Open Forum Houston Summers

June 1, 2007 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Summer is acumin officially June 21. For Houstonians, this means getting out of Dodge, or maybe getting out in a Dodge. Houston Chronicle society writer Shelby Hodge once observed about an August party, “Everyone who is anyone is out of town.” So what are the rest of us, chopped liver? No, we are stalwart protectors of Sweatsville. As such, we need a survivor’s guide to answer a few questions that some of you, especially newcomers, may have about what to do when Houston’s hot. For help, I have called on former radio personality, Laurie Kendrick. She says, “Enjoy your summer, Houston! Yeah, it’ll be hot, but as always, this too shall pass.”

How do you explain the heat and humidity to visitors?
LK: I don’t. The London broil reaching medium-well status on my back porch does my talking for me.
LA: When relatives from Buffalo ask, “How do you stand the heat?” You explain, “Heat? What heat? During summers I go from my air-conditioned home to my car with a/c to my cool office, and then maybe to my indoor tennis club or to Minute Maid Park, which is 72 degrees at all times. Maybe you’d feel better if you took off your mukluks.”

To be superfluous, how do you stay cool?
LA: See “explaining to visitors” above. Plus, when buying a house, make sure at least one of your neighbors has a swimming pool.
LK: In order to be really cool this summer, we’ll need an iPod, Kanye West’s latest music and a ’07 BMW convertible. Oh yeah, air-conditioning helps, too!
LA: Driving around Houston in a convertible during a July afternoon is like preheating a burning stake.

What’s your reaction to mosquitoes?
LK: I call them “Houston’s Existential Ambassadors.” “I itch, therefore I am.” It works great on pretentious visitors.
LA: OFF! It is the official city perfume of Houston.

What should Houston parents do with their kids during summer vacation?
LK: Here’s a novel idea — we should take the time to actually get to know our kids. We should take advantage right now. We might not get another chance.
LA: That’s an easy one. Send them to camp. If you can’t afford a three-month summer camp, take them to Buffalo Bayou and tell them tubing through New Braunsfels is so crowded that no one goes there anymore. (Thank you, Yogi.) Then there are the air-conditioned museums. Houston has a ton of those, although the Funeral Museum might be a turnoff for small children, not to mention their grandparents.

What’s worse, kids watching TV all day long or riding bikes in Houston neighborhoods?
LK: Considering crime stats, it would probably be best if we popped in a video of child actors riding around your particular neighborhood. Vicarious thrills work, too!
LA: Watching TV is better because riding bikes in Houston neighborhoods during the summer can take off pounds. We like our kids fat and out of shape, and thus far are doing a wonderful job of it.

The Texas Legislature mandated that school districts postpone the start of the school year to late August, what do you think?
LK: For me, that means reactivating school zones. There’s nothing in the world quite like driving 20 mph down Richmond Avenue on a Monday morning. Lovely.
LA: Good idea. Who wants to learn about grammar and Gettysburg when it’s 103 degrees outside? Better to stay home and watch TV.

What are three places where you wouldn’t want a teenager to work?
LA: As Bud Adams’ food taster, checking DNA for the Houston Police Lab or negotiating crack prices among Katrina evacuees.
LK: 1) The Houston Astros (unless there’s a killer bullpen) 2) Road construction (unless the Texans have a great backfield) 3) On the contrary, I would not want my teenage son or daughter to work at Astroworld. I hear the place just isn’t what it used to be.
LA: That reminds me, add to the list: following Brad Lidge to the mound.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Houston during the summer?
LK: I like leaving Houston in the summer. I also love coming back to it. There’s no other city quite like it in the world. To quote Paris Hilton, “That’s hot.”
LA: Watch the radar for hurricanes.

What are good summer daytrips from Houston?
LK: The Igloo Cooler manufacturing plant, the Reddy Ice manufacturing plant, the Carrier Air Conditioning manufacturing plant and, of course, the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham.
LA: Galveston beach. There are also various water parks, the Port Arthur refineries and, of course, the Turning Basin.

What’s the best way to get in trouble in Houston during the summer?
LK: When you try and pass off Houston’s mosquito population as “Existential Ambassadors.”
LA: Go around saying, “Is it hot enough for you?”

Have any ideas for decent, free activities?
LK: Kids and adults alike must begin schmoozing neighbors with backyard pools beginning NO LATER than early March.
LA: Putting on my giant cockroach suit and going to the arrival gates at Bush to ask newcomers, “Have you seen my big brother?”

How do you feel about summer holidays, like Juneteenth?
LA: It is a distinctively black Texan celebration, which has now spread to third world countries like Oklahoma. But we do it up the best. This year we’ve got a big party planned with Don Imus as emcee.
LK: It’s imperative that we celebrate Juneteenth every year. Philosopher Jorge Santayana once said, “Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it.” We must always remember the price that was paid to obtain the abolition of slavery.
LA: I thought Santayana surrendered at San Jacinto.

… Or, Fourth of July?
LK: Seriously, celebrating the birth of this country is one of the most important holidays on my calendar. Without it, this 48-year-old female journalist wouldn’t be writing for this publication. There’s also a good chance I wouldn’t be reading it, either.
LA: The Fourth of July is a convenient holiday since it always falls on July 4.

How does Houston change in the summer?
LK: The city doesn’t change in the summer; Houstonians do. We wilt from late April to about mid-October.
LA: There’s a lot of chopped liver around.

