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Have a Splashtacular Time!: SplashTown Water Park by Melinda Ford

21300 IH 45 North
Spring, TX 77373
281-355-3300

April 2004–The smell of Coppertone sunscreen and chlorine fill the air. Guests yell toward employees “When do you open?” and “How much does a family season pass cost?” Behind the scenes lifeguard supervisors screech over the radios asking if all of the guards are in place while energetic music blares from the speakers located throughout the park with songs like “Surfin’ USA.” The concrete burns on the bare feet of the little ones and sweat pours down the faces of the hard-working employees who would love nothing more than to cool down in the 575,000 gallon Wild Wave Pool.

Where do kids in Houston go to have fun in the summer? One of the most popular choices for school age kids is SplashTown, located in Spring. Conveniently located on the feeder road of I 45 North and 2920, the surrounding area has always been a great location for the park with the fast food restaurants within walking distance and the surrounding local neighborhoods and schools. SplashTown serves as a huge asset to the Spring community. The park hosts community events such as lifeguard competitions and vegetarian cook-offs. During the sultry summer, nothing sounds better than a fun filled day at the local water park. SplashTown has been around for years; however, it has not always been a member of the Six Flags Family. Premier Parks, later named Six Flags, purchased this park, named SplashTown U.S.A, along with several others in May of 1999 from the Morris brothers. A little over a year later in June of 2000, Premier Parks changed it’s corporate name to Six Flags. Before SplashTown U.S.A. , the park was called Hanna Barbera Land. A large amount of the clientele that comes to SplashTown remembers the park even in its Hanna Barbera Land days. These guests come back year after year not because the park has the scariest or newest rides, but because the park provides safe, summer fun.

For the last two years I have spent my summers working at SplashTown. As an employee I have a different view than others might have. I visited the park growing up but never imagined all of the work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that SplashTown serves as a premiere summer destination. Working as a member of the leadership staff for admissions I wear a SplashTown logo polo shirt and khakis, usually with a radio attached to my pants. Most members of the leadership staff at SplashTown carry radios in order to keep everyone in tune with the daily events and needs of the park. Guests cannot usually understand what is said over the radios because almost everything is in code. Someone might hear “273 to 270, we have an operational signal 17 at the front gate”. This would translate to “employee A to employee B we have a guest complaint at the front gate.” During slow days, employees with radios conveniently stroll by the locations where they hear any type of action being called over the radio. Working in the admissions department I have seen just about every type of person that comes to the park. There are the water park junkies who use the park as a day care service coming day in and day out on their parent’s way to and from work who wait impatiently at the large freshly painted blue gates for the park to open. SplashTown is also a popular place for mother’s to come with their children of all ages. Moms usually lounge around the wave pool located in the middle of the park or float down the Guadalupe River (commonly known as the lazy river). Secure in the knowledge that SplashTown’s employees attentively watch their children, parents feel comfortable enjoying themselves during the day. On busy days, police officers roam the park, along with our security staff for added security.

Entertaining the local community as well as tourists from all over the world, people young and old enjoy the attractions SplashTown offers. The rules at SplashTown are strictly enforced for safety reasons, explaining why a guest might hear an employee shouting “Please walk!” SplashTown takes great pride in the safety of the park. The lifeguards take their job very seriously and the lifeguard supervisors do a wonderful job ensuring that all of the staff is prepared to perform a rescue. Lifeguards wear red bathing suits, a fanny pack, sunglasses and sunscreen. Supervisors walk around dressed in either a polo shirt and khakis or a navy blue bathing suit with their fanny pack. Their job is to ensure that their guards are being attentive, and they carry their fanny pack at all times to assist a guest with first aid if necessary. It is not uncommon; however, to see a group of supervisors hanging out at what we like to call the back wall of the Wave Pool. They all have radios and are ready to react at a moments notice if they are needed. People might get the misconception that such a young leadership staff is not adequate for a park of this size, but although we all have fun at work we take our jobs very seriously. Unlike the other teenage lifeguards working at subdivision pools, it is not rare to jump in and save someone during a shift at SplashTown. Children and adults alike might get swept away by the water in the Wave Pool or not be able to swim well enough to reach the end of the drop pool at Shot Gun Rapids. When the park is open, an EMT is always on property to ensure that our guests are taken care of in case of an emergency.

Groups of all sizes also come to SplashTown during the summer. Smaller groups of ten or more purchase discounted tickets at the front gate while larger groups buy tickets ahead of time and enjoy picnics in one of the many pavilions. Many large companies, schools and churches come every year to SplashTown. SplashTown even has private parties where large groups can buy out the entire park for the day or night. The swimming attire ranges from the conservative one piece with skirts attached and the usual t-shirt cover up to skimpy bikinis on teenage girls aiming to meet a new boyfriend. Sometimes, young girls even flirt with the good looking lifeguards, repeatedly going back to the same rides. Most men wear swim trunks, the younger ones wearing the bright surfer style board shorts. On occasion an older, usually from my experience hairy man, might play in the park wearing a Speedo. These men typically get nasty glances from the disgusted teenage girls.

Upon entering the property, guests pay $6 for parking unless they have a season parking pass stuck to their windshield. Due to inflation and higher operating costs, all theme parks and water parks increase prices year after year. The one day general admission tickets are $26.99 plus tax, a dollar higher than last years price. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle dated back to 1991 the price of a general admission ticket was $14.95 for adults. AstroWorld, a Six Flags Theme Park in South Houston acquired not one, but two new rides in the 2003 season. SplashTown guests and employees remain hopeful that we will acquire some new attractions next year. When a guest enters the park one of the first places he/she goes is to the lockers in the very back of the park. They reflect a newer generation of technology because they no longer take quarters as I remember from when I played in the park as a child. The lockers can take credit cards and the smallest locker costs $6. As a guest walks through the area around the lockers the aroma of fries and hamburgers fills the air.

