The Truth About Houston
by Phillip Vaughn
I was born in Houston, and I’ve always said I’m not going to die there. Over time it became a dull, pointless, and simply wrong place to live. So I packed up and moved to Red Bank, New Jersey, where I realized how great Houston actually is. Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s the fact that all I’ve ever really known was Houston¿the lame town two hours from Austin, home of the Ghetto Boys from Fifth Ward. Local skater Mark Cortez remembers Fifth Ward, because he got carjacked at Brewster Park by a twelve year old. Do you remember the Houston Oilers with Earl Campbell? Those were the days. You used to be able to drive to Louisiana when you were eighteen, legally buy beer, and be back home in three hours. I have good friends in Houston.
Contrary to my prior beliefs, there’s actually a lot of stuff to do in Houston. No matter where I am, when someone finds out I’m from Houston they automatically ask me about Emo’s, a bar near downtown, where you’ll most likely find a gang of skaters and other assorted rockers, junkies, and alcoholics. So, if these types of people don’t bother you, then this place isn’t all bad. Wednesday is the night when they have their drink specials. Speaking of drink specials, Best Times has one-dollar beverages from 6:00 to close every weekday, and it’s only 30 yards from the Southside Indoor Skatepark. Southside is where the annual Texas Skate Jam is held, which is a charity event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Gulf Coast. You may have seen it in videos. There used to be this contest called Shut Up And Skate, which they held at the Skatepark of Houston on Orange Grove. I really wish I could tell you to come by and skate it anytime, but I can’t. I’m afraid to say it’s gone forever. Just as Embarcadero will be missed by San Francisco natives, or the Brooklyn Banks missed by New Yorkers, the Skatepark of Houston will also be missed by all Texans, past and present. But for every death there’s a birth, and I hear there’s a new park in Sugarland. I also hear it’s composed of metal ramps constructed by someone from Woodward.
Then there’s always good old downtown, a cornucopia of spots. Tranquillity Park is full of silver rails, Gray HL & P has plenty to offer, and Tranny Ledge has many marble ledges and a transitional wall to boot. There’s also Pennzoil Place, Tinker Toy, Party on the Plaza, Exxon, Enron, One Allen Center, City Hall, and the City Hall Annex, among others. Of course there’re cops and security guards, just like any other place in this country; we’re not perfect. But if you’re not one to deal with authority figures, you can skate Miller Outdoor Theater by Herman Park at the Houston Zoo. There’s nobody to kick you out and tons to skate. There’s a cement bank ramp and jump ramp, a couple of gaps, ledges, gaps to ledges, a three-stair manual pad, an uprail, and a hill if you feel like you have to get a good grass ride off your chest.
In the past you could’ve seen Todd Prince, John Gibson, the McGrath brothers, Jeff Taylor, or Brian Pennington at any of these spots. To this day you can still find Ken Fillion, Hubba, Smitty, Mike Finley, Travis Sales, Chris Bryars, Will Taylor, P-Dub, Wayne Patrick, Jason Womack, Nate Brusard, Brad Hiser, Mike Holloway, Fred Munoz, Lil’ Kenny, Travis Howell, Robbie Hersom, Philly V., and an occasional Anthony Correa or R.B. Umali sighting somewhere in the vast city of Houston.
Beavis and Butthead is supposed to be set in Houston¿another case of art imitating life. The Houston Rockets won three or four NBA championships in the 90s, and I believe that’s a pretty good record. The Alamo is in San Antonio, so please don’t ask us about it. We are the home of some of the best medical centers in the nation. There’s actually an area called The Medical Center, which has some good skating. What better place to take a nasty spill? There’s also a new stadium downtown that might have some stuff to skate, but thhe construction isn’t complete yet, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It’s an outdoor stadium with a retractable roof.
Twice a year there’s a festival on Westheimer, and they shut off the street to traffic. This usually means it’s going to be a good weekend, because there’re parties everywhere you look. If you don’t party, this is a good time to skate downtown, because the cops are busy dealing with drunks.
There’re a lot of trucks and rednecks in Houston, but it is 2000, and the rednecks are just a small portion of the population. Let’s face it, there’s no need for a cowboy without the existence of a Western frontier. As kids we all wanted to be cowboys or astronauts, but nobody I know actually went through with it. Cowboys are almost a myth, but astronauts are not. Houston proudly boast the world’s best space program. New York and Los Angeles may produce movie stars, but they aren’t sending anyone to the moon. Just watch any space movie, and listen for the quote, “Houston, we have a problem.” If you want to check out the NASA Space Center, it’s in Clear Lake, which is a little south of Houston. If having a coast is cool, well, we have one of those, too. Sure, it might be dirty, but hey, we’re in the Dirty South! What y’all know about it?
Anyway, these pictures should say enough, so I’m just going to sum it up for you in a sentence: Come to Houston, we have nude virgin models who live underneath a perfect marble skatepark and will die unless they each give away a case of beer a day. Really!