Monday, January 11, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Blast from the Past: Annise Parker's Council Run in 1995

I will admit to being something of a packrat... so when I do start to clean out things, I never really know what sort of "treasure" I might find.

I found the January 20-26, 1995 issue of "This Week in Texas" with then Council member aspirant (now Houston Mayor) Parker.  There was a special election that year to fill the vacant seat created by Sheila Jackson-Lee's election to Congress. Echoing what she would say in her future campaigns, "Potholes and street resurfacing and things like that really don't have a gay agenda..."

What struck me as I leafed through the pages was how much has changed in the 15 intervening years.

In 1995, about half of the non-bar advertisements were for 1-900 chat lines... the Internet was still a few years from coming into its own.  The majority of the other advertisements were for "viatical services" -- brokers who were buying up the insurance policies of people diagnosed with HIV.

A particularly macbre (from today's vantage) ad stated:
"If you're terminally ill, no one should make you fill like you have too long to live...

Yet in the past, if your life expectancy was greater than two years, the chances of selling your life insurance policy weren't too great. Until now."
Given that the magazine would run between 15-20 obits a week by this point, viatical services were just a part of life. When the TWiT came out on Fridays, there was always a rush to find out who's passing you might have missed. But as these viatical ads were starting to show, life expectancies were beginning to lengthen -- and the "cocktail" was just a few short years away.  Thankfully, these services largely went bankrupt by the end of the decade -- because they were no longer needed or actuarily sound.

Tucked away on page 19 was a full-page ad for the world premier of a new opera by the Houston Grand Opera -- namely the HGO production of  "HARVEY MILK".

Kind of fitting that in the intervening years between premiering an opera based on the "life and tragic death of a modern-day hero", Houston would find its way to electing Mayor Parker.

Note:  I'm working on transcribing the article and will post it tomorow as an update.


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