surety that the war will succeed in serving justice and making a way to real peace.
Right intention is befouled by excessive secrecy, by putting the burdens of the war on the poor or future generations, by denying the right to conscientious object to soldiers who happen to know most of what is going on, and by a failure to understand the enemy’s grievances.

Obama declares gratuitously: "Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms." So all we can do is send soldiers to kill them? Really? What negotiations have been tried to find out why they hate us and not Sweden, or Argentina, or China?

A pause for reflection might show that those and other countries are not bombing and killing civilians in three Muslim countries simultaneously. That could generate a little resentment. None of those countries not targeted by al Qaeda are financing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands in violation of UN resolutions.

The processes of negotiation allow light to shine in dark corners. Realpolitik eschews the light.

(4) The principle of discrimination, or non-combatant immunity. The science of war has made this condition so unachievable that only the policing paradigm envisioned by the UN Charter could ever justify state-sponsored violence.

Police operate within the constraints of law, as a communitarian effort, with oversight and follow-up review to prevent undue violence. Obama’s allusion to “42 other countries” joining in our violent work in Afghanistan and Iraq mocks the true intent of the collective action envisioned by the UN under supervision of the Security Council.

It is a mere disguise for our vigilante adventurism.

(5) Last resort. If state-sponsored violence is not the last resort we stand morally with hoodlums who would solve problems by murder. Obama fails to see that modern warfare, including counterinsurgency, is not the last or best resort against an enemy that has four unmatchable advantages: invisibility, versatility, patience, and the ability to find safe haven anywhere.

The idea of a single geographic safe haven is a myth and an anachronism reflecting the age of whole armies mobilizing in a definable locus.
Obama’s speech showed no appreciation of the alternative of peace-making.

A Department of Peace (which would be a better name for a revitalized and better-funded State Department) would have as its goal to address in concert with other nations tensions as they begin to build.

Neglected crises can explode eventually into violence. This is used to assert the inevitability of war when it is only an indictment of improvident statecraft.

(6) The principle of proportionality: Put simply, the violence of war must do more good than harm. In judging war the impact on other nations and the environment must also be assessed in the balance sheet of good and bad results.

This is a hard test for modern warriors to pass. Victory in war is an oxymoron. No one wins a war: one side may lose less and may spin that as victory. Obama’s faith in the benefits of warring in three Muslim countries is delusional.

President Obama in Oslo was more a theologian than a statesman. He gave a condescending nod to nonviolent power but his theology of original sin tilted him toward violence as the surest and final arbiter for a fallen humanity.

It is “a pity beyond all telling” that the “just war theory” he invoked condemns the warring policies he anomalously defended as he accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Daniel C. Maguire, a professor of moral theological ethics at Marquette University, is the author of The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy.

Givers, I am Mesmer at Mango's tonight

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:06 AM

KTRU Mobile has been stolen!

posted by Free Press Houston @ 9:06 AM

The beautiful El Camino which houses the mixing console and power amps at Westheimer Block Party has been stolen. Kirsten Otis' glorious, red El Camino has been used as a tour bus, mixing console, and is a fixture in the downtown music scene. If you have any info on the whereabouts of this holy grail, call HPD before the thieves get their assholes turned into necklaces. 713-884-3131

The license plate is BB77SD

Wednesday, December 16, 2024

Shameless self-promotion: Plan your New Year's Now...Hint, Hint

posted by Free Press Houston @ 11:13 AM

Tuesday, December 15, 2024

Fact # 54: the Yo-Yo is not a weopon

posted by Free Press Houston @ 6:06 PM

By Jacob Calle

Does the name Miguel Correa sound familiar? Probably not. Miguel Correa is one of the greatest
Yo-Yoers in America with 3 titles to his name. The things he does with a yo-yo are beyond the tricks you do with your finger in bed. The dude is un effing real! Right now Miguel is on the Hellsapoppin Side Show Revue. They are now touring on a converted prison bus traveling the US of A. Oh and by the way Miguel is touring with a dude tattooed like a lizard. A deformed man who is in the shape of a penguin, and a woman named Fire Fly. Come see the show December 25th at Avant Garden.

Jacob: How long have you been yo-yoing and when was the last time you went on a date.

Miguel: Already went there, huh. Ok, so I'm tour right now with Hellzapoppin Side Show. I'm currently on the tour bus typing away in Austin. We have a few days off before our Austin show and I was SUPPOSED to hang out with a girl while down here but nooooo. She decided to go home after exams were done. FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU. Oh yeah, yoyoing for 11 years.

J: What's the hardest yo-yo trick. The White Buddha, Yuuki Slack, or the And What?

M: Hm, interesting picks, friends of mine made up all those tricks you just mentioned. The hardest yoyo trick in the world is the one you can't do yet. Apply that to life.

J: Ya know I have no idea what I am talking about and I just googled these trick names

M: Yeah, I figured. Those tricks are almost a decade old though. Where did the google send you anyway?

J: I did tell you before that I am a enthusiast right? And when I mean enthusiast I mean that I once yo-yo'd for 7 consecutive straight hours with my brothers. What's the longest yo-yo session you've ever had?

M: I don't really know what my longest session was. I pretty much have a yoyo on me all the time and don't even have to really be looking at it while playing. So maybe I'm watching the season finale of Dexter and yoyoing at the same time. Does this count as part of a session? If i'm practicing for a competition I will try to practice a few hours a day of just my routine over and over again.

J: In my session I rubbed the skin off my finger and learned how to put my yo-yo in a sleep inside a paper bag to walk the dog to a cradle. Then for measure if it still had some sleepage I would kiss my Yo-Yo. What kind of tricks did you learn?

M: I, don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about right now.

J: There are the world's fattest twins, the world's greatest balancing shit on your nose, the world's greatest world's greatest. How do you feel at being the world's greatest at a cylinder
block that you wrap string around?

M: In the grand scheme of things, what I do is just as insignificant as everything else. The difference being, people want to talk to me when they hear about the cylinder block and string.

J: So how does one become the world's greatest Yo-yo man?

M: I don't know if I'm the worlds greatest, certainly the nation's greatest.

J: Speaking of Yo-Yo man...Smothers Brothers...Who's better? You or them?

M: I certainly know more tricks, but they we're far better performers. I'm working on stepping up my game on that. I'll be on stage quite a bit in the next few months with the Hellzapoppin side show, so I will get plenty of time to practice.

