Sunday, April 29, 2007

Deep in the Steez of Texas

So last night's visit to Minute Maid Park brought my current-Major- League-stadiums-I've-attended- games-at count to 15. I've also toured Fenway Park, visited the outside of RFK Stadium, and have seen three more venues from the air; the remaining ten I've only seen on TV. As for defunct stadia, I've attended games at four of 'em, and today I sneaked into the decrepit Astrodome.

The once-state-of-the-art, once-futuristic "Eighth Wonder of the World" opened in 1965 and served as the home of the Astros, the Houston Oilers, and most recently, Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Now it's officially called the "Reliant Astrodome," sitting in the shadow of its bigger new neighbor, Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans.

I simply walked through a gate that was left open and climbed a few flights of stairs. It was as hot and muggy inside as it was out. Random debris was scattered around the dark concourses, which otherwise didn't have any fixtures or advertising or any other sign of recent activity. Then I walked out into the stands under the dome and snapped a bunch of pictures, including this one from the east end zone/dead center field. The building's only illumination was daylight coming through the Lucite ceiling panels. Later, after circumnavigating the building's exterior, I noticed a couple other unlocked gates, so I wasn't sure if I had truly trespassed, or if the the owners of the dormant stadium just don't care. Either way, it was a creepy thrill, being the only person in the cavernous, silent ghost stadium.

After lunch at James Coney Island (a favorite long-running local hot dog chain, where I ate my first-ever Frito pie), I visited The Orange Show. In the '60s and '70s, this obsessed old guy crafted what he imagined would be a major tourist destination on a residential lot in his lower-class neighborhood. What remains today is a kooky folk-art masterpiece, best described here and here. Below is a sample of what I found.

Incidentally, the place doubles as a small outdoor performance venue; Neil Hamburger was there tonight, but travel complications prevented me from going. Instead, I ate a Supersonic Cheeseburger.

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At 9:59 PM, May 02, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bad News Bears introduced me to the Astrodome. That's the closest I ever got.

Didn't they house displaced Katrina victims there for awhile?

"White man screwed up Katrina response."



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