Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Class, Subway Bathrooms, and Big Alex

Continental First Class
A few days ago I had to drive Jayson to the airport so he could suffer through his long flight to Aberdeen, Scotland. In first class. Poor baby. His company's home office is in Aberdeen and he's made several trips there but they have a strict company policy that no one, even executives, flies first class. It just so happened that on this particular flight the first class fare was actually $20 cheaper than coach. I don't understand how that could happen unless maybe coach was full and they just wanted to fill those first class seats. Anyway, he didn't complain.

Emirates First Class Suite
Emirates In-Flight Spa
He will have a chair that folds out into a bed and a menu of good food to choose from. He could also drink himself silly if he was so inclined but neither of us do that anymore. It's too bad his company's home office isn't in Dubai so he could fly first class on Emirates like they did in that Sex in The City movie that I definitely didn't go see with a bunch of church friends. Then he could have his own private suite and even have a spa treatment mid-flight. Those Arabs know how to do first class.

Jayson sometimes brings back little souvenirs for me and Taylor but his trips are usually all business with very little free time so I don't make specific requests. However, I felt that since he's flying first class this time he will probably arrive already rested and refreshed and would have plenty of energy to do some shopping for me.

I found a yarn shop just outside of town that has lots of locally grown, dyed and spun wool. I would love to have a couple of skeins of it to make myself a nice scarf or something. When I told Jayson about this his eyes glazed over and I think he lost consciousness for a few seconds so I quickly came up with a Plan B. There's a shop not too far from his hotel that has cashmere scarves for way cheaper than we can buy them here so I told him I'd like one of those if he couldn't get the wool yarn. I'm pretty sure he'll come home with a scarf and maybe even a sweater to go with it as long as it means he doesn't have to go to the yarn shop.

He's such a guy.

After I dropped Jayson off at the airport I made my way to the Fourth Ward to go to a store that I've tried to visit several times but they're always closed when I get there. Once again, it was closed. There was a cardboard sign on the door that said they will reopen on January 27. The store is Texas Junk Co. and they're only open on Friday and Saturday and even that schedule seems to be at the owner's discretion. They don't have a website and I never think to call ahead before I go.

I'm going to try again this weekend because I would like to get a pair of boots before the rodeo. I want something vintage, funky and well worn to go with an outfit that I'm maybe making. I say maybe because all I've done is think about it so far.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to make my way over to Westheimer Antiques Flea Market. It's in one of my favorite areas of Houston, the Neartown area. There's just all kinds of quirky, offbeat, fun stuff to do and see around there. Check out the art deco Kroger on W. Gray. How fun is that?

Along the way I spotted this sculpture on an otherwise unremarkable building located at the corner of Mason and Hyde Park in Montrose. I thought it might be a David Adickes sculpture since Houston is peppered with them but I hadn't run across this one in my extremely thorough search of quirky stuff to see. Sure enough, I learned that it is an Adickes sculpture called Big Alex and its host building is a framing shop. You can read a little about the adventures of Big Alex here.

I didn't get too far down Westheimer when I found The Cottage Thrift Shop which benefits The Women's Home in Houston. Well, I'm all about a good cause and I'm even more about thrifty treasures so I couldn't not stop in. They mostly had clothes, which rarely interest me, but I did pick up a few things. Most notably, these gorgeous silk ties that I will use to dye this year's...uummm...Passover eggs.

I spent more time in the thrift store than I had intended and discovered that I was hungry and had to pee. Fortunately I was parked right across the street from Katzs Deli so I decided to drop in, grab a sandwich and pee. The restaurant is in a huge 2 story building and even at 3 in the afternoon they were unusually crowded. I hoped this was a sign that the food was good. It was. I had the best french dip sandwich I've ever had in my life, thanks to a recommendation by their flaming gay bartender who became my newest BFF in less than 10 minutes.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the ladies room experience which was decorated like a New York City subway platform, complete with an "accident".

The bartender also recommended I have their cheese shake for dessert and I'm glad I did. It was amazing. They take a hunk of actual cheesecake, throw it in a blender and make a shake out of it. OMG.

Although this was one of the tastiest deli experiences I've ever had, it was also the most expensive. It was just me, I had a medium sized sandwich, fries, iced tea and the shake for dessert and my bill was $28. Would I cough up the cash and eat there again? Yeah, I would.

As I continued to make my way to the antique shop, I spotted El Real Tex Mex and quickly added it to my list of restaurants to try. It's located in the old Tower Theater in Montrose and I don't even care if the food is any good or not. They did such an amazing job with the marquee that I would eat there just to celebrate good design.

Well aware that my afternoon was slipping away I continued down Westheimer toward my destination until I was lured in to B.J. Oldies and Antiques by their deceivingly funky facade. They had a lot of overpriced antique French furniture and pretty much everything else was overpriced too. Either that or the price wasn't marked on the item which just irritates me. I left empty handed and cursed B.J. for looking cool on the outside and pretentious on the inside.

It was after 5 and I knew the stores would be closing soon and it would be getting dark which makes driving home an adventure since I'm somewhat night blind. I decided to save the Westheimer Antiques Flea Market for another day and just head on home. I'm glad I did because I spotted so much more funkiness along the way that I would like to devote a whole day to. The Lower Westheimer Shopping District is full of quirky little resale shops, antique stores, bars and tattoo shops. Oh my gosh, I've never seen so many tattoo shops in one place.

You can get a tattoo pretty much anywhere in Houston. There are little strip malls all over the place and the common ingredients of the typical trashy Houston strip mall are a tattoo shop, a bail bondsman, a beauty salon and a dentist. I'm not sure what those 4 business have in common but they seem to come in a set. 

As I continued to head toward the loop, the funky Neartown/Montrose area of Westheimer ended quite abruptly after I passed S. Shepherd. I had wandered into River Oaks where the flea markets and tattoo shops were replaced by Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, and the ginormous Central Market. However there is also the River Oaks Plant House where the median in front of the shop is lined with tons of fun topiaries. That's kinda cool.

I never expected to like living in a big city but hard as I try, I just can't hate it. I live in Cypress which is its own little town and everything I need is within a 10 minute drive. But if I'm willing to drive for half an hour and battle a little traffic, I'm rewarded with more stuff to do and see than I could possibly squeeze into a lifetime. I'm always running into native Houstonians who have never been to the Art Car Museum or The Orange Show or they don't know about the Sky Lobby on the 60th floor of the Chase Tower. There are so many other things to do that they just haven't gotten around to exploring more. They should call me.


SkylersDad said...

You wrote about more fun and adventure in this single update than I have had in over a year. That is pretty damn sad.

Shannon Green said...

I may go to the grocery store later today then you'll really be jealous.