Here's a picture of my hometown if you don't know what Houston looks like (I wish I had my own picture of Houston, but this will do):
^ from: taproot.com - downtown Houston, Texas.
If you like to get to know my hometown better, here's a YouTube video for you:
NOTE: This blog entry may be edited in the future with more content and commentary.
I even remembered about Tila Nguyen (better known as Tila Tequila) was born in Singapore and raised here in Houston, but thought Houston was too boring a place. So, she moved to Southern California. It's like a lot of people just think of Houston as a no-name city. Like we're a small market podunk. Some would show some love for Houston. In a game called Burnout Dominator, there is a track called "Black Gold" which CLEARLY has some Houston inspiration. The downtown buildings somewhat resemble Houston's skyline. SimCity 4 features a building style called "Houston 1990." I think it's supposed to be Houston 2000, but it's called Houston 1990.
Sometimes, I just hear of poll results that follow this formula:
1. Make a poll about something bad.
2. Include Houston.
It's like how I've heard of Houston being called things like "America's Fattest City," one of "America's Worst Sports Cities," and things like that.
I guess it depends on who you ask as far as who thinks Houston is actually a cool place or if Houston is just a pathetic city with no real value. We even have ourselves some fashion shows here. The Houston Galleria usually has some fashion shows held there.
One message board has a train of thought about Houston that's a bit different. Check out quotes I found from one thread on city-data.com:
"The problem is that Houston doesn't have much of a media image, and when it does get mentioned, it's usually something neutral or completely negative. In any case, I think the poor image stems from limited experience with Houston."
"It's not just that it's underrated, but totally misunderstood. All of the negative is exaggerated (or even made up) and much of the positive is unknown to outsiders."
"Downtown scenery is great - but that's the "old school" city model. Sure, Chicago's architecture is of historical importance etc. but that's just not how cities develop anymore (or ever really outside the U.S.). Look at SD, Phoenix, LA, Houston, etc. And just because a downtown looks neat doesn't make it a great city (although Chicago is great - I just think Houston is better)."
(all quotes taken from: Houston: most under-rated city in U.S.? (best cities, school))
And then, here's one comment I heard on an ESPN show years ago:
"Houston is just L.A. without the traffic."-J.A. Adande on ESPN's "Around the Horn" when asked if Houston is a good city to host a Super Bowl (Super Bowl 38)
The New York Times once referred to Houston as "the Armpit of America."
I tell no lies when I say that I've gotten to know people from all over the world here. That even includes American people from other cities (including cities not in the greater Houston/Galveston area. I've come across some people from Frost Belt states who come down to Houston when it gets too cold up north. On top of this, I think some come down here for the brutal Summer weather. Some are more like "it gets too cold up north, so I'm coming to Houston." Could have chosen Miami, could have chosen New Orleans, could have chosen Atlanta... but at least the people I've come across come down here to Houston.
I've even gotten to know many people from around the world who come here. The majority of people I've gotten to know here are from Mexico and Vietnam. Or do you REALLY want to know how many people from nations I've known here? Well, here's a list of some of the many nations I've known people from here: Jamaica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Columbia, Peru, Germany, France, Italy, Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma/Myanmar, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan. Houston is quite a diverse place. If this is such a poor city, then why do lots of people from around the world come here? There obviously has to be something great here for people to enjoy coming down here.
I'll continue on talking more about my hometown and some other aspects of Houston and the Houston/Galveston area. Feel free to click "Read More" to read the rest if you love what you've read so far (if you're reading the main page).
For as long as I can remember, my family and I have been to Pearland. It's a real down home kind of city. You probably can't go to Pearland without the endless love of Pearland High School athletics. That even includes the PHS Oilers who play their football at The Rig.
We're talking Pasadena, TEXAS here. I've been to Pasadena a few times, mostly to go to Pasadena Town Square. The most recent time I been there was to visit the FYE music store there. Sadly, the mall doesn't seem as interesting anymore. That's even with the loss of the Tilt arcade room there.
Up north is The Woodlands. I've been there before to eat at a lovely seafood restaurant across the way from the beautiful Woodlands Mall. I'd love to go to The Woodlands Mall someday.
For the first-time ever back in 2008, I visited Katy Mills. Think of Katy Mills as a one-story Houston Galleria. That place is HUGE! It's also not a very good Holiday shopping store if you plan on doing a lot of walking. It's a great place.
