Wednesday, August 23, 2006


We see the city of Houston is conducting a contest to name the new downtown park. We’re sure the winning entry will reflect the cosmopolitan character of the city---say, something urbane and sophisticated like World Class Centre. But before we end up there, all right-thinking citizens should rise up and demand that the park bear the name of one of the city’s most beloved cultural ambassadors, the late Sam “Lightnin’ ” Hopkins.

It was some years ago (we think) that every Houstonian’s favorite busybody on the city council, Eleanor Tinsley (we think), tried to stir some interest in getting something or other named after Lightnin’ (it was a street … we think). But that effort went nowhere, and in the meantime somebody raised a statue of Lightnin' in the hoppin' burg of Crockett, where he spent 15 or 20 minutes.

Now Houston has a chance to right that wrong, to honor a man who, as much as any perpetual resident of Lawndale Cemetery, embodied the country-come-to-town spirit of the city.

A park would be a fitting tribute to Hopkins, too. A park is for relaxation and recreation, two of the enduring themes of Hopkins’ prodigious recording career, whether he was singing about throwing dice or watching the ponies run or getting drunk last night and the night before or traveling to Louisiana to acquire a mojo hand that would mess up a woman’s mind.

Yes, we can see ourselves throwing a Frisbee and listening to Bald-Headed Woman in Lightnin’ Hopkins Park, right there in the shadow of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

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