Friday, September 1, 2017


There's a lot of the spirit of Houston in native son Lightnin' Hopkins

I have been watching the news from Houston this week with shock and horror. Houston is a city I know well. During my three years living in the isolated piney woods of East Texas, I was only a two hour drive away, and I made that drive every chance I could get.

I learned very quickly that Houston is an underrated city, a true gem. The weather there is forbidding, but I began to enjoy it as its own kind of thrilling, awfully intense experience, like eating a hot pepper. I'd come home from my trips with a trunk loaded with goodies. Books from Half Price and records from Cactus Music would sit alongside a box of wine from Speck's as I drove up highway 59, which went from a massive river of automobiles to a much sleepier road through the trees and pastures of East Texas.

I went to some Astros games, and learned that Houston fans are the most polite in the game. I still remember one game where a drunken buffoon in a Cubs jersey was screaming insults at Hunter Pence while refusing to sit down. It was the kind of behavior that would have led to a knifing in Chicago or New York. Instead someone let security know, and the hooligan was quietly taken out.

I saw in Houston tremendous diversity, great food, and a vagabond that spirit I enjoyed. Houston is famous for its lack of zoning, which creates some crazy juxtapositions, like a church right by a nudie bar. Its anything goes, let it all hang out attitude, perhaps derived from the oil wildcatters of yore, make Houston the perfect city to visit for a weekend of fun.

At the time I was living alone in one of those sterile, depressing apartment complexes on the edge of a sleepy, boring town. I craved culture, excitement, and that ineffable city feeling. Houston gave that to me. Houston was there for me when I needed it. So in return, I have tried to be there for Houston, donating money to the Houston Food Bank, which I recommend that you do too.

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