Category Archives: Southeast

Houston’s Owned: Screw Shop by Brittney Coleman

7717 Cullen Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77051
(713) 731-0747

Coming into a foreign place for the first time can be hard. You have no idea where to visit, where to eat, or just how to have fun. Houston is the fourth largest city, and is filled with many attractions, one which I feel has made a big impact on our community and influenced the “down south” music movement. Visitors of Houston would look at this little building, thinking it was an abandoned small owned business located in a low class neighborhood on the South East side of Houston, TX. But it’s way more than that, the banner of the store reads, “Screw Shop.” DJ Screw was the originator of Houston’s screwed and chopped music. “Screwed and Chopped” music is basically playing the music at a slower pace and chopping it up. DJ Screw dropped out of school in the 10th grade to pursue his career in music. Once the music started becoming popular around the South East side of Houston, mix tapes were selling fast. DJ Screw built one of Houston’s finest mix tapes stores, “The Screw Shop.” The music started going all around the city of Houston that DJ Screw and local South Side Houston rappers formed a click known as the “S.U.C”, Screwed Up Click. The music that was made by this click was supposed to be slowed down to really understand and get the feeling of the music. Slowing the music down gave people the affect that there could possibly be no worries, making you feel at ease, and calm. This movement had business booming, records were selling, a group of business partners and friendships had developed all through the creation of music. Then S.U.C. lost one of their members, the originator, the mastermind of it all, DJ Screw. It was November 16, 2000 when the late great DJ Screw died, the city mourned his death. He had become a legend of something that would live on forever.

Around this time I spent a lot of my leisure time at the Screw Shop. I was only thirteen years old but my uncle was a member of the S.U.C., he was a local rapper trying to make it to the big labels. The screw shop and its members had become family to us. The screw shop is filled with millions of mix tapes from a lot of hip-hop artists, a recording studio, a writing lab, and many pictures and memories of S.U.C and Houston success. The screw shop has its own unique look. I remember going in and it just being a box, but it was a box that had life to it. The walls had autographed posters covering it from top to bottom, not a single space in between the posters to see any of the wall. In its hey day, cassette tapes are still being sold and the shop had plenty of them. Black and mild cigar smoke hit when you came in, as did the sound of a mix tape playing over the loud speaker. I went everyday after I got picked up from school. My mother worked a lot, so my aunt and uncle picked me up. We went go to the shop everyday; it is how my uncle made his living. I would sit in the writing lab supposedly doing my homework, when in actuality I would really listen to great music being made. I met many great artists when they were just getting started, such as Lil’ Keke, Big Moe, H.A.W.K., just to name a few.

When I was around sixteen years old, I was acquainted with a many recording artist. I saw them more than my own mother. They asked me for my ideas, to promote their records, and I was even able to record a song. One of the rappers named Big Moe wrote a song with my uncle and they needed someone to sing the chorus. I was chosen and given some lyrics to study. Going into the booth nervous made it feel more cramped than it already was. The walls were painted a dark brown with a tint of gray. I studied this chorus a million times, but once the music came on, all I could do was stutter. They chuckled. The producer said, “Just breathe, we’re family. Take your time.” I said, “Okay.” He insisted we take it back from the top and try it again. This time I nailed it. “I could really make a career out of this”, I thought. After listening to the song, making a few changes here and there, everything was complete. The song became number one on the radio’s afternoon count down for four weeks. This experience made my love for the Screw Shop that much more special. After recording the song, the Screw Shop really became my hangout spot. I’d transferred schools and I would take my new friends with me. They thought it was so cool to receive the opportunity to meet various artist. Not only did screw music begin to grow, so did the shop. Independent labels and big named artists started mentioning “screw” music in their songs. It became a hip-hop trademark. Around this time I noticed that screw was expanding into the hip-hop genre. I was now working at the shop part time and record sales were enhancing. I felt like I really got to experience history. My first boyfriend was introduced to the screw shop family before ever meeting me. Every time we were together I would listen to screw mix tapes, he thought I was just a “gangster” girl until he understood where I got it from. This became our getaway spot and the first place we kissed. The screw shop gave me the feeling of being complete when I entered the building. All the S.U.C members looked at me as one of their own. From the beginning, I experienced a great legacy. “Screw is where Houston’s hip-hop started, this is my family. Without screw my success wouldn’t be. I owe it all to him”, my Uncle states.

Around the time I found out I was pregnant, I was still working at the shop. I couldn’t continue because I didn’t want to be around people smoking and I was immediately put on bed rest. During this time the artist whose song I featured on was shot in front of the shop and was found dead on the scene. It hurt me so much to lose someone so close and meaningful to me. The homicide is still under investigation, no one has been charged. I couldn’t return to work after giving birth to my son, my heart was broken. I missed going to the shop and once I realized how much it changed my everyday life, I had to return. I wasn’t returning to work, I missed hanging out, getting advice from my boys, and listening to music being made. When I returned I knew things had changed as soon as I pulled in the parking lot. The door now had a “NO SMOKING” sign. When I entered the building, there was a sweet fragrance in the air. The whole store had been rearranged: this was no longer the place I knew. Mix tapes were now in alphabetic order, perfumes, colognes and air fresheners were apart of inventory and booth time had to be scheduled. A new lady was managing the store, one of DJ Screw’s family members. A few things remained the same, the signatures on the wall from all the artists that have visited the store and many posters of our beloved, DJ Screw.

