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  1. I really liked that French Art Gallery . That corner really looks bare and awkward without the old houses right now. I hope they do intend to put that proposed structure up close to the sidewalk. Hate to see those old houses go but at this point they need to really fill that gap between Agora and Bacchus. Whatever they may put up there (up to the sidewalk) is certainly better than the thought of a parking lot at that corner.
  2. Yeah, one of those nights I actually saw a mom pushing a baby stroller. And with the addition of Discovery Green, short of being a full blown mixed use/residential area, downtown is actually a viable entertainment/leisure option. Wouldn't it be great if those funky and hot retailers set up on Main St? That would be a great, great thing. As it is, it might be Houston's destiny that the funky and hot retailers are meant for the Heights, Montrose, Midtown, Washington Ave and the Galleria. Perhaps downtown, aside from the business aspect, will always be our high cultural activity hub, nice large public park, and one bar/nightlife district among Houston's others. I guess we could strive for better but downtown Houston 2012 is certainly far better than downtown Houston 1993 or such. Yes, I feel could that there could be a shot of positivity for the next five years downtown.
  3. I've been going downtown the past few Friday/Saturday nights now and it's still reasonably busy. It isn't 2000-2004 mass peak but there's still a lot of activity there. It has more of a busy neighborhood nightlife vibe as opposed to the 6th St or Bourbon St. carnival crowd it used to have...and it's still OK with me. I still saw a lot of people packed in at No-Tsu-Oh, Flying Saucer, Minuti's Coffee, Molly's and such. And the attraction of downtown for me isn't just Main St. I like what I see over in front of Jones Plaza/Bayou Place and on Caroline St. across from Houston Pavilions. People were walking down Travis to Frank's Pizza and Pepper Jacks past midnight. Lots of people sitting in the patio of Sambuca. Houston's nightlife areas are fairly plenty now, with other areas and districts competing with downtown. That being said, downtown Houston is still a good nocturnal entertainment destination among so many that we have in the area. It could be much worse. I know and remember what downtown Houston in the 80s and early 90s was like on a weekend night. Now that was truly dead.
  4. I'm not a resident there but the location considering the other bars and restaurants nearby, it just seemed like another packed Montrose neighborhood with mixed residences and businesses. That Sunday was quite full of people in there and I didn't see anything chaotic about the street as far as parking or traffic. It didn't seem like a cruising circus or anything.
  5. I'm glad it's coming back. It is nice to have another entertainment option here, grand illusions and such. The location is rather difficult though, given how the SW Fwy has become.
  6. On Sunday, when their service was about to start, I didn't notice anything overbearing with parking. Plus, dining/bar establishment like Ziggy's, Boheme and Fairview Bar are very near. It's the Montrose, so I for one am not sure why they say parking is an issue because of Taft St. Coffee.
  7. To be blunt, I can enjoy the "contrived" construction of City Centre yet enjoy the raw urbanity of downtown Houston on a Saturday night. I love those options here. Last Saturday night, the wife and I went strolling around downtown, had some late coffee at Minuti. We definitely saw tons of people sleeping on or loitering around the sidewalks of the Harris Co. Administration building (they didn't seem dangerous), but the number was alarming compared to other times we go downtown. Downtown is happening on Saturday night. Guys playing guitar at Molly's patio, hipsters loitering outside no-tsu-oh, hip hoppers walking to their clubs of choice, model-type girls trying to lure patrons to the latest Latino bars...characters of all types walking around...downtown is still great...I love that urban vibe when I want it. But sometimes, it is nice to go spend a few bucks and strolls over at City Centre or Sugar Land Town Square. The Saturday before, at City Centre, the wife and I enjoyed some Red Mango beverages and sitting in the plaza, enjoying some lovely summer evening breeze! What's the big deal, really? I don't feel welcome or un-welcome at City Centre. But I don't feel shut out if I go up to Monna Lisa to get a view. I might exchange some stares with some of those lovelies out there and all that...but... I don't begrudge some of the things you reflect on...but to me, City Centre is what it is. Namely, A viable destination alternative to take the wife when we do not feel like going to downtown or the Montrose or New Chinatown for some late night imbibing. ---------------------------------- Now, Wal-Mart really sucks. I only go when it is absolutely necessary.
