Category Archives: East End

Journey Into The New Frontier: University of Houston by Anthony Tran L

4800 Calhoun Rd.
Houston, Texas

January 2004–Tick, tick, tick, tick. Ding dong, ding dong. Chime, chime, chime. Striking at 7 o’clock evening, the old dusty grandfather clock can be heard all over the Celeste Amour Play Theatre. As the last couple dressed in fine garments settled down in some soft indigo cushioned seats, every light except for the stage lights were turned off and the music from the Astre Symphony softly faded away in the wind. Upon the middle of the stage, a young female actress in her mid thirties, wearing an old traditional Japanese kimono, Zori style sandals, and a Momoyama hair style announced that the play “New Space” will commence. Her extravagant dress full of elegant designs of flowers in shades of pink, violet blue, and soft fire, made her the show for the moment. As she left the stage towards her left as if gliding on water, the dark red curtains began to rise off of the floor.

For Scene 1, the first day of school, I mean college, I feel like a butterfly still inside of it’s cocoon. An interesting mix of emotions of a nobody and a somebody overwhelmed me as I encountered this new space. As Freshmen entering place of profound mystery and knowledge, a mutual feeling swept us from under our feet. I felt like a small lost rat in an enigmatic maze, but luckily I had a gray flimsy map of the entire campus given by my sister.

With misdirection, a person can really get lost. That happened to me and my new acquaintance, sporty Jordan with a confident look on his face. I went to my first class in the Roy G. Cullen Building and on the entrance steel door of the classroom hung a note about a room change. Not freaking out so I could impress the girls, I asked the guy next to me if he had this class for first period and sure enough, we both did. Racing against time, we both took off in a rush and gave each other a helping hand. We introduced ourselves and exchanged our past history to become better friends and allies in this new space. Entering into an auditorium where the lecturing has already begun, we thought it was the right class. Sitting on the rough carpet, I asked the person next to me what class this is and he told me, “We’re in politics.” I said thanks and I told Jordan the bad news and we took off again.

Jordan then asked an old energetic lady under a tent if she could help us find our Math class. She told us the same building as before, but in a different room. We went into the room she told us to go, but an English class swept our feet from the ground. A young female student told us the math class we’re looking for was the right room number on our schedule. We missed a good portion of notes as 20 minutes had already passed by.

My Psychology class open Scene 2 in Agnes Arnold Auditorium 2, which surprised me because approximately 400 students took seats. The 400 bodies of 98 degrees magnifies in the auditorium. To make matters worse, it felt like an oven used for roasting a 5lb turkey, stuffed with you know what because the air conditioner malfunctioned. The old pudgy professor lectured and cursed a lot about life which made the class fun for the most part. Time quickly passed by and class ended. From the corner of my eyes, I saw my coworker, Raul. Always with those sleepy eyes and yet a genius at Math, I went up to him to the other side of the auditorium and greeted him. We chatted for a while and parted because by stomach growled like a starving man at Christmas dinner. After eating at the Satellite, I left to find my next class in no sense of rush.

After the long break, Scene 3 paved the way to my English class in the Agnes Arnold Hall not too far from the Satellite. At first, I thought another tribulation was at hand because there on the doors hung a note about some other English classes, but a teacher, sage and unwavering, helped me out. As I entered the class, I saw computers on each seat for every student, a grand table in the center, and a wide white screen to illuminate clear-cut images from an image projector that hung on the ceiling. A regular English class with all these hi-tech equipment installed seemed odd and too exaggerated to me. With an office-like atmosphere and a place to hold a council meeting, this was just too overwhelming, but I felt really important as if a VIP. By the way, I met this blonde haired, gentle blue eyed, girl named Kelly in my English class and we have lots of things in common.

My History class ushered me into Scene 4 in Agnes Arnold Auditorium 1, which wasn’t that far from my English class. Life at college never ceased to amazed me as another auditorium again was capable of holding roughly 400 students. The professor had little helpers called TA’s or teaching assistants handling out outlines and a syllabus for us 400 students. Let me emphasize, tons of dead trees for 400 students. She lectured the first day of class and we took notes about every important historical event that might be useful to study for tests or quizzes that we might take in the near distant future. Fate would have it no other way, I made another friend. This was Chris’ 2nd year at University of Houston and he said that life in college is going great because he has easy class time management and an easy degree to study on.

