The Last Blast

I have asked dozens of astronauts what it feels like to blast off, and words always fail them. A roller coaster is the standard analogy, with adjectives piled on to suggest that it’s something more thrilling and terrible, something inexpressible. Often their eyes clamp shut at the memory and sometimes they shiver. No one has ever answered with a smile.

Lost in Space

On April 12, NASA commemorated the fifteenth anniversary of the inaugural flight of the space shuttle with a party at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. Agency administrators made speeches. Russian dignitaries schmoozed with engineers.

Store Wars!

Back in March, during the Gianni Versace show in Milan, Italy, Rose Marie Bravo, the boisterous president of Saks Fifth Avenue, suddenly exclaimed, “Houston!” Supermodel Naomi Camp-bell was strutting down the runway in a shiny little green slip dress, and Bravo, who was sitting in the first row, could barely contain herself. “That screams Houston,” she declared. “That’s exactly what we want.”

51–75

51 | Donald Chambers founds the Bandidos
Houston Ship Channel, Houston | March 1966

52 | Sam Houston defeats Santa Anna
Along Independence Parkway, La Porte | April 21, 1836

53 | The Houston Stone Walls beat the Galveston Robert E. Lees—in baseball
Along Independence Parkway, La Porte | April 21, 1867

54 | Gilley’s opens
4500 Spencer Highway, Pasadena | 1971

Courtroom Drama

John O’Quinn wanted to be the best lawyer who ever lived. And for a while, it looked as if that was going to happen. He certainly was one of the most successful—and one of the richest. But the power he wielded and the money he spent didn’t lead to happiness. That changed when the Houston trial lawyer began seeing Darla Lexington, who friends say transformed his life for the better.

Where to Eat Now 2011

Every February, I try to tease out the culinary trends of the ten best new restaurants that opened the year before. This time, “local,” “comfort food,” and “affordable” are the words du jour. Happily, under that umbrella there is plenty of variety: Number four is a bistro/chophouse. Number five draws on familiar dishes from many different cultures. Number seven is Tuscan with a Texan accent. And number nine specializes in Mexican street food, a.k.a. Spanish-speaking comfort food.

Tea for Texas

Something had clearly gone wrong. It was the evening before Election Day, and I was standing in the shadow of Loop 610 in Houston in front of the strip mall headquarters of the tea party group known as the King Street Patriots. Amid the bustle of volunteers, I had managed to locate the group’s founder and president, Catherine Engelbrecht, a tall, comely German American, and she seemed amenable to letting me spend Election Day with her outfit, provided I call her attorney to make sure it was kosher.

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