Street Scene

Sex, drugs, rock & roll, and the ballad of 2100 Lexington

Part of the equation had always been the steady supply of young poor creative people who knew each other, and the Lexington eddy had done a sterling job of washing them all up on the same beach, but the fundamental design flaw of young poor creative people is that they get older.

Julie Grob, a five-year veteran, thinks of it this way: "It was a phase in my life. Confused after college, not knowing what to do. It was comforting having friends like a family. I got tired of the crappy stuff. The drinking wasn't always so cute. There were more drugs later on. It just didn't seem as happy as a bunch of kids in a funk band. But I had a lot of fun for someone who was miserable a lot of the time."

Two years ago, after finishing up a development project in Midtown, Richard Skotak moved his office from the Galleria area to a duplex on Lexington. Skotak and his wife live in a planned community near Pearland that he describes as Stepford Wives, and he likes The Street's character. Skotak is well into middle age, and he talks fondly of "The Sprawls" and admiringly of trumpeter Dave Dove practicing for hours on end. These are smart kids, he says, could be successful at anything. He respects them for doing what they want. Still, the block has quieted since Skotak moved in. Older poor creative people have trickled away, Cooper excepted, faster than young ones are trickling in, though there's rumor of some new baby band in one of the houses. Now there are a few more families, a few more single adults, and one lady who has taken to calling the cops with noise complaints.

Last semester, a Rice student named Julie Bachir who roomed briefly above Skotak's office got an A on a '70s-heavy history of Lexington in a political science class. She interviewed residents, dug up microfiche and put a chunk of it on the record: more evidence of the legend and another sign of its fossilization.

Part of the pall is cast by the giant red-white-and-blue For Sale signs posted up and down the block and the Talking House transmitters informing the AM-equipped curious that for $1.6 million, they can purchase 66,933 square feet of the 2100 block of Lexington. It's been on the block for four months -- Skotak's holdings and a few others bundled in -- and it's hard to say what its best use might be. A McDonald's or a gas station would have to lure customers onto Lexington because of the feeder access problem. It's hardly prime residential real estate. Skotak would like to see some sort of urban village concept deployed, but he suspects the land more likely will be dozed for storage lockers. Whatever.

"I'm tired of it," he says. "The upkeep is getting to be too much. The taxes in '82 were minimal. Now they're $25,000."

It's too bad, Delgado says. Houston sucks that way. There aren't that many pockets where you can just go wild.

There are certainly no monuments to this one. Just graffiti -- a giant Sprawl caricature from the King of Parking CD, "Flower House" -- etched into the once-wet cement of a few driveways and curbs. And as Lexington enters its next evolution, it's easy enough to imagine that the whole block may get dug up like Danville before it and covered with a parking slab. No good reason not to. Archeologists will not reconstruct these things. Eventually maps may enter the Texas Room with no 2100 block of Lexington, no S H BRASHEAR S/D, no Albemarle Place. Casual observers of the future, unless they've heard the songs, might never know there was ever a place there.

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