TSA OPPOSES BILL OPENING DOOR TO TUITION HIKES

by James V. Geluso

Daily Cougar Staff

AUSTIN -- The UH delegation played an active role at the Texas Students' Association conference in Austin this weekend, sponsoring three of five resolutions that dealt with upcoming legislation in the Texas House.

In four general assemblies Friday and Saturday, the TSA considered five bills dealing with internal procedure and bylaws, and five resolutions, which addressed legislation pending in the Texas Legislature, then established TSA's position on those issues.

A last-minute motion was introduced by Sherry Boyles, the legislative director for UT's Students' Association, to oppose Senate Bill 502, which would give the boards of regents of each school authority to set tuition rates up to twice their current levels.

"This is scary because if this happens, tuition will go up," Boyles said.

The motion to "strongly and adamantly oppose" the bill was carried unanimously without debate. Although it lacks the force of a resolution, the motion did set TSA's position on the bill, allowing the organization to contact legislators about the issue.

UH SA Sen. Jennifer Zuber read the three resolutions at the Friday afternoon general assembly.

The first resolution opposed House Bill 31, introduced by Rep. Dan Kubiak, D-Austin. The bill would allow students to retake any class and have the earlier grade stricken from their grade point average. Some universities already have such a policy.

"To make a universal policy such as this bill does would compromise the integrity of every university here," Zuber said. "We have course auditing at UH. That's what this is for."

"It promotes the freshman slacker ethic," UH SA President Angie Milner said.

Joel Romo, legislative assistant to Kubiak, said the bill was intended to help students who return to school after a break of several years. "This will allow students who had been out of school for a while to make it

through," he said.

The bill had been introduced during the last session, but didn't pass because the Higher Education Committee ran out of time, Romo said. "It's a good bill; it's just not a high priority," he said.

When questioned, Romo was unclear about several provisions. Section 2 of the bill, which sets a higher tuition rate for the second time a student takes a class, penalizes in-state students more than nonresidents. When asked about this, Romo hurriedly said Section 2 will be deleted in committee. Romo also was unsure about when the bill would take effect. The text of the bill says fall 1996, but Romo said it may be revised to fall 1995.

The resolution was the most controversial of the TSA resolutions. It was passed only after it was revised to ask that the bill be changed so individual schools could determine their own policies. Although such a bill would change nothing, some TSA delegations were opposed to asking that the bill be withdrawn.

The second resolution was in support of HB 22, which mandates a discount for students with high academic standing when they purchase auto insurance. The resolution passed easily with no discussion.

The third resolution was in opposition to HB 63, sponsored by Rep. Ron Wilson, D-Houston. The bill would mandate that the boards overseeing student publications be ethnically diverse. The TSA assembly passed the resolution with minimal debate.

"Affirmative action has no place in our student publications," Milner said. "How a paper covers news has nothing to do with the color of the staff."

The resolution originally included a statement that "Rep. Ron Wilson has consistently written bills that counteract the public interests." That statement, described by Zuber as being the result of "late-night bill-writing," was deleted when the resolution was brought into debate.

Two other resolutions were introduced by other schools. Resolution 4, sponsored by Texas A&M, expressed support for the Texas Tuition Assistance Grant program.

Resolution 5, introduced by the Lamar University system, endorsed financial support for that system, which is "facing fiscal difficulties due to a regional demographic situation not of their making," according to the resolution.

The UH delegation, which included Milner, Zuber, SA Senate Speaker Jeff Fuller and freshman Morgan Taylor, also visited the offices of legislators in the Capitol. All of the legislators had gone back to their districts by the time the delegation arrived Friday, but assistants were still in the offices.

 

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FRONTIER FIESTA CORRALS SUPPORT

OF MORE GROUPS

by Jessica Ellis

Daily Cougar Staff

Since its revival in 1992, Frontier Fiesta has faced many obstacles. This year's Frontier Fiesta Association has made an effort to include all students.

Last year, some student groups submitted a letter of grievance to the President's Office, expressing their concern about the Frontier Fiesta theme being exclusive to some student groups.

The reason for the boycott was based on the Old West theme of the event, which does not reflect today's diverse student population, the groups said.

