Sunday, May 26, 2013

Good bye to The Garden Gate

The Garden Gate has been a profuse labor of love for twenty-odd years in Rice Village.

In earlier days, Texquiem noticed it while on Morningside pub crawls to Gingerman's and Little Woodrow's.  It is lush and tranquil and quirky.  You could spend hours strolling its grounds, taking in fountains, statuary, goldfish, and greenery.

I took these pictures with this cheap little flip-wannabe-Vivitar.  Never posted them because I thought, "Oh, I'll go back and take better ones, with my iphone or a real camera."  

But time runs short.  The upscaling of Rice Village is unrelenting.  And so The Garden Gate falls.

As reported in the Houston Chronicle, here, and in Swamplot, here, The Garden Gate's property has been sold.  The little gem has opened (and closed)  for the last time.  True to reports, the place is looking oddly lonely and sadly scavenged.  In its place to come, a 12-story, 200 unit apartment building.  Given this particular developer's precedent, lot-line-to-lot-line cement is forthcoming.  I expect greenery only in architectural drawings and token pots flanking the entrance door. 

Goodbye, The Garden Gate, and thank you for so many years of inspiration.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The WSJ's Weekend Interview: Annise Parker & the Modern American Boomtown

Howdy, y'all!  I'm guessing if you're fixin' to head to Houston, you're practicing your new-Texas accent. Here's a Texquiem hint:  drop the "howdy" but keep the "y'all."  And the drawl itself?  There's one secret to Houston-speak:  there's just not much drawl to it at all.  Of course, feel free to put your Texas on for emphasis, for politics, and for the Rodeo.

Is that disappointing?  Are you thinking, "Why the hell isn't there a Texas-sized accent in the state's largest city?"  Well, folks, we're a melting pot (and have been for more than a few years).  As our mayor, Annise Parker, sees it, "A good soup where all the ingredients come together."  By the numbers, we're the nation's most racially and ethnically diverse city.  Yes, that's right--more diverse than New York City.  More than Chicago, Philly, or LA.

Mayor Parker describes us as Southern hospitality, Western tolerance, and international flair, all in one package.   CNBC concludes we've got a lot to offer, notwithstanding the bolo tie its reporter first planned to wear.  Texquiem will forgive the come-lately amazement at our diversity.  *Sigh.*

More to the point, and speaking of the mayor, Herroner and Houston were featured in the venerable Wall Street Journal this week-- Annise Parker: The Modern American Boomtown.  The WSJ dines at Underbelly with the Mayor and points out that Houston has the nation's fastest pace of job growth, fastest-growing metropolitan economy, and highest per-capita income of any city in the country.  The article seems surprised that Texas elected a Democrat and a lesbian.  It can't get over the Mayor's sexual preference when--yawn--it's just no big deal here.  Heck, I bet the Mayor mentioned Underbelly's history as Chances just in passing, and off to the races went the WSJ.  More interesting than the story are the comments to it, by folks using their own names (except I'm a  little suspicious of that William Rice guy).  My favorite comment to the article?  "My God.  Did someone make a mistake and run an article that was supposed to run in the New York Times instead?"

My second favorite is an exchange, started by a comment from one David Pelino:
"The fact that Houston is showing signs of developments that have long since taken hold in these other metropolitan areas is good news; the fact that it is considered newsworthy only speaks to the general backwardness of the place."
Pelino* may have moved from "corrupt mind"-ed to small-minded, but this rejoinder had me laugh aloud:
Mr. Pelino, you are absolutely correct. If it is all the same to you, we will just wallow in our "backwardness" and do our very best to muddle along without the assistance of people from New York, LA, Washington, etc. Ignore the article. We are an unsophisticated backwater. (Did I mention the alligators?) Neither you nor anybody you know should even consider moving here given the rampant backwardness that abounds here in the Bayou City. 
You really should check out Dallas though. I think you'll like it there.
You gotta love that, a dig at the snooty and at Dallas, all in one.  Yee-haw!

*Reddit-style pursual of Pelinos in the USA leads to quick suspicion that the commenter in question is actually a doctor of psychiatry in New York City, with a past life as a guitarist in a hair band whose debut album was "Corrupt Mind."  Nope, I'm not making this stuff up. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

National Rifle Association sets its sights on Houston-- the 142nd Annual Convention

Following five months' political slog over post-Newtown gun control, the NRA's national convention landed here, in Houston.

Granted, the convention was planned even before twenty little children lost their lives in a mass shooting.  It was planned before the ensuing surge for new legislation and before NRA-discipline led to defeat.  With the timing of it all, and the frothing lately in national news, clearly the main stream media was wishing hard for confrontation at this weekend's event.

Despite the run up, a Texquiem purview shows precious little dissent on site or in surrounds.  Still, the main stream media is pushing a cra-cra-crazy view of the politicians who're in town.  Here's Sarah Palin, with her face specially screwed into muy loca mode:

Here's Texas freshman senator, Ted Cruz:  The media is still looking for a way to paint him crazy.  For now, they usually settle on some shade of Tea Party or political novice.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, aka Governor Good Hair, was there, yee-haw.  Here's Rick Santorum (who still can't overcome his Google problem).  But, see, he must be nuts, he's showing his teeth.  Here's Glenn Beck, whom media says has gone insane (as opposed to Adam Lanza, who was clearly out of his mind, but different, in a special blame-his-mother kind of way).

Given the hoopla, I expected a greater rabble-rousing presence all around.  The traffic to the convention center was bad, but nowhere near NBA-All-Star proportion.  The Kardashian girls were in town at the same time, but I think they got a rowdier crowd for their cult of personality.  Where are the flocks of politicos, either pro-2nd Amendment or ban-the-guns?  Not on any soap box on the corner of Hyde Park, to be sure.  Instead, the TV camera cast a solo shadow in the park across the street:

This girl made the national news, but was quiet and collected (and on her ownsome, but for the seated lady nearby) when Texquiem saw her.  

Guess the "hundreds" reportedly protesting with her were filled with the spirit of conviction only before lunch time on Saturday.  Because they'd all disappeared by the time I visited.

Disappeared, that is, except for these guys--the only ones with enough chutzpah to disagree just 15 feet from the entrance door.  Can you figure out their disagreement?  I can't--just saw "LaRouche" and basically got bored--how damn relevant is the man who's been dissenting since before I was born?  

Fact is, all the conventioneers were calm and (for God's sake) queuing when Texquiem saw them. The rest of the 60,000 attendees were inside, browsing nine acres of pistol-packin'-bras and target practice zombies.  (Really, there were zombies.  It's not just because I like the word).  In the end, Texquiem was just vaguely amused that, in the literal sense, either side of the gun debate could have told their opponents to "go fly a kite" and meant it.  

As Linda Ellerbee said, "And so it goes."