Act 1 gave us an insight about things to come, and the full spirited community. Act 2 emphasized the location with the potential of drawing in different race, gender, height or size because of its infrastructure, colors, mood, atmosphere, and tone of a particular area. A student might go into a building where it has a cool breeze from an air conditioner and sit down on a wooden light brown coated bench with a tint of light from the ceiling. Another student might stay outside where it is warm and not too hot. A zephyr coming from the west caused leaves and little lovely peddles of a myrtle falling towards a smooth old gray concrete bench. Hiding under the tree’s arm full of leaves from the sun’s ray, you give a smile and the world smiles back right at you. The University Center Satellite by far exceeds my expectations of college luxuries and comfort.

Stationed at the Satellite were about 5 restaurants very closed by and it was very hard not to be picky what food you wanted to eat. There were also tables, chairs, stools, couches and a television set in the lounge, 3 computers, a pool room, a study hall, and of course a nice luxurious restrooms in the Satellite. Walking from my class towards this underground facility feels like I’m entering a night club at night, but in the afternoon. As I passed through those doors at the entrance, I have entered into a whole new world filled with a force of human invigoration. I’m always entertained by what I see or hear because I let myself be engulfed in the sea of lively people and of their thoughts. From a delicious personal-pan pizza hung gooey cheese and a mint of roasted pepperonis that caused me to indulged into my own little world. While sinking into a cushioned seat, I can only be shocked and awed. The continuous smell of fast-food can make a person hungry for some more even after a combo meal of a personal-pan pizza, a medium sized Sprite, and 3 long juicy bread sticks dunked into some sauce. Well, of course that’s just me.

Taking a huge gulp of the aroma around me and then exhaling it out, I turned my heat to the left and looked at the people around me. I zoomed in and out at certain people that looked interesting and I gazed upon a cute girl in the distance. Looking at my watch, the time told me to get my butt off and let the next person enjoy their peace at my seat on the far corner of the Pizza Hut that’s making their daily revenues and greetings. I took all of my belongings and headed towards the men’s restroom. I sanitized my hands carefully for 30 seconds with warm water, squirted a pink gooey substance ( liquid soap, don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression here) and dried them with soft white paper towels. Quite a journey for the first day of my college life and the end has not yet come to terms. As an image was taking shape in the mirror, a toilet flushed rapidly in anger or in anguish when it went down. Going through a different pair of doors to exit, I reentered back into reality. Passing by people, a squirrel on the ground searched endlessly for a decent meal so it can rip it up and swallow it whole in one gulp. At that moment 2 things came to mind: Food and the cartoon show Pokemon.

Once again the dark red curtains dropped from where it hung and the technician dimmed the light, enough so that we can see. Appearing on stage between the curtains was a young male actor in his mid thirties wearing a uniform in the 1700s. Old, yet with classic of traditional grace of honor and royalty, he tapped the small silver glittering bell in his left hand thrice to get attention.

His loud and florid voice spoke, “An intermission my Lady and my Lord.” With those words to say, he left the stage towards his right, walking slowly and calmly with confidence.

The Astre Symphony begun playing a soft tune from the piano, then the strings, and moments later the whole Symphony was in unison.
Map:


1700’s
Pizza
Christmas
Theatre
Maze

Denver Harbor: Bad and Good by: Albert Carmona

Denver Harbor: Bad and Good by: Albert Carmona

January 2004–Denver Harbor Park is a neighborhood where I’ve lived all my life. Eighteen years of my life. There are so many stories to tell. It’s located on I-10 East off of Lathrop/Kress st. It’s ethic back ground are mostly Hispanic and a little white and black families here and there. Its size is no bigger than U of H. It’s one of them hoods as I like to call them where it’s not so big but the people who live there think they are. Well, what I’m trying to say is that people who live there think their the big shit. That’s why there’s so much gang violence and shooting. My hood used to be real bad where people hate each other.

I would be scared to walk the streets alone at night cause I was scared of getting jump or who can imagine what would happen. My hood has its color and it’s RED. Still today all across America bloods and crips rome the streets, RED signifying bloods and BLUE signifying crips. This blood and crip thing all started in L.A. and every major city has caught on to it. Sometimes it gets so bad about wearing the wrong color in my hood that you might get shot at or stabbed. It sounds so stupid and ignorant but I hang around a lot with homeboys from my hood, and I know their down for whatever. It’s hard to believe that they would fight over a stupid color, but when I was younger and stupid I was one of them. I can really explain how its works but it all has to with pride. Everyone knows Hispanics have a lot of pride.

