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  • The City of Houston and Living Earth will dispose of your Christmas tree forfree — just don't forget to remove the decorations, ornaments, tinsel, lightsand stands first.
    Daily Photo
  • Photo courtesy of Houston Solid Waste Management Department

Christmas seemed to be over in a blink this year, so I have kept my tiny evergreen tree up in the dining room, decorated with mix-matched ornaments, to serve as a fragrant reminder that it is still — officially anyway — the holiday season.

As the drooping branches and dropping needles have proven, it can't stay this way much longer. Luckily, the City of Houston offers a free option for responsible disposal with the Residential Christmas Tree Recycling Program.

Houstonians can drop off their trees at one of 18 area locations between now and Jan. 8 (except New Year's Day), or can place their tree on the curb on a scheduled tree waste day (search by ZIP code here).

Rather than taking up valuable landfill space, the collected trees will be ground into mulch and made available in bulk from local retailers including Living Earth Technology, a Houston-based company that has been returning organic waste to beneficial reuse for more than 20 years.

Just don't forget to take the decorations off first.

  • LRD "Little Red Dress"
  • Metallics
  • Furs

Dress for New Year's Eve: These sexy and daring looks will make you a stunningfemme fatale

No Little Black Dress, please

Say it with me, “I will not wear a black dress on New Year's Eve,” “I will not wear a black dress on New Year's Eve”…

Good, it’s out of your system. The LBD (little black dress) needs to be given a restraining order. I see them weekend after weekend, and chic and slimming as they are, they’ve grown a tad boring.

Resist the urge to wear the “sure thing” in your closet and step out of your comfort zone. Make an oath to be memorable and wear something no one else will think of this holiday season. We survived the Mayan Apocalypse, so 2013 is the year to ditch demure for dazzling.

This year swap black for its more daring cousin: Red.

With a bit of preplanning and insider information, CultureMap will help make your New Year's Eve Outfit the best yet. And we promise it will not cost a fortune.

Here are our tips for ringing 2013 in high cotton.

LRD: The little red dress

This year swap black for its more daring cousin: Red. Red is the most alluring color to the human eye and packs a punch while remaining elegant.

This hue is very versatile because it either says vamp or lady depending on how you style her.

Lady: Opt for a burgundy ankle skimming maxi dress paired with a gold belt, chandelier earrings, headband and a sleek bun. Think a Grecian goddess mixed with Grace Kelly.

Vamp: Sport a Ferrari red body con Herve Leger dress (knock-offs to be found everywhere) paired with leopard print pumps and gold accessories. Teased locks and red lips are a must for this look. Think Jessica Rabbit meets Sex and the City.

Your shade: Oxblood and scarlet favor more pale skin tones while ruby and tangerine will flatter those with warmer complexions. Hit up H&M for a perfect LRD.

Metallics re-imagined

Every year those who go the disco ball route with NYE fashion wear a myriad of your standard gold or silver skimpy dresses. Being sparkly doesn’t confine you to wearing the same two shades every year, mix it up!

Metallics are back in a big way. New hues to hit the runway are green, bronze and jacquard print.

Teased locks and red lips are a must for this look. Think Jessica Rabbit meets Sex and the City.

Fashionphobic? Metallics don’t have to be loud if you dress them down the right way.

Forever 21 has some great metallic pieces at the moment.

Menswear: A Broadway twist

Menswear has been dominating fashion for the last few years, and while a basic blazer will take you far, it’s a bit too basic for a New Year's Eve soiree. There is nothing sexier than a girl who can pull off menswear, and this outfit is a delightful combination of boyish sexiness mixed with old Hollywood.

Pair high waisted black sequin shorts with a cropped white collared shirt and suspenders. Layer underneath with garter leggings. Not only will the shorts emphasize your waist but the black and white color contrast breaks up the body creating a slenderizing effect. The suspenders create a vertical line elongating your torso while the leggings hold the illusion of thinner thighs. The leggings are a hint of sexiness that will also keep you warm.

Optional: If you’re feeling daring, wear a hat. A vintage hat screams Jane Russell in Gentleman Prefer Blondes. Langford Market has a variety of these items in stock.

