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. 

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