2011 Pride Houston Logo "Live, Love, Be"2010 Pride Houston Logo "Pride Not Prejudice"2009 Pride Houston Logo "Out 4 Justice"
It’s the start of a new year, that special season when Houstonians break out their winter T-shirts, when the grass changes colors from brown to green and when Pride Houston unveils the new theme and logo for the June pride parade and festival. The grand unveiling ceremony is at F Bar (202 Tuam) on January 17 and 7:30 pm. The Grand Marshal Nominees for 2012 will also be revealed. Finalist from the 2011 Pride Star singing competition will provide entertainment throughout the evening.
With 31.98% of Harris County precincts reporting, most races look much the same as they did at 7 pm when the Harris County Clerk published early voting totals. The HISD district III race between Manuel Rodriguez and Ramiro Fonseca is turning into a nail bitter. With 58% of precincts reporting only 36 votes separate the two candidates. This race garnered national attention after Rodriquez mailed an anti-gay flier attacking Fonseca, and the Houston Chronicle subsequently pulled its endorsement of Rodriquez.
UPDATED: with 94.74% of precincts reporting Rodriquez is now leading Fonseca by 3 votes.
Only candidates with more than 10% of the vote at current count are reflected.
City of Houston, MAYOR, 29% of precincts reporting
Dave Wilson 10.99%
Fernando Herrera 14.56%
Annise D. Parker 52.09%
Jack O’Connor 13.43%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 1, 29% of precincts reporting
Stephen C. Costello 51.59%
Scott Boates 21.71%
Don Cook 18.31%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 2, 29% of precincts reporting
Kristi Thibaut 16.29%
Elizabeth C. Pérez 12.40%
Andrew C. Burks, Jr. 19.08%
David W. Robinson 11.76%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 3, 29% of precincts reporting
Melissa Noriega 56.88%
Chris Carmona 24.63%
J. Brad Batteau 18.49%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 4, 29% of precincts reporting
Louis Molnar 10.93%
Amy Price 19.47%
C. O. “Brad” Bradford 69.59%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 5, 29% of precincts reporting
Laurie Robinson 19.43%
Jolanda “Jo” Jones 41.03%
Jack Christie 31.31%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT A, 19% of precincts reporting
Brenda Stardig 42.77%
Helena Brown 47.45%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT B, 44% of precincts reporting
Kenneth Perkins 10.09%
Kathy Blueford-Daniels 17.49%
Alvin Byrd 26.86%
Jerry Davis 23.68%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT C, 23% of precincts reporting.
Ellen Cohen 55.56%
Karen Derr 10.50%
Brian Cweren 27.86%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT D, 35% of precincts reporting.
Larry L. McKinzie 16.44%
Wanda Adams 83.56%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT E, 33% of precincts reporting.
Mike Sullivan 100%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT F, 8% of precincts reporting.
Al Hoang 57.33%
Hoc Thai Nguyen (Nguyen Thai Hoc) 19.90%
Peter “Lyn” René 22.76%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT G, 20% of precincts reporting.
Clyde Bryan 21.00%
Oliver Pennington 79.00%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT H, 38% of precincts reporting.
Patricia Rodriguez 30.55%
Edward “Ed” Gonzalez 69.45%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT I, 46% of precincts reporting.
Leticia Gutierrez Ablaza 33.96%
James Rodriguez 66.04%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT J, 7% of precincts reporting.
Mike Laster 70.16%
Criselda Romero 19.86%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT K, 19% of precincts reporting.
Pat Frazier 23.15%
Larry Green 68.40%
Houston I.S.D., Trustee, District III, 58% of precincts reporting.
Manuel Rodriguez 50.61%
Ramiro Fonseca 49.39%
Houston I.S.D., Trustee, District IV, 29% of precincts reporting.
Davetta Daniels 33.27%
Paula Harris 66.73%
Houston I.S.D., Trustee, District VIII, 26% of precincts reporting.
