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The State of Texas: Houston Astrodome Could Get A New Lease On Life

Plus: Rick Perry gets voted off ’Dancing With the Stars,’ J.J. Watt could be out for the season, and more Texas inmates are coming out as transgender than ever before.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“The road to Slaton had just been paved, and one of the most popular places to go when you had a date, was to just drive to Slaton and back on the new paved road.”

—Affanell Brock Patterson, a 100-year-old Lubbuckite, to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. In her interview with the newspaper, Patterson shared stories of old-time Texas. The centenarian also provided this comforting reminder that dating has always sucked.


BIG NEWS


General interior view of the Houston Astrodome during a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros in Houston, Texas. The Cubs won the game 4-3. This was quite a long time ago.
The Houston Astros host the Chicago Cubs in 1996. The Astros played their last game in the Astrodome in 1999.

Matthew Stockman/Getty

Long Live The Astrodome
Seventeen years after the departure of the Houston Astros seemed to have left the Astrodome for dead, it appears as though the magnificently retro stadium will now have a second life. On Tuesday, Harris County commissioners approved the first phase of a plan to reuse the Astrodome as a hybrid parking garage and event space, according to the Houston Chronicle. Under the proposed plan, the Astrodome will get a bit of a facelift: the floor will be raised thirty feet to ground level in order to make room for about 1,400 parking spaces underneath, and the updated ground floor would be available for concerts, trade shows, music festivals, conferences or other events, like the Houston rodeo. The price tag as of right now? $105 million. In the past few years, there have been a handful of ideas put forward to turn the hulking, vacant dome into everything from a hotel-convention center to a movie studio, an indoor ski arena, and, as the Chronicle points out, “a pile of rubble,” but those plans all ultimately fell apart. The Astrodome seemed doomed after voters rejected a $217 million plan in 2013 to renovate the world’s first multi-purpose dome, but this new vote revives hope for the Texas landmark. It’s fair to say that the Astrodome deserves better than the wrecking ball. In it’s 51 years, the “Eighth Wonder of the World” has seen four Muhammad Ali fights, six no-hitters, college basketball’s “Game of the Century,” Billie Jean King’s famous “Battle of the Sexes” victory, and it also housed Hurricane Katrina refugees in 2005. Under the plan, the new-look Astrodome can open for business in less than five years, according to the Houston Press.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Dancing With The Losers
Former Governor Rick Perry gave us so much joy during his time on ABC’s Dancing With the StarsSo, so much joy. Maybe too much joy. Anyway, all things must end, and Perry’s tenure on the reality TV dancing circuit has reached the point where it must end, like, right now. Or at least that’s what the show’s voters indicated, as Perry was ousted from the during Tuesday night’s episode, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Perry’s couldn’t make it past the show’s second elimination round after a devastating dance-off loss Monday night to Vanilla Ice, a Texas showdown Perry and partner Emma Slater lost by way of a brutal tiebreaker decided by head judge Len Goodman. The hard-luck loser was thus eligible for elimination on Tuesday, and voters showed Perry the door.  Still, we learned a lot about Perry—and maybe even ourselves—during his foray into the world of dance. Perry said he agreed to participate in the show to raise awareness for veterans issues and also to help prepare himself to dance with his daughter at her upcoming wedding. “I admire Rick for his determination,” Goodman said, according to the Statesman. “You know the judges, we knock him down but he gets up and comes back and gives it his all.” That’s our Texan. According to the Dallas Morning News, Perry thanked the judges, then promised he’ll “be back.” (Please, no.)

Watt Outage
Houston Texans’ star defensive end and general icon of the human race J.J. Watt is apparently done for the season after re-injuring his surgically repaired back. According to the Houston Chronicle, Watt will be placed on injured reserve, and the Texans have already signed a defensive end to add depth to the position. He won’t be allowed to play in a game for another eight weeks, but it seems unlikely he’ll be back at all this season. Both the Chronicle and ESPN‘s Ed Werder said sources told them it’d be a “long shot” to see Watt return in 2016. He missed the entire preseason after undergoing a microdiscectomy in July to fix a herniated disk. Though Watt managed to start in each of the Texans’ first three games, the Chronicle noted that he was “clearly a shell of his usual dominant self” after a poor performance against the New England Patriots last week. Thankfully, the injury doesn’t appear to be career threatening. Watt isn’t the first high-profile Texas NFL player to have his season marred by a major injury this year, see: Romo, Tony. We’re still sorry for that one, by the way. The Texas Monthly cover curse is too real.

Coming Out From Behind Bars
More Texas inmates are identifying as transgender than ever before, according to the Dallas Morning News. Two years ago, only 67 inmates identified as transgender. This year, that number has jumped to 333. As the Morning News notes, that’s still a tiny portion of Texas’s huge prison population—just 0.2 percent—and it’s unclear what, exactly, is causing more inmates to come out. One possible reason could be that the climate behind bars (and in the outside world) has moderately improved for transgender people. In March 2014, the Texas Criminal Justice Department began recording whether inmates identify as transgender, and that period also kicked off an effort to educate inmates so that they could feel free come out. An attorney for an LGBT rights group told the Morning News that improved access to hormone therapy for transgender inmates in Texas also may have had something to do with the increase.


WHAT WE’RE READING


The Texas Capitol gets a new monument celebrating African-Americans Texas Tribune

Texans are super concerned about student debt Dallas Morning News

There’s a ton of Koch money influencing Texas Tech Texas Observer

A South Texas high school security guard body slammed a sixteen-year-old girl McAllen Monitor

Beaumont was rated the fourth-worst place in the U.S. for singles to mingle Beaumont Enterprise

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  • OM

    From astro turf back to natural turf. Give us back the empty space it was, if only for awahile.