J: What about you or them put together to form this mega duo in one?

M: ...............

J: Has being the nation's greatest yo-yo dude ever gotten you laid. Seriously, what's the skinny?

M: If you are a boring person, no yoyo in the world is going to get you laid. It is kind of a wing man if used correctly. I don't just walk up to a girl and ask if she wants to see my yoyo tricks. 1. That's creepy as fuck. and 2. Yoyos are only a part of my personality 3. I am really fucking charming.

J: Some people might find it nerdy to be so damn good at yo-yos but once you put the title
nation's greatest they completely respect you. Am I yes?

M: Call it nerdy. I don't care. Hell, I think its nerdy and I've been doing it for 11 years. You do get more respect when you have 3 national titles sure, but I do that for me. The only haters I've ever encountered were people with nothing better going for them.

J: 500BC the yo-yo was used as a weopon (I just googled that too). Do you ever take your skill and use it as a weopon?

M: The yoyo was never used as a weapon, that story was made up to sell yoyos in the 50s or something. I have never used a yoyo as a weapon; I am not a ninja.

J: Have you ever invented tricks? If so what did you call it?

M: Yes, basically anything I do in competition I created. That might be the part where the general public may not initially get. After I learned the most basic tricks all I wanted to do is create new moves. Most of my early practice was just developing the skill sets so that I can make my own tricks later. I don't really name my tricks anymore.

J: What's up with these yo-yo names? They make nothing of what the yo-yo is doing. plus they are kinda silly. Why can't they the tricks have cool names like they do in skateboarding such as darkslides, madonnas, and rock and rolls.

M: I will say that some tricks have been named after drugs, others are just an identifier because the trick had no proper name. I think naming a yoyo trick rock and roll is lamer though.

J: So does skateboarding. We've got a trick called an Acid. Okay, so as a zoologist I've always wanted to name my newly discovered frog after my girlfriend. If I never find that undiscovered frog will you name your latest trick after my girl?

M: Fuck it, sure why not.

J: Do you find it ironic when someone who does not know who you are and greets you with the word "Yo".

M: People still say "Yo"?

J: Yeah, and so does Bart Simpson. Does the world's greatest yo-yo man have any last words? If so what is it?

M: I love what I do.

Okay, just imagine if this dude used used a glow-in-the-dark yo-yo and did this at a rave. I doubt that girl would be going home after her exams.

Monday, December 14, 2024

Interview: Matthew Brownlie of Life is Happy and Sad

posted by Free Press Houston @ 2:31 PM

by Omar Afra
Photos by George Dixon

If you have not been paying attention, you would not know that Catastrophic Theater's Life is Happy and Sad has been getting some splendid friggin' reviews as has been Matthew Brownlie's (Guitar player, vocalist of Bring back the Guns (The Groceries)) portrayal of early year's Daniel Johnston. The follow up to Speeding Motorcycle, Life is Happy and Sad focuses on nascent years of Johnston's songwriting in Austin. Again, Brownlie's portrayal of the eccentric songwriter has celebrated after the first week of performances and he is gearing up to what will undoubtedly be a busy follow up week particularly as Johnston himself will be in attendance. Brownlie was kind enough to answer some questions. Brevity is not his style.
Response has been exceptionally positive for the first week of performance. Any jitters for this next round or do you feel more 'comfortable'?

Well, it took me so long to answer these that now week two is in the can and the last four shows are coming up. I'm more spooked now than before, for a couple of reasons. First, the audience at our last show was weird, weird, weird. Lots of getting up and going to the bathroom during my monologue, a large number of people who left during intermission (which is fine, this play ain't for them), just general awkwardness. It really freaked me out and was it was strange to keep trying to connect throughout all of that.

Also, I do believe that The Man Himself will be showing up at some point this week. That's, you know, terrifying. What was your biggest challenge in capturing Daniel Johnston? Ever been that lonely?

Honestly, the biggest challenge was getting everything memorized. I guess I forgot to tell Jason Nodler that I'm the kind of guy who, when reading someone's phone number in order to call them, has forgotten the last four numbers by the time I've dialed the first three.

As for capturing Dan, I've worked on the voice a little bit, getting that lisp in there and trying to elongate my short o's. But the material is instantly relatable to anyone who's been separated from their friends, struggled to fit in, tried to communicate to the world via art or gotten excited about a band. Jason often says that Daniel feels everything everyone else does, it's just turned up to 11. So basically, I have to go real hard on stage. It is completely exhausting and has really messed with my head a little bit.

I don't think I've ever been as lonely as Dan seems to be at the time this play takes place, but my first few years in Houston were a big adjustment, even more so for my girlfriend at the time. I was about the same age Daniel is at the time this play takes place and I've seen and felt how loneliness can lead to all kinds of despair.
It seems you have been on a self-imposed hiatus from performing for some time now. Was it jarring to jump back in with such a strong, central role?

Yeah, it was, and I can't wait to go back into hiatus. This is far and away the most difficult thing I've ever done (as I've said a million times now) and I'm not at the point yet where I can tell whether or not it's been rewarding. I do know that I love playing Daniel's music and that the second act is so fun to be a part of from beginning to end.

I'm going go go off on a bit of a tangent, feel free to run this or not. Recently, some asshole posted something on the Hands Up Houston messageboard accusing me of fishing for compliments, which was bizarre and unfounded, as the only action remotely resembling that I've done since the show opened was post our great reviews for this show I'm just so proud of. The thing that Joey G (who I believe is a music "critic" at the Chronicle) doesn't know is that I really don't like taking compliments very much. For one thing, I'm no good at it. But also, my relationship to my music and performance has changed drastically over the past year or so.

When I started playing piano when I was seven, it was a relief for my parents that I'd found something I was good at. I was a total fuckup at school and was generally a weird kid who got picked on a bunch. Being good at music got me positive recognition (I was really good at piano for my age) and pretty much became my identity in a huge way. I was always the best musician in whatever project I was doing. When I started Groceries and BBTG, I didn't just want to make music I liked–I wanted to be the best frontman for the best band in Houston. I wanted everyone to think we were amazing and I wanted to be a career musician. However, I also wanted to make pretty weird rock music because that's just what I was into. The two impulses are probably pretty mutually exclusive.

When the band wound down last year, it was almost immediately a huge relief in many ways. Not because I dislike the band or the people in it, but because I had grown up enough that I felt comfortable being something other than Mr. Awesome Musician Guy. And when I began really practicing Buddhism I started naturally growing all this genuine compassion for others and myself.

