The lawlessness of parties

Once upon a senior year in high school, the Queque was the only one of its motley crew to own a motor vehicle, an inherited Chevy Celebrity. And oh, the trouble the Queque’s gang of skateboarders would cause. Hardly a punk-club commute completed without one skater hopping out at an intersection and dropping his pants. See, the problem with being a driver in a clown car full of teenagers is you have about as much control over their behavior as you do over the tape deck.

So the Queque is definitely sympathetic to death-row inmate Kenneth Foster, who’s scheduled for execution at the end of August for a murder he didn’t commit. The story goes, one night in August 1994, Foster was driving his gang around Say-town, stirring up trouble. OK, it was a little worse than indecent exposure: They were mugging and purse-snatching. At one point, passenger Mauriceo Brown stirred some shit with a girl and her boyfriend and next thing you know Brown had shot dead Michael La Hood Jr., son of a prominent local attorney. Foster — who claims he had no idea that Brown was going to shoot the guy — was convicted under Texas’s “law of parties” and sentenced to death.

During his decade on death row, Foster’s become a prison activist and spoken-word artist and cultivated a crew of fans/supporters from around the globe. This Saturday, at 5 p.m., his family, friends, and supporters are rallying — with live performances, guest speakers, and food — at the State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion to protest his sentence. Check out for more details.

Skip a few years ahead in memory, and the Queque, now a college frosh, is being chased out of Nightmare on Grayson’s brick alley by a hideous, fanged wolfy-thing and loving every minute of it. Pushing 20 now, the haunted house spells Halloween on the SA scene — evidenced by the long line of scare-seekers snaking down East Grayson every fall. But this year’s cast of ghosts and ghouls are braving the daylight hours with petitions in hand to avoid getting Van Helsing-ed. Word on the street is that its shiny new neighbor, the Pearl Brewery redevelopment, wants the haunted house exorcized because it applies for temporary full street closures on East Grayson and Karnes from 6:30 p.m.-midnight Thursdays-Sundays during the last weekend in September, the month of October, and the week of Halloween.

“The first year we shut the streets down it eliminated traffic jams, cars stopping in the street, kids running out, everything,” Nightmare spokesghoul Gordon Wise tells us. “I’m flexible. I want to come to terms with Pearl in a logical and realistic compromise. But they’ve told us that our business is no longer appropriate for this neighborhood.”

Pearl could not be reached for comment before the witching hour. At press time, 671 people have signed petitions in support of Nightmare, seven against. Visit to voice your opinion on the issue.

On Saturday, residents of the “toxic triangle” neighborhoods around the former Kelly Air Force Base and the Southwest Workers Union marched at Port San Antonio in support of a remediation plan for the plume of contaminated groundwater that has been lurking beneath residents’ homes for years because of the improper disposal of toxic chemicals by Kelly employees. `See “Blinded with science,” August 9, 2006`. Residents tied purple ribbons decorated with the names of cancer sufferers to the railing outside of the port’s main office to signify the connection between the toxic plume and the community’s cancer epidemic.

Despite a 2006 National Research Council report supporting residents’ concerns, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University recently recruited residents for a new study that is investigating the possibility that aflatoxins in grains and produce caused by mold are responsible for the neighborhood’s cases of liver cancer.

“They are trying to say too many people have liver cancer because they eat too many corn tortillas,” says Lara Cushing, SWU environmental justice coordinator. “The study is another tactic by Metropolitan Health District and the state of Texas to sidestep the issue.”

Tortilla-study organizer Kyle Cunningham said without finding a direct-exposure pathway from the plume, it can’t be considered a definite cause of the cancer in the community. Phooey, says SWU, which planned to hand out popcorn and Kool-Aid in an attention-getting shade of toxic green at Tuesday’s MetroHealth meeting to say neighborhood residents won’t swallow the corn theory. 


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