Houston: A Tiger by the tail

Houston, we have been sprung. The project is over, the rental car has been turned in, the keys to the apartment are on the table, and we have closed the door. 

Hunter Thompson once wrote, “Houston is a cruel, crazy town on a filthy river in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of sex, money and violence. It’s a shabby, sprawling metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and super-rich pansexual cowboys who live by the code of the West—which can mean just about anything you need it to mean, in a pinch.” Now there’s some straight talk.

When Houston residents were asked to describe their city in a few words, these are the phrases most frequently used: sprawl and traffic, road rage, hot and humid, ugly juggernaut, constant construction, no defining architecture, little natural beauty, global community, guns and rednecks; then there are the hurricanes, tornados, flooding, and subsequent mosquitos. Houston is complicated—as one resident said, “If you are considering a move to Houston, live in Dallas first and work up to Houston.”

I’ll miss: 

  • The view out of our apartment window
  • Choosing whether to eat lunch at the M&M Grill, La Pupusa Loca, Fadi’s, Helen’s Greek, or the Istanbul Grill
  • Buying groceries at the Fiesta Mart, H-E-B, the Central Market, Phoenicia, or Long Sing’s
  • 72° days with balmy breezes
  • Visiting the Menil Collection at any time (well, Wednesday through Sunday) for free
  • Seeing diversity among pedestrians and store clerks
  • Watching the swallows, egrets, great blues, and pelicans flying over the bayou
  • The dramatic thunder and lightening storms
  • A washer and dryer that hold more than a set of sheets 
  • The live oak trees that touch in the middle of the street 
  • The variety of architecture in Houston neighborhoods
  • The chubby, personable, peeling fire hydrants 

Live-oak trees, Bluebonnet Boulevard

Bungalow, Heights District


The “Darth Vader” house, Buffalo Speedway and University Boulevard

Rice Boulevard and Buffalo Speedway

The “Beercan house“, 222 Malone Street

Cafe Piquet, Cuban Cuisine, Hillcroft Avenue


My blue buddies

I won’t miss:

  • The almost constant whirl of ambulances, medivac helicopters, and fire trucks
  • Mean-spirited drivers and insane traffic 
  • Grocery carts scattered in every parking lot
  • 89° days with 98% humidity
  • The bored grumpiness of most store clerks
  • Getting up at 4:00 am
  • The dysfunctional TV remote
  • The dysfunctional fire alarm system
  • Obscure, difficult-to-understand highway signage 
  • Street names that change without warning from one block to the next
  • Service trucks that stop and park in the right lane on surface streets 
  • The lack of trees in the rural landscape
Houston would make a great four-day Spring trip. Stay in the Museum District at the Hotel Zaza, have an espresso at Double Trouble in Midtown, walk to the Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Jung Center, buy a grilled cheese sandwich from the food truck in front of the Cullen Sculpture Garden, take the Metro downtown for shwarma at the Phoenicia (in the daytime!), Uber to the Galleria, shop on Rice Boulevard, grab a fried avocado taco at Torchy’s, meet up at 11:00 p.m. with the Oh My Gogi food truck at 5555 Morningside, and then—get the hell out of town. 
Sarcophagus of a Youth, 4th Century B.C. Houston Museum of Fine Arts
Gymnast II, William Tucker, Cullen Sculpture Garden
A Wooded Landscape in Three Panels, Louis Tiffany, 1905, Museum of Fine Arts
Jung Center, 5200 Montrose Boulevard
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2 Responses to Houston: A Tiger by the tail

  1. Patricia Curtis says:

    Sounds like sound advice for the 4 day spring visit to Houston… and welcome back to the ole’ northwest among the natural thriving scenery. J B

  2. Barbara says:

    Thank you marla. You make me see the city and then make me glad I’m not there. I love your posts. Glad your back home. A friend avocado taco? Sounds good

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