Now when I occasionally stop by the shop it’s not the same. Many of the original artists made it to the big labels, but my memories remain. The shop was the place where I could free myself from all the outside activities and problems in my world. Not only was it my hangout spot, my comfort zone, it could have been my home if there was a bed. This was history in the making for me. I honor and cherish it as if I own it. When you walk into the shop, music is always playing, from the new releases to old school hits. When I take my son with me to visit, he nods his head to the beat. I can tell he’s going to enjoy music just like I do. This legacy will continue to grow.

MAP:


LINKS:

http://screweduprecords.com/

http://www.nndb.com/people/657/000109330/

Author Bio:

Brittney Coleman grew up in Houston, Texas  and middle child of three girls.  Coleman’s parents relocated to Killeen, Texas but she remained in Houston with her grandmother. She attended Pearland High School but graduated from Worthing High School.  She recently became a mother to a baby boy and  currently a sophomore at University of Houston- Downtown planning to major in Social Work.

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Slabbin Out On MLK

Southeast Houston

On Sundays MLK Boulevard is the place to be. It’s named after Martin Luther King and it was originally named South Park Boulevard until 1977 when Houston’s city council decided to rename it in Kings Honor. Many states in the US have an MLK Boulevard, 70% of them being southern states. I can remember a time when I was in Austin, Texas and I saw that we were on MLK. I turned to my mother and said, “I didn’t know this our street came this far,” she laughed and said “No Austin has an MLK street too.” I had no idea at the time that King was honored in so many states by having a street after him. Houstons’ MLK runs through the south east region in a neighborhood south of 610 known as Southpark, which comes from the original name of the street.

On MLK there is always something for you to do, such as watch car shows, play basketball, football and even baseball games at the parks to stop and watch. The most common thing you see on the boulevard is cars. Not just any cars, but those who are very noticeable in a crowd. Some people call them show cars but to the streets there known as “slabs”. The cars have custom paint jobs, big rims, loud music, and tinted windows, most include all of the above. People really go to extremes with “slabbin out there ride” and on MLK Sundays they pull out the“slab” and cruise down MLK. 

The cars are so flashy that there is no way that you can miss them on the road. One car in particular that I can never forget was a shiny, candy red, old school impala. It had the top cut off and the rims were poking out like sharp spokes known as 4‘s. We didn’t get to close because the rims were so sharp it looked like they would shred through the side of your car. There was one guy driving and a man in the passenger seat. They bobbed their heads as he swung the car from side to side and blasted the music so loud it was impossible to determine what song it was because the bass overpowered the words. A lot of Houston hiphop artist mention MLK and the lifestyle that goes along with it in their songs. Words like fo‘s (4‘s), candy paint jobs, slab, swang on em’ and bang( referring to the bass in the speakers), can be heard throughout the lyrics.

 
One of the most known places on MLK is Kings Flea Market. It’s a huge, old brown building with two stories filled with little shops that sale everything from clothes to jewelry, rims for your cars, stereo systems and much more. The shops are individually owned and usually worked by the owner or a relative of the owner. In the flea market you can find almost anything you need. I’ve purchased phone chargers and games and many of my friends have bought even more things. One of my friends in particular has become really cool with a guy who works in a cell phone shop there. She always takes her phones there, trades them for newer ones, or just sells hers and he gives her a fair price for them. They actually have a tattoo and barbershop there. I wouldn’t really trust it, but there are people who keep them in business. Sundays is one of the busiest days for the flea market as well. Many people come to show off there rides and sometimes there are even car shows. Others come to shop and watch the cars come through showing off and swanging as if they are going to hit each other.
One of my close friends can recall a time when he was watching a man swangin his slab down the boulevard and his poking rims sliced into another car’s tires. Of course a fight followed. My grandma always complains about the traffic on the street, and when cars come down intersecting neighborhood streets to avoid the traffic lights. “I wish these hooligans would stop speeding through here with that loud music,” she’d say disgusted. My street intersects MLK and is often used as a “swangin and bangin” ground for people and their slabs, and a way to avoid street lights. I can actually step outside in my driveway and watch the action take place. I always know when the Boulevard is going to be really hype because my street gets a lot of traffic. On Sundays I can hear the banging of music from slabs passing though at about five or ten minute intervals, about 2 or 3 cars at a time. Sometimes they pass through in groups known as “lines”. South Park is known for the hood famous Red Line. It’s a group of candy red slabs that show up to about every major Houston event and show off the slabs. Houston also has a green line, blue line, and orange line which originated from different areas in the city. The red line is saidto be the original slab line.