Well, along comes this play. I thought it would be neat to try my hand at something creative I'd never considered. I auditioned, I got the part. And while I don't have even a tiny bit of regret and suspect that I'm going to end up really treasuring the experience, I also can't wait to get back offstage and back into my practice. I haven't had the energy to keep up with it and I've also taken on some other unhealthy habits. I can't wait to get to work on those, too. 2024 has been the best year of my life so far, and in 2024 I'm going to get into better mental and physical shape and it's going to be amazing.

Any near future plans for more theater work?

Well, I have actually been asked to read for another production. I think I'm going to say no, but I'm also curious to see if I actually have any talent or if I just fit the role of Daniel Johnston at 22 due to my own experiences. It's not something I'll pursue, but I might just continue to take opportunities as they fall into my lap.
How much weight did yo gain to take on this role? 100-150 pounds?

Ha! Nah, Dan was a beanpole at this time in his life. Probably skinnier than I am. Did I mention unhealthy habits? Yeah, well, I definitely am flabbier than I've ever been before.

Brownlie is backed up by Roky Moon and Bolt (pictured above) and word is the musical performances are really-ass-Trill.

All tickets are Pay-What-You-Can: "$20... more if you have it... less if you don't" Buy online or call 713.522.2723. Runs Wednesday - Saturday through December 19. All shows start at 8pm at DiverseWorks.

Saturday, December 12, 2024

Houston the Hit Machine years, part one: Hound Dog and the Bronze Peacock

posted by Free Press Houston @ 11:17 AM

By Alex Wukman

Fifty and sixty years ago, when places like Old Spanish Trail and the Heights were considered suburban, Houston wasn’t known as a bad place to play, or a city musicians had to get away from to get recognized. In the 1940s and 1950s, Houston was known as a hit factory. Houston’s history as a top 40 machine starts in 1945 when Don D. Robey moved here from L.A. Robey was born in Houston in 1903 and he spent much of his life growing up on the streets of the Fifth Ward. While other kids were chasing girls at Tuffly Park, Robey was learning the entrepreneurial skills that would serve him later in life.
Robey also learned his way around a deck of cards, so much so that he was able to survive as a professional gambler after he dropped out of high school. After getting married and fathering a kid, Robey decided to pursue more legitimate business interests. He started a taxi company and then started helping a local promoter bring touring black acts to Houston. Robey found out that, not only did he enjoy promoting, he was good at it. So he gravitated over to the entertainment industry and, like many small scale operators of the time, started promoting local dances. However, he knew that the secret of any good business is diversity, so Robey also promoted everything from boxing matches to golf tournaments. In the 1930s, he moved to Los Angeles where he ran a venue called Harlem Grill for three years.
As WWII was winding down Robey decided to return to the Bayou City and bring his passion for music with him.
In 1944, Robey began working on a concrete building a couple of blocks from the intersection of Lockwood and Liberty in his native Fifth Ward. The building, located at 2809 Erastus St., was surrounded by factories when Robey started setting up shop. After a year of work Robey opened the Bronze Peacock Dinner Club. Named after his light skin and dapper attire, the Peacock attracted the likes of Lionel Hampton, Ruth Brown and Aaron “T-Bone” Walker. The club was known for its gambling room as much as it was known for its dance floor, but a business hours robbery forced Robey to “upgrade his security,” which in 1946 meant installing one way mirrors, gun slits and hiring a personal security force.
The city’s black music scene was supported by locally owned radio stations KCOH and KYOK who broadcast local shows and talent competitions. In 1947, a local producer named Bill Quinn happened into a bar on Dowling Street where he discovered Lightnin Hopkins playing guitar. Quinn’s discovery brought independent labels from New York to L.A. down to scout for more hidden talents. The stampede of labels led to the signing of acts like Peppermint Harris, Little Willie Littlefield, Lester Williams and Big Walter Pierce. Robey undoubtedly heard about the interest that was developing in Houston’s blues community, which is why he paid attention when a young guitarist showed up at his club unannounced. One night in 1947, in the middle of one of his sets, T-Bone Walker left the stage at the Bronze Peacock complaining that his ulcer was acting up. It was just the shot that Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was looking for. Brown had spent his last six dollars on a taxi ride to the club in hopes of catching the attention of Robey. When Walker walked off to find some antacid and lie down, Brown saw his chance. He jumped onstage, grabbed T-Bone’s guitar and joined the band. The crowd loved it and, more importantly, so did Robey. Robey signed Brown to a management contract.
A little while later Robey was able to parlay his music industry contracts and get Eddie Mesner, one of the owners of California based Aladdin Records, to fly down and hear the Brown at the Peacock. Mesner was, as the saying goes, blown away. He signed Brown to a recording contract and they recorded four singles, none of which succeeded in making the label enough money to justify keeping him on. Robey, like any good manager, blamed a lack of publicity for Brown’s failure to break. However, unlike most managers, Robey decided to start his own record label for his performer. Robey founded Peacock records in 1948 and released Brown’s first single “Didn’t Reach My Goal” with a B-side of “Atomic Energy” in 1949. Brown also released “Mary is Fine” backed with “My Time is Expensive” in 1949. It would be his first single, the only one he recorded for Peacock, to crack the billboard charts.
However, in 1952 Robey signed three other artists to his fledgling label “Ollie” Marie Adams, a Houston homemaker, along with Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton and “Little” Richard Penniman. Penniman quickly dropped his last name and simply became Little Richard. However, Little Richard claimed that his signing with Robey was far from voluntary.
“He jumped on me, knocked me down, and kicked me in the stomach. It gave me a hernia that was painful for years…He was known for beating people up. He would beat everybody up but Big Momma Thornton. He was scared of her,” said Little Richard in later interviews. It may have been the fear that Big Mama instilled in the six foot tall, 250 pound, pistol packing Robey that forced him to give her what turned out to be her biggest break, and Peacock’s biggest success. In 1952, Thornton recorded a song that would became a classic, “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog.” Released in March of 1953, Thornton’s version of the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song spent seven weeks as number one on the Billboard R&B charts. However, it wasn’t until three years later, when a white boy from Tupelo, Mississippi recorded the song, that it went on to become an international phenomenon. Robey’s true success as a businessman was in his ability to spot niche markets. In the 1940s and 1950s that niche wasn’t just in R&B but also in gospel. While R&B was viewed by many people as low class, degrading and not respectable, gospel, on the other hand, was seen as something that was acceptable to people who would never go into a club that served alcohol or had dice games in the backroom. However, like R&B, the major labels of the time completely ignored gospel. This gave Robey and other independent operators the room to sign acts that would later go on to make millions for much bigger companies. One of the first gospel acts that Robey signed was called the Jackson Harmoneers from the Jackson, Mississippi area. The group, originally called the Cotton Blossom Singers, later changed their name to the Five Blind Boys from Mississippi and then even later to the Original Five Blind Boys. When the Harmoneers walked into Peacock’s studio for the first time they laid down the track “Our Father,” which was “The Lord’s Prayer” recorded over a beat with, what has been described as, “some soulful reflections” added in. Prior to the release of “Our Father”, gospel records avoided instruments, instead preferring to rely on four, or more often, five part harmonies. The record broke into the top 10 of the Billboard Gospel chart, and went on to become a gospel standard. Adding a beat had changed gospel music forever.
In later years, Robey stated that the Harmoneers’ “Our Father” and a song called “Peace in the Valley” by Red Fox on the Decca label were the first gospel songs to ever receive play on a jukebox, and it was the addition of a beat that did it. Robey stated that he “found that the public wanted something new in gospel” so he put in various different instruments, a guitar, trombone and drums.
“They did not take to the trombone, but they did take to the guitar and drumbeat, and it got to a point where, if you did not have a beat in a religious record, you didn’t have a sale,” said Robey.
Robey’s reinvention of Gospel music attracted attention, not just from the public but also from other performers. Within a few years Robey had over 100 artists on his payroll and was able to brag in a 1952 advertisement that he could sell 26,000 copies of a record before it was even released. While Robey was starting an empire on Houston’s East side, a “Crazy Cajun” from Louisiana and a former railroad accountant from Yoakum, Texas were building Houston a reputation amongst white recording artists.

To be continued next month…

Fat Tony, a Houston living legend

posted by Free Press Houston @ 8:10 AM

Holy crap if dudes can't get any radder than Fat Tony himself. He is as real as Coca Cola!
That's all I've got to say. It's Fat Tony. His music speaks for it's self. Here he is.

Jacob:You're one of the hypest underground rappers in Houston. You just recently
preformed at CMJ. Easily, you were the hypest rapper over in New York at
that time, right? How'd that go?

Fat Tony: New York was a lot of fun. Made new fans, made new contacts, and got in good with the right people. I was in love with the public transit and all the pizza and the vegan fast food. I was the only rapper from Texas there, and one of the few rappers playing CMJ, period. I played a showcase with SMASHPROOF, a popular rap group from New Zealand, and QN5, a Queens, NY based underground rap label. SMASHPROOF were cool dudes and went on before me. During my set I got a little hate from some men in the crowd who didn't take too kindly to me opening my set with DJ Assault's "Ass 'n' Titties," rapping with a delay pedal and bringing girls on stage to the timeless Juvenile classic "Back That Azz Up" but the people with good tastes were into me. I can't wait to return to NYC!
J: You seem to connect with everyone at your shows. The hip hops kids,
the punks (I remember a squatter kid singing along to you), the art kids
and everyone between. Do you suppose it's your attitude or because
you get booked with various genres.

FT: I think it's all of the above. My attitude is open minded and welcoming to any and everybody that wants to have fun and be entertained by good music. Plus It's always been a conscious effort to play shows with a variety of artists and organize shows with a variety of artists - like my show BLACK CHRISTMAS which features myself, B L A C K I E, Speak! (rapper from L.A.), and Caddywhompus on December 26 at Mango's Cafe. I want to expose my fans to different shit that I think is cool as frequently as possible.
J: I sometimes see you wear Mr. T Experience, Screeching Weasel, and
other pop punk shirts. At what age did you get into punk rock. What are
some of your favorite bands?

FT: I got into punk rock from being a little boy in elementary school that really liked Nirvana because they were loud and broke things on TV. Soon as I got my first drum set I tore it to pieces.That started my interest and it continued with the Ramones, but really got cemented in 6th grade when I got Blink 182's "Enema of the State" album. That turned me on to a lot of older bands that they'd mention in interviews or perform cover songs of. Knowing about bands like Screeching Weasel and NOFX is a direct influence of Blink 182. Some of my favorite punk bands are definitely the Ramones (my #1), Bad Brains, Descendents, Black Flag, The Germs, Screeching Weasel, Misfits, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, and The Queers to name a few. I've always been mostly into pop punk and the old 70's + early 80's stuff.
J: So are these the bands that influence you to play hiphop? Why not a punk
band? What hiphop/rap artists are you digging like a ditch right now.

FT: Ya fuckin' right. Every piece of good music I really admire is a big influence on my music.And I don't play in a punk band cause I think rap music is more fun and more flexible. Plus growing up I never really know many people that liked punk rock. I still don't think it's a lot of people that really like punk rock unless they're old and want to reminisice or a young suburban Warped Tour kid with too much internet on their hands.There's not many rap artists I especially like except my friends and folks I've met outside of Texas. Out of this new generation of rap niggas I'm into Smash Bro, June James, B L A C K I E, Nosaprise, Hollywood Floss, Supreeme (Atlanta), Speak! (L.A.), and Ninjasonik (NYC). Out of the current rappers that's deeper in the game right now I dig Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy, Lil' Wayne, Kanye West, and a few records from others like The Cool Kids. Other than that I listen to a lot of the classics like UGK, Jay-Z, 2Pac, Too Short, etc.

J: RABDARGAB is your debut album. Tell me about the story behind this album title?

FT: When I was a bad ass little boy in 4th grade (1997-1998) I used to come home and get my school clothes all dirty and watch TV. Often when I'd watch cartoons on Fox 26 they would show a commercial PSA for a H.I.S.D literacy promotion program called RABDARGAB. READ A BOOK DO A REPORT GET A BUCK. It was simple way for a kid to make a $1 at that time. To me, the album title represents Houston, my generation, and general hustling (aka the American way).

J: When will it be released.?

FT: No release date is set for the album, but the sooner it's released the happier I'll be. It still needs a home. If anybody has a decent record label and wants to press up a great new rap album by a new artist and a new producer named Tom Cruz (who could very well be the next J Dilla according to Bob Power, engineer of A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Erykah Badu, etc.) then come holla at ya boy. You won't regret it.
J: Any ideas of how you want to celebrate it?

