Friday, August 31, 2007

Something Spooky About The Spaghetti Warehouse, and It Ain’t the “Garlic Bread,” Apparently

That’s according to “Sandra” (we believe), who seems to have some position of the authority at the downtown restaurant, 901 Commerce at Travis, and who related the startling news to “Pat” (we think)*, hostess of the mellifluously titled Vibes: Mind, Body and Spirit on KPFT-FM, 90.1: The joint is haunted by ghosts! But they’re friendly ghosts!

Apparently everyone in town except us has been informed of this paranormality, we having missed this eight-year-old expose in the city’s leading daily newspaper (although we can’t find evidence that the once-in-a-century blockbuster has broken itself on to the paper’s front page---a shameful omission, given that the world headquarters of the Hearst Corporation’s local franchise [which we notice is looking these days like a giant, tattered, used-up prophylactic] is but a few blocks away from The Spaghetti Warehouse, and there would seem to be plenty of room for such a tale, given the paper’s unused page-one newshole reserved for that war over there in whatchamacallit). Hostess Pat said that while she was relatively new to town she had heard of the haunting from a nephew, who had learned of it from a teacher at his private school (one you can’t hang on HISD there).

Man, did we feel so out of it---us, the Mike Royko, or perhaps the Henry Timrod, of the Greater Fondren Southwest Super Neighborhood.

Anyhoo, Sandra---who according to Pat had to depart the show early to attend to a “medical crisis” that had befallen her father (and we hope he’s OK)---explained that she and the other Spaghetti Warehouse functionaries have a splendid relationship with the ghosts, who are of course the spirits of the deceased who frequented the premises when still tethered to their mortal coil (and have been photographed in their period costume, sez Pat). In fact, Sandra said she often “thanks” the ghosts for the good vibes they send forth and is careful to “give them their space” while fulfilling her restauranterly duties. Pat, whose post-Sandra guest was a guy with about 9 degrees and a delightful Irish brogue, opined that the ghosts actually added to the family ambiance of the restaurant---that is, no harm would come to you or your penne pasta---and fit nicely with The Spaghetti Warehouse motto, which, as Sandra helpfully noted, is “Great Food, All American Fun!”***

Hmmm. It’s been a long, long time since we patronized The Spaghetti Warehouse---much, much longer than it’s been since we actually sat still to listen to KPFT****---but perhaps we’ll go soon. We’d like to commune with these spirits of Olde Houston, ask ’em what they think of today’s developments: Should Metro not be bound by the supposed confines of the English language and run the University rail line down Richmond, or stick it on the Westpark Corridor, or where the sun don't shine? What of Sr. Chingo Bling? Do they enjoy his modern rhymes? Did Phil Garner deserve his fate? And what of Phil Garner’s father, or the guy who introduced himself to us as Phil Garner’s father, a Foxy Grandpa type who buttonholed us and our associate Il Pinguino***** several years ago while we were dining at The New York Bagel Shop, 9724 Hillcroft (not haunted, as far as we know), and opened the conversational gambit by inquiring whether Il and yours truly were “doctors.”******

And finally, we’d like to ask these ghosts for the straight-from-the-afterlife lowdown on the question that has all of Houston in its grip: Whither Rick Casey?

*We were driving at the time---right near, in fact, where we spotted this fellow traveler---and were unable to take notes, thus our somewhat suspect memory may be confusing Sandra with Pat and Pat with Sandra.

**Although the structure does not rate an entry that we could find in Stephen Fox’s Houston Architectural Guide, from what we could gather in a full 2-3 minutes of deep research of
authoritative sources, the warehouse was built in 1912, originally was called the Desel-Bottecher (figures) building, and once housed a pharmaceutical company, during which time and use an employee plummeted to an early death down an elevator shaft, thus accounting for the haunting. Sounds real to us.

***Or something like that.

****Listening to KPFT for more than a minute or two is like being cooped-up in a stalled elevator with this guy.

*****Not affiliated with Slampo’s Place.

******Answer was "no."

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