Category Archives: Galleria

International Peace Maker: The Water Wall by Seir Ortega

2800 Post Oak Blvd.
Houston , Texas , 77056
713-850-8841

April 2004–My cousin Lily has forever loathed Houston. She is from Mexico, and prefers it more. I don’t understand how she can live without air conditioning, microwaves, and many other commodities, like a shower with running water. My cousins and I decided to show her the one place in Houston where her troubles would be sure to melt away.

Lily is not an easy person to amuse. She enjoys making others happy, but trying to place a smile on her face is a challenge. This place had to be extraordinary, and oversized, and filled with whimsical charm. Before arriving at this place, we headed towards the Galleria. Our mission was to show her many wonderful things found only in Houston , and then impact her with the only thing that makes this city unique. When relatives visit from afar, there is one place they must see before leaving the hustle and bustle of Houston, The Water Wall.

Just what is so great about water falling down a slab of concrete? It is an architectural feat, and describing it to someone who has never seen it can be quite a challenge. “ Well, you see…water falls down a wall and that’s it.” Not very appealing! I did not know this wall even existed, until my fifth grade teacher mentioned that the class would be taking a “educational” class trip.

The day of our fateful class trip, May’s hot steamy stench joined us to this water land. I had woken up thirty minutes late, and since I usually wake up fifty minutes before school begins, I was in quite the situation. I had planned to wear a nice crisp yellow T-shirt with my favorite blue jean shorts, which were extra comfortable, but unfortunately this plan didn’t unfold well. These two items were in the laundry hamper, and there was no way they would be washed and dried in twenty minutes. I was left to wear an old oversized T-shirt that had already begun to sweat as soon as I stepped outside. I also had to wear faded black denim shorts, which when mixed with May’s humid weather the outcome is nothing but discomfort. Since Houston ’s dewy climate was in full peak, my head experienced a terrible case of nappy hair syndrome. My hair was cut in a tight bob style, and if it had been straight I would not have minded, but my tiny dark locks were wavy and frizzy. I was a dead target for ridicule.

Once I arrived at school, I dashed towards the entrance of the building, like a man to an oasis in the desert. The sprint had me gasping for air, and many teachers asked if I was having an allergic reaction, but I just told them how glad I was to have air conditioning.

When students are taking a class trip, a school bus is the preferred mode of transportation. School buses, at the time, rarely carried cooling air systems, so I was dreading the ride. Worse, our teacher informed us we would be traveling in an old Dodge van that had no trace of air conditioning, or open windows. We would be trapped inside a mobile sweatbox!

Our school was located on the East Side of Houston, and the Water Wall was on the West Side of town. The thirty-minute van ride was the most intolerable form of cruelty, we felt we were being led to prison and not to a water paradise. After a while, a stench in the van began to surface. Was it a stinky kid in the back of the van who hadn’t showered in four days? Maybe the heavy toxic pollution mixed with humidity, or a dead rat on the freeway shoulder that finally began to decompose? The most reasonable answer to this mystery would have to be the pile of left over food in the back seat, not to mention sweaty fifth graders who do not wear deodorant.

After thirty long, sweaty minutes we reached the West Side of Houston, where mansions and ridiculously expensive foreign cars roam. Even though Houston was my home for six years, I had never seen the west part of town. The streets were filled with savvy businessmen, dealing major transactions over the new oversized telephones called cellular phones. The stoplights on the streets were designed with chrome materials, and the intersections were paved with dark red bricks. Hollywood was the first image that appeared in my mind after seeing this spectacle.

Before visiting this modern masterpiece we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a near by Mc Donald’s Restaurant. Everything on the west of Houston looks like a million bucks, and probably costs that much, so why should this Mc Donald’s be any different? The restaurant was a two floor eating ground, equipped with a gigantic big screen television, and there was definitely no Play Place insight. When lunch was over with, we climbed in the clammy beige van, again. I was preparing myself for disappointment, because so far the only positive thing in my day had been a quarter pounder with cheese.

I was skeptical, and imagined the waterfall to be anything but spectacular. I had watched a movie about a rich boy who bought a fountain, and swam in his brand new toy. I wanted desperately for this wall to become a pool instead. One with crystal clear aqua water, filled with the chlorine scent. As the teacher filled our heads with historical information, as do all teachers, I could not help but look ahead to where the wall was. This brilliant curbed wall of stone stood proudly six or so stories up in the air, right in front of a massive lawn. A cool breeze flowed across my body as I faced the monument. The heavens parted, and the sun glistened over me. By this time I was sure I had turned delusional, because the heat was so intense.

We walked across to the other side of the wall and all I could do was be still. The roaring body of water came rushing down this man made wonder at top speeds. Staring at it with amazement, I became light-headed. After staring at the running water for a consecutive period of time, the body begins to feel a spinning sensation. People who experience extreme motion sickness should be cautious of the wall. I did not mind this feeling, because after a long day of troubles I began to see hope. The cubed wall of water embraced me and took me in. I was standing on the edge of a tropical waterfall. This euphoric feeling was brief, but the impact was everlasting.

At this wall many lovers, or soon to be lovers, congregate under the star lit sky. There is something magical about water flowing at the speed of lightning. The feeling is sensual, which is why I think many school children are taken during the day. Conversations of love are carried through the winds. “ I love you,” and, “Will you be my wife?” are the nightly events at the water wall. For these occasions there is always a cameraman waiting anxiously to take a Polaroid of this monumental moment. “ Five dollars,” the man says as couples try to enjoy their evening. The price may seem unreasonable, but for many lovers, price is not an issue.

Across the street is another lovely part of the West Side . A small pond, which may pass for a small river, is filled with many exotic fish and ducks. The Water Wall is located directly across the Transco Tower . This tower is the tallest skyscraper in Houston , rising over seventy floors. In between the two landmarks is a long rectangular piece of land. This area is the host to many concerts and events. Weddings are said to also take place here, since this is probably were the couple was engaged. This area of Houston is similar to New York ’s Central Park. It is not as massive, but the area still serves its purpose.