In a child’s eyes, The Texas Freefall located next to the lockers towers over the park like the Empire State Building . This ride includes two side by side 5 story tall body slides. Older children find this the most thrilling ride in the park, and smaller children barely making the 48” height requirement use the ride as a rite of passage, using it to prove to friends and family that they are old enough to handle this extreme attraction. Other rides at SplashTown include Zoom Flume and Tree House. The Zoom Flume is an older ride that requires the use of a tube. Tubes are provided at the rides; however, many guests choose to purchase their own tube for use in the Wave Pool or Guadalupe River . The single tubes are $6 and the double tubes are $12. Closer to the front of the park, the popular tipping bucket on Tree House Island fills and dumps water periodically. The immense force of the water dumping out of the bucket causes some small children difficulty in remaining standing. After a tiring day of playing in the sun on the way out of park a family sees an enticing gift shop and candy store. It is not rare to hear children arguing about whether or not they will be returning later in the day when the host/hostess at the exit gate questions them upon their exit. Normally parents tire of the park much sooner than their children. Working in Guest Relations, I commonly allow the older children to use our phone to plea with their parents for a later pick-up time. If the guest is returning he/she will receive a hand stamp. One of which might say “pink” (I was allowed to choose what they said this year).

Unlike many jobs where people dread going to work and do not visit their workplace off the clock, I love my job. In my opinion, the park is one of the best places to work; I even enjoy floating down the river on my days off. The rides and slides easily entertain thousands of people each summer. If someone has the choice of playing at a water park with 30 million gallons of fun or at a neighborhood pool, the choice in my eyes is obvious. This park will undoubtedly provide many happy memories for the kids of the future as it did for my generation.

Map

Links

http://www.sixflags.com/parks/splashtown/index.asp

http://www.sixflags.com/

http://www.traveltex.com/

http://www.aad.org/SkinCancerNews/SafeSunTips/sunscreenfacts.html

http://justaddwater.com/

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The Distinctive Essence of Downtown Houston, Texas: by Doretha Evans

Downtown Houston, TX

July 2010-Approaching Downtown Houston in a royal blue Toyota Camry with the sunroof open, I am on a lovely night out riding, to ease my mind from work and school. I pop the top to drink a sizzling, cold, strawberry Fanta , while I ride. The night’s breeze whistles through my long, honey smelling hair. On the radio is one of my favorite classic songs of all times-New Edition’s “I’m Still In Love With You.” The music is mellow, something to sing along to while enjoying the way lights from the huge buildings glare onto the tinted windows of my car, making all kind of extravagant colors: reds, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, and purples. The strange part is that the lights on the buildings are really a yellow-orange color, but the reflection of the tinted windows mixes with the color of the lights to make beautiful colors that really are not there.

I come to downtown Houston just to view the lights. Each night I visit downtown, it feels like a new place. It has less traffic, less noise, and less people running around after dark than in the day time. The city scape is extravagant; anyone who visits Houston, should make a trip downtown. Coming downtown eases one’s mind. Whenever I need to sit and think about decisions I have to make or if I just crave, downtown for a night out with no noise, I jump in the blue lady bug; my car’s name, for a nice ride on down there with the music playing mellow, depending on the mood.

Sometimes at night there are bars open, or even a nice formal club. Shadow Bar is up the street from the University of Houston-Downtown. It hosts a lot of different poets, singers, and jazz players. Shadow Bar is designed to look as if it is of exquisite taste. It is just one of the bars I have been to. Downtown Houston is also is known for having a lot of clubs. Club Grooves is one of my favorite, because I take interest in the formal wear that is required in order to attend this club. Grooves has different mixtures of music, not just hip hop and r & b. That is one thing that draws my attention to the Club Grooves. I advise everyone who has not visited Downtown Houston, Texas to go and visit, but only at night will you get the best feeling of being free and at ease.

Fall, is one of the best times to drive downtown. It is not too cold and not too hot. Sometimes, I take long walks on Main Street, with family and friends. Some buildings Downtown have Christmas lights designed on them and around the trees in front of the building. They are not just any old Christmas lights, but the crystal, white, beautiful lights. They are so beautiful sometimes. They almost look like fire flies floating on the building and trees. When you approach Downtown, it seems as if the buildings will be close together, but they really are not.

Tonight I see a girl, around the age of twenty-six, with long, gold and black streaked hair. She has on some beautiful formal wear: a red silky shirt, black slacks with red lines going through them, some red and black four inch stiletto heels, a thin gold belt, with black, red, and gold accessories to go along with her formal wear. She is standing next to her white BMW, listening to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me”.

“What do you love and hate about Downtown Houston, Texas?” I ask.

“I love the look and feel of the city view at night and I hate being down here during the day time, too much traffic and noise.” She replied.

“She feels the same way I feel about downtown.” That’s what I am thinking to myself.

My older sister and I hop in my blue lady bug and stroll back to Downtown Houston. I park on Main Street and my sister and I begin to walk. We see a lovely older couple, sitting on a black steel bench. The couple sings as we pass them, holding each other singing, The Isley Brothers “For The Love Of You”. I just love when the old man turns to his wife, singing pieces of the song, “Drifting on a memory, there is no place I rather be than with you, yeah.” Then, all of a sudden, the man stops singing.

“The city lights are so beautiful at night down here.” “I love it down here.” “I often see a lot of friends, families, and visitors down here.” “This is the best place to come to at night, relieves a lot of people minds.” Say the old man.

I look at the old man and woman and I want to respond to them in the most courteous way, they are very nice and not harmful. “I love coming to downtown myself and hopefully in the future, my husband and I will be singing the same tunes on the same bench.” “Have a lovely and bless night.” I respond.

The smell of downtown is like a fresh apple pie, straight out the oven and the large buildings looking like huge mountains are a couple of things that excite me when I come downtown. Driving down this yellow brick road really makes me feel so hopeful. As I listen to the trees whistle, dogs bark, and the movement sound of the passing vehicles is like music to my ears. The essence of nights like this are breathe taking. I like to ride and let my imagination go free.

