The Eclectic Menagerie Park, Houston

I passed this art installment by the nearby pipe yard at least twice a week when I was in the process of completing my degree. Near US 288 and Belfort along Houston’s south side, I knew that I wanted to feature this location when I showed off the City. It’s quirky, seems to appear out of nowhere and flashes by depending on how fast you are moving down the pothole ridden highway stretch.

My mother would teach me the phrase “driving in braille” to describe the feeling and sound that occurs when a vehicle catches the raised circular markers in the asphalt that line the highways and lanes in the roadways. I would submit that included in this definition should also be the state of 288’s numerous potholes. I know that the highway has expanded and infrastructure is doing it’s best to keep up with the number of drivers on the road, but the conditions are an ever evolving situation.

The track this week is “King Kong” by Jibbs and Chamillionaire. As one passes the park, there is a metal gorilla affixed to a crane. More than any other metal work, this is what usually catches my eye while passing the park. I am a self described fan of Houston MC “Chamillionaire” (a.k.a King Koopa, a.k.a The Mixtape Messiah, a.k.a The Color Changing Lizard), who is currently pursuing opportunities outside of rap. But, while many Houstonians have stuck to a regional style of slower rhyming, Chamillionaire differentiated himself with a wordier delivery. I will also opine that Cham’s style allows for more detailed storytelling, an art displayed in 2005’s “Sound of Revenge” (where you may remember his breakaway single “Ridin'” that had you humming Ridin’ Dirty) or 2013’s “Reignfall”.

So, as I stopped to snap a photo of the park, the area had just received a bit of rain. Maybe you’ll be fortunate to catch this on a sunnier day in your travels. But, I think that if you can look past the gray skies, you’ll also make the connection as I do that there are times that in a thunderstorm you can hear the rumble of nature before actually seeing any rain or lightning. So the chorus of “You can hear me before you see me…” fits in just as many ways.

When I was 18, I drove a Silver 1998 Honda Civic Coupe (EX model, for those who know) that I poured a small fortune into for small commodities. Small fortune may be an exaggeration, but it was enough to make a significant dent in my teen-earning budget. I had an OEM spoiler added to the trunk by a local body shop (it wasn’t a real “wing” of a spoiler, but was a sporty addition) as well as a sound system that’s bass would shake the clear coat off of the nearest passenger vehicle. I splurged on a decent amp, head unit and 2 12″ subwoofers in the back. I basically had no trunk space and even required a capacitor added to the battery so that I didn’t use the power that the drivetrain system would need while I was driving with the volume up. I don’t actually think that this would be something to impress ladies with, but I am almost sure that years later it may have I affected my hearing permanently. Still, I have no regrets. As the bass would hit, the hair on the back of my neck would thrillingly stick up.

I had a radar detector that was not truly tuned well, so, I basically ended up with a fancy and loud L.E.D. box suction cupped to my window. It didn’t really save me any tickets, but prevented me from using a sun shade in the hot Texas Summers. But, as I drove around the hills of Central Texas, I too could be heard before I was seen, I am sure at the shegrin of the local Police Departments with radar detectors trying to catch us Ridin’ Dirty.

That wraps us up this week, until our next adventure. Stay safe and let’s take care of one another, y’all.

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