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What does Houston mean to you?


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As part of a project I've had banging around in my mind recently, I'm interested in others' thoughts about what Houston means to them. Specifically, when you think of Houston what are some of the first things that come to mind?

What makes Houston different from any other major city? What, if anything, really symbolizes Houston for you?

More than anything, you think of Houston as the ______ city?

Really interested to hear everyone's perspectives!

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5 hours ago, Andrew Ewert said:

More than anything, you think of Houston as the ______ city?

 

The hospitality city.

I know it's an awkward phrase, but it really is true in my experience.

I've lived in dozens of cities all over the country, and Houston is one of only two cities where I've kept friendships.  Some cities like to play like they're friendly, but they're not.  Two examples:

  • Seattle is all happy and granola and "inclusive" on the surface.  But when people find out you're not from there, the way they treat you changes.  Instantly.  It's called the "Seattle freeze," and is something I read about before I moved there.  It didn't seem possible, but it's true.  You would think that a city with so many foreign workers would be more welcoming of outsiders, but it's not.  Hang around with a bunch of people after work and everything is great.  Mention that you're from somewhere else, and suddenly they stop inviting you.  In addition to happening to me and my wife, and enough people for it to appear in that book, it happened to a bunch of fellow outlanders that I asked about it.  Some didn't even realize it was happening.  Seattle is fake.
  • People in Las Vegas are very friendly.  As long as you like their politics, or gambling, or drinking, or are a member of their church or temple.  But there's not a lot of depth there.  People don't get to know one another because it's a city of transients.  It's surrounded by military bases, and the heart of it is casinos that only exist to make a buck.  People come and go.  There were 15 houses on my block, and half changed occupants each year.  The majority of people you run into during the day are people who dropped out of high school, or never even thought about college, because — in their minds — why would they get an education when they can make $20/hour dealing cards?  Living the high life means you have six giant TVs in your man cave so you can watch a dozen sportsball games at the same time while you gamble online.  Here's an example of how poorly educated people are there: I had a pair of 30-something tradesmen in my home doing work.  They needed to get behind my big easel to do some work.  One asked the other to ask me if it's OK to move the easel.  The other didn't know the word "easel."  Had never heard of such a thing, and didn't know what it was used for.  The first guy, exasperated, finally said, "ART STAND!" to make him understand what it was.  I guess it's not surprising that the nearest art museums five hours away in Los Angeles and Palm Springs.

Meanwhile, in Houston, both times I've lived here people have gone out of their way to be nice to me.  I had three different people who don't even know each other leave welcome baskets for me when I moved back.  Both times I've lived here, people with families have asked me and my wife to join them for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners because they know we don't have anyone.  When my wife posted on social media that she was moving back to Houston, people came out of the woodwork to welcome her back, and if it wasn't for 'rona, she would probably be out every night with friends old and new.  Even the homeless people around my building are nice to me.  And not just "gimme a dollar" nice.  They recognize me and know I'm not going to give them anything, and they still say hi.  I want to say "Houston is the friendly city," but it's more than that.  It's welcoming in a way that other cities aren't.  It's nice when it doesn't need to be.  Sure, it still has all of the problems of any big city.  But it also has hospitality.  Something few of the cities in which I've lived also have.

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100 % agree with @editor

From my perspective, Houston is THE "Workers City" and that goes from blue collar up to white collar. Houston is a place where you go to work and get work done, for better or for worse. Its also the easiest city to call home whether you are from there or are a recent expat. What I have said above is actually what creates a complicated relationship for me with the city. Because its the city of my youth during a time when I didn't like myself, I always seem to slide a bit personally and get a little to comfortable even if I'm getting a lot of work done. Its why I can't see myself always living in Houston indefinitely sometime in the future, but it will always remain a touchstone. A place that is in my back pocket and will be there to carry me if I fall down wherever I go, and that kind of security is very rare with most cities. I too have lived in a variety of places, including now in Salt Lake City, and what is peculiar is I'm always interested in jumping to cities with very particular mono-cultures that are vastly different from who I am, and where I came from, Houston. Houston is the most eclectic in regards to culture, the city that is actually weird, the most diverse, and the friendliest. What I love most is that it doesn't puff out its chest and preach these values. Instead it just lives it. Its also why I always tell people that Houston is the true bona-fide American city in every sense of the word (even right down to its lack of zoning!). Its THE melting pot, and at the same time is THE place where American values continue to thrive to the fullest. Houston is a city of action, not words, and its why unfortunately it sometimes doesn't get the recognition it rightly deserves for actually practicing the values a lot of cities preach about, and pretend they value when they really don't, or they are just a bunch of fakes. It was interesting living there in the city for my late 20's as opposed to the time I grew up in the suburbs because I really got to understand how people approach life. Yes on the exterior people come off as pretty conservative, but once you are behind closed doors people are willing to talk about anything and everything and are actually pretty liberal (in the true sense of the base term, the original meaning of liberal, as in the center with varied views and opinions).