The monument has water running on both sides; however, water on the outer wall is not always on. It is turned on during the lunch hour. On that “educational” class trip I was able to experience this phenomenon. The water beginning to fall down is as special as watching a shooting star fly across the deep blue sky. I have seen two shooting stars during my lifetime. On both occasions I have made wishes; however, I can not remember what they were exactly.

While my cousins and I were at the Galleria with Lily, she was growing restless, and was getting quite annoyed with us. Night finally came, and the time was just right to surprise her with the most spectacular sight. As we described what she was about to witness, she did not seem excited. Once again, describing this attraction is not simply done. People will not be amused with hearing the boring description of a beautiful sight. The night was cold and clear, a rarity for this city. A nearby French bistro released its aroma into our direction. The smell of French bread, pasta, crepes, and chocolaty desserts nearly steered us into on coming traffic.

The Water Wall’s lights had finally appeared. The soft yellow incandescent light filled the spectacle with elegance, and transported us into a world of dreams. The soothing rumble of the water began to take effect on us. All of us were single, and at moments like this we wished we had that special someone to share this place in time.

I looked as she stared in awe of this massive superstructure. She seemed like a child who was given free reign over the biggest toy shop in the world. The expression on her face went far beyond that of amusement. “Este lugar esta bellisimo!” she told me. This beautiful place warmed her heart, and reassured her that this city was not too shabby. We had reached our goal of showing her something so special, that for just one moment she wished she lived right here in Houston.

Houstonis an ever changing city, a metropolis for the lost and weary. A romantic city filled with soul, lights, and excitement. This may not be trendy New York City overflowing with wealthy socialites, but Houston has a deep, warm southern charm that most cities would be honored to have. Marvelous structures, such as this, are what give cities their fame. The Water Wall is a diamond in the rough, which needs to be discovered by all visitors and Houstonians alike.

Map:


Links:

Paris Fountains

Chocolate Fountains of Houston

Houston Information


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Tanglewood: The Cool Neighborhood in The Hot City of Houston by Sima Sharifian

Tanglewood is located outside loop 610, south of I-10.

April 2004–Fourteen years ago, my family and I moved to Tanglewood, north of Woodway Street, from Bering Drive, not far from Tanglewood. I had always loved this quiet, spacious neighborhood and hoped to live here one day. At the time, we were among the very few families with small children and soon we became known as the family whose little blond boy was always skateboarding.

Tanglewood consists of the original section, south of Woodway Street, which evolved in 1949; and the new addition, called “New Tanglewood” by the locals, built in 1959 and 1960. The new addition, located north of Woodway Street, was developed for people who wanted a more exclusive neighborhood. The two areas are located just outside Loop 610 and close to Memorial Park, the Galleria, and The Houstonian Club. They are very similar in the style of homes, landscaping, and the general feel of the neighborhood. The only difference is that the new addition has bigger lots, bigger houses, less traffic, and fewer foreigners.

“New Tanglewood” is one of the most prestigious and beautiful residential areas in Houston. The neighborhood is famous for its beautiful fifty-year-old live oak trees, vast beds of lawn, big colorful bushes of azaleas, and the exclusive country club called ” The Houston Country Club.” Houstonians are proud of this neighborhood because of its location, beauty, tranquility, and exclusivity.

Almost all of the original residents are white, elderly Americans. Being foreigners and not having much in common with them made it difficult for us to blend in. Although I enjoyed living and raising my kids here, at times I felt excluded and alone. Tanglewood was built by a builder called William Giddings Farrington who arrived in Houston in 1926 with faith, a dream, and forty dollars in his pocket. His daughter, Mary, in her book, “Tanglewood, The Story of William Giddings Farrington” recounts the life of her father and writes, “one of Mr. Farrington’s greatest accomplishments was the development of the charmed neighborhood called Tanglewood. What started out as prairie land now consists of one of the most beautiful tree lined neighborhoods in Houston.”

The famous Tanglewood Boulevard with a fifty-foot wide esplanade in the middle is located between San Felipe and Chimney Rock. Its one-mile walking path with fifty-year old oak trees on both sides is a great place for jogging, walking, or just visiting. People sit on the teak benches placed in the middle of the esplanade to visit, enjoy the view, or just rest. Sometimes joggers stop to stretch while holding on to these benches. The old, strong branches of the oak trees cover the boulevard and the walking path like a huge umbrella. Squirrels run around, outpacing the joggers. The smell of freshly cut grass, the colorful flowers, and the majestic oak trees create a park-like atmosphere. I think it is this atmosphere along with other qualities that differentiates Tanglewood from other neighborhoods in Houston. Maybe that was why former President, George Bush and his wife chose to live here too.

The original one-story, ranch-style homes are mostly occupied by the original owners. The few houses that face the country club have a fantastic view of the club and its splendid landscape and the club’s golf course is practically an extension of their yards. The new houses are built by a younger generation with small children and they are changing the mood of the neighborhood and making it livelier. Only two families with small children had moved to our street in the last fourteen years. One of them managed to bring a lot of real snow and dump it on their lawn for their little boy’s birthday party last year. The kids, some of whom had never seen or felt the snow before, had a lot of fun sliding on the hills of snow.

While many new houses are being built along the boulevard and on the adjacent streets of old Tanglewood, there is little new construction occurring in new Tanglewood because of the bigger lots and higher prices. Since there are very few vacant lots left, people who need one have no choice but to buy and demolish the old houses and replace them with new two-story ones. Although I like to see new houses and younger residents, I hate to see the old neighbors die and with them part of the history of the neighborhood.

