The Sweet Smell of Houston History

THE SWEET SMELL OF HOUSTON HISTORY Allen's Landing, HoustonEmbarking on a tour of Houston by means of a “site-specific narrative” created by 3 artists as part of the Mitchell Center for the Arts’ first CounterCurrent Festival earlier this month, critic Betsy Huete picks up her “survival pack” of a bottle of water, a Metro day pass, a phone charger, and a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer enclosed in a koozie, and heads to the first stop: Allen’s Landing. There she encounters one of the artists, Lacy M. Johnson: “Johnson suggested I begin reading the essays accompanying The Invisible City, a series of writings tied to specific coordinates within the city of Houston. I would have to read each excerpt at each location to fully understand the work. The writing tied to Allen’s Landing was a brief recalling of Houston’s history, starting with its birth as a settlement at Allen’s Landing and, eventually, a meditation on the city’s rabid desire to erase itself and rebuild, leaving a palimpsest of memory and history. As I descended the stairs overlooking the bayou’s lush greenery on that crisp spring morning, with an erect corporate sky line as backdrop to errant clothes and shards of glass, with the stink of urine-saturated concrete pervading my nostrils, Johnson’s statement could not have rung more true. It was beautiful.” [Glasstire] Photo: Scott Ehardt [license]

2 Comment

  • I will admit that I had to look up “palimpsest”. But it is an excellent word choice for describing Houston. And there are spots along the Seine in Paris that stink of pee. It is pee from folks enjoying a nice evening watching boats go by and enjoying a picnic with plenty of wine. Not many public restrooms in Paris. So, the pee is a constant. We just need to make some improvements on the source of the pee.

  • Ahhhh..the eau du Houston : a heady combination of ground level ozone, sewer methane , burnt coffee aroma (when the breeze /wind is blowing from EADO , combined with various other odoeurs ranging from the slightly offensive to the occasional sweet smell of some heavily perfumed flower / tree / shrub…