I’ve never been particularly proud of my hometown – Houston. It’s flat and crowded, and the humid air mixed with car exhaust is less than ideal. On the other hand, the rich cultural diversity and thriving economic environment offer some things to love. And the food – where else can you get top-notch BBQ or mexican food for lunch, then for dinner go out for some Vietnamese pho (pronounced “fuh”) or smoke hookah at a Lebanese place. Last night I attended a Gilbert and Sullivan Opera (Pirates of Penzance). Between my car and the theatre I walked passed a Whitesnake and Judas Priest concert and an R&B festival. Only in Houston.
For all of my conflicting feelings about Houston, it pains me to acknowlege that on the national front, Houston seems to garner attention only for its bad apples. What do you suppose is the most frequently quoted Houston-related line? “Houston, we have a problem.” Yes, even when referring to NASA, one of our most notable acheivements and possibly our only worthwhile tourist attraction, the thing that stands out in the minds of America is that there is a problem!
Tom Delay’s political scandals and recognition as the most polluted city in 1999 and the fattest city in the U.S. from 2001-03 did not help our image.
We stepped back out into the national stage in 2004 to host the NFL Superbowl, and lo-and-behold, the famous wardrobe malfunction known affectionately as Nipplegate stole the show. Now, as if the relationship between Houston and the Jackson family was not already tainted enough, we now claim as one of our own the very doctor who at this very moment is being accused of responsibility for Michael Jackson’s death.
Thank you national media, for contributing to the legacy of Houston, which is becoming known for its scandals, mistakes, bad habits and apparent disdain for the Jacksons.
I like to think we’re improving, as I’ve noticed more hiking trails, bike lanes and “green” improvements to buildings. It seems a little cleaner and a little safer than it used to. However, I doubt anyone will take notice unless someone around here becomes a national role-model for healthy living – then dies tragically.
Perhaps Houston does live up to it’s branding as the armpit of America. At least we have Saint Arnold.