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An Open Letter to our ‘guests’ in Montrose

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Leon casino,

Don’t fuck this up for the rest of us

By Omar Afra

Illustration by Tim Dorsey

‘ The Montrose’ and its portion of the Westheimer drag in particular have undergone a few notable revisions and additions in recent months. High dollar-boutique drink purveyor Anvil has popped up in the last couple of years and similar establishments are following suit. Gone is historic lesbian bar Chances and in will go Hay Merchant. Similarly, the ‘ Tex-Mex’ joint El Real has taken over the famed spot of the former Tower Theater, which was subsequently Hollywood Video.  Add the demise of Mary’s and the popularity of the new Royal Oaks and you have a marked change in the dynamic of the neighborhood. What has happened is a good and bad thing.  For the first time in quite some time, Montrose is becoming a ‘destination’ for days that are not weekends. Yes, our fair neighborhood is starting to see more men in pink collared shirts, women in 6-inch heels (who are not prostitutes), and other Washington Avenue types. More people, and their money, in the hood is a good thing as long as they behave. Here is a quick etiquette guide for these imported folks:

-       Stay in your safe zones: El Real, Hay Merchant, Anvil, Royal Oaks, and Poison Girl on amateur nights. Please avoid Catbird’s  and Lola’s at all costs for your own safety.

-       Our safety and comfort takes precedence over yours. If an ambulance is called for you yet a native Montrosian needs urgent care, you will be passed over.

-       Keep quiet when leaving the bars, as much of our neighborhood is asleep. See, we get wasted on Mondays not Fridays because we all work on Saturdays.

-       Dude-bros must not travel in packs larger than 3.

-       When you see our Honorable Mayor Chris Hutto in the streets, give him the proper salute. This consists of prostrating before him and singing anything off of Fugazi’s In on the Kill Taker.

-       As a matter of protective breeding, any native Montrosian has full carnal rights on your girlfriend /boyfriend while she/he is in our jurisdiction.

-       Try to speak as little as possible. Make sure all of your ‘hoorahhhs’ are under the proscribed 50 decibel limit

If you follow these simple guidelines, you can help us keep Montrose the great place that it is.  For now, we enjoy your company. We may even find you humorous. But remember, you are here as our guests.

Don’t fuck this up for the rest of us.

  • Nathan Wells

    As a current catbirds employee I’ll just leave this here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJAlIHsXcLY

  • Lucky Peter

    I dont think the boys over on fairview would agree with rule #4. The more the merrier, am i right? CHOO CHOO

  • Ian MacKaye

    This is a surprise. I was just woken by an alert on my phone letting me know that In On The Kill Taker was downloaded over 100 times in the past 8 hours. I generally don’t take notice of these things, but Jenn, my newest employee at Discord, thought it was noteworthy. She did some searching and sent me the link to this article.

    I can’t recall the last time I was in Montrose, or even Houston, but I do remember a Fugazi show we played in the late 80’s. It was an underground club (literally) in the downtown area. I think it was called Power Tools. I would be surprised if that’s still there. I am surprised that you pay tribute to your Mayor by laying facedown and singing Fugazi songs. I would have expected Peter Murphy, or maybe Wire.

    • Enos


    • Christopher Raymond Gerhardt

      Lots of Fugazi fans in Houston

    • John Zambrano

      Hey I remember when fugazi played Fitzgerald’s around 97 or 98 and I played Ian at air hockey before the show and won! Haha
      I also remember watching the whole show sitting Indian style on top of one of the huge speakers over the audience to the left of the stage. It was a great view. They killed it, and all for 5 bucks!

  • Omar

    BTW anonymous coward, I am very easy to find: I am either at the office or at Fitz. You can reach me to discuss my horrid greed in person. Contact at [email protected] to arrange an appointment. However, please don’t waste time making such an appointment because I am very busy counting cash, gold bouillon, and listening to indie rock.

  • Omar

    Hello. Omar here. Funny thing about the last poster is that he talks shit without using a name. So this person says they know me enough to recognize me and where I go yet is too much of a coward to use their name. Where I come from you are straight forward and look people in the eye when you talk shit. But alas, your claims are bullshit: Neither myself nor my friends are hip. Fitz was never strictly a punk and there is punk there often. I am not greedy. I just gave Tim Dorsey 40 bucks. How much did you give him?