The groups, including the Metropolitan Volunteer Program and the Council of Ethnic Organizations, submitted the letter and boycotted the event last spring.

Frontier Fiesta chairwoman Julie Baumgarten said she has been meeting with several student organizations to ensure that this year's event will be a uniting effort.

"We've (Frontier Fiesta Association board of directors) approached student groups on campus to ask them for their input," Baumgarten said.

Groups like the Hispanic Students' Association and Pan-Afrikan People for Progressive Action decided to participate in the celebration this year.

HSA President Russell Contreras said he is happy that the event's planning board is "reaching its hand out" to his organization.

Henry Bell, president of PAPPA, said the event was boycotted last year because there was miscommunication in the planning stages of the party.

"Julie has been instrumental in extending the hand of Frontier Fiesta Association to all students, not just a particular segment," Bell said.

Baumgarten said the board has decided to keep the name "Frontier Fiesta" because of its traditional value.

"We are concentrating on the location, Fiesta City," she said.

The event will take place April 6-8 across from Entrance 1 on Calhoun.

This year, the event will concentrate on introducing UH to high school students and the surrounding community, Baumgarten said. High School Night will be celebrated Friday, April 7.

College Night takes place Thursday, April 6.

Frontier Fiesta board members said they are trying to schedule a variety of music acts throughout the event.

Students are invited to share their talent on the Midway stage.

Scholarships for high school seniors entering UH and UH students will be awarded at the event.

Proceeds from the event will go to M.D. Anderson Library.

Mindy Terence, vice president of the Asian Students' Association, said she did not know if ASA was going to participate in the event.

"We (ethnic organizations) want to help promote the university in any way we can," Bell said. "Being a part of the celebration is what UH is all about."

This year, there is a logo contest for the event's T-shirts and other paraphernalia. The original logo is Western in its theme, and the deadline is March 1.

Meetings are open to anyone interested in the event. Meetings are every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the UC-Underground.

For more information, the Frontier Fiesta office can be reached at 743-5181.

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PHONE PRANK ALMOST CANCELS SA CONFERENCE

by James V. Geluso

Daily Cougar Staff

The Texas Students' Association conference in Austin this weekend was nearly ruined when someone attempted to cancel it only a few hours before it was to begin Thursday night.

An unidentified caller contacted the Wyndham Austin Hotel, where the conference was to be held, at 5 p.m. Thursday. Claiming to be UT Students' Association President John Black, the caller told the hotel staff there had been a death in the organization and that the conference was cancelled, conference planners said.

Brandon Bichler, a UT Students' Association senator, who planned much of the conference, discovered what happened when he arrived to set up the registration table for the Legislative Reception at about 5:30 p.m.

Black said he didn't know who would attempt to cancel the conference. "It was probably just a bunch of idiots," he said.

The hotel staff on duty during the reception was unaware of the cancellation attempt and said it didn't know who took the call.

Although the reception was intended to bring legislators and aides together with Students' Association senators from around the state, very few legislators attended the event. It was unclear whether the unknown caller had also called legislative offices.

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UPPC TO DISCUSS CHANGES IN TERMS, CHAIR ELECTIONS, MEETING DATES

 

by Jennifer Smith

Daily Cougar Staff

The University Planning and Policy Council will meet today from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss proposed changes to the UPPC bylaws.

Proposed adjustments include a change in the standard meeting date from the first Monday of the month to the second Monday, as this is the day the UPPC generally meets anyway due to scheduling conflicts.

A change in the terms of membership and office in the UPPC has been proposed as well. The current policy is that the term of office for the UPPC chairperson ends in May, and the terms of members end between May and August.

The proposed change would provide that the new chairperson of the committee be elected in May, but actually take office in September to correspond with the school year.

In addition, a proposed change would provide that, in case of a vacancy during a term of an elected member, if the election is less than six months away, the position could be filled by appointment.

According to the proposed amendment, if the election is more than six months away, the position should be filled by a special election.

Also during the meeting, chemistry Professor Larry Kevan, head of the ad hoc HEAF Committee, will lead a discussion on the committee's revised report, which will include recommendations for continuing support of the M.D. Anderson and Law libraries.

