Are we too hip for our own good?

Craig Hlavaty notes Houston’s current status as the It City of the national media, and wonders if that’s necessarily a good thing for us.

Hipper than I am, not that this is difficult

But with the praise and accolades, lots of Houstonians are fearful that the Bayou City will become a boomtown cesspool of out-of-towners clogging our roadways, gyms, eateries, apartment complexes, and bars with their non-Texan ways. Pronouncing Houston “how-stun” and Humble like this.

There even seems to be a slight difference of opinion in how to even properly abbreviate Houston, with homers saying that it is and always shall be HOU, and others gunning for HTX, though some snarl that that is too close to Austin’s ATX designation. HTX is for “newstonians” according to the Houstorian Twitter feed, an authority on all things regarding Houston history that isn’t the Chron’s own Bayou City History blog.

And I won’t even go into all the nicknames that abound. Bayou City, Clutch City, Space City, the Bayou City, H-Town, Screwston, City Of Syrup, The Armpit, and a few others that involve curse words not welcome at a family paper.

Many people are wishing that the national media would just shut up about us already, lest we become something that we don’t want to be. But why keep Houston a secret? Why stifle the love?

“Easy, just look at Austin, ” says Jay Rascoe, one of Houston’s biggest champions of tacos and beer, with a handful of beer festivals under his belt that he has planned with his wife Cathy. He points to Austin’s expansion into a yuppie resort city, a convention mecca, and generally where dreams go to die painful corporate deaths as reasons why we should keep HOU hid.

“If you look at areas like Garden Oaks and the Heights, a lot of old mom-and-pops are closing down and selling their lots for big bucks to developers,” says Rascoe. “Gentrification comes with a price — the loss of a city’s identity and character.”

Rascoe adds that the creature comforts of the suburbs are entrenching into Houston’s Inner Loop. Plus, it’s not downtown H-Town that is being sold by these lists, it’s really the ‘burbs — because many newbies can’t tell where Houston begins and ends.


Local musician Craig Kinsey, of eternal Sideshow Tramps fame, is torn on Houston getting a close-up.

“Many talented artists, chefs, musicians, dancers, and good business people can profit from the attention,” Kinsey says, before reminding us about the inherent downside to things going above ground.

“All that is good will slowly turn lame. Right now we enjoy the rich fruit of a family farm. Bring in national or worldwide attention and you will see the “Monsantofication” of all we partake in here,” Kinsey adds.

Food for thought. Delicious, locally-sourced food for thought. With a pint of 8th Wonder on the side.

Audio engineer Josh Webster has another take on the new influx of baby Houstonites.

“I think people who are willing to leave their homes in another city to move to a strange place with a notorious climate, for more opportunities are the kind of people we should want to be our neighbors,” said Webster.

I tend to agree with Mr. Webster. Even before the national media noticed us, the thing you’d most often hear newcomers to Houston say about our fair city is how friendly and welcoming it is. Lots of us are from someplace else, so we’re generally pretty cool with the idea. If we’re worried about newcomers changing Houston, I think it’s quite clear that they have been all along, and mostly for the better. To a large degree, that’s what Houston is all about. Finally, I think we’re a long way away from taking our current level of cachet too seriously and venturing into “Portlandia” territory. I figure the media will have abandoned us in favor of the next new hotness long before that might happen.

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2 Responses to Are we too hip for our own good?

  1. Gary says:

    Frankly you are probably a lot better off with this round of being hot than last time, when it involved a lot of mechanical riding bulls. Besides, Houston is already far too big to be ruined by further growth. You should have tried to stop it after the first million.

  2. I like Webster’s comment, it reminds me that Houston is an urban and environmental sociology laboratory for Rice U’s Dr Stephen Klineberg. I’ve always thought that if we can get along here there’s hope for the world.

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