By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Wondering about Wonderland
Online readers comment on "Enter at Your Own Risk," by D.L. Groover, January 28:
Not a fan: Wonderland was an overblown, horribly written, boring piece of crap. All the characters are bare-bone, empty vessels whose only purpose is to introduce the audience to the next garish set piece.
Any attempt to add any characterization ends up promoting frighteningly casual misogyny and racism, from the "jive-talking" black man caterpillar to the Filipino gentleman parading around in "brown face" as a vulgar cholo stereotype. Then there's the exploitative scene in which a representation of a woman's abusive ex-husband teaches her the important lesson of keeping her mouth shut, if she knows what's good for her. He was actually introduced earlier as a demanding, emotionally distant lout, but is now supposed to gain the audience's empathy, scriptwise, because the woman has been exposed as obsessing over silly little problems that must be belittled and solved by the more rational men around her.
This was hastily written and awkwardly directed. A trained monkey pulling random words out of a hat could form a script of more artistic merit, but hey, at least some of the songs are catchy.
The biggest laugh of the night had to be the dramatic lines actually being punctuated by thunderclaps during the extended and excruciatingly dull exposition. Once I heard that thunder, I began to smile, as I thought I was watching a brilliantly sly satire of the modern musical. My enjoyment evaporated as I began to realize the show wasn't satire at all. Houston deserves better from the Alley Theatre.
Agreed: We saw this turkey in Florida last month — strictly DOA.
It's fun: I think what's missing from everyone's criticism is that the audiences are loving it. Everyone is thoroughly entertained. Please remember that the show is in its infancy. In the Heights took seven years to finally make it. This show hasn't even been alive for two.
Cheap tickets: If the show's shortcomings are to be excused due to its "infancy," maybe they should offer a steep discount on the tickets. Otherwise, it's just an expensive, unentertaining turd that hopes to blossom into a slightly entertaining turd.
Problems at Ziggy's
Online readers comment on "Ziggy's in Montrose Might Close Over Parking Dispute," Eating Our Words blog, by Paul Knight, January 27:
Max it out: Personally, I'd rather see a maximum number of parking spaces, not a minimum. If I owned a business and I thought it wouldn't deplete customer patronage too much, I'd consider just putting in a bike rack, a wide sidewalk and a sign pointing to the nearest bus/rail stop. People who really want to drive everywhere have plenty of exurbs where they can do just that all day long.
Why? That rule makes sense in the burbs, but not in the city. How many bars/restaurants in NYC have eight parking spaces? They seem to do okay.
If there isn't enough parking, the restaurant will close. Why do we have to put these rules in place?
Paving the city: It's as though there's a conspiracy to pave over most of Houston with parking lots — many of which end up with mandatory valet. Is someone in city planning getting kickbacks from valet companies?
While I can see the point of view that parking spaces are a countermeasure for a lot of neighborhoods whose residents don't like business patrons parking up and down their streets, it doesn't seem in the long-term best interest of urban planning to make it mandatory.
What do downtown restaurants do? There's plenty that don't have their own parking lots. Are they exempt?
Stay out of it: I walk to Ziggy's probably once a week and know a number of people who do the same. People who want to drive and park can either find it on the street somewhere or not eat there. If the lack of parking reduces patronage, then that is Ziggy's problem. I don't see why the city has cause to regulate it. As long as Ziggy's maintains its handicap parking and is ADA-compliant, the city should stay out of it.
Blocking the streets: Why does everyone assume Ziggy's has some sort of God-given right to exist? Oh, because you live nearby and have eaten there. Montrose used to be a real neighborhood. The parking rule apparently exists to protect what few homeowners still live there, so that they don't have to contend with additional cars blocking their streets. If Houston had a zoning ordinance, this wouldn't be a problem.
Necessary evil: Speaking purely as a customer, I think it's great that Montrose residents can walk to Ziggy's and other businesses in the area. It's one of the reasons I'm so attracted to the idea of living there. But what about the patrons who don't live within walking distance? If I'm in town — I live in Humble and work in the city, so just hopping on the light rail isn't an option, unless I drive way out of my way just to find a place to leave my car — my option is to park along the street in the residential areas, which I think the residents would agree is suboptimal. If they're intentionally trying to limit their business to people within walking distance, that's one thing, but I don't think that's the case.
Trying to reduce the city's dependence on cars is all well and good, but they're still a necessary evil for some of us until we can get the hell out of the suburbs, live near decent public transportation, or both.
This of course has nothing to do with the actual ordinance, about which I have only this to say: I hope they can get it worked out, because those pecan waffles are so dreamy.
No flavor: Frankly, I'd probably care about this a lot more if the food at Ziggy's had any flavor at all, and the coffee didn't blow.
Businesses moving into predominantly residential areas need to ensure sufficient parking to keep from being a nuisance to existing residents and businesses. That's not a hard concept, though it's been a challenge for Taft Street Coffee just up the street.
Ziggy's speaks: The discussion about mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods is fantastic. I hope more discussion ensues — this is a long-term issue that is not going to go away, regardless of what happens to Ziggy's.
To clarify a couple of important factual errors:
The city is wrong about a change of ownership "last year." We bought the restaurant in May of 2007 and opened on July 2, 2007.
We had a contract to both lease and purchase our parking lot across the street before we purchased the restaurant.
The one complaint about parking? It was in the fall of 2009, after we'd been open for two and a half years, from the owner of the parking lot who refused to honor the contract since day one. Why? To drive up the price of the property.
We wanted to be in Montrose just for this reason — to be a local place for the neighborhood within walking and biking distance. Isn't this why Montrose is a top ten neighborhood in the country?
Don't complain about why restaurants always locate in strip shopping centers. Now you know why. Plenty of parking spots right in front so you can look at asphalt and cars.
Downtown, by the way, is exempt from the parking ordinance. Ziggy's is opening there in a couple of weeks. Not that I'm bitter about parking.
And as you drive around town looking for a parking spot, start making a list of all of the places that don't have their own parking. You'll be surprised.
Frustrated business owner: I have been in business more than 25 years in Montrose. I have always offered free off-road parking for customers. I have been a part of the neighborhood associations and have lived in the neighborhood more than 30 years. I have improved the neighborhood around me in many ways — increasing its value, not decreasing it.
I am concerned for my neighbors at all times and listen to their parking issues. I cannot say the same about the neighbors or the city being concerned about me. They voted to take away street parking and forced me to buy the bungalow houses around me, which I loved and then had to level to make room for a parking lot. It doesn't solve anything.
I am not going anywhere, that is for sure. I will buy your house and level it if that is what I am forced to do. So be it!
Not true: Everybody does not walk to this restaurant. Go there for a weekday lunch. It's all cars. If Ziggy's had to depend on walk-up losers with no jobs who hang out at home for their lunch crowd, there would be no Ziggy's.
No loser: Choosing to walk the half-mile to Ziggy's rather than drive makes me a walk-up loser? I'm also not quite sure how walking and being jobless go hand in hand. That comment shows all that is wrong with some people's perceptions.
I think a number of us who choose to live in Montrose do so because we're attracted to the possibilities of walking to our neighborhood bars and cafes. We don't want to be stuck with strip centers.
Recently, to avoid the valet, I tried street parking and walking a block to Dolce Vita. When I returned, someone had left a note on my window saying that I should use the valet and not park on their street. I'm certain it wasn't the valet, but rather a homeowner who lives on the corner and assumed I was headed to the restaurant. I don't get it.