COTE DE TEXAS

HOUSTON, WE GOT A PROBLEM

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Around forty years ago, still in my 20s, I went to a concert at the Sam Houston Coliseum (remember that old place?)  It was standing only, there were no seats.  The only barricade was the stage.   I wasn’t at a wild rap concert  - rappers and even their parents had not yet been born.  I was at a Rolling Stones show and while they were probably already in their 40s - the crowd was still very excited to see them.  It was THE Stones, after all.  I was very close to the stage and when Mick came out, the crowd surged, surged so hard that I felt claustrophobic and found it hard to breathe.  In a panic, I truly thought I might die.   I’ve never forgotten that crushing feeling and over the years whenever I read about similar stampedes, I know exactly how it happened and how it feels.


The Stones in Houston 1978.  That’s probably the back of my head at the stage, right.


  We were lucky that night in 1978, no one died in the crush.  A year later, at a Who concert in 1979, eleven people did die.  The AstroWorld concert is no different.   What a terrible tragedy repeating itself.   It seems so preventable now, looking back, hindsight and all that.  When will we ever learn from history – crowd surges are preventable???

Today,  everyone knows how the show should have been handled, now that it’s over:  from the police chief to the fire chief to concert goers, even to an interior design blogger.  We all know what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future.  

Can we just finally ban standing only concerts?

In the press and in personal conversations all around America, the hatred for Travis Scott is no different than if he had pulled out an AK47 and shot the victims from the stage. Travis Scott is a monster, the devil incarnate walking amongst us.

But is he?

This wasn’t just another music concert coming to town.  This wasn’t just another rapper stopping in Houston for the night.  This was his town as much as New York was Frank Sinatra’s and San Francisco was Tony Bennett’s and the Jersey Shore was Bruce Springsteen’s.

Travis’ is a Houston boy, born and bred.   His love for Houston is a common thread that runs through his music and his life.  His album was named AstroWorld, as was his series of concerts he performed on the old AstroWorld property twice before last week.  Time spent at that old amusement park provokes happy memories for Travis and truly for most Houstonians.  Those of us from Houston understand that sentiment.  It was a different time then.  We were still innocent.


The Hofheinz family and the mayor showing off the plans for AstroWorld, the new amusement park to be built right next to our Eighth Wonder of the World – The Astrodome, which today is probably considered the a tear down of stadiums.


Even the graphics were groovy!


For decades, we all loved the rides and the roller coasters and the corny singing and dancing variety shows at AstroWorld.  Who didn’t covet a season pass?   I wanted to work there in the summers, but of course my parents wouldn’t let me.   Little Ben Webb was luckier than me.   He was hired to drive the tram (remember trams?) full of people across the freeway from the Astrodome parking lot to AstroWorld.  In the summer.  In 100 degree heat.  Poor Ben!

AstroWorld closed for good in 2005, when Travis Scott was a young 14 year old.   He had spent his earliest years in the most dangerous of neighborhoods, living with his grandmother, but later, he moved to a nice suburb with his parents.  AstroWorld was where he went to have fun.   He graduated high school and went to UTSA for two years before leaving to pursue his music career which took off like a rocket ship.  Extremely talented and very popular with the younger crowd, his future was limitless. 

For us older women, we mostly knew him through his Kardashian connection. 


He is Kylie Jenner’s baby daddy.   Besides Stormi, the two have another baby on the way, due soon.


The week before the tragic concert, Travis took the press on a tour of Houston – showcasing the charities he has been working on these past few years. One stop was at a Sunnyside neighborhood elementary school where he had created a garden, just like the one his grandmother had in the same neighborhood where he grew up.  He brought her along to see the garden up close.

Travis’ garden will be used by the school as a teaching tool to promote healthy eating as opposed to eating only fast food.


Travis and his grandmother at the Cactus Jack Garden Center.


  Another stop in Sunnyside was the new basketball court he had built and donated to the community:  


Travis’ new court is a vast improvement over the old one.


And also, there is the art center, partnered with the prestigious Parsons School of Design – this is located on Navigation, in the east side of Houston.


  The center will connect high school students with colleges in order to create partnerships in graphic and fashion design. 


Travis’ Cactus Jack charity reached out to the food, athletic, and the art worlds – all greatly needed in the very poorest neighborhoods of Houston. But after the tragic concert, even these recipients of his giving are questioning him. It’s hard to reconcile this charitable man with the portrayal of the crazed rapper.

BUT….it makes me wonder.


Was Roger Daltrey blamed for the deaths of the eleven at that tragic Who concert?  And, don’t forget, wasn’t the Who’s Peter Townsend notorious for riling up the crowd as he smashed his guitar to smithereens at the end of each concert while Daltrey manically swung his mike around the stage and out into the crowd.  No, the Who weren’t blamed for those 11 deaths and their careers never suffered either.   I’ll bet you even forgot about that event – or maybe didn’t even know about it?

Attorneys now suing Scott say he is at fault.  He encouraged crowd surging by placing a large clock that counted down to his appearance.  The crowd started closing in when the clock was close to his debut.   It’s not the first time Scott has been sued.  He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges related to two separate incidents where he encouraged fans to rush the stage – in 2015 and in 2017. Once someone was injured when he fell of the balcony at a Scott concert.

