Archive for May, 2009

22nd May
2009
written by Jeff

Front Yard

My house is a very very very very fine house. I’ve lived her for 14 years, but it is time for me to move out and let some other lucky soul have a crack at it.  I fully intend to remain in the neighborhood because it rocks the mic like a vandal and waxes the chumps like a candle, bizyotch.

There was a point when I swore the only way you’d get me out of this house was in a box, but then again there was a time I swore I would never cut my hair, never eat meat and never have sex for money. Things change!

Below are the basic details as well as a more detailed description you won’t get from a realtor or from the HAR description. If you know anyone interested, please let me or my realtor know. Thank you!

MLS Listing: http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=99021074
My photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffbalke/sets/72157618602855486/
Agent: Jeffrey Morrison – 713.516.2730 (Suzanne Anderson Properties)
MLS# 99021074
Listing Price: $239,900
1118 Alexander – 77008
Houston Heights

Please note that the agent also happens to be a friend of mine and a really good guy, so feel free to have folks call him about this listing or even if they are looking to sell themselves.

The House:

It’s bigger than you think – over 1600 feet. The upstairs is cool converted attic perfect for a spare bedroom or ready for someone to remodel into a master suite.  The kitchen is gigantic for a Heights house with tons of counter top and cabinet space.  The laundry room is actually a second BIG bedroom. The back den is massive and was probably originally a sleeping porch.  It has original boxcar siding walls and is built like a tank.  The whole house gets amazing light from all the windows – particularly in the back.

The center raised dining area with the open space between the living room and the den makes the whole thing feel like an open floor plan – especially the french doors that separate the den and the dining area.

The a/c unit cools well in the house and the heater/furnace heats well.  I keep window units in the bedroom and living room just to help save on energy costs, but they definitely are NOT necessary.

The front porch might be my favorite place – typical Heights hang. It even still has hooks from where a porch swing used to hang and can again.

It’s a great house.  A lot of love has gone into it and it deserves an owner who will appreciate it.

The Garage Apartment:

This is 600 square feet and built from the ground up by the previous owner. It has a bathroom with a shower and a small hot water heater.  The rooms are divided into two small rooms originally used for massage rooms when my ex-wife and I did that for a living. I’ve used it since as a rehearsal space and it’s perfect for a workshop or office. It has separate electrical from the house, a central a/c heater unit that needs a new blower motor, but otherwise is great. The floors are steel re-inforced concrete so it’s sturdy.

It also has it’s own alarm system and a massive attic that spans the length and width of the building.

The Yard:

The yard is amazing. It’s all native plants – no grass – which means it needs ZERO watering EVER. Whatever grows in the yard has had to survive so it’s perfect for Houston.  It’s even been certified nationally and in Texas as a backyard wildlife habitat.

There are a half dozen pecan trees, a beautiful oak in the front yard that was only 10 feet high when I moved in and a lovely Chinese Elm right by the street.

The rose bushes in front of the bedroom grow like nuts and the vines on the picket fence (yup, the only white picket fence on the street – classic bungalow living) are purple trumpet vines that bloom twice a year like the huge hibiscus. Other front yard bloomers include the bridal’s wreath bush, the vitex and the firecracker bushes, which attract a LOT of humming birds in the fall.

In the back, it’s lush with a screened in gazebo that probably needs re-screening.  Inside the gazebo are electrical outlets, a celing fan and running water with a sink – perfect for hanging out.  The whole back yard has winding paths and even a small concrete pond with a wooden bridge over it. There is a wood deck that looks over the whole thing.

There’s a small greenhouse on top of a pea gravel poured area behind the garage apartment next to a covered overhang that has a potting bench and an outside closet.  It’s a gardener’s dream.

The Neighborhood:

It’s a prime location in the AWESOME Houston Heights (I intend to remain in the hood, myself) about 2 blocks from Shepherd and 11th Street.  You can walk to Java Java or Dragon Bowl for food or even to Kroger for groceries.  Take a bike and you can get pretty much anywhere in the Heights quickly especially with the new hike and bike trail that just opened 2 blocks away on Nicholson.

It’s a block from Love Elementary (an HISD exemplary school) and Love Park, which has a nice paved jogging track, a swimming pool and a great gym for basketball if you are in a league.

Oh, and if you feel like a longer jog, from the back door down to 12th, over the Heights, up to 20th and back is EXACTLY 3 miles!

Neighbors

This is the part I’ll miss the most.  The Heights can be sketchy from street to street, but my neighbors are the freaking best.  The next door neighbors are the best anyone could ask for.  Mike is an electrician and amazing handy man (he has done a bunch of projects on this house including putting up the white picket fence in the front) and his wife, Donna, makes the best fudge you will ever eat in your life.  Everyone in the immediate vacinity is just fantastic.

Oh, and they all love animals.  You’ll see raccoons, opossums, squirrels, all kinds of birds and, yes, like the rest of the Heights, a few stray kitties that the neighbors all feed and who help to keep the mice population to a minimum. 

Post to Twitter Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

20th May
2009
written by Jeff

I had me some swine fluz, but I got over it. All it left me with is a stupid cough and the need for a shave. I’ll be back to normal blogging duties soon.

Scruffy

Post to Twitter Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

15th May
2009
written by Jeff

Save Paste MagazineYou know I don’t ask you guys for much. Sure, there was that time when I kept shouting, “BOOBS! I WANT TO SEE YOUR BOOBS!” at that church social, but in my defense, there were some pretty awesome boobs there and you know you want to see them too, so pipe down already.

But, this isn’t about boobs – not directly anyway. This is about Paste Magazine.

I love music and Paste is probably the only magazine I care to read on that particular subject. But, they are struggling and need some help.

The global recession has taken its toll on Paste as advertisers have slashed their spending. We are turning to our readers to help bridge the gap. Even a small contribution can make a big difference.

Join 75+ of our favorite artists in the campaign to save Paste and get rare & exclusive tracks as a thank you.

Artists include The Decemberists, Neko Case, She & Him, Cowboy Junkies, Of Montreal, Indigo Girls, Jayhawks, String Cheese Incident, G. Love, Josh Rouse, The Hives, Matthew Sweet, The Avett Brothers, Joe Henry, John Roderick of The Long Winters, Over the Rhine, Bob Mould, Arrested Development, Brandi Carlile, John Doe, Josh Ritter, Marc Broussard and more. We also have a number of goodies (such as signed R.E.M. and Band of Horses posters, an ocean-view cabin on next year’s Cayamo cruise, and more) to give to donors in random drawings.

Some things are worth saving while others you need to just let die – I’m looking at you, Dokken reunion tour. Paste is most definitely worth saving, so help out if you can.

Post to Twitter Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

11th May
2009
written by Jeff

The winding story of the Houston Rockets’ season has rarely made room for logic, linear thinking or any standard notions of cause and effect. Star players disappear, expectations sink and the Rockets surge.

They are confounding and exhilarating all at once. – The New York Times

RowdiesI am an unabashed Houston Rockets fan. I have been since I was just a kid and Calvin Murphy was such a hero of mine, I carried his basketball card around with me in my back pocket.

Like the Rockets, I am unashamed of my love of the city of Houston.

In honor of both and the amazing win yesterday over the Lakers, I give you the five ways the city and the team are alike.

Both are unselfish.

The Rockets play some of the stingiest help defense in the NBA. They also willingly move the ball to find the open man. Ron Artest, their best player now that Yao Ming is out, had a bad shooting game yesterday, but piled up six assists. Even their bench spends most of their time standing. They are the quintessential team, banding together no matter what the circumstances and realizing that what is good for the whole is good for the individual, not the other way around.