FT: Throw a party with a keg of lean. Maybe a keg of Sparks... who knows, just something fun and lavish.
J: Is there anyone in Houston right now that you think is innovating the
city right now.

FT: Me.
J: If you could do a rap duet with anyone right now dead or alive who would it be.

FT: Pimp C... E-40... Too Short... Q-Tip... The Neptunes... Darby Crash... Those come to mind immediately. I used to have a dream list of people I'd want to work with when I was in high school.
J: Tu Pac is dead. BIG is dead. Big L is dead. 50 Cent kept getting shot
but kept getting up. What's up with Fat Tony. You dodgin' bullets?
What's up!

F: No death threats yet. Life is very precious and that's something I've always been quite conscious of. One only lives once. I hope God blesses me to see many, many, many more days and stay far the hell away from trouble. I can do a lot of good for this world and everyone I believe in.

J: A Fat Tony record release party and a keg of Sparks! I'm there!

Fat Tony is to host a night at Mango's on 26 of December with performance by Fat Tony, Caddywhompus, B L A C K I E, & Speak (from Los Angeles) - 403 Westheimer -Doors @ 8pm
Shows @ 9pm - $5

Friday, December 11, 2024

3rd Annual Cactus Music Toy Drive

posted by Free Press Houston @ 11:44 AM

Local punk veterans The Hates will be performing Buddy Holly tunes today at Cactus Music for their 3rd Annual Toy Drive to benefit Houston Area Woman's Shelter.As always music and beverages are free so come out and support a good cause!!!

Friday, December 11, 2024
5:30pm - 7:00pm
Cactus Music
2110 Portsmouth Street

I can't get enough of this shit

posted by Free Press Houston @ 9:32 AM

This is the perfect confluence of eloquence and buffoonery.

Wednesday, December 9, 2024

Two Birds, One Stoner: Excursions in Space City

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:46 AM

by Harbeer Sandhu


Everybody’s always asking me where to get Indian food. Like I should know. Me going out for Indian food would be like you going out for grilled cheese and brussels sprouts. But lately I’ve been hearing a lot about this place on the north side--an Indian “taco truck” parked beside a Valero station. Now, normally I have a rule against eating at restaurants attached to gas stations (I just have a problem with the idea that food equals fuel) but I had heard so much good tell (like, seriously, everybody has been talking about this place) that I had to check it out.
So, imagine a Valero station in northwest Houston. Imagine, in its parking lot, a shortbus painted white with a vinyl sign hanging slack from its roof bearing the words “Desi Grill & More.” Imagine picnic tables set up beneath white tents where on weekend nights, laughter and Urdu poetry mingles with incense and the aroma of fish pakoras frying in sesame oil. Not a bad scene, really.
Vinod Bhai is a warm, mustachioed, bemulleted, one-earinged man who, after 25 years, got tired of operating fancy Indian restaurants on Hillcroft and decided to open up a dhaba (India’s version of the roadside truck-stop greasy spoon diner). He’s very adamant about the distinction between a restaurant and a dhaba--you won’t get cloth napkins at dhaba, and you might have to pump your own water from the well, but the food you get will be fresh, authentic, delicious, and inexpensive--stuff that will stick to your ribs.
His specialties are tandoori chicken (advertised with a pollo asado sign!), fish pakora, and daal makhni. I had the pleasure of tasting the tandoori chicken and it was perfect--crispy and just slightly charred on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. The daal makhni (buttered lentils) was hands down the best I’ve ever had. Ever. Vinod Bhai’s daal recipe involves cooking the lentils in milk instead of the usual water and includes a healthy dose of butter and tomato sauce. Yum!
So make the 30 minute trip up to the Desi Grill & More some time--it would be worth even a longer drive. They located at 12672 Veterans Memorial Drive @ Sableridge (beside the Valero station, across from Whataburger and Shipley’s.) They are open from 6 pm to 12 am, daily, and if you’re lucky, you might sight one of their regular customers--WWE wrestler The Great Khali--and I dare you to challenge him to an eating contest.

While you’re up there, less than a quarter mile away, tucked into a Kroger’s strip mall at the corner of Veterans Memorial and Bammel-N. Houston, is one of Houston’s all-time coolest record stores, VINYL EDGE. In addition to the fact that he’s got one of the best used vinyl inventories on the Gulf Coast, you have to give owner Chuck Roast props for keeping it real in a sometimes hostile environment (the burbs!) for over 24 years.
Chuck--whom you might know from his bands Space City Gamelon, A Different Kind of Monkey, and Turmoil in the Toybox, or his many radio shows on KPFT and KTRU such as the Funhouse Show, Xenofile, and Genetic Memory--was holding it down back when Jimmy Swaggart’s and Tipper Gore’s people were pamphleteering outside of his store. He tells a great story about the time that he made a window display for the Ministry/Gibby Haynes tune “Jesus Built My Hotrod.” Apparently, they needed to fill up the bottom part of the window, so Chuck instructed his employee to rip and crumple pages out of a Gideon’s Bible for filler. Well, just outside in the parking lot, a mother and child were being traumatized by this sight and pretty soon, all the churches in the area were atwitter. I am surprised to hear Chuck say that he has gotten far more heat for religious satire in his window display than he has for political content--like the gory anti-war displays he made for both Gulf Wars, which are always great to see in this suburban strip mall.
Vinyl Edge is a throwback to the era when record stores doubled as head shops and underground comic book stores, which reminds me of another great story he tells. When they first opened on Halloween 1985, they used to carry a lot more bongs and pipes and such, but with the advent of crack in the late 90s, they started attracting a new, agitated, sketchy, and sometimes rude clientele. So Chuck decided to get rid of all the pipes and stocked the old pipe cases with books. That’s right--crack indirectly led to increased literacy!

Vinyl Edge is located at 13171 Veterans Memorial Drive. They are open Mon-Thurs 10-7, Fri-Sat 10-9, and Sunday 10-6.