The facades of the original houses are all brick, where as some of the new ones have a stucco finish. The houses and streets are very similar in style making it very easy to get confused and lost, if one is not familiar with the neighborhood. Every time I have a big party one of my guests ends up ringing my neighbor’s doorbell by mistake.

One of my next door neighbors, the Monroes, are a nice white American couple in their late seventies with three grown up sons and have been living here for forty four years. They were very nice to my kids and have watched them grow up and leave home. My daughter visits them every time she comes to Houston. Mrs. Monroe told me that her husband and many other neighbors used to work for the oil companies before retiring. I asked her about the history of the neighborhood and she said “when we moved to our house in January of 1960, Woodway was a two-way paved road with ditches on both sides.” She added, “The neighborhood was like a small town, life was leisurely, and everybody knew each other. The only close stores were a barbershop and a pharmacy called Post Oak Pharmacy. The pharmacy also served sandwiches for lunch and it was a place for the residents to have lunch, drink coffee, or just chat. Everyone had a charge account and the bill was added to our account.” She continued, “The closest grocery store was in Highland Village and in the Galleria area, there was just one department store called Sakowitz.” In fact I remember the Sakowitz store and loved to shop there.

Now there are many shopping centers in the area. The above picture shows a center that is located in Tanglewood. This center has a Wallgreen, Bluckbuster vedio, and Quizno’s subs, my son’s favorite. Tanglewood is also very close to the Post Oak blvd., the most expensive street for the retailers, with different shops and restaurants, like Maggianos. Galleria, the biggest and most prestigious shopping center in Houston with shops like Luis Vuitton, is very close to the neighborhood. The pictures that follow show a view from outside and one from inside the mall.

My favorite time in Tanglewood is the spring when the azaleas bloom. Big bushes of azaleas in a variety of colors surround the houses. If you drive by in the spring, you see waves of purple, white, red, and pink beds of azaleas everywhere. One of the houses on our street has many beautiful rose gardens and has named and dedicated each rose to someone special. She has even named one after the former first lady, Barbara Bush. The beauty and aroma of the roses makes walking by these houses a wonderful experience. My husband walks everyday but he doesn’t like to walk at night for safety reasons. Except occasional incidents against elderly women wearing expensive jewelry while entering their homes, the neighborhood is generally safe with patrol cars driving around day and night. The quiet neighborhood is very popular for walking or biking.

The only sound in the early mornings during the spring and summer is the lovely, relaxing sound of birds singing and on summer nights, the crickets screaming. The birds come in a variety of nice colors like bright yellow, orange, and red. The neighborhood is full of squirrels that race over the electric wires like acrobats and climb up the trees with incredible speed and expertise. I think the birds and the squirrels add to the charm of the neighborhood. Sometimes a young, inexperienced squirrel is run over by a car and the remains leave a sad view for a few days. We are not used to seeing garbage because of the back-door garbage pickup system that keeps the Tanglewood area clean and unique.

Azalea Trail, the Fourth of July celebration and parade, and the Tanglewood Garden Club’s social gatherings are a few events that take place in the Tanglewood area.

The Azalea Trail was established by the River Oaks Garden Club sixty nine years ago. A few historic houses in River Oaks and new Tanglewood areas are included in the trail. These houses are open to the public to visit during two weekends in March.

The spectacular fireworks at the Houston Country Club on the Fourth of July was my children’s favorite event in the neighborhood and they would pass through the vacant lots to take a short cut to the club. The Fourth of July Parade takes place on Tanglewood Boulevard in the morning and horses and trains are provided for the children to ride.

The Tanglewood Garden Club was organized on February 20, 1951 as a social club with four gatherings a year. Tanglewood residents can become members by paying annual dues. The objective of the club as stated in article two of the constitution is “to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening among amateurs, to aid in the protection of native trees, plants and birds, to encourage civic planting and to generally improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.” My other next door neighbor, a widow in her eighties named Margaret, welcomed us to the neighborhood with a homemade cherry tart when we first moved here and later invited me to join the club. I have learned a lot about the neighbors and the history of Tanglewood by both going to these gatherings and living here for fourteen years. I have come to call it home away from home.

Houston is proud of having two prominent neighborhoods, River Oaks and new Tanglewood. In addition to the class, beauty, and history of these neighborhoods, their exclusivity and originality differentiate them from other areas in Houston and make them popular among native Texans especially but among many others as well.

Map:

 

Home Away From Home: Bellaire/Veritas Christian Academy by Veronesia Proctor

7000 Ferris Street
Bellaire, TX 77401-3921
(713) 773-9605

November 2010 – In a stop and go drop off line in front of Bellaire Christian Academy, our gray minivan finally reaches the front door. It is a tall beautiful stained glass door in the artistic, of a style church to be specific. As Ceily’s four wheels come to a complete stop, my mom yells, “Hurry up kids and have a blessed day!” Rubbing my eyes as the thumping of my feet tap the gymnasium floor, I am greeted with a hug from one of my best friends. I see about forty children playing board games, listening to music, or reading books, as I prepare for a game of speed. I spent ten years doing a similar routine every morning.

Approximately forty minutes after I won the card game, my tall, skinny, mid aged, grumpy homeroom teacher asks, “Does everyone have on their chapel attire, and their lunch cards completely filled out?” Some answer yes ma’am while others get warnings for not being properly dressed or not having their cards filled out. The school clown says, “Yay, only three more months left and we are off to the real world.” The rest of the gym laughs, but I begin to think of how I will be going off to high school, with no more recess, no more fantastic Fridays, no more class trips to London, or most of all no more spending nine hours of my day with some of the people I love most. Tears run down my face, because this place is all I ever knew when it came to my second home and my learning center.

