There is no Houston arts epidemic

Between the KTRU debacle and the sudden closure of the Angelika Film Centre, all over town people are scratching their heads wondering, asking themselves what is happening to Houston’s street cred?

I mean we’re not Dallas, for God’s sake. For many, KTRU was that station you accidentally tuned to when you were tired of commercial breaks for laser hair removal and low, low truck financing in between Staind and Nickelback. KTRU was the station you found out about from the friend who smoked his parents’ cigarettes and wore the same NOFX t-shirt every day. You remember that shirt, it was the one from their EP Timmy the Turtle. It was the station your first girlfriend’s brother had blaring in his Civic when he drove you on your first date to see “Monsters, Inc.”. He bought you both tickets to see “The Royal Tenenbaums” instead, as long as you didn’t tell his mom.

Once you saw that first Wes Anderson movie, no “Harry Potter” flick was ever going to quench your cinema thirst. But “Lost in Translation” looked pretty good too. Wait! It wasn’t playing at the mall, so where were you going to see it? You had to do what people did back in 2003 and look up show times in the Chronicle — the print one — not the dot-com version, and find where it was playing.

At least that’s what we did. It became a place of pilgrimage for us. Vivid memories still exist as to how excited my little high school group got when we found out that the Angelika was going to show “The Aristocrats.” By the time that movie was over nearly the entire audience had gotten up and left, but we couldn’t have loved it more. “Thank You For Smoking” opened at the megaplex months after it opened at the Angelika.

But KTRU and the Angelika are just the two latest Houston institutions that have faced the cultural relevancy chopping block in the last few years. It wasn’t too long ago that the Landmark River Oaks was facing the threat of losing its shopping center and the Alabama Book Stop couldn’t survive its parent company’s newest Barnes & Noble mothership right down the street.

So is this really an epidemic? Of course not; Houston will prevail. Houston is not losing its cool; it’s not even close to being in jeopardy. As the fourth largest city in the United States, we have everything a college kid could want (except for an eclectic radio station); from restaurants of every kind to neighborhood bookstores and coffee shops, small music venues, and we still have the Landmark River Oaks.

It’s sad to see something that played such an important part in my tumultuous teenage years like the Angelika close down, but that’s just how it goes. Who knows, since the closing appears mainly to be a location dispute, perhaps one day we’ll see it open up in another location.

At the end of the day, at least we’re still in Houston.

Sean Miller is a history junior and may be reached at [email protected]


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