MLK also is home to one of south east Houston’s busiest parks known as South Macgregor. There is not one day where the park is empty. There are always groups of guys playing basketball or people in the pool, playing football, or running the track. On Martin Luther Kings birthday there is a celebration held at the park. People barbeque, sell snow cones and pop corn, rent moon walks and there’s even a stage for local artist to perform. Every time I go I always see a lot of people I know and I have a blast. Of course people bring out their nice cars and park them on the grass for people to look at and take pictures of. One year I attended the celebration and there was this guy known as Stupid Tim. He does really crazy things with his cars. He had a big RV that he’d had painted candy orange and it had poking rims, I wish I could’ve gotten a picture.
Another fun event on MLK is the National Night Out. Its an event hosted by the neighborhood Civic Club once a year during October. The civic club puts together this festive for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. They have raffles which gives the people an opportunity to win all kinds of gifts. Last year I can remember a someone winning a DVD player and a MP3 player. Free food face painting, and moon walks are available for the kids to enjoy. If you came to National Night Out you would probably catch me and one of my friends painting crooked hearts, butterflies and dragons on some child’s face, which is actually fun. Its nice to see the people of the neighborhood really enjoy themselves and I believe they are very appreciative of the event.
I always get excited to see what action is will be taking place each Sunday, especially if it’s a holiday weekend. There always familiar and unfamiliar cars and faces. There use to be a block party hosted on the boulevard after the Kappa Beach party in Galveston. When everyone was done partying at the beach for the weekend, they would come to MLK and party all night. The street would be completely blocked it made it impossible for anyone to drive down it. People would walk through the cars which where at a stand still in the middle of the street, drinking, dancing to loud music, and having “recreational” fun. It wasn’t a place to be at that moment if you where under the age of 18 I’d say. Over the years the Kappa Beach party died down, but the after party has not. They still have the Kappa Beach Party but instead of going to Galveston most people just wait to go to MLK to party.
On one of MLK’s hidden intersecting streets is Browncroft. It’s one of those “not so safe” areas you would see in a movie based on the ghetto. I’m not going release much information on that area, but there is a lot of “recreational” activity going on in that area that would be frowned upon. The housing on the street is far from luxurious. The raggedy Browncroft apartments stick out like a nasty, infected sore thumb. By every door frame is a leaky, rusted a/c unit that sticks through the front window. Some of the doors consist of burglar bars and some don’t, one can use the imagination to picture what activities take place behind excessively concealed doors. People hang out in battered old lawn chairs and watch as others walk and ride down the street. You’ll occasionally catch a few young guys tossing a basketball in a an old net less basketball goal hidden in the shade an old tree in the dusty, barely covered by grass front lawn of the apartments.
To some people MLK is just as street, but to others it’s a lifestyle. They spend weekend after weekend cruising up and down the boulevard getting into whatever it has to offer. Depending on how open minded you are it could actually be a really enjoyable place to kick it with friends or to meet new interesting people.

Map

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvSoVIWloQc&feature=fvw

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=southpark+houston

Shop Till You Drop: Baybrook Mall by Patrick McCafferty

500 Baybrook Mall
Friendswood, TX 77546
(281) 488-4620


April 2004–Nothing cures boredom and a wallet full of money like a trip to the mall. It has almost become an American pastime for teenagers. When the question, “What do you want to do?” is asked the answer, “Let’s go to the mall!” comes quite often to the mind in certain social groups. A mall is an excellent place to go to pass time and Baybrook Mall is no exception. Located off the Bay Area exit off of I-45, Baybrook Mall is the home to dozens of varying stores, businesses, and restaurants. Baybrook Mall is in the city of Friendswood, next to Webster and Clear Lake on the southeast side of Houston. This area of Friendswood began as a Japanese Colony for growing rice. It all started in 1903 when three-hundred and four acres were purchased by a Japanese businessman named Seito Saibara. In just under one-hundred years the area went from being used for rice patties to becoming a major commercial center. All the rice isn’t quite gone though. There is still Sakkio Japan, a place to get Japanese cuisine in the food court of Baybrook Mall.

I find that Baybrook Mall has the standard set of department stores (including Mervyn’s, Foley’s and Dillard’s). But what sets it apart is the variety of stores located in and around the mall. Clothes, movies, games, and toys can all be purchased inside the mall at such stores as Banana Republic, Sun Coast, Electronic Boutique, and Kay-Bee. The mall appeals to people of both genders. For the ladies there’s Victoria’s Secret, The Body Shop and Body Works, and Chico’s. And for the guys there’s the hardware section of Sears, The Knife Store, Structure, and Dillard’s for men. To satisfy teenagers, there are shops including The Gap, Gadzooks, Sam Goody, Wet Seal, Abercrombie and Fitch, and American Eagle. Kids can go to The Disney Store, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Baby Gap, and Gymboree.

Within a five minute drive outside of the mall stores such as Old Navy, Target, CompUSA, Best Buy, and Petsmart can be found. This variety of stores has made Baybrook Mall the center of commerce for the surrounding communities up to 30 minutes away. And of course these people don’t walk to Baybrook Mall; they drive. One huge problem of going to Baybrook Mall is actually getting there. Going down Bay Area Blvd (the main street) gave me quite a headache.

Something that I noticed about the Mall was the security. In this present time, security is a very important issue to me and a lot of other people. For example, there had been a string of incidents where people were being mugged. Through recent security measures these incidents have been halted. One thing that I think really think helped was the increase in parking lot patrols. They always have at least one of their security personnel in a car patrolling the parking lots during store hours. Guards also frequent the entrances to ensure the stopping of shoplifters. Most stores also have the standard set of cameras.

I entered the mall at the “Talbot’s” entrance, which is one of the four possible entrances to the mall. It just happens to be my favorite because its located conveniently next to the Cinnabon. I always love entering the mall to the smell of fresh made cinnamon buns (and leaving too!). On the average I usually spend about an hour at the mall, walking around the “circle” of stores or just casually sitting on a bench. Watching how other people react to each other at the mall is interesting. A couple in their early 20’s passed me by. I can’t help but think that the look of bliss on their faces was brought about by what they were doing and where they were.

What makes spending money so fun? It seems like everyone who has a shopping bag at the mall has a smile on their face. I went to the For Your Entertainment (FYE) store to get a compact disc I wanted. The guy who rang up my purchase seemed to be enjoying what he was doing, though it’s hard to tell if it’s forced or not. The normal “have a good day” didn’t seem quite as forced out as it usually is at other places. I did find one type of store where the employees looked to not be enjoying themselves to much: shoe stores. Every shoe store that I passed (Nine West, The Athlete’s Foot, and Payless) looked to have the unhappiest employees. The woman at Nine West seemed to be impatient with one customer who had a box of shoes and a receipt – guess the refund wasn’t going well. I can’t really blame the employees at a shoe store for not liking to have to deal with feet and the people who walk on them.