I've been to San Jacinto Mall a number of times. With the closing of the Waldenbooks store there, I feel that mall is slowly dying. I used to enjoy Waldenbooks and even the music store it had.
Friendswood and Webster.
I'm including both cities because I usually get conflicting city names for if Baybrook Mall is in Friendswood or in Webster. Baybrook Mall is a great place.
League City was once voted as America's best small city. I got love for League City. I remember going there a few times.
I only know Clear Lake for one things- where Natalie (the one who made the 2005 hit song "Goin' Crazy") is from. Other than that, I can't say I've really explored Clear Lake.
Nassau Bay is a lovely coastal city when you drive past the Johnson Space Center. Go on a warm and partly cloudy day. The coastal city is beautiful. You'll see a lot of personal watercraft and even some boats. Great place to visit.
Kemah is almost the Houston/Galveston area's Miami. It's WELL known for the Kemah Boardwalk. I've mostly been to Kemah with my family usually in shopping for fresh fish and shrimp. I've only been to the Kemah Boardwalk twice. My most unforgettable memory was how a seagull almost pooped on my head. The seagull (thankfully) missed my head about about three or six inches! A MUCH better memory was when I went on a powerboat ride on Galveston Bay. That boat was so cool! We went at night, and I noticed some lightning in the background. Thankfully, the thunderstorm never reached Kemah that night.
I've been to Galveston a few times before. However, I've never explored Galveston until some time last year. Galveston is a very lovely city as you can look out into the Gulf of Mexico and see all kinds of things. I've seen things like people playing in the water, some boats, and even some cargo and cruise boats. It's a very beautiful city now that I've explored most of the place along with my family. I don't think I get blog hits from Galveston, but I've got love for you people down in Galveton as much as I love my Houston people.
So we've got a bunch of lovely cities and suburbs here in Houston. I've named places I've mostly visited. These are just a few of the lovely cities and towns here in the Houston area. I've even included Galveston to show my love for everybody down in Galveston.
Even though the Texans aren't as good as (the former Houston team), I'm still a Texans fan because I love football and love seeing the Texans play. Last season's 9-7 finish is our first winning season after back-to-back 8-8 records and multiple losing seasons. The Texans are a team on the rise, and I've always supported the Texans even when the worst of times have befallen the Texans. Maybe the moment I hated most was when the Texans were up by 17 hosting the Indianapolis Colts, and Sage Rosenfels basically tried being too much of a hero basically GAVE the win to Indy. I've also hated how Kris "Money" Brown went bankrupt when he had many chances to tie games late or win them... shanking kicks badly. I've been to Reliant Stadium twice. It seems very condensed, but it's a very lovely stadium. I've been there to see a college football game as well as for a graduation ceremony from my community college (Houston Community College-Southeast).
Perhaps what we will be known forever is as the team that passed on Reggie Bush and Houstonian Vince Young for Mario Williams. Vince Young and Reggie Bush have played in the NFL playoffs, and Reggie Bush has even contributed to the Super Bowl 44 champions (not "World Champions," mind you). I thought this was a good move because a big-name offensive player doesn't mean anything to my Texans when you've still got an inferior Offensive Line like the Texans did when David Carr was quarterback. We don't have big-name players, but it just means that we can still win games even without premier talent.
A good thing about my Texans is that we've been seen as some of the NFL's best fans as well as a great place to tailgate (what do you expect? It's Texas, baby!). One thing I'm hopeful of is that we're not getting ESPN attention just because of the Brian Cushing failed drug test deal. I'd rather we be respected for our on-the-field work rather than be the butt of everybody's jokes. As a plus, I'm proud we're keeping Andre Johnson because I don't know who we'd get to replace him.
You can probably say that the Rockets are the best sports team here in Houston. Unlike any other pro sports team (excluding the Dynamo), they are the only ones that have won championship gold. This was when we were Clutch City for two straight years with the beast Hakeem Olajuwon. Never been to a Rockets game, but I have been to Toyota Center when Toyota Center hosted the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund game. While Houston has the largest Vietnamese population in Texas, there was somewhat a cultural shift as Yao Ming was drafted to the Houston Rockets. I'm a huge fan of Yao Ming and hopes he can lead a team far into the playoffs. Maybe the moment where I wanted to shout at the TV screen or something was when in the 2nd Round of the NBA Playoffs a few years ago, my Rockets would eventually lose at the Lakers in Game 7. The real bad part was that during the National Anthem, when the Star-Spangled Banner goes "...and the rockets red glare," the crowd at Staples Center was booing during that part of the National Anthem. And I'm like... wow. That's low. You're supposed to stand up and shut up as the Star-Spangled Banner is playing, not boo during it just because you hear "...rockets red glare" during the Star-Spangled Banner and you're playing the Rockets. Absolute low point. Either that, or my Rockets can't get good referees for when we play the Spurs or the Jazz or the Lakers. All we tend to get are bogus foul calls and the garden variety of flops.
