Get Over It — HOU vs. HTX is a Useless Debate
Courtesy Houston Super Bowl Committee
The Houston Super Bowl host committee unveiled their renderings for the transformation of Discovery Green during Super Bowl week in February as well as a countdown clock in the middle of the park. We're not going to lie, it's all pretty impressive. Clearly, the committee has done a lot of work, though not everyone agrees that they have nailed every detail.
In the rendering of the entire park, scrawled across the George R. Brown Convention Center in giant red letters is HTX. Why is this a problem, most people might ask? Well, apparently, there is a grave concern — mostly on Twitter, natch — that a grievous error has been made when choosing initials for our fair city. "Real Houstonians use HOU," one Twitterer replied, claiming that HTX was nothing more than a ripoff of Austin's moniker and airport designation, ATX. Others echoed the sentiments. It was at that moment we discovered just who put the twee in Tweet.
First, let's start with the fact that LOADS of people use HTX as a designation. A quick Google search found dozens of companies and events with HTX either in the name or the website address. And it's not like they are trendy PR firms or socialites. Revolucion Coffee and Juice in the Heights uses it in their website name and Bovine & Barley — could there be a more hipster-y craft beer bar name? — has the initials lit up in giant letters behind the bar. The Satellite Bar in EaDo (you heard us!), a quality music venue in a city starved for them, and the critically acclaimed restaurant Pax Americana both use it. For Christ's sake, HTX tattoos are commonplace.
So, let's not pretend this is some obscure usage that only a moron carpetbagger would use out of pure ignorance. Some of Houston's most respected and interesting people and businesses have opted for HTX over HOU and we are pretty sure they are "real Houstonians." The best argument you have is that Hobby Airport's designation is HOU, but it's a much smaller airport than George Bush Intercontinental and we don't see anyone falling over backwards to use IAH.
Second, can we please stop with all the "OMG, we are better than Austin, you guys!" nonsense. It's annoying enough to keep having to deal with the tiresome, decades-old plague that is the Dallas versus Houston debate. Now, we have to deal with insecurity over Longhornia? And, let's be clear, insecurity is exactly what this is. Austin folks love to hate on Houston. Let them. It's not like they are right.
Finally, and most importantly, there is something inherent in this whole debate we find downright bizarre. No one outside of Houston cares. It's not as if someone from Seattle or Miami is going to see these letters and think, "From this moment forward, Houston is HTX to me!" And even if they did, what difference does it make? How does it factor into our lives? We're not in charge of branding for the city. If we were, it would likely be a whole helluva lot better than the legacy of failed mottos and promotional campaigns ("Golden Buckle of the Southwest" anyone?).
The reality is that HTX is perfectly fine because it accomplishes two things. It has the H, which, quite frankly, is the most important letter, and it aligns us with Texas, something most of us agree that even on a bad day, is substantially cooler than being stuck in Delaware or, saints preserve us, Mississippi.
And, hey, if you want to use HOU, by all means. Ink that on your bicep. Make poster and t-shirts. Create your own craft beer in your garage and call it HOU Ale. But, let's not get into some granular argument about the initials for Houston on Twitter. We struggle enough trying to right the perception of our city that, thanks to lazy copy editors' use of a Tom Hanks misquote in Apollo 13, isn't exactly easy. For now, let's focus on the important stuff like explaining to visitors that not all of us wear cowboy hats daily or pretending the construction on 290 will be finished in the next decade. After all, we have a lot of work to do before all those football fans descend on HTX.
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