jf\ HOUSTON f ft |
vol. 5, no. 8
Sonia Dawidowicz, Theresa Di Menno
Diane Harrington, Melissa Hauge
Chloe Mallet, Debra Thornton
Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff
Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff
David Crossley, Morris Edelson
Debi Martin, Kathleen Packlick
Janice Blue, Virginia Rail
David Crossley, Nancy Dahlberg
Theresa Di Menno, Gary Allison Morey
Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff
Nancy Dahlberg, Sonia Dawidowicz
Janet Meyer, Kathleen Packlick
Gabrielle Cosgriff, Nancy Dahlberg
Nancy Lane Fleming, Rita Saylors
Blanca Balderas, Gertrude Barnestone
Michelle Batchelder, Leslie Conner
Jack Drake, Stella Fleming
Marge Glaser, Karen Saylors
Janice Blue, Mary Fouts
Virginia Meyers, Lynne Mutchler
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Breakthrough, P. O. Box 88072, Houston,
Joplin remembered, politicians in passing, and books, baking,
marathons and marmalade, etc...
-BY MORRIS EDELSON
J.J. We Hardly Knew Ye
It's been 10 years since Janis Joplin departed the stage (Oct. 4, 1970) and, curiously, no one has done an adequate biography or study of the Port Arthur singer.
Judith Richards, a local free lance writer
sometimes appearing in these pages, just
completed a taped radio show for Sud-
West Deutsche Rundfunk and found a
certain amount of nostalgia about Janis
and a lot of dissatisfaction with representations of her in Going Down with Janis
and Bette Midler's The Rose. People who
knew her before she became famous
thought San Francisco (drugs, booze and"
cash-on-the-barrelhead sex) killed her;
those from the Bay area who knew her later said the ugliness of the Gulf Coast did
in the sensitive woman.
Some say the world ends in dope, some
say in sludge — either one will do to turn
your mind to fudge, no doubt. But Ryan
Trimble, once co-owner of Liberty Hall in
Houston and also the Half-Way House in
Beaumont, where she sang, believes she
had a rather heroic carelessness. She was a
talent confident enough of herself not to
sweat the small stuff; she wasn't afraid
enough to save herself.
Trimble recalled how the singer used
to show up, "wired and berserk," to sing
a few old tunes with new words that she
would improvise. She especially liked Cry,
Cry, Cry in the mid-60s and, especially,
Going Down to Brownsville, Janis "had a
hard on for straights," Trimble said and
she was beginning to try to make it in
Austin. "Austin was and is as dumb as
Port Arthur so she was getting some ter
rible disappointments there — everyone
was just freaked by her and couldn't hear
her songs past her looks," Trimble said.
The same situation, he said, ironically
prevails today, with people looking at
Bette Midler's imitations and not hearing
the great difference in voice and renditions. "Janis had that rhythm-and-blues,
rock and roll background that Midler'*
New York treatments of songs lack.
"Janis was really good to me," Trimble
recalled. "She never took a dime for
singing at the Halfway House, and she
had a following, a small group, that would
come for her there. She was a handful,
though. I sold the club to Bob Leviston
and Dave Hargis and Leviston finally banned her from the place. She was flipping
the bird to people, or something."
The police tried to set the place up
for drug busts and the city fathers were
unpleased by the counterculture scene developing in Beaumont, so Trimble soon
moved to Houston to open Liberty Hall
(with Phil Bowles, now in the furniture
business on Washington.) For seven years
(see Breakthrough, January 1980) his establishment was the center of the new
music culture of Houston. "I had so
wanted to get Janis there," Trimble said.
"I wanted to go out there and say, look,
Janis, here's finally a place where a lot of
people are going to love your songs — but
it was then too late." (Trimble opened
Liberty Hall in February 1971).
People shake their heads, recalling the
bottle of whiskey in her purse, or her
tongue jabbing into their mouths, her
hands groping an introduction all over
their bodies. But no one seems sorry to
have known Janis, all miss her music and
wonder what she would have gone on to.
When a meteor burns out, its fiery trail
still lights up the sky, even over those
Port Arthur refineries.
Hizzoner spent a pleasant September,
thankyou, touring the bigger waste disposal plants of Munich and warming up
for Octoberfest in Suds City. An official
release on expensive paper from the
mayor's office quoted Jim McConn as
saying, "While in Germany I will visit two
of the world's most successful solid waste
recovery plants. I will share with the delegates the methods we have employed in
solving some of Houston's problems."
McConn's statement leads to a question:
Which problems has he solved lately?
Does he tie his own shoelaces? McConn
delivered the keynote address at the
"Large Cities Forum" in Munich which is
closer to the Monte Carlo casinos than
Houston is to Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, back at the municipal corral, a Mr. Roger Line is running the city.
In case you don't recall voting for him,
he is a Top Man drawing a Top Salary,
$60,000 per year, almost double what
other mayoral executive assistants are
making. His official title is Senior Executive Assistant and he will function as City
Manager. His qualifications? He engineered
a Proposition 13 type of service-cutting
budget for the Fort Worth city government and he packaged the bond issue that
saddled Fort Worth tax-payers with more
debt to give them a bus system that isn't
much better than Houston's today.
The City Hall press release on bond
triple-A stock reveals the bottom Line
credentials: "More recently, he has held
positions in real estate development. . ."
So, expect another bond issue for the
MTA soon — if it passes people will get
from the suburbs to the city quicker,
as they did in Fort Worth for a while, and
the lower-income folks will die of old age,
as usual, waiting for that Westmoreland
or Alabama bomb-without-windows.
Being the consul for the People's Republic of China is not all wushu and fortune cookies. Poor Mr. Yu has to sail out
of his Montrose Street office and pose for
pictures with lizards given to the Houston
zoo by the People's Republic, preside over
festivities around the October birthday of
his country and, occasionally, put up with
gaffes from the likes of Bob Coussins, onetime industrial filmmaker and now scoring
pretty regular foreign junkets — mostly
talking-head shows in expensive locations.
Coussins was regaling Consul Yu with
stories of his three-week, $50,000 trip to
China for Channel 8, to make a movie a-
bout Houston ballet director Ben Stevenson at the Peking Ballet School. Coussins
told of buying a serge coat and Mao
jacket to wear with his cowboy boots.
The center of attention — no shy violet he
— at a Chinese department store, he turned to the crowd watching the Roundeye
buy his coat and asked, "How do you like
it?" Several people actually helped him
fit it right then and there.
Bones in the Gravesyard - view of one of the pieces at the Nancy Graves exhibition at the CAM.
A lone Dodger fan takes his life in his hands to celebrate a minor Los Angeles success in the Astrodome last month. The Astros went on to win, however.
Coussins taught his interpreter to say
"Bugger off!" He and his camera crew
chased Stevenson on bicycles, filming on
those bicycle trucks they have in the Forbidden City, with Coussins running down
the street yelling directions. Stevenson
did his part to weird out the one billion
citizens of his host country by insisting
that they grunt and groan to the strains
of acid rock and become instant Westerners in his three week visit.
Stevenson's and Coussins' deep appreciation of Chinese culture and history
may be inferred from the remarks Coussins let fall to Yu the night of the report
on the upcoming film, tentatively entitled
Pas de Deux - Contact of Two Cultures.
Coussins was saying, "Chinese culture
seems to be making great inroads into
Houston. There is even a sister city program between Houston here and Taipei."
Silence. Coussins pressed on: "Now,
Taipei - where is that? In the south of
China somewhere?" Heavier silence. Bob
was soon off and running again, pausing
only long enough to hear that Susan
Spruce brought home the national convention of US China People's Friendship
Committee, to be held next October in
David Ross, who was represented at the
above meeting by boxes of books from
his metamorphosed Prairie Fire Book
Store, says his 60s hangout has not closed
but is resting. The city's largest collection .
of China books and periodicals and other
progressive publications is still available
from Ross through a post office box.
Ross himself is a teaching assistant
> now in the English Department at the
8 University of Houston and is taking a side
U course in Chinese. It was Ross in the truck
2 on the airport ramp helping the Fujian
g hand puppeteers load into and on top of
his vehicle some 1800 pounds of props and
,| scenery for their recent Houston tour. A-
>a nother of his activities is the Moonlight
Madness bicycle tour of Houston, later
this month, which slices several times
through the central city,starting at the mid
night, and ending up, usually, at some
greasy spoon or other for the weary participants.
One Hand Sues, the Other Doesn't
Breakthrough readers will be overjoyed
to learn that Robert Cizik, chief executive
officer of Cooper Industries, one of the
Houston area's major polluters, won the
1980 Award for Human Relations from
the Houston Council on Human Relations,
2518 Grant (no pun intended) Street.
Cizik (pronounced Cheese-ik) is one of
the main men who funnels the Corporate
Arts collections to the major, safe, cultural organizations of Houston, such as the
Grand Opera, Houston Symphony and
Alley Theater. Previous winners of the a-
ward, by the United Way-funded organization located across from the Mining
Company disco, were Exxon, Shell Oil, a
Mr. James McConn and Barbara Jordan.
Presenting this year's award on Oct. 15
will be oily John Mazzola, president of
the Lincoln Center for the Soporific Arts
of New York.
Harriet E. Hubacker, Senior Assistant
Attorney of Houston, resigned from her
position as of Sept. 26, 1980. Hubacker
noted in her letter of departure to Edward
A. Cazares, City Attorney, that there are
problems of unrest, reduced productivity
and poor work in the city's legal office.
Cazares himself, she charged, "discourages women from staying." Her letter said:
"Your frequent sexual comments create
a non-professional and demeaning work
environment for women. It is a sad example."
Hubacker had run up an outstanding
record of efficiency in the usually-somnolent city office, but she stated that the potential of the staff is thwarted by the sex
ism and racism practiced in City Hall. Her
letter concluded: "I know it must be difficult to recognize and accept that women
. . . have career aspirations and goals. It
must be also hard to accept that (the Legal Department) is no longer an all-male
club, but sooner or later you will have to
accept that fact. Women have a right to e-
qual employment and economic opportunity as well as a right to contribute. You
will discover that if you will give them
those opportunities, that everyone — you,
the department, the client and the citizens
of the city we represent - will all benefit
from the contributions women can make
in city government."
As we go to press, we learn that Hubacker is pressing sex discrimination
charges against her ex-boss and the City.
Science Lurches On: DeBakey, Watanabe/
Rely, Smoking, Picciano, Asbestos
and Bull Semen
In case you are wondering what
Michael DeBakey, sometimes surgeon in
residence at the Baylor College of Medicine, does between burying his mistakes
(he operated on the Pshaw of Iran this
spring), he deals in buildings and power.
He claimed it is only coincidental, his
Pavlevi-si icing and new medical building
he is dedicating this month, along with
Lady Bird Johnson and Leon Jaworski,
but his new erection is the largest at Baylor in more than a decade, according to
communications director Gayle McNutt,
and cost multi-millions of dollars. DeBakey insists His Highness paid not a
piastre for the surgery, and his Highness
isn't talking, but a list of patrons of the
Baptist medical facility does indeed include a few with names suggestive of faraway places. DeBakey is Baylor's chancellor, chairman of surgery, and star fullback in the grants games.
Jaworski, a leading lawyer in Houston,