Dorothy Olmos 42.12%
Juliet Kathy Stipeche 57.88%
At 7 pm the polls closed. The Harris County Clerk’s office must now count and tabulate the votes cast today in Houston’s 769 voting precincts. While we wait for the final results, let’s take a look at the numbers from early voting:
City of Houston, MAYOR, with 46,333 ballots counted:
Kevin Simms 7.55%
Amanda Ulman 1.60%
Dave Wilson 10.40%
Fernando Herrera 14.31%
Annise D. Parker 52.76%
Jack O’Connor 13.38%
Dave Wilson’s 10.4 percent is surprising, considering he’s been poling at less than 1%. General wisdom is that conservatives are more likely to vote early than left-leaning voters. In my opinion his strong early showing is likely to dramatically decrease as the evening progresses.
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 1,
Stephen C. Costello 51.80%
James Partsch-Galvan 7.88%
Scott Boates 21.77%
Don Cook 18.54%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 2,
Kristi Thibaut 16.75%
Elizabeth C. Pérez 10.41%
Andrew C. Burks, Jr. 20.69%
Gordon R. Goss 1.75%
Bolivar “Bo” Fraga 9.51%
Eric B. Dick 7.44%
Jenifer Rene Pool 7.55%
M. “Griff” Griffin 7.25%
David W. Robinson 11.84%
Roslyn “Rozzy” Shorter 6.81%
With such a crowded field this race is still anybody’s game, fewer than 6,000 votes separate the early leader Burks from ninth position shorter.
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 3,
Melissa Noriega 56.67%
Chris Carmona 24.19%
J. Brad Batteau 19.15%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 4,
Louis Molnar 10.65%
Amy Price 18.43%
C. O. “Brad” Bradford 70.92%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, AT-LARGE POSITION 5,
Laurie Robinson 18.43%
Jolanda “Jo” Jones 42.16%
Jack Christie 31.46%
Bob Ryan 7.94%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT A, with 3,125 votes counted:
Brenda Stardig 43.06%
Helena Brown 47.01%
Bob Schoellkopf 9.93%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT B, with 4,710 votes counted:
Kenneth Perkins 8.87%
James Joseph 4.04%
Phillip “Paul” Bryant 5.66%
Alvin Byrd 28.27%
Jerry Davis 26.22%
Charles A. Ingram 6.63%
Bryan Smart 3.33%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT C, with 7,492 votes counted:
Randy Locke 3.88%
Josh Verde 17 2.47%
Ellen Cohen 55.28%
Brian Cweren 27.20%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT D, with 6,498 votes counted:
Larry L. McKinzie 14.60%
Wanda Adams 85.40%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT E, with 4,283 votes counted
Mike Sullivan 100.00%
City of Houston, DISTRICT F, with 2,789 votes counted:
Al Hoang 56.72%
Hoc Thai Nguyen (Nguyen Thai Hoc) 20.84%
Peter “Lyn” René 22.45%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT G, with 5,917 votes counted:
Clyde Bryan 19.60%
Oliver Pennington 80.40%
Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT H, with 2,710 votes counted
Patricia Rodriguez 27.81%
Edward “Ed” Gonzalez 72.19%
Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT I, with 2,694 votes counted
Leticia Gutierrez Ablaza 31.28%
James Rodriguez 68.72%
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT J, with 2,013 votes counted
Mike Laster 70.67%
Rodrigo Canedo 9.78%
Criselda Romero 19.56%
Out gay candidate Laster takes a commanding lead, but this heavily Hispanic district is likely to see significant election day voting, so this early number, based on so few votes, is likely very different than the final number we’ll wind up with.
City of Houston, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT K, with 4,102 votes counted:
Pat Frazier 22.68%
Larry Green 70.24%
Alex Gonik 7.08%
Houston I.S.D., Trustee, District III, with 1,981 votes counted
Manuel Rodriguez 52.95%
Ramiro Fonseca 47.05%
This race garnered national attention after Rodriquez mailed an anti-gay flier attacking Fonseca, and the Houston Chronicle subsequently pulled its endorsement of Rodriquez. That information did not become public until after early voting closed on Friday, so any effect it had on the race would not be reflected in these numbers. Only 102 votes separate the candidates at this time.
Houston I.S.D., Trustee, District IV, with 5,881 votes counted:
Davetta Daniels 33.81%
Paula Harris 66.19%
Houston I.S.D., Trustee, District VIII, with 3,091 votes counted:
Dorothy Olmos 40.28%
Juliet Kathy Stipeche 59.72%
Remember that these are only the votes cast during early voting, the final numbers can, and often do differ dramatically from early voting totals.
