Hoarders, Trash Keepers, Beware Proposed City Ordinance

Categories: Spaced City

Photo by Camilo Smith
If the inside of your home looks like this, times 20, you could be fined.
Last week the Houston City Council presented a proposed change to an ordinance that would levy a fine on people who hoard. Not just the grandma who keeps a huge collection of china dolls, or the dude who can't throw away the last 650 issues of Playboy. We're talking about the folks you see on television, on the A&E show Hoarders, those folks who live in vermin-poop infested lairs of funk and don't throw away old cartons of milk. Many have serious illnesses.

At least that's the image of the hoarder the city is presumably trying to clean up. Hoarding situations usually come about, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle, when people already have an unchecked mental disorder that can become more severe following a loss.

"Trauma from a great loss often triggers an escalation in hoarding behaviors, said Randy Frost, on of the nation's leading researchers treating and studying the disorder. An estimated 2 percent of American's have the disorder, he said, although it often is most noticeable among elderly because they have had longer to accumulate things and people are more likely to check on them than other adults."
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Five Things That Make Houston More Country Than You Think

Categories: Spaced City

Houston defines country. Please.
The most country city in America, according to Estately.com is Fort Worth. Okay, we'll buy that, but Houston at No. 16? Preposterous.

We fell into the "somewhat country" category, a couple of notches above Austin and way below San Antonio, which came in at No. 2. But we're not going to let this faze our country-ness, because we know we belong in the top three at the very least. Besides, estately.com had some bunk methodology. This is how they established their rankings:

We took the 50 most populated cities and ranked them from 1-50 based on the percentage of Facebook users listing these ten topics as interests: country music, fishing, hunting, NASCAR, firearms, barbecue, cowboy boots, pickup trucks, rodeos, and sweet tea.

Sweet tea, of course. We might not have NASCAR, but we have NASA, you know, that place that trained all those space cowboys? We also have other things that made us more country than places like Colorado Springs, El Paso and Virginia Beach.

Photo by Bradley G.
5. Grills
Sure, any corner store jeweler in the country can fit you for some gold in your mouth. But Houston has its own cottage industry that really took off across popular culture. This is a staple of urban cool, and there's entrepreneurs building little empires around sticking gaudy jewels into your mouth.

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Supervisors, Officers Disciplined in HPD Homicide Probe

Categories: Spaced City

Chief calls out bad HPD homicide cops.
Four high-level homicide investigators and four officers have been disciplined after an extensive internal investigation of the Houston Police Department's homicide division.

The investigation found that 24 cases dating back to 2004 "were identified with deficiencies including not conducting proper follow-up, not entering documentation in a timely manner, insufficient documentation, or none at all," according to an HPD statement released Friday after HPD Chief Charles McClelland held a press conference announcing the results.

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Mayor Parker Talks Crime Lab, Rape Kits and Human Rights at State of the City

Photos by Camilo Smith
Mayor Annise Parker at a press conference following her third State of the City speech.
The biggest applause for Mayor Annise Parker's third State of the City speech probably came when she talked about creating an independent forensics crime lab and when she talked about the work in helping to eliminate a backlog of untested rape kits.

That was part of the speech she gave this afternoon before the Greater Houston Partnership, but later according to her, they weren't the main points of her agenda. Those would be greening the city and improving the situation for the city's homeless. Still, she closed out her speech, and dedicated a press conference to, talking about a draft ordinance she's putting together to protect citizens civil rights, especially for the city's LBGT community.

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Six Cool Things With Cross-Cultural Appeal That You Can Find at Fiesta Mart

Categories: Spaced City

Camilo Smith
Bright lights, big city.
Fiesta Mart is an amalgam of Houston culture, offering foods for most of the ethnic people you find in the city. It's also the grocery store for those living in and around rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, and a place designed to meet the needs of modern Houstonians, or so we'd like to think.

Call it one-stop shopping that's not putting more money into the Walton's bank accounts.

For those of you who don't know and maybe don't want to know what the inside of a Fiesta looks like, you don't know what you're missing. It's a cross-cultural experience that in some ways is unmatched on the local grocery store scene. Not that there's really a scene, but you know, how edgy is hitting up the HEB and Whole Foods, really?

To show the awesome multi-culti experience you get inside a Fiesta Mart, here's a look at six awesome things we found in our neighborhood store.

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When Dead Big Foot Came to Houston and Five Other Hoaxes

Categories: Spaced City

Making a killing off fools and believers.
So, if you paid cash to see An Evening With Big Foot when the tour stopped in Katy last month you maybe left a firm believer that the body supposed to be Bigs was real (after pounding several beers) or you took it all in fun.

Self-proclaimed Big Foot master tracker, and hunter Rick Dyer revealed on Facebook that although he did indeed shoot a Texas Big Foot, what he had on display was a fake---shocker, I tell you. That Big Foot corpse people paid around $10 to see was a creation of a West Coast company. This is all kinds of punishable fraud in our opinion. Still, a hoax is a hoax.

See also: Bigfoot Showing at Alamo Drafthouse Angers Cryptozoologists

Since this guy is a real gem and made a few grand, carnival sideshow style, we thought we'd take a look at other hoaxes (or things that are obvious hoaxes to us) with a Texas connection.

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Five Things We're Hoping Will Be in Mattress Mac's Biggest Store Ever

Categories: Spaced City

Photo by WhisperToMe
Mattress Mac, the king of the furniture hustle.
It's been a long time since Mattress Mac first started Gallery Furniture, starting off with $5,000 and making deliveries with his own truck.

The slogan hasn't changed, but a lot of other things have. The main Gallery Furniture store is a labyrinth of a creation with furniture as far as the eye can see, interspersed with displays like Princess Diana's jewels, Elvis' favorite car, random exotic birds and only Jim McIngvale, Mattress Mac himself, can guess what else.

Last week Mac announced plans to open an even bigger Gallery Furniture store out in Fort Bend County, one that will veritably dwarf the showpiece that looms on the side of I-45, that some would call an eyesore and that all can agree has become a Houston icon. Since this store is going to be even bigger (and thus obviously better) than the last one, here are five things things we're hoping Mac will set up and display in it.

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Men Who Allegedly Held More Than 100 Locked in Houston Home Went Before Judge This Week

Photo by Makaristos
Five face charges in stash house smuggling case in Houston.
When Houston police pulled over a red Mustang last week they found a couple of guns and a number of papers that HPD spokesperson John Cannon said showed some illegal activity.

Soon after police, who were investigating a possible hostage-taking, made the decision to enter a residence on Alameda Schoo Road. What they found shocked them.

It was a typical immigrant smuggling stash house situation: boarded up windows, doors that locked from the inside, men in their underclothes and without shoes. What was atypical, said Cannon, was the amount of people smooshed inside the location. There were 115 people inside the house, all allegedly held against there will by at least five men who, according to court papers, threatened men and women with guns, a taser and a wooden paddle.

The people trapped inside the home told police that they had paid to cross into the U.S. but were being held until families paid transportation fees. This week, those five men accused of holding those folks, stood before a district judge on charges of extortion and smuggling.

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HPD Shares Tale of Scams and Wal-Mart Debit Cards

Categories: Crime, Spaced City

Scammers' tools.
If you ever needed another reason to hate Wal-Mart, Alice Lee's got one for you. She was almost a victim Tuesday night of the Green Dot Moneypack scam.

But we'll get to that in a minute.

Lee was a special guest during the Houston Police Department's news conference today on scams targeting the Asian Community. Eric Mehl from the HPD's swindle unit led the discussion where he also ave some details on a tax season ruse called the "IRS Impostor Scam" that's been targeting Indian and Afghani immigrants in Houston. In that one someone of very low moral character calls the unsuspecting victim and tell them that they owe back taxes and that they can be deported for non-payment.

Then there's the "you got a warrant scam", which is where Lee comes in. While she is Chinese American, police said this scam is equal opportunity.

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Check out Citizens for Animal Protection and North Shore Animal League's Adoption Drive

Categories: Spaced City

Get yourself a cat or a dog -- or both -- at CAP Saturday!
The North Shore Animal League's cross-country tour promoting shelter adoptions hits Houston March 29 for an event showcasing furry friends available at Citizens for Animal Protection.

Adoption fees will be waived, plus there's also a bake sale, a silent auction, and a half-off clothes sale at CAP's store. (We're pretty sure means 50 percent off the price, not that people will be half-dressed. But hey, it'll be fun either way).

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