To celebrate CultureMap's fifth birthday, we asked our merry band of contributors to pick their favorite CultureMap column since we first launched in 2009. Here's what they had to say:
Be afraid, be very afraid of a home too comfortable: A chilling tale of the wandering red chair by Tarra Gaines (published Oct. 28, 2011)
"It was difficult to pick a favorite so I chose one appropriate for October. The column was originally written for the "Comforts of Home" editorial series, so, of course, I wrote a true-ish Halloween tale that's about both my family's love of a good yarn and about the horrors of judgmental furniture," Gaines explains.
Houston's next real estate hotspots: Off-the-radar locales — former hooker haven included — are rising by Ralph Bivins (published Aug. 25, 2014)
"As a native Houstonian, I often drive around our city and look for places that have a lot of potential," Bivins explains. "This column, listing some of Houston’s lesser known up-and-comer areas drew a huge response from the readers and we had some interesting discussions.
"Within a few weeks after this column ran in CultureMap, we saw a number of new real estate deals happening in these zones, too. The geography of Houston is one of the great loves of my life and writing about our city for CultureMap is a pleasure."
Sole survivors: Houston's top chefs reveal their favorite footwear for racing around the kitchen by Marene Gustin (published Oct. 21, 2012)
"This column idea came to me when I was interviewing chef Randy Evans at the old Haven and we both noticed we were wearing cowboy boots," Gustin explains. "And I thought, huh, wonder if any other chefs cook in boots? So I started asking (Randy was the only I found) but I found a lot of interesting kitchen footwear!"
Anthony Rendon is turning into a true star, but his Rice University humbleness isn't going, going, gone by Moisekapenda Bower (published May, 2, 2014)
As a longtime sports writer, Bower doesn't like to play favorites. But when we pressed him for his best-liked CultureMap column, he chose a well-received feature he wrote on Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon. "Having covered him extensively while he played at Rice, it was easy to predict his stardom. However, to see it all unfold according to plan is special nonetheless," Bower notes.
Steve Minatra sees the gems among the junk: A true craftsman shares his secrets by Katie Oxford (published Dec. 24, 2011)
Oxford, who writes a regular CultureMap column called Tattered Jeans, had a lot to choose from, since her topics have ranged from stories gathered from spending several months in Louisiana after the BP oil spill to her ire against leaf blowers. But something about Steve Minatra, a Houston craftsman who makes magic from what others would consider junk remains with her several years after she wrote the column.
"The Louisiana stories are closest to my heart but so are those that I call understories," Oxford explains. "Like understory trees, they are usually not as visible but they are more beautiful in different ways."
As CultureMap editor-in-chief, I take executive preogative to add in my favorite column. too.
Eva Longoria for President! How this Desperate Housewife could win the White House by Clifford Pugh (published Nov. 11, 2013)
After observing the Desperate Housewives star charm a large group of admirers at the University of Houston, I thought, if Ronald Reagan can become President of the United States, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Longoria could have a storied career in politics.
It seems like I'm not the only one thinking along the same lines. A column in this week's Daily Beast titled "The Democrats' Secret Power Player" says this about Longoria: "From working behind the scenes in the midterms to making a new farm labor documentary, the former Desperate Housewife has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in liberal politics."
Save a place for me at the inauguration.
CultureMap is celebrating its fifth birthday with a big party on Friday from 7 - 10 p.m. at the new JW Marriott Houston Downtown, with a portion of proceeds going to Casa de Esperanza. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online.