Thursday, March 27, 2008

Screwston's Wild Ride

Via The American, "A Magazine of Ideas" comes THIS laundry list of reasons for Houston's ascension to national- no, international- prominence in the next decades. Joel Kotkin's assertions seem to fit into place beautifully, if only on paper.

Stumbling through a depressing history of the burg's reasons for failure, Kotkin reaches for Chicago's history to justify Houston's continued crap-ass reputation. "Chicago, the great growth city of the late 19th century, whose trajectory most resembles Houston’s, left many early visitors unimpressed. ...Aesthetically pleasing the city was not; Chicago, a Swedish visitor commented in 1850, was “one of the most miserable and ugly cities” in the United States."

It is also true that Paris was once a mess of medieval streets and hovels wallowing in swampy mud- but it wasn't the shittiness of the city that helped it grow- it was strong civic leadership (and/or dictatorship) that plowed through unsanitary conditions and dens of inequity to mold such messy metropolises into respectable destinations.

Quoting Rice professor Stephen Klineberg sounds like brutal Ayn Rand; “if they work hard, they can succeed here.”

Continuing the capitalist blindness Kotkin off-handedly remarks "[a]nother of Houston’s advantages is its history of tolerance"; by taking the macro approach to the situation (ie not doing his research) Kotkin can see that the lack of race riots means Houstonians were more tolerant than other areas of the country. The converse (and more likely scenario) is that brutal racial oppression kept popular movements from gaining traction during the Civil Rights Era. Check out a couple of stories on this tip HERE.

Now I can tell that no one really gives a shit since our recent poll indicates exactly 0% of the populous wants more Houston news- but it's good for ya!

ps- perhaps the “[Houston-] with a residential section mostly ugly and barren—a city without a single good restaurant.” quote from 1947 is the best spur for our fine, sprawling, humid, polluted, concrete, capitalist, corrupt, green and purple city of syrup.