Thursday, June 08, 2006

Commercial Landmarks of Houston, No. 1 In a Series

There's a stern, Germanic finality to this message, as if a simple “Closed” was insufficient to convey the gravity of the development.

This unit in question used to be a Luby’s. The other side of the sign offers a cheerier message to northbound motorists on Buffalo Speedway, thanking customers for 40 wonderful years.

It wasn’t a lack of patronage that killed the place---every time we visited, the line always seemed to snake nearly out the front door (although we haven’t darkened that door in a good 12 to 15 years, having long ago shaken the twin delusions that cafeteria food is not only “good” and “filling” but “economical”). The property on which the building sits, at the edge of West University Place, was too valuable to be wasted on a giant parking lot for the segment of the over-65 demo that craves liver and onions and that watery, breaded fish stuff that was sold as “Cod.”

New money’s on the way, but before it washes away this vestige of a simpler time, let us recall that it was here in this parking lot, during that heady Clutch City championship season, that Rocket Vernon Maxwell was arrested after “waving” a pistol at another motorist who had honked his horn at the Rockets guard’s purple Porsche.

We always had a soft spot for Mad Max. When Ron Artest was but a toddler, Maxwell already had set the standard for player-fan relations by charging 10 rows into the stands to swing at a heckler. Last we heard, Maxwell was doing time.

After being fined for the gun-waving incident, Maxwell said something to the effect that he would no longer carry a handgun in his car because doing so was illegal (for him, at the time).

He noted, however, that he could carry a shotgun---as long as he didn’t conceal it.

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