Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Heights in Victimology: Should We Call Southampton Residents “Refugees,” or “Evacuees?"

We’re in general sympathy with homeowners of the “affluent” neighborhoods of Southampton and Boulevard Oaks in their efforts to thwart construction of a 23-story apartment tower along a two-lane stretch of Bissonnet, and we're also down with Guv’nuh White’s vow to all but position himself in front of the oncoming bulldozers, although the mayoral proposition does set an interesting precedent for similar future development conflicts.*

But we didn’t know how deserving of our sympathy the genteel folk of the Rice University-area neighborhoods were until we read an opinion piece in the Sept. 25 Village News/Southwest News, a weekly throwaway rag that circulates to the east of our domicile.** The writer is identified only as “Leslie Miller, Ph.D.,” and Doc Miller’s argument apparently was so incisive that it reappeared, with the only the slightest touch of the editor’s hand, on the front of the Sept. 30 Outlook section of the Houston Chronicle.***

In the Village News/Southwest News the doc’s piece was ominously titled “Houston: Living in the Shadow of Greed,” while the Chronicle (which more fully identified the writer as a “native Houstonian and resident of Southampton for 35 years”), opted for the similarly faux-spooky but slightly more pop culture-friendly “23-story high-rise would be nightmare on Bissonnet.” In both pieces---and here we must link to the Chronicle’s version ( thus helping to account for the newspaper’s claimed 50 million [or is it jillion?] monthly page hits), because we can find no evidence of an online presence of the Village News/Southwest News---this native Houstonian and holder of a Ph.D., who after all that time clocking-in here suddenly finds herself in the “shadow of greed,” draws a slightly strained analogy:
In this mix of unregulated development and a proliferation of developers without concerns about the impact of their actions, we are witnessing the destruction of our neighborhoods and the diminution of our quality of life.

A perfect storm is brewing — literally in my back yard in Southampton and yours.

The mayor of our city, Bill White, exercised great courage and civic responsibility in helping thousands who were escaping from the terrible storm, Katrina. I would urge him and all those on City Council to exercise that same courage and civic responsibility to stop this impending storm.

Its destruction will be every bit as real.
So can we expect to soon see the bloated bodies of Southampton homeowners floating down Main Street? Will the intrusive tower force the residents out of their homes and into shelter at the Astrodome, the first stop on the road to longtime government-subsidized residency in cramped southwest Houston apartments? Perhaps Kinky Friedman, while readying himself to run against the courageous Guv’nuh White in the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary, can come up with a mock talkin'-blues number---as a working title, we’d suggest Buckhead Done Drove Me Down---that could be used as a soundtrack behind CNN’s footage of the beleaguered and bedraggled Southamptonites lining up to catch a bus out of town.

Oh, we’ll stop now. At least we can’t accuse Leslie Miller, Ph.D., of exploiting 9/11.

*Say, for instance, if some developer suddenly lost his or her mind and wanted to drop down a 23-story tower along a major thoroughfare fronting our much less affluent neighborhood, would the mayor come to our rescue? On second thought, never mind---we’d welcome a 23-story tower right down the street, and if things don’t work out along Bissonnet we’d like to invite Buckhead Investment Partners to investigate our area. It’ d be prime for an “Enclave Near the Foodarama/Wing Stop.” We’d voluntarily help assemble the parcel.

**We’ve kept a jaundiced eye on this rag ever since the publisher, many seasons back, ran for a state representative seat and suddenly was having her newspaper tossed onto the driveways of our neighborhood, which was in the district she sought to represent but previously had not been in the rag’s distribution area. After her election loss the newspaper summarily, and thankfully, did not appear on the driveways of our neighborhood.

***Although the subject is only tenuously related, we are again moved to wonder about the criteria for employment at the Chronicle. We know the daily newspaper requires prospective employees to piss in a cup and have their urine inspected by a private contractor, but apparently the newspaper does not force actual employees to submit to IQ exams or random field sobriety tests. We were moved to this conclusion after being among what surely were the single-digit number of readers of Tuesday’s “Sky Watch” column, a monthly feature whose lede ran thusly: “This is a great month for early rising planet-watchers but not so good for the evening crowd.” The headline over the column read “Star-gazing better in the early evening.” Gaaawwwdamn!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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