Tuesday, December 8, 2024

Jay Reatard Vs. American Sharks @ Walter's Tonight

posted by Free Press Houston @ 12:51 PM


Tuesday 08 December $12

Spiritual America and the Immeasurable Distance

posted by Free Press Houston @ 12:24 PM

by Buffalo Sean

Matthew Day Jackson: The Immeasurable Distance Contemporary Arts Museum Houston 5216 Montrose Boulevard Open Tues. – Saturday (10 am – 5 pm), Thurs. (10 am- 9 pm), and Sun. (12 pm- 5 pm) Through January 17, 2024

With a bushy russet beard, wearing disheveled clothes and riding a BMX bike, Matthew Day Jackson pedaled back and forth across Marfa. His brown eyes cast a friendly glow on any face he came across in the windswept West Texas town. As he went from house to house meeting, greeting, drinking and laughing, Jackson built up the kind of goodwill that usually follows gurus, gamblers and ice cream trucks. Five years after those sun-parched days in the desert his mind is ensconced here in Houston at the Contemporary Arts Museum as “The Immeasurable Distance”- a fitting title for his collection of resin-soaked memorabilia by an earnest mind let loose.
Overtly curious, with a wide-ranging appetite for pop culture, Jackson’s work toes the line of conceptual art without engaging in the pretension that plagues esoteric aristocrats like Vanessa Beecroft and Matthew Barney. At first glance Jackson’s artworld bona fides are firmly intact, but his childlike guile keeps even the most mortifyingly informed insiders on their toes spinning bullshit into gold thread. Composed of readymade elements, each with their own set of innuendoes, Jackson’s work is sculpture, painting and installation- a coherent context holding various disciplines together. Within his mind pulsating like a thick bass line, everything moves together. Gone are the days of the categorical museum, Jackson is bringing back the reign of the wunderkammer.
Matthew Day Jackson’s work came to town in 2024 as a part of Toby Kamps’ “The Old, Weird America” and returns this year as a solo show courtesy Bill Arning, who first arranged for “The Immeasurable Distance” to be exhibited in Boston at MIT while he was the director. Both curators see his work as a call for social progress, a break from the cyclical nature of human existence. In “The Old Weird America” Jackson’s Garden of Earthly Delights (Spiritual America), 2024, was an edgy, dark take on fallibility and legitimacy. Tenuously based on Hironymous Bosch’s triptych of the same name and a recent exhibit by the king of art thieves Richard Prince, Garden consisted of a group of black-framed modified posters and a snaking vitrine filled with oddities. An Evil Dead poster is cut into a psychedelic landscape, zombies cheering on Sputnik in grey wool suits. The title character from the 1977 film Sasquatch becomes Joseph Beuys scaring a caravan of cowboys forwarding a river. Hopper and Fonda from Easy Rider roll upside down across the USA. Fake taxidermy fairies, Wally Wood’s Disneyland Memorial Orgy, astronauts and the ’68 Olympics all make appearances in this sprawling installation. Without a serious leap of faith the elements may remain inert but with the right mix of faith and paranoia the aesthetic experience becomes a reprieve from heavy handed messages and a DIY journey to one’s own sense of understanding.
“The Immeasurable Distance” is that experience writ large, and I must recommend getting really high on weed before attempting to fully enjoy the virtuoso stonership that the exhibit displays. If nothing else you’ll need to do it just so you can see the human visages on rock faces across America that Jackson spent months and thousands of miles documenting. Conceived as a response to the artist’s residency at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Distance” looks at science as a layman, far enough from the content to appreciate the aesthetics of categorization, preservation and simulation. Study Collection is a long steel shelving unit with a series of series; mock-ups of American missile systems from Fat Man and Little Boy to Cruise missiles, skulls morphing out of geometric forms and crude human limbs fused to tree branches. It is an amazing work to take in, the viewer walking back and forth examining objects, measuring differences, making references and noting new elements. Looking to the past, August 6th, 1945 documents Hiroshima and Washington DC on the last day of WWII, when atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. The streets are paved in lead, and buildings are nothing more than charred stumps in jagged geometric patterns. Through reversals and reexaminations Jackson takes on the legacy of the American 20th century from a myriad of perspectives.
The issue of immeasurability comes to the fore in Tensegrity Biotron, a large cube divided by mirrors and lit by neon tubes. Casts of the artist’s bones hang suspended in the case and as one looks through the box mirrored angles extend into infinity, multiplying bones and bright neon lines into the thousands. Keep staring. Further and further into space. All things considered, Jackson may search for the long look that carries us into the future but inside his earnestness is a clear grasp of the here and now, the disjointed realities of contemporary life that keep us tied to this earth and our own problems. The artist’s intent fades into the subconscious as the viewer’s context adds meaning to the objects and ideas presented to it. If the new century of art has anything to bring to the table, it is a better sense of our selves instead of any single narrative striving to lift humanity out of the mire of boom and bust, truth and lies or right and wrong. Jackson brings it to us today.

Interview : Female Demand

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:31 AM

By Omar Afra

Bass and drum duo Female Demand is fresh on the heels of a new album which they release New Year’s Eve and a string of clutch shows including another killer performance at Westheimer Block Party. The band has finally captured their gritty Lightning Bolt meets Zep sound by spending the time and treasure to record their songs at Sugar Hill. They are not very smart, charismatic, or good looking but they were kind enough to answer these questions.

In the right context, you guys may be one of the best live bands in Houston. Is it hard to play these monumental earth-shattering shows and next play to 6 mildly interested people?

Not really. We play music because we love it. Whether it's 30 people in the crowd or 4, we still play our best and kinda think of that show as a band rehearsal haha.

Earliest childhood musical memory?

Jon-being a little baby and having a little toy saxophone that blew bubbles. lol

Tell us about the new album. Why did you choose to go to Sugar Hill instead of recording the way you did your last ep? You know, the one where your super loud-shitty snare sounds like dropping nickels into an RC Cola.

Well we opted to record this particular EP at sugarhill because it was cheap. A good friend of ours introduced to one of the engineers there and he just let us pretty much have the studio for a whole night. It was definatly a better experience then when we recorded the first demo. And the drums do sound a whole more accessable. lol

Who do you fuck anyway?

Haha, we don't kiss and tell. But, if we had to be literal here, then I'd say we both always go with the ladies.

Female Demand. What does that mean? Are you qualified to explain what females demand?

Funny you ask. I don't think that we are qualified to explain what females demand. BUT! I can explain the origins of the name. It's the title of a Prefuse 73 song and I just thought that it sounded really funny when you said it out loud. It's kind of suggestive but at the same time it sounds like you're saying female to man or female the man. And I liked that it had that to it. That funny play on words...

