Archive for the ‘Houston Revealed’ Category

…and a bit of counterculture on Saturday

Make sense this time.
Make sins sublime
Fake fins on pine
Bait bins are prime

Bipedular interaction-dancing of the bellymost
This weekender at the Dan.

BEANS BARTON AND THE BIPEDS
Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar and Campgrounds
No shoking smow
Belly Dancering @ 9:15ish
Mayhem and Haw @ 10ish

Absolutely Alive performance art auctioned to benefit the Houston Food Bank

Scary ‘Spinning’ Sensation

Taken from my journal with a few edits:

I’ve never been so thankful in my whole entire life. This past Tuesday, my car spun around twice (taking up like 3 lanes which included the emergency lane) and my car almost fell off the freeway, and when my car finally stopped spinning, I was facing the oncoming traffic. I was like “Oh my God, please, don’t hit me.” Thank God for miracles like this. No car hit me, no scratch, just simply nothing. Except I’m quite shaken up a bit. I haven’t the slightest clue how I was so calm during that time. I didn’t even panic at all. My hands did all the work and I was able to control the car when it was spinning (desperate measures call for desperate times really).

And this was all because a car was about to hit the front fender near the driver’s side (like several inches away!).

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Hurricane RITArded or not?

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Remember all of the hurricane ordeal last year? It’s this time of year again.

I’m sure we had all kinds of experiences with Hurricane Rita. We haven’t even finished taking care of and giving relief to those who came to Houston from Hurricane Katrina, and now we had to deal with Hurricane Rita (just 3 weeks later).

Some people think Hurricane Rita was a tease, others thought it was RITArded, and still others think Houston still has a long way to go, in terms of preparation for future hurricane evacuations.

For me, at least, the whole thing felt ridiculous, and I was frustrated. Since I live way out (in Friendswood and Clear Lake area), we were ordered to evacuate. And what do you know, I think I spent at least 24 hours on the road getting out of Houston and returning home to Houston. I wish I had photographs, but I was watching people acting very much like ants–hoarding carts and carts of water, tanks of gas, nonperishable food, and hygienic items. I find it scarier to meet cars (or drivers really) fighting each other for gas at gas stations than the whole evacuation itself.

Plus, I think we coined a new term for the dictionary. Instead of “major traffic,” it’s now called gridlock.
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Schools: Motives and Motivation

In response to the news this past weekend (you can also read the article here) and an article I came across earlier today, I’ve written a short piece on my approach to a good education at my journal. Interestingly, it seems like a few people have joined in on the discussion and pointed out the things I see that are sort of political. I, myself, will not get into politics or avoid it as much as possible, because a) it gives me a headache, b) I’m a peacemaker, and c) I just don’t like politics as much although we live with it everyday. But other than that, I’m a good citizen and when I see a problem, I try to fix it.
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The Slow Destruction of All That is Good and Dear (or Houston Sucks)

The Houston area is a beautiful metropolis. From beaches to bays, forests to bayous, ultra-modern to beautiful Victorian, Houston has a rich, varied past and is flying towards a fantasy future. Trees and buildings 200 years old stand in our Downtown nestled in with futuristic structures serving the globe’s every need. A hundred neighborhoods divide the five million inhabitants that represent every country and culture in the world. Houston is a vast, grand jewel of America.

Unfortunately, people with the money to make decisions don’t seem to care about any of that. Real estate companies, city planners, urban developers and pseudo-governmental organizations like Metro seem hellbent on the total destruction of everything that makes Houston what it is.

Every time I pull out of my drive way, every glance at the news, every conversation, there is glaring evidence of the rampant gentrification of Houston. One by one, historic homes and buildings are being torn down to build new buildings that look like old buildings. Age old shopping centers are being demolished to make way for the latest and greatest chain store. Houston is becoming the worlds largest suburb. Our culture is being systematically dismantled to make way for blah, standardized, corporate convenience. They call it development, I call it barbarism.

The bad news is: consumers in Houston are the villains. Companies only build because there are people willing to move into townhomes and condos, willing to shop in the new multistory Barnes & Noble/Starbucks #32548. The consumers buy tiny new homes in the Heights built three to a lot for half a million dollars each. The consumers pre-buy lofts in highrises before they’re even finished mutilating the lot. Consumers personally sponsor this crime.

So, what are we going to do? What can we do when votes don’t matter, when nobody asks us before they destroy our landmarks? I guess all we can do is enjoy Houston now, the splendor and history. Show your support for Houston’s culture. Shop at local stores, eat at local restaurants and choose places with history. Maybe join the GHPA. Maybe if we do it enough, if we tell others enough, we won’t loose any more culture.

Juneteenth: Let Freedom Ring!

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Juneteenth (or June 19th) is an official holiday in Texas history, but is now celebrated nationally and even around the world. It is a day that marks the end of slavery and the beginning of freedom for African Americans and blacks (hence the name Juneteenth). In fact, we do have a Houston neighborhood that is a part of this Texas history. Freedmen’s Town, one of the oldest black community located in Downtown Houston (the Fourth Ward-area), is now a historic site recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, in recent articles in the Houston Chronicle, much of Freedmen’s Town are vanishing due to “an abortive city-sponsored effort to buy up property for development of affordable housing.” (And I suspect that Houston’s fast population growth may be another factor.) As a result, the city plans to pave its way through this historic site, “giving way to modern, single-family houses and townhouses.” Many groups, forming the Coalition for Freedmen’s Town for instance, are coming together to save and preserve what’s left of this historic site. After all, this town, they hope, will commemorate not only Juneteenth but also remind younger generations the significance of freedom and black history. Furthermore, they reason, if it takes a city’s effort to save a historic site from the bulldozer because it’s on the National Register (like the Alamo in San Antonio), then Houston should do the same. Otherwise, “we [would] lose the character of Houston.” Let us all hope for the best for this history-saving effort. And Happy Juneteenth!