I have two older brothers, Rudy and Alex. I think the only one who really got deep into the gang activity was Alex. At the age of 14 he began a long life of violence and getting locked up a lot as a juvenile. His reputation was known on the streets of Denver Harbor. He was locked up 3 times in juvenile detention facilities and when he hit adult age. He’s been locked up like four times in Harris County Jail. I think all these bad things happened to him because of where we live. The friends and peer pressure hit you hard and you really cant say no because it makes you lot like a you know. Right know as I speak my brother is locked up in County for two-cases of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He’s had to many changes, but I hope they give him one more. He has a wonderful wife and a beautiful 2-year-old girl and all that might not be anything if he is put away for a long time. On October 8, he goes to court, their going to put him in a line up. They say they got a witness, I hope not. If hes convicted he might do some time.

The crime does not stop there. My family has history of petty crime and incarceration. My father has a long history of jail to prison time. As a youth, my dad was in drugs, violence and gangs. At the age of 18, he was diagnosed with hepatitis B. His life almost past him like that due to drinking. Living in Denver Harbor can effect anyone who there. About three years ago, my father spent two straight years in prison for having a concealed handgun and shooting it while drunk on the fourth of July. He’s changed and now lives a normal life. Through these many experiences my brothers and I have somewhat followed his ways, others more. Because of these things, my father is not able to live with us because my mother would not let him. Looking at all these bad things, I think it has had an effect on all my brothers and little sister.

Another reason why my hood is not so great. Through my years since my elementary years, I have had so many friends go the wrong way. To many had family problems, many did not know how to take it. It let them to a life of crime, theft even murder or being murdered. I can at least recall about five deaths in my hood. Two I knew and the others were young like me. One of my homeboy’s brothers got his life taken away back in March 31, 2003 by a cop. He was running from the law because they say he was tried of spending half of his life in jail. Sometimes I would ask his brother how can you take that shit, he said hey he chose that life. To me that real hard to say, his brother was 30 and he still tried to live the messed up life. The crazy thing about the death is that it happened in my hood right by the sister’s house. Damn its so fucking hard to live this thug life. That is what everyone labels people who come out of broken home or bad neighborhood.

I’ve never had a brother or sister taken away from due to gang violence or anything else. Because of my family never having to go through or having to feel what these families feel. Church has been the number one reason why; if it was not for church, I can honestly say that one my brothers would be dead. Jesus Christ has helped my family so much: financially and spiritually. It has kept us off the streets and off drugs. Its led us to believe that we can do something better for our lives and ourselves.

Another reason, it can be that baseball has always been a tradition in my family. Since we were little children playing with dirt my father, would get all six of us and play baseball with us. We grew up playing and loving the game for ourselves. While my homeboys were on the streets, I was playing a game of baseball. It kept me in school also. Every year in high school, I played for the team. It kept me very busy, but I loved that I had to go to practice everyday. It has been better than being on the streets our being shot at. I also do it for my mother. You know doing well in school staying out of trouble. My brother Alex couldn’t do it so I guess I’ll be the one who brings her the joy of having a son going to college and graduating. She tells me everyday. Please mejo (son) do not acted bad today, do all your work today and come home safely. To me that’s more than enough to do what’s she wants me to do. You see one thing about a Hispanic family is were very prideful. So when my mother tells me something or to do something. I try my very best to get it done.

On the flip side of Denver Harbor, it can be an ok place to live in. There is of course the recreation center where people can play sports and all sorts of fun activities. Denver Harbor Park has three baseball fields. Kids can come and play some baseball games. The ages range from 5 to 15 of age. They have regular season games and then the all-stars come along. The all-stars are the funniest part. You get to go to different parks and play different little leagues. In the end, two teams play for a district championship game and who ever wins, wins a huge trophy and a plaque with everyone name on it. If you were to go to Denver Harbor Park you would see my name four times, my brothers three times and my other brothers name twice

.

Another fun place is the library, maybe not fun to everyone but to some. They have programs for kids to join, or kids can just come in and read a book in the quiet and cool building. The people who work in the library are very kind and easy to talk to. Almost every employee there I know. Just about any chance I get I go to the library and visit them. They have all sorts of books and of course the Internet. Also, there’s another park in the hood called LiL Red Park. It’s right next to an elementary school. The park has it’s own basketball court, but it’s much smaller than D.H. park. It has a small soccer field for all them soccer people out there. But, the best thing about the park I would say that brings that small park is that it has some sort of fake palm tress that shot out fresh cold water. Everyday during the summer little kids are out there just having a blast. It’s perfect because everyone knows that Houston weather is no joke.

In conclusion, we’ve seen Denver Harbor Park from a good side and a bad side. From the influence my hood can have on a teenager to having a good time in the sun at the park. No matter what neighborhood you live in, it’s how you live your life and what’s around you that determines how great you can become. But thanks to God and baseball I’ve done ok living in this harsh neighborhood. I’ve made it to college and I think everyone in Denver Harbor would say that’s one hell of an accomplishment.

Map: