Tag: uber

Uber Alley – The Astrodome

9/20/2020

To get this recent photo (August, 2020), there is a turn-out, just over the light-rail tracks from Fannin. I pointed the camera between the pair of gates because the fence is “privacy-enabled” (see green shielding foreground, right). Quite certainly, I was not supposed to park there. But I had it in mind to blame Uber directions if I had been confronted. I had thought it through even to when they asked to see the directions…
“Well, how do you like that? The son-of-a-gun cancelled on me!”, I would say.

In the Beginning

Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, this first indoor, air-conditioned sports stadium suitable for both baseball and football was opened in 1965.  Your Humble Narrator was almost one of the first to see the new Wonder.  As a Cub Scout, I sold tickets to the Scout Fair, where Scouts would demonstrate things like rope-lashed towers, camping and cooking skills, woodwork (axe handling – they were manly scouts, back then) and semaphore communication.  Parents. Grandparents and Corporate Donors bought the tickets as donations, but few actually attended.  But, this year, somehow, the newly completed, but as yet unvisited Astrodome was designated the site of the Scout Fair.  And – not surprisingly – all the ticket holders suddenly wanted to attend the previously ignored Fair.  This writer was taken to the Astrodome that opening night by his parents.    Parking attendants – attired in spacesuit costumes – charged the unheard-of price of $5 and we walked toward the Dome – from far away since the lots were near-full – only to find that the Fire Marshall had forbidden more guests.  We returned to the car and left.  As Steve’s Mom observed, the parking attendants, in their space suits, had “Blasted Off” and were not available to refund the $5.    

   The dome was called “Astro…” for the astronauts who were to be trained at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston and the Baseball team name was changed from “Colt 45’s” to “Astros” to follow suit.  I suspect the whole, new and exciting subject of space travel was more appealing to the “powers that be” than an Old West weapon name – even if it was “the gun that won the West.”

Daredevilry

I saw Evel Knievel jump a motorcycle over 14 cars.  He had to start outside and come roaring into the Dome through the big door at the endzone, where the Football teams run out – and behind the Baseball outfield.  He appeared, hit the ramp, flew over the assembled cars, hit the landing ramp and went zooming out another door.  Spectacular!

Once, I worked as a teenage first-aid volunteer for what was called the Thrill Show.  There was a destruction derby and a World War II era “re-enactment” that included a “bunker” that was attacked with flame throwers.  Suddenly, a man ran out of the “bunker” on fire!  The ambulance was called into the Astrodome floor as was the Fire Truck.  After the man (in the flame-retardant suit) was extinguished, the announcer revealed that this was all a part of the show.  There had been only so much room on the floor-plate bumper of the ambulance for hangers-on (there was a handrail at the top) and I missed out on the bit.  I was glad later when the ambulance refused to start as the crowd looked on and the announcer kept saying, “Please remove the ambulance from the arena!”.

After that, one of the Officers of the Houston Harris County Emergency Corps (Charlie Hocker, if I remember correctly) found me and said, “Steve, come with me.”  We went up to the highest level of seats where Charlie greeted a security guard who allowed us to go and sit down in the back row of seats. “But, just be very quiet!,” he warned.

There I saw that a cable had been stretched across from the other side.  The announcer said that Karl Wallenda would now walk this tightrope.  Below us and in front of us we saw Wallenda’s entourage, including – I was told – his wife.  All of us watched as Wallenda slowly and carefully approached us across that cable with one of those long poles he used to help with balance.  Meanwhile, Hocker was snapping off pictures with an expensive-looking camera.

At last, Wallenda was approaching the end of his walk. He was now walking uphill on the sagging cable. The stadium was very quiet. We could hear Wallenda call out to the entourage.    

His wife said, “Don’t fall now!”  Just at that moment, Hocker’s walkie-talkie suddenly burst out – at extreme volume – with, “Say, Hank, I see a guy over there to the left of you that looks like he might have hurt his arm.  Why don’t you go check him out?”.

Charlie was frantically reaching to turn off the radio and the Security guard was desperately making “shushing” signals and I was sweating bullets!  A few of the entourage looked around for intruders but we were both in semi-official-looking uniform shirts and they couldn’t see the blue jeans we wore with ‘em.

Wallenda survived and Charlie got his pictures and the security guy hustled us out shortly after.

Tennis

I was there for the Billie Jean King vs Bobbie Riggs “Battle of the Sexes” Tennis Match in 1973.  Somebody gave me the tickets. They played the rivalry up as a big deal for “Women’s Liberation” and Riggs portrayed the perfect “Chauvinist Pig”.  That was all showmanship. As someone pointed out to me, “Look at this crowd!  If they split five percent, they’ve both made a fortune!” 

Riggs (55) lost in three sets to King (29) and the former vaulted the net to congratulate the latter – his alleged “hated rival”.  According to Riggs’ son, Billie Jean said, “Bobby, I want you to know that I love you, a lot.” And Riggs said, “Billie Jean, I love you, too.  And we did something great together.”

