But I've never seen a bigger feature on the Bayou City than the one in Garden & Gun's February/March issue. The magazine dubs itself "the soul of the South" and the article is something of a sequel from writer Julia Reed, who first explored Houston in the wake of an oil bust and a Wall Street Journal story that described it as a defeated ghost town.
Reed instead found a city of people who had seen a rough patch but were determined to get through it. She compares the socialites at the CAMH's "sarong-optional" Balinese ball in the 1980s to the more recent completion of a $1.5 billion expansion of the Texas Children's Hospital, funded and built in under five years.
George and Barbara Bush join surgeon Charles Fraser and arts patron Marilyn Oshman as representatives of Houston's varied elite. There's a focus on Houston's moneyed scene, from dining at RDG to tennis at The Houstonian to shopping at Tootsies, but there are also references to Houston's Vietnamese immigrants (or at least their food), political art at the Station Museum and oysters from Med Center dive Captain Benny's.
It's this mix of high and low, jumbled together without any zoning, that Reed says defines Houston.
It is the juxtaposition of things like, say, the livestock show against the Balinese Ball that defines the place. Houston is what you might get if you took everything that is really, really great and slightly irritating and crazy in a good way about the South and about America and threw it in one of those rock-polishing tumblers for a spin or two before dumping it all out and leaving everything where it lay . . . It is entirely Southern in its graciousness, but decidedly un-Southern in that it is almost entirely devoid of the habit of looking back."