RING, RING, tells us it’s time to go our homeroom class. Lunch, Pencils, Board is what we are greeted with walking in to the classroom, which means put your lunch cards in your slots, sharpen your pencils, and check the board for our morning activity. At 1pm we go out for recess, the average person probably would say after 5th grade recess should stop. BCA believed that we were never too old for a 30 minute break outside on the playground. Majority of the girls had girl talk, while the boys played dodge ball or football. On our way back to class I see sweat running down the boys face followed by a lingering stench. After recess it always seems as if class went by so slow. Always to my surprise that dreadful RING RING sound that we heard in the morning, was now a joyful sound to us. It was the end of our day. Depending on the day and season I headed to track, volleyball, or basketball practice with Christine. She was a great athlete in every sport she attempted. Christine said, “Some of my best memories happened while I was participating in sports. I enjoyed the fact that our coaches found out what we liked at what we were good at. They helped us improve our skills physically and emotionally.” While we were at practice the boys were at football or basketball practice, “The funniest thing was after practice Coach Dave always said, “Go home and do your Homework.” Not a day passed that those words did not come out of his lips.” James stated.

Family through Christ Jesus is what comes to mind when I think of Bellaire Christian Academy. BCA is physically my past, but forever lives in my heart. Veritas Christian Academy became the new name of Bellaire Christian Academy in 1998. Veritas is a Latin word that means truth, and God is truth. Using a classical method Veritas emphasized the story of Western civilization and the Christ church is embedded in it. Veritas Christian Academy is said to be in existence for one purpose and that is to help children reach their maximum potential in life, guiding children to be all that God our Savior has called them to be. In order to understand God’s creation they teach academic disciplines of mathematics, literature, science, history, and languages. My experience in this school has prepared my mind for higher levels of education, while installing an awesome Christian foundation for the journeys in my life to come. My heart now yearns to know more about Christ and His stories. BCA helped me to figure out the reason I am on this earth, and that is to witness the Gospel of my Lord and Savior to those who do not have knowledge of Him.

A decade has gone by since I have been to Bellaire/Veritas Christian Academy. As I drove up into the parking lot I saw a yellow cross surrounded by the paintings that my classmates and I painted in the 1900’s. It meant a lot to me to see that they would keep something of this sort and display as one of the first things the public see’s, of course I had to take a picture of it! I was then greeted by Mrs. Raad, she was in shock to see that the little Nenee that she knew was all grown up, she escorted me to the front office were I met the lady who took care of me from there. The smell of a new office was what I smelled while filling out a form. I sat on a navy blue chair by a bear stuffed animal with the school t-shirt on and a bow tied around its neck, that felt like cotton; I was waiting for further instructions. Two 3rd grade girls run into the office and one says, “Rihanna cannot find her sweater!” They told them to go look in the restroom and see if they could find it. Relaxing in my chair I took a look around the office, I noticed that the school is interested into the Art Festival. Six pictures that were painted by the children served as decoration for the office walls; there was also a pop out bed and a pillow. I assumed that was for a child if he/she became sick during school hours. As I glanced across the cheap looking wood floor I spotted a caterpillar strolling from one end of the office to the other. My ears are wide open and I hear a lady in her office saying, “Our school does not have money to go from year to year, so we have to do a live auction that usually brings in enough money.” I overheard that she was in the process of trying to get more grants for the school. After her conversation ends the office is filled with silence and soon after I was let free to go and roam the school as I pleased. Once you exit each classroom your are outside, which isn’t bad because the school is gated. I peeked through the classroom windows as I walk down the sidewalk. Pre-K takes a nap while kindergarten paints pictures. For the first time in my life I saw a classroom strictly for teaching languages other than English, called the Foreign Language Classroom. In classroom 3A some of the children were reading books and finishing projects during free time. Two minutes later about twenty boys and girls walk my way with their sports attire on. They were on the way to get prepared for their games against Wesley. I then asked them what they thought about this school one girl said, “I love this school and my teachers are awesome!” My last question to them was what do they learn spiritually at Veritas and a blonde hair boy said, “We learn the importance of loving Christ and trying to become more like Him in all that we do.”

My parents say that this was one of the best decisions that they have made in their life. This school has been a blessing to them. BCA was like another set of parents. The taught us spiritually and mentally, they disciplined in a way that they approved and they also love as if we were their children from the womb. Verlensia, my short, beautiful 20 year old sister, feels that BCA helped to broaden her horizons. Along with that they helped her to build her social skills to the point where she is able to interact with people from all walks of life. The desire to be more like Christ has helped her in an area she struggles in daily and that is forgiveness. Something she remembers vividly and misses most, is the fresh mashed potato and gravy smell that came from the kitchen on Wednesdays. James says” In my experience at BCA my Faith in Christ Jesus has grown exceptionally, I have also learned to summarize from Mrs. Capps and how to expand equations and a little geometry from Mrs. Raad, who is now the Principal. I could go on and on about BCA but in one word that I would use to describe the school as a whole is Foundation.” Bellaire Christian Academy has similarities with the world we live in today.

 Religion may be in both, it is scattered around the world, but everywhere in Bellaire Christian Academy. There are Christian churches in the all around the United States, in the U.K., in South America, Asia Australia, India, Russia, the Middle East and a few more that I did not name. In some countries it is illegal to practice Christianity; they have underground churches where they go for praise and worship. In the world we learn a number of things that changes as society changes. God’s Word never changes, which means what Veritas teaches will forever be the same in our forever changing society.

MAP:

LINKS:

http://www.veritasca.org/index_flash.html

http://www.popcs.org/news/news.htm

http://www.gci.org/jesus

Veronesia is a Junior at University of Houston-Downtown who is transferring to central campus to pursue her degree in Graphics Communication. She was born on August 20, 1987 to Ronald and Verlonda Proctor in Houston, Tx. She has a son named Jacob. She has an older brother named Ronald and a younger sister named Verlensia. She is also very blessed to have two beautiful niece’s named Zarriah and Ryliegh.

