Sunday, May 20, 2007

Commercial Landmarks of Houston, One in a Very Intermittent Series

For years this rambling southwest-side building housed an establishment called Barnacle’s Seafood Restaurant and Bar, or Barnacles Seafood Boutique (maybe with the apostrophe, maybe without), whose specialty appeared to be the heavily advertised all-the-seafood-you-can-eat plate for $8.25 (maybe it was $8.95). It may have been delicious but we’ll never know because we could never bring our self to eat seafood---or anything else---at a place called Barnacle’s (or Barnacles), even at those prices.

One day when we weren’t paying attention Barnacle’s/Barnacles went dark and was reborn as La Raza, a combination cantina/café and used-car lot that should not be confused with La Raza Western Wear at 2835 Broadway or La Raza Meat Market at 8611 Highway 6 South or La Raza Cuts at 3327 Reed Road or La Raza Van Tours at 6665 Avenue L or La Raza 98.5 and 103.3 FM or La Raza, our 3-year old mixed pit/mastiff, or La Raza, our 1982 Ford F-150 pick-up (“Can’t come to work today, jefe---La Raza won’t start! Again!).

As the bilingualists among you know, La Raza directly translates as “The Race”---it’s not always to the swift, or so we’ve heard---although its meaning in general usage is supposedly more subtle, along the lines of the German Volk, a sort of exalted bond of blood and/or tongue that unites the Spanish-speaking people of the Americas (which is a joke, if you know anything about the Spanish-speaking people of the Americas, where the Salvadorans despise the Mexicans, the Mexicans hate the Puerto Ricans and the Cubanos look down on them all, etc. … and none of whom, together or apart, constitute a “race”).

We believe, however, that La Raza is mostly employed by Mexicans in the United States who can’t come up with a better name for their barber shops and combination cantina/used car lots.

We’re sure our money’s good at La Raza, but we can only imagine the unholy hell that’d be raised if some Caucasian opened up a white-type country-western bar called The Race. (Wait … there is a clean, well-lighted place for honkies right down the street from Barnacles/Barnacle’s/La Raza. It’s called The Shamrock, and you know what that signifies, right?)

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