Bradley has a bonafide legion of bass pedals he manipulates into sonic retardation. How often do you ever tell him " Hey just go with a clean tone?

Not often to be honest. Each pedal has it's specific use and meaning and Bradley really tries hard to not pack on a shit tone of pedals. If there was an easier way of carrying gear then we'd have a shit tone of stuff, but it just ain't like that.
Bradley-And plus, we love loud things, and what better way to make loud noises then with a Ampeg 6x10 and a Fender Bassman 300 and a bunch of pedals! haha

Fill in the blanks: Houston is the musical belly button of the cosmos because________?

Because we're hot....

Friday, December 4, 2024

The Case For the Westheimer Street Festival

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:39 AM

by M.Martin


Over the last four years, residents of Montrose and Houston music fans have been privileged to experience the near-rebirth of a cherished neighborhood institution with the success of the Westheimer Block Party. Both in spite of and because of that success, it is now time to consider the possibility of a complete rebirth of a local institution and legend...and bring back The Westheimer Street Festival.

For those not familiar with the history, a brief recap might prove useful. The Westheimer Street Festival was an offshoot of an event started in the early 70's, known as the Westheimer Colony Art Festival. The Westheimer Art Festival was pretty much what the name would imply--and arts and crafts event, originally brought about for the purpose of showcasing local artists. When club owners and promoters began to capitalize on the crowds by placing live music stages and beer booths in the vicinity, the art festival organizers responded initially by condensing their event to the intersection of Westheimer and Montrose and fencing it off, and later by leaving Montrose altogether. But what was by then referred to as the 'The Westheimer STREET Festival continued and flourished in their absence, eventually reaching a point where over 200,000 people attended an event that officially extended from Waugh Drive to Taft--and unofficially extended twice that far.

Unfortunately, the event was not well-managed. What started as cheerful anarchy grew to the point where the City of Houston reached an agreement with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) whereby only a single alcohol permit would be issued for the entire event, creating the necessity of a single organizer/promoting entity, which became the "Westheimer Street Festival Association". This turned out to be a mixed blessing; the city had what it wanted, in the form of a single entity that could be held legally responsible for the event. But as the event grew, it became increasingly obvious that the street festival association--a collection of lower-Westheimer merchants, property owners, and gay-rights activists-- was very good at playing the politics of late-seventies/early eighties Montrose, not so good at producing events. Necessities like porta-cans, police, and post-event clean-up were perpetually under-budgeted. A growing influx of new and more conservative property owners increasingly felt that their concerns were unheeded by the promoters. Eventually those concerns were heard and acted upon by city officials, resulting in an city ordinance requiring public hearings as a precondition for the issuance of a street closure permit on Westheimer, effectively ending the Westheimer Street Festival in 1999.

Although abortive efforts by the principal former organizer persisted into 2024, it was not until the first Westheimer Block Party in 2024 that Montrose again saw anything like the former street festival in its heyday. The Block Party was like a snapshot of the old festival circa 1980, just as it was morphing from an arts and craft show into a street party. There was a renewed emphasis on visual arts and a restored sense of connection to the community--due at least in part from the role played by this newspaper as principal media sponsor and the role played by this paper's publisher as principal organizer.

But just as the old festival carried the seeds of its own destruction in unfettered growth and lack of community responsibility, so as well has the Block Party been the victim of its own success. Although the 12,000 to 15,000 crowd estimates for the two most recent block parties are a mere fraction of the old festival's drawing power, they well outstrip what can safely and effectively be produced without street closure on a series of adjacent city blocks. Continuing to produce the event as currently constituted would be to place the public at risk and threaten the community good will that four years of successfully produced block parties has created. It's time to either shut it down or ramp it up to the next level... and bring back the old festival.

In an separate editorial, FPH publisher and block party producer Omar Afra announced his intention to do exactly that. The purpose of this article is to second that motion and make a case that doing so is a benefit to Montrose as a neighborhood and Houston as a city. I speak as a long-timer Montrose resident and frequent participant in the previous street festival. This is the case for returning the festival, as I see it:

1. The Festival Contributes to Montrose's Neighborhood Identity

In its 80's heyday, The Westheimer Street Festival was the defining trademark of Montrose as a community. It combined in a single package all the things that made Montrose a desirable place to live before realtors began dicing it up into condo lots and redefining it as parts of Neartown, Midtown, or "The Museum District". An open-minded commitment to fun, a substantial population of working musicians and artists, a youthful and accepting perspective... these things defined The Montrose of the 80's and remain a part of it's cultural DNA. While it is true that no small number of later-arriving residents showed up in spite of Montrose's reputation or with a sincere desire to reform it, far more showed up--and stayed-- because of what this neighborhood means to this city, and what it represents. It may be true that higher rents have decreased the numbers of artists, musicians, and students...but who among Houston's creative community does not, to some extent, see Montrose as the spiritual center of that community? "The scene" comes and goes in rhythmic waves. There is no doubt that the era of the Westheimer Block Party has coincided with a resurgence in Houston's alternative arts and music not witnessed in some years. There is little doubt that growing The Block Party into a full-blown festival will help fuel that resurgence.

2. The Festival Benefits Montrose (and Houston) Culturally

Montrose, with its image as the local Haight-Ashbury/East Village equivalent, is a cultural asset to Houston. To believe otherwise is to assume that the fourth largest city in the United States neither has nor needs a soul; to assume that strip malls, strip clubs, and McMansions are sufficient to define the character of a city. The best of times for the old festival was when the arts and crafts fair and the street fair peaceably coexisted. Properly organized, a reborn Street Festival can retain that mixture--and build upon it. There was a time when The Westheimer Street Festival drew artists, artisans, musicians, and festival attendees from all over Texas and beyond. What those participants and attendees took away was not just the money they made or the good times they experienced--they took away an impression of Houston as a vibrant, diverse, and dynamic city. That is an impression that is--all too often-- very much sadly lacking. Houston is never seen as a "destination city", a place to be experienced and enjoyed for it's own sake. It is always seen as a place where people go to make money. The Westheimer Street Festival, at it's best, offered a compelling counter-narrative... and a reborn festival may do so again. It is also worth considering that one of the most striking distinctions between the festival of old and the current block party has been The Block Party's ability to extent past being merely a daytime festival, and function as well as a nighttime music showcase. That nighttime component has a potential that goes far beyond the scope of the original festival.