 

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CARPOOLS CUT EXPENSE, DRIVE TIME FOR STUDENTS

 

by Shahida Amin

News Reporter

On her way to UH every morning, sophomore Saira Ayub has one thought: "I miss carpooling."

For Ayub, the 35-minute ride to UH has now become a one-hour ride.

Ayub was carpooling with another student, but they now have different schedules. This semester, she misses the perks of the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes the Metro Texas Department and the Federal Transit Administration have created to help vehicles with two or more passengers reach their destinations faster.

Since 1979, two departments have constructed five HOV lanes in Houston: Gulf Transitway (I-45S./Gulf Frwy.); Katy Transitway (I-10/Katy Frwy.); North Transitway (I-45N./North Frwy.); Northwest Transitway (U.S. 290/ Northwest Frwy.); and Southwest Transitway (U.S. 59 S./ Southwest Frwy.).

For commuters, the HOV lanes could mean a drive time that is 12 to 22 minutes faster than that of the regular freeway, said Greg Paquette, manager of HOV Lane Traffic Engineering.

"(HOV lanes) get you inside the Loop, where traffic moves faster near the UH campus area," Paquette said.

In addition, according to American Automobile Association 1993 Driving Costs, if your ride to and from work is a 30-mile trip, you are likely to spend $220 a month on car maintenance and gas. Compare that with the $110 spent if you carpool with another person.

Although carpooling may offer advantages, it comes with one initial problem: finding a partner.

"It's very difficult for students to find somebody compatible within their areas of the city with the convenience of picking up and dropping off, combined with the probability of class schedules," said Gerald Hagan, director of UH Parking and Transportation.

UH did have a matching service in the past to help students find carpooling partners, but it was unsuccessful because not enough people participated, Hagan said.

The city provides the same service on a city-wide basis with Metro RideShare, said RideShare coordinator Gay Pierce. The program matches interested individuals to other commuters driving to the same area. For information, call 224-RIDE.

For Ayub, if such a program did work for college students, it would make life a lot easier.

 

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UH STUDENT CHARGED WITH MARIJUANA POSSESSION

by Blanca Hernandez

Daily Cougar Staff

UH student William J. Falke III, 19, was arrested Feb. 2 and charged with possession of a controlled substance at his girlfriend's Cambridge Oaks apartment on Wheeler Street.

According to UHPD Lt. Helia Durant, while a maintenance worker employed at the complex was conducting his regular duties, he entered the apartment, noticed the marijuana and contacted the property's management. Property management confirmed what the maintenance worker reported and notified campus police officials. Durant said that while Falke was there, police officials entered the apartment with a search warrant and found the substance.

"It was a significant measured quantity," Durant said.

Falke was transported to Harris County Jail with bond set at $500. The possession was classified as a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a fine not to exceed $2,000, a jail term not to exceed 180 days or both a fine and confinement.

 

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THOMAS, REFS RIP MEN; LUCKEY LEADS WOMEN

1-18-2

TCU snaps UH win streak 106-95

by William German

Daily Cougar Staff

Saturday, a swaggering Kurt Thomas made his appearance on the floor of Hofheinz Pavilion, and 43 points and 19 rebounds later, the Texas Christian center still had people talking.

But they weren't necessarily talking about Thomas.

Houston Cougars head basketball coach Alvin Brooks didn't mince words when he talked about the "help" Thomas received during the Horned Frogs' 106-95 victory, help from the officiating, that is.

Cougars guard Damon Jones agreed with his coach.

"I don't like to make excuses or anything, but I felt the referees were letting Kurt Thomas get away with a whole lot," Jones said. "In a game of this caliber, you have to be ready for physical contact, and they let us play a little bit."

Physical contact was what riled Brooks and gained the second-year head coach a technical foul with just more than a minute gone in the second half. When Thomas spiked forward Kirk Ford's shot away, the noncall prompted an objection from Brooks and subsequent whistle.

The tech came 30 seconds after Ford picked up his third foul of the game, meaning he and his frontcourt mates Tim Moore and Galen Robinson all had to go up against Thomas with three fouls apiece in the half. Robinson picked up his three within a minute of each other.

