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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Houston, quickly

When I was back in Houston last summer and fall, I was astonished at the havoc wreaked on the city's green space by one of the worst droughts in Texas history. I also whined about Landmark Cinema's bag searching policy. In general, though, my time spent back in the Space City was illuminating and rather fun. Given the cuts to NASA, I don't think it's called the Space City anymore, but color me nostalgic.

This time around, I visited those green spaces in Memorial Park and discovered just how devastated the park was. Forty thousand trees had been removed with more to follow. Not just from drought, but blight, as well, plus wash-out from a heavy rainstorm didn't help matters, either. Similarly, but not as crippling, Hermann Park lost its share of trees, as well. In both cases, volunteers from Trees for Houston and the respective conservancies for each park turned out in force this past Arbor Day and planted hundreds of trees.

My sister and I made a return to Landmark's Edwards Theater at Greenway Plaza for a flick that I don't remember offhand. As we approached the ticket taker, my sister said "Did you see that?" Clueless, I replied, "What?" and sure enough, there was a nice sign that alerted people to Landmark's policy that they reserved the right to search back-packs, hand-bags, etc. That's all I asked for. It's still an invasive policy that I personally don't like; but hey, it's POSTED! Thank you, Landmark.

I had some lovely mornings meditating, long walks to work (seriously: I picked up a gig driving the train at Hermann Park, something every kid growing up in Houston wants to do; I saw an ad on a non-profit job board and figured it'd be fun to do), sitting in the Japanese Garden and Rothko Chapel and, in general, deciding that it was time to go back to Massachusetts. I attended the opening of the Asia Society, saw some terrific exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Art Museum, and caught up on the cinematic pop culture I didn't really miss all that much. Right off the bat, "The Avengers", "Moonrise Kingdom", and "Bernie" take pride of place in my Houston viewing. And as much as I don't care for Teevee, the BBC's "Sherlock" has proven to be stunning for its invention and wit in remagining Holmes and Watson for the 21st century.

A visit from our brother was great but far too short! Now that I'm back in the northeast, I can weary him further! An additional reason for returning (as well as the birth of my nephew's little girl).

The temptation is to go on about some of the intriguing turns of Houston politics, its transportation issues, sustainability topics and so on, but I think I'll save those for later. There's a lot to go into regarding these subjects, owing to Houston's rather idiosyncratic nature, a major city with no zoning, one with staggering growth and a place that, frankly, is a lot more interesting than the rest of the country realizes. But I'm not quite up for going over my notes right now, but as I think about it, it might be worthwhile to essay some of these aspects. I really do like Houston, but I couldn't live there, I decided, because it is so amorphous. I think it's a great place for growth and opportunity, but it lacks a center and while that may not be a governing factor for some, I find it disappointing and it mitigates any sense that any contribution I might make would matter. I can't quite explain that right now, but it articulates pretty well what I feel when I think about staying there for any length of time.

I've also have an essay I'm working on regarding my first trip back to the MFAH. What I'd like to do is to finish both it and a similar essay on the National Museum in Delhi and have them available for download as PDFs. I'll post those whenever they're ready.

I think now is as good a time as any to leave you with some pictures.

A rather large sculpture for the King Tut exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.



From the Asia Society opening:


Lion Dance 1.
Lion Dance 2.

This was pretty cool; it's a bluegrass duo who paired up with a couple of classical Nepalese musicians. The results were fascinating.

Transco Tower out on Post Oak Boulevard was once referred to by a high school chum of mine as a middle finger for those of us inside the loop. I disagree. In its phallic solitude, it may just be some lonely aroused instrument betokening the solitary machismo of those who choose to live on the outside. Or it could just be a kind of cool modernist steel and glass structure that was planned as part of a greater development that never saw light of day.

That said, I actually like it, but I also enjoy the fountain to the building's north.

Despite the drought, Houston has some lovely, tranquil green space. This is a park adjacent to Rothko Chapel.

Next up, a Japanese garden, art cars and a big head....


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