Our NBA Developmental League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, recently won the NBA D-League championship for the first time ever. Some of the Vipers played for my Rockets when we needed to fill some spots on our roster. I hope my Rockets can win a championship again like back in the 1990s.
No one could have imagined the Astros going from bottom dwellers to N.L. Pennant winners in 2005. While the Astros struggle to remain consistent and play as good as the Cubs and Cardinals, I still follow Astros baseball. Of all the pro sports venues I've been to in Houston, I've NEVER been to Minute Maid Park. One of the most common complaints I hear about Minute Maid Park is how come there's a hill at Minute Maid Park (that is called "Tal's Hill, by the way). And I'm like... well, why is the Great Wall of China at Fenway Park? I guess sometimes, I feel like so many people find ANYTHING to complain about anything about Houston or my hometown's teams. But back to the hill at Minute Maid Park. The hill at Minute Maid Park is as unique as the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field.
I usually make a habit of following our Minor League teams. We have teams like the Triple-A Round Rock Express, the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks (and their beautiful Whataburger Field), and the Single-A Lexington Legends among a few others. I've seen a couple of Round Rock Express games on TV before.
For the first two years the San Jose Quakes relocated to Houston in 2005, the Dynamo have won two championships in Major League Soccer. The name of the club still doesn't sound like a proper football club to me. One of the names for the Houston team was "Houston 1836." With such a strong Mexican presence here, there were many that rejected the Houston team be named the Houston 1836. I thought a name like F.C. Houston or Houston F.C. would be a better name. Still, the Houston Dynamo is a cool name. The team remains strong, but they've been ousted from the tournament a number of times. Houston is big on soccer/football. A great deal for the Dynamo is that they finally got the go-ahead to have a new stadium erected not far from Minute Maid Park. The team is a bit down, but I'm still fans of current and former Dynamo players like Brian Ching, Stuart Holden, and ex-Dynamo Dwayne De Rosario. Landin is a great player from Mexico playing for my boys.
I would have been pretty saddened had this new stadium been built somewhere outside of Houston. Houston is not like New York City or anything, in respect that there's just not enough room to make something within the confines of New York City. Think about it for a moment. The only true New York City teams within the state of New York are the New York Knicks and the New York Yankees. You do have the New York Mets down in Flushing, NY. But look at some of the other "New York" teams- the Giants, the Jets, and the Red Bulls... all playing in New Jersey. I'm not knocking New York City (because I love New York City); I'm just giving an example.
I am not much a hockey person, and my brother usually goes to Houston Aeros games. The Houston Aeros are our American Hockey League team. We used to be part of the International Hockey League before the IHL went defunct.
International Soccer/Football Matches.
Reliant Stadium has been the home of many a great soccer match. With Houston's strong Latin American culture, you will see a lot of Futbol Liga Mexicana jerseys and gear. A lot of my friends are fans of Tigres. A few others are fans of teams like Pachuca or Pumas. Still, we're a great city that has a strong soccer presence. And of course, USA vs. Mexico is such a heated rivalry. In fact, I think we're being considered as a hopeful to host either a World Cup or a World Cup venue. Imagine seeing powers like England, Germany, Italy, and teams like that playing the beautiful game in beautiful Houston. Then too, the 2010 MLS All-Star Game will be held at Reliant Stadium as the MLS All-Stars will take on a team that's a HUGE deal- Manchester United. If anything, there is a great soccer/football presence here in Houston.
Houston Colleges and Universities.
