The Sister Cities Of Houston: A Critical Appraisal, Part Two
Sister: Luanda, Angola
How we are sisterly: Houston's only African sister is yet another seaport/oil hub and its population (4.8 million) and hot climate are similar to ours. There is also this from Wikipedia: "Luanda's roads are currently in a poor state of repair, but are currently undergoing a massive reconstruction process by the government in order to relieve traffic congestion in the city."
How we are not: Houston's Inner Loop is not surrounded by shantytowns full of desperately poor refugees from war-torn provinces and countries. That is, if you look past Gulfton.
Fun Fact: Houston is Luanda's only non-Portuguese-speaking sister.
Sister: Nice, France
How we are sisterly: It's a port and a good restaurant town. That's about all Hair Balls can say.
How we are not: Nice is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world and one of the most glamorous and beautiful cities in the Mediterranean Basin. We are none of those things. Funky, dangerous Marseilles would have been a better choice for us.
Fun Fact: The Nice Jazz Festival - founded in 1948 with Louis Armstrong as the headliner - is the world's oldest jazz festival "of international significance."
Sister: Perth, Australia
How we are sisterly: Another hot-climate port. Also, Houston and Perth were founded within ten years of each other.
How we are not: Perth is one of the most isolated communities in the entire world -- the nearest city with a population of over 1,000,000 is Adelaide, Australia, 1,307 miles away -- roughly the same distance as driving from Houston to El Paso, and back. Perth was recently named the world's 4th-most livable city. We have yet to attain such a lofty status.
Fun Fact: Heath Ledger's hometown is known as "the Australian capital of South Africans in exile."
Sister: Shenzhen, China
How we are sisterly: South China's principal port shares our muggy subtropical climate and crime rate and they are occasionally strafed by typhoons. They share our appreciation for skyscrapers and until the meltdown were throwing them up at a feverish pace.
How we are not: Its population is not very diverse, save for different sub-groups of Chinese, and they manufacture more than just chemicals there, but other than that, Shenzhen seems like one of the more similar sisters.
Fun Fact: Most of the world's iPods and iPhones are made in Shenzhen. One of the principal tourist attractions is a retired Russian aircraft carrier remade as Minsk World. Choreographed dances take place on the deck, which makes the Minsk sound like the flagship of the Village People's navy.
Sister: Stavanger, Norway
How we are sisterly: Port, oil, blah blah blah. Their local pro hockey team is called the Oilers.
How we are not: Climate, obviously, and size. Stavanger has only about 125,000 people.
Fun Fact: Stavanger is also sisters with Galveston. That seems like cheating or something.
Sister: Taipei, Taiwan
How we are sisterly: Port, subtropical climate, and size. Also, there is said to be "little respect for traffic laws" in Taipei. Their transit system uses a card like our newfangled Q Cards too. They love baseball.
How we are not: We do not claim to be the capital of an adjacent nation, and Taipei 101 is a full 600-odd feet taller than our tallest buildings.
Fun Fact: One of Taipei's baseball teams once signed a Panamanian pitcher named Lenin Picota.
How we are sisterly: Basically, Houston and Tampico share about 99.8 percent of the same metropolitan DNA. Oil ports on the Gulf of Mexico, similar climates, lots of refineries and Spanish-speaking people...Tampico, which was founded in 1823, is the Houston of Mexico.
How we are not: Houston has a sort of suppressed New Orleans vibe to it. Tampico expresses its own freely.
Fun Fact: In his ongoing quest to pen a tune about every Gulf Coast town with a population over 50,000, Jimmy Buffet has written a song about Tampico.
Sister: Tyumen, Russia
How we are sisterly: Oil, but Tyumen is not a port. And that is about all. Overall, this place seems like one of those "boring provincial capitals" characters in 19th-Century Russian literature were being exiled to.
How we are not: It's in freaking Siberia.
Fun Fact: During World War II, Lenin's body was secretly moved from its Moscow mausoleum to a disguised tomb in Tyumen. (Note: This was not Lenin the Panamanian fireballer.)
Sister: Karachi, Pakistan
How we are sisterly: We are both sprawling, multi-ethnic, polluted and dangerous port cities. Karachi is the largest city in the Muslim world; Houston is the largest city in Texas.
How we are not: There's not as much bloodshed here, and just as Houston isn't the 4th-most livable city in the world like Perth, neither is it the 4th-least livable like Karachi.
Fun Fact: It was once known as "Kolachi," and some consider kolaches Houston's signature dish.