Faux fur

Fur was all over the runways this year and while I myself am a vegan, I was ecstatic to see its return. With the number of vintage shops littering this town there is no reason to blow hundreds of dollars on a new fur (or hurt an animal).

Hit up More Than You Can Imagine for a great used or faux piece. Many fabulous fakes are also available at H&M and Zara. A fur stole or jacket is the perfect and inexpensive way to add drama and glamor to dresses you already have in your closet.

Don’t have the money this year to splurge on a new outfit? Save your lucky pennies for a faux fur vest. It will instantly intensify any outfit. Hot colors this year for fur are: Oxblood, steel grey and white.

Go Mad Men or film noir and pair an everyday shift dress with a waist belt and fur stole. A side part a la Veronica Lake and Betty Boop lashes will make you look every bit the femme fatale.

  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Courtesy photo
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz
  • Photo by Daniel Ortiz

Trendy hunks, a 12-year-old DJ, Michael Jackson & more: A Christmas party youwon't believe

Grooving for charity

Jingle bells rocked harder than ever at Uropa Saturday evening when the ninth annual "Don't Stop Believin' " Christmas Revelry occupied the nightlife hotspot with an assemblage of more than 700 hitting the dance floor.

Hosted by The GSC, a handpicked coterie of local guys with a penchant for philanthropy, among them John Andell, Jay Cliburn, David de Roode, James Easterling, Tony Essalih, James Gietz, Matt Harris, Jon Paul Hull, Scott Hutson, Cory Krueger, Anil Mahendra, Lee Willeford, Dusty Wilkerson and James Zafereo, the yearly affair on the Saturday before Christmas has found its way into the social calendars of the amicable scene.

The trendy throng — no ugly sweaters here — raised $7,000 from donations at the door for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

High-decibel tunes by DJ Senega cued in a special appearance by The Woodlands' own 12-year-old DJ Elle Morgan, who packs a lot of energy for a 4-foot, 9-inch gal. Her time at the turntable ceased at midnight — because even teenage localebrities should have a curfew.

But that didn't close the curtains on this rowdy dance fete. The groovy holiday party persevered until the wee hours of the morning.

Guests were getting cozy with Hensley & Krueger attorney Cory Krueger standing in as "Santa Claz" and an amusing "Buddy the Elf" for photos when a vision of Michael Jackson in full regalia entered during "Smooth Criminal."

With the support of backers including Hansen Partners, Hensley & Krueger, Lockton, Buffalo Grille, Razor IT Solutions and Jackson's Watering Hole, the trendy throng — no ugly sweaters here — raised $7,000 from donations at the door for Big Brothers Big Sisters to recruit new volunteers and underwrite cultural activities that enrich the nonprofit's clients.

Holding onto the feeling were Erica Gillum, Stephanie Jennische, Stacy Andell, Tara Crawford, Claire Wilson, Robyn Walden, Audrey and Brandon Cochran, Curtis Willeford, Demi Welling, Kahlia Castellanos, Renée Dupré, Patrick Dugan, John McAleer, Amanda Moreno, Steven Hood, Laurie Cacioppo, Hasti Taghi and Schuyler Evans.

  • George H.W. Bush has been receiving treatment at The Methodist Hospital sinceNov. 23.
    Photo by Donna Carson/Reuters
  • That didn't keep the Bush family from their annual Christmas tradition of Gigi'sAsian Bistro & Dumpling Bar.
    Gigi's Asian Bistro & Dumpling Bar/Facebook
  • Gigi Huang is known for serving Houston influentials at her Galleria-arearestaurant.
    Photo by Daniel Ortiz

George H.W. Bush does not let being stuck in hospital end his Gigi's Christmastradition

Family Time

A Christmas Day trip to Gigi's Asian Bistro & Dumpling Bar has been a standing tradition in the George H.W. Bush household.

The former president remains at The Methodist Hospital for treatment of a cough lingering from a case of bronchitis, but that didn't stop him and his wife, Barbara, from enjoying their beloved neighborhood Chinese cuisine: The family enjoyed Gigi's at the hospital with H.W.'s son Neil, Neil's wife, Maria, and his grandson Pierce.