As my sister and I continue walking, I see a group of women on the right side of the street listening to hip hop dance music and on the left I see a group of men drinking on some beer, listening to a classic UGK album. So, I continue to walk down Main Street, I was stopped by a homeless man. The homeless man ask me for a few cents, he was hungry, so I give him enough cash to buy something to eat. Before the man walks away, he says to my sister and I, “God bless and this is the right place to be, this is home for a lot of homeless.” I can see that he loves Downtown, but it also affects him not to have a home.

“It is a lot of people out tonight, want to go in a bar?” I ask. We make another visit downtown on a Saturday night. My sister, best friend, and I are together. So now we are in the bar. Male bartenders serving us drinks: in champagne glasses, with gold trimmings around the drinking part of the glasses and carved designs. The male bartenders are dressed in a white a formal top, with a bow tie, and black slacks. The lights are dim; candles lit on all the tables, a comedian is onstage performing, cigarette smoke is floating in the air, people are talking among themselves, and the room is filled with a mix crowd. The music is playing mellow while the comedian is telling his jokes. Some people is listening to the comedian, some is just there for the drinks, and some is there to mingle.

The beautiful view and night out is the reason I really enjoy going to Downtown Houston. The one who capture the views that I have captured, will appreciate and enjoy the large mountain buildings and smell of apple pie roaming in the night air, the way I capture these moments. Going to different bars and clubs will give a little insight on the experience I have had streaming Downtown on those lonely, stressful, and peaceful nights. I could only give so much of what I think, feel, or know of the experience I have had Downtown. Experiencing for oneself is a pleasure that will have to be taken at hand. I would advise anyone who visits Houston, Texas to take the time out to enjoy the beautiful essence of downtown.

MAP:

LINKS:

Downtown-Houston

Houston

Aquarium

My name is Doretha Evans from Natchitoches, Louisiana born May 10, 1988. I was raised in a rough neighborhood that tought me to appreciate life, friends and family for what and who they are. I have a huge family, a beautiful home that God has stabiliy blessed my family. I am a christian lady who loves and fears God whole-heartly. Blessed to say I have a small circle of friends who I consider more like my family. I enjoy living life with no regrets or stress and I carry a smile everywhere I go. I am a sweet, kind, and loving person, who has an open hand to anyone who needs my help.

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


       
            
        
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A Taste of Italy: Frenchie’s Italian Cuisine 


by Shalimar R. Sankar

1041 Nasa Road One
Houston, TX  77058

281-486-7144

   April 2004–My quest to alleviate the growling of my tummy led me to this tiny, mundane structure on the 1041 block of Nasa Road One.   As I pulled into its small, but sadly vacant parking lot, I didn’t know what to expect by the look of its exterior.   Aside from the green italicized lettering, which reads, Frenchie’s Italian Cuisine, this building is down right boring!   For a sec there I thought it was closed, until I spotted a few parked cars hidden at the side.   As I started walking up towards the building, I could hear a little boy pestering his father into taking him to Baskin Robbins, which is just next door, and his father warning him to be quiet.   Ice cream was sounding pretty good to me by now, but I was totally hungry and needed some real nourishment.Stepping foot inside Frenchie’s, I found this ordinary looking building to be quite lively and amiable.   It holds true to the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” .  There, I was greeted with a smile ear-to-ear from either Frankie or Giuseppe (who’s known by his friends as Joe).   I can never tell them apart.   To me they’re twins, not brothers.   Inside, the aroma of freshly grated Italian spices all being mixed together, and the feeling of the blissful atmosphere hits me like a cool breeze on a warm summer’s day.  

You yourself cannot help but to also have an ear-to-ear grin when you’re there.   Just the look of these two giddy, energetic middle-aged Italian men running around will put a smile on anyone’s face.   Picture two middle-aged, chunky men, just shy of 5’4”, bearing quite a large bald spot in the front of their circular heads, making their foreheads appear twice as big as normal.   Wearing pleated khakis alongside a dress shirt, there you’ll have Frankie and his brother Joe.   Let me tell you a thing or two about these Italian owners.   If there’s one thing they love just as much as good food, it’s gabbing.   These men can talk up a storm to anyone, anywhere, anytime.   I’ve learned that they will walk straight up to your table and start talking to you like if they’ve known you for years.   They’re also quite the little jokers, I hear.   They try their best to make your dining there with them the best and most enjoyable as it can be.

I noticed that most of their customers were ordering a chicken crepe, so naturally I ordered one as well.   I found a crepe to be this oily pastry looking thing filled with chicken and mushrooms, smothered in their freshly homemade sauce.   It’s burnt on the edges, however, that’s what gives it its natural taste.   It comes in pairs, alongside a salad, mainly drizzled in Italian’s favorite oil and vinegar vinaigrette, together with all the homemade bread you can allow yourself to devour.   Not to worry for those of you with big appetites, they are extremely generous with their portions.   But hey, I’m a skinny girl so generous portions to me may not be what you call generous.

In addition, all their bread and sauces are homemade daily on the premises with a pinch of Italian love. As for their wine selection, I hear they house some standout and rare Italian bottles, such as a multilayered Lacryma Christi Mastroberadino that they sell at quite a steal.   And don’t forget to save room for the best part…dessert!   Yeah!   Though their list is limited, they’re outstanding.   Their tiramisu, chocolate-almond cake, and chocolate musse (which is pilled high with fluffy whipped cream) are a taste of heaven.   And to those on the Atkins diet, I highly recommend y’all taking a day off and coming down here to eat.   Hey, it’s not like it’ll kill ya.   I say live a little.

In addition to the innovative food selections and attentive service, you get to hear the blissful sounds of Joe, Frankie’s brother, singing some of his all time Italian favorites while you wait.   The Camera brother (who are from the island of Capri) came from a family of musicians, so it’s no wonder Joe loves entertaining his customers by singing and humming a cappella.   Don’t get me wrong, it’s not karaoke night, he merely sings and hums while he’s taking people’s order.   However, just like how every diamond has a flaw, this Italian bistro has its drawbacks.   Their entrée list is disappointingly short yet it carries some amazingly low-prices.   Although you must fetch your own silverware, napkins and drinks, your food is sent to your table.   Nonetheless, the spirit of this little mom and pop Italian bistro is absolutely captivating.

