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The Writings on the Stall

Saturday, 2004-05-29


Living in Austin, it's kind of hard to see exactly how much I take this city for granted. Upon leaving for New York, I think I've figured what makes this city so special to me, in no particular order:

Austin is an island.

Austin has a center.

Austin is beautiful.

Austin is creative.

Austin is weird.

These are all aspects of a town that I will no doubt miss for the next two months. With a little more brainstorming, there'd probably be a lot more to add.


2004-06-02 14:19 / lis:

the "Need I say more?" link doesn't work. wonder what was there?

2004-06-02 14:35 / Jonathan Horak:

Link fixed, lis. The link is to the comment area on this post, so that others can help add locations I have missed.

2004-06-02 20:30 / charlie:

I did the same thing when I left Charleston for Austin. I've been here in Austin for a year and I have to agree, it's a great city and one worth 'missing' when you're gone. You especially hit the nail on the head about Austin being an island meaning the rest of Texas is becoming a place you don't even want to visit. Kudos to a great entry.

2004-06-04 18:52 / John Wyles:

Mt. Bonell is great if you like looking over the houses of people who have entirely too much money and not enough ideas on what to do with it.

2004-06-06 21:13 / Prentiss Riddle:

I agree with you that there's no place I'd rather live in Texas, but I think that like a lot of Austinites you may be selling Houston short.

I was dragged to Houston kicking and screaming but ended up spending ten years there (if you count some time in Galveston) and learned to appreciate the place. Houston has plenty of weird. Ever been to the Orange Show? Seen the Beer Can House or Pigdom or the Art Car Parade? Been to a party at the Art Guys' place or one of the artists' warehouses that grow like weeds through the cracks in the sidewalk? While the Houston music scene is much smaller than Austin's, in visual arts the ratio is reversed. And Houston has the kind of diversity Austin only pretends to have: Houston proper is about 1/3 white, 1/3 black and 1/3 latino, unlike our oh-so-liberal but oh-so-white city. That diversity has lots of advantages but the most accessible one is the incredible range of food in Houston. During the oil boom people moved to Houston by the thousands from every country in the world, and during the oil bust they all opened restaurants.

There's plenty to detest about Houston -- the traffic, the pollution, the maddening lack of zoning and above all the climate -- but if Austinites think Houston lacks weird it's because they've never been there. Or if they did go, they spent all their time on the freeways and at the mall.

Now Dallas, on the other hand -- I've visited Dallas several times a year for the past 25 years and I still haven't found much to like about the place. As the Lounge Lizards song says, when God passed out soul, Dallas was standing behind the door. :-)

2004-06-07 15:28 / Jonathan Horak:

Prentiss Riddle: Thanks for your thoughtful contribution. I actually was born and lived in Houston up to the age of 17, at which point I moved to Austin for UT.

Houston has a lot to offer. I've experienced most of the weird you've mentioned and plenty more:

The Montrose/Westheimer and Heights areas are both areas which ooze character.

...and food. It's hard to beat the food in Houston. I remember hearing that more people eat out in Houston per capita than any other city in the world.

My main problems with the city are its zoning and climate, as you pointed out. Urban sprawl in Houston is a condition of poor city planning.

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