Remodeler Chris Sandlin says slow your roll before that redux
By Jonanna Widner
As a third-generation homebuilder and remodeler, it’s no surprise that Chris Sandlin opted out of a journalism career and instead chose the family business. He made the change in 2005 and with such a history of the industry in his blood already, Sandlin brings a fairly unique perspective to the market.
“I’m 30 years old, which is relatively young compared to others in my position,“ he says. “But I put a lot of time and energy into the right team of workers and sub-contractors to customers’ homes so the end result lives up to what the homeowners deserve. As a gay business owner, I’m happy in providing stellar home services to the community.”
Before moving forward with that remodel, Sandlin says to think before demolishing.
Know when to remodel: “I commonly work with homeowners to determine whether it makes more sense to remodel or move. I approach each situation openly and honestly, and try my best to suggest what I think would be best, even if that means I don’t win the job.”
Remodel before selling: “This is usually the case with older homes that have not been remodeled recently. Homeowners accept my guidance for what sells. I have a good combination of experience in the homebuilding and real estate industry.
“There is a catch-22 here. If the house sells quickly, homeowners in won’t have time to experience the finished remodel project which tends to be the kitchen or master bath.”
“This can happen very easily. Most $250,000 homes do not need a $50,000 bathroom redo, nor does a $300,000 home need a $100,000 commercial grade kitchen. A wide variety of factors need to be considered, including how long they plan to stay in the home, what’s the budget, how it adds to the home’s value.“
Budget help: “When in the budgeting/planning phase with homeowners, research the values of nearby homes, especially with remodels. This has been helpful in concrete figures regarding their remodel, as well as experienced conjectures about how the remodel will affect the home’s future value.”
Don’t rush the details: ”Too many homeowners want to rush into their project without a clear vision. Step back, assess the project and come up with a plan. With that, the end result will be everything the homeowner wants. Rushing into it without a plan will only result in more time, money and headaches.”
Going green: “This is an area I take pride in. As a certified green professional through the National Association of Homebuilders, I integrate green philosophies and I want to minimize waste factor and landfill component as much as possible.”
“I started making many green features as my standard a long time ago because I feel it’s the right way to build and remodel. I’m happy to see more homeowners interested in these options.”
DIY: “I’m happy to help prepare homeowners for what they would encounter if doing it on their own. Sometimes it works out just fine, with small jobs that don’t require licensed tradesmen or city permits. When it comes to larger jobs, people need to know if they honestly have the time to do this in addition to the day job.”DH
New requirements by the city of Dallas could affect proceed totals from this year’s AIDS Arms LifeWalk, and at least one more new requirement is expected to be added to the list next year, according to LifeWalk organizers.
The 21st annual LifeWalk steps off from Lee Park on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. for the 3.2-mile walk. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. Last year’s event raised $401,000 and this year’s goal is $500,000.
Although thousands of people are expected for the event, Lee Park will remain unfenced this year, even though the city has said such gatherings will require fencing in the future.
Officials with the Dallas Tavern Guild, which stages the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and the Festival in Lee Park each year as part of Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride celebration, decided to get ahead of the new requirement by fencing in Lee Park this year for the festival, although the city requirement had not yet gone into effect.
Tavern Guild officials also chose to charge a $5 admission fee to the festival this year to help offset expenses and raise extra funds that will be distributed to parade beneficiaries.
The admission fee raised the ire of some in the community, and attendance at the festival was down compared to last year. But Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said the drop was not significant, and noted that the admission fee brought in about $25,000 that will be divided among beneficiaries.
But AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said new city requirements have already had an impact on LifeWalk, and she is worried that the new fencing requirements could affect next year’s walk.
“There were a lot more expenses from the city this year,” she said. “It really hits the bottom line.”
The cost of fencing next year will add an additional, unwelcome expense. But Nobles said she isn’t going to worry about that until after this weekend’s event. Right now, her main concern is getting people out to participate in this year’s fundraiser.
“Anyone can participate in LifeWalk,” Nobles said. “You can walk alone or bring friends or join a team. We even have poop-out vans: In case you can’t walk the entire three-mile route, someone will pick you up and bring you back to the park to have a good time.”
She also invited people to just come to the park and cheer.
“We need cheerleaders at the start and finish and at the water stations,” Nobles said. “We have pompoms for anyone who wants to cheer the walkers on.”
Registration for LifeWalk is $40 for people and $10 for dogs participating in LifeBark. People get a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana to show their support for people with HIV.
AIDS Arms is the primary beneficiary of LifeWalk, but other organizations also receive funds from the event, including AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus, Bryan’s House, Resource Center Dallas and the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.
Money raised goes toward programming rather than capital costs. The chorale uses funds for their HIV fund, including giving tickets to performances through the year to people with AIDS.
Nobles praised that effort, saying that socializing is an important holistic element in treating HIV.
The Women’s Chorus will present a program at AIDS Arms in March on National HIV Women’s Day. Those expenses, Nobles said, should be covered by the group’s LifeWalk proceeds.
Nobles said it would be tempting for AIDS Arms to use the money to finish paying off the agency’s new Trinity Health and Wellness Center in Oak Cliff. She said that the new facility cost more than $2 million, and AIDS Arms needs to raise just $35,000 more to pay off the facility.
Trinity Health and Wellness Center opened in September and will have its formal grand opening in two weeks.
But despite the temptation, AIDS Arms will instead use proceeds from LifeWalk to support programs for clients at Trinity as well as at AIDS Arms’ older clinic, Peabody Health Center in South Dallas.
AIDS Arms also uses the money to administer HIV tests to more than 3,500 people a year and for case management for more than 3,400 people.
LifeWalk began in 1990 as a fundraiser for Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency closed, management of the event moved to AIDS Arms.
LifeWalk Co-chair Marvin Green noted that his Green Team will mark its 20th year of participation in LifeWalk. He said he put the team together for the first time in the second year of LifeWalk because he had already lost 20 friends to AIDS.
That first year, three team members raised $75. This year, the 32-member Green Team has collected about $22,000.
Co-chair Fred Harris said that there were quite a few new teams this year.
“We’re reaching out to new communities,” Harris said. “There’s new energy. We’re branching outside Oak Lawn.”
He said teams are using creative new ways to raise money and AIDS Arms has actively brought in new sponsors such as Chipotle.
“Stoli is coming with a first-ever LifeWalk drink,” Nobles said. Returning sponsor Caven Enterprises will serve beer and Ben E. Keith donated iced tea.
Harris said planning has gone well, and that “LifeWalk is a well-oiled machine.”
Harris said he has seen more use of social media this year than ever, reaching out to people outside the Metroplex.
“This year Facebook has become a very powerful tool,” he said, not just for fundraising but also for recruiting walkers.
Last year, about 3,500 people walked, and this year, “Registration is ahead of where we were this time last year,” Harris said.
Waterpalooza, another AIDS Arms event, was moved to Pride weekend this year, just two weeks prior to LifeWalk. Harris said they took advantage of that event to sign up teams and walkers and generate excitement for this weekend’s walk.
Among the new teams, Harris said, are the DFW Sisters.
“Their efforts have been tireless,” he said. “They raise the bar.”
Nobles said that WFAA Channel 8 morning anchor Ron Corning will serve as M.C. in Lee Park. Although he’s appeared at several events since arriving in Dallas, this is the first big public event the openly gay television host has emceed.
LifeWalk received the Human Rights Campaign family-friendly designation, and Nobles said there will be bounce houses, clowns and face-painting for children.
Harris said the event is pet-friendly as well, “because pets are our family.”
There will be games and puppy pools for dogs as well as doggie adoptions, Nobles said.
She said the day would be a lot of fun but asked people to participate because the need is greater than ever.
“With the growth in the number of newly-infected people in Dallas County who need help in this economy, we’re seeing people who never would ask but must,” she said.
Next year, Nobles said, she would like to see LifeWalk return to Oak Lawn, but new city regulations for events may change those plans. Among the events changing plans this year because of the city involved Lone Star Ride.
Last year, Lone Star Riders participated in LifeWalk on bike. This year, city regulations banned bikes from walks so LSR riders who participate will have to walk.
Green was thinking about bigger plans for future LifeWalks. Other cities that raise more money stage longer walks. He said he’d love to use the new Downtown Deck Park that should be completed next year and dreamed of seeing LifeWalkers crossing the new suspension bridge that should be open in March 2012.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.