After traveling around the mall for awhile I ventured my way into the food court. The smell of all the mixed cultures of food really hits you and sets and makes it more enjoyable. The abundance of hyper kids can be annoying, but eventually that can be cured with my portable CD player and a good quick meal. It almost seems a necessity to travel to the food court after or during shopping. Every single person there had at least two bags which I thought was a little odd not many window shoppers in the Mall that day. Following buying a gourmet burrito from Taco Bell I went to sit down (with a little difficulty because of the bags just waiting to trip me up). Casually looking around, I saw that there were three types of people in the food court. Those who just came to the mall to get something to eat, those who were on a break from shopping, and those who looked like they were about to collapse from exhaustion. Parents with kids seemed to fall under the exhausted group. The food court is usually the end of my trip at the mall. On a full stomach I like to go home or go out with my friends and enjoy the things I just paid an overpriced top dollar for.

Concluding my trip to the mall I can reflect upon new experiences and the new things I learned. Where you work can greatly influence how you feel about your job. I saw several different employees from various stores all with many different attitudes. Also, I gained an appreciation of how the mall can really be a place to pass some time very quickly and have a lot of fun while doing it. Sure, you could shop online, but you don’t get to experience the product firsthand. Of course there are other malls a little further away and they may not be quite as crowded as Baybrook, but sometimes the people are half the fun.

Map

Links:

Baybrook Mall

Sakkio Japan

Mervyn’s

Foley’s

Dillard’s


Space Center Houston by Stephanie J. Tillery

1601 Nasa Road One
Houston, TX 77058

April 2004–Walking into this place throughout my entire childhood was just amazing to me. I could remember the many different things that I did from sitting in the pilot’s seat in the mock space shuttle looking over the lobby wondering what it would be like if I became an astronaut. These trips to the space center made me want to do something that would be apart of the NASA community. Not only did I dream about flying in outer space, but I also could not wait for the next time to go to the Space Center . There is always something to do there that will get you interested in the space program. I just can not even imagine what it was like before the Space Center because NASA has always been a major part of Houston s image and the dreams of many children. The Space Center provides Houston with the knowledge and importance of science and mathematics and also helps bring the community together because it is something that is here which provides us all with a common ground to came and unite.

I find the Space Center Houston to be a place of major significance, not only to Houston , but also to America . Through out America ’s history of the space program Houston has been one of the commanding posts of shuttle flights as well as training for future flights and even research. The Space Center is the official visitors center for Johnson Space Center (JSC). From the moment you walk into the Space Center , you feel as if you stepped into a time machine traveling into the future of today’s research. The atmosphere of the Space Center is very alive and energetic. Not only is the staff always at hand to answer any questions, but also there are many hands on sites to visit. This is a wonderful place to get the feel of being part of NASA and the whole space exploration community.

The JSC and NASA felt that they had lots to show and teach to others in the United States , but there was no place to display the artifacts of our own countries space program let alone the resources to show them. Then Hal Stall, a director of Public Affairs at JSC decided that something must be done. Having the mysterious and magical artifacts and models on display in their own employee auditorium was doing no one any justice. Stall wanted to provide a place where children can meet real role models and learn about the space program so children can learn to appreciate education. Stall also wanted to show children that working hard in math and science classes could lead them to a promising career with NASA as spacecraft designers or even astronauts. Stall then joined with leaders from the JSC and the community to form the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. With this foundation the Space Center Houston was built and put into the hands of the public to embrace. The goal of the center was to be able to reach the visitors on an emotional as well as intellectual level. With the help of exhibits, hands-on activities, and films that goal was reached.

The Space Center brings so much joy to children it is indescribable. Watching children learn and become interested in the past as well as their future is a feeling that will never be forgotten. Walking through the lobby you reach the astronaut gallery. This is an exhibit featuring the world’s best collection of space suits. On the wall shows a portrait of every US astronaut that has flown in space. Besides the astronaut gallery, there is the Mazda Theatre. In this theatre there are films shown about President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to get a man on the moon. The film takes you through what it takes to be an astronaut, getting ready to go into outer space, the weightlessness of space, and the camaraderie between fellow astronauts. When you sit and watch this film you notice that it is done with such great detail that you feel as if you are right there next to the other astronauts. With this film, you the visitor will be touched by the hard work and dedication of the many men and women in the space program.

Then there is the Living in Space module, which simulates what it is like to live in outer space. There is a mission briefer who gives a presentation over the living arrangements of astronauts and daily tasks such as showering, eating, and sleeping. There is an interaction bit with the audience as well. This is when the workers bring up volunteers to act out daily tasks that the astronauts would have to go through. After the demonstrations there is a question and answer segment that allows any one in the audience to ask anything about the living and day to day arrangements of living in outer space. Past the module there are devices that help simulate the landing of an orbiter, retrieving a satellite or exploring the shuttle’s systems. Be prepared to wait in a line for this site because it is one of the most popular. For the young children the Space Center has provided a kids space place where children of all ages can go to experiment commanding the space shuttle or even living on the space station.

The Space Center also has educational programs for both schools and families. The majority of visitors during the week are students that are on field trips. Many schools plan field trips to help provide the students with new methods of learning and being taught in early stages the importance of working hard in school. These programs that are provided and designed to teach the students and children about the space program, how it evolved, and where it is going to be in the future. The Space Center also provides tram tours around the entire NASA site. One other option is that schools, which are out of town, have the option of staying the night and enjoying two days of space exploration.

Lastly there is the gift shop; of all places this is one of the best. When you walk into the gift shop, it’s filled with kids, parents wanting to get out, toys, and all kinds of different space related items. One that stands out in my mind is the freeze-dried ice cream that is sold to customers if they choose. At first I was skeptical to get it, but then I realized that this would probably be my only opportunity to try something this out of the ordinary. When I opened the foil package it looked like matted down cotton candy and this gave me even more reason not to try it

“What is that? Can I have some?” Looking around for the voice I realized that it was a little kid.