The city of Houston gives and gives and gives. When Katrina hit, Houston opened its doors without question or regret for the people of New Orleans. When most of the country forgot that we had a hurricane last year, we sucked it up and went to help our neighbors in Galveston when no one else would. I once read that Houston represents one percent of the population of the United States, but totals nearly 11 percent of its volunteer hours. When you need help, Houston is there.

Neither pretend to be something they aren’t.

The Rockets don’t try to outscore opponents because that isn’t their game. They don’t run up and down the floor with a fast-paced, wild and free offensive game. They don’t gamble on defense. They don’t try to be better athletes. They play smart and hard and they play their game with no apologies. They never allow another team to out work them and they remain true to their approach through the most difficult of circumstances.

Houston isn’t scenic like San Francisco or glamorous like New York and our weather isn’t perpetually perfect like San Diego. But, we love who we are – a friendly, opportunity-driven, quirky, southern city with great food and a giant heart. We aren’t a tourist destination and don’t want to be. You come here for the people not the views and you come here to live not to visit a theme park. We are who we are and that’s just fine with us.

They both defy the odds and the critics.

The above quote from the NYT about the Rockets’ season is absolutely accurate. They began the season with high hopes of a long run deep into the playoffs, perhaps even to the title. They lost Tracy McGrady halfway through the season, traded away their starting point guard in favor of two youngsters and lost Yao Ming to yet another foot injury. The Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice even penned a eulogy for them in his blog saying, “They’ll almost certainly play their final home game of the season Sunday afternoon against the Lakers.”

But, that’s the thing about these Rockets, like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, they just won’t quit and they won’t go down easy. You have to kill them. No matter what the odds, they seem to constantly come up with ways to win and change whenever necessary to make that happen.

Built on a swamp and false promises from the Allen Brothers, most people didn’t think Houston would survive. But, we scratched and clawed our way up through oil boom and bust, dot com success and failure. We turned a muddy ass ditch into the second largest port in the US. We built the first indoor sports stadium with “fake” grass when people said we were crazy to try. Hell, for all the crap we take about our strip malls, humidity and flooding, “Houston” was the first word spoken from the surface of the moon!

Like any great city, we re-invent ourselves while staying true to our nature, but unlike most cities, we always manage to do it with a smile on our faces and a wink that says, “We’re pretty freaking awesome, aren’t we?”

Neither back down from a challenge.

Shane Battier had to call out to an official because the gash above his forehead was bleeding profusely and pouring blood down his face. A few stitches later, he was back in the game facing off against perhaps the game’s best player. Yao took a hard shot to his knee – the same knee that had required surgery – and refused to go to the locker room, finishing off the game and the Lakers in game 1 of the playoffs.

Ron Artest, having taken an elbow to the throat, made sure to tell superstar Kobe Bryant he wasn’t backing off much the way Luis Scola got in the face of Lakers players when they didn’t like his hard play. The Lakers are, arguably, the best team in the NBA and the Rockets have stared them down at every opportunity.

When they lose players, they just re-invent themselves. No T-Mac, no problem. Run the offense through Yao. No Yao, no problem. Run a bunch of screen and rolls with your young guys. Trade your veteran point guard, no problem. Let the youngsters run teams out of the building.

Artest’s motto of “no layups” is perfectly appropriate for a team that refuses to go down without a fight and is intimidated by no one.

In the 1970’s and early 80’s, Houston was struggling through the decline of the oil industry. At the same time, hordes of people moved into Houston from places like Michigan where jobs were scarce. Did Houston crumble under the weight? Of course not. We converted our blue collar workforce into one of the most powerful white collar energy industries in the world. When Katrina hit and 250,000 of NOLA’s citizens descended on us, many of their most needy becoming permanent residents, did we run out of room or have resource scarcity? Not a chance. We integrated them just like we do every other member of our incredibly diverse city.