Baseball

I was in the stands with a college roommate on April 12, 1980 when this pitcher with an unprecedented 4-plus million-dollar contract (Nolan Ryan) got his Houston years started.  We were sitting just in front of a pair of “mature” ladies who – as avid fans -expressed doubts the value of this guy.  They also derided me for commenting that his batting average was listed as .000 – it was his first at-bat with the team, you see. Well, when Ryan hit a three-run homer, the Geritol Twins had to admit that Nolan might be worth it and Ryan’s average went to 1.000!  I seem to remember that game went way into extra innings and Jim Clarke and I wound up moving down to the “good seats”.

After a long and varied career that saw Baseball, Football, Basketball (and Tennis), as well as Music, Daredevilry and Rodeo, the Harris County Domed Stadium (as it was originally named) has been “mothballed”.  The place is in a weird “purgatory” state of existence.  It will cost way too much to bring the structure up to modern building codes and to tear it down would also be quite expensive.  So, it just sits there – a melancholy memory of Auld Lang Syne

Hasta Luego,

Steve      

Uber Alley – Art Cars and Signs of the Apoplexy

8/04/2020 The red Ford Explorer is back in service and driving near 200 miles per day.  It had been 150 miles, but now we are struggling to make up for the time and expense involved with the previously discussed Imbecilic Design of the Ford engine that cost so dearly.  Below are some points of interest around the city, captured in the last few weeks.

Art Car Museum

I pass a lot of places that stand out as quite unique.  This one is the Art Car Museum at 140 Heights Boulevard (77007). 

Figure 1: The Art Car Museum. The website seems to overrule the hours posted on the sign – “Now open by appointment only”. We assume that admission is still free. There was – at one point in time – an “Annual Art Car Parade”. We assume that has been canceled, like everything else.
Figure 2: An example of an “Art Car”. What on normal cars is “collision damage” becomes just another eruption of fruit, in this case.

Signs of the Apoplexy

Public notices and labels or roads and structures can be quite mysterious and or/or amusing:

Figure 3: Bean dip is an ancient product that pre-dates grocery-store tortilla chips by many decades. In the stone age, when I was young – it came in cans and was consumed with Frito brand corn chips – rectangular in shape and curled by the cooking process.
Figure 4: I had occasions to walk by this Hindu Temple and found out three things. 1. The Hindus attending left their shoes out front. 2. The local homeless population did not “walk off” with the Hindus’ shoes, because it would have been a step down. This is because Hindus are clever enough to not wear their best shoes where they must be left at the doorstep. 3) Hindus are not intimidated by seven syllable words. This is an archival photo. The sign, today is faded to the point of illegibility and the Temple, closed and abandoned.
Figure 5: Just why this building is labeled “SICK” is still a mystery. It seems to be empty and unused, as are the neighboring offices. Could it be one of those asbestos-laden “sick buildings”? I doubt it. That’s entirely too obvious. On the Westbound Beltway 8 feeder, just East of the Highway 249 junction,

Hasta Luego,

Steve      

Uber Alley – Camouflage

Foreword:  I am fully aware of the stereotypical reputation of posts about cats.  So, I promise not to post anything like this again for at least a year. 😉 Posted: 6/27/2020

Some pet owners attribute human-like characteristics to their animal friends. But, some alleged domesticated cats have unique dog-like traits and other qualities that defy description.  Locally, there is this dingy-gray cat named Pepper (but referred to as the Princess, for her attitude) who is the same color as some spots on the concrete driveway.  She frequently likes to play “chicken” with the multi-ton Ford Explorer I am backing out of the garage (as I set off to drive for Uber – that’s the connection, you see).  In the pre-dawn darkness, as imaged by the back-up camera, she appears as just another spot (albeit a moving one) on the driveway.  I take great care to not let her become a literal spot on the driveway.  This is the same cat who will jump into open cabinets despite the dishes there found and climb into empty boxes (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Pepper in a box

Unlike most sane cats, she loves to get in the car and we have to tell contractors and movers in the area to double check their trucks before they leave.  She would sit outside the neighbor’s window and torture the poor dogs in the house.  She hopped in the Ford while I was unloading from a One, Two, Three, Etc. road trip and I found her as I took the car to turn it around.  So I drove her around the block instead.  Far from cowering on the floorboards, this one. See figure 2 below  

Figure 2: Not cowering on the floor

This feline is watched over by a woman who calls the cat “Princess” while referring to herself as “Abuelita” (Grandmother).  Abuelita makes every effort to comfort the Princess – even to the point of providing her with a special chair, covered with the cat’s own blanket and a pillow included.  Please see figure 3, below.

Figure 3: Luxurious repose prepared for Pepper

The Princess, however, rejects the throne and prefers to spend her time in a more rustic location.  Please see figure 4, below.

Figure 4: This is where she really wants to be.

So, this is the lunacy that (to some degree) makes the rest of life bearable.  😉

Hasta Luego,

Steve