Expect a lovefest when Coco Peru comes back to Dallas for Pride weekend. With memories of a responsive audience, shopping and beef jerky during her last go-round here nearly two years ago, the drag goddess is hoping for a repeat performance. Sort of. She’s back on the road with a new show, but that’s not all the legendary queen has going on.
“Well, we’ve filmed Girls Will Be Girls 2 already,” Peru (aka Clinton Leupp) says. “Right now the writer/director is busily editing. It’s just one of those things: You film it and hope for the best.”
Peru has garnered a significant amount of film work over the years, usually with notable cameos in films like as Trick, but occasionally as the star, as with Girls Will Be Girls. But she admits live performance is where she’s at her best.
“I like to think my show is like watching a theater piece,” she says. “I love film acting, but it’s exciting on a whole other level. There’s not that energy of a live audience and no feedback. So often, comic timing is how the audience is reacting to you. With acting, you mentally feel it out, try it and mostly trust the director. I find sometimes I rehearsed a line so much in my head, it takes me a few times to take direction on it.”
For Girls 2, Peru discovered just how much her fans appreciated her work. As a micro-mini indie, the film went on the website Kickstarter to raise funds. As word got out that the film was in production and that Peru was in it, the money rolled in.
“The movie was completely funded by fans,” she exclaims. “It was just incredible that they would want to pay money! And I must say, most of it came from my fans. I’m just putting that out there.”
Along with funds from Kickstarter, the crew itself was almost all-volunteer. People would just show up, willing to help out. It turned into an actual labor of love.
Along with donated help, the production even received a donated green screen. All the generosity reminded Peru that people are that genuinely kind and that it’s all right to ask for things, which usually embarrasses her. She saw this particular filmmaking experience as a good lesson on many levels.
“Let’s just hope the movie’s funny,” she laughs.
Dating back to the “early ‘90s” — that’s as specific as her website will get — Peru gives much credit to her fans along the way for the success of her career. Even if they come up to once again mention her role in the film Trick, Peru takes none of it for granted. Perhaps it’s cliché for any type of celebrity to appreciate their fans, but she talks at length about how her fans have kept her driven.
“It’s so overwhelming, whether it’s a movie or my own shows, that they will take time to contact me to tell me whatever it is they are feeling,” she says. “I feel lucky and blessed when they reach out to me and I strive to answer every email. I remember those days that felt so lonely and sad. Growing up gay and feeling rejected doesn’t make a happy life. But when you get over 800 birthday messages on Facebook, it’s amazing!”
She’ll meet a new slew of fans on her current End of Summer Tour, as she’ll visit Tampa and Las Vegas for the first time as a performer. Even with her experience onstage, Peru is still daunted by a new audience, the same way she was before playing Dallas the first time early last year.
“The first time, I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect,” she recalls. “I felt that audiences came wanting to have a great time. You go to certain cities and they have a bit of an edge, but in Texas, it was an immediate love fest on both ends.”
In her new show, There Comes a Time, Peru talks about getting older and reminiscing about her life. Fortunately, Dallas isn’t a punch line in her monologue. The city left a good impression on her and she only hopes to make another one of her own.
“Well, I’m happy to be coming back and they took such good care of me last time,” she says, “but I don’t wanna jinx myself. You never know.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.
Lexus series adds queer event to upcoming season of musicals
What’s gay about ‘Jersey Boys’? The GLBT Broadway subscriber series at the Winspear will tell you.
The Lexus Broadway Series offers a muscular lineup of shows that feature classic stories and contemporary rock ‘n’ roll. But they go one step further in the 2011-12 season with the stage equivalent of special edition DVDs, featuring enhanced performances and pre-show engagements for subscribers — including its gay patrons.
Dallas Voice Life+Style Editor Arnold Wayne Jones will host a conversation every second-week Tuesday about 45 minutes before each show. The series, called GLBT Broadway, will highlight the appeal for queer audiences for the shows in the series. The discussion will touch on issues of gender identity and sexuality in regards to the show and the teams behind them. Some — such as the season lead-off, Hair — might be easier to analyze from a gay perspective than, say, Jersey Boys, but that’s part of the fun of the series.
The season starts with Hair, which won the Tony in 2009 for best musical revival. Youth in 1960s America are all about peace, love and understanding — including nudity and homosexuality — in this iconic musical. Sept. 20–Oct. 2.