*Note: Photo courtesy of Hill Swift Architects.

Blue Bayou

sabinetobagbyolive.jpg Chances are, you were one of the thousands of Houstonians this weekend at Blue Bayou, a celebratiion of the grand opening of the Sabine to Bagby Promenade along Buffalo Bayou.

The event was filled with food, beer, bands (including a string quartet), a floating cinema courtesy of the Aurora Picture Show, boats & kayaks buzzing along the Bayou, a video of Monarch butterflies projected against the Sabine Bridge, and the length of the newly developed Promenade awash in cobalt blue lights. Families were strolling the promenade, kids were tumbling down hills and small groups of friends and couples were laying out on blankets. It was a beautiful summer evening and a wonderful way to experience one of Houston’s recent developments.

Spanning 23 acres, the $15 million Sabine-to-Bagby Promenade features trails, beautiful landscaping, a pedestrian bridge, public art and a high-tech lighting system. According to a Chronicle article about the Promenade features, “the lighting system features glowing orbs that will be white when the moon is full and, moving east to west, progressively change to blue as the moon goes through its phases. The lights will be all blue when the new moon appears, and the pattern will reverse itself for the remainder of the lunar cycle.”

If you weren’t able to make it to the Blue Bayou event this weekend and haven’t yet seen the new Promenade, you’re in for a treat. It’s beautiful, clean and also great new route for runners and bicyclists. For more information on the Promenade and other upcoming developments along Buffalo Bayou, check out the Buffalo Bayou Partnership website.

Battling Morning Traffic Woes & ‘MySpace’ Invaders

For the past few months, I’ve been listening to Atom and Maria’s Morning Show on 104 KRBE. I think it’s a very unusual transition for me, because I’ve never really listened to morning shows on any radio stations whatsoever. Being the nocturnal person that I am, I absolutely HATE morning shows and getting up early in the morning. All the chatter gets me annoyed–like flies buzzing in my eardrums, only to find that I can only swat the chatterboxes away by switching to another chatterless radio station with classical music, jazz or soft rock to appease my silent morning grumpiness.

My solution:
Thankfully, comedy runs in my blood, and so I appreciate the chatter and laughter Atom and Maria are always concocting in the morning; and I have finally LISTENED to a morning show!

*collective gasps*

No offense to coffee lovers though, but I don’t drink coffee. And so finding an alternative solution to a wake-up mode is necessary, since I’m driving–at times more than an hour’s worth being stuck in traffic. And I need to stay awake!
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Houston’s Koreatown – A Mini Photo Tour

As Adrian said recently, Houston is big. Very big. Spread across Houston’s sprawl are different neighborhoods and communities that reflect Houston’s diversity. One such area is Houston’s Koreatown off of I-10W.

Most Houstonians are familiar with the huge Chinatown area along Bellaire Blvd, or the vast selection of yummy pho houses along Milam and Bellaire. But fewer, it seems, have discovered Houston’s Koreatown.

So, for those not yet familiar with this area that’s near and dear to my heart, I’ve put together a mini photo tour of some of my favorite Koreatown spots. Enjoy!

http://houston.metblogs.com/archives/images/2006/04/koreatownmap-thumb.gif

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Dangerous Intersections

So, who else besides me was stuck in that 5-hour traffic gridlock Thursday afternooon?

If you didn’t see or hear the news yesterday, there was a horrible, fiery three-car accident on the West Loop near Post Oak. Apparently, a driver heading north on the West Loop cut across 3 lanes of traffic in an attempt to head towards I-10. Instead, he collided with the orange impact barrels at the exit ramp and started a chain reaction that caused an 18-wheeler to jump the concrete divider, killing a driver on the southbound side. It took 5 hours to get traffic flowing again. I have a view of 610W from my office, and the freeway was a virtual parking lot.

As I inched my way home, I started thinking about that spot on 610W, and how confusing it’s become with all the constrution. Sure, that driver used pretty poor judgement by cutting across so many lanes of traffic…..but we all know he isn’t the first to do something like that. All the construction and freeway closures at the 610/I-10 loop are so confusing. I’ve been avoiding that area for months for that reason.

But there are other highway “intersections” that seem to attract real (or near) accidents…..the 59 exit off of 610 near Bellaire, for example. It always seems to be backed up, and I’ve seen quite a number of accidents there. Check out all the skidmarks next time you’re driving along that stretch of highway.

According to a KHOU report, the 10 most dangerous intersections in Houston (from December to March 2005) were:
1. Tomball Parkway and FM 1960
2. 59 and Beechnut
3. 59 and Hillcroft
4. 59 and Chimney Rock
5. I-10 and Gessner
6. 59 and Beltway 8
7. Westheimer and Highway 6
8. Bissonnet and Beltway 8

What intersections do you think are dangerous?

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