 So now what?

Let’s just for once ban concerts without seating…OR at least provide sectioned off areas to prevent crowd surges.

Wouldn’t this stop a stampede, finally?

My heart goes out to the nine victims and to all those in the hospital.   It could not be any more tragic for their families. 

There has to be a better way to go to concerts where this tragedy is prevented.  Rap has nothing to do with it.  It’s the promotion of the event where the performer is at the height of his popularity.   The crowd surges, they want to be closer to the performer.   Would there ever be a deadly crowd surge at a Miley Cyrus concert – probably not.

Is Travis Scott’s career over?  I guess so.  Listening to the ambulance chasers like Tony Buzbee, you would think this tragic event was premeditated murder.  I am sure everyone involved with the event has insurance for the victims.  Hopefully it will be enough to provide for the families of the deceased and injured.  Travis has offered to pay for all the funerals along with mental health treatment for survivors.

Maybe Travis will take up crown surge as a cause?  That would be admirable outcome.

His and Kylie’s fans don’t seem very forgiving right now.  Judging by the comments on social media, this could be the end of both their careers although Kylie did nothing to cause this, people are tired of her constant show of immense wealth without much social conscious behind it.

Can you balance charitable giving with untold wealth?  Yes you can.  Some are better at it than others.

Kylie Jenner posted this photo on instagram just a few weeks ago showing off her huge engagement ring Travis gave her along with a second ring he gave to their daughter Stormi.


Instagram went crazy over the rings.  Most people were disgusted.  I mean – come on.   It’s always been about a show of wealth with Kylie.  Her instagram is just one $50,000 purse after another.  Half a million dollar cars.  On and On.  Is her constant show of excessive wealth a joke on us?  It has to be, right?  She’s barely out of her teens and made over a billion $$ selling lipstick.  Kudos to her and Stormi and Travis for finally getting married and making it official.   But isn’t it enough with all the photos of her jewelry and purses and houses and cars?  When I saw this photo, I just rolled my eyes and thought – why am I even looking at this?!?!

Do we justify outrageous shows of wealth with charitable giving?

You would think after this week’s disaster Kylie would remove this photo.  But no.   Even though almost all the comments, were negative the photo remains as do all the others.

If the conspicuous spending is a joke on us, we got it.  We just aren’t laughing anymore.  And no one is jealous.

Maybe now Kylie will give back like Travis does.

If his career is over, is hers too?  I wonder. 

It’s going to take a long time for people to not associate the excess wealth with the disregard of common sense.

Whew.

I actually started to write this story because the Daily Mail posted a photo of Travis’s Houston house.  What a shocker!  I didn’t realize he still had a house here.  But it makes sense.    It is a modern house located on the absolute most beautiful street in Houston – our bid to a Paris boulevard.

When out of towners come to Houston, they are driven down this tree line boulevard with its soaring triple fountains.  The irony is not lost that the boy from the hood is now living on the prettiest street there is.  Doesn’t he deserve it?  He’s worked hard.  He is talented.  He’s given back to Houston. 

Is it all gone now because there were no chairs at the AstroWorld concert? 



Here’s the exterior.   I just don’t have it in me to post his luxe house photos, especially since he wants it all kept quiet.   I know NONE of my readers will break in and ask for an autograph.  But Daily Mail let the cat out of the bag.


This is one view that interested me.   From the see through living room you can actually see the lighted fountains that look like they are his personal property alone.  Amazing.  What a piece of property.  Except – you can just barely see an iron fence out front.  Now, instead, there is a stone fence that completely encloses the estate.  For security I suppose.  But this view of the fountain is now gone – not just for him but for his neighbors too.  Pity.

I’m  especially floored this is his house,  since his neighbor on the left is a cousin of mine and his neighbor on the right is someone I have admired for a long time – a design mentor.  Who would have thunk it?

If you are from Houston and want to see the realtor photos from the sale, here they are:   HERE

If Travis wants to sue me, I’ll get in line after the Daily Mail.


Let me know your thoughts.   I really thought I was just going to show his house and that’s all, but I just needed to say my peace.

Before I wrote this I was so anti-Travis after the concert.  But writing this story made me think about him in a different way.  Less emotional and less judgmental.

Travis isn’t the devil.  He probably will settle all the law suits and then some.  Before this happened, he was a much admired citizen of Houston – thanks to all his charities.

Let’s hope he works to change outdoor concerts and learns there is so much more to life than instagram photos that cause nothing but envy and derision.  He’s already a charitable man, maybe he and his soon to be wife can together help better the world.


God speed to all those who lost their lives and prayers to those clinging to life tonight.

Here are their faces, their names.  What’s striking is how many were big, healthy men who were hopeless against the crowd surges.



Rololfo Pena, a college student;  Jacob Jurinek, a 20 year old college student; Franco Patino, a senior at college; Brianna Rodriguez, a pretty 16 year old high school junior and dancer. 

Danish Biag, died while heroically saving his girlfriend’s life; Axel Acosta Avila, had gone alone to the concert;  Jacob Hilbert – just 14 the youngest to die, and Madison Dubiski, such a beauty.


Bharti Shahani, 22, a student at Texas A&M, she died later in the hospital.

The nine victims.  May they rest in peace.