Who’s upset about a new romance novel called Don’t Mess with Texas and its “numerous graphic references to sexual acts, states of arousal, etc.”? TxDOT, which owns the trademark for the book’s title, and has now filed a lawsuit seeking a restraining order against Hachette Book Group (the book’s publisher), Barnes & Noble, and Houston’s Christie Craig (its author). The book’s official publication date is today. Rifling through a few pages previewed on Amazon, the Houston Press‘s Richard Connelly finds one of them steamy sex scenes — but no reference to the evils of littering along state highways. A TxDOT spokesperson tells Connelly the state transportation agency has succceeded in a similar lawsuit before. Win or lose, Craig may be hoping the ensuing publicity will help spur sales of her upcoming how-to book, Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You Are in a Romance Novel.
SWEPT AWAY John Nova Lomax, on his just-published guide to Houston dive bars: “I am sad that some of the book is already obsolete. I have heard that the Spot and the Red Hog have already eaten it. Ernie’s on Banks is now in Brad Moore’s able hands. Even the things that never seem to change in Houston change the minute you try to pin them down or preserve them in amber. But hollering about Houston changing reminds me of when my toddler son yelled at the ocean to stop wrecking the sand castle he was trying to build in the surf: it’s futility and hubris defined.” [Eating Our Words]
HOUSTON’S LAST BEST TOUR GUIDE “In an ideal world,” writes Aaron Carpenter, free copies of Douglas Milburn’s 1979 The Last American City: An Intrepid Walker’s Guide to Houston “would be distributed at every coffee shop lining Westheimer Road and Montrose Boulevard, if only for the purpose of inspiring someone else to write an equivalent for today’s Houston. . . .
Some questions that can be answered with this book: What was the best convenience store in town? (Answer: the 7-11 at 603 Bayland.) What map was ‘best for the suburbanite?’ (Answer: Gousha.) What is ‘The Ghost of Sul Ross Street?’ (Answer: too long to explain here.) Here is his advice for a Sunday afternoon out:
‘Enter The Galleria on the south side (Entrance No. 8) off Alabama. Drive down to the first level. Bear right around the ramp and park somewhere on this level – Level B, in either Zone 8 or 9. Intrepid Drivers’ Note: Drive here some Sunday when the garages are mostly empty, and spend a surreal half hour exploring these vast, gray spaces with their nautilus-like spirals and their bleak perspectives occasionally broken by glimpses of the interior of the mall. At several points one emerges on the roof where whole new vistas unfold.’” [OffCite]
This time, the folks selling the home at 3740 Willowick in River Oaks are really going all out.
Maybe last November they hoped that the release of Stephen Fox’s The Country Houses of John F. Staub would unleash a new era of interest in the Houston architect — and result in a recordbreaking price for the 1955 Staub-designed ranch-like mansion backing up to Buffalo Bayou, across from Memorial Park.
The book did fine, but Staubmania never really took off. Now, almost five months later, the sellers can’t harbor any illusions.
This time, the John Staub marketing machine kicks into full gear:
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How’s that River Oaks “you loved the book, now try the home” marketing tie-in going?
Well, Stephen Fox’s volume on The Country Houses of John F. Staub is currently ranked #10,535 on Amazon.com, which probably isn’t so bad for a book about a dead architect. It is heavily discounted, but it’s collected several favorable reviews online.
The reviews aren’t looking quite as good for the Staub ranch-mansion at 3740 Willowick: The asking price was dropped earlier this month from $7,495,000 to $6,950,000. For a 2.3-acre River Oaks lot with Buffalo Bayou frontage, that’s a healthy step closer to . . . yes, land value. And looky at all the excitement just down the street!
A 1955 River Oaks “country house” designed by John Staub appears on MLS just days before architectural historian Stephen Fox’s book on the Houston architect appears in bookstores. Mere coincidence? Or brilliant upper-end home-marketing technique?
There’s a slight price difference between the two: The Country Houses of John F. Staub lists for $75, though Amazon.com whacks 37 percent off of that. No telling if the sellers will accept a similar discount off the $7.495 million asking price of 3740 Willowick.
The house overlooks Buffalo Bayou and features four fireplaces, three bedrooms, and six full and one half baths — all in a single story. Yes, it looks like some ranch-house flavor got mixed in here. There’s a garden loggia and lots of trees, plus a three-car attached garage. It’s a 5,532-square-foot home on a quarter-acre lot.
The book is 408 pages long and comes in hardcover. It features photographs by Richard Cheek, and will take up just three-quarters of a square foot on your coffee table.
After the jump: the not-so-ranchy interiors.
Of the house.
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