lukegilman.com : High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

The Not-So-Secret Cat Fetish of Architect Philip Johnson

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Swamplot, my favorite Houston real estate blog, had a great find in Your Secret Cat Code Has Been Cracked, Mr. Johnson. Mr. Johnson is of course Philip Johnson, the influential architect who shaped much of Houston’s skyline. Read the rest of this entry »

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Check Out Houston’s Very Own Blockcast

September Opening from Blockcast.TV on Vimeo.

I’ve often said that Houston is a hard town to really get to know. Since so many of us are locked up all day in our cars or our cubicles, the opportunities for interaction take more initiative. Blockcast gives you a reason to get out and meet your city by showing you all the cool stuff that’s going on. Great idea, well-executed. Hopefully they’re around for a long time to come.

Blockcast Website | Blockcast Twitter Read the rest of this entry »

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The Myth of ‘No Zoning’ in Houston

Econoblog Marginal Revolution notes a very interesting paper by Michael Lewyn, a professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, who has published widely on the law’s effect on municipal ‘sprawl’ and quality of life issues. From the abstract:
Read the rest of this entry »

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Flashflood Surfing in Houston (Pic)


via jarrod-drew

Proof that the surf really is up in Houston, and it’s closer than you think. Read the rest of this entry »

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Competitive Dog Jumping Hits Houston This Weekend

DockDogs rolled into Houston today. One of the downsides of an office overlooking Discovery Green is that when something really interesting comes along you’re supposed to try to ignore it. But who can ignore dogs jumping 22-24 feet in Extreme Vertical, Speed Retrieve and Big Air events? It’s going on all weekend. Details over yonder.


Photo: Photine


Photo: Photine

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It Rained in Houston…

Oddly enough, this has become somewhat routine.

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photo: finna dat

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photo: eschipul

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photo: bald heretic

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photo: toby craig

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KPRC News Documentary

County Seat Blog posted this 1960′s KPRC news documentary by the consummate Houston newsman, Ray Miller, from Mitt Dawson, himself a retired broadcaster. Embedded video following: Read the rest of this entry »

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poetic prophet pioneers geek hop with design coding rap

Brilliant!! Chuck; aka the Poetic Prophet, aka The SEO Rapper raps in my language.

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Houston Cougars win Armed Forces Bowl, first bowl win since 1980, ESPN

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

ESPN: Houston Cougars win Armed Forces Bowl, first bowl win since 1980

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The No Zoning Zone – Stop Shepherd Noise and the Strange Life of Houston Real Estate

Houston is notorious for having no zoning; though with covenants and deed restrictions, some say it has zoning without zoning. This leads to a wild west of sorts, where battles over competing uses of real estate spills out of the bureaucrats office and into the streets.

Case in point: one of the large real estate developers here in town recently plowed under an historic (for houston standards) shopping center to make way for a new Barnes and Noble/Starbucks retail multiplex. Things got heated when a revision in the plans revealed an open air wine bar jutting out from the complex that will be rented for private parties. To the neighbors, whose quiet, residential neighborhood lies, in true Houston fashion, just across the street, this raised the spectre of live bands and raucous wedding parties rocking in the open air wine bar until 2am. The developers had to get a variance for the porch and the neighbors are launching an appeal to the public at StopShepherdNoise.org – if you’re within earshot, I suggest you take a look.

I live down the street from another proposed development that raised the ire of local residents. See Stop Ashby High Rise. I declined to take up my pitchfork to storm the castle, but when a ‘Stop the Tower of Traffic’ sign showed up in my yard, I had no trouble leaving it there. This has lead to some surprisingly interesting conversations; it turns out people have more strongly held and varying beliefs about zoning than one might assume from the fact that you’re talking about well… zoning. For many native Houstonians, no zoning is a point of pride. For some it’s the price of progress – which is true, I guess if you count progress as urban sprawl and neighborhoods that rise and fall like fashion trends. Sharpstown, anyone? As a 2003 Newsweek article notes:

What is unique about Houston is that the separation of land uses is impelled by economic forces rather than mandatory zoning. While it is theoretically possible for a petrochemical refinery to locate next to a housing development, it is unlikely that profit-maximizing real-estate developers will allow this to happen. Developers employ widespread private covenants and deed restrictions, which serve a comparable role as zoning. These privately prescribed land use controls are effective because they have a legal precedence and local government has chosen to assist in enforcing them.

When I moved back to Texas from New England where I did most of my growing up, I found Houston to be a difficult town to get to know. I suspect the no zoning policy is a part of it, though there are others. Not having zoning, of course, doesn’t mean Houston is doomed to sprawl, storefrotn shopping centers and gated apartment complexes necessarily, but it means there is greater civic responsibility to stay involved in the development of the city. When a developer makes a choice that negatively impacts those already there, it’s incumbent to make ones voice heard, to internalize the entire cost of that decision and look for ways to work cooperatively to make Houston a better place to live and work and raise a family.

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