You may have noticed a car prowling around the streets of the Heights and Montrose sporting the vanity license plates reading, "HPSTCT," a reference to the CultureMap-coined ironic lingo for District C, which covers the aforementioned neighborhoods, along with the Museum District, Meyerland, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest. Those auto adornments are the property of Josh Verde, a diehard Montrosian who's making a bid for city councilman.
The 31-year-old former pilot and current South Texas College of Law student is already up against Randy Locke, Southwest Houston-centric Brian Cweren and former state legislator Ellen Cohen. The current District C representative, Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck, has reached her term limit.
CultureMap chatted with Verde about his vanity plates, preferred watering holes and sex in the sky.
CultureMap: How would you define the spirit of the Hipstrict?
Josh Verde: It's people who I think are generally optimistic about their career and life in Houston. They like dining out and going out for drinks, and not relegating themselves to their living room, as opposed to the 'burbs where many people would "make it a Redbox night." There's nothing wrong with that — I use Redbox too — but here there's something always going on.
There's always a new bar or restaurant. There are also the opportunities, as so many people are starting out in their careers. All of those things make the Hipstrict what it is.
CM: What do find so appealing about the term "Hipstrict"?
JV: I think it really describes the area very well. The Hipstrict is sort of the preferred place for young, up-and-coming professionals and people in our generation. When young people want to choose a neighborhood in Houston, they choose the Hipsrict.
It's not just hipsters, but it is hip. Now, if I could get the hip people to vote, that would be perfect.
CM: How are you trying to get those hip people to vote?
JV: Most of my events have been at restaurants and locations where most of us hang out. I prefer to mingle with residents of the district that I think ordinarily might not be motivated to vote in a municipal election. Let's face it: There's not a whole lot on the ballot besides the new council seats and mayor. There's nothing really drastic like the red light camera vote from last year.
CM: Back to the license plates: What inspired you to make that purchase?
JV: I read the CultureMap piece in May right after the redistricting was decided. I thought that it was so clever, and a great way to show off how cool the Hipstrict is would be to get vanity plates. People ask a lot what "HPSTCT" stands for.
Recently, a security guard at the Tax Collector's office said to me, "You paid extra for that?"
CM: On a scale of one to 10, how hip are you?
JV: I'm gonna rank myself low — seven, maybe six — because I could be out-hipped. But all of my opponents are ones and twos.
CM: Rank the following from least to most evil: the Heights Walmart, the pizza at Bambolino's and Osama bin Laden.
JV: The pizza at Bambolino's, Osama and the Heights Walmart.
CM: How many creek-themed restaurants in the Heights is too many?
JV: I think that when we're in a drought like this one, we need all the creeks we can get.
CM: Boxers or briefs?
JV: For me or for someone else? It depends on how hot it is. I'm kidding — never briefs! But if you're talking about someone on a billboard, then briefs.
CM: Vue or F Bar?
JV: I abstain from answering. I love both.
CM: Poison Girl or Grand Prize?
JV: That's easy: Poison Girl. I once drew a crowd playing pinball at Poison Girl.
CM: What do you absolutely love about Meyerland?
JV: That's a really hard question . . . the Bed Bath & Beyond.
CM: Your campaign website states that you're a former airline pilot and captain. Are you therefore a member of the Mile High Club?
JV: I'm going to answer your question with a question. Is the deed in question four or five miles high? Because that's how high planes actually fly.
CM: Then are you a member of the Four or Five Mile High Club?
JV: No! That would be unprofessional.