Understanding Houston

Downtown Houston (from blog.kir.com)

June in Houston can be relatively predictable. If there isn't a high pressure system parked over the city, chances are some thunderstorms will pop up across the cities. Right now I'm sitting at the kitchen table, eating a post-workout meal of Dan Dan Noodles from Pei Wei while listening to some Ornette Coleman - the sky turned dark a while ago and thunder keeps blaring in the distance. Yeah... that's Houston in June. It wouldn't feel right without some hearty storms to punctuate the day.

Yup... Houston definitely has its own thing going. Not just in storms but in the people, the climate (definitely the climate), the international scene, the museums and so much more. The thing is, Houston is hard to understand or appreciate by someone who lives out of town. You have to live here to "get it" The New York Times finally got it in 2004 and others are starting to catch on, as well.

Joel Kotkin, a Los Angeles-based urban expert was recently hired by the Greater Houston Partnership to conduct a study on how to keep Houston growing. Kotkin sat down with the Houston press for what I consider to be a very interesting interview. He points out both the good and the bad about the city but definitely makes it clear that Houston has a great deal to offer for those who would get past their preconceived notions and approach the city with an open mind.

JK: I’ve always said if you need a campaign to prove you’re hip and cool, you’re not. Personally I think Houston’s very cool. I don’t think that’s what’s going to drive people to Houston, but what I think is cool about Houston is what happens in the grassroots: The neighborhoods, the Harwin corridor, Montrose, all the little nooks and crannies of Houston are quite interesting. And I’m sure there’s many things I don’t know, even though I’ve been there lots of times.

I sort of make fun of the hip and cool thing, like you know Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they can’t get artists to go there. They have to do the awards in New York.

...and for now, the skies have opened up and rain is pouring outside. The gutters are suddenly overflowing and the patio is a little lake. It's the kind of rain that tends to really freak out tourists but locals expect in the summertime. The lawn is getting a nice dose of summer rain and the heat, for the moment, is kept at bay. But hey, that's just life in Houston.

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