“It is ice cream the kind that astronauts eat in outer space. We better find your mom or dad to see if you can have some. What’s your name?”

“My name is James, but I’m not suppose to talk to strangers.”

After looking around for a bit we found the father who was looking around for him frantically.

“Thank you so much, where was he?” said Michael, the boy’s father.

“In the gift shop looking at all the candy and toys. He wanted to know if he could have some dried ice cream that the astronauts eat.”

“Sure it’s fine with me. Just don’t give him too much.”

As the boy ate, the look on his face was just hilarious. He wasn’t sure if he liked it or thought it was the weirdest looking piece of ice cream he had ever seen. That’s when he came out and said, “Dad, can I be an astronaut so I can always have this to eat? This is so cool. I can’t wait to go to school to tell all my friends.” That was just another little reason that helps children dream about what they want to be when they grow up. It’s not just the ice cream, it’s the whole atmosphere that makes everyone feel like they can do anything.

Through some of these exhibits mentioned I feel that it is a great place to share in the educational experience of the space program. As I sit and watch the families, students, and the employees walk by, I notice that there is a happiness throughout the entire center. Many times throughout the week students go on field trips to the center for a day filled with excitement. There are many children running all over the place with parents and teachers trying to round them up. This place is a very laid-back, emphasizing the importance of the reason why it is there instead of how you look. Parents also don’t have to worry about having their children try to look nice. Not only is this a perfect setting to teach the community about their own space program, but also a great place to go and have fun with friends or family. Many times you have weekends that are filled with “What do we do today?” well now there is an option open for you. Take time out of your busy schedule to see what you’re missing and spend a day at the space center.

With all of these options given to the public I know that the Space Center Houston plays a major role in our lives. It gives us all the opportunity to learn about the space program and what it will soon have to offer us. NASA is a huge part in our country’s image and having such a place to go to in Houston shows how much we care. The people of America learned to embrace our space program and with that, we also learned while growing up to continue to be interested in NASA because it is apart of us all. The Space Center Houston just shows us that in a more subtle way. Through out the past history with the first orbit in outer space, moonwalk, and space station being built all bring this country together by providing an ongoing educational experience. When I go to the Space Center I always feel like there is a little astronaut in me. If you have nothing to do save some money and visit the Space Center because you will find yourself planning your next visit.

John F. Kennedy

Exploratorium

Map:

An Entertaining Place to Check Out: Kemah Boardwalk by William Flores-Paz

215 Kipp Avenue
Kemah, Texas 77565

November 2010–After driving 30 to 45 minutes from Houston, from a spot at top of the freeway; we finally see the immense park. Rides boldly stand out and make the whole place feel as if it surrounds you. Three of my friends are with me; my friends from church, Ruth and Eva, and my best friend Chance from school. It’s a hassle parking in a sea of cars, and as we step out of the car, “finally” my best friend Chance says, sipping the last of his Dr. Pepper and squeezing the can. Kemah Boardwalk is a new waterfront development on Galveston Bay, home to a major cruise ship port. It provides a new fresh destination, especially for families.

“Cheer up!” the environment says as we enter the park. It is my second time coming, and I feel the happiness that I felt before. Something in this park makes it special, people compare it to Six-Flags, but Kemah Boardwalk and Six-Flags are only the same experience-providers. The same experience that you live in Six-Flags, you live in Kemah Boardwalk. However, Kemah Boardwalk has many advantages that Six-Flags doesn’t. Lines are shorter, rides are closer to each other, and Kemah Boardwalk is a lot less expensive.

Today, the crowd looks like roasted walking-sausages and steamed vegetables dripping butter from their faces on this sunny day. I’m melting while in the line to get wristbands that will allow us to ride every single ride in the park. Ruth stays with me. The gigantic, maybe 6’9” tall guy in front of me looks like he’s going to faint because of the heat, and I imaging him crushing me to the ground as he falls. My other friends Eva and Chance decide to stay in the Cool Zone, a 20’x20’-square-shaped section of the park that refreshes you with a mist of cold water. I wonder how it is cool if thousand people are trying to fit in, that must be hot.

I watch a family with a mom and a dad and three kids—one of them is waybehind because he got distracted watching a train with people waving before it disappears into a tunnel. Children all over are smiling from ear to ear, and smiles don’t fade away easily in this park. Just as I think this I see a sobbing child grabbing his mom’s hand trying to pull her back where the man with blue shirt and multi-color spotted white jacket is selling cotton candy—his strengths aren’t enough to make his mom go back. There’s a different scene in every single degree as you turn your head 360 degrees.

Chance has my wallet in his pocket, I realize, and now I am one person away from the window. The thirty-two dollars and seventy-five cents in my left side pocket will not be enough to cover the price of three wristbands—only three because Ruth has money to cover her own. “What’s the hold up!” a man angrily yells when it’s my turn and I’m still trying to locate Chance in a crowd of a thousand people. “Hurry!” I voicelessly yell to him with only the movements of my lips as soon as I spot him. He understands and runs toward me, cutting off all the people in his way. Wristbands on, our fun is about to begin. Laughing is all I hear. We walk closer to the rides and we stare for a while. A little boy with khaki shorts and a white shirt is standing next to me, idly admiring his sister: the one with the red ribbon on her head, who has bravely and fearlessly decided to ride “The Inverter”, the ride that swings back and forth, up and down, flips you upside down, and swings back and forth again. We had decided to ride “The Inverter” first. Just as we are almost up, I turn and see my friend Eva behind me, her dark brown skin turning to completely white skin, terrified and cold; her skin froze the drop of sweat running down my own arm as I try getting closer to her. This is nothing new for us because she always gets scared for little things like getting on a ride. After a little begging, we convince her to ride today. Once on it, there is no way back. As soon it begins I can’t hear anything but screaming. My brain never quits imaging the ride breaking apart and launching us far away into the sky, like a rocket. Swinging up and down, people below stare at us. They look like ants from the top, and then zoom into normal size again as we head down. The adrenaline is on top of my head coming out of my ears, and this is just getting started.

