Friday, September 19, 2008

no power in the tower..take a hIKE

LEFT: what used to be a soccer field
MIDDLE: heinous gas station lines
RIGHT: will my Sam Adams still be good?

hurricanes are like hangovers..after suffering through a category 2 hurricane (cat 2 for the veterans) or higher, you find yourself equipped with an ironclad excuse for pretty much anything in the subsequent weeks. You’ll wait in line 17 cars deep at McDonalds, you’ll drive around town (due to debris and curfew, your time is rather limited) just to see what’s open, you’ll use all the gas you have for this joyride and then want to punch yourself in the jaw to have to wait in line for more gas, or even worse, realize there is NO MORE GAS. Even if your offices are open, no one really goes to work because you can’t shower, or you can’t find childcare or you’re so incredibly lazy you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area on Friday, September 12 around 11pm and I’ll fully admit we got hit a hell of a lot harder than I thought. Laying in bed hearing the 90 mph winds and stronger, I was beyond confident the windows would burst and the glass will fill my pretty face. I sat in bed with pillows on my face simply trying to protect my dome. I am one of the lucky ones having weathered through it fairly well. Aside from no power in the tower for almost a week (and still going), having my first ever cruise cancelled, and losing all the food in my refrigerator and freezer, there are many other Houstonians and Galvestonians that lost much more than I and I can only offer my prayers and condolences to each and every one of them. Having lived in FL for over 2 years and experienced some other bad ‘canes, I realize the difference is Floridians don’t freak out AS MUCH as Houstonians. Maybe it’s the Rita and Katrina era and people just don’t ‘ef around anymore.

Some peculiar things I witnessed during Ike..

Gas Lines. I’m talking Disney World on opening day, free to the public, which also happens to be perfect weather and a school holiday. Packed. Gas station attendants were actually directing traffic at the stations. I’m talking backing up the entire exit off a freeway, with a double line of cars. The broadcasters on the radio said that people were waiting over 3 hours in line for gas. I mean, when nothing is open and there’s nowhere to go, WHY do you need gas?

News Propaganda. One of my BIGGEST pet peeves in the entire world happens to be how newscasters react during a tragedy such as Ike. While I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of Ike and the havoc it wreaked on our town (and still is), the news reporters treat this with as much drama as an episode of The Hills. The editing is eerily similar too. Take for instance, a gigantic uprooted tree that is so large it’s almost unfathomable how any amount of wind could have done that. Rather than showing it from one angle and saying “Look at this one tree located on Main St.” the news reporters get sneaky and show 3 different angles of the exact same tree to make the viewers think there is an entire forest uprooted and we’ll soon run out of oxygen supply. As if my mother and father weren’t spastic enough (not to mention all my lovely a$$hole friends), seeing the news sends them into a tailspin. They were back in VA and not able to get a hold of me for a while, so you know Joey T. was set on The Weather Channel. We had the opportunity to drive by some of the highly broadcast places and what we actually saw and what we saw on the news differed greatly. At some points, I actually thought they were doing more harm than good. They were sending our already delicate Houstonians into a panic and making them freak out more than was necessary. So don’t believe everything you see or hear.

I’m going to approach this next paragraph with EXTREME caution, but hearing this sent me well over the edge. We were in the car (on a one hour venture looking for donuts…who knew, everyone craved donuts after a hurricane like I did?), and 93.7 The Arrow (may not ever listen to this station again because of this) mentioned that the Houston Police officers were working crazy hours and didn’t have any food or water. They asked if any of us had extra we should take it to them. First of all, it’s hard for ANYONE to have to work during this time, but just a few months prior the Houston Chronicle released an article that police officers in Houston were getting fingers points because they more than doubled their salary with unnecessary overtime. The officers are obviously making overtime to patrol the streets and help the city overcome the aftermath of Ike; therefore, I am a firm believer they are being more than compensated for their time. At the time this ran on the radio, NONE of us had food or water so why on earth would the officers get free radio time to beg for freebies? Why not the hospitals, local neighborhoods, or senior centers get this plea? Police officers are some of the few folks that will be paid during this mess. Take for instance those hourly workers whose places of employment are closed for days, weeks or possibly even months. They aren’t making ANY money, but yet the radio station feels the need to ask the citizens to stop by the precincts and drop off essentials? I heard on another station that looters set a local Wal-Mart on fire and a mother of 3 was employed at Wal-Mart. The manager had to call all the employees and tell them to find new jobs until it is rebuilt. What about posting a bulletin to help out that woman or other similar situations? Wow, my blood pressure got dangerously high just writing this!

Food. After you’ve gone through a hurricane, you eat like you have a hangover. There aren’t many options, but of course you are craving something. One thing I did notice was that a lot of mom and pop restaurants were open quicker and longer than some chains taking every opportunity to seize the day and make a profit. Just another reason I want to start visiting more of these local places. I also lost some confidence in my dear friends at Chick Fil A. Boy are they wimps! Every one of their locations boarded up from Thursday through Monday without even knowing how bad the storm would be. Bring on the chikin! I already knew you were somewhat lazy for not being open on Sundays when I need you the most, but this took the cake.

Could you even imagine if you had planned a wedding during this horrendous time? Flights were cancelled so some of your out of town guests may have been SOL. I heard of one wedding that got relocated to Dallas (4 hours away). Talk about one hell of a commute. Lets hope if it was open bar that the guests got a hotel rather than a cab back to Houston. Another wedding that was supposed to take place on Saturday (the night of Ike) got bumped to Friday. I can’t fathom having to change my wedding date because of something like this! Note to self; don’t plan a wedding OR A CRUISE during hurricane season. Yes, my first ever cruise set to take off from Galveston two days after Ike landfall was cancelled, as the port was closed indefinitely.