"(The players) were frustrated with the lack of consistency (of the calls) on the play in the post," Brooks said. "I told them not to concern themselves with it.

"I was just trying to get them to either let us play at both ends or just call it tight at both ends."

On the UH end, Brooks noticed something strange about Moore's game.

"As dominant as (Moore) is in the paint, for him to only get to the (free-throw) line five times – that's impossible," Brooks said.

Moore made three of his five free throws, while Thomas shot 11 from the stripe, making seven.

Overall, the offensive strategy for TCU (14-7, 6-3 in the Southwest Conference) was Thomas, Thomas and more Thomas. Houston's contingent of forwards, all 6-8 or shorter, had trouble with the 6-9, 225-pound center's impressive arm extension.

"He's the best offensive post in the league, one of the best in the country," Brooks said. "You've obviously got to put a body on him if you're gonna have any chance to guard him."

Thomas added: "My teammates noticed (the size difference). They were telling me, 'We'll get you the ball, just get your position (inside).' "

Moore, who led UH (7-14, 4-5) with 13 rebounds and scored 17 points, said of Thomas, "He's a player you can't defend one-on-one, you're gonna have to double him.

"He wasn't really taking that many dribbles, he was just turning around and shooting it."

Another controversial call, this time not involving Thomas, came when the Cougars had cut a 95-74 deficit to 99-90 with 1:38 to play. Point guard Tommie Davis, bumped hard by TCU players twice on his previous trip up the court, received a call for a <I>hand check<P> on defense.

"We got it under 10 with a minute-and-a-half to play, then Tommie gets a touch foul," Brooks said. "That hurt us."

 

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STREAK GOES TO 6; JOHNSON SUSPENDED

by Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff

Before its trip to Fort Worth this weekend, the Houston Cougars women's basketball team decided to leave starting guard and four-time Southwest Conference Player of the Week Stacey Johnson behind.

Houston head coach Jessie Kenlaw would not go into specifics regarding the decision, but said the choice was made because of a "minor altercation."

"I guess you could call (the one-game suspension) a disciplinary action, but we don't have a discipline problem with Stacey," Kenlaw said. "It was just a situation where we needed to get her attention."

Johnson said, "It was something internal that needed to be taken care of."

Tanda Rucker, the other starting guard, also was cited for similar unspecified reasons, Kenlaw said. Though she still made the trip, Rucker did not start Saturday's game and was limited to just 18 minutes.

As it turned out, the Cougars probably didn't need Johnson or Rucker.

Houston (12-9, 6-3 in the SWC) handily defeated the conference cellar-dwelling Texas Christian Lady Frogs (1-20, 0-9) 91-68 for its sixth consecutive victory and remained in a second-place tie with Texas A&M.

"We had people off the bench that helped give us a balanced scoring attack," Kenlaw said.

Reserve guard Jerrie Cooper scored 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while backup freshman guard Alicia Rodriguez dished out five assists.

"(Cooper) did a good job of filling the lanes and went to the boards well," Kenlaw said.

But sophomore forward Pat Luckey made her case for a second SWC Player of the Week honor as she poured in 33 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, her third double-double in a row.

Luckey scored 24 points and had 11 boards in last Wednesday's 69-68 victory over Rice.

To help compliment Cooper, Rodriguez and Luckey, junior center Rosheda Hopson scored 10 points, had 13 rebounds and blocked a game-high six shots.

Houston, which never trailed, won the rebounding battle and outshot the Frogs 48 percent to 35 percent.

 

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UH VOLUNTEER PROGRAM ENHANCES EDUCATION WITH GOOD DEEDS

 

by Jessica Ellis

Daily Cougar Staff

With so much to do, most students haven't the time or energy to hang out at school and study, much less volunteer their time to tutor or serve lunch at a soup kitchen.

Some have, however, taken valuable time out of their busy schedules to do so.

The Metro Volunteer Program (MVP) is a student-run and funded program that links students, faculty, staff and alumni to the community through volunteer programs and outreach.