The sunset is amazing as we ride The Boardwalk Tower. It spins us around as we ascend up, appreciating the fantastic view of the dark blue water that surrounds three-quarters of the park and the endless number of boats sailing around. We witness fishes jumping out of the water and people taking pictures of them. It is the quietest ride in the park. You feel calmness, and you forget about problems waiting for you at home. My friend Ruth almost falls asleep during this ride. As soon as we leave The Boardwalk Tower, we run to the Kemah Train, for the first time today, we see the line is like twenty people long. “We won’t have to wait that long” Ruth gloats, staring at the curve where the train is supposed to come from. A lady, standing next to Chance, claims that “they all went to lunch.” Just smiling, I look at her, not knowing what to say I nod a “who knows?” We hear the choo-choo of the train getting closer, meaning that the time for us has arrived. The train stops, and people get out the train. As the guard opens the rusted green gate, he lets us get on the train. This is really relaxing, it tours you throughout the whole park and we now become one of the people waving good-byes to the spectators. It is really enjoyable and now I understand why they are always smiling. It is worth the time to ride the train because close to the end of the tours the train gets into a tunnel with an old western cowboy haunted city. And as you go through the dead cowboys start having a battle and it feels like they are shooting to you. “It’s above amazing!”

There again the lines are hundreds of people long to get on the rides. It seems that the Pharaoh’s Fury, a swinging ship ride, is a big attraction; all the times we have passed by, it always has a long line. We have walked by the same place so many times that once again I see the path of peanuts that I left when they were falling from my pocket down to the red adobe tile path. Three rides into the day, and we are aiming for something to eat. My stomach groans even louder than the train squealing on the rails.

The aromas of the different types of food makes me hungrier, and fill my brain with ideas: I can’t stop imaging the steak on the grill, juicy and tender medium-well-cooked from Saltgrass Steak House, BBQ sauce and a warm delicious roasted garlic mashed potato.Landry’s Sea Food House, Red Sushi, Aquarium, and many more are really making us ready to try it all. We spot for Saltgrass, not forgetting that more rides like the Drop Zone, Bouncer, Wipeout, Aviator, and—Chance and my favorite—The Boardwalk Bullet still await for us.

After eating we walk and let he food settle in order to get on more rides. We stop at every single carnival-style game bordering the sidewalk. These games start at two dollars in price per game, giving you the opportunity to win a prize that is worth probably more that the game’s price. It is not our lucky day, “Not your lucky day, right guys?” Eva teasing us expresses. Disappointedly, we keep walking around and seeing the prizes that other people are winning. A concert could be heard and the crowd rushes to the stage. We don’t recognize who is performing; however, we choose to go and take a peek. The pop-rock music boosts our moods giving us energy to move into the next.

Our day comes to an end for us, but our last ride is still waiting for us. From far away you could hear the girls screaming and the laughs of the boys; from far away you could see the huge wooden mountain. My feet were able to feel the vibration getting stronger and stronger as we got closer to it. Yes, I’m talking about the Boardwalk Bullet, a roller coaster. Once on it your arms feel like tearing apart from the rest of your body. The shaking is intense and the wind blows against your face making you unable to move it forward. It is like a 30 to 40 seconds ride which makes you think that those few seconds are the last of your life. We got off and my hands were still shaking while Eva was complaining and trying to get the buzz of the engine out of her head. Thanks to those whom invented such amusements and made us have a wonderful day. We really enjoy, here in Kemah. It is just a different way of entertainment. Rides, games, shops, and beautiful outlooks over the bay—it’s the perfect combination that definitely charms kids and adults (Kemah Boardwalk—Houston, Steven). Great day, great time, Kemah Boardwalk we now say “see you later!”

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Boardwalk Inn

Boardwalk Beast

Kemah Boardwalk Marina

Author Bio

William Flores-Paz is a first year student at the University of Houston Downtown, his goal is to become a doctor. He likes helping people as much as he is able to. He is new in The United States as well as in the Houston area. He’s been living in Houston for three years. His native language is Spanish and now English has become his second language. With his goal in mind, William, puts all his efforts to succeed. People around admire his achievements reached so far in this new environment for him. William thinks to never stop until he feels he is done with his work which he assures it’s not soon.

A Friday Night: AMC 24 Theaters

 January 2004–Sunlight washed over the vast parking lot, reflecting off of the pavement as we drove in. There were cars filling practically every spot, and I had never seen such a large cineplex before. I was coming from my comparatively small town to visit my cousin for the weekend. The size of it was almost daunting; I had been to the movies before, of course, but the movie theater back home was not nearly as large as the AMC 24 that we were standing before. There was only one screen to be found in that broken down, fire-hazardous theatre. We could hear the commotion of excited teenagers before we had even exited her Corolla.

I followed behind her as we walked up to the ticket booth. We passed by a wide fountain spraying out beautiful clear blue water into the basin, and I looked in to see the bottom speckled with change. It was refreshingly cool outside even though the sun was out, and I was glad that I had decided to wear a skirt today. I soon regretted that decision, however, when I felt the blast of cold air escaping from inside the ticket booth as the employee inside handed over our tickets. Why do I always forget that movie theaters are freezing, I thought as we walked to the door. I never understood why the managers in these places feel the need to freeze their occupants.

