Ask a Dilettante – Pride, Butt Art, Pizza Pesos

Dilettante has not received any letters this month, so I will just assume you, dear reader, are busy with your resolutions or perhaps are out buying a parka to prepare for the snow storm that’s heading to Houston. Bundle up. Grab the nearest person, dog or plant and make yourself a hot toddy. Oh, and read on.

Too Hot for Pride?
There are rumblings that the Houston Pride Parade (when did they quit calling it the Gay Pride Parade?), which is always held in June, might be moved to September in 2008 because that month is “cooler.” Not only that, there is an attempt to move the parade out of the Montrose and relocate it downtown.

First, even if the date changes, parade participants will still be able to go shirtless or wear a rainbow bikini and motorcycle boots because the average temperature in Houston in September is just two degrees cooler than June’s average.

Second, moving the parade downtown will hasten the blandification (yeah, I made that up) of what has been a unique Houston experience held in absolutely the right setting. Pride Houston talks about making the event “more inclusive.” I’ve been to the parade numerous times, and if there’s one thing the Pride Parade has going for it, it’s inclusiveness.

When the Westheimer Street Festival moved downtown (thanks to the yuppies who’d recently moved into the Montrose and found the event distasteful), it turned into another boring collection of food-on-a-stick trailers surrounding booths with cheap beaded jewelry and prints of dogs playing poker. The festival lost its soul, and recent attempts at resurrecting the event have failed. It’s over, and its demise should provide a cautionary tale.

But, But, But
Virginia high school art teacher Stephen Murmer was put on administrative leave in December when school officials found out about the unusual way he creates his pieces of art. He applies paint to his butt cheeks (and sometimes his twig and berries) and then sits on canvas, making organic shapes that typically end up being flowers. This week, he lost his job because of it.

Wow, imagine that. An art teacher who actually creates art outside of the classroom. Guess it would be better to have the closet-pedophile coach teaching the art classes, huh? Come on. The guy attached a pseudonym (Stan Murmur) to his pieces and always wore a disguise when interviewed or photographed. He did what he could to keep that part of his life separate from the classroom. He was outed when a student found a video of Stephen being Stan on the internet. Blast. Though one might be able to argue the artistic value of ass-painting, there’s no reason this teacher should have been fired. What dumbasses.

No Besos for the Pesos?
This week the blogosphere and national news outlets were all over the story about the Texas-based restaurant chain Pizza Patron’s efforts to increase their Hispanic customers by accepting pesos as payment for their pizza pies. I hope the party responsible for this marketing campaign was well-compensated because they put the small chain on the map.

The thing most ironic about the rabid, hateful backlash to what was a pretty simple gimmick is the fact that northern states have been accepting the Canadian dollar for years, but we haven’t become the United States of Canada. It was close when those McKenzie Brothers movies were popular and people started saying “eh” a lot, but it passed.

Of course, we all know this isn’t really about the restaurant or its pesos. That’s a-boot it. I’m oot of here. Stay warm.

[This column originally appeared in its entirety on Houstonist.]