Thursday, August 30, 2007

Alabama Bookstore, Houston TX

Bookstore Floor View, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

The beautiful former Alabama Theater (2922 S. Shepherd Drive) now a bookstore close to where I live. An even better balcony view looking over the whole first floor of the store.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Glases Needed For Prof Reading

The first in a multi-part series.

Drink, Kolaches & :Weekend in Review

The nice thing about my new neighborhood is walking to the bar, specifically the W. Alabama Icehouse. I'd never been to an outdoors bar, where the dogs roam free, people can bring their kids (now, that's good parenting) and everyone complains about the Texas heat. I was there with some people until midnight. That's when they start closing up shop because its surrounded by homes and apartment. As I walked back home on the dark streets, I kept on passing houses with newspapers on the lawns and had to resist the urge to steal them. Beer (all two of them) does lead to criminal tendencies!

There was a need for donuts, so I searched online and found Shipley's Do-Nuts, "Making Life Delicious in Houston since 1936." My wife's craving for sugar donuts were more than met and I had my first kolache. I plan on having many more! Damn tasty and cheap.

After getting our breakfast (at 2:30pm) we went to the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft before the Richard Black: The Art of Cue show ended on Sunday. This was our first visit and I was impressed with exhibition spaces and the curated shows. The pool cues created by Richard Black are such compact and complex creations. And the contemporary basket show was better than its topic would suggest. The great thing about contemporary crafts (as opposed to contemporary fine arts) is that even when a piece isn't that interesting or compelling, it still can be appreciated for the for the inherent skill that it took to create it. It's the opposite of the "a kid could do that" reaction that much modern art evokes.

I'm looking forward to more shows there. Plus the nice guy manning the front desk said the MFA might be looking for art installers and I'm itching to start working again.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Big Trip, Part 2 (July 31st - August 6th)

Strange things in the desert, pinball machines and naked ladies! Part 2 of our 1,700 mile trip out west.

Tuesday, July 31st

Yuma Cabana Motel, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

Yuma had little to offer us besides a good, clean motel with a great sign.

It was the drive north that provided some interesting sights. Based on my research from Roadside America, I knew of several places of interest. A tiny, tiny church was seen and passed, but the abandoned McPhaul suspension bridge was looked at, appreciated, and photographed.

McPhaul Bridge, Yuma, AZ, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

It was clear to me that the narrow bridge could not withstand modern traffic needs, but I was amused to know that the rerouting of the river, a new bridge location, and bad weather had all combined to destroy the replacement bridge in '84.

We continued north, deep into the Yuma Proving Grounds. Soon we passed the two atomic cannons, weapons that sounded good on paper until it was realized that battlefield soldiers would be handling lots of nuclear warheads. Not the most secure way of dealing with atomic weapons. (-- hee! -- Ed) The program was scrapped because of that and many other reasons and the cannons parked on the side of the 59. Later in the drive, there was a massive white blimp, far off in the distance, on the ground, silhouetted by the mountain. Even without much as a frame of reference, I could tell it was big.

Turns out that it was a Tethered Aerostat Radar System. Twice as big as the Goodyear blimp and significantly more expensive, it was designed in part to detect low-flying drug-running planes.

I would be hard pressed to want to go to the city of Yuma, but the proving grounds have a museum and I'm a sucker for such places. Maybe another trip will take us this way, possibly one where we stay at the Shady Dell.

Eventually we made it to our northern destination, Quartzsite, AZ, home of the Grave of Hi Jolly and the Quartzsite Yacht Club. The grave is a memorial to a Syrian-born man who came to the US to help the army develop a camel corp. The program never met the expectations of the government, and the camels were let loose in the desert to fend for themselves. Hi Jolly died in 1902, and the pyramid-shaped memorial was placed in the cemetery in 1935 by the Arizona Highway Department.

The Quartzsite Yacht Club has a slogan, "Long Time, No Sea." They have t-shirts with that on it that members can get. But the place was closed, so I didn't get my membership card and t-shirt. I need a t-shirt!

We headed east to Phoenix with no stops for sightseeing interruptions and arrived, hungry, in the late afternoon. My sweetie had spent some time here in Phoenix as a kid. So, after setting into the hotel we headed to a favorite destination, The Sugar Bowl. Mostly known for its ice cream , we had a little lunch before making a night of it at the Hotel Valley Ho.

The Valley Ho is a fantastic retro-modern hotel. Recently renovated, the place looks like money well-spent. Clean lines, lots of expensive-looking furniture scattered about and loads of details that complete the look. While the room was an off-season rate, our stay there was the biggest splurge of the trip. So was the much-needed massage I got at the spa. Driving and heavy luggage had conspired to make me achy.