As we walked inside, the overall scenery impressed me. It was dim, and it cast a slightly mellow and romantic mood. Movie posters advertising this week’s coming attractions and beyond were placed on the walls; they were definitely a step up from the half-torn, frayed posters from back home. They were all behind this glass covering, safely protected from the spontaneous vandalism of errant teenagers. I had never seen the appeal of wanting to deface public property, but maybe I had just never reached that realm of boredom. There was more than enough “security,” for there were cops walking around and socializing with other employees. A circular area was isolated by rope connecting from an information desk as soon as we entered the main door, and my cousin handed over our tickets. They told us to walk down the hall and to the right after handing us back the stubs. I started to head in that direction, but my cousin caught my arm.

“Not just yet,” she said. “First, we’re going this way,” and she pointed straight ahead.

We walked forward, and the first thing that I noticed was that a dome structure was erected over four pillars in the middle of the room, just before the main concession stand. I had seen others down the hallways that branched off from this area, and the smell of popcorn was more distinctive as we walked closer. There were benches under the dome, and as we walked underneath, she pointed upward, and I saw a miniature replica of the night sky.

“It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?” she said, and her voice echoed as we stood beneath the starlit dome.

She was right. This display was definitely a step up from the little neon green, glow-in-the-dark stars and moon that I stuck on my ceiling when I was a kid. Even though I kept them up there, I never thought those stickers glowed the way they were supposed to. There was effort put into this, although most people probably would not think that when they look at it.

“Yeah, it is pretty cool,” I said as I rubbed my arms, “and it’s also pretty cool in here period.” Next time, I am bringing a jacket, I thought.

“You get used to it,” she said as she grabbed my arm again. “Come on, or we’ll miss the previews.”

We passed many more posters as she practically dragged me down the lengthy hallway, and I even came across a few life-sized posters made of cardboard. I caught a glimpse of a few game machines, and as we moved past, a kid hit one in frustration as he dug in his pockets for more quarters. As we entered our designated theater, there was music playing on the wide movie screen, and I looked up to see that the film had not started yet. We walked up the walkway, and turned the corner at the end of the wall. The seating led up off the floor of the theater, reminding me of the inside of a stadium. We sat somewhere towards the middle, but not in the back because there were already teenagers there. They were already making enough noise, and I sat back and hoped that they would not continue that behavior when the movie started, but that seemed unlikely. I had read somewhere once that if they were in Japan, the whole theater would have been looking at them with censorship at this point, especially if they did not stop once the movie began As soon as that thought crossed my mind, a man and woman walked by, their three kids trailing behind them. The family of five moved down the next row behind us, and one of their small children, a boy that looked about eight-years old and already fighting with his older sister, sat behind me. Light fixtures projecting from the walls began to dim. This is going to be great, I thought as the movie began, little feet already kicking the back of my chair.

I sat through the latest comedy/drama for the next two hours, and after we moved down a couple more seats, I was actually able to enjoy the movie. The other audience members laughed at all of the appropriate comical attempts in the movie, and I laughed along with them. The air conditioning situation was even worse while sitting in the theater, and it made me yearn even more for the comfort of a jacket. My stomach started to rumble, and I wished that my cousin and I had stopped for some popcorn before rushing in here, but I could do without. As I sat there rubbing my legs and trying to get a little warmer, I looked and saw a couple sitting in front of us a few rows down. The girl was sitting next to her boyfriend, and the arm had been let up between their seats so that she could cuddle up to his side as he put his arm around her. It was a little strange that I noticed that, but they looked cute sitting there together. It was not an overt display of affection, just simple and romantic. If they had been in another country, such as Malaysia, they could have been fined $70. It must be nice to have someone like that, I thought to myself.

As the movie wound down and the credits started to roll, I rose out of my seat along with my cousin. We walked out of the row and down the walkway, and as we passed by the couple, my cousin started to giggle.

“Look at them,” she said, and I looked over to see that the couple was kissing. “I don’t think they even know that the movie’s over,” she said with another giggle. I rolled my eyes at her; sometimes she could be so silly and immature.

“Come on,” I said as I pushed her down the walkway. “You’re holding people up, and on top of that, you’re silly,” I said, but all she did was laugh.

” I am not.”

“Yes, you are, but I am not going to argue with you about it because I’m right.” I said, sticking out my tongue at her.

“Talk about silly,” she said with a laugh as we walked out through the doors into the lit hallway. There was a concession stand situated in front of us, and my stomach growled, a signal that I was still hungry. She heard it, and with a look of humor in her eyes, she grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s get something to eat.”

She led me down the hall towards the main entrance where the larger concession stand could be found.

“Why didn’t we just go to the one back there?” I asked as we passed some kids competing at a driving game.

“You know, I don’t know why, but I swear that whenever I come here, those concession stands are never open. I think it’s really stupid for them to do that though, because it just makes it crowded up here,” she said, and she gestured to in front of us where there were already lines of people in front of the three open cash registers.

As I waited behind my cousin in line, she turned to me and asked, “So, how did you like coming here today?”

” I really had fun,” I said. We were finally next in line, and we ordered our food and stood of to the side to wait.

“Do you always come here?” I asked her as we stood there.

“Yeah. I love coming here, and the price is alright to see a movie in such a nice theater.”

“Yeah, you’re right. This theater is really pretty cool,” I said as I received my food from the cashier. We walked over to the domed structure in the middle of the room, and sat on one of the benches beneath it. We sat there for a while, just eating and talking, catching up in a way that we had never had the chance to in awhile.