MVP seeks to make the campus aware of activities, opportunities and social issues through many different means.

Acting as a volunteer clearinghouse, MVP is a primary source of information for agencies and programs. Student-sponsored programs, coordinated through MVP, not only provide volunteer opportunities for the UH community but also leadership experience.

MVP was founded by two Student Association members in 1989, and in 1990-91, it became an official Student Service Fee agency. The program received $13,500 to cover operating expenses and two compensated student leader positions.

Today, MVP has a $28,000 budget, David Daniell, Campus Activities assistant director and MVP adviser said, and sponsors eight programs that give students a variety of activities in which to become involved.

During spring break, students pool their efforts in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a needy family, a project called Alternative Spring Break.

Students may volunteer as tutors at Stephen F. Austin High School, focusing on basic skills as well as preparing for the TASP test.

Best Buddies pairs college students with mentally retarded individuals to share experiences and grow as friends.

Every November, volunteers participate in the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The week-long activities highlight problems of homelessness in society.

Into the Streets, another MVP program, involves UH students working with community agencies in issues ranging from AIDS to the environment. The program exposes students to short-term service and inspires continued community service.

In the Loaves and Fishes program, students serve lunch to homeless on Sundays at a local soup kitchen.

Teach for America (TFA) at UH is part of a national organization that encourages college students to be educational advocates and positive role models in local public schools.

The afterschool program, Y Kids Are Smart, offers tutorial services and recreational activities to neighborhood children.

The MVP board consists of Director Chalandra Robinson, Assistant Director Roland Rodriguez and coordinators for projects, with four positions currently open.

The MVP Mission Statement states the following: For the sake of tomorrow, the University of Houston Metropolitan Volunteer Program takes action to empower the campus and community by nourishing the spirit of volunteerism, enhancing educational experiences, affirming human dignity, advocating equality of opportunity, striving for social justice.

"UH, as an institution, has a role in bettering the community in which it is a part of," Robinson said.

MVP works to achieve these objectives through education, recruitment, referral and commitment to service. "We support students who want to make a positive change in the community--by acting as a resource," Robinson said.

For more information call MVP at 743-5200 or visit them in Room 53 of the UC-Underground.

 

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CONSTRUCTION CHAPTER'S CLOSE COMPETITION

by Christen Hanlon

Daily Cougar Staff

The UH chapter of Students in Construction Related Industries (SCRI) recently ranked third place in the Centex Homes Outstanding Student Chapter Competition.

UH fell short just behind Brigham Young and Texas A&M Universities, in competition with other schools including Auburn University, University of Washington, Bowling Green State University and Arizona State University.

The purpose of this competition was to provide recognition for the accomplishments of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Student Chapters. To be eligible, the group had to be a chartered, dues-paying Student Chapter of the NAHB. Nominees were judged in four areas including chapter, campus, community and fund-raising activities, and presentation of materials.

The group, in order to enter, submitted a detailed resume of the group's prior activities and accomplishments. A few of these include a Student Resume Book that SCRI publishes and distributes semi-annually, participation in a four-hour job fair at the January NAHB Convention in Las Vegas, and working with college administration and local home builders to support residential courses in construction management.

Aside from chapter activities, the group participates in many campus events, including the design and construction of the College of Technology's booth for the Frontier Fiesta Festival. SCRI also repairs campus picnic tables and outdoor decks, and is responsible for maintaining and managing its campus wood shop.

SCRI is involved in countless other community activities and fund-raising projects. John Moore, president of SCRI, is obviously pleased with this year's group of participants. "We are all very excited about this year, and even more thrilled about the results of the Centex Homes Competition."

Moore said the chapter's most outstanding accomplishments for this year include participation in construction of at least five homes for Habitat for Humanity, volunteering for Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church's Energy Saving Project, and networking with builders who support the Construction Management Program and the College of Technology at UH.

When asked what the group would do with the $200 award for winning third place, Moore said the team deserved a reward. "I'm sure it will go for some kind of entertainment for the group. We want to give them a pat on the back. We'll possibly buy food for a barbecue or something. We haven't really decided on it yet," he said.