Her passion is Jesus, graphics, and cheerleading. Bellaire Christian Academy is the school that gave her the Christian foundation that she tries to show on a daily basis. Yet she learned her love for graphic design at Lamar High School playing around with people’s pictures and party flyers. Since she was knee high to a grasshopper all she has ever known is cheerleading, from little league, to high school varsity team, to all-star cheerleading. She works part-time at a charter school as a cheerleader coach. She spends most of her time embracing life with her family and trying to live Christ like.

18 & Up: T-Town by Shanetra Foster

6400 Richmond Ave.

April 2004–At the age of about eleven years old is when I first started wanting to go out. My two sisters were always going places because they were older than me. One day my two sisters, their friend, and my cousins went to a teen club called Stadium Bowl. When they came home, they talked about how fun it was all night long. They were saying I should go because I could lie and say that I was thirteen. A couple weeks later, I went to Stadium Bowl. I cannot recall exactly what I wore, but I do remember that I had on a pair of blue jeans shorts, cotton shirt, and a pair of white girls (this is what they called a pair of white tennis shoes for girls). It was everything they said it would be and I loved it. We could be seen at Stadium Bowl almost every weekend. That first night was the point of no return. After this experience, I only wanted to hang out with the older crowd

Soon the “teen-clubs” played out. Even though we were still teens ourselves, we thought there were too many “young” people and it was too “ghetto.” Every time we would go there a fight would break out over people stepping on each other’s new “J’s” (Air Jordan’s) and “hoods” (neighborhoods). I thought fighting was such an immature thing to do and it made me hate teen clubs.

The summer of my junior year I heard about this club that was actually four clubs in one- it had karaoke and it was two stories high. I was really feeling this club, which enforced a dress code (no tennis, which meant no fighting because of some one stepping on your “J’s”). It was located on Richmond Avenue, one of the “hot” streets in Houston.

You do everything on the Richmond strip; it is Houston’s Bourbon Street.

The four clubs inside of T-Town included Club EDR, Tune Town, the Booty Bar, and Senor Frogg’s. Club EDR is located on the main floor and plays House, Rap, Dance and Southern Bounce. It’s equipped with two massively overstocked bars, a huge dance floor, and a beer station. It also has a High-Tec Sound system Light shoe. Tune Town Karaoke is a relaxed atmosphere and fully stocked custom bar. You could sit back and watch friends in one of plenty private tables. The Booty Bar is the latest club in T-Town. The DJ spins a mix of Rap, Hip Hop and Dance. It has a system and light show the rivals EDR’s, but with a funkier style. It also housed a thirty-foot bar fully stocked and a stage just for the ladies. Senor Frogg’s is like your tropical oasis in the city. Outside on the patio the DJ spins Trance, Dance, and Spanish Pop. The patio features a tournament –sized pool table, a state of the art sound and Light system, and an island bar with custom multilevel deck.

I wanted to experience for myself so badly, but you had to be eighteen or older and I was only seventeen. Since I had older sisters, I could easily use one their ID’s and I had done so plenty of times before at different clubs. The real problem was they were strict on checking ID’s and one of my friends had been busted for using someone else’s ID and was totally embarrassed because they turned her around in front of everybody. I was nervous this would happen to me. At the same time I wanted to try to get in anyways because I also knew someone else who had gotten in successfully.

On the night of December 20, 2002 I decided to go with some friends. We were excited about going because this was the Christmas break for the college students, which meant all of our old friends would be there. That night I thought I was looking so good, wearing this low cut, backless shirt, and some Guess jeans with black and silver imprints, accompanied by a pair of two inch black heels. This outfit was a total change compared to what I used to wear to the teens clubs. While approaching the club, I could see that it was two stories high and you would have to go up the stairs to get to the door.

When we drove up we had to valet park because it was packed and that was the only way to park without getting your car towed. I could see the bouncer as we were arriving and he was this big, bald headed white guy who wore a black t-shirt with T-Town’s logo on the upper left shoulder. He had an intimidating look about him and it really made me scared. While waiting in line, I saw the bouncer turn away a girl because the picture on the ID was not of her. This made me very nervous. When I got to the bouncer I flirted with him a little bit so he could not pay so much attention to the face on the ID while he checked. It must have worked because I got in!

Walking down the stairs inside the club I was shocked! The club was so big and crowded! You could not even see the dance floor from some many people. The club also had a nice atmosphere. There were bar chairs around the dance floor, circular booths off the dance floor, and a private section where if you had a party or reserved seats you would sit. The crowd was definitely older and I immediately loved it. The people were all dressed nicely and the boys were really looking good. They had this clean, mature, casual look going on. The girls wore casual but provocative clothing and they looked really nice also. Even though the girls looked good, I still thought that no one looked better than me that night.

Just like I had heard, there were three clubs, a karaoke bar, about four bars and also an area where you could shoot pool. Waiters even came up to you to order your drinks. I danced in Club EDR and the Booty Bar. What I loved the most was the DJ. He was great! He went by the name J Homie Marco. Homie Marco is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota and has been living in Houston for the last past ten years. Some of his other experiences include working as Program Director of KQQK 106.5 and as a DJ at KMAP, Urban Radio, and Club DJ. He won an award for radio and music Tejano Program Director of the year in 1994. Marco DJ at several Houston clubs such as, the Roxy and El Dorado Ranch. He played a variety of music. My favorite was when he played his old school and slow jam segment. This segment played old school music back from the early nineties and late eighties such as, Lenny William’s Cause I Love you and Betty Wright’s Tonight is the Night. The segment also played slow jams such as R. Kelly’s Bump and Grind and Adena Howard’s T-shirt and Panties. I danced all night until three a.m., which was the time the club closed.

When the club closed outside would be crunk (hype). Everyone was walking around seeing people they had not seen on the inside of just meeting up with people they had just met on the inside of the club, making the dark light in the club was not fooling them. People who did not come inside the club were sure to be on the outside “parking lot pimping” (this was an expression meaning hitting on girls/boys outside in the parking lot). They had a truck outside that sold barbeque, hamburgers, burritos, and sodas. So the club did not actually clear out until about four a.m. in the morning.