Wednesday, August 1st
Phoenix-Flagstaff. Stayed with friends outside Flagstaff, AZ. While talking with one of them about the myriad of strange places that are around the country, I mentioned that Roden Crater, a longtime project of James Turrell, was not too far away. Shawn noted that not only was the crater literally just over the hill from where they lived were, but that he had seen James flying his plane many a time. Turrell in addition to being an artist, was a former CIA pilot. Shawn said that there were times when he pulled over and stopped driving just to watch Turrell fly his plane as he would cut through the sky putting the plane through all manner of amazing acrobatics.

Thursday, August 2nd
After fun with the folks in Flagstaff, we headed south for a little tour of Arizona. We drove up to the historic mining town of Jerome. Crazy mountain roads twisted and turned as we got into the town. Time constraints kept us from stopping and we headed on a back way to Prescott. Prescott was the former capital of Arizona and the city looks like old money. Had a really good meal. And continued on to Vegas.

Driving to Hoover Dam I noticed a smashed-up mobile crane near the massive construction site. Work on the huge Hoover Dam overpass was put drastically behind schedule when a windstorm blew down many of the cranes. Must have been a hell of a blow to bring them down like the one I saw.

Once home, we found that the annual Las Vegas Air-Conditioning Breakdown was right on schedule at our house, so a friend hosted us for a couple of nights until it was repaired. We dined at Tinoco's with our host, and another good meal was had.

Friday, August 3rd
Gallery hopping. Had dinner with a good friend Matt and his girlfriend. Since we care about our friends and don't care about clubbing, spending the evening with them was a perfect Friday night.

Saturday, August 4th
More time spent with Matt and his girl. The weekend started with a trip to Luv-It Custard, which is a neighbor to the Olympic Gardens strip club and can be found underneath the shadow of the Stratosphere on Oakey St. Another must-have Vegas food destination, it lived up to our memories. Matt and his girl decided that we needed to go to the Pinball Hall of Fame.

I continue to love the Pinball Hall of Fame in part because they rotate machines on occasion (which is great for photography's sake) and also because, on this last visit, Tim Arnolds (owner and operator) was there tending to one of the machines, cleaning and maintaining it. Previous interviews have made it clear that this has always been a labor of love. And it shows.

Sunday, August 5th
Our friend Steve had us over for drinks and food at his sweet downtown pad. We were talking about the relocation of the burlesque Exotic World museum from Helendale, CA, to Vegas. The Vegas venue has been closed, and I mentioned my disappointment at not seeing the place. Steve had met the guy who was running it and told me that he would see what he could do.

Monday, August 6th

Burlesque Hall of Fame 9, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

Burlesque Hall of Fame 31, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

Steve came through, and I got to visit the Burlesque Hall of Fame (renamed from Exotic World USA.) The operator, Luke, opened it up for me. Development meetings, fund raising, and everyday life prevent the museum-- a labor of love-- from keeping full-time hours. It now resides next to the Commerce St. Gallery, but since these buildings have been sold for development (like Vegas needs more condos?!) the museum will be relocating sometime in the near future. For the time being, the collection of photos, memorabilia and costumes will be on display whenever the manager has time, like First Fridays.

After all of that, we flew home late that night and arrived in Atlanta at 8:30am. And that was the end of our vacation out west.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Big Trip, Part 1 (July 25th - 30th)

Desert mystics, dinosaurs and Palm Springs! Part 1 of our 1,700 mile trip out west.

I had editing help from the lovely and talented San Francisco Fussygirl. So when you read something by the editor, that's her. Thank you, Kelly, for making me sound smarter than I am!

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Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Art at Las Vegas Airport, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

We flew into the Vegas airport and were greeted by large animals at the terminal. Got to the house about 1am (we are lucky enough to own a house in Vegas).

Thursday, July 26th
Many of our Vegas plans revolve around food. First on our list was Broadway Pizza. Atlanta had lots of good food, but good pizza was hard to find. Not here in Vegas.

I hit the Red Rooster antiques market and bought this vintage cookbook with a retro-fantastic cover. No stereotypes here!

The evening was spent with much-missed friends. Dined at the lovely Ichiza sake and Japanese restaurant where lots of good food and drink was had for less money than one would think. It's always like that there and the reason we always go.

Friday, July 27th
Our time in LA was spent celebrating the 10-year wedding anniversary of friends. They went all out with a 3-day extravaganza of which we attended two days. Day 1 consisted of munchies, drinks and a massive chocolate buffet.

Chocolate Table 1, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

The dizzying array of sweets was a result of world travel and the sampling of regional sweets. The stranger-tasting confections included salt-laden chocolate and one with curry (-- And coconut! -- Ed.) It was an interesting experience; I'll stick to the more traditional styles.

I love the culture that Los Angeles is home to, but damn if I don't hate the traffic. If I were rich I would have a driver to handle the nightmare that is LA drivers. That being said, why the hell was Lindsay Lohan at the wheel at all!? If I were her I would have a chauffeur-driven nightclub so I could snort all the coke I wanted while cruising the streets in safety and unmolested by press and police. Kids these days!

Saturday, July 28th

Day 2 was hosted at the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax Street. In between marriage-themed silent movies, singer Janet Klein serenaded the guests with songs from the '20s and '30s.

Silent Movie Theater 1, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

She was accompanied by Bob Mitchell, a 95-year-old organist who began playing for the silent movies when he was 12. He wasn't the clearest of talkers but put him in front of a keyboard and he shined.

Oil Wells at Drew's 1, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

We were staying with a friend outside of LA. He had oil wells behind his apartment complex. By day they looked ugly, but by night I thought them beautiful.

Sunday, July 29th
We headed out from LA with Palm Springs as our next destination. This was the beginning of The Road Trip. Much planning and internet research had provided me with many destinations that demanded viewing. Large, strange things, created by men (always men) with visions of dinosaurs or Jesus or weapons that would kill enemies on a mass scale.

These were to be our destinations.

The missus was the one who planned all our hotel accommodations, and the theme for these motels/hotels was mod-kitsch. Because we were traveling during the off-season, we benefited from low rates as a result of few people traveling in the summer heat.

It was damn hot!

Halfway into our drive, the valley started to fill with massive windmills, some at dead stop but many spinning away, providing power and amusing the oil industry. An unplanned stop at the roadside outlet mall scored many cheap clothings for the missus. More driving on the highway that cut through the fields of windmills. And there they were.

Cabazon Dinosaurs 4, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

The Cabazon Dinosaurs! Two of them just hanging out. A close look made it clear that they were nicely built, well-painted and huge. A closer look and it was clear that these were god-fearing, Jesus-worshipping, creation-believing dinosaurs. (Sigh. :-/ I was so disappointed to discover this, when I visited the dinos in Jan 06-- Ed.)

This former kitschy roadside attraction now had a greater purpose, to explain why evolution was wrong, geology and plate tectonics needed revision and what the bible meant when it was talking about leviathan. The gift shop inside the larger (an apatosaurus-- Ed.) was full of such things for purchase. The monsters had been bought by bought and repurposed, and while I don't believe in their message, the Christian owners have been taking good care of these guys since they bought them in 2005 (so says wikipedia.)

Our late arrival at Palm Springs provided little clue of what the city was like. We arrived at the charming and kitschy Caliente Tropics Resort. The resort has the second largest pool in Palm Springs, and it was quite lovely after the drive.

Monday, July 30th

Desert Christ Park 2, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

This day was spent driving around the city with a side trip to Desert Christ Park in Yucca Valley, CA. This park was one of two religiously-based attractions on the trip. Many of the white-washed statues had suffered damage in an earthquake, but I found them even more appealing because of how they now appeared.

Palm Springs Homes 14, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

Palm Springs Homes 3, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

The preconception I had of Palm Springs did not match what I was seeing on my first time there. While there were the many lovely mid-century modern homes the city is known for, they were often surrounded by boring and bland neighborhoods, or worse, genuinely bad architecture. Before leaving we ate some very good food, courtesy of Thai Smile, would recommend it.

Left Palm Springs going southeast. Drove the desert full of homes of wealthy retirees and snowbirds. (Did you know "snowbird" is also a slang term for a cokehead?-- Ed.) Continued south through poorer communities and into vast fields of date palms and towards the accidental body of water called the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea, CA2, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

A short stop near the sea had us walking the smelly-but-beautiful beach which was made up of fish bones.

We headed out to Niland, CA for a viewing of Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain, where he hosted us and showed us around his 20+ year project.

The mountain is three miles away from the main road, and needs to be walked around to take in the full beauty of the lifelong passion.

Salvation Mountain - Niland, CA 19, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

Coming up next entry: abandoned bridges, blimps, pyramid-shaped memorials and the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Want to Eat Here!

Zep's Diner of Los Angeles. Very nice! And don't be silly, it's not around any longer.

Image from the wonderful Vintage Photographs LiveJournal Community.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

And Baby Makes 3

Now that all the proper family have been notified, I can post online that we are adding a kid to the family. With a baby is on the way, I have started doing much research online. As part of an internet offering, I subscribed to a free parenting magazine and now I get emails like this...