All students are invited to join this exciting, constructive group. Those interested should stop by Room 107B of the Technology Annex. Anyone with enthusiasm and a desire to participate can be involved. Students must pay a fee of $10 for chapter dues. For information call SCRI, UH chapter, at 743-4048.

 

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FARRIS MIXES <I>WILD<P> STYLES WELL

 

by Frank San Miguel

Daily Cougar Staff

As a growing musical genre, urban alternative music is becoming one of the most promising styles in contemporary music.

As a blend of soul, blues, hip-hop, rock and jazz, urban alternative has many adherents and nearly as many possibilities. With the crossover strength of an artist like Dionne Farris, the magnet can only get stronger.

<I>Wild Seed - Wild Flower<P> is the debut release by Farris, who formerly played with the adventuresome hip-hop group Arrested Development. You might remember her as the singing one in the hit "Tennessee" and on other cuts from the band's debut and subsequent releases. The influence of artists like Sarah Vaughn, Gladys Knight and similar vocalists is evident in Farris' voice, in AD's work and on her new record.

The release kicks off with "I Know," the soul/hip-hop hybrid single you've probably hummed on accident a couple of times. It's actually an anomaly for the recording, as it is much more a marketably palatable song than the whole.

Throughout the release, Farris glides from acoustic blues to soul to jazz to rock seemingly effortlessly. More than likely, you've heard such a comparison drawn before of people like M'Shell NdegeOcello. Farris is different by virtue of her accessibility; <I>Wild Seed - Wild Flower<P> is at once unusual, yet strangely familiar.

Where Farris is at her best comes through on cuts like her cover of the Beatles' classic "Blackbird." From the meandering ballad by the English quartet, Farris fashions an anthemic song which showcases her powerful voice. Her maturity and discipline as a singer makes for truly engaging music, as the listener gets a taste of the kind of musician and songwriter Farris is -- especially out of the shadow of AD's Speech and the rest of Arrested Development.

Standout tracks on <I>Wild Seed - Wild Flower<P> cut across a swath of styles, including funk ("Reality"), spirituals ("Food 4 Thought") and jazz fusion ("Find Your Way"). On each, Farris is able to balance her role as singer and songwriter just enough to make a lasting impression. The release is most definitely some solid work.

Sony Music welcomes Dionne Farris for a free show at noon Wednesday at the UC Satellite.

 

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BUDDY GUY SINGS THE BLUES

 

by Sean Fitzpatrick

Daily Cougar Staff

From the moment he strapped on his purple and Dayglow yellow polka dotted Fender, Buddy Guy knew this was his crowd. Wingtips stood next to combat boots, Docs next to Ropers. All of them were howling for the man Eric Clapton has called "the best guitar player alive," and they were not disappointed. Through a wicked, if mostly hammy, 90-minute set last Sunday night at the sold-out Tower Theater, Guy fed equal parts corn and brilliance to an adoring crowd.

If dues-paying is an indicator of guitar godhood, Guy has been divine for years. A player of extraordinary fire, Guy has cut infrequent records since the '60s alone or accompanying others, most notably harmonica player Junior Wells, with whom he had a 15-year partnership. Until the blues revival of the late '80s, Guy was stuck in coffee houses and small clubs.

After boosts from Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, indie Silvertone Records picked Guy up in '91. <I>Damn Right I've Got the Blues<P> and <I>Feels Like Rain<P> followed and set sales records. Both albums found Guy in peak form, supported by such high-profile guests as Clapton, Jeff Beck and Bonnie Raitt.

Guy came to Houston in support of <I>Slippin' In<P>, recorded in part with Double Trouble, Vaughan's legendary Austin rhythm section, although only a few tracks made it into the set list. Most of the material came from his earlier Silvertone records.

Guy is first and foremost an entertainer. He turned the choruses of nearly half his set over to the rambunctious crowd, who knew the songs by heart, and then gave a clinic in blues singing after he heard sour notes in the audience.

John Lee Hooker's "Hootchie Cootchie Man" was recast as a slow, spiky blues shuffle, "so funky you can smell it," and with John Hiatt's "Feels Like Rain" provided the night's greatest examples of Guy's sublimely soulful playing.