  8. I've been to Taft St. Coffee in the Montrose a few times. Have always enjoyed that quiet character in an industrial-vibe coffee house. So the wife and I went to get some beverages and to kick back yesterday afternoon...and just in time for the Ecclesia service, the alt-Christian denomination (I suppose "where the sacred and secular intersect") that owns it. The pastor said on the monitor (we remained in the coffee house part) that the church is moving to Elder St. The scene was pretty cool...lots of the pretty people milling around. Considering that, the vibe felt fairly chummy. I asked a barista on the way out if the coffee house was going too, and he said, "Yeah, probably." The coffee house is part of that church, so I would presume it would go also. If so, I am going to miss that location on Taft St. The wacky Fairview St. commercial collection is surely going to miss a great coffee spot back there... (I doubt that we will go out of our way to go to the coffee house on 1100 Elder once they move there.)
  9. You can't really say diversity "doesn't scare" you and then say you might "be robbed by Houston's black culture." Houston is definitely diverse and indeed, it isn't Atlanta in your purist "African-American" sense. From what I've experienced of Atlanta a few times, it is mostly a black and white city. Houston is much more diverse but considering that Houston is nowadays something along the likes of 30% white, 30% black, 30% Latino and 10% everyone else...I'd say that African-American culture is very pronounced and well-expressed here, especially relative to other cities in the US like Tampa, San Diego, San Antonio, Indianapolis, Seattle and so forth. But compared to Atlanta, Houston's "African-American" culture would be smaller (but certainly not "watered-down"...H-town has been known for its rap scene), or better put, simply more integrated in the diverse Houston social fabric. Like others stated, there are many natives from Africa and the Carribean here too. More so than Atlanta. Take a trip to downtown Houston on the weekend nights...lots of African-American clubs there...but these are intermingled with laid back bars that cater more to whites and other clubs that cater to Latinos. Downtown Houston's nightlife is a hodge-podge of high end Theater District cultural traffic...and hip hop night life Houston is wonderfully jumbled that way. African-American culture in Houston surely is in "full-effect" (I mean, geez, look at something cool like Rick Lowe's Project Row) but it simply has to share the geography with the cultures of the Lebanese, Korean, Salvadoran, Filipino, Pakistani, Taiwanese, Nigerian... Anyway, if you're more of a black "African-American culture" purist, judging everything relative to the ATL, then Houston probably isn't for you.
  10. I used to work at Memorial City Hospital long before the acquisition by the Hermann system. I might, now and then, feel a little nostalgic for some of the old things that were once there like those two little movie theaters (where'd I go sometimes before starting my shift) and Town N Country mall. But still... I for one am amazed at the positive changes that are going on there. It's like the West part of Houston is gaining a high-powered satellite center. I'd be very interested in going to look at prospects at Memorial City - Memorial Hermann in the near future. That soon-to-be-finished mixed use development in front of the hospital at the corner of I-10 and Gessner is just more icing on the cake. As much as I like going inner loop for some entertainment, I really do like having City Centre, Memorial City Mall and such as viable, more local options.
  11. Star, Barry's and Candelari's are all very good...but I LOVE Fuzzy's on Fondren/Westheimer! Deep dish.
  12. Just couldn't help but notice this post, another one of those "Houston can learn from" such and such city. The magic of the Montrose is its sheer weirdness. I've been to Little Five Points. It's nothing more than Montrose in a Disney form. But we might guess that's what the Anal Urban types like, things in neat packages. Atlanta is trying kind of hard to be "New York of the South" and with someplace like Little Five Points, it's like "see, we have our own SoHo." But its layout is nothing too different from trying to be like Melrose or Oak Lawn/Greenville. Typical packaged streetscape. Little Five Points is, of course, a fun little area to visit while in the ATL. But let's not genuflect it at the expense of what we have here in the Houston area! Now, Montrose is a jagged collection of block buildings, bungalows and mini-mansions. Montrose has funky backstreets like Fairview. Where do you find coffee houses like Taft, Agora and Avant Garden in LA, Dallas and Atlanta? Where do you find a rather truly weird back street like Fairview in plastic cut ATL, LA and Big D? Take a spin down Fairview. You have a sophisticated SF-like bar/lounge Boheme, then just across the skinny street is something very Houston, the Ziggy Bar and Grill, set in some Munsterish mansion. That little Puerto Rican food hut just a bit down the road... Look at those eclectic establishments along Montrose/Richmond Ave, not merely lower Westheimer. That is true diversity and funky color right there. That's real diversity of character. It's not always about basic block buildings in a neat arrangement and cut scale. That sense of jumbled array...that is the beauty and uniqueness of Houston...something that the Anal Urbanists won't really want to give H-town credit for, because it doesn't fit their sense of scale. Driving down lower Westheimer on a Thursday or Friday night, crowded sidewalk bars and clubs like Royal Oak, Catbirds, Boondocks, Anvil and Etro Lounge in the same section, I mean, c'mon, citykid.