Summer is acumin officially June 21. For Houstonians, this means getting out of Dodge, or maybe getting out in a Dodge. Houston Chronicle society writer Shelby Hodge once observed about an August party, “Everyone who is anyone is out of town.” So what are the rest of us, chopped liver? No, we are stalwart protectors of Sweatsville. As such, we need a survivor’s guide to answer a few questions that some of you, especially newcomers, may have about what to do when Houston’s hot. For help, I have called on former radio personality, Laurie Kendrick. She says, “Enjoy your summer, Houston! Yeah, it’ll be hot, but as always, this too shall pass.”

How do you explain the heat and humidity to visitors?
LK: I don’t. The London broil reaching medium-well status on my back porch does my talking for me.
LA: When relatives from Buffalo ask, “How do you stand the heat?” You explain, “Heat? What heat? During summers I go from my air-conditioned home to my car with a/c to my cool office, and then maybe to my indoor tennis club or to Minute Maid Park, which is 72 degrees at all times. Maybe you’d feel better if you took off your mukluks.”

To be superfluous, how do you stay cool?
LA: See “explaining to visitors” above. Plus, when buying a house, make sure at least one of your neighbors has a swimming pool.
LK: In order to be really cool this summer, we’ll need an iPod, Kanye West’s latest music and a ’07 BMW convertible. Oh yeah, air-conditioning helps, too!
LA: Driving around Houston in a convertible during a July afternoon is like preheating a burning stake.

What’s your reaction to mosquitoes?
LK: I call them “Houston’s Existential Ambassadors.” “I itch, therefore I am.” It works great on pretentious visitors.
LA: OFF! It is the official city perfume of Houston.

What should Houston parents do with their kids during summer vacation?
LK: Here’s a novel idea — we should take the time to actually get to know our kids. We should take advantage right now. We might not get another chance.
LA: That’s an easy one. Send them to camp. If you can’t afford a three-month summer camp, take them to Buffalo Bayou and tell them tubing through New Braunsfels is so crowded that no one goes there anymore. (Thank you, Yogi.) Then there are the air-conditioned museums. Houston has a ton of those, although the Funeral Museum might be a turnoff for small children, not to mention their grandparents.

What’s worse, kids watching TV all day long or riding bikes in Houston neighborhoods?
LK: Considering crime stats, it would probably be best if we popped in a video of child actors riding around your particular neighborhood. Vicarious thrills work, too!
LA: Watching TV is better because riding bikes in Houston neighborhoods during the summer can take off pounds. We like our kids fat and out of shape, and thus far are doing a wonderful job of it.

The Texas Legislature mandated that school districts postpone the start of the school year to late August, what do you think?
LK: For me, that means reactivating school zones. There’s nothing in the world quite like driving 20 mph down Richmond Avenue on a Monday morning. Lovely.
LA: Good idea. Who wants to learn about grammar and Gettysburg when it’s 103 degrees outside? Better to stay home and watch TV.

What are three places where you wouldn’t want a teenager to work?
LA: As Bud Adams’ food taster, checking DNA for the Houston Police Lab or negotiating crack prices among Katrina evacuees.
LK: 1) The Houston Astros (unless there’s a killer bullpen) 2) Road construction (unless the Texans have a great backfield) 3) On the contrary, I would not want my teenage son or daughter to work at Astroworld. I hear the place just isn’t what it used to be.
LA: That reminds me, add to the list: following Brad Lidge to the mound.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Houston during the summer?
LK: I like leaving Houston in the summer. I also love coming back to it. There’s no other city quite like it in the world. To quote Paris Hilton, “That’s hot.”
LA: Watch the radar for hurricanes.

What are good summer daytrips from Houston?
LK: The Igloo Cooler manufacturing plant, the Reddy Ice manufacturing plant, the Carrier Air Conditioning manufacturing plant and, of course, the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham.
LA: Galveston beach. There are also various water parks, the Port Arthur refineries and, of course, the Turning Basin.

What’s the best way to get in trouble in Houston during the summer?
LK: When you try and pass off Houston’s mosquito population as “Existential Ambassadors.”
LA: Go around saying, “Is it hot enough for you?”

Have any ideas for decent, free activities?
LK: Kids and adults alike must begin schmoozing neighbors with backyard pools beginning NO LATER than early March.
LA: Putting on my giant cockroach suit and going to the arrival gates at Bush to ask newcomers, “Have you seen my big brother?”

How do you feel about summer holidays, like Juneteenth?
LA: It is a distinctively black Texan celebration, which has now spread to third world countries like Oklahoma. But we do it up the best. This year we’ve got a big party planned with Don Imus as emcee.
LK: It’s imperative that we celebrate Juneteenth every year. Philosopher Jorge Santayana once said, “Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it.” We must always remember the price that was paid to obtain the abolition of slavery.
LA: I thought Santayana surrendered at San Jacinto.

… Or, Fourth of July?
LK: Seriously, celebrating the birth of this country is one of the most important holidays on my calendar. Without it, this 48-year-old female journalist wouldn’t be writing for this publication. There’s also a good chance I wouldn’t be reading it, either.
LA: The Fourth of July is a convenient holiday since it always falls on July 4.

How does Houston change in the summer?
LK: The city doesn’t change in the summer; Houstonians do. We wilt from late April to about mid-October.
LA: There’s a lot of chopped liver around.

Ashby spends his Houston summers at his villa in the South of France, well, sort of. He gets takeout at the Ragin Cajun, doesn’t bathe and surrenders easily. To keep cool, Ashby sleeps in his Igloo.

Laurie Kendrick is a former broadcast journalist in Houston. She has a cat named Charlotte; a car named Zelda and is in the midst of a midlife crisis. Kendrick now aspires to add “writer” to her lengthy resume.

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