The epic Les Miserables follows with a new 25th anniversary production. Dec. 20–Jan. 1.
Best musical Tony winner In the Heights details the immigrant experience as characters find a new life in their new country. March 13–25.
Alt-rockers Green Day went Broadway with American Idiot, touted as a mashup of a rock concert and staged musical. May 8–20.
The season concludes with Jersey Boys and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Classic hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” tell the tale of this well-accomplished music group from the ‘50s. June 12–July 15.
Other subscriber series include Broadway University, hosted by SMU theater professor Kevin Hofeditz which will explore themes of the show and its place in theater history (every second Saturday matinee) and Broadway Uncorked (every second-week Wednesday), where an expert sommelier will host a wine tasting based on the show. We wonder what American Idiot’s wine will be.
— Rich Lopez
For more information on the Lexus Broadway Series and its enhanced performances, visit ATTPAC.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.
Gift registries can be intimidating. Dean Driver makes them easy
FASHION. PLATE. | Dean Driver knows how to make a tabletop pop — and how to make it easy on you to choose your gifts. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
BY RICH LOPEZ
Perhaps the one wedding tradition same-sex couples might waffle on is signing up for that beg-a-thon, the gift registry. Forget whether to do so (you should); the real question is, where can you find that particular china pattern you once saw in a magazine?
The answer to that question is probably Dean Driver. With his new company, Consilium Lifestyle Collections, Driver makes what could be a daunting (even intimidating) task for same-sex couples possibly the easiest job out of all the wedding planning.
“I don’t know if the average gay couple feels comfortable going into stores,” Driver says. “They may, but many retailers just aren’t reaching out to gay couples.”
Teaming up with Consilium Creative Marketing, Driver created what may be the first by-appointment source of its kind in Dallas to provide a wedding gift registry for same-sex couples. While the services are for everyone, Driver believes that this personal touch can bring comfort to any gay newlyweds hesitant about how to sign up for gifts. It also gives them a home field advantage when looking for fine tabletop products and more.
“The way we do business is changing, and this has afforded me the ability to do in-home consultations and also wedding registries,” Driver says. “I come to the client with samples to get an idea of their lifestyle and suggest products and can see what will work with what’s already in the home.”
The affable Driver knows his stuff. After working with tabletop industries for years in large markets like New York, he has access to many luxury brands and even unique home products. The usual china and crystal items are no problem, but items like linens and household accessories are more easily available through him.
Driver’s first piece of advice on getting started with a registry: Don’t be intimidated.
“I demystify all that for you,” he says. “That’s what I’m here for. I’ll make it easier for you. And people shouldn’t think that everything offered in a registry costs so much. We do have some unique options that are moderately priced.”
Consilium has only been around for a few months, but it has burst out of the gate with a selection of up to 50 brands, some exclusive to them. And with Driver’s knowledge and background, he can pretty much get anybody anything they want.
“I’m a sort of an expert in tabletops, and I have my finger on the pulse of the industry,” he says. “I go to Paris, to Milan and see all the new patterns. And if you saw a plate in a magazine and brought it to me, I could pinpoint what it is. When I say anything, I mean anything — and you may be only person in the country to have it.”
Something his company can guarantee is the death of that most dreaded wedding tradition: The return. Once items are selected for the registry, gift givers don’t have to worry about buying an item that’s already been purchased. Instead, the company does gift cards only, which are beautifully packaged for the giver to present.
“This prevents exchanges or duplicates,” he says. “Plus, clients may change their minds and gift cards give them an opportunity to get something else. And it’s a little more green without all that wrapping paper and shipping to worry about.”
Driver and company seems to have gotten rid of all the excuses couples can make to partake in registering for gifts. Being that a wedding is a life-changing event, Driver mostly wonders why not go all out?
“Couples shouldn’t shy away from getting nice things,” he says. “This is the one time to get the nice stuff, so why not? Anything you want, I can get.”
The only caveat — Driver encourages people to use the nice stuff everyday.
“Yeah, don’t pack it away in a cabinet like our parents did,” he says.
Of course, if there’s one thing gays know how to do it’s merchandise.
