Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Houston: A Primer (The Big Stuff is in the Little Stuff)

It is possible to begin a description of this Southern burg with the statistics, like Houston’s metropolitan area of 5.5 million residents or the 90 languages spoken here, but that won’t really let you know anything about the Bayou City.

You could go in the other direction and mention famous Houston residents, including George H.W. Bush (not his son), George Foreman, Roger Clemens, Beyonce, Joel Olsteen, and Chamillionaire, but the greatest thing about the city is its people.

A place where everyone you meet is a fine blend of Southern manners, Texas pride and American vigor. Here food and friends dominate daily life so much that there are more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States. Houston is one of the greenest cities in America, with gracefully knotted Live Oak trees dominating the streets in older neighborhoods and large parks that are only one step away from a bayou jungle.

In March you can expect the temperature to peak at 75 or 80. The climate is temperate and spring is the driest time of year. Sunny days are frequent, and Houstonians enjoy taking advantage of recreation in city parks, museums, golf courses, lakes and the beach in Galveston. During the summer the temperature can reach 106 degrees with 100% humidity and frequent rain coming off the coast.

The climate of Houston is what separates the city’s culture from the rest of Texas. More akin to Louisiana and the coastal regions of Mississippi and Alabama, Houston has inherited the Southern predilection for relaxation in the face of overwhelming Mother Nature. A major influence on the music and art of Houston, the city’s particular cultural crosshairs have brought about the invention of Zydeco music by Clifton Chenier, the international success of ZZ Top and Screw, a particular genre of rap created by DJ Screw which typically involves the radical slowing down and “chopping” of other artists’ songs.

Early Texas settlers were Mexican and Spanish, followed by German and Czech families. Though they had lay claim to all of the area between the Red River and the Rio Grande, the first to settle in the swamp just north of the indigenous Karankawa were the brothers John and Augustus Allen from New York City. They engineered the founding of the city and made a shrew political move by naming it after the sitting President of Texas. Over the last two centuries the city has grown with wave after wave of immigrants. Today the city is a tapestry of cultural heritage woven around massive freeways that define the geography of the flat landscape.


Anonymous said...

Not sure what this post was ultimately about, but it's great to see B.S. back in action. He was missed.

John Hovig said...

nice wrap-up of h-town. anyone know what's being shown on the postcard? it says 'looking south,' but i didn't see any other markers. is it showing the bend of river near the current UH downtown (with the fancy new metro rail station)? i looked for similar features near the city hall area but didn't see a bend of bayou that quite matched the pic. i love those farmland historical images of contemporary metro areas.

_ said...

Hahahahaha... best joke I heard all week!

bumps sean