I was flabbergasted to find out that a place called Frenchie’s serves up some of the finest Italian/Neapolitan cooking on this side of Houston.   If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why in the world an Italian restaurant would have the name Frenchie’s plastered in front of it.   Well, it just so happened to be the name that was there twenty-five years ago when they took over that location.   Rather than spending the money on changing the sign, they decided to spend it on the kitchen itself.   Kudos to Frank and Giuseppe!   The brothers, who came to America thirty years ago, wanted to show Houstonians and tourist a little of what Italy is all about.   Food is the essence of life.   For most Italians, food is a passion and many maintain that they live to eat, not eat to live.  

While at Frenchie’s, I got a chance to talk with four of Frenchie’s regulars.   Like Frankie and his bro, they too were extremely benevolent, carrying a smile on their face a mile wide.   Middle aged, and all turning gray, they varied from plump to the norm.   The four Caucasian Lockheed engineers, two men and two women, told me they’ve been coming here since Frenchie’s opened up in late 1979.   As regulars, they dine here just about every week, and told me that I could probably find them there every Saturday at around the same time, about 2:30 p.m.   I was amazed to find out that these people had been coming here for the past twenty-five years. The reason behind them being such devoted customers was the fact that unlike the Americanized Italian dishes you see at these familiar Italian restaurants, here you are sure to find some good old authentic Italian cuisines, which is sure to have you walk out with a belly full and a satisfying dining experience.

As I looked around the walls I noticed a mass of NASA memorabilia adorning its entryway and one of its three dining room walls.   In addition to the astronauts, I found many Kodak moments with a few legendary Hollywood stars, including the gorgeous Tom Cruise and the beautiful Penelope Cruz.   Not to mention pictures of folks like me whom all have eaten here at Frenchie’s, alongside with pictures of the Italian Camera family.   The pictures ranged from the former astronauts to the present day 1991 Challenger, along with the 2003 Colombia STS-107, who I learned had a bon voyage soiré at Frenchie’s just before their departure from Houston, which sadly enough was their last time here on Earth.   In memory of STS-107, the Camera brothers lit a single white candle and placed it near the television tuned to the memorial.  

On a pleasant note, I read in one of the many various local newspaper articles that one astronaut wished Frankie could cater up in orbit; while others said they were looking forward to Frankie’s renowned chicken crepe when they got back to planet Earth.   Another newspaper article informed me that Italy’s very own president was among Frenchie’s admirers.   Wow!   If the President of Italy wanted to have dinner at a certain Italian restaurant then it must be a damn good place, I’ll say!   While looking at all of these happy people’s faces on the walls, I couldn’t help but think that this place might in fact be a popular and well admired place on this side of southeast Houston.   I then learned that their off-hours are between one and three o’clock p.m., which might possibly have been the reason behind the empty parking lot, seeing as how I got here roughly at two o’clock.   In addition to the articles, many international and Houston reporters have recognized Frenchie’s whom have heard by word of mouth that they might in fact be the most down-home Italian in metropolitan Houston, which is well-liked among NASA astronauts.   Another one of Frenchie’s admirers is KTRK-TV Channel 13’s very own, admired consumer investigative reporter and food critic, Marvin Zindler, who’s been in the news business for over fifty years now, named Frenchie’s one of the places in Houston that he enjoys dining at.

By dining at Frenchie’s, you can expect nothing but the best.   Dining here is like dining at the home of a close friend.   To them every person from the moment they step foot into their “house,” is treated with the same kind of respect and dignity they would give to a family member of their own.   As I left this warm and authentic little mom and pop place, I left with a couple more friends then I started out with.   Frenchie’s, like the many Italian restaurants around here, carry the wine bottles and greenery, however they also hold something which I haven’t seen in the past nineteen years in other Italian restaurants. Compassion.   The fun loving Camera brothers sent me off with a big “Ciao,” along with the same ear-to-ear grin they carried when I entered.   And to think, I was this close to going over to Baskin Robbins.   Aren’t I glad I listened to my stomach?  

Map

Close Up Map:

Distance Map:

Links

Houston Chronicle Review

Crepe Recipes

Frenchie’s Italian Cuisine 

NASA

Italian Food Sites

The Eyesore : Mary Jane’s Fat Cat by Caleb Butler

4216 Washington AveHouston, Texas

January 2004–In two hours this empty ,dusty room will be filled with sweaty kids screaming lyrics that they love at the top of their lungs. No one will be concentrating on the peeling paint that’s seems to reach toward the ceiling like green fingers or the missing floor tiles that reveal the concrete slab underneath. No one will be concerned with the dust that is caked on every surface inside the building, or the two hundred-pound speakers hanging from the ceiling held by a single chain just waiting for a opportunity to fall on some unsuspecting show-goer. No one will care that this building is has a legal occupancy limit of half the number of people in the building. It is not so much the physical aspects of Mary’ Jane’s Fat Cat that make it a special place, it is what happens inside night after night.

Mary Jane’s is the only venue in Houston that regularly allows hardcore shows, it is because of them that hardcore has had a outlet to expand and to draw new kids to a genre of music that has been over looked by the mainstream since the early 80’s. Two times a month this club is filled with hardcore kids looking for a release from every hindrance of the real world, a chance to experience a catharsis, to let go of everything. When the music starts they forget about their jerk off boss, they forget about their homework load and they forget about any family problems they may have, they forget about everything. To people on the outside hardcore is seen as just another kind of music or noise, but to the kids who live for it, it is their salvation what they live for and what some are even willing to die for.

