TAKING ON THE ‘HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM’ PROBLEM What can a little minor public shaming do in the face of a groundswell of clichéd space-themed Houston references from reporters and observers around the world (and the occasional newscaster from within)? Just in time to chronicle and reflect a seeming barrage of “Gee, no one’s ever repeated this before” references to Houston — as it emerged in the national spotlight in advance of yesterday’s Super Bowl — a Twitter account going by the handle Ugh Houston, created last month, set about to highlight, ridicule, and otherwise express disappointment toward any and all variations on the theme of “Houston, we have a problem.” (The betting circuits even had 5-to-2 odds on whether the tagline, an alteration of the original quotation popularized by the 1995 movie about the Apollo 13 mission, would make an appearance in the Super Bowl broadcast,
though ultimately, it appears, it didn’t. and it did.) Other phrases targeted by the account include references to landing eagles and launching anything without an actual rocket engine. Here’s the big question, then, waged in harrumph-y asides, worldwide: Should or shouldn’t Houston embrace its popular association with extreme difficulty? Image: Ugh Houston Twitter account
CLUB NOMADIC SHOWS OFF LATEST TRENDS IN JUST-IN-TIME NIGHTCLUB DELIVERY Temporary 3-story nightclub and performance venue Club Nomadic has received its final checks and OKs from the city for tonight’s 9pm opening — with just over 6 hours to spare, if the time a city rep gave to St. John Barnard-Smith and Mike Morris is correct. Both Club Nomadic’s owner and folks at the city permitting office say it’s totally normal for a temporary event structure like this one to cut the permitting process close; the temporary nature of the project also means on-site parking is not required for the 9,000-or-so visitors expected, and organizers are stressing that tow trucks will be on the prowl. The Club is currently selling parking passes for the 1600 Smith St. garage, with plans to shuttle guests between the garage and the club site at 2121 Edwards St.; other enterprising Houstonians appear to be getting in on the action as well. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 2121 Edwards St.: Club Nomadic
HOUSTON PARKS BOARD RELEASES FLOCK OF BAYOU GREENWAY SIGHTSEEING SUGGESTIONS Not to be left out of the Super Bowl LI frenzy, the Houston Parks Board has been publishing weekly additions to what’s now a list of 51 “super” Bayou Greenways-accessible attractions — ranging in scope and scale from Buffalo Bayou Park to the Orange Show to a pair of nesting eagles somebody spotted near Greens Bayou. The list is broken up by watershed, with each bayou getting a separate map of sites along its existing or planned bike trails (though tour by kayak is also recommended in some places). Other entries on the list include the Watonga Blvd. bridge bat colony (on White Oak Bayou, south of Pinemont Dr., shown here), Parkwood Park in Riverside Terrance (off Brays Bayou and these days billed as Beyoncé’s childhood park), David Adickes’ Mount Rush Hour statue grouping in American Statesman Park (fringing the Downtown confluence tangle of I-10, I-45, and White Oak and Buffalo bayous), and NRG stadium itself, with a nod to the nearby Astrodome. [Houston Parks Board; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Watonga Blvd. bats: Houston Parks Board
The newly LED-equipped crossings over US-59 between Shepherd Dr. and Midtown should be getting officially flipped on around 8 pm tomorrow, after a few weeks of on-and-off testing. The 2 Gandys of Gandy² Lighting Design tell Swamplot that the lights will likely run from sunset to sunrise; the tentative plan in the leadup to the Super Bowl is for the bridges to show off the competitors’ team colors. The Patriots’ red-white-and-blue are demoed above, but here are some shots of what else the new fixtures can do, now that all the tuning up is largely finished:
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Getting Turned On
STEERING CLEAR OF THE SUPER BOWL CROWDS, WHETHER THEY SHOW UP OR NOT Steve Jansen of the Houston Press runs through some numbers this week for the impending Super Bowl LI — many of which depend on the wide range of visitor estimates put forth by booster groups and analysts. The Super Bowl Host Committee claimed to expect over a million visitors back in 2014 (though that number appears to include local folks stopping by all of the week’s lead-up events); more recently, a consulting firm hired by the committee offered an estimate of 138,000 non-local visitors. Jansen writes that “there will certainly be fewer football fans in town since the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys aren’t playing in the grand finale. But it doesn’t matter a heck of a lot, because the phenomenon of ‘the Super Bowl is awful, I’m getting the hell out of here’ — called the crowding-out effect in economic parlance — is going to happen no matter what . . .” [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Photo of George R. Brown Convention Center remodeling and Super Bowl signage: Jesus Jimenez via Swamplot Flickr Pool
On the growing list of things getting dressed up for the Super Bowl: this Red Line light-rail train, caught above at the corner of Main and Franklin streets this afternoon wearing a shiny new red-and-stadium-colored suit. Buildings around the Discovery Green and George R. Brown Convention Center complex have also been getting advertising wraps draped in place in the past week or 2, as have a few other buildings around town (including the BBVA Compass building near the Galleria). Across the intersection, a reader also noted the installation of new security cameras at the Islamic Da’wah Center, founded after former Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon bought the 1928 former Houston National Bank building in 1994:
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Judge Emmett’s office passes along the rendering above today, showing plans for the Astrodome’s Super Bowl vestment — namely, a new swath of blue-green lighting around the stadium’s exterior wall. That proposed projected light show on the roof got shot down in the fall, along with the possibility of holding any events in the building; Brent Schrotenboer of USAtoday notes the Dome currently holds the distinction of “biggest and most famous storage facility in Texas,” however, and as such will be carrying out its related stuff-holding duties for a variety of Super Bowl lead-up events.
Rendering of Astrodome Super Bowl lighting: Super Bowl Host Committee
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW 2-SYLLABLE NEIGHBORHOOD NICKNAMES ARE BORN “I’m with WR: who are these supposed ‘Houston residents’ who call it ADLA? I’ll bet those ‘residents’ are people who got here 6 months ago (and/or are the writer and his buddy). As far as the headline question: I think it may be too early for us to claim ‘World’s Best Super Bowl Host City‘ — or as a Houston resident, I call it WBSBHC, which rolls off the tongue.” [Wolf Brand Chili, commenting on Houston Rents Slide; Post-Flood Calls for Action] Photo of redone George R. Brown Convention Center on Avenida de las Americas: Bob Russell
The long-empty land at 9330 Main St. (shown here from its Buffalo Spdwy. side) appears to be picking up a part-time job before moving on toward senior-housing-dom. A reader snapped these shots of the property’s new parking and shuttle signage, including the security camera warnings tacked to the fence. The land is right across Main St. from NRG Park, where the actual football bit of the upcoming week of Super Bowl hubbub is scheduled to go on. The sale of the land to Dallas-based Traditions Senior Living went through at the end of August.
Meanwhile, the gas station recently planted across Buffalo Spdwy. at the Durhill St. 1st Stop Food Mart appears to have sprouted, and a Valero-colored canopy is now blooming over the corner:
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1st Stops near Westridge
This week’s SpaceCom expo at the prettied-up George R. Brown Convention Center included a preview of some more down-to-earth plans for the immediate neighborhood — including the NASA-themed drop tower Mars mission ride to be installed for Super Bowl visitors at Discovery Green across the street. The ride, called Future Flight, will include virtual reality goggles; the rest of the setup will include a chance to try out the goggles for people who like virtual reality but don’t want to take the plunge, as well as some exhibits of next-gen space hardware and some kid-geared activities.
The ride’ll be free — if you can get a spot. Chris Baldwin points out that about a million people are expected to show up at the pre-Super Bowl festival planned for the week before the game, but timeslots on the ride will be limited to a few thousand per day between January 28 and February 5 (and the details on how to get a spot aren’t out yet).
The burnt-orange scaffolding of the drop tower roughly matches the color scheme for the latest long-haul rocket setup NASA is working on:
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Free Free Falling Downtown
COMMENT OF THE DAY: SUPER BOWL HOSTING JUST KICKS OFF THE LONG GAME “Conventions. That is the (hoped for, at least) lasting effect of a Super Bowl. People who organize and bring these events to a city don’t care about the game, they don’t care about the players, the fans, any of that. They care about the large corporations that will attend the Super Bowl, for whatever reasons. . . . Just look at all the flurry of activity in Houston leading up to [it]: it hasn’t been on updating the areas around the stadium, it has barely been on updating the stadium. (They put in new wifi and updated some seats?) Where millions (and not even hundreds of millions) have been spent on the stadium, billions have been spent updating the convention area. A new facade on the convention center, a new world class hotel, dozens of restaurants in the convention district — this was done in a huge push to show that Houston is capable of hosting any event.” [toasty, commenting on Rebranding the Greenspoint District; Texas’s $25M Super Bowl Assist] Photo of updated George R. Brown Convention Center: Bob Russell