There's definitely something vaguely dystopian about the tone and tenor of Let England Shake, but that's not the discomforting part. On her eighth full-length album, PJ Harvey chronicles a dark and morally ambiguous history of England as a present-tense proposition: In other words, the dystopia is now. Of course, Let England Shake is not as much a polemic as it is a meditation on what it means to be English, so while this album has already found itself positioned as Harvey's first truly outward examination, the internal conflict still plays a role in its narrative: On "The Last Living Rose," Harvey mourns, "Take me back to England!" before noting its "grey, damp filthiness of the ages," while the narrator for "The Words That Maketh Murder" helms a first-person wartime lens for a truly relevant consideration of the personal cost of nationalist rhetoric. But the extent of Harvey's pop acumen is most clearly demonstrated by her seemingly effortless ability to convey these criticisms without the oppressive trappings of a so-called Serious Album, and it is, perhaps, that lack of explicit navel-gazing that makes it all the more profound. On some level, it could be argued that the rigorous introspection of Harvey's previous albums may have inevitably led up to this one — because you can't make sense of the world around you unless you know your place inside of it.
Bright EyesThe People's Key (Saddle Creek)
In the almost four years since Cassadega, Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst has become equally as recognized for his progressive political activism and newfound interest in spiritual mysticism as he was for being "the new Bob Dylan" when he was only 22. At 30, Oberst has clearly outgrown the comparison, and with The People's Key, he introduces a newly liberated version of his personal and musical identity: "I take some comfort in knowing the wave has crested," he sings on one song, "knowing I don't have to be an exception." On the surface, this is a deceptively complex album that draws from the wide spectrum of Oberst–related collaborations that have surfaced over the last several years — his electro-tinged work with The Faint, that shamanic folk of the Mystic Valley Band, and the fuzzy punk chaos of Desaparecidos among them. But instead of resigning itself to pastiche, The People's Key teems with a sense of cohesion that even his strictly acoustic records often fail to muster, and if there's a Conor Oberst album less maudlin than this one, I've never heard it: It's psychedelic, but crisp; rife with metaphor, but still sometimes hazy. Which — when it comes from a songwriter whose tendency to be literal once inspired him to write songs called "It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends" — turns out to be a refreshing, game-changing surprise.
In preparation for the March 29th release of their fourth album, Something to Die For, Sweden's best-known new wave exports The Sounds are offering Towleroad readers a free download of their first single in over a year: "Better Off Dead" largely strips the band of its guitars for a dynamic, unambiguous four-to-the-floor club track which probably won't quell those persistent Dale Bozzio comparisons any time soon. But in my book, that's not a comparison you'd necessarily want to shake.
Rihanna went through a bit of a censorship controversy this week when the BBC began airing a version of her latest single, "S&M," that had been edited of any references to "sex" or "chains and whips" and renamed as "Come On." Rihanna took to Twitter to express her displeasure, stating that she was "absolutely not" OK with the change, and really, she shouldn't be — especially when it was only a year ago that BBC Radio aired this rendition of the Velvet Underground's "Venus In Furs," as performed by Gary Numan and Little Boots. Sample lyric: "Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather … Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart." Rihanna's lyric is a cute metaphor in comparison.
Radiohead announced surprise details for a new album yesterday, and true to form, they're only giving us five days notice:The King of Limbs is being called "the world's first Newspaper Album," and will feature two 10-inch records on clear vinyl, a compact disc, digital downloads of all the music, and over 600 pieces of "tiny artwork." (You also have the choice to just download the digital album by itself.) The music will become available on February 19.
Nanna Øland Fabricius — better known as Oh Land — was discovered by minimal techno producer Kasper Bjorke in her native Denmark, but the singer eventually moved to America where she released an EP last fall that went criminally underrated. Apparently, Sony Music thought so, too: The label quietly rereleased Sun Of A Gun last week and they slipped in an extra track: "We Turn It Up" is the first collaboration between the Brooklyn–based singer and the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams. Is it too early to talk song-of-the-summer?
Before tragically losing his battle to AIDS in 1992, Arthur Russell had become one of the most respected and influential musicians of his century — leaving an indelible mark on avant-pop, disco, and even modern classical music. Earlier this month, a group of Russell's friends and collaborators released an album under the name Arthur's Landing featuring new arrangements of some his best work — including the Loose Joints classic "Is It All Over My Face?" — but for those unfamiliar with the originals, Strut Records has enlisted DJ/producer Pocketknife for an 80-minute mix of Arthur Russell classics available for free download HERE.