Hardcore holds a special place in the hearts of the few who have experienced it, and it is not embarrassing, ten years after a kid stops going to hardcore shows he will never look back on his experiences in hardcore with shame, the great times he had and all the friends that he made will remain dear to him and he will think of hardcore as his badge of honor. Everyone changes and when they look back on past phases or experiences most people chuckle or make a face of disgust , but that does not happen with the hardcore kids because hardcore goes beyond music, it actually gives back to the people that put time into it. Hardcore kids are forever proud of what they have been involved in, because the feelings brought on by it are so strong that they cannot be denied, the benefits are so strong that they are impossible to refuse. What other kind of music can a person listen to and take away life lessons that pertain to everyone, not just abused children, not just kids raised by one parent but everyone, including the rich kids? There is absolutely no other music like that, because there is no music that raw. Some might try to compare gangsta rap to hardcore, by saying it is just as real, but how can a middle class white kid relate to songs about police abuse and gang violence? They cant. There are certain things that all people deal with in life one of them is betrayal, if you haven’t ever felt betrayed than you are most likely devoid of feelings. Maybe the point is that the central themes and emotions within hardcore are generic and that makes easy to relate to.

There is a amazing sense of brotherhood within the so-called hardcore “scene”, it is where people meet their best friends or spouse. Hardcore is a genre of music, or a lifestyle for those that see purpose, for those that are concerned with making the best out of what you are given, and taking what you have to in order to get where you want. Hardcore is for the kids who want substance and purpose, the ones that are not concerned with a uneducated person in clothes that are 10 sizes to big rapping about how much “ice” or “bling” he has. Hardcore is for the real people, the ones with heart and without Mary Jane’s it would not be able to flourish.

Sometimes it is not the place that is special but the feelings you get when you are there, because without hardcore and friends Mary Jane’s would just be four walls, a dingy building with horrible plumbing and peeling paint. To you it is a eyesore in the ghetto crammed in-between a liquor store and a used car lot, but to the two hundred people that show up twice a month it is more than that it is where they get their salvation, a church for the kids that are lost , confused or jaded by the “real world”. The bands speak volumes to the kids involved in this scene, to most they are more than just a untouchable being on a stage that tower above the crowd, to most they are friends and even deeper than that they are their friends.

One of the most sincere bands in hardcore today is Will To Live, they originated in 1997 in Houston Texas. Robert Galdamez or Rob To Live as some call him is an amazing person with passion for what he does that cant be matched by anyone. Fortunately for me Rob is more than the singer for will to live, he is my friend and my boss. I work at Best Buy under Rob selling appliances and the reason I have my job is because of Robert, because he does not have a superiority complex, because he is a normal person. Would the singer from Three Doors Down give you a job if you needed it, would he put money in your pocket? No, he would host a contest on VH1 to give you a chance to meet him, and watch his band play. He would act as if he were god, as if his presence and time was so valuable that you had to compete for it. I love to listen to kids on the radio or TV say “Yeah I met so and so and they were so nice and so genuine”, to that I always have the same response. Did you shake their hand and ask for a autograph or did you sit down with them and discuss politics, religion or the meaning of life. I can almost guarantee that you will get the same answer from everyone who has met these “rock and roll heroes”, they’d say “well he shook my hand and signed my 35 dollar t shirt for free”.

The one thing if nothing else, which sets hardcore apart from the mainstream, is the relationship between the bands and the audience. In hardcore they are on the same plane there is absolutely no need to label one group as the audience and the other group as the band because in hardcore they are viewed as people, one is no better than another is. Hardcore is a brotherhood, our scene is built on honesty and friendship, in the hardcore community if you do not have integrity you will not last, we will run you out. If you are to participate in this your word has to be worth your signature in blood. No frauds in our scene, that’s not to say that we havent had them in the past or that we don’t have any now but their flaws eventually come out because they cant hide behind a façade for too long, and when they come out they are run out.

The bands that make up our scene, the Houston scene, are among the best around, but first let me offer a brief history of hardcore music in general. The actual beginning of hardcore has been disputed for a long time, some say it started on the west coast with punk rock bands in the early eighties, but others will say that hardcore developed in the north east, in New York in CBGB’s to be exact. I cannot say that I know exactly where hardcore started because I wasn’t around in 1980 during the infancy of hardcore, but I do know that to me hardcore belongs to the NYC. In the mid- eighties there was an explosion of hardcore bands like Sick of it All and droves of positive youth hardcore bands. The so-called posi hardcore bands were bands that advocated a lifestyle in which alcohol, drugs and promiscuity were not involved. The whole idea of being “posi” was do keep your mind clear of any worldly distractions and make choices in your best interest. It was the mid to late 80s “posi” scene that really spread the gospel of straight edge, and in some cases even veganism or vegetarianism. In the late eighties and early nineties we saw the “posi” scene start to kind of die out while militant straight edge bands were gaining popularity. A lot of the bands of the late eighties and early nineties had more of a social commentary aspect to their lyrics, than the bands of the previous eras. The late eighties also saw the beginning of the “metalcore” sub genre with a band called Integrity.

In 1988 Integrity released their first 7” record, “In Contrast of Sin” on Chicago based Victory Records, from that point on hardcore was never the same. Integrity introduced metal into the primarily punk influenced scene, and coupled that with some of the most disturbing, yet poet lyrics in hardcore to date thus creating “metalcore”. Throughout the nineties more metal was added into the mix and hardcore became the perfect mix of punk rock and metal it was kind like metal but with a DIY punk rock attitude and hints of early eighties punk rock sound. Throughout the years hardcore bands were forced to tour relentlessly without the help from major labels because of their painfully real and raw sound. This relentless touring is what created a sort of brotherhood within the scene, because bands spent so much time on the road kids in different cities got to know the bands and started booking shows on their own.