And I thought my "curviness" was a result of fatty foods and inactivity. Now I know. My wife says she appreciates my voluptuousness.

In order to maintain my manliness while pregnant I look at over-priced baby movers like this one seen on Daddy Types. I feel more masculine already!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dancing at Derby, Keepon Keeping On

With my last derby post detail-free, I neglected to mention that Chucky's Choreography did the half- time show. That's them in the picture above. The Houston-based dance group threw down! Damn, kids, nice show. Especially considering they had to win over the derby crowd a little.

Dancing robots are great! For Christmas please!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Houston Derby Night

It was a productive weekend that ended with an evening of fast women beating each other up. Getting lost leaving the downtown area made me happy that I lived in an easily navigated part of the city.

Image from Houston's Chicken Boy

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Town New Sights

Strange Metal Highrise 2, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

First, a greeting to those reading...

To Mr. Carter - 20 gallon cowboy hats are a no! But the missus looks cute in her 1.3 liter cowboy hat. And I'm not averse to cowboy boots.

To Mr. Shirley - yes, the Montrose/Upper Kirby was full of washed-out intersections. I wasn't surprised when a cheap import was stalled out due to the water, but the disabled Volvo and pickup truck made me worry about navigating the city in our car.

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My highly attuned “weirdness” radar had been getting all sorts of hits in Houston. From an abandoned mini-golf course near the 610, a metal penthouse with a weather vane atop it to assorted other objects of interest, H-town has a growing collection of places I need to visit, photograph and cross off my list.

Just the few trips running errands have been rewarded with random sightings while en route and the strangeness that this city has is promising.

Even more so than other places, I feel like there will be some reward for being interested in these places. These places have like-minded fans of such things, and that would be something new for me.

Another present from Houston to me will be our first roller derby bout on Sunday. I wonder if it will be bad form to wear my Atlanta derby shirt. Well, ATL will be representing and the local girls will have to win me over. Something tells me they will! Anyone reading is welcome to introduce themselves at the game (or online); my shirt will have the phrase "Dirty South Derby" on the back.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Home Sweet Houston

Today Houston was a torrent of rain, with intersection flooded and a fountain of sewage near the Allen parkway.

And now a recap of our trip...

Left Atlanta Saturday night.
Arrived in Houston late Sunday afternoon.
823 miles over 1 short/1 long day.
15 hours of driving (timid driving until my nerves calmed down, meal breaks, Alabama fog and much construction on the I-10 in Texas.)

Back on the day of our arrival we were met with a couple of friend’s friend’s who had volunteered to help unload our fully-laden truck. They couldn't have been more helpful, powering through all our assorted boxes, furniture and miscellaneous crap. 2 and ½ hours later, we finished up. The beer had been drunk, but there was still our offer of dinner. One mover took us up on it while the other left with a rain check. We ate at the nearby House of Pies, which is a perfect place to go when feeling gross, under-dressed and exhausted. We liked it so much we did breakfast there in the morning.

At the nearby coffee house Café Artiste I was looking out the window at a new Scion XB and thought that the front of the hood hand a perfect place to mount a couple of horns. I’m pretty well settled with the idea of being Texan. Well, at least a Houstonian.

Now we are still settling in to our new apartment where our landlord had supplied us with breakfast fixings and a departing tenant said that our landlord was really nice and we would love it here.

Feeling good so far.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pictures from the Plane

Plane Pictures 54, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

These days of preparing for the Houston move have me suffering from insomnia and waking far too early. I blame it partially on the red -eye from Vegas at the beginning of the week.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

More Trip Pictures: Palm Springs, Salvation Mountain, Pinball Hall of Fame and Burlesque Hall of Fame

Palm Springs Homes 14, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

Burlesque Hall of Fame 31, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

From Vegas to Atlanta, Soon Houston

A detailed recap of the trip will be posted at time when I have more rest...

Our vacation is now over. A red-eye flight out of Vegas had us arriving in Atlanta at 8-ish AM. We are now back in an apartment full of boxes, which by weeks end, will be packed up in a truck ready to be driven to Houston.

Is it smart to relocate to a new city in 5 days after driving 1,700 miles out west, plus a late-night flight back here?...

Well, almost 7 years ago, 10 days after we married, we packed up our New Orleans apartment, moved to Vegas with no job and no place to stay. So, we will be arriving in Houston with more plans in place than that first move.

And we got some help with the unloading the truck once we are there! Behold the power that is friends-who-have-friends-in-Houston, beer and food!

Thursday, August 02, 2007