Fans of Björk and Sigur Rós will likely appreciate this beautifully shot 30-minute documentary about the Icelandic music scene, quite literally titled Iceland: Beyond Sigur Rós. The film features interviews and video clips from classical-electronica artist Ólafur Arnalds and longtime indie-pop advocates Seabear, among others.
Following the departure of Billie Joe Armstrong from his featured performance on Broadway with American Idiot: The Musical, it has been confirmed that AFI's Davey Havok will bring his gothic glam to the role of St. Jimmy for a two-week run. Also set to star with Havok: American Idol alum Justin Guarini.
When news of Teena Marie's death surfaced in December, many Americans remembered her primarily for "Lovergirl" — the 1984 hit that signaled the second phase of her career following an acrimonious split with Motown two years earlier. But that first phase was incredibly significant, and Icon, which comes out today, celebrates Marie's tenure at the label with a comprehensive collection of material that leaves little doubt to the legitimacy of her "Ivory Queen of Soul" status — as if "I'm A Sucker for Your Love," featuring her late mentor, Rick James, or the truly unforgettable "Square Biz" couldn't do that on their own.
For their new EP, Derealization, The Forms recast a handful of songs from their 2007 self-titled debut for a considerable upgrade. The songs themselves do most of the heavy lifting — the swirling and rhythmic "Steady Hand" is a clear standout — but members of The National, Pattern is Movement, Shudder to Think, St. Vincent, and Dirty Projectors all lend a hand to make this revision truly necessary.
Trax Records is to house music what Sun Records is to rock 'n' roll: Founded in 1984, the label didn't just release pioneering house records as much as it actually guided the genre's progression from American post-disco to Chicago acid and underground house. Trax Re-Edited harnesses 21 of the label's most classic tracks and hands the masters over to contemporary producers like Ray Mang, Toby Tobias, Swag, and Freaks' Justin Harris for a near-perfect compilation of modern dancefloor edits.
A couple of years back at the Merge Records anniversary festival in North Carolina, I watched Telekinesis leader Michael Lerner find out that his band was too sick to play, assemble a new band on the spot, practice once, and then go on stage and totally kill it with the kind of precision reserved for veteran artists — all within the span of a four-hour window. To say that his second album for Merge, 12 Desperate Straight Lines, is a virtuosic display of power-pop, then, may be an understatement. Also, it never hurts to have Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla on production duties.
For the third single from New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), Erykah Badu enlists the video tricknology skills of Flying Lotus — whose own experimental hip-hop career on Warp Records likely informs the Jetsons-on-blueprint-paper aesthetic of this clip.
Mirrors — "Into The Heart"
They call what they do "pop noir," and there might be something to that: "Into The Heart" is particularly memorable as far as 21st century synth-pop goes, like a young Orchestral Manouevers in the Dark in need of antidepressants.
Toro Y Moi — "New Beat"
When your real name is already Chazwick Bundick, I'm not sure why you'd need a pseudonym. Whatever the case, Toro Y Moi's first single from the forthcoming Underneath The Pine reminds me of those lo-fi disco records that DJs used to play off of reel-to-reel machines back in the 1970s. This is, by the way, a ringing endorsement.
Sanso-xtro — "Hello Night Crow"
Australian ambient electronic artist Melissa Agate returns with Fountain Fountain Joyous Mountain, her first new album in five years. The gorgeous glitch of "Hello Night Crow" serves as a perfect soundtrack for this visually stunning exercise in stop-motion video.
Yesterday afternoon, Hubble astronomers released a new photo of a blob of gas was discovered by a Dutch school teacher in 2007 named Hanny's Voorwerp. They said it is "strangely alive" and giving birth to new stars in an area of space where stars don't usually form.
Parts of the green blob are collapsing and the resulting pressure from that is creating the stars. The stellar nurseries are outside of a normal galaxy, which is usually where stars live.
That makes these "very lonely newborn stars" that are "in the middle of nowhere," said Bill Keel, the University of Alabama astronomer who examined the blob. The blob is the size of our own Milky Way galaxy and it is 650 million light years away. Each light year is about 6 trillion miles.