The touring aspect of hardcore is world apart from that of major label bands, or even your typical indie band. A typical hardcore tour is set up without any help from people outside of the band, band members spend hours on the phone with kids they have met through playing out of town shows trying to get contacts for other kids out of town. Hardcore bands have to create a web of contacts to book a tour. Normally it will take calls to 200 different people to set up twenty shows for tour. The web kinds of works like this: I call my friend Loy in San Antonio and say “Loy we need a show in Boston do you know anyone from there?” and he says “No, but I know a kid who might know someone, his name is Steve, he lives in Jersey here is his number”. So then you call Steve and he says “I don’t book shows there but I have a ex girlfriend in Boston who may be able to help you out”. So then you call his Ex Girlfriend and she says “My current boyfriend plays in a band out here and he knows a kid who books shows out here.” So of course you call her boyfriend and then he tells you “I don’t know the kids name, but our drummer does”. Then you call the drummer and get the number to the guy who books shows in Boston. After you get his number you call him give him about 3 different dates that you can play and he will tell you if he can set up a show for your band on one of those dates.

As a rule you should expect about twenty percent of all your shows to fall through. The shows that do happen you play and you tell the kids watching you that you are on tour and you need a place to crash. Hopefully you will find someone who has extra space, if you do then you go sleep at a complete stranger house but you have a new friend when all is said and done. If you are playing to a bunch of weird kids and you cant find a place then you have to drive to the next city over night and sleep in the van. Touring in a hardcore band is difficult because as a whole the scene is very poor so you cant charge more than eight dollars for a show, and you cant ask for a high guarantee to play. All your money comes from CD’s and t-shirts. Its tough, but that tough lifestyle is my dream. Hardcore is more than just music, it is salvation. Map:

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Midnight Stroll: The Lake at Crescent Lakes

       
    
    
        
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477 Oxbow
Sugar Land, TX  77479
281-634-9555
   April 2004–Driving around Sugar Land, Southwest of Houston, my boyfriend and I could not think of a place where we could just spend quality time together.  The “in” places to go in Houston reflect the Houstonian population.  Houston is an economic power house and a very prominent city in the United States.  The people of Houston encompass characteristics of city life as well as “family life.”  Eventually, we circled into a prominent family neighborhood and noticed the lake that had been built in the middle of it.  The neighborhood itself was a reflection of suburban, family-centered life in the Houston area.  My boyfriend and I pulled into the neighborhood pool parking lot at Crescent Lakes in Sugar Land.  He turned off his black Ford Explorer, and ran to my door in his black slacks and baby blue, button-down dress shirt to open the door valet-style.  He stuck out his right hand to help me out of his sports utility vehicle.  I had bought an outfit just for our date from Express in the First Colony Mall.  I was wearing a black skirt that made a v-shape right below my knees and a green v-necked, short-sleeved top that matched the color of my eyes.  However, the killer was the black, open-toed, high-heeled Mia shoes that were excruciatingly painful to walk in.

Sugar Land is a planned community in the Southwest side of Houston.  Whether it is the prestigious Sweetwater Country Club, First Colony Mall, or the Sweetwater mansions, Sugar Land represents the “ideal” environment that many Houstonians wish to be a part of.  Sugar Land is an area of constant development and expansion.  As a renowned city, Houston is constantly expanding and demonstrating its power by “flexing its muscles” and showing off to the United States.  We have a very high standard of living which is further emphasized in the Sugar Land area.  Sitting on approximately 9,700 acres, Sugar Land began developing in 1977 and includes houses ranging from approximately $100,000- $800,000 with some neighborhoods in the millions of dollars (Feser).  The Crescent Lakes neighborhood, where this lake is located, was established in 1992 and the homes range from $195,000-$269,000 (Feser). 

On this Saturday night, after finally managing to get out of his car, we both looked up at the 
glittering stars above that showed so brightly in front of the clear night sky.  The stars, planets, moon, and constellations have always fascinated me.  However, in many parts of Houston, pollution, smog, or simply a cloudy night inhibit the stars from being seen in their “best light.” As I tried to point out Orion, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and the North Star, my boyfriend kept looking at me with that dazed look sparkling out of his hazel eyes.  All of the sudden, I felt a gust of cold air and I got goose bumps all over my body.  Shivering, I began to rub my arms.  He hurried back to his car and brought back a black puffer jacket for me to wear. 

After I named the constellations, my boyfriend challenged me.  He claimed that it is easy to distinguish the stars on a clear night, but distinguishing them by viewing their reflection in the lake would be much more challenging and worthy of my knowledge.  Although I knew he was mocking me, I still played along.  The lake was behind the neighborhood pool, so we had to walk around it via a trail.  This “yellow-brick road” would lead us into another moment, another memory, another emotion that we could share together. We walked about fifty feet to the beginning of the gravel trail that had logs placed on both sides as a separation from the freshly-cut, green blades of grass that were moist with the evening dew.  He put his arm around me and held me tight to his side as we began to stroll alongside the lake. 

The moonlight was reflecting off of water, and it glittered throughout the calm waves that flowed horizontally across the lake.  The stars glowed to illuminate us with a subtle, romantic, natural light to help guide us.  A few ducks lingered close by, and at first they waddled close to us.  “Quack, Quack!” they began to speak to us in a defensive way.  They were probably wondering why aliens were invading their natural habitat.  After about ten seconds of glaring, they gave up their territory and began to swim through the water effortlessly and with the utmost grace.  The only noise that we could hear was the initial jump and the sound of the feathers slicing into the water assuming their position at the side of the duck.  There were two large ducks, which we imagined were husband and wife, probably newlyweds because of the way they swam so close to one another.  One duck was embodied with a set of white, slightly hinted with brown, feathers and the other one was covered with green, black, and white feathers.  Five yellow ducklings followed close behind them like an army behind a drill sergeant. 

 Then, only fitting of my boyfriend’s usual silly behavior, he picked me up and threatened to throw me into the lake to swim with the ducks.  He put one arm around my back and under my right arm, and he placed his other arm underneath my legs.  In this position, I kicked my legs into the air as I held onto him by holding his neck tightly with my arms.  I remember screaming and begging him to put me down.  I used the phrase, “You better put me down, or else,” at least ten times.  Of course, he simply mocked me and loved to fake throwing me into the algae filled water because he enjoyed seeing me squirm. 