Big Brother. Picture watching an entire, fun-filled, drama induced season of reality TV only to lose power and miss the final 2 episodes of one of your favorite shows?! It seems so cruel to have to google “who won season 10 of big brother?” after such a long season. I guess it’s true what they say…desperate times call for desperate measures.

Still no power in the tower. My apartment complex is comprised of 3 large tower in the middle (where I reside) and 1 midrise building on each side. Oddly enough, BOTH mid-rises have power restored, but the tower is pitch black. I live in a “true loft” which basically means no windows and super high exposed ceilings. My entire complex is so dark, I have to use my cell phone light to guide the hallways and even that isn’t bright enough.

A special thanks to Paul and his family for taking the teacup and I in during this time and to all my friends and family for checking up on me.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

first time in ink in houtex...i heart barstool

so here is my first article published since I've been here in Houston (I know...long overdue...story of my life).
Barstool Magazine, September Issue, pgs 56 & 57
(soon to be on and special thanks to Andres D for the great photos for the article)


Located deep in the heart of Midtown you’ll find the mother ship of liquor stores. It’s a staple in the lives of most fun-loving Houstonians and is a prime destination for tourists visiting the area. After all, who in their right mind would pass up a chance to visit 48,000 square feet dedicated to all things bar and party? Spec’s, located across the street from Pub Fiction, has been Houston’s central supply of beer, liquor and wine for nearly 40 years.

With over 3,000 customers daily, 170 total employees, and “aisles” that are aptly named streets, it’s not hard to get lost in this place. And it happens quite often according to the staff. It’s a city within a city. Maybe people aren’t actually getting lost; maybe they are in awe of the store and all its glorious wonder. Maybe the largest walk-in cooler in Houston mesmerizes them and their indecisiveness gets the best of them. Debating between the 1,655 ales, the 232 lagers, hundreds of kegs, or the umpteen specialty and domestic choices for the steadfast beer lover can be quite a task. The walk-in cooler alone is comparable to picking out a piece of wood at Home Depot.

The plethora of potions is beyond one’s wildest dreams. White sangria. Red sangria. Frozen sangria. Peach sangria. Italian sangria. Restaurant-style sangria. Sangria recipes. Don’t forget the sangria-scented candles. In tequila options alone there are over 900. No wonder tequila makes her clothes fall off. Luckily the staff at Spec’s prides themselves on customer service and is there to help you find the perfect beverage to suit your mood. If your cash flow is limited they’ll help you find a budget-friendly choice. Those that aren’t budget-conscience can treat themselves to Louis XIII diamond series cognac for $5263.15 a bottle. If you need a particular size they can do anything from supersize to mini-me bottles to stuff in your cargo shorts. Folks blessed to bear the 713, 281 or 832 area codes should stand up and take pride that the largest liquor store on the planet is right in your backyard. Only Houstonians came claim that. Just one of the many reasons Houston is the #1 place to live, work and play according to the most recent poll of US cities. This mother ship also boasts the title of the #1 seller of Crown Royal above any other store in the world. That’s right. Numero uno. Second to none.

Perhaps mother ship of liquor stores is an understatement. Maybe mother ship of all things amazing is a better fit? Spec’s has a ginormous deli with sandwiches so big that the bouncer at your favorite bar will probably need a doggy bag. They roast their own coffee daily on premises and pop their own popcorn. Looking for a specialty cheese? They have a larger selection of cheese than Brett Favre and the entire state of Wisconsin combined. All kidding aside the annual Cheese Festival is September 14, 15 and 16 so go see for yourself. Looking for flavor? Don’t miss 2 entire shelves devoted solely to hot sauce. A chocolate truffle bar manned and operated by Officer Larry. Over 1500 cigars and a cigar connoisseur to help differentiate them all. On the hunt for the perfect tailgating accessory for the upcoming football season? Try a full size blender with an AC adapter to plug into your car and pick up a margarita mix for the game. Invest in an alcohol breath detector to ensure optimum safety. Or splurge on a new grill. Seriously, your challenge if you choose to accept it is to find something Spec’s doesn’t carry.

If you happen to forego a night on the town and throw your own soiree instead, the staff at Spec’s are party planners in disguise. If you are lacking creative juices (in the drink department of course), they’ll help conjure up drink recipes and the perfect pairing of food to make your shindig a hit. They even sell post-party clean-up supplies to hide the evidence from your wife or roommate. They’ve also got you covered with disposable cameras so you can take pictures of the jacka$$ of the party. (Just be sure to publish them online so everyone can enjoy them.)

When it comes to parties and tailgating, Spec’s has it all. But they also service 1200 bars in the local area providing beer, wine, bar supplies, furniture, and even hand dryers for the bathrooms. You name it, they’ve got it. Or they’ll get it. That’s what they strive for-to make each and every one of their customers happy. And satisfied customers for Spec’s mean a lively and entertaining nightlife for all of us. Which of course makes our job at Barstool better everyday.

So we not only salute our bars and bartenders for keeping Houston’s nightlife going, we also thank Spec’s and all the phenomenal things it brings to our city.

(And for those partiers that never leave home without their A-game, they even carry a full stock of hangover meds.)


Monday, September 1, 2008

maybe one day..

I'll be good enough to get on this on the AdAge icon to see what I'm talking about..