Methodist Hospital representatives and family spokespersons have been anticipating an imminent release since the 88-year-old Bush was initially hospitalized the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Just last week doctors said they expected him to be discharged in time for Christmas, and while they continue to insist that his condition is stable and not life-threatening, a solid release date has not yet been set.

"They're taking it one day at a time right now," spokesman Jim McGrath told the Houston Chronicle. "The doctors are cautiously optimistic that they have his current issues in hand. But they need to see more improvement before they start thinking about discharge."

Get happy: World's happiest iPhone app lets users spread holiday joy

Spreading Holiday Cheers

In early 2012, iPhone app developer Farhad Mohit — responsible for the well-known app Shopzilla — launched a new idea aimed at spreading cheer, and just in time for the holidays, comes an update that makes holiday cheer inescapable.

Cheers, the iOS app that spares no subtlety in its title, is a space for users to share the small things that make them, well, cheerful. This is done by posting “cheers” which can be anything, really. From appreciation for quirky Wes Anderson movies, which tend to make people cheerful in a bleak understated sort of way, to a category titled “Kids Going Crazy Over Random Things,” which is self-explanatory.

A recent holiday timed update adds a new facet to the experience through a series of unique “Cheerful Missions.” These missions are a great way to share with others just how happy the holiday season makes you, and an even better place to find sources of cheerful inspiration when you’re feeling more like Charlie Brown before his friends fixed up his Christmas tree.

Cheers aims to make people happy, and its addictive formula of browsing and sharing make that nearly certain.

The newly added features really are a visual expression of the app’s mission to become “a fun way to express love and appreciation for anyone, anything, anywhere.” A quick perusal through its clean interface and simple design make that goal abundantly clear: Cheers aims to make people happy, and its addictive formula of browsing and sharing make that nearly certain.

Cheers has been called “the world’s happiest iPhone app," and even after brief use, that superlative is difficult to argue against. Unlike Instagram, which carries with it the bleak antiquity of sepia tone filters, or Twitter, which is filled with bitter and cynical comedians, the cheer found through Cheers is pretty undeniable. And really, who would argue with that?

If this holiday season finds you down, a sure way to pick up the spirits is to navigate to the iTunes Store and download a free copy of Cheers. Spend some time looking at pets with reindeer antlers and children freaking out over video games and remember what the holidays are all about, even in a virtual sense. Happy Holidays and Cheers!

Christmas lights go "Gangnam Style:" See the holiday video that's gone viral

Viral Video

From the streets of Seoul, Korea to the suburbs of Cedar Park, Texas “Gangnam Style” has now reached a fame only the 21st century can quantify. The “Gangnam Style” YouTube video has reached over 1 billion views, making it the most viewed video on the site.

The "Gangnam Style" Listen to Our Lights video has already prompted over 700,000 views after being featured on CNN.

The song also made the perfect tune for Listen to Our Lights, an Austin home with Christmas decorations so elaborate it boasts its own website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. The "Gangnam Style" Listen to Our Lights video has already prompted over 700,000 views after being featured on CNN.

Of course "Gangnam Style" isn’t the first viral-inspired holiday light show for Listen to Our Lights. Remember the Internet’s Hampster Dance? Listen to Our Lightssynced holiday lights to that rodent rave tune for one of their presentations last year.

Other wacky tunes of years past have included the Angry Birds Theme Song, a techno version of "Carol of the Bells", and "Jingle Dogs", which is exactly what it sounds like.

If you want to see the Gangnam Style light show in person, you're probably out of luck. As a courtesy to their neighbors, the address of the local home is not posted online. However, most of the light shows are chronicled on their YouTube site.

But, if you’re feeling adventurous you could always pull a wise man and look into the sky for an artificial twinkling glow above Cedar Park.

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Iconic Austin blues club brings the show to fans with new indie livestreaming platform

Live on Live

If legendary Austin blues club Antone’s is your vibe, but the drive to Capital City isn't, you’re in luck. Antone’s Nightclub launched a new service for livestreaming its shows in November.

