I'm approaching six years of living in Kentucky. Moving here was the first time I'd lived more than 50 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico or in a city not on I-10. Even though Louisville and Kentucky has its charms and things I like about it, there are a lot of things I miss about home besides my family.
Fortunately one of the things I missed, Blue Bell ice cream is now sold up here and I have happily gotten reaquainted with it.
So without further ado, the twenty-five things I miss about Houston.
1A-The drive to New Orleans
Before Katrina, New Orleans was THE getaway spot for many Houstonians. It was only a five hour drive or one hour plane ride away. I lived on the West Bank in Marrero for two years as a toddler and my godsister still lives there so it was doubly special to me. I loved driving that scenic stretch of I-10 that cuts through the Atchafalaya Swamp between Lafayette and Baton Rouge.
1-Major league sports
Astros baseball, Texans football, Rockets and Comets basketball. I can drive to Cincinnati, Chicago or St Louis to see the 'Stros, Indianapolis or Chicago to see the Rockets or Comets and Indy to see the Texans. (I refuse to drive to Nashville to go see them while Bud Adams still owns the Tennessee Traitors) While it's fun to cheer my home teams to victory in hostile arenas it's not the same seeing my teams in their road uniforms. While Bats games are enjoyable and the price is right, there's a huge difference between a Triple A game and a MLB one.
2-TSU and the Ocean of Soul Marching Band
Grew up watching a lot of TSU games in the Astrodome. Spent a lot of time on TSU's campus for various reasons. Listening to the high stepping Ocean of Soul as they did musical battle with the other outstanding bands in the SWAC such as Grambling, Jackson State, Southern and Prairie View was the bomb as well.
3-Texas high school football
Arguably the best in the country. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights there's high quality games going on at stadium complexes all over the area from Class 2A to Class 5A. Houston area teams are usually in the mix for state championships. TV stations in the area have 30 minute shows devoted just to covering it and there's a syndicated show that covers Texas high school football on a weekly basis. One of the sure signs that fall was coming for me is when the latest issue of Dave Campbell's Texas Football hits the stands.
The Scott Street legend located between the TSU and UH campuses that's grown to five locations. Had many nights I rolled by Frenchy's at 3 AM to grab a three piece and those creole seasoned Frenchy fries or chow down on one of their po boys.
Katz's is an Austin institution that opened up a store in Montrose. I went to the Austin location after the 1999 lobby day and fell in love with their sandwiches and the caramel cheesecake. I did the happy dance when they opened up their Houston location in 2000.
6-The nighttime pride parade
Because Houston can get rather toasty in late June, the pride parade became a nighttime event. Attendance and popularity skyrocketed as a result.
The Houston equvalent to Central Park in NYC. The Zoo, the Burke Baker Planetarium, the statue of Houston's namesake Sam Houston, Miller Outdoor Theater and Hippie Hill, the reflecting pool and a mini railroad train that circles a portion of it are all there on its 445 acres. The Museum District and Montrose are nearby, Rice University borders it on the west and the Texas Medical Center to the south.
Houston's eclectic gayborhood that also has St Thomas University, La Colombe d'Or hotel, the Chinese consulate, the Menil Collection and various bed and breakfast places in the area along with some of my fave restaraunts and shops.
So many childhood and transition memories there. It's one of my fave malls because of the ice rink, the high end designer shops and its international fame. Did a lot of walking, shopping, eating and window shopping there. My high school prom was at one of the hotels there. I also miss the Harwin Drive discount shopping strip as well.
10-Galveston and fresh seafood
It represented the beach in my youth and my transition in adulthood. My gender clinic is located there. Whether I got my seafood in Galveston, one of the restaurants like Gaido's, Pappas or at one of the local mom and pop seafood joints, it was plentiful and the bomb.
11-The amenities of large city living
It aggravates me when I have to drive to Cincy or Indianapolis to see my favorite acts or have to wait for traveling plays, movies or shows to come here after they do limited engagements in larger cities elsewhere.
12-Marrrrrrrrrvin Zindler, Eyyyyyyeewitness news
Rent the Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Melvin P. Thorpe is modeled on Marvin Zindler, KTRK-TV's longtime pioneering crusading consumer affairs reporter who unfortunately died Sunday. Marvin's had more plastic surgery than many of the girls who dance at Rick's. The Friday Rat and Roach report of restaurants that failed city health inspections is punctuated by his 'sliiiiiiiiiiime in the ice machine' line.
13-Mattress Mack's Gallery Furniture commercials
Another Houston institution. Mattress Mack ends his commericals by jumping up and down, holding a dollar bill and reciting his tagline 'Gallery Furniture will save you money.'
14-The Ensemble Theater and Black culture
Houston's award winning Black theater company. Houston is also the epicenter of Black history and culture in Texas. If there was a African-American trailblazer in Texas, nine times out of ten they had a Houston address.
15-The downtown Houston skyline
No matter what angle I looked at it, whether it was from the stands at Minute Maid park, from IAH, my south side 'hood or the southwest side, I got to watch our world famous modernistic skyline grow as the city did.
Whether it was chowing down at Harlon's, Drexler's, Pappas, a street vendor in the parking lot of a nightclub or a neighborhood hole in the wall, it's all good no matter what 'hood I was eating it in.
Eat 'em up, eat 'em up, rah rah rah! I miss walking around campus, checking out Cougar basketball, football and baseball games and reliving some memories from the time I was there.
The Black gay pride weekend that includes a beach party in Galveston and events in Houston that usually happens the first weekend in May.
Houston's first R&B FM station that started broadcasting in 1977. Over my teen and young adult years our radios eventually were tuned to it. It's now owned by Cathy Hughes' Radio One.
Houston's amusement park that was opened by Judge Roy Hofheinz in 1968 and later bought by Six Flags. I was horrified to find out Six Flags not only closed it, but tore it down in early 2006. Another place that has fond memories for me.
Krispy Kreme only opened its first Houston location in 2000 and still got their butts kicked by Shipley's. It's a local doughnut chain that also offers stuffed kolaches and fresh coffee. Some of the locations, especially in the 'hood are 24 hour ones.
When I wasn't feeling Denny's or was crossdressed, I used to roll up in this gay owned gay friendly 24 hour Montrose hangout, enjoy the food and the eclectic crowd that gathered there to boot.
A Greek place in Montrose that also serves dynamite seafood and burgers.
24-Driving to Austin and Dallas
The state capital was only a two hour drive away and I enjoyed rolling up state highway 71 and seeing the bluebonnets blooming along the highway. Most of my Texas relatives live in Dallas and we used make that four hour drive up I-45 nearly every summer to see them.
25-The Unity Banquet
One of the major events of the Houston transgender community. One of my first community award nominations was for the Dee McKellar in 2001 for what else, the most outspoken person in the community. Lost that one to Kat Rose. ;)