A Week in Houston

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Museum District, Houston

I am officially one week into my vacation! A brief recap of my adventures thus far:

  • Reading Economic Science and the Austrian Method, American Gods, and I Capture the Castle
  • Watching the second American Sherlock Holmes, She’s the Man, and half of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries 
  • Making good progress on my summer tan and almost getting burned
  • Experiencing the craziness of Houston traffic
  • Spending time at the pool and the beach
  • Eating some delicious fish tacos while overlooking the Gulf
  • Learning about pirates at the Moody Gardens
  • Trying to make sense of what’s going as “art” at the Houston Contemporary Art Museum
  • Walking about 3 miles in one afternoon, mostly to see the Houston Center for Photography
  • Sitting in the car, waiting for a concert, watching it rain and singing along to Les Miserables 
  • Enjoying a wide range of performances from the Houston Ballet at the Miller Gardens outdoor theatre

Originally I was going to write a very lengthy post detailing my trip, but I thought it might be more interesting to include pictures. So, here goes!

 

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We spent a few days down in Galveston, and although it turned cloudy on our last day, this was a beautiful afternoon!

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We ate dinner one evening at a restaurant overlooking the Gulf. This was literally the view from our table. Pretty nice, eh?

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The amazingly delicious fish tacos, which I must admit definitely topped the fish tacos I’ve had in Rockford!

Since it was cloudy on Thursday, we visited the pirate display at the Moody Gardens and then drove back to Houston in the afternoon, just in time to get some Chinese food for dinner!

The enigmatic advice in my fortune cookie

The enigmatic advice in my fortune cookie.

 

On Friday we went into Houston to pick up tickets for a ballet performance that night. Due to the escapade we had trying to find our destination amidst the construction and confusing roundabout, we decided to visit some of the nearby museums and spend the day in Houston rather than trying to retrace our way later that evening. First, we went to the Houston Contemporary Art Museum. It was, well, quite thought-provoking. Some of the work was pretty good…and some of it was like, “uh, why is this in a museum?” I am all for appreciating everything as art in its own sense but I do have a hard time understanding why a random collection of objects should be considered “art” in the same sense as Michelangelo or Van Gogh. After this we decided to walk to the Houston Center for Photography, which was a little over a mile away. It was a really nice walk through the Museum District (as seen in the photo above) but it was a little more than we had reckoned for. At least the rain held off, but it was very still and humid. The photography on display at the center was amazing, and I definitely enjoyed that more than the contemporary art. Afraid that our car might get towed (having parked in a 3 hour parking area) we made our way back after this. I think it was a good hour long walk and we were quite happy to reach our destination! Here are a few photos I took along the way…

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Rockford isn’t the only city with a weird, abstract sculpture!

 

 

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This reminded me of the TARDIS. Yes, that was blue police box, and this is a red telephone box, but they’re close, right? Maybe this was the TARDIS before its chameleon circuit broke!

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This picture exists because I can’t resist the opportunity to take pictures of green things.

 

After getting back to the parking lot and finding our car still there, we chilled out (quite literally, as we were enjoying the A/C) and looked for a place to eat. Food was our highest priority because we hadn’t eaten since a late breakfast around 11am. After going through lists of expensive gourmet restaurants and shady ghetto dives, we found a cute cafe nearby and enjoyed some delicious sandwiches.

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After getting back to the parking lot near the concert location (an outdoor theatre in Miller Park) we had some time to spare and basically just hung out the car listening to the Les Miserables soundtrack and watching the rain.

 

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The ballet performance was really neat! First there was a ballet/dance, Play, inspired by the music of Moby, a famous modern dance/techno composer. I got into his music recently and was excited to see this performance. As noted by a critic at The New York Times, Play takes off from Moby’s album of the same name into a quirky exploration of youthful alienation.” The performance program describes it thus, “Mr. Welch’s [the choreographer] imaginative and youthful work Play is city life made into ballet with classical technique…This is Mr. Welch in a witty disco and minimalist mode.” Secondly there was a ballet set to solo piano music by Chopin, Sounds of the Soul. This was innovative, since Chopin didn’t write for ballet, and created a poignant and fresh way to experience his music. Thirdly there was the third act of Paquita, a 19th century ballet. The full ballet is typically not performed, but the third act is often used for dancers to showcase their talent and technique. I really liked the variety of the performance, from Moby to traditional ballet. I think Play was my favorite, but the other two were definitely very good as well!

On Saturday we hung out at home and spent a couple hours at the pool before heading out to a concert by Wolf Gang, a British alt-rock band which has been touring with Bastille. However, Bastille was not touring in Texas so Wolf Gang made a few of their own stops here.

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Wolf Gang is listed on this poster, on the bottom line at the far left side : )

 

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The post-concert stage, the best shot I could get with the weird lighting.

I had been listening to some of Wolf Gang‘s music in preparation for the concert, but it was little like The Avett Brothers concert in February, I wasn’t really digging their sound before I heard them live but I figured the concert experience would be much better. And just like with The Avett Brothers, the concert last night was fantastic! It was worth the two hour wait, the stifling hot room, the mediocre opening band, and a few über annoying people in the crowd. After some frustrating concert experiences, I have compiled a list of rules which I strongly suggest every concert attendee follow. Since I am a libertarian, I will not take action to force others to obey my rules, but participation would be much appreciated.

  1. Once you have found a place in the crowd, just stay there. Really. Especially if you’re at all tall. It is frustrating to discover that the people who were behind you five minutes ago are suddenly in front of you and blocking your view.
  2. If you feel the need to document the concert with pictures or video, do not raise your phone any higher than your head. We all know that if you hold your phone up really high you might get a great shot, but you also become really annoying to the people straining to see through your arms.
  3. Try to be aware of the people around you. As in, recognize that you’re not standing in an empty room. For instance, I enjoy using hand gestures as much as the next person, but when I am standing at a concert, I am not going to flail my limbs and body about while I am talking. And even if I get into the music and want to wave/move/whatever I am going to try not to disturb any of the people crammed in around me. This would be in contrast to those who feel they have to bounce up and down (seriously, do these people have springs on their feet or something?), lean forward/backwards, sway side to side, or wave their hands, or make any other extreme and violent motion with their bodies.
  4. If you’re already tall, there’s no need to stand on tip-toe to see the performers better. Just be grateful that your view is better than the poor soul standing behind you.

And I think that’s it. For now, haha. But truly, despite everything else, Wolf Gang was just amazing. Definitely much better live than recorded. The music honestly has a totally different sound on their recording. So I am very happy I got to hear them in person!

That pretty much wraps up all the excitement so far. It has honestly just been really nice to hang out and have a relaxing vacation while enjoying this fantastic Texas weather! : )

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