At the lake, we felt comfortable with one another.  The lake is home to over 25 different animals and 50 different plant species (Rukab).  In 1997, Albatross were spotted at the lake, and many individuals came to take pictures of the aesthetic and rare birds.  In this way, it brought more people together, which helps emphasize the importance of this lake in Houston.

The only separation from the lake and the backyards of many homeowners is a four-foot iron-rod fence that serves as a barrier between each home and the shallow drop to the lake below.  Middle aged men and women go for morning, afternoon, or evening jogs or bike rides around the lake.  In this way, the lake serves as a “promoter” for a healthier life.  A son and father can take a canoe out and fish for catfish, which allots for bonding time that we do not always have. 

Two young boys in shorts and baseball caps could ride their bikes along the lake.  Occasionally, they will get off of the gravel and onto the grass.  With each turn of the pedal, the wheels crunch into broken tree branches and twigs.  Then they put their bikes in low gear as they try to ride with the least effort through the grass.  At some point, they will both throw their bikes down and sit on the grass.  Here, friends become best friends and share secrets that only the trees and lake can hear.  Establishing relationships and friendships also helps to depict “southern hospitality” and the importance of such relationships in developing our city.

The picnic benches located on patches of grass that protrude into the lake like a peninsula are perfect spots for Sunday afternoon lunch with the whole family.  A picnic basket, large blanket, extra white- bread to feed the ducks, portable boom box to listen to your favorite tunes, and most importantly, your loved ones, is all you need to enjoy a sunny, breezy day at the lake. I can just taste the hotdogs roasting on the charcoal picnic grill.

When people look at a lake, they usually don’t see much beyond its physical appearance.  They notice the fountain in the background and the water surrounded with a walking trail as well as algae building up near the surface.  However, there is more history than what appears to the naked eye.  The lake holds numerous memories of all kinds of individuals.  If you listen closely, you can hear whispers left behind from many families, walkers, lovers, or bicyclers that walked around the trail.  The taste of the mist that disperses off of the top of the lake will remain with you forever.

As Americans, we seem to forget the beauty that nature has offered us.  In lives filled with fast-food, fast-service, and fast-answers, we don’t enjoy the simple aspects of life.  We are more worried about the next deadline or appointment, and we forget to embrace life as we run around in panic.   

Houston is a community of different races, cultures, and people.  The lake is a very important part of Houston for numerous reasons.  Taking a stroll around a lake with a loved one, or even alone, can give u a new insight on life and calm you in unimaginable ways.  It is a free form of therapy that nature has given for our enjoyment.  For me, it brings me back to the times when life seemed simpler and innocent.  Times when I could ride my bike, enjoy a picnic, and actually communicate with my family.  Times when the biggest problem was deciding what I was going to wear the next day.  Times of youth and that carefree feeling that brings you to a tranquil place.  When you feel like your life is moving too fast, and you are flustered and confused, return to the simple values of life, nature.  Visit the lake located in the Cove at Crescent Lakes in Sugar Land to add true meaning and insight to your life.  You are guaranteed to leave with a memory imprinted in your mind and heart forever and you will become a part of the lake as much as it becomes a part of you.

Finally, after much begging and pleading, I convinced him to put me back on the ground.  We had only been dating a few weeks at that point, and we had yet to share our first kiss.  As soon as he put me down, I lost my balance and fell forward and put my hands on his chest for support.  He looked into my eyes and leaned in.  At that moment, I felt the rush and excitement as well as the breeze spinning off of the water.  The only thing I could hear was the wind brushing against the leaves of the Oak trees that surrounded the lake, as well as a few dogs barking nearby.  The kiss was amazing, his lips were so soft, and it felt like we connected both physically and emotionally.  After a few minutes, we began to walk back towards his car, away from the lake that would forever hold our memory.

Map

Links

City of Sugar Land

First Colony Mall

Sugar Land Town Square

Constellations

Fort Bend County

       

Kingdom of Boredom: Katy, Texas

Katy is located 30 miles west of downtown Houston off of I-10

Katy City Offices: (281-391-4800)

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“You’ll Love Katy”…Well, I Guess That Depends

January 2004–Located just 30 miles west of Houston, the fourth largest city in the nation, lays a peaceful little town by the name of Katy. According to the city of Katy website, the town has a recorded population of 12,325 in the year 2001. With this fact in mind, Katy seems like a great, average populated town to live in that is far enough away from the madness of the city but still close enough to make it accessible. With the motto “You’ll Love Katy”, well…who wouldn’t love it? If you are someone around the age of 20 like myself, then maybe you wouldn’t. Having just emerged out of the grueling seven years I spent as a teen, I have realized that Katy is not the same to me as it used to be when I was much younger.

The history of Katy begins in 1895 when three men laid out the town site and named it after the M-K-T Railroad that passes through it. “The City of Katy was formally incorporated in 1945. Katy has always been a traditional family style community; however, it also played a major role as a rail hub, a rice farming and agricultural center, and one of the largest gas fields in this part of Texas” (Katy Website). What is it like growing up in this kind of area? Just picture going to work in the afternoon and as you get out of your parked car you can look out and see the old railroad tracks, and just passed that, a field full of cattle. I feel like a true Texan each time I do this. For those of y’all that get your jollies from some visual history, you can visit old town Katy and tour the historic buildings from the earliest settlers as well as getting a crack out of what was once called “downtown”.

Katy seems like a wonderful town when you read up on it or are just driving through on your way east towards Houston or west towards San Antonio. For most of the residents who own their own home and have a real job, it is wonderful. What about the younger generation though? Is it that wonderful to us? I have lived in Katy almost all my life and I don’t necessarily think so. Sure, it was fine when I was growing up in elementary and Jr. High when I couldn’t really go out at night. Any young boy or girl can adequately occupy themselves by playing with their Ninja Turtles, Barbie’s, or my personal favorite, Lego’s. Cops and robbers is also another very popular role playing adventure that many children take part in. As long as there are young kids your age, one place is as good as any other. I wish playing with my Lego’s could still do it for me, but by the time I was in high school I found myself not being able to find anything of interest to do. Sure all this extra time allowed me to spend a sufficient amount of hours on my studies and do my homework, but who seriously wants to do any of that? If I think about it, two main places jump out at me as somewhere to have fun: Katy Mills Mall, and the movie theatre. Now how exactly are you supposed to have an interesting life by going to the mall and movie theatre every day? Yes, a good movie every once in a while is great, and a chance to walk around the mall and see what new items are out for sale is fun too, but please, not every day. When you are friends with the people behind the concession stand at the theatre and have friends that can get you discounts at every store in the mall, you know you’ve been to those places a few too many times. There are, however, a few bars and night clubs with live music that are around, but if your not 21 like I am not, then what is the point really. You can’t drink and it isn’t exactly the most fun thing to be around a bunch of people that you don’t know who are drunk.