This place was so much of everything I wanted to be. It was very diverse and the people were real cool. The crowd was not too young or too old, but jut in the age range I preferred and if they were not, they were very mature for their age and that’s all that I really wanted. There was definitely no fighting in this club and nobody going around throwing up their “hood” sign and arguing over spilled milk. This club, my dream club, is located on Richmond Avenue (one of the hottest streets in Houston) is Tune Town better known as T-Town.

Air Jordan

T-Town

Roxy

Maps:

The Pinnacle of Good Food: Eatzi’s by Clayton Pierce

South Post Oak and San Felipe

January 2004–My quest of hunger lead me to this simple looking building off of South Post oak and San Felipe. I was not certain of what to expect, all I knew was that all my confidence to go inside was made entirely out of curiosity. Immediately I was surrounded by a warm sense of Italy. There were busy patches of people everywhere, constantly moving and adding vibrant life to the place. As I ventured in, I could see what makes this restaurant work. Eatzi’s is a combination of a restaurant, bakery, and market. It proved to be a perfect blend for superb dining. There was a more important distinguishing factor. No longer were you tied to one single-file line waiting for service. No, here you had multiple options at your disposal. You could jump in any line you wished based upon your choice of cuisine.

Of course no predetermined menu would do. Everyone here was freed from the tyrannical power of a set menu from which to choose from. Making a selection was as difficult as ordering a cup of coffee at starbucks for the first time, but even more rewarding. There was a possibility of over 18,000 combinations! I opted to go with a sandwich. Nothing too fancy yet, just the equivalent of a Café Mocha. Any kind of bread, any kind of meat, and any kind of spread. The possibilities were endless. Truly “your way,” the way you like it.

Eatzi’s was founded for a quite interesting reason. The restaurant and bakery was started by Phil Romanos (who also founded Fuddrucker’s & Macaroni Grill). Romanos wanted people to enjoy epicurean style food in the comfort of their own homes. Other establishments do not offer ready to take home food. Eatzi’s prepares fresh dishes every day ready to be taken home. They specialize in fine foods such as exquisite pastas, seafood, and the chef’s selection of meat.

As I waited in line, I watched (through the sneeze guard) the masters at work putting together made to order sandwiches with utmost precision. With coordinated hands, they made the creation of a sandwich look as if the sandwich was meant to be. I observed an older man in a blue suede jacket and thick glasses anticipating his order as he watched with large eyes that sparkled with delight. He smiled as he received his sandwich. I noticed that the man behind the counter looked like a seasoned veteran. He knew exactly how to make a mean sandwich. After he finished making my masterpiece of a sandwich, they accurately wrapped it in butcher paper with crisp folds and corners.

“Anything else?” they asked, as they handed the precious sandwich to me with a smile.

I smiled back and said “ No, that ought to do it” and added a thank you.

No great sandwich could go without an equally delicious drink, so the next choice to make would be which beverage to order. There was a plethora of drinks to choose from. Everything from all-natural fruit juice and rare vintage wines to ultra-caffeinated energy drinks. Of course they came in all shapes and sizes. The whole range of bottles mimicked every color found in a box of sixty four crayons. I could tell that they offered freshly brewed coffee by the distinct rich aroma in the air. I decided to be conservative and go with a cobalt blue bottle called Brawls Guarana (the ultra-caffeinated energy drink).

The center display of desserts caught my attention. I scanned the shelves containing rich Belgian milk chocolate and continued to the small individually wrapped pieces of authentic Italian candy. Along with the delicious sweets, they offer a wide variety of fine cheeses and water crackers. Truly the place for connoisseurs.

Feeling like I had accomplished some great feat, I victoriously strolled to the check-out counter with my sandwich and drink in hand. I stepped up to the counter and laid out my goods for the cashier to ring up. For a sandwich and a Brawls Guarana drink the total came to be eight dollars and thirty one cents. This may seem a little steep to the unaware, but is quite reasonable for the quality of the product purchased. I gladly paid the young lady since I thought I was getting the better end of the deal.

From this point, what makes this place so special is the setting in which you can enjoy your newly acquired sandwich. The Italian accented décor richly enhanced the whole experience. They use warm, soft colors in yellow, green, and red. This makes the whole place come together as if the restaurant was a masterful work of art. Beautifully sculpted flora continued the Romanesque theme. As beautiful and pleasant as the inside was, it was actually a nice cool day in Houston which is somewhat rare, so I decided to eat outside in the warm sunshine today. Eatzi’s generously provides many tables with umbrellas to dine under. The view offered was that of elegant buildings and blue sky. The scenery was complemented the sounds of classic Italian operas such as Pavaroti and Puccini. This completed the soothing atmosphere.

Now with the perfect environment, I could devour my perfect sandwich. I took time to savor every delectable bite. The cool, fresh wind blew across my skin. The sounds of the famous opera Caruso preformed by Luciano Pavaroti accompanied by the mellow drone of cars driving by calmed every nerve in my body. I closed my eyes and drifted away hanging on every note Pavaroti sang. A truly incredible feeling arose out of the exquisitely crafted composition. I sunk into another world full of serenity. My thoughts carried my attention to the busy street next to me. My eyes gazed through tinted sunglass lenses upon the monotonous ballet of cars motoring by.

I wondered how they could conduct their lives in such a stressful manner. Were they content driving steel coffins to and from work everyday? Were they forced to neglect simple joys of life such as Eatzi’s? They did not have the privilege of total relaxation that I enjoyed at the present moment. I wondered if I would become like them, no longer having time to pause a second and enjoy a fine sandwich. I hoped a life like that would never come to me. All thoughts of worry and stress vanished. My breathing slowed to a steady pace. Could all this be the work of an incredible sandwich and tranquil setting? I believe so.