As I sat and finished up the remnants of my hot dog, I looked over to see my cousin staring up at the dome, and I started to laugh as she said, ” I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight.”

She looked over to me and said, ” I always wanted to do that, but I never took the time to wish on a star.”

” Think it will come true?” I said with a small smile.

“I don’t know. I hope the wishing gods accept spur-of-the-moment improvisations.”

“You ready?” She asked.

“Yeah,” I said, and I stood up to throw away my trash.

We walked outside to be greeted by a setting sun and a fresh breeze blowing through the parking lot. As we walked past the ticket booth, I looked at all of the people milling around outside, a few of them sitting on the side of the porcelain fountain and talking with friends. As we walked back to her car, she looked over to me and said, “I am really glad we did this today.”

“So am I,” I said as I looked out of the window at the theater one last time.

MAP:


Best Buy – Store 357 “Thousands of Possibilities, Get Yours”

5692 Fairmont Pkwy
Pasadena, TX 77505

The sound of “Turn on the fun, Best Buy,” or “Thousands of possibilities, get yours, Best Buy” on a local television channel or radio station might grab most peoples’ attention as a good place to go to meet your electronic needs, but for me it’s my home away from home. Best Buy gives a complete solution for it’s loyal customers by providing a comfortable environment, friendly and knowledgeable employees, great selection, and most importantly affordable prices. Nothing stands out more about Best Buy than the enormous yellow tag towering above the entrance into this electronic dream world were you don’t only get to shop, but play with products before you take them home so you know that’s the one for you.

In today’s nation-wide retail store Best Buy, there are over five hundred stores that span from the West to East coast and even in parts of Canada. Each store has its unique attributes contributed by the people who run them and the people who run through them. Although unique in most ways, they also all consist of the same seven departments, which are: Media, Mobile Electronics, Computers, Appliances, Home Theater, Digital Imaging, and Wireless. These seven departments bring out the meaning of “complete solution” that Best Buy offers its customers on a daily basis.

As an employee of Best Buy, the experience is one in the same as a typical customer plus a lot more. Working at the Pasadena 357 store is an original experience because of the different kinds of people who you come in contact with. This really brings out the sense of being in Houston because of all the diverse ethnicities that inhabit it. I specifically work in the Mobile Electronics department that carries various products for your car such as new cd players, speakers, amplifiers, subwoofers, mobile video, and satellite radio. My job is to talk to a customer and help them decide on a single or multiple products that are going to fit their needs the best.

You can also tell the difference in generations and how Houston has evolved over the years by the variances in age groups that come in. There are always parents coming in to get their son or daughter a new radio for that special “first” car or even getting radios for their vehicles. I will always remember this customer named David who walked in about a year and a half ago just browsing around the store and moseyed over to the Mobile Electronics department. Like always, I said, “Hi, my name is Richard, can I help you find anything today?” and like always, he replied, “Nope, just looking.” I didn’t really mind it much; besides, saying “just looking” is people’s natural instinct walking into a retail store. So I went off to the XM Satellite Radio display to crank up the volume on the already ear-deafening Metallica music.

He came back about two days later while I was working and I noticed a really confused look on his face as he stared at one of our Rockford Fosgate amplifiers on the back wall. I walked over, introduced myself again, and began to ask him a couple of simple lifestyle questions like, “What kind of vehicle do you have?” and “What are you looking to do to it?” Come to find out, he and I have the same exact trucks, 2002 Chevrolet Silverado Ext. Cab, and was looking to replace all four speakers initially and maybe add an amplifier and some subwoofers later down the road.

After a while I looked down at my watch to see what time it was, it was six o’ clock. We had been rambling on about several subjects including car electronics, drag racing, and his wife for almost two hours straight. We finished our current topic and I moved on to the last step of my job, getting customers into the product they need. He asked me to just go ahead and get a basket and load up everything I thought he needed. So I did exactly that. I was in a dead sprint to the front of the store and back to get a basket and loaded up his new Pioneer speakers, 6 ½ for the front doors and 5 ¼ for the back, a 600 and 1200 watt Rockford Fosgate amplifiers, a 4 gauge dual amplifier wiring kit, and a form that had the installation sku’s for the amplifiers. As I walked him up to the front, he thanked me for all of my time and told me that this was the best shopping experience he has had in his entire life. I thanked him for shopping at Best Buy and told him if he had anymore question to feel free to ask anyone.

The great thing about that day was it set a certain standard in my head that I needed to reach with every single customer from when I punched in to punch out. That’s what Best Buy, Store 357, is all about to me, helping the people of the Houston area get what they need. Every time you walk into my store you can see the smiles on peoples faces as they walk in and out the door because they are either coming in to fulfill their product need or going out with that certain something they just had to have.

Best Buy has become a home away from home because it’s not only my job, but I’ve also developed a second family by working side by side with the same people for almost two years. I would recommend anyone to be a part of Best Buy in any possible form no matter if it’s as an employee or as a loyal customer. Each day that I wake up and put on my blues and kakis, I know that when I walk into my Best Buy (store 357), I’m going to do what I love which is help inform people on what car audio product would best meet their needs. To me, the slogan, “Thousands of possibilities, get yours,” means exactly that. My possibility was to be a part of a great company and I got it.

Although my particular store isn’t the only one in the Houston area, actually there are eight different Best Buys, there is defiantly a piece of Houston that is embedded the store from all the different people who come in. With surrounding retail competition like Circuit City and Fry’s Electronics, Best Buy still remains Houston’s number one place to meet your electronic needs without spending an arm and a leg.

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