Like Editor's example of Seattle, I also lived in a city that would often try really really hard to come across as "open, diverse, inclusive, and progressive", and that city was Berlin, Germany. Germans are great people, but it was a weird experience because many of them seem really open and "liberal" on the exterior, but they are a very conservative bunch behind closed doors. Very tight social circles, and even though most speak English it will be very difficult for them to include you in things if you aren't German, and even if you can speak the language I learned really quick that you can speak the language, look German, act German, but at the end of the day if you weren't born there....you just aren't German, and they will treat you different even if its subtle, and its not like its even bad. Its called Germany for a reason right? Its the nation for Germans, its in the name haha, but thats what I mean about the facade of "liberal". A lot of what the city would preach or push, and the same with the people would just seem surface level. Its also not a city you "live in". Its the place you go to make money, climb the ladder in your industry, party your head off, and what was very evident to me when I was there, the place you go when you are a 20 something and are just...lost in life. This applied to both Germans and Internationals. Its a city that is a wonderful dream, but then one day you wake up and realize its time to get serious and start your life and you leave. Miss it totally, and can't wait to visit again as I still have a lot of my International friends there, but its a city of a particular time of my life and that's what it will be.

The above is simply to exhibit a contrast with Houston. Now does this mean Houston is perfect, or everything is great? No. Does this mean Berlin is bad to live from what I provided? No. Just very different cities for different people at different times in life, and I've come to accept that. Not every city has to be everything you want it to be. All it needs to be is match the person you are then, so you can maximize the benefits to grow as a person for where you are at in life, and that is okay. Berlin was a great city that got me out of my comfort zone, and pushed me to be the best I could possibly be, and learn who I really am as a person. Houston was the city that caught me when I fell, dusted me off, put me back to work, and said yes you can do what you want to do, just do it. Got a lot of work done, and worked a lot of great projects, and meet some wonderful people. That's just me though. Interested in what others think.

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On 12/2/2021 at 3:20 PM, Andrew Ewert said:

As part of a project I've had banging around in my mind recently, I'm interested in others' thoughts about what Houston means to them. Specifically, when you think of Houston what are some of the first things that come to mind?

What makes Houston different from any other major city? What, if anything, really symbolizes Houston for you?

More than anything, you think of Houston as the ______ city?

Really interested to hear everyone's perspectives!

diversity: whether it was through opportunity, open arms, convenience, or whatever, Houston is a city where people from many different countries of origin have landed and built their homes. we are all better for their contributions to Houston's specifically rich culture that is unique in this world.

dichotomy: I suppose this plays off of the diversity, but where else can you get a mall with world class stores, and in the parking lot there is a sex shop? I mean, that isn't a thing any longer, but I am still proud that this city was designed in such a way so that things like that can happen.

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In the original (1975) version of the movie, Rollerball, Houston was called "the energy city." That nickname always seemed appropriate.

An Operating Company based in (you guessed it) Houston will soon turn on an oil and natural gas well they drilled on land my extended family owns.

Haven't been to Houston recently, but hope to return for a visit in the near future.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Unlike the city itself, the Houston Texans professional football team has a won/loss record that seems low on energy this season. However, their 30 to 16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday (12/19/2021) is a step in the right direction.

Edited by k5jri radio
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22 hours ago, k5jri radio said:

Unlike the city itself, the Houston Texans professional football team has a won/loss record that seems low on energy this season. However, their 30 to 16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday (12/19/2021) is a step in the right direction.

at some point the value of winning games gets overshadowed by the draft position. in that way, they lost this weekend.

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