Since it's hotter than hell outside, mortality is on the mind. In the tradition of such literary classics as 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die, I will be presenting a list of "25 Things You Must Do in SoMo Before You Die" throughout the month of August.
This compilation of make-or-break activities in my made-up neighborhood of South Montrose is sure to lead you down an enlightened path of revelation and intoxication. This week: Numbers 20-16.
20. Get seriously into bikes.
Like freeganism and hemp-based toiletries, bicycling is more of a religion than a hobby. And for devout bicyclists, church is the monthly Critical Mass rally, in which garden variety hipsters in skinny jeans jam the streets with their skinny bikes. When you show up at one of these events, prepare to be judged.
If you don't know the ins and outs of fixing your fixie and obscure metal compounds that comprise your bike's frame, or are unable to make a left on Taft Street against traffic while carrying a 40 — then you're better off dead.
19. Get caught deep in thought at the Rothko Chapel.
Meditation is cool, but only if other people are around to witness you deep in thought. The solution? Get in touch with yourself in a nondenominational (and non-commital) worship venue — and you may very well soon find yourself getting in touch with somebody else. Say "om" with one eye open and keep your mantra to yourself — you don't want to miss the hottie while you're channeling Gandhi.
The James Turrell Skyspace at the Live Oak Friends Meeting house also accomplishes this task (if you're willing to make the commute).
18. Claim an affiliation with Free Press Houston.
The number of bright young hipsters in SoMo who add "Flyer Distributor for Free Press Houston" to their résumé grows daily. The reality is that everyone wants a piece of a pissed-off alt weekly, but doesn't have the stamina to keep up with that much reading. With its consistent content of no more than three hard-hitting articles, Free Press is more of a state of mind (what other publication would claim to be "locally owned by people from Houston who hate people from Dallas and Austin"?)
In any case, it's less about the ink and more about the sponsored music events with FPH. If you know the right people there, you just might be able to see Robert Ellis for the one millionth time for free.
17. Work at a farmers market.
Better yet, make a friend who works at a farmers market. It's way too hot out, and if you're living like each night's your last, you won't be able to wake up that early anyway. Having an "in" at a farmers market means that you'll get the cream of the crop, whether that means the crispiest veggies or discounted bumper herbs.
Tip: Manipulate your friend into lending you his or her market tent to use as a shade canopy at music festivals.
16. Enroll in the UH Creative Writing program.
Houston may not be the most literate city, but if you want to claim "intellectual snob" among your occupations before you die (which you should), then you'll be applying to the graduate creative writing program at University of Houston. Ranked second in the country, the program draws talent from around the nation to the Third Ward. Entry is competitive, so if you're not admitted, claim that you were accepted but have chosen to pursue your own writing while continuing folding ironic t-shirts full-time at Urban Outfitters.
But if you do make the cut, you'll find the social payoff comes quickly. "Being enrolled in the creative writing program is like the equivalent of being one or two inches longer," attests one friend who's starting his second year.
And writers always tell the truth.
Other columns in this series: