David Byrne Bikes Houston

Former Talking Head David Byrne (we're nor sure, but we're guessing he hates that description) was in town recently for a show at Jones Hall.

Byrne has become a biking fanatic these days; he's also an occasional diarist about his tour.

His piece on Houston has him complaining about the heat (he's not alone), the architecture and the fact that oil companies have designed the place.

Woke up on the bus and looked out the lounge window onto a parking lot with a few cars evenly spread out, like birds on a wire. Despite the heat I went for a bike ride later with C. There were almost no people on the streets -- at a major downtown intersection I counted two. We rode past towering banks and oil company headquarters, offices and empty plazas, with no one about except for the poor and little clumps of smokers, huddled in the shadow of massive corporate towers.

Byrne thus establishes himself as the 2,345,792nd visitor to comment on the emptiness of downtown Houston streets without realizing there's a tunnel system that helps locals beat the heat.

He bikes through Freedom Town Freedman's Town and along Buffalo Bayou. He calls the federal Reserve bank "a weird, almost surreal post-modern edifice":

The mind turns to Alan Greenspan, former head of the Fed, who helped via deregulation to get us into the mess we're in today -- the whole Goddamn world is fucked, Alan! This very out of place structure somehow lingers, like a fart left by someone no longer in an elevator. Alan was recently quoted as saying "I made a mistake."

He continues along the bayou ("a stagnant body of water in the shape of a river") and ends up back downtown. Byrne offers a history lesson on Jesse Jones, namesake of Jones Hall, but seems to like the place, calling it "lovely.":

The stage sound is possibly the best of any hall we've played in. Extremely dry (not echoey) for a symphony hall... so we can hear ourselves and each other clearly.

After the show we have drinks at the oldest bar in town, La Carafe, and a man tells Steven that there are now a series of bike lanes here that enable people living in neighborhoods within the freeway ring road zone to commute to work. Hard to believe anyone would ride regularly in the Texas summer heat... but in the mornings (around 7:30) it is actually quite cool... so I guess if one gets an early start it might be OK.

Here's the Press review of his show.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly