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Keeping Dry Down Below with the Tunnel Mole

Don your sturdiest running shoes whilst entering the downtown Houston tunnel system these days. With the chronic rain, the burgeoning population is starting to outnumber the folks who (just like Paris Hilton) "discovered" Jesus in jail.

No celebrity sightings down here, however, unless you count an uncanny Bill Maher lookalike the other day. But because he didn't have one hand on a joint and the other inside his zipper -- said to be Maher's famous stance off-camera -- who can really say?

OK, one more comment vaguely connecting a tunnel and a celebrity: Lindsay Lohan. Duh: You read the papers/blogs -- she recently got busted coming out of a tunnel!! See, folks, when you go down, it's best to stay down. Just sayin'. Tunnel Mole would have heard more inside scoop on the incident from the D-List Diva herself, Kathy Griffin, at the Verizon Wireless last night, but Griffin opened with La Lohan, and we were 12 minutes late because the performance was in facility above ground. It took us forever to find the danged place, unlike my beloved underground system, where everything's easy-peasy to find.

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But I'm telling you, those tunnels have been packed all summer--even more than a usual Houston summer, when most of the moisture is only humidity. "Whenever it rains, people pour down here, like little ants," said Alex at Pastabilities, one of our very favorite eateries. I don't care if she thinks I'm a bug, I get the Greek salad with chicken. (Hint: get a slice -- it's NY style -- and a salad for $4.50 and you don't even need dinner later.) The manager, Du Nguyen, is grinning a lot these days. Receipts are piling up. It's like Christmas for retail! Everyone's eating underground, and the aroma from Pastabilities is like an industrial-sized magnet.

The rain drives only a select few away from the tunnels. One, a landman from an oil company who is really a woman (those dinosaur companies and their creaky nomentclature), says adamantly, "If there's ONE drop of rain, I stay away from the tunnel!" We can't really blame her, 'cause she's from New Orleans. And the tunnels did flood that time.

But maybe her motivation is more economic than sentimental. After all, who loses out the most when it rains here, besides construction companies pouring concrete or whatnot? The answer: Those damned oil companies, because we're not piling one-by-one into our air-conditioned cars to go meet people to eat. The price of oil has increased over $2 per barrel -- selling for $77 barrel -- in the past few days, and you know whom that trickles down on. So let it rain, let it rain, let it rain! --Tunnel Mole

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