It's not going to make any sense, so let me just say it: I jumped in the Houston Ship Channel.
Yes, the same Houston Ship Channel that we all know runs from the East End though arguably the most industrialized 15 miles in the world -- a river of putrescence that has been consistently named one of the nation's top-ten most polluted water bodies, that has caught fire, been chemically purged of fish, and literally shat upon by a half-dozen overflowing waste treatment plants.
I did this for you. (Read the feature in this Thursday's Houston Press.)
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It was actually sort of enjoyable — at least at first. I had just completed Day One of the first canoe trip in modern history from the Galleria to Galveston Bay, my crew and I were squatting for the night beneath the Beltway 8 Bridge like homeless people, and it felt nice to wash off the day's industrial scum. Emerging from the dark water I felt incredibly clean, almost as if I had scoured off a thin layer of skin.
But — listen up, kids! -- I'm writing now to suggest you stick with the swimming pool. Even the yellow one. For one thing, the channel will give you a rash. My rash appeared late the next day on my arm. Little red bumps. Not horribly itchy, but persistent. Given all the dioxins in the water, I wondered if there was a connection with Viktor Yushchenko. I also had welts. Many were probably from our encounters with fighter jet mosquitoes and car-sized ant piles. But notice the photo (above). The shot was taken a week after the trip. What the hell is this thing?
At any rate, it's gone now. Just a small red dot. And the rash has subsided.
Still, I can't help thinking of local musician Rodney Crowell, who fell in the Ship Channel around 1970 and claimed the plunge caused a kidney infection. If I die before 60, I'll chalk it up to my swim. Or maybe I'll just chalk it up to living in Houston. -- Josh Harkinson