Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Texas: Remembered and Seen

My parents and I used to do the drive I took to my new home in reverse, going from southwest Houston to my grandparents' in Knoxville with the windows down, the Beach Boys, John Denver, or Fleetwood Mac blasting on the tape deck, and my dad venturing to chat with truckers on the CB radio late at night to keep him driving. New Orleans would be bypassed entirely for speed reasons and because Dad didn't like the city, anyway, having only seen Bourbon Street at night between seminars in the daytime at one long-ago convention he attended. It's only taken me 25 years - and another six hours of driving atop that - for me to end up a half-hour away from where I grew up.

I'm in a neighborhood with very little street lighting, nearly no sidewalks, and mostly strip malls within walking distance. We are so starved for a good bar in the 'hood, we are grasping at anything; a place only a month old that calls itself a "drinkery" and sports a snarky billboard on its sidewalk that wouldn't be out of place in front of Henry's or the Prytania Bar looks promising to Dan, but I'm skeptical.

Get in the car and worlds open, something that hasn't changed in a quarter century of being away from this city. A Twitter personage joked we were in an area with two Wal-Marts within a mile, which is not quite true. As we are at the edge of Swanky Haciendaland, it's more like three Starbucks within that mile. An Alamo Drafthouse is in the area, which has lifted my spirits considerably. I am pulled back to reality, however, by an old family restaurant reminiscent of Golden Corrals & Bob Evans' situated next door to the Critter Fixer Animal Hospital. If the critters aren't fixed, where do they end up?

As a kid, local TV ads constantly shilled for businesses on the Eastex Freeway, the Katy Freeway, or FM 1960, which seemed like faraway places to me, as did a Girl Scout camp I attended in New Caney a few times. Now we live near those areas, and they are hopping. Local ads now feature…Lyle Lovett. Shilling for KHOU-TV. It just makes me miss Marvin Zindler.

I know Nolan Ryan has always been an Alvin country boy at heart and in fact, but I balk at eating burgers made from "Nolan Ryan's all-natural beef." I'd tempt a giant armadillo with a trunk full of Lone Star beer first. Incidentally, there are craft breweries and brewpubs opening up in the greater Houston area every week, it seems. It makes Lone Star look like Natty Light at this point.

Dan is annoyed that Texans don't pronounce it "ya-SEEN-toh" in these parts, which brings out a touch of the dormant chauvinistic Texan in me.

*sigh* "It's just 'San Jacinto' here, honey, pronounced like it's spelled."

"This city is so cosmopolitan, it's devoid of any identity. Plunk a Houstonian anywhere else in the country and you cannot tell they're from Houston."

I point to myself. "Case in point?"



Robin Williams' passing has brought many concerns about depression and how society treats its depressed members to the forefront for a New York minute. It makes it worth posting this C-SPAN panel on depression issues that features Mike Wallace, Kay Redfield Jamison, Alma Powell, William Styron, and others. I saw it not long after I began taking SSRIs for my own depression. If more people understood that depression can be lifelong, and if it were treated like any other chronic physiological condition, we'd all be better off. Perhaps our best, brightest, and funniest might be able to stick around for far longer, too.

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