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.
I make it a habit to avoid places that use gimmicks to force New Orleans down your throat. If you are eating at a place and, without any props around or not-so-clever menu listings, you say to yourself, "Hey, this sorta reminds me of NOLA," then that place has done it right. The secret to great New Orleans cuisine is to let the food be the star. I have never gone back to a restaurant because the ambience made my belly happy.
Disappointed: After eating at this place three times, I have to say, I'll probably never go back. The menu items are described in mouthwatering fashion, which made me return to try a variety of things, but each time was a disappointment.
The eight or nine potato chips you get with a $12 sandwich tasted like burnt grease. The lamb sausage sandwich tasted pretty good. The croque monsieur hush puppies were fairly tasty, but way overpriced for a paltry four or five bites. The thing that kills me about this place is that they're called Zimm's Little Deck. There is no deck to be found!
The patio suffers from a bland gravel expanse for a pétanque court with no greenery or vegetation. It really should be filled with potted plants and palms to hide the noisy Richmond speedway with cars flying down the road at 40 miles per hour. How pretentious to think that people who just dropped loads of cash to eat and drink are going to play some obscure European park game three feet from a busy, noisy road. Hire a landscape professional and make it a lush patio.
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"Come and Bake It" by Robb Walsh [February 10] repeated disparaging remarks about home bakeries that were incorrectly attributed to Lauren Kitchens of Fancy Cakes by Lauren in Dallas. Kitchens says she has always been a supporter of home bakeries.
The Houston Press regrets the error.