Shade, Subs, Plexes and Suds: A Bissonnet Story

Money Stop on Bissonnet, Houston

It’s high time for another street-walking adventure from the writing, singing, photographing, and drinking duo of quasi-professional pedestrians John Nova Lomax and David Beebe. Their latest challenge: a 14.5-mile walk along Bissonnet, from Synott Road (just past Dairy Ashford) to Montrose, which brings Lomax to this stirring conclusion on the sidewalk-transforming power of street trees:

By now, I’ve walked damn near the entire lengths of Bellaire, Westheimer, Clinton, Navigation, and Shepherd, and Bissonnet is nicer than all of them, for the simple reason that its sidewalks have far more shade. Westheimer has none between 6 and the Loop, save for a few landscaping fantasias at scattered corporate campuses; there’s none to be had on most of Shepherd unless you duck under a bridge (where you might sit on human turds); sun-baked Bellaire has none from Eldridge central Sharpstown, and the East Side streets are only a little better. Bissonnet, on the other hand, seems like a stroll through Yosemite.

Below the fold: local color.


Bissonnet cuts a swath through a rainbow of cultural capitals:

Between Dairy Ashford and the Beltway, you see a lot of things like Protestant Vietnamese churches, the Millennium African Video Center, the Royal Halal Meat Market, and storefront churches with names like The Prophetic Word of Faith. There’s also a noticeable Filipino presence, as well as another from the Mexican state of Michoacan.

At another decaying strip mall, a recognizable concrete storefront advertised itself as a “Royal Palace.” And you could still see where the new owners had yanked the word “Palais” out of the concrete, re-arranged a few of the letters, swapped out a couple more, and then slapped the whole thing to the right of the word “Royal,” which had been left intact.

And storied apartment complexes:

Beebe and I walked around the back of what looked like an abandoned Subway near Beltway 8. A couple of windows were cracked, the walls were tagged, and there was trash strewn all over the place. And yet it was open. Also, at several points during the day we could see past the facades of the infamous apartment complexes and catch glimpses of sights that wouldn’t look out of place in Chicago’s Cabrini Green or the New Orleans projects.

And then if you read the little stories in section B of the Chron, just about every day you’ll find tales of mayhem like “Man shot, killed in Southwest drive-by” and “Shootout in Southwest Complex Leaves Two Dead, One Hurt.” Is it any wonder that “plex” is H-Town slang for strife?

Photo: John Nova Lomax and David Beebe