Yes, Houston is worth it.

Yes, I’m not moving to Austin.

Yes, it’s OK to love Houston.

And yes, I’m done being defensive about Houston.

As proud Houstonians, we’re all enjoying the latest round of good national and international press that’s come our way — notice how I didn’t say “long overdue?”  I never tire reading about how Houston is filled with world-class museums, theaters, restaurants, neighborhoods, schools, and healthcare.  And just like a proud Houstonian, once I finish, I dutifully repost it online for non-Houstonians to take a look, almost like a parent posting their child’s artwork on the fridge.  “See, look at us?  We’re not all cowboys, wildcatters, astronauts, oil & gas lawyers, or soulless commuters stuck in traffic!” 

Over the past few years, so many unofficial, underground ad campaigns and internet memes have popped up professing their love for Houston.  Some are right clever, some are snarky, some even mock other cities.  All of them are proud, but all of them make me grimace.  Each one has that dreaded “however,” which is either stated or implied about Houston — those things we try to forget (heat, sprawl, lack of a signature rallying characteristic).

Well, enough is enough!  No more of these tepid, conditional declarations of Houston’s greatness.  I am sick of that defensive attitude that passes for booster-ism.  You won’t see me apologizing, shrugging, pleading, comparing, or being the slightest bit sarcastic or ironic about my love of Houston, and our commitment to keeping it a great place to live and to visit.

I’m also done with copying other cities.  Yes, we’ll never be The Live Music Capital, but I don’t mind trying to book a few more concerts, festivals, and shows.  And we don’t need to “Keep Houston” anything.  Ok, keep Houston inscrutable, if you must.  And finally, we need to nix anything with HTX on it.  While I, again, like the pride, the branding is way too much like Austin’s ubiquitous ATX.  Anyway, we already have a perfectly awesome three letter abbreviation — HOU.

Recently, the Greater (Greatest?) Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau got it right.  Their new national ad campaign showcases our own rock star chefs and bartenders, our own innovative performing and visual artists, and our very own oddball dreamers and tinkerers who make Houston so funky and fun.  In contrast with their previous campaign, the new ads are filled with the famous faces that are still making a difference here in Houston, and not with those big-shots who split.  I’m ready for the ad that highlights our history.  I can easily see a photo shoot with Sam Houston, Howard Hughes, Ima Hogg, Jesse Jones, Michael DeBakey, Barbara Jordan, Patrick Swayze, and DJ Screw.  Houston is…historic?  You bet it is!

So, be proud of Houston.  Brag until you lose your voice.  Boast until your keyboard is pounded into dust.  Be more like those innovators in the new ads.  Try something weird and different, or dream up your own thing, but please stop apologizing for loving Houston.

Always be a defender of Houston, never be defensive about Houston

James Glassman