  • isrealforever

    funny thing about omar is i RAREly see him at any of the places mentioned. in fact of all the people who are writing this…this comes from the one person who managed to take Houston’s most classic punk venue and trend it out.

    oh but wait…i guess omar and his HIP friends consider framed artwork and indie rock bands punk…

    if you weren’t one of the greediest people I have ever met, and if you actually cared about the art before the dollar-i might have read this differently.

    but i compare this article to suicide bombers. it makes no sense.

  • uhhhhh….

    what a dweeb….

    get a clue, or some confidence in yourself at least.

  • http://nah some dude

    This is the best article ever written on Montrose, because in a bizarre and raw manner gives way exactly what Montrose is full of — pretentious pricks making up rules to follow and preaching about not tolerating intolerance (and other dress styles than whatever fad you’re wearing this month at Lola’s)

    Great article. From the mouth’s of babes comes truth.

  • Eric

    That was pretty much the most retarded thing I ever read. Dont flatter yourselves by comparing Washington Ave to Montrose… At least when I go out in Midtown or Washington I’m not overcome by BO when I enter the bar. Take a bath hipsters. Oh wait that too trendy.

  • Kasssim Jabooboo


    I will do my best to keep the yuppies out of montrose if you promise to hook me up with that fine ass paul.

  • Jason Friedman

    Man, this is the most internet i’ve done in a while…

    I appreciate this commentary. I’ve known Omar for a long time. He knows Houston very well, as do I. This is my home. I was 14 years old, sneaking out to go to the Abyss, Fitz, the Westheimer St. Fest (when it was on westheimer), etc.. Houston had an edge. It had a music scene that wasn’t “hipster”. It was rough at bars and you had to watch how you acted, or someone would remind you of how to act. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    Now, there is an influx of people who have no accountability for their actions. A very overprivelidged group. The concern seems to be how flashy they can be. How loud they can be. How pushy they can be. The only positive (which is a huge positive) is that commerce in the ‘Trose is booming. Small restauraunts, bars, etc… are doing extremely well. But, what will be sad is in 5 years, when they’ve all either grown up and moved out of Midtown, or have all killed themselves in blazing Audi fireballs, all those bars and clothing stroes will have to go back to relying on the “natives” to support them again, and shit will normalize.

    Look, all in all, fuck these people. But, fuck us too. When you get down to it, the best option is for us all to abandon our convictions, move to the country, and live on a commune where any form of monetary exchange is illegal and we all make bio-diesel and grow our own food and power our houses with solar panels and stockpile guns and train jiujitsu at night after working in the fields all day. If that’s your goal, I’m on top of it. Until then, all bars are crackhouses and clothing stores are chopshops and highrises are just a nice place to put a fertilizer bomb.

    “But if you want to get together and fight, now buddy, that’s what I want to hear.”

    Listen to my new record.


  • visitor

    @Long Time Montrosity whatever bro, its a free country. Ima come all up in yo hood. I get it yo, yallz all alternative and shit cuz you cant get ripped. I’ve hooked up with a bunch of emo lookin hoes ive met at boondocks, poison gurl, and even a couple at catbirds. Yallz just jealous cuz ur women think im fly. What else is a playa to do? if the ladies want me, then you know ima halfta knock around theyz ovaries a little bit. Guess the ladies still like ripped playas over the emos in gurl pants. Maybe if you stop hatin you could getcha some.

    • Josh McIntosh

      English 101. It will do you good.

      • Christopher Raymond Gerhardt

        I don’t think that’s a serious comment.

  • Long-time Montrosity

    visitor says:
    April 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm
    Yo man, I spend my money in montrose on the weekends sometimes, no homo, and i dont think you hipsters over at freepress should make fun of me for bringing revenue into your city. I’ve only gotten in like two fights at bars in montrose, so i no people are more chill there. But i dont see why you got to talk shit like that. Why cant we drink together on the weekends? its cool, i like the arcade fire too.


