As we noted earlier this week, the fast-approaching end of the first decade of the 21st century brings with it a lot of lists.
Some will be national; this will be strictly local. A lot of great things happened in Houston in the ten years of The Oughts, but a lot of bad things happened too. It's called "life," people.
But what were the ten biggest Houston bummers of the decade? We offer our nominees, not in any particular order.
Marvin Zindler goes to that great, slimy ice machine in the sky.
Since before recorded time, it was always easy to spot a newcomer to Houston -- they were the ones baffled, shocked and amazed by their initial encounter with a Marvin Zindler report. Within weeks, though, they took as completely normal the fact that a news show featured a bewigged, plastic-surgeried shouting person sporting blue-tinted glasses who seemed to be obsessed with the idea that some ice machines in the city got slimy occasionally.
Here's his last broadcast, in 2007. Even from his hospital bed, he still fought the good fight against the scourge of dirty ice.
Astroworld shuts its somewhat cheesy gates.
Yes, Astroworld was somewhat of a low-rent Disneyland knockoff, but it was ours, dammit. As we examined inthis story
, just about every Houstonian has an Astrodome memory, even if it was only ads such as the one above. Others reveled in thoughts of Modville, or Boogie Fog Disco, or any of the desperate attempts Astroworld made to keep up with the times. It did have some cool rides, though, and it was conveniently located to be sure. Since its 2005 closing, despite constat talk of trendy new development, the land it stood on has remained empty.
Tropical Storm Allison: Great fun for some; great hassle for others.
If you experienced Tropical Storm Allison, you still may find yourself, on those occasions when you're on the Katy Freeway between the Shepherd and Washington exits, reminding yourself that if it were June 2001 you'd be at the bottom of 20 or so feet of water. Some areas of the city escaped with little more than a hardy gullywasher; others --like, say, us
-- didn't get off so easy. (The fun wasjust beginning
on that rainy night.) Overall, we'd have to call it a bummer.
The closing of Felix's.
Felix's Restaurant had been a staple of Montrose life since before WWII. There was little warning when a notice went up that it was closed forever, in 2008. Some folks are still reeling.
Passing up Vince Young in the NFL Draft.
The Texas Longhorns hadn't won a championship in ages before Houston's Vince Young came on the scene. When he led them to a BCS title, and when the hapless Texans lost the "Bush Bowl" to get the number-one pick in the draft, nothing was talked about on sports-talk radio other than whether the team should take Young or Reggie Bush. They, of course, took Mario Williams. For a while there, while VY seemed to be fulfilling the underachieving legacy of most Longhorns gone pro, UT fans held their tongues. But the crowing returned with a vengeance this year. Some people may never get over it.
The loss of Spanish-language media.
Our Olivia Flores Alvarez puts it this way:
A few years ago we had two Spanish language dailies (Dia and Rumbo), a strong general-news weekly (Semana), an entertainment weekly (La Vibra) and a host of smaller publications. Dia, which means "day" is now a weekly, (they're now Dia Semanal, or the Weekly Day), and Rumbo went down to three times a week, then two times a week to I haven't seen them in a while. Semana is still around, but thinner and with no online presence to make up for it. TV is barely better. We lost the Telemundo nightly newscast, and Univision is settled into a boring rehash of whatever the Chronicle reported yesterday.
Not much explanation needed here. The company that came to exemplify Houston was flying high as the decade started. Ten years later, it's difficult to remember a time when its name wasn't a code word for unhinged corporate greed.
The Fabulous Satellite closes.
A little piece of Austin on Washington Avenue, for ten years the Fabulous Satellite hosted some of the best club shows in town. In 2003 that run ended. And "Washington Avenue" has taken on a far, far different meaning when it comes to Houston nightlife.
The Astros' World Series embarrassment.
Yes, it would be very easy to look at the Astros' 2005 season as one for the ages -- an incredible adrenaline-rush race to the wild card, amazing playoff series against the Braves and Cardinals. But it's not so much that they then proceeded to get swept in four games by the Chicago White Sox, it's that the somewhat ignominious sweep (the games were not blowouts, after all) was the high-water mark for the team for what seems will be a long, long, long time. It's like watching a loved one die as he refuses to acknowledge he's sick. The Astros won't get a sniff of the Series for who knows how long, and the memory of their only appearance is a bitter one.
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Like "Enron," "Allison" and "Kubiak," the word "Ike" has little meaning for Houstonians other than "disaster." Galveston was decimated, longtime piers falling into the sea; much of Houston escaped severe damage or flooding....but most of us got to enjoy a nearly two-week blackout. Try as you might, you can't forget the days driving home from work, seeing a CenterPoint truck and praying fervently to whatever God was handy that it was headed to your neighborhood. Until the bitter end, it never was, even as friends and colleagues happily announced their power hadfinally
been restored. Ike was, indeed, a bastard.