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Monday, September 26, 2011

Return to Galveston

We headed to Galveston last Sunday late afternoon/early evening. I neglected to bring my camera, so the shots all came from my phone and when expanded, turned out okay. After a truly great meal at Landry's, we headed to a timeshare provided through the good graces of Barbara Johnson and settled in for the night.
It's hard to see, but there's a faint iris of a fading rainbow upper left.

The following morning I arose, took a couple of shots and had a quiet sit. I left sis to her own devices but we struck out around ten-thirty or eleven and strolled up to the seawall and back again and then headed into town.

If my previous post didn't make it plain, I'm fond of Galveston. It's not like any other city and was a vital place to be. That I know of, it's never been insanely prosperous nor has it been an epicenter of music or art the way, say, New Orleans was and perhaps is yet. But Galveston has something different and indefinable. It has a sense of itself and an identity completely different from any other city in Texas.

She's survived hurricanes worse than Ike but not with the same population density or development. Sis pointed out to me that where we walked along the beach used to reach further out into the gulf. I couldn't honestly say I remember how far out the coastline stretched at that point, but it was obvious that the vegetation line as it is is the result of survival more than planting.

We headed into town in after noon and that's where I took the pics of the different houses with antebellum and Victorian flourish. The rubble from immediately after Ike has been cleared but so many businesses lie vacant and for a Monday, the town was practically deserted. We were downtown around lunchtime and would have been hard pressed to find a guy in a suit.

Personally, I think Galveston would be great to invest in and if she's to come back, it should be done with a clearsighted sense of what should/shouldn't be developed. That is to say, I'd be leery of building up to the water's edge. Hell's bells, you shouldn't build on sand in the first place. But that's the least of it. There's a potentially vital downtown that could be as cool as Berkeley, Cambridge and the Village given a little attention and a lot of love.

If you build it, they might just show up. Thing is, Galveston has to develop a reason or set of reasons for people to come. It's got art, it's got community. It's got some pretty cool spots to hang out at. But it needs more. It needs to build back to what it was (without ill-advised expansion into the gulf). There's a buttload of history here and the pity of it, probably most people outside Galveston, aren't even aware of that. Anyway, even with its reduced state of existence, she's worth a visit. The gulf isn't blue gulf of South Padre Island or Florida, but it's warm. The sand isn't the soft stuff you'll find in the Caribbean, but you can run on it and make some kick-ass sand castles with it!

The long and the short of it is that if I had deep pockets, I'd toss a few wads of cash Galveston's way. A third of the population left after Ike and it doesn't look like they've come back. It would be inspiring to see a high speed rail to Galveston from Houston; it would be cool as hell to see a shitton of galleries open along the strand and clubs and bars and cafes. Of course, that takes investment and planning (the word “planning”, by the way, doesn't exist in any area of Houston development).

Take a look at these photos. If you look at some of the buildings, you'll see them empty, particularly the ones downtown. You'll see some wonderful painted ladies and some being restored and some in need of restoration. There's the venerable Hotel Galvez and some beach homes, too. A shout-out to Cafe Mod, by the way; one of the coolest cafes I've ever had the fun of hanging out in.

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