Rest of the Best: 10 Best Houston Urban Legends

KatrinaGrafiti560.jpg
MFAH, gift of the artist, Richard Misrach
Post-Katrina graffiti, before the "crime spike in Houston."
Houston is a big diverse city with a big diverse population, and that more often than not leads to a whole lot of different levels of bunk and bull that must be waded through in order to find the truth. On the other hand, some of those legends are true (Unfortunately it's usually the terrifying ones). We've got plenty of urban legends here, and today we're going to explore the ones that die hardest.

10. The Car Bump Scam
About a decade ago the rumor in Houston was that a new band of thieves was using a clever ploy. They would lightly ram a car from behind, and when the drivers got out to swap insurance information the thieves would rob them at gunpoint. There's a kernel of truth to that. In 2004 three young men did go on a huge crime spree that involved robbing 16 people, mostly Hispanic maids over the course of about three hours.

Some of those robberies did involve ramming cars, in motion and stopped at lights, and then pulling a gun on the driver when they got out of the car, but all in all it was the work of a small group of men, all apprehended, and not the start of a disturbing new kind of crime. That said, in the event of an accident, always call the police first and let them know what happened before you leave the safety of your car unless in immediate danger.

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9. KLEE Station Identification
Houston has a reputation for bizarre radio and television happenings, such as the old KLOL studio being haunted for instance. More unconventionally, in the '50s it was rumored that a signal from KLEE had appeared on British televisions more than three years after KLEE had been turned into KPRC by The Houston Post. The bizarre occurrence was even written up in Reader's Digest as a believe-it-or-not piece, until it eventually came to light that the whole thing was a hoax by a scamster trying to build interest in a television that he said could receive signals from all over the world.

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8. The Heights Batman
It's hard to top having your own monster, and Houston has an awesome, if extremely rare one in the form of the Batman. Around the same time that people were believing that signals from KLEE could cross the Atlantic, there appeared a mysterious man dressed in something like a paratrooper's uniform and sporting a long set of leather wings. He was only seen on one night in 1953, terrifying several onlookers before vanishing in a halo of light. He has not appeared since, but who knows what may be hiding in the Heights?

7. Katrina Bullshit
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and refugees fled to Houston where they were met with open arms in their moment of need. They were also met with some extremely racist bullshit, and it marks a rather shameful chapter in viral emails regarding our city. For instance, you might have seen the "So I Volunteered..." viral email written by a blogger named Maher that claimed all sort of bad and ungrateful behavior from those in the Astrodome. It's possible that he did see something bad, but the overwhelming majority of volunteers reported nothing but gratitude and civility.

There was also the rumor that Katrina victims refused buses to job fairs being held to try and help them find work. Those rumors were mostly directed at refugees in Dallas and Austin, but also were mentioned here. The truth is that there was a job fair in Austin that did offer free transportation that few used, but mostly because the advertising for the buses was poor since it was unclear if FEMA was going to reimburse the city. A job fair held in Houston did in fact draw 7,500 people looking for work, and was open to both refugees and native unemployed Houstonians.

Finally, there is no evidence that Houston experienced any significant rise in crime post-Katrina. There was indeed a small increase in the number of homicides total in the city, but no real pattern linking them to the influx of displaced Louisianans. The myth that Houston took in the criminal dregs of New Orleans and has been living with them since is just not true.

This story continues on the next page.

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15 comments
Bradford Ashington
Bradford Ashington

a big diverse city with a big diverse population with big diverging ass cheeks

blkblueguitar
blkblueguitar

Katrina may not of effected the inner loop that much, but the southwest side, outside the beltway, would very much disagree with all of that.

kmaher23
kmaher23

Urban (or semi-rural) legend from my childhood: Philanthropist Ima Hogg had two sisters, named Ura & Hesa.  


Alas, that was not true.  She had only brothers....

Hill_
Hill_

What, no Jeff Alm?  It is easily in the top 3.

mark_c
mark_c

 I mostly agree with your Katrina thing, but a rise in homicides from 272 in 2004 to 334 in 2005, 377 in 2006, and 351 in 2007 was NOT a "small increase". http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Houston-Texas.html I tutored at the HCC Southeast Campus, which has many students from the low income areas on the east side. A number of them, including one whose family actually was involved in the drug trade, said that the worst gang violence they'd seen in their neighborhoods was around that time (of course they grew up after eighties and early nineties, when Houston crime actually was at it's worst). The east side had a lot fewer Katrina evacuees than the west, so the spike in murders there had little to do with Katrina. Still, the increase in violence was very real, and I think a correction is in order for your article

Erica Cakir
Erica Cakir

Why does everyone worry about the ukraine government when Turkey is falling apart--- the place where all the americans missles are?

Alisa Guerrant-Weaver
Alisa Guerrant-Weaver

I used to live right down the road from the "killing fields" . It has since turned into a subdivision. And I remember many a night as a teenager , sneaking under a fence to see "the Face". I did see an image on the wall. It was very creepy!

Evan Mintz
Evan Mintz

The Rice University cryptid genetically engineered by Aldous Huxley's brother.

anon2345
anon2345

(Side note: It makes me happy Word doesn't recognize the term "misandry" as a legitimate word)

Why does that make you happy, Jef with one F?

eudemonist
eudemonist

@anon2345 Misandry is a fake term invented by the cishet shitlords of the Patriarchy to describe a non-existent phenomenon in an attempt to discredit noble warriors for social justice.  Just as it's impossible to be racist against white people, it's impossible to be prejudiced or hateful towards men because they are the ones that hold the power.  Any feelings of hatred or contempt for men are justified by millenia of oppression, therefore misandry cannot exist.

Or something like that.

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@eudemonist @anon2345  I honestly thought the Katrina haters would get here first. They must all be at the mayonnaise store or something. 

521729
521729

@fattyfatbastard This hippie has clearly made up his mind. 

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@JefWithOneF I'll be your Huckleberry.  My best friend went down to volunteer during Katrina, and he was amazed at how few please and thank you's he received.  He was discouraged enough to stop after a couple of days.  I'm sure he could go into more detail with you, if you'd like.

col_bluntstown
col_bluntstown

@JefWithOneF

Not sure why you think any readers would care what makes you happy. Your ponytail might be too tight brah!

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