Visitors' Guide

Get Bowled over by the best of the real Bayou City

The latest plan was announced a little over a year ago, on the front page of the Chron. One impartial observer was quoted as saying the plan was a "fabulous, visionary catalog of opportunities," which was kind of like one of those quotes from some obscure television station praising Legally Blonde 2.

The plan costs only about $800 million, so in these days of free-wheeling governmental budgets, expect ground to break soon.

We're sorry we couldn't have it ready for your Super Bowl visit, but if Houston gets another Super Bowl in, say, 2015 or so, be sure to check it out. We're certain you'll be able to see yet another study showing what a winner this creek could be.

14. Another Famous (Would-Be) Killer

Hey, you're here for the Super Bowl -- what you want to hear about is sports, right? Just to show how much we love football, we offer a mother who was willing to see people die if it would get her daughter on the cheering squad.

The "Cheerleader Mom" is famous, of course; if you want to see her stomping grounds, just head out I-10 East to Channelview. It's a beguiling little burg that looks just like you'd expect a town that spawned a killer mom to look like.

Wanda Holloway is on probation after a brief prison term. She was arrested in 1991 for trying to hire a hit man to murder the mother of a girl who was competing with Holloway's daughter for a cheerleader spot. Everyone in the Houston area enjoyed the hell out of being labeled yet again as living in a redneck, football-crazy place where guns are toys and the women are not to be messed with. The Museum of Fine Arts rushed out a fund-raising plea to capitalize on the publicity. ("Medea's got nothing on Houston women! Give now!")

Not one but two TV movies were made out of the Channelview case. One, starring Holly Hunter, was very good; the other, a forgotten ABC piece of crap called Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story, wasn't.

The only good thing about the ABC movie was Holloway's reaction: "It's one-sided fiction," she told the Houston Chronicle. "Despite what this movie projects, not everyone from Channelview is an illiterate hick with an accent."

Channelview Chamber of Commerce, you have your winning slogan. And the spokeswoman to deliver it.

15. You're Not on the List

You want to see athletes while you're in town? You can go to bars downtown or in the Galleria area, and get shunted to the side while you whine, "But I have VIP tickets!"

Or you can visit where Houston's athletes live: Fort Bend County. Just be sure to bring along four forms of ID and a DNA sample. And a letter of recommendation from a resident. And a professional athlete as a passenger, just to be safe.

Houston's pro players live in the great southwest that is Fort Bend, in subdivisions that are called "gated communities" but which are only slightly less open than Dick Cheney's fabled undisclosed location.

In places like Quail Valley, the athletes cluster together near golf courses in expansive homes. They're a part of the community, as long as "community" is defined as "fellow pro athletes and bothersome jock-sniffers whose kids go to school with mine."

If by some chance you talk yourself into one of these places, our best advice is not to drive aimlessly around. Unless you like talking with rent-a-cops whose inherent sense of being big-time is magnified by the fact that they actually know an Astro, and you don't.

Should you ever sign with the Texans, however, expect a warm, friendly welcome.

16. A Super Bowl Tale

No Super Bowl fan should leave town without stopping by Delmar Stadium, near the intersection of Loop 610 and U.S. 290.

"But why?" you ask. "It's only a dumpy high school stadium that looks like it has three working showers." And you're right.

But that dumpy place is where the Minnesota Vikings were made to practice before they took on the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII.

A biography of Viking quarterback Fran Tarkenton, excerpted on the Web site of The Sporting News, described the facilities as "apparently designed for the East Dry Gulch Groundhogs. It was the first record-breaking statistic of Super Bowl week, the first locker room in Super Bowl history without a locker."

Vikings coach Bud Grant wasn't happy. "This is a Super Bowl game, not a pickup game…I don't think our players have seen something like this since junior high school," he told reporters. For which he was fined $1,500 by the league.

The Vikings went on to lose to the Dolphins, who practiced at Rice. Houston didn't get to host another Super Bowl for 30 years.

Which brings us to the present, and all you happy travelers eager to discover the highlights of Houston.

Good luck.

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