By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Behind That Door
Online readers comment on "Getting Past the Bouncer," By Chris Gray and Craig Hlavaty and Shea Serrano, February 10:
Why go there? I feel bad for this woman, obviously discriminated against, and in this day and age. However, I can assure her that there are hundreds of very nice places in the greater Houston area that would welcome her and her friends — places where they would have a wonderful time. In the end, I cannot reconcile three concepts: (1) Why would you want to go to one of the loud, trashy, overpriced places mentioned in this article in the first place? (2) Why would a legitimate business turn away well-dressed, courteous people? (3) Why on earth would a person of any race or either sex want to pay good money to a place that discriminates, when there are hundreds of excellent options available?
Stupid: Why do people stand for this discriminatory behavior? I am Asian and this happens to us, too. The stupid thing in this is that as soon as the club starts going downhill and lets nonwhites in, all the Asians rush to give them their money. If I were still going out, I would sue every one of these clubs for discrimination. It would be so easy.
Have two groups (one white and one nonwhite) dress similarly and have them try to get into these establishments. Document with a small video camera and, voilà, instant lawsuit! People that accept discrimination deserve some of the blame.
About the cash: Even in 2011, it's still a fact that ethnic groups tend to "hang together," not as much as in previous years, but we're still a long way from some utopian ideal of diversity.
Whether it is technically racial discrimination, or even illegal, a club owner is going to do everything in his/her power to make the cash register ring. That involves fostering an atmosphere where money-spending patrons feel at home and safe. It's also a fact that groups of guys (of any stripe) showing up at a club together have a high likelihood of causing trouble. I saw it in every one of the 14 clubs in which I've worked, in many different states.
Like with like: I'm fluorescent-white and have done some work in majority-black clubs over the years. I've been to some white-type clubs like the ones mentioned in this article, too. I'd say in general that club owners, of any color or culture, feel it serves the prosperity of their spot best to keep the place culturally homogeneous. (Hipster bars, hip-hop bars, cowboy bars, Tejano bars, etc. are the same way.)
Putting that universal adage aside for a second, there's an unwritten, widespread belief in the service industry that black people aren't profitable customers for one reason or another. (Google "black people tipping.") The bars and clubs either hold this belief out of ignorance or, to hear them tell it, as the direct result of money-losing experiences. Whether it's really true or not, the point is that many people whose livelihood it is to run a profitable club perceive black people as bad customers.
What's odd about the Hudson Lounge incident: When it happened and was reported, all sorts of commenters came out of the woodwork to deny that racism even exists today. I was wondering where these sheltered, real-world-experience-deprived people came from, and your article seems to further my astonishment.
Racism is just a fact. So it was fun to watch the Hudson's Adam Kliebert kid twist his words and go to great lengths, like having his Facebook pic rotate out with various black folk, in order to convince us that his actions weren't based on racism.
Full of gas: People who can't get into a douchebag bar and are upset by that are even bigger douchebags. And there are douchebags in every demographic. This story gave me gas. It makes me want to go to the Tall Texan and drink a beer with real people who have real problems.
Keep talking: The most important thing is for the discussion to occur, that we shed light on an issue that is accepted as "just the way it is." If we have evoked that sense of responsibility, if people are speaking about it, thinking about it, allowing themselves to see it, then we are already making the city of Houston better.
Problems on Deck
Online readers comment on "For Richer or Poorer," by Katharine Shilcutt, February 9:
The great New Orleans trap: I went to university and culinary school there and lived there for years. People love to take what works in New Orleans, change it and try it somewhere else. That approach never works for long. I have never heard of a "rich boy," and am very glad to say that. If a place can't get the po-boy right, then sign that place off.
The perfect po-boy is simple and should stay that way. I'll be happy to give anyone my recipe. Seventeen dollars for a dozen oysters — not even if Scarlett Johansson was shucking them topless, baby. To be from New Orleans and spell it N'awlins, you're on the gas. To call a po-boy a "Huey Long," that makes me think that after I eat it I will have to keep paying for it. I'm not sure I would name anything after him.