Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Best Little Whorehouse (and 3 other strange houses) in (Houston) Texas

Is it time to go home yet?  No?  Well then, I know one thing for sure.  Any remaining activities here in Houston will be conducted from the car or in an air conditioned building.  This excludes my hotel since I told them on Monday that I didn't think the a/c was working properly and their solution was to crank the temp down to 60.  I am positive it isn't 60 degrees or even 75 degrees in my room.  I wish it was.

Yesterday when I left my customer's office it was 100 degrees (and I went to the jeans).  Today is a carbon copy of yesterday.

Late last summer, I was feeling burned out and overworked.  I needed some time off and not a "staycation".  When I mentioned this to David (who won't be able to come with me) he was supportive once he got over his shock that I wanted to go somewhere voluntarily.  Until I said where I was thinking of going: Galveston.  There were several reasons for this, primarily cost and distance.  I really wanted to go somewhere like the Oregon coast but I didn't have the time or money.  David is skeptical, I am not a "beach person".  Why would I choose Galveston? 

By day 2 of my trip I am wondering the same thing.  On day 3 of that trip, I drive into Houston to go to the Orange Show.  After that, I drive back to my hotel, pack my stuff and drive home.  Two days early.  Galveston is an ugly beach and my hotel was less than inspiring.  I went to a restaurant to try and relax and enjoy watching and listening to the surf.  Instead, I was seated next to a family with several unruly children and I could barely see the beach and couldn't hear it at all thanks to the road noise and the aforementioned kids.

But I remembered the Orange Show as an interesting site and decide to hunt it down again on this trip.  When I went before, they were "officially" closed but a woman across the street in the office that maintains it saw me taking pictures and let me in.  This time they are open.  Honestly, there wasn't any difference.  I was the only person inside both times.

The Orange Show is at 2401 Munger Street in Houston.  It is in a residential neighborhood.

The site was created by Jeff McKissack, a Houston postman.

He was given a permit to build a beauty parlor in 1956.

He built the site in honor of his favorite fruit.  He worked on it from 1956 
until his death in 1980.

  The site was featured in Texas Monthly magazine in 1978.

After his death, Marilyn Oshman, a Houston Arts patron, purchased the property with donations from a diverse group that included members of ZZ Top.

Today, the site is owned and maintained by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.

They are also responsible for the Art Car Parade (held in May), Smither Park and the Beer Can House. 

Smither Park is right next door to the Orange Show.  I remember passing it when I was here before but they have done some work since then.

This sign was here before and the only reason I knew there was - in theory - going to be a park here someday.

I don't remember any of this wall art being here before.  I think it takes something away that there is a huge stack of pallets stacked up behind the wall.

Someday this site will contain an amphitheatre, a meditation garden, a tower and more.

These are part of the 400 foot memory wall.  I couldn't find any information on how these spaces are assigned or purchased and how many are still available.

Most of them appear to be works in progress.  This angel's hand, face and forward wing are not complete.

Of the current pieces, this octopus was my favorite.  He is way more interesting than the one at the Downtown Aquarium.  At least the one they advertised having, I never actually saw him.

To round out my tour of their properties, I drive to The Beer Can House at 222 Malone Street in Houston.  Again, in a residential neighborhood the house is surrounded by houses and upscale apartments/condos.  The house belonged to John Milkovish a retired upholsterer.  He started the project in 1968.

Reading about the house later, I find that you can tour the house and grounds during the summer between 9-1 and on weekends.  None of these fit my schedule but this was still worth seeing, even from the sidewalk.

The whole house is a wind chime on a day like today with a light breeze.  It isn't an unpleasant sound like I would has assumed before coming here.

Their website says that the show Ripley's Believe it or Not estimated that over 50,000 beer cans were used.

He covered all of the grounds with tile, stones, marbles and other things because he didn't want to mow.

He began covering the house with flattened beer cans.  Even the detached building there in the back is covered.

As are the fences.  Even beer tabs are strung together and used in various places.

Can tops dangle from the eaves of the house.

He covered it all.

I have one more house on the list, this one not operated by The Orange Show.  This one is known as The Flower Man House.

The home of Cleveland Turner is at 2305 Francis Street.  This is a less than desirable neighborhood so people uncomfortable traipsing around "the bad part of town" might skip this one.

An article posted on Roadside America's website says he uses items he finds and those that are donated by folks trying to help him along.  This house seems less intentional and more haphazard, verging on trashy.

I do like this half super-hero on a pole in the back.  I expect the back is as strange as the front but I didn't knock on the door to ask to see it.  Maybe if he had come out and offered like the people in Berkeley CA did?  Okay, probably not.

A final odd place listed by Roadside America also on my list today is at 2500 Summer Street.  It is an art studio with some statues outside.

HUGE statues of dead presidents.  I don't know who this is?  Is this even a president?  David pulled out a photo array and we can't decide.

Lincoln and  ? (David's guess is Andrew Jackson)

I know this one!  Washington?

L-R: ? (David's guess is Jefferson), Washington, Teddy Roosevelt and FDR.

A graffiti stricken Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Being the president is hard enough to make anyone lose their head.

Oh, and The Beatles are here too. 

Time to call the driving tour to an end and start heading to the hotel.  I have tickets to see The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas tonight.  On the way back, my GPS and I have a small problem.

It takes me here.

And here.  The GPS says I am to go an additional 0.3 miles on this road, Providence Street.

After I untangle myself from this GPS mess, I only get to the hotel in time to freshen up and grab some fast food before I head to the theater.

The Hobby Center in Downtown Houston.  The venue was very nice with comfortable seats and easy parking.

All of these stars on the bathroom stalls make wonder if this is what it feels like to have a star on your dressing room door?  Okay, except for all of the toilets.

There were stars on the seats and in the lobby too.  I have 6th row, near center seat.  This is one advantage I have found in getting a ticket for one person...there are random individual seats available in good sections.

The show was fantastic.  Like my experience with Xanadu, I have never seen this movie.  However, unlike Xanadu, I would be inclined to see the movie after this and this play was far and away a better experience in every possible way.  The two young men next to me smelled good and chatted with me during intermission about other shows.  The cast here weren't local high school kids but experienced, professional actors. 

In fact, it kept bothering me that I couldn't think where I had seen the man playing the sheriff before.  I looked him up on during intermission. He was the dean of admissions at Harvard that granted Elle Woods admission in the movie Legally Blonde.

I am always ready to go home and could have gone tonight but I have to say, the driving tour and the play made me glad I stayed.

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