Today is my Birthday!
The date of my birth, May 21st 1956, has only one major claim to fame (other than my birth of course!). On this day 51 years ago, the U.S. exploded the first airborne hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll. So I guess one could say that I came into the world with a bang….
1956 is also a notable year because that’s the year that the Olympics were held in Australia (Melbourne) for the first time and television was introduced so the Australian populace could watch the games. So I’m among the first Australians to grow up with TV. We didn’t get colour television in Australia until 1974. The advantage of the late introduction of colour TV in Australia is that we use the PAL system, which is higher quality than the older NTSC (jokingly referred to as Never The Same Color) system used in the US.
Other interesting, things that happened in that year were:
The first Eurovision contest (yay!)
The Hungarian Revolution and the invasion of Hungary by the USSR
The Suez Crisis
So here I’m, glad to be alive, despite all the dumb things that I’ve done, counting my blessings and enjoying la dolce vita with my perfect wife in our back yard.
Since I wrote “How to get arrested in Houston Texas.” I’ve had some interesting input from friends about Houston and their experiences there.
Patrick Ready (of the mid seventies “HP Show” on Vancouver radio and fellow kite lover) sent me this little story via E-mail after reading my tale.
Just read your Houston piece. Similar thing almost happened to me. I was taken around by these well-to-do Houston hosts in ’78 to various bars. 1st one had a sort of large Dixieland band called the Heart Beats, except that they weren’t particularly good musicians, would play a page of music and then stop playing. Turned out they were all heart surgeons. Then we went to a place where cowboys and girls did line dancing with little signs over the dance floor that said “Girls, if a cowboy asks you to dance, don’t say no. These shit kickers are shy.” Then to a bar filled with very wealthy black people. We were the only white people in there. Very polite with a trio from Detroit performing, and finally a Tex-Mex bar with lovely accordion music. That’s when the cops came in. I was warned to just look at the table, not look up under any circumstance. One by one Mexican clients were taken outside while the accordion played on. They weren’t coming back in. Finally someone shone a flashlight in my face. I looked up to see a woman cop holding the flashlight, and I couldn’t help but smile. Then a voice from behind me said, “Please get up, sir. And hold your hands away from your sides.” A hand started feeling my pockets then. When it touched my chest and felt something in my inside coat pocket the voice said from over my head and I’m 6′ 6″, this was a big cop, “What’s in your pocket?” I said I didn’t know and brought my hand over to see what it was. He yelled,”Don’t move your hands!” He reached around and pulled a calculator out of my pocket. After that I was allowed to sit down, and we left shortly after that. On the drive home I was told I had behaved well and that I was very lucky. From your story I can see I was.
Last week, while I was at a dinner party at a friend’s place I met one of my host’s co-workers. Both these guys are academics that teach at Macquarie University here in Sydney and talk swung around to travel and the obligatory horror stories. My host mentioned my Huston story that he’d seen in this blog, at which his co-worker asked me what year, the incident happened. When I told him it was back 1980, he told me that he was working in Houston as an advisor to the Chief of Police in Houston at the same time. He said words to this effect, “you were very lucky, the police in Houston were out of control at that time.” “They were dropping people off bridges and planting evidence”. This fellow dinner guest then went on to tell me that it was common practice in those days for the policemen to carry “throwdowns”. Apparently a throwdown is an illegally obtained gun that can be “thrown down” at a crime scene to make matters worse for suspects. Like, “I had to shoot because he pulled a gun on me”.
So there you go. I wonder how many other people have had similar experiences in Houston? I also wonder if they, like me, have told hundreds of other people about what kind of place Houston is? When I hear people say they are going to America, I always warn them about Houston.