We’ve suffered through hurricanes, economic crisis, floods, political scandals and managed to come back each time emerging stronger and better equipped to face the future. In the dictionary next to the word “resilient,” there should be a picture of the Houston skyline.

Both are surprising.

Just when you think they are dead, they come right back at you. Outside of die hard Rockets fans, who knew that Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry could run circles around opponents? Like Charles Barkley joked about Chucky Brown in the mid-90’s, I’m sure that Pao Gasol thought, “This Chuck Hayes guy can’t guard me.” When McGrady went out in February, Von Wafer, a guy other teams threw on the scrap heap, emerged as a young, athletic talent with a silky jump shot.

Whatever happens to this team, they just seem to morph in whatever is necessary to keep them winning. It’s an incredibly endearing and surprising quality in an era dominated by big salaries and often even bigger egos.

I’ve often had people tell me, “When I moved to Houston, I thought it was a horrible place, but the more I lived here and discovered all the great things about it, the more it grew on me.” That’s how this city is. We’re the fourth largest city in America, but few know about it. Anyone who doesn’t get this, just look out your window when you are flying over the city. For a place that is supposedly a concrete jungle, note the massive amount of greenery.

Much like the shock over how many trees we seem to have if you look at it from above, our beauty seems to be hidden in plain sight. Most of what is most exceptional about Houston tends to be what we don’t realize exists or forget about like the Orange Show or the Farmers’ Market or the hike and bike trails along White Oak Bayou or 11th Street Park or Tacos-a-Go-Go. And those are just a few things I I happen to love and come up with off the top of my head. There are a million other things just like that which makes living here such a constant source of the unexpected. I have lived here for 40 years and am STILL finding things I never knew about.

Like the Rockets, Houston isn’t a city of surface, but rather a city of substance, which is why I love both and why millions of others do too.

GO ROCKETS!

Post to Twitter Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

5th May
2009
written by Jeff

Earth AngelI read on a blog the other day that the Swine Flu was actually a bioterror weapon distributed by the US government so they could force everyone to take mind controlling drugs hidden in immunizations that would allow them to impose martial law. That makes a LOT of sense to me given how effective the Swine Flu has been at rendering us all deathly ill and giving us hooves and snouts.

When the next Y2K attack happens, a hurricane hits, martial law is imposed or the rapture happens, you’ll want to be prepared. Stock up on canned goods and water, bury your money in the backyard and, most importantly, get an eco-friendly vibrator that doesn’t need batteries.

Where, you ask, could I find such a wonderful invention? Well, I’ll tell you, right HERE.

The Earth Angel is just such a device – a vibrator made from 100% recycled material and powered by a hand crank. In just four short minutes, you’ll get half an hour of pleasure. Crank for eight minutes and get a full HOUR! It’s like magic!

And it’s a good thing it will run for an hour because once you are done cranking for eight minutes, you won’t have the use of your hand for at least that long!

Crew-CutsI’m guessing they named the device after the 50’s song of the same name by the Crew-Cuts. After all, look at these guys. When you look at them, isn’t the first thing that comes to mind putting a big (recycled)plastic schlong in your vagina?

Plus, these lyrics:

Earth angel, earth angel
Will you be mine
My darling dear
Love you all the time
I’m just a fool
A fool in love with you

If they said “Love you LONG time,” it would be a match made in…well…heaven.

But, please don’t confuse the Crew-Cuts with the 80’s band The Cutting Crew, although their song “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight” could refer to the heart attack your girlfriend suffers after eight minutes of cranking her vibrator.

For around a hundred bucks, you will never have to worry about going without an orgasm when the power goes out. Sure, you COULD stock up on batteries or, you know, have sex (LOL! Yeah, I thought that was funny too!), but what good will that do you when the zombies have taken over the Kroger or when you are stuck in that yurt living off berries and gopher meat during the long nuclear winter?

See, when no one else is thinking of your vagina, I am. You can thank me later.

Post to Twitter Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

Previous