All of a sudden a black and brown bird flew down in front of my table. It was one of those intelligent types. The bird knew there was food available to him and all he had to do was figure out how to obtain it. Being generous, I threw it a few pieces of lettuce and watched as he curiously looked at them. How simple life is for the bird. There wouldn’t be anything to stress about. Hang out around a restaurant watching people come and go. In some ways I envied the bird, but of course I wouldn’t want to hop around waiting for scraps. I found the bird to be quite entertaining.

I appreciate a place like Eatzi’s. It provides so much more than a sandwich to people just like me. Who ever you are, no matter your race, gender, religion, or creed you are welcomed here. If you prefer a sophisticated, refined, and stylish atmosphere in which to dine, you will find this establishment quite accommodating. There are not many places that pull off authentic class. Too many restaurants try to act classy, but true class comes from more than just a showy contemporary décor. Eatzi’s does not need to spend countless amounts of money on funny advertising to persuade people to choose them over competition. For me, there is no competition. All they had to do was provide a quality product, friendly service, and desirable atmosphere. A true gem like Eatzi’s is worth noting. I would only bring a friend that shared my feelings toward such a place. Any other who did not comprehend such sentiment would spoil the aura of Eatzi’s.

Even when I finished my sandwich I chose to wait a while before leaving because I felt so relaxed. I just sat there and daydreamed for a short period of time. My thoughts easily shifted from one subject to another. It’s not everyday I get to indulge in such peace, so I soaked it up as much as possible. Finally I had to go. I casually got up to leave. I walked to my car plotting my return to my favorite restaurant. I felt completely refreshed, recharged and ready to conquer anything. Maybe it was the extremely high levels of caffeine found in my energy drink kicking in or maybe it was the change of pace offered by Eatzi’s. As I pulled away from the parking lot, I watched as the Eatzi’s sign drifted out of the corner of my eye. I think next time I will order something a little more fancy such as the equivalent of a Grande Café Mocha with a double shot of hazelnut.
Map

Eatzi’s

Fuddruckers

Macaroni Grill

Eatzi’s Review

Arcade Electronica: Dave and Buster’s by Nicholas Quek

6010 Richmond at Fountainview
Houston, Texas 77057

January 2004–It’s not easy to miss the giant twirling logo out in front of the large, unassuming building on Richmond Avenue. Orange and blue does have a way of grabbing one’s attention while doing 50 mph and following right behind yet another wide-bodied SUV large enough to be its own county. It’s not like Dave and Buster’s needs to advertise from the outside, though. By word of mouth and the power of the Internet, people keep coming to Dave and Buster’s in droves. Though it’s hardly a tourist attraction, D&B (as regulars such as myself call it) still has its devotees.

Dave and Buster’s is the brainchild of two friends named (unsurprisingly) Dave Corriveau and Buster Corely. Residents of Little Rock, Arkansas, Dave and Buster were owners two separate businesses back in the 70’s. Buster owned a ‘casually elegant’ and friendly restaurant known as Buster’s. Interestingly, Dave owned a large establishment next door to Buster named ‘Slick Willy’s World of Entertainment.’ Everyone who sees the blistering, prophetic irony, please raise your hands. Continuing, the two businessmen became friends quickly, and soon noted that they shared clientele. That soon gave them an idea. What would happen if they joined forces? The result was the birth of the first Dave and Buster’s in Dallas, and rapid expansion from there. Despite the fact that everyone thought they were crazy for trying to combine the two, they succeeded beyond the scope of their original intentions, and proceeded to expand. Six years later, a second Dallas-area D&B went up. From there, Dave and Buster’s expanded to 14 states, 4 countries, and at least 30 worldwide.

The Midway is the heart of Dave and Buster’s. Every time I walk in there, I’m always struck by that old, familiar feeling. The noise, the action, the hustle and bustle of people working and playing alike…It’s Dave and Buster’s like I’ve always known it: loud, exciting, and forever active. Of course, this is assuming you show up on D&B’s busiest days during the weekend. If you show up during the week, well…it’s pretty quiet, that’s for sure. A mixed blessing, I assure you.

As a child of the electronic age, the Midway is definitely the highlight of my visits to D&B. Possibly the largest, most expansive arcade known to man, the Midway is where I go to relax and have a good time, in spite of the adrenaline that always catches up to me when I’m there. As ironic as it may sound, the adrenaline rush helps me relax after a long week of work and classes. Judging by the vast numbers of other people also here at Dave and Buster’s, I’d say I’m not the only one. “Sure,” says Michael (named changed under request). “I mean, it’s Dave and Buster’s, man. Between, you know, work, class, studying and all that shit, I’ve gotta find someplace to relax.” I continued to watch as Michael swiped his Power Card through the reader-slot on L.A. Machineguns and leaned over one of the two swivel-mounted guns on the console, taking to the skies over a digital Alcatraz where he proceeded to blast missile-carrying cyborgs in tacky jumpsuits. Grinning, he casually supplied his main reason for being here: “I mean, I sometimes I get angry enough to go and punch my boss, but that’s illegal…so I come here and blow stuff up instead.”

In today’s arcade world, there appear to be a grand total of perhaps six different styles of games: gun games, racers, Dance Dance Revolution and its variants, fighting games, simulators, and a minority category I’ll delicately call ‘other.’ Dave and Buster’s has all of those categories and more covered in the Midway. No downsides there. I never fail to get a thrill out of playing Time Crisis 3 or the more specialized Silent Scope and Silent Scope X. As a dedicated gun enthusiast and occasional misanthrope, I find games like Time Crisis and Silent Scope to be cathartic…better than publicly venting my irritation by ranting at passers-by, at any rate. It’s not mindless destruction though; more like state-sponsored violence to improve the global society. It feels remarkably good to take down terrorist organizations by single-handedly.

I also try to dedicate at least a little time to taking on the races. It’s hard to dislike the racer games; they’re so remarkably simple—get to the finish line ahead of your opponents—but exceptionally engrossing. On the plus side, they’re also some of the most inexpensive games at Dave and Buster’s. This is relative—the prices for games are rated by chips, a form of digital credit bought and spent at Dave and Buster’s. The prices for games and the chip-to-dollar ratio change somewhat regularly, so judging how much any one game costs in hard cash is difficult at best. But, that aside, back to the races. Racing at Dave and Buster’s comes in three distinct flavors: Daytona, jetski-racing, and random street/off road racing. Any one of them is fun in its own right, but I always drift towards Arctic Thunder, the oddball of the group. Arctic Thunder, in spite of its already engaging gameplay, goes above and beyond in being immersive. Since the game throws its players into wild ice-tundra racing and the occasional run through a snowcapped mountain range, they installed a high-quality air conditioner in the handlebars of the simulated jetski for the sole purpose of flinging cold, dry air into people’s faces…namely, mine. It’s exhilarating and it does increase the realism a bit, but I suspect it’s also there to increase the player’s need for drinks afterwards.

Truth be told, one of the main reasons that Dave and Buster’s is so popular is also my personal favorite game there. ‘Game’ is hardly the right word for it, though. ‘Experience’ might be more appropriate. The system in question is the Tesla Virtual Pod station at the back of Dave and Buster’s. Like everything else about D&B, it’s hard to miss. Boldly emblazoned on the banner above it are two dueling BattleMechs, massive metal war machines standing anywhere from six to fifteen meters tall and weighing as much as a hundred tons. That is the entire premise of the Tesla Pod system, and what makes it so much fun besides. I make it a personal point to take a jaunt in the pods every time I go to D&B. The game, which goes by BattleTech, is rather costly at 24 chips for one round (at last report), making it the single most expensive game at the Midway. It’s worth it, however. No other system I’ve yet seen actually drops people this far into virtual reality, and I’ve seen a wide variety of such programs. The Tesla system consists of eight virtual reality pods specifically constructed to resemble cockpits. They’re Spartan, they’re military, and they fit their intended role perfectly. When I settle back into one of those pods, I can forget the real world and the worries, the cares, and the chaos that goes with it. In the pods, anyone can be a MechWarrior, and I can say with confidence that in that regard, I am among the veterans.

On average, a round of BattleTech lasts about ten minutes. In the game itself, nobody notices. I know I’m not paying attention to how much time is left. BattleTech is far too enthralling for mere time to mean much. Almost every detail of the MechWarrior universe can be felt here, from the shrill screeches of particle cannons and throaty roars of autocannons, to the hard jostles and kicks that shake pilots in their seats as their ‘Mechs take heavy-hitting blows. It feels like war, in spite of the damage being entirely digital and the not-quite-real appearance through the main screen. As a dedicated MechWarrior and BattleTech fan, it’s still an experience unlike anything else, though. The brilliant reds and greens of laser fire, mixed with blue-tinged particle cannon bolts and nigh-invisible streams of cannon-fire make for one extraordinary (and highly destructive) light show. Watching everything from the swift and elegant Uziel to the slow, lumbering Atlas race across the landscape is a thrilling sight I rarely fail to enjoy—even more so when they are targets under my gunsights, and I have a full load of missiles on board. It might be a violent type of future I throw myself into, but it doesn’t lack for excitement.

In case I’ve made this out to be some sort of electronic paradise, I apologize. Dave and Buster’s is anything but. As with everything in life, especially public businesses, there are problems. As to be expected, problems are proportional to the size of the operation in question. Given that the ‘operation’ is a franchise spanning the United States, the problems are large indeed. They are entirely controllable, but nobody seems to be able to handle them. Prices, such as they are, are pretty steep—the 25-dollar level currently gives out 130 chips, which can be exhausted in a fairly short amount of time. The games themselves aren’t one- or two-chip games…most tend to end up costing five chips on average. This means that the average arcade game will cost a dollar per play. That quickly adds up, as even the most reserved players can spend ten dollars in the space of a half-hour, and enthusiasts like myself can go through all 130 chips in an hour’s time.

The other major problem is the large number of small children that, in violation of Dave and Buster’s rules, are allowed to roam the Midway freely, often getting underfoot and squalling loudly when someone who can actually see the game screen shoos them away from ‘playing’ the game in demo mode. The little brats, by Dave and Buster’s regulations, are not allowed to free-range in the Midway. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough employees in place to keep enforcing this rule. Screaming children tend to ruin the gaming experience and my mood alike.

There is some respite, though. Outside of the Midway is a pool hall, complete with pool tables, dartboards, and foosball tables. This is where the real relaxation is for many people, myself included. It’s not nearly as loud as the Midway, and the atmosphere is less electric. It’s relatively calming, and parents don’t bring their children into the hall, which is the main lure for me. No crying, whining little knee-huggers to spoil my good mood.

Dave and Buster’s has one other attraction, one that will definitely prove interesting this coming Halloween. I’ve heard that the Mystery Dinner Theater is an excellent production, though I’ve not been to one myself. For Halloween they encourage guests to dress up and attend the dinner party, which often turns into a murder mystery in need of solving. I’ve heard it ends up resembling an Agatha Christie novel by night’s end, which suggests that it’s well worth the cost.

Dave and Buster’s may never win any awards for beautifying the city or contributing to the community, but it’s still one of the little things around Houston that has to be experienced to be appreciated. It’s no Reliant Stadium, Minute Maid Park, or AstroWorld by any stretch of the imagination. What it is, however, is a nice place to gather together friends to spend some time just enjoying the thrills and forgetting that the world has worries, if only for a little while…it may not be a digital paradise, but it is an electronic escape, at the very least.
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