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Like there was ever any question? [Sep. 4th, 2004|09:42 pm]

A couple of months ago, there was a poster on one of my ParentSoup boards who was in a dither because her husband had accepted a job in Houston. In her words, she had no desire to move to "the middle of nowhere" and was quite vocal about it.

It surprised me a bit that the fourth largest city in the country could be considered the middle of nowhere. What didn't surprise me were the other negative impressions about Houston. Based on the various comments offered on the board, I've come to realize that if you threw out the word Houston in a word association test, the most common response would be flying cockroaches, closely followed by humidity, hick, and Hell.

Having grown up and lived in and around Houston all my life, I can't help but wonder how this bad image got started. I suspect it was snide remarks by Dallas, who desperately wants to be everything Houston actually is. Most of the people who badmouth Houston have simply not spent enough time here. Because I will admit that Houston takes a while to get used to. During the Superbowl, it was amusing to see how the city won over the reporters in town for the game. Their early articles were derisive, poking fun at everything. By the end of the week, they were yelling, "I love this place!" and vowing to return.

Part of the problem, I think, is that Houston doesn't look all that great from the outside. It's flat, it's sprawling, there's absolutely no zoning, it's hot. But once you live here, you find out that the very things that make it seem unappealing are really assets in disguise. Yes, it's flat, but that just means you can see the sky. The flatness also comes in handy with regards to the weather - it really helps to see what's approaching. It's sprawling, but that's just because there's too much to put in one place - how else you you get coastal plains and the Big Thicket in one city? As for the no zoning, that just means everything is more convenient. Yup, it's hot for three months out of the year, but it's mild the other nine. Wearing shorts at Thanksgiving is a good thing.

But mostly, Houston has a good heart. What other city would spend millions of dollars on a rail system and then trust everyone to buy tickets on the honor system? What other city could build a world-class arts venue with private donations in the middle of an economic bust? What other city could have produced both the Menil and the Beer Can House?

Ironically, right around the time the woman on ParentSoup was bemoaning having to move to the middle of nowhere, a tongue in cheek grass-roots marketing campaign was launched as a way to let Houstonians tell in their own words why they like it here. Titled "Houston. It's Worth It.", the campaign embraces every bad image the city has and then concludes it's still the best place to be. HIWI has set up a website for Houstonians to post their own reasons for loving the city. The responses range from the flip to the fervent, and are in turns funny, insightful, and poignant.

Check it out. Because Houston is definitely worth it.


[User Picture]From: domesticharmony
2004-09-05 10:13 am (UTC)

You'd Be Surprised

I lived in Illinois for 5 years, and when I told people that I was from Texas, they immmediately thought we all drove pickups with gunracks in the back, owned cattle and rode horses to school. I lived and worked in Houston for a year before I got married, and the only complaint I have is the guy who backed into my car and took off without leaving his name or insurance.
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From: (Anonymous)
2004-09-06 09:25 am (UTC)


I was born in Houston. I spent the first two years of my present incarnation in Houston. Most of my father's people came from and lived in and/or around Houston. The best friends I've ever had--or hope to have--have lived in Houston and around that particular coastal area. I have so many good memories of Houston that you couldn't fit them in a bottle or a box. You'd have to pour them into a fountain spritzing ten thousand feet up into rainbows East of the Sun and fireworks West of the Moon. I remember riding "The Bamboo Shoot" (chute?) at Astroworld with my baby cousin, Wade, and getting thoroughly DRENCHED--we were sitting in the back, which was the point. I could go on and and on (and on) and I'm sure it would be different if I actually *lived* in Houston, but still. I'm still convinced Houston is magic. I actually thought the first Renfest I encountered was really the Seelie Count in disguise. And all my college cohorts and I used to run off to Houston and the wonders of Westheimer the second we had any sort of extra cash--ha--and a tank full of gas. Even in the pouring rain. Those were the days. Can't get much better than that.

I love Houston.

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[User Picture]From: azure_drake
2004-09-06 08:54 pm (UTC)
Houston sucks!!!

Ok now that I've gotten that out of my system. I just spent the weekend crawling around the greater Hosuton area and I have to say I had a blast.

I visited friends in Friendswood and the Woodlands (in the same night), I went to Alamo West Oaks for the Firefly meetup, the Flying Saucer, La Carafe, and Slick Willies at Westheimer, and the cool little Chinese food place next door.

All this cost me about $200 including gas (thank God for Saturns), snacks, late charges at the video store for Hildago and Cold Mountain, and new charges for Iron Monkey (Kung Fu movie). I love this town
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