My favorite school here in Houston is the University of Houston. I was pleased when the Cougars returned to the men's basketball NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1992. Better free-throw shooting would have given us a chance against Maryland. I think Houston Cougars' football will remain solid as long as we can keep building up the program and take down bigger and better teams. The wildest dream would be if there was a game between Houston and the University of Texas (they are a big deal, you know) and if Houston upsets Texas. But Texas is just too damn good. EASILY the best team here in the state of Texas. The thing I'm just sick of is ESPN (and sometimes CBS, but CBS is cool) playing and replaying the Jimmy Valvano-coached N.C. State Wolfpack upsetting college basketball's grandest fraternity- Phi Slamma Jamma.
While I'm a UH fan, I sometimes cheer on Rice. The only time I usually root for Rice is when it's baseball. My favorite Rice Owl is Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros.
I usually rant on Texas Southern University a lot, but I really cheer on the TSU Tigers in all of their sports. I could remember listening to 90.9 FM KTSU here in Houston to listen to their football games. I remember when Texas Southern pulled out a late win against their rivals, Prairie View A&M, in the Labor Day Classic at Reliant Stadium one year.
The only Division 1 non-football school here in Houston is Houston Baptist University. The Huskies of HBU recently re-joined NCAA Division 1 after quite some time in the NAIA. I cheer them on playing basketball in the Summit League. That's the same conference teams like North Dakota State, Oakland, UMKC, and conference powerhouse Oral Roberts all play in.
Besides the four aforementioned schools, I also cheer on Prairie View A&M and Sam Houston State. I even have some love for San Jacinto College.
This is just a random assortment of Houston sporting events and events held here in Houston.
* I'm fans with certain athletes just because they are from Houston or are Houston natives. These are people such as Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox, NASCAR Trucks racer David Starr, and people like that. I'm a big fan of boxers Juan Diaz, and I'm also a fan of Rocky Juarez. I also cheer on Ferrari of Houston in Ferrari Challenge. I also root on Risi Competizione and Krohn Racing, both based in Houston (if I'm not mistaken). Colin Edwards is a motorcycle racer I highly respect. The Houston native was a motocross racer who took up superbike racing and became World Superbike champion in his career.
* The silver anniversary of Wrestlemania was held here in Houston. I thought it was awesome for Houston to host the 25th version of World Wrestling Entertainment's grandest show. Houston has previously hosted Wrestlemania in 2001 at the Astrodome.
* We have a championship-winning team called the Houston Energy, a professional women's gridiron football team that has won over three league championships. I know very little about them except that they play their games at where the Oilers of Pearland High School play their football.
* Houston was also home to the WNBA's first dynasty- the Houston Comets. It's a great shame they aren't around anymore, but these four-time WNBA champs were something special.
* We're also known for the Chevron Houston Marathon. This is a long-running race where you have lots of runners and wheelchair events. You even have some professional runners from around the world that run here.
* The Shell Houston Open is usually seen as a great test before the Masters. The event is held at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas. The most recent winner of the Houston Open was Anthony Kim, who finished with a score of 276 and -12 under par.
* The streets of downtown Houston and roads around Reliant Park have served as racing venues. It was the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston in 1998 that got me into the now-defunct (then) CART. That ran for three years and was succeeded by the Lone Star Grand Prix. It was a rare temporary street course at night.
Biggest Dislike(s) of Being a Houston Sports Fan.
The thing that bothers me most about being a Houston sports fan is how people seem to do much better playing for other teams compared to when they played for my team. You want some examples? Here are some:
* Brad Lidge - closer for the Houston Astros, goes to Philadelphia Phillies, wins World Series.
* Ron Artest - played for my Rockets, moved on to the Lakers, his team currently ahead 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals.
So my biggest dislike is that great players somehow can't seem to win here in Houston. But when players go to other teams, they do much better. I usually ask, "how come you couldn't do this with MY team?" Just because we're not a city where we have extremely high expectations to win doesn't mean that we still can't be winners. Part of sports, then, is to change peoples' perceptions. Even my cousin doesn't want the Tennessee Titans to EVER win a Super Bowl since they couldn't win the Super Bowl here representing Houston. So I become very strongly hateful when it seems like players do poorly here in Houston (or not championship-caliber at least), but do MUCH better for other teams. You sometimes have to instill a culture and a following even if you're the only team in the city. Think of my rival San Antonio Spurs. Basketball is all they have from a pro sports standpoint. And as much as the Spurs are my sworn sports rivals as a Rockets fan, you can't mess with success. They instilled a winning culture. I'd love to see when Houston becomes better respected and has some teams that can consistently compete for a championship. At least, hopeful teams like the Texans and Astros can win a championship.