Faster tempos were more an excuse to show off than to rework old material. After taunting the audience with the first few measures of Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)," he told the crowd, "See, I can play that," and launched into a different song. Vaughan and Clapton were also tour stops, but he never lingered more than a few bars before running elsewhere.

During the 10-minute plus jam that ended the show, Guy marched into the balcony of the Tower trailing security personnel and took a tour, never missing a note. After signing some autographs, he handed his guitar to a roadie and walked offstage. In the classiest move of the night, Guy didn't return, leaving the self-serving preplanned encores to lesser gods.

 

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TRIBES OF THE BUFFALO

 

by Bobby Summers

Daily Cougar Staff

Fans of Western art and history should not miss the opportunity to see <I>The Tribes of the Buffalo: A Swiss Artist on the American Frontier,<P> the latest offering from the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

The exhibit, scheduled to run through March 26, is housed in a new second-level exhibit wing of the museum. On display are 81 hand-painted aquatint engravings by Swiss painter Karl Bodmer, and 123 Native American artifacts representing 19 Native American groups.

<I>The Tribes of the Buffalo<P> is the perfect companion piece for the museum's permanent exhibit, <I>The Language of Objects of Native North America,<P> an extensive collection of Native American artifacts displayed in the museum's McDannald Hall.

Bodmer (1809-1893) was a member of a Swiss mercantile family. After he moved from Switzerland to Germany to paint watercolor landscapes, his work caught the attention of the German Prince Maximilian, a noted naturalist and explorer. Maximilian hired Bodmer to accompany him on an expedition along the upper reaches of the Missouri River to the western part of the Montana territory. Maximilian planned to use Bodmer's art to illustrate a book about the trip.

During the trip, which lasted longer than two years, Bodmer drew sketches of the Indian tribes and the landscape of the Great Plains.

When Bodmer returned to Paris, he began work on the 81 engravings that were to accompany Maximilian's "Travels to the Interior of North America." Working with 26 engravers over seven years, Bodmer created a unique and permanent record of Native American culture.

The process of producing Bodmer's prints was complex by today's standards. Metal plates were produced from Bodmer's sketches. These plates were then color-inked by hand and individually placed on the press. Once the ink dried, each print was again hand-colored with watercolor paint. This technique was first used in the 17th century for color printing from a single plate and is the most time-consuming of all metal plate techniques.

Because the process took so much time, fewer than 60 sets of the hand-colored versions were issued. The sets were so expensive that only royalty or the wealthy could afford a personal edition of Maximilian's book.

The aquatint engravings now on display at the museum are from the collection of John Painter of Cincinnati, Ohio. Painter is a nationally recognized collector of Native American artifacts, including weapons, moccasins, dresses, earrings, necklaces, toys and household goods made by the Plains, Southwest and Eastern Woodland tribes.

Painter said this set of aquatints has a three-dimensional quality. Compared to other sets he has seen, he said this set is "more intense, yet translucent, and extremely vibrant."

Visitors to the exhibit will see vivid depictions of Native American life along the Great Plains, including paintings of rituals and dances not often seen by white explorers. Bodmer was allowed to attend and sketch these rituals after he gained the confidence of the tribal chieftains.

Maximilian and Bodmer spent one winter living with the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes along the northern Missouri River. While observing the tribes, Bodmer and Maximilian realized that the buffalo played a pivotal role in the life of the Plains Indians.

Both the Mandans and the Hidatsas, along with other tribes of the Great Plains, relied on the buffalo as a source of food, wearing apparel, shelter and tools. The buffalo also held a religious and spiritual place in Native American societies. A combination of smallpox epidemics and the ruthless slaughter of the buffalo by white hunters deprived the tribes of their means of sustenance and survival.

Bodmer's aquatints are a record of a rapidly changing scene on the edge of a vanishing frontier. The exhibit is a "must-see" for serious students of the American West, as well as people who enjoy viewing authentic glimpses into Native American life in the United States.

The Museum of Natural Science is located in Hermann Park, across from the Miller Outdoor Theater. The museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free for members; $3 for adults; and $2 for children under 12. For more information, call 639-4600.

 

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