08/15/14 4:00pm



Was it the prevailing breeze, which comes from the southeast, that dictated the balcony placement in the 1982 garage apartment of a 1940 Garden Villas home (top) on nearly an acre of land bordering Sims Bayou? Instead of maximizing private views of the water and cleared watershed to its north (above), the higher-rise building (at far left in the top photo) peeks over the main home and toward the street, which is located west of Telephone Rd. 


Close Encounters
10/16/13 2:20pm

Beneath the Victoriana add-ons (and other embellishments) lies a 1935 Garden Villas home caught here in the throes of lingering renovation by its current owners. The property’s dormer-laden lid and perky gazebo-shaped wings flank a wide front porch with a central entry that’s capped by a cupola. Just a touch of gingerbread trim on the columns and some latticework concealing the pier-and-beam foundation finish off the northwest-facing front elevation. Located on a corner lot 3 blocks south of Sims Bayou, the home has a $199,000 asking price. Some of the finishing touches, though, still need finishing:


02/27/08 1:01pm

El Torito Lounge, Harrisburg Blvd., Houston

Houston’s lone professional tourists, John Nova Lomax and David Beebe, stop off at the Brady’s Island in the Ship Channel midway into their latest day-long stroll . . . through this city’s southeastern stretches:

The air is foul here, and the eastern view is little more than a forest of tall crackers and satanic fume-belching smokestacks, sending clouds of roasted-cabbage-smelling incense skyward to Mammon, all bisected by the amazingly tall East Loop Ship Channel Bridge, its pillars standing in the toxic bilge where Brays Bayou dumps its effluent into the great pot of greenish-brown petro-gumbo.

While Brady’s Landing today seems to survive as a function room – a sort of Rainbow Lodge for the Ship Channel, with manicured grounds that reminded Beebe of Astroworld — decades ago, people came here to eat and to take in the view. This was progress to them, this horrifically awesome vista showed how we beat the Nazis and Japanese and how we were gonna stave off them godless Commies. As for me, it made me think of Beebe’s maxim: “Chicken and gasoline don’t mix.”

More from the duo’s march through “Deep Harrisburg”: Flag-waving Gulf Freeway auto dealerships, an early-morning ice house near the Almeda Mall, a razorwire-fenced artist compound in Garden Villas, Harold Farb’s last stand, colorful Broadway muffler joints, the hidden gardens of Thai Xuan, and — yes, gas-station chicken.

“There is nothing else like the Southeast side,” Lomax adds in a comment:

I see it as the true heart of Houston. Without the port and the refineries we are nothing. The prosperous West Side could be Anywhere, USA, but the Southeast Side could only be here.

Photo of El Torito Lounge on Harrisburg: John Nova Lomax and David Beebe