Kicking off with New Orleans-based funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk, for their special “Phunksgiving” show last month with Michael Hale Trio, the full lineup is delineated on the Antone’s website. Specifics were still loose before the launch, allowing the famous blues club to call the shots. The partner agency that created the streaming service, 3rd + Lamar, created the system to give Antone’s as much freedom as possible.

"Partnering with Antone's to build their livestreaming platform and produce each of their shows is an incredible opportunity for 3rd + Lamar," said the agency’s co-founder Nick Schenck in a press release. "The amazing talent that performs at Antone's – and their fans worldwide – deserve best-in-class live production quality, and we're thrilled to play a part in this operation."

Not that Antone’s needed to stand out more in the music industry (the nearly 50-year-old venue has always been one of the best places to see both local and national talent), but this achievement places it among relatively few venues across the country, especially those that operate their system independently.

The intimate Antone's shows are filmed by four Blackmagic 4K cinema cameras on tracks overhead, which ensure that the whole space is easily visible without having camera operators amid the audience.

“We did over 430 individually ticketed shows in 2019 and we felt like we were bursting at the seams,” said Antone’s owner Will Bridges. “Then when livestreams became more prominent during the pandemic we realized, this is our opportunity to take Antone’s outside of our four walls. … [W]e see people in the comment threads all the time saying ‘If I could only be teleported to Antone’s!’ Well now they can.”

The release emphasizes that the system means Antone’s “fully retain[s] ownership of their content, which can then be utilized at their discretion.” It also calls the service “an add-on option for all artists performing at Antone’s,” positioning the service as not just an audience luxury but a performer’s low-cost marketing tool. Suddenly, artists playing at Antone’s are afforded a choice without needing to be invited to record or pay an independent video team, while reaching even more viewers with no extra time spent advertising.

“Our ultimate goal is to make these amazing musical experiences accessible to everyone. Life is busy, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to participate no matter where they are or what they have going on,” said Bridges. “We want to make livestreams from Antone’s totally commonplace. When we announce our upcoming shows, fans have two options: watch it at the club our watch it at home.”

Livestreams are at antonesnightclub.com, and links also appear with each applicable event across the site. Prices are listed on the website, and livestreams start 10-20 minutes before each show.

Alt-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers heading to Houston for 2023 North American tour

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most pioneering and enduring acts is headed to Houston to close out a highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25, 2023 as part of a North American trek that kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29.

Houston lands the honor of the closeout city for the North American tour (the band will also play a slew of dates in Europe). Effortlessly hip, celeb-fave modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers, along with the talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale this week at 10 am Friday, December 9 online.

Houston fans who can't get enough can also catch the Chili Peppers when they hit The Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday, May 17 — the only other Texas date.

Aside from The Strokes and Thundercat, supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have been played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with major names such as Notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Fan-favorite, wood-fired Houston pizzeria quietly opens in the Heights

enough (pizza) to love

A popular Houston pizzeria has opened its second location in the Heights. The Gypsy Poet has begun a quiet soft opening in the former Fegen’s space at 1050 Studewood St.

Since its 2019 debut in Midtown, the Gypsy Poet has earned a devoted following for its wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s personal-sized, 13-inch pizzas exist somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Neapolitan and classic New York — too crispy for the Italians but not quite foldable like an East Coast slice. Options include a classic Margherita and the signature Fancy Backpacker, which is topped with prosciutto, truffle oil, and arugula.

Part of the restaurant’s appeal stems from its friendly service and easy going atmosphere. It regularly hosts informal musical performances and other artistic happenings.

Taken together, Gypsy Poet has earned legions on fans. Yelp users ranked it as Texas’s second best restaurant in 2021. More recently, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy awarded it a high 7.8 rating during a pizza review.

The restaurant opens at a time of transition for pizzerias in the Heights. Dallas-based Neapolitan restaurant Cane Rosso closed last year, and suburban favorite Crust Pizza Co. opened this summer in the former Mellow Mushroom space at N. Shepherd and 20th.

The Heights location of Gypsy Poet will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 pm; Friday from 12-2 pm and 5-10 pm; Saturday 2-10 pm; and Sunday 2-9 pm.