I know my teams may not be perennial contenders in any sport, but I'm still proud for my teams. To go back to ESPN's "Always Hate Houston" attitude, I heard on "The Herd" with Colin Cowherd talking about no surprises in the NFL Draft. Well in one brief comment, (indirect quote) "what if Tom Brady was traded to the Texans?" It's why I usually call ESPN as the "Always Hate Houston" network because they'll try to find SOMETHING to hate on Houston about. It must be that it's ESPN's cue to take shots at Houston teams when we lose. They are sometimes too involved with foursomes with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Lakers than caring about almost any other team. But you know? It's okay. Because while everyone keeps hating, I'll keep supporting. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm not a fan of a certain team just because everyone else is a fan. I respect the L.A. Lakers, but lots of people talk about them like they are the only NBA team. Almost as if Cavaliers and Celtics are nonexistent.
Lots of movies have been about either someplace in California (usually Los Angeles) or somewhere in New York City. Very few have been about the city of Houston. Only three I can really think of are "Jason's Lyric," "Apollo 13," and "Friday Night Lights" (especially with the title game at the Astrodome). I do remember that one part of "Independence Day" had the aliens heading towards Houston in the movie.
"Project Runway" Season 2 winner, Chloe Dao, started her own designer clothing store here in Houston called LOT 8 as well as her DAO Chloe Dao line. It's been around since 2000.
Three of my favorite events here in the Houston area are the Houston Auto Show, the Houston Greek Festival, and the Wings Over Houston Air Show. The Greek Festival was once seen as one of the grandest attractions for Europeans. One time I was at the Houston Greek Festival, a woman from Albania was here for the show. This only adds to the international intrigue this city has. I've met a few people from around the world at the Houston Auto Show. I even met a very nice woman who only knows sign language. The Wings Over Houston Air Show is one of the best air shows with a fair share of stunt planes and even some historic planes. I absolutely marvel at the fighter jets and how fast they can go. Usually, each of these shows have a main attraction, like the Thunderbirds, the Blue Angels, or the Canadian Snowbirds. It's a great event to check out if you're visiting.
Something I've never gotten to do here was go to Six Flags Astroworld. What used to be such a fun place to visit is now just a big grassy plain. I've never gotten to go to Astroworld and enjoy myself there. Unless someone wants to bring back Six Flags Astroworld (or make a new theme park there instead), that's one thing I've never gotten to do here in Houston.
Now some have reasons to leave the Houston area, mostly for bigger and better career aspirations or living a more luxurious lifestyle. You can't really do too much here in Houston that you probably could do in Los Angeles or New York City or someplace. I think lots of people consider Houston just not as interesting to do almost anything you want and to enjoy living in Houston.
(added: March 29, 2011)
Again- Houston is NOT a glamourous city by any means. Still, we are much better than what most people like to say bad about my hometown. If you want glamour, go to New York City or someplace in Southern California and let us be. It's just like how ESPN can't seem to give any respect to Houston teams. I'm tired of the hate as a native Houstonian.
Houston is like my blog and YouTube channel- you don't have to like us, but at least have some respect for us. Warm weather can be brutal down here. We're not a glamourous city, but do we need to be to win your respect? I think we're a major city of character rather than glamour. This city is actually much lovely than what people make of it. I just feel like I'm such a cursed place when people just find any kind of nit-pick to make about Houston. It is a flat place. I'll grant you that. It didn't help matters when we had Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Ike (among others). I'm still proud of my hometown because I was born here, and I love it here. Even if I do want to live someplace else, I have many friends and family here. I just don't want to feel like I could enjoy life more in a place other than Houston. Houston is not America's greatest city, but it certainly isn't the worst. Every little rant on Houston makes it sound like this city should have never been incorporated. Of course, just ask the many people that made Houston relevant. Ask the many people from Houston that have represented themselves well outside of Houston (like Dan Rather from Sugarland, TX). Think of the people who graduated from Houston's colleges and universities like Jim Nantz of the University of Houston.
Houston is a much better city than what most people make it out to be. That's just how I feel. For some more reading, check out these two sites with interesting views on Houston:
an epinions.com review of Houston from a Houston native
"Houston: The New York of the South or Armpit of America?", by Wesley Grant
From a Houston native to you all the world over, thanks for reading! :)