If you are my age, there is basically one reason why you are living in Katy. That reason is because you are going to school in the Houston area and it is cheaper to stay at your parent’s house than it is to go out and get your own apartment. Sure it is nice to have a roof over your head that you don’t have to worry about paying for, and some nice home cooked meals but everyone knows what it is like living with your parents. Every time I want to go out I have to tell them where I am going, who I am going to be with, and what time I plan to be back. I know it is the parent’s job to worry about the kids, but please, I am 20 and I can take care of myself. Since I have moved back home, its back to the daily assigned chores. Living away from my parents while attending the University of Texas at Austin for the past two years is something that I miss tremendously.

Also, this town has basically no night life. Katy seems to shut down by at least 11’oclock at night and the only traffic you might see would be a wave of cars coming from the last movie showing at the theatre. If you and some friends are outside this late then you have to keep it quite because chances are there is some old couple living just a couple houses down that are just itching to call the cops to report a disturbance, this being their only form of excitement in their life. The local cops just love to ruin your night. Actually, I think it is their job. If you are lucky you might run into one of your friends at the late night drive through window at Jack in the Box. Oh, and tell me this…what kind of town has the parking lot of Burger King and Taco Bell as the local hang out for high school kids and street racers? I don’t get it. Maybe all this is why I was such a good student in jr. high and high school…I had all the time in the world to finish my homework and study with nothing but the TV to distract me.

As a college student, yes, I like to party and living in Austin for two years didn’t help my situation there. Now that I’m living back in Katy again I sure realized that the parties…well, they are as lame as the people who throw them. I would call it more like small gatherings than a party, and because of this they die very quick. I am not used to showing up to parties in Austin until about midnight. Here in Katy I remember getting ready for one party and my friend Stephen and I headed over their around 11:30 and it was already dead, with nothing to drink and no people to talk to. I guess I wasn’t surprised; most parties that I have heard of in Katy were over before midnight. Maybe it is due to the fact that Katy is a high school town and nobody can buy alcohol or the kid’s parents want them home at a certain time or they don’t even have their own car to travel back and forth. There are four high schools already with the fifth being built at this moment. Also, if you ever went to a party while you were in high school you may remember that it wasn’t quite a group of mature individuals. Most kids at this age have just been introduced to alcohol and do not know their own limits and are experimenting rather fearlessly. This usually ends in disaster or some form of disappointment.

Maybe that is another problem with Katy. The town just keeps growing and growing and the rate at which it is growing is incredible. With the older crowd looking for that luxury lifestyle just a short distance outside the big city, lured in by the cleanliness of our area, and captivated by the motto “You’ll Love Katy”, this town keeps getting bigger and bigger. A couple years ago I used to drive my classic mustang on the back roads just outside my neighborhood. Nowadays back roads are becoming less and less common. A street that once used to be the boundary of a subdivision is now little more than a road that separates the new subdivisions from the old. It almost seems that there is a new apartment complex going up every week and new strip centers are being built to convenience the new subdivisions that are being flooded with new residents.

Now traffic generally is not bad in Katy, but if you have ever driven down Mason or Fry rd. during rush hour then you know that you just about want to shoot yourself or the person driving in front of you. These streets are nothing but traffic light after traffic light. Cars get so backed up on these roads that driving down them usually means a near sickening trip of getting stopped at every light, where green lights seem to go by in a flourish and red lights last an hour. Most of you know that there is an overwhelming abundance of bad drivers in Texas in general, but I think most of those drivers originate from the Katy area. I’ve seen so many accidents, and it is usually contributed by someone who thinks they can drive while at the same time talking on the phone or putting on make-up. Sure, everything in Katy is still a 15 minute or less drive, but what is worth driving to. Even though the distance from Katy to Houston is only 30 miles, the time it takes you to get there relies heavily on the time of day and if there are any accidents on the road. During rush hour it can take anywhere between and hour and an hour and a half to make the 30 mile journey. One day it actually took me about two hours to get to the University of Houston campus due to a few wrecks along the away caused by the rainy weather. Imagine that in that same amount of time I can drive to Austin which is 150 miles away. That kind of gives you a perspective of the amount of traffic between Katy and Houston. It can get unreal at times.

Apart from everything else, drainage is a huge problem in the old Katy area. When Katy receives a few inches of rain, it always floods to some extent. It usually doesn’t take much for the water to get over the curb and into your front lawn. After flooding occurs, there are all sorts of debris that you have to pick up and you have to inspect for any forms of water damage to your home. Residents of Katy have to be real cautious at every sight of even a slight thunderstorm.

Now I have had my fair share of pleasant experiences here in Katy, I admit. I’ve had an absolute blast growing up here, but it is the general lifestyle that I am living now that just doesn’t appeal to me anymore, and I know of many who agree. My best friend, Ryan, still lives here and I know he agrees. We are sticking it out together patiently awaiting the chance for us to make our move and escape the clutches of Katy. Lucky for rest of my friends, most them that I graduated with from high school have moved out of Katy to go to college in another city as I once was. Oh how I am envious of all of them now. So now whenever I see or hear the motto “You’ll Love Katy”, I think to myself…”Who asked me”?

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Links

City of Katy Website

Katy’s Online Information Source

Katy Mills Mall

Cinemark Katy

Katy Independent School District