    You can stay out.

  • Amanda

    I laughed till I cried. The only reason I could imagine anyone taking offense at this obviously tongue-in-cheek piece is because there’s a certain amount of truth in it. The only trouble most of us ever have is not with our fellow Montrosians, but with the folks coming in from other neighborhoods that act as if we’re some sort of hippie zoo/theme park (“Yo, Chaz! Look at the funny dude with the tattoo AND the pierced nose! Let’s go pour our Mich Ultras on him!”) instead of just letting us be the welcoming humans we actually are. Inevitably, if someone gets roofied or punched or otherwise messed with on a weekend, it’s the work of someone from outside of the neighborhood with an attitude problem. That kind of behavior may fly up on Washington Avenue, but it doesn’t fly here.

    Equally insidious are those that move in from places like Pearland, drive up housing prices, and then proceed to try and pass ordinances to turn Montrose into Pearland. If you want Pearland, seriously, shouldn’t you just stay in Pearland? That’s like trying to reinvent Greenwich Village as Santa Monica. It’s just wrong.

    So, yes, you are welcome to come visit. We’d love to have you. But as the Montrose residents above have stated so well, please treat us with respect (and yes, stop driving like a maniac at the curve near Catbirds! Westheimer is like four feet wide, dudes!). After all, we don’t go to your Midtown clubs and blaze up a doob on the dance floor.

  • jordan

    He is just saying what all of us who live here is thinking. Preach on and thank you.

  • New Montrosian

    I’m fairly new to Montrose. Catbirds is the first place I was fortunate enough to hang out at. Love Hutto, what a sweetheart! Is it just me, or was #’s left out as one of the places for newbies to please remember to act with good sense. It seems like any time there is real trouble there, it is always some stupid jackass newbie at the center of it. Montrose is a great community and we know who belongs here and who’s just visiting. Please mind your p’s and q’s while visiting.

  • kevin

    I’ve lived in Houston my entire life lindale park. Just outside the heights on the barrio. I’m 29 and have gotten used to the whole Washington high rise community. The area is better than the run down place it was. I rather have rhythm room and cool neighbors near Walter’s. But overall the area is nicer. I don’t go to the Washington bars. Hit up rudyards when I go out or Lolas and alps cool there but you free press people are really stuck up. Just as much as the yuppie in the hundred dollar dress but in a “cool” way. I don’t wear skinny jeans and try to portray myself as a holster. I’m punk at heart and have probably lived much harder for a longer time than you fellas. I’m dying from abusing my body. The whole cool kids act is annoying though. I don’t read this site much was checking to see who the “big names to come” for the festival are. I’ll be there and that’s a cool event. I’m glad to see a festival like that come to our city and only see it as getting bigger and bigger. The flaming lips were great last year. So yea this is Houston not pretentious Austin or Seattle. Were blue collar hard working motherfuckers.

  • visitor

    Yo man, I spend my money in montrose on the weekends sometimes, no homo, and i dont think you hipsters over at freepress should make fun of me for bringing revenue into your city. I’ve only gotten in like two fights at bars in montrose, so i no people are more chill there. But i dont see why you got to talk shit like that. Why cant we drink together on the weekends? its cool, i like the arcade fire too.

  • Montrose/Heights Resident

    The problem with Washington Ave/suburbanites is that they are disrespectful. We live here everyday. It isn’t a weekend getaway shopping spot for us. They are rude to or make fun of the ecletic group of people who live here. Omar, I believe you forgot the rule of personal space. I can’t count the number of times some suburbanite has come up to me and grabbed my arm or lifted up my shirt or skirt to get a better look at my tattoos. I’ve had people pull at my jeans to see the giant piece on my hip, twist my arm to see if my sleeve is finished…We don’t mind suburbanites/frat boys etc but their behaviour is just unacceptable. We are not a freak show or petting zoo. Don’t treat us like we are. Don’t pee in our yards because you can’t find your car after a night of excessive drinking. If you actually think the residents are crack addicts and hookers then please keep driving and don’t stop at all the fabulous restaurants and bars. When you come to a stoplight please stop in the appropriate place…we walk a lot and need the cross walks…look out for bicycles and scooters… FOR GOD’S SAKE PLEASE SLOW DOWN AT THE CURVE IN FRONT OF CATBIRDS!