Consider this: One of the most frequent sources of envy Houstonians direct at Austin is that city's successful self-promotion as the "Live Music Capital of the World". The centerpiece in Austin's e ongoing PR campaign is South by Southwest, which has served for over twenty years as the premiere industry gathering for music, arts and entertainment. Very few people now recall this, but SXSW began as an event not terribly bigger than the nighttime part of The Block Party. Equally unremembered is that the event was started out of the frustration experienced by 'outsider' artists and musicians in dealing with the larger and more established industry showcases in New York and L.A. With nearly 20,000 registrants, SXSW is now beginning to look an awful lot like the events to which it was created to serve as an alternative... there may be an opportunity there.

3. The Festival Benefits Area Businesses

While this seems like a truism, it needs to be mentioned. Few current lower-Westheimer merchants and business owners have any living memory of what it was like to do business with thousands of people in the streets. There have been some who have expressed their doubts about being able to make money when they are competing with dozens of street merchandisers, beer sellers, and food stands. The truth as I recall it was the exact opposite. Stores were packed, the street was packed, and people were happy to stand in line for whatever it was they had a fancy to buy--or if not, they were perfectly happy to walk a few blocks and spend money with neighborhood merchants outside the immediate area of the festival. Nor did the benefit extend no further than a twice-yearly bump in sales. For a lot of Houstonians, the Street Festival was their first introduction to the Montrose. Having been there once, and found a boutique selling products they could find no where else, or found a restaurant or coffee shop or bar utterly unlike anything in the far-flung suburban reaches of Greater Houston, they found themselves with a reason to many have, as many will again.

4. Now is the Time

Perhaps the most compelling reason to pursue reviving The Westheimer Street Festival is that there has never been a better time or opportunity to do so. After four years of successful and professionally produced Westheimer Block Parties, there is ample evidence that the pitfalls that befell the old festival are by no means inevitable. An interesting parallel development over the last three years is the Montrose Halloween Crawl, which also brings thousands of people into Montrose, brings thousands of dollars into the coffers of local charities, and brings nothing but credit upon the community. This last summer saw the skills acquired in producing The Block Party honed and brought to a new level, when the First Annual Free Press Houston Summerfest provided 20,000 attendees one of the most acclaimed outdoor concert experiences in the country. The network of skilled professionals and dedicated amateurs who have come together to produce these varied events are an incredible asset to this city... and something truly new and different.

The time is also right politically. Both of the finalists in the current mayoral race have made public commitments to work with a credible community organization for the purpose of restoring our festival. Whoever leads the city government in the new year will be someone who is willing to be a partner in restoring a community institution that has been loved by many.

5. The Alternatives are Worse

The last argument I want to make is simply this: the success of The Westheimer Block Party proves beyond doubt that there is an appetite within the community for an event of this type. No promoter or producer is good enough to persuade 12,000 people to attend an event they don't care about. That appetite can be used to drive an event that is beneficial to the community. It can also be exploited for short-sighted gain, as anyone knows who recalls the later and less responsible phases of the old festival. A principal--and principled--reason that Omar Afra has announced an end to The Block Party in its current form is out of the realization that continuing it in its current form would be a disservice to the community. None of those involved in producing the current event have any interest in that happening, and all those presently involved are sincere in preferring to end the current event if it cannot be grown in a responsible manner. Were that to happen, those who have consistently opposed any form of a street fair on Westheimer might well assume that they had finally won.

They would be wrong. After the ordinance passed that effectively ended the previous incarnation of the festival, that event's principal producer made several attempts at perpetuating his pet cash cow, including producing the event on Allen Parkway as "The Westheimer Street Festival in Exile" and (finally) piggybacking onto the Pride Parade in 2024. These attempts served only the most baseline commercial reasons for producing a festival. It was a relief to all parties when those attempts ceased.

As long as the demand exists, someone will try to produce the event. The only real questions are of who that producer will be and whether or not they are prepared to work with the community to produce a clearly beneficial event. Omar has announced the formation of a non-profit corporation that will coordinate between the city, civic organizations, and the event organizers to ensure that the concerns of all stakeholders in the community are heard and met. This non-profit will exist to ensure that the reborn Westheimer Street Festival maintains an appropriate balance between art and entertainment, that the future growth and direction of the festival be consistent with the interests of a majority of those within the community, and that the festival be a clear and unquestioned asset to the City of Houston at large. I do not believe that any other current or potential producer of a large inner city festival is prepared to make this commitment.

Those are the arguments, as I see them. There are probably other ways to make the case for The Westheimer Street Festival, and certainly there are arguments against it. But the single biggest argument, and the one that will be heard most loudly in the you. Yeah, you--the person who reads this paper, who goes to the Block Party, who might even be old enough to remember the old festival in its glory. You, the people who either live in Montrose or make it a frequent destination, and who care about it as a community. You are the single biggest argument for the continuation of the event, and yours is the voice that needs to be heard. When the time comes for public forums to debate the future of this festival, they can't just be attended by dyspeptic condo-owning yuppies with an axe to grind. If you really care about the event and the neighborhood, you need to do more than just show up twice a year with enough cash in your pocket for a few a beers and some sausage on a stick. You need to speak up, and let the people in charge know that this is an issue you care about... and being a registered voter doesn't exactly hurt either.

Thursday, December 3, 2024

Galleria Fun!

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:43 AM

FVH storms the galleria. from Free Video Houston on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 1, 2024

Bicycle Film Festival

posted by Free Press Houston @ 12:42 PM


If you have had not had enough of bike culture, The Bicycle Film Festival makes it's way to Houston this weekend. The schedule is as follows:

Friday December 4th

9:00 PM | BFF Kick Off Party
Goldsprints hosted by Cisco Da Kid
Party with DJs: Mr Castillo, Dj Paramour & more...
Mango's 403 Westheimer Rd


Saturday December 5

Screenings at Super Happy Fun Land 3801 Polk St.
4:00 PM | Program 1 - KLUNKERZ (mtb bike)
6:00 PM | Program 2 - WHERE ARE YOU GO (must see!)
8:00 PM | Program 3 - URBAN BIKE SHORTS (fixed gear)

10:00 PM | After Party - Mango's 403 Westheimer Rd
with djs: On Hiatus, IP Freely, Ceeplus Bad Knives
+ more tba


There will also be an official BFF Alley Cat during the day..
hosted by Justen.

Lots of fixie kids with pants rolled up will be present. Their bikes will be colors like purple, lime green, and electric blue.