  13. Downtown is still a very handy urban resource to me. I sometimes take a long break from my job at the Med. Center on a Saturday night and downtown is still going on. It's not as hot as it was circa 1999-2001 but it's alive and well-used. There are still bars and clubs, with a decent flow of pedestrians from Houston Pavilions to Market Square to Bayou Place. There's not an insane crowd of people like you see in tighter, denser metros...but to see a lot of people going from place to place in downtown H-town is still good to see and enjoy. I like grabbing a slice from Frank's Pizza or sipping a blackberry iced mocha at Minuti Coffee's patio or grabbing something at no-tsu-oh. It's a mix of people, and the blacks, whites and Latinos who frequent downtown on Saturday nights seem to enjoy it without much tension. I don't sense tension there on a Saturday night, generally. But the Asian crowds of early 2K seem to have gone elsewhere for nightlife. Sometimes on my Mondays off, I like doing tunnel walks. Again, considering Houston has many other different geographic points of commerce, there are people that still walk around downtown. It's not crowded but there are still people. I like walking down Main on a pleasant Monday afternoon. Then after burning some calories, go walk the tunnels and then wind up at Doozo's at Houston Center for their addicting dumplings. And it's nice to enjoy a quiet day at Discovery Green with the wife...with the breeze on Monday. It's actually pleasant that it's not overrun by tourists. Let them have Kemah...or the future Earthquest for that. But when I want a busier Discovery Green, I'll just come back on the weekends. For me, I've stopped seeing one particular point of Houston as an end-all, all-or-nothing topic that some other people do. There could be some improvements and additions, to be sure, but I've pretty much stopped comparing our downtown to that of others. I mean, does traditionally urban Chicago have these unique entertaining little side streets like Fairview or White Oak that have a semi-rustic flair (but still with urban context)? That's what I like about Houston. I can enjoy these knick-knacks here in H-town. On my Saturday breaks...I can take the METRORAIL down to downtown for some late night pizza OR get in my car and drive over to Onion Creek or 6th Bar or some place on Victorian, semi-rustic White Oak for a "Bad Ass Hot Dog" or a burger. On Saturday nights, it's cool to see people walk from place to place there in that Studewood/White Oak corner. You can have that funky Victorian bar crawl...or you can have that urban flair of downtown on a Saturday night, among many other environments we have in H-town. Heck, I even like sitting at the patio of Cafe Europe on Fountainview@Westheimer and watching people walk among the sidewalks in that shopping center from Taiko to Kentucky Club to Darband Grill...enjoying that Houston style urbanity. But as it is, downtown still happens for me. The maturation and settling of it hopefully will continue. It's MUCH better than what I saw in the mid-90s, for sure.
  14. Well, the Harris County Hospital District is looking into purchasing Memorial Hermann Southwest. That's 600 beds. Now, I wonder if they'll transform their ER into a Level I. The CEO of the HCHD acknowledged that Houston could use more of such services. And Memorial Hermann in the TMC...it's also where Ben Taub employees go next door for a quality meal.
  15. That Outside Magazine idiocy takes the cake. They factor in cost of living, economy in their rankings and yet Houston somehow is on their hate list in the big picture. Stupid, stupid. They condescend to remark about our nice barbecue...when actually it's our ethnic food that shines out more than anything these days. Shows how much they know about Houston. When it's "flat", Houston gets singled out but not Chicago or NY or Miami. When it's "bad weather", Houston gets singled out but not those MISERABLE Chicago winters (which I grew up with). And those incessant gloomy Seattle overcasts. And the lack of thunderstorms of any sort in San Diego...I considered that "bad weather" during my time there! Living in Westchase, there are numerous opportunities for biking. I have a bicycle and ride on some occasions. Those sidewalks along the business parks, the driveways and such actually make for an excellent cycling endeavor. Ranchester, Briarpark, Westheimer, Meadowglen, Gessner...it is SOOOO EASY to create a bike route. Do these anal types have to have these lanes marked "BIKE PATH?" Do these Outdoor Idiots need nature ways lined with grapevines in all directions that lead to a Whole Foods Store? I could easily bike along the sidewalks returning my movies to the Blockbuster at Gessner/Bellaire if I wanted.
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