The 2013 Houston Web Awards: The Best Of Online Houston

Fox26 newscaster Isiah Carey got over his embarrassment and learned to embrace the power of social media. He’s among this year’s winners, all creative users of the latest technology.

We have a repeat winner for this year's Best Arts Blog, with Robert Boyd and his The Great God Pan Is Dead getting the nod again. Boyd, who has been writing his blog since 2006, does two things that we especially appreciate: He doesn't take fine art too seriously, and he doesn't take folk art too casually. It's a combination that works perfectly for commenting on Houston's art scene. Actually, we should say today's art scene since Boyd frequently weighs in on national shows and artists. Authoritative without being an authoritarian, he manages to stay smart without being stuffy.

Best Tumblr

When a grasshopper flew into Carey's mouth, all hell broke loose, and the resulting video became a viral sensation.
When a grasshopper flew into Carey's mouth, all hell broke loose, and the resulting video became a viral sensation.
Fox26's Isiah Carey turned an embarrassing caught-on-camera tirade into a strong social media presence.
Jeff Balke
Fox26's Isiah Carey turned an embarrassing caught-on-camera tirade into a strong social media presence.

Face Tattoo Army

Brian Rogers is a courts and crime reporter for the Houston Chronicle. He spends most of his days hanging around the downtown courthouse. In his free time, he snaps cell-phone pics of other court visitors, nearly all of whom have face tattoos. The photos usually include quotes from their subjects. Many of the tattoos represent gang affiliations, past or present, or a life of crime or hardship. (There are a lot of RIPs.) But for the most part, Rogers presents them without judgment, letting the photos, the subjects and the inkwork itself tell the stories.

Best Pinterest

Houston Foodlovers

Don't let the name fool you. Tons of people use Pinterest for sharing and saving recipes, but Houston Foodlovers takes social media diversification to a whole new level. Of the profile's 71 boards, only a handful are about food. There are also boards dedicated to thrifting, Day of the Dead imagery, sexy senior citizens, other fashion inspirations and things to do around town. If you're on Pinterest and in Houston (or even if you're not), Houston Foodlovers is a must-follow. There's a reason the profile has more than 60,000 fans.

Photo of the Year

Space Shuttle Leaving Space City

It was a bittersweet moment for Houstonians, a sort of consolation prize. The Space Shuttle Endeavour made a nearly hourlong flyover of some of Houston's most notable landmarks on September 20, 2012, before being escorted away to the California Science Center. The flight made for some amazing photo ops, like Flickr user J-a-x's (Jackson Myers) image of a sunrise-silhouetted shuttle barely above the buildings of downtown. In a way it's kind of symbolic — the following year would see scores of accolades for Houston's other assets besides Johnson Space Center. The picture is almost like saying goodbye to Houston's laurels while making way for its future.

Tweet of the Year


"Houstonians use HOU. Newstonians use HTX. Which are you?"

This summer marks my tenth year living in Houston. I am not a fifth-generation anything, and though I consider myself a Houstonian now, I guess I failed this test. I normally abbreviate "HouTX." Houstorian's tweet set off a flurry of responses before he clarified: "We also accept H-town, Bayou City, Space City, Screwston, and even Youston. But HTX is too much like Austin's jam." Lesson learned.

Best Kickstarter Campaign

Kelly Switzer for Cthulhu: A Puppet Play

Houston had some great Kickstarter campaigns over the past year, but none can really compare to what Kelly Switzer and Ornery Theatre wanted to accomplish. They sought $1,000 to bring H.P. Lovecraft's bizarre Cthulhu Mythos to life with handmade puppets, dancers and original music using the word "Cthulhu" in Morse code as a thematic melody. They brought in more than double that, and the result was a one-of-a-kind performance at 14 Pews in February. One lucky donor of $500 even walked away with a puppet from the production. Lovecraft is murderously difficult to bring to life on stage and screen, but thanks to Kickstarter, Switzer nailed it.

Best Online Charitable Effort

The Statue of Bill Hicks

Finally, the dark little poet who encouraged us to remember that all of this is just a ride will have a fitting memorial in the city where he began his ministry. Bill Hicks's comedy and insight remain ever more relevant, and some Houstonians thought it was high time we honored him with a statue. A vigorous online donation campaign netted enough funds to enable David Adickes (who's responsible for our president heads) to begin production.

Best Use of Online Activism

The Roots Bistro Domestic Violence Scandal

Roots Bistro made national news this year and not at all in a good way. Back in April, the vegetarian-friendly restaurant offered the following "joke" on their marquee: "Beer should be like violence: domestic." Images of the sign quickly went viral as outraged Houstonians took to Facebook and Twitter spreading their message, calling for the sign's removal and an official apology. Roots tried to fire back with another sign, this one reading, "Seriously, focus your energy on equal rights," but failed to realize that telling the Internet it can't be mad or offended is not a real thing. Eventually the backlash resulted in a "Sorry a million times over," and hopefully everyone learned not to joke about domestic violence in a country where a woman is beaten by her partner every 15 seconds.

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