  • ex-Montrosian

    I grew up in Montrose, and still stop by and visit from time to time when I’m in town.

    However, all this can remind me of is Portlandia


    Yes, Montrose is a sweet place to hang out and is historic in that nature, but you can’t get mad over change…. it happens.

  • Drew

    This article just made my day. As a fellow Montrosian, I can say I pay enough for my property to warrant a little concern when bars like Little Zimms Upper Deck open up at the end of my street. The street becomes clogged with bro chads in back turned Boston hats trying to park their beemers, benz’s, and land cruisers. I can say with full on conviction these people can go back out to the Katy, The Woodlands, Clear Lake, Memorial, Whestchase, or whatever other frat like stomping ground they came from and suck it. :)

  • Del

    Montrose has changed a lot already in the 10+ years that I’ve been there. At least the Covenant House kids are keeping it seedy!

  • Yuppy McYup

    Agreed. Eastwood/ Harrisburg is on its way to being the new cool spot in Houston. Until the yups get to it. Montrose hipsters douchebags.

  • Micah

    Regardless of where Omar lives, I think he was offering a fair warning to the majority of the population that are unfamiliar with places like catbirds and lolas (which are testaments for what the montrose has always been) “for your own safety”.
    I don’t see why anyone should be bothered by this. Do any of you WANT to go to lolas and stand in a puddle of piss or fight off the roaches that fly up your skirt? I kinda doubt it.
    I don’t go into Anvil b/c I don’t care for the place or the people, and I know that if I act like an asshole, I deserve to have my ass kicked.
    So while I know its not always the first thing to cross your mind at 2am after you just got wasted, just use some common sence, don’t be an asshole, and have fun!

  • crackmesucky

    I want me some tranny soup

  • https://www.facebook.com/kimberly.clarady Kimberly C

    I prefer Men at Work to gentrification at work any day…..all I’m saying on the matter.

  • admin

    It is not ‘crack addicts and prostitutes’ but ‘crack addict prostitutes’. These are one unified group as opposed to 2 disparate sets of people. Get it straight Frances.

  • Rachel

    I pass through Washington on my way to Montrose, and the juxtaposition is astounding. I really hope those asshats don’t try to take over Montrose. If they do, there might just be a war.

  • Frances

    Way to make your mediocre neighborhood sound like an elitist Shangri-La. I thought the only native Montrosians were crack addicts and prostitutes.

  • chrispy

    Eastwood/Harrisburg is better….and cheaper!

  • Montrose Resident

    I am not glad about all these tourists trying to run my bike of the road.

    Way to make us proud author!

  • Mary


  • Justice Tirapelli-Jamail

    In response to all of the above:

    How dare the ever-prestigious Free Press attempt to dabble in observational humor? To think that a news organization such as this would try and make a few funnies during your precious time? That’s just down right absurd.

    Oh, wait.

    Did you think this was Newsweek?

    You all must have thought this was Newsweek…..

  • Weinus Mcpoopington

    I only go to Montrose to poop peacefully in the nice clean and quiet restrooms

  • Blake

    This is so wrong, brah. Next you’re going to say I shouldn’t wear my powder-pink Izod.

  • admin

    I live in the Montrose.

    ..and Choco/Justin, the article is obviously satire. Have fun with it.

    - Omar

  • choco

    An open letter to the “resident” of Montrose who wrote this article

    i wonder if you realize the image you are giving to your neighborhood instead of a place where people should go to relax and be themselves shop drink have fun here we are with a slap in the face about how we should act and even speak “50 decibel limit” what u think people are going to tarnish your sad little image of a “cool” neighborhood you should be glad people look forward to visiting montrose instead of being a total snob about it

  • wait, can Omar even speak for Montrose? I thought he lived in the Heights.

  • admin

    Thanks for reading!

  • justin

    Way to write the most pretentious and arrogant article of all time. I’m sure all of Montrose will be so proud…