Southern Influence, Houston
Throughout the South of the USA, especially close to the Gulf of Mexico, you will notice that most trees have grey moss hanging down from their branches. It is called Spanish Moss, and is very common in Houston where it thrives in the humid climate.
Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is actually not a moss at all but belongs to the Bromeliads family. It is a flowering plant that absorbs nutrients and water from the air and rain (called epiphyte plant). Being not a parasite, it does not harm the trees it grows on.
As I've mentioned before, I think it is often forgotten by others that Houston is a large, diverse, and international port city much like Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or Seattle.
What many also don't know is that the performing arts programs in Houston are nationally recognized to those in the business, and definitely top notch. Only New York's Broadway district is larger than Houston's Theater District. The Museum District is also very good and considered to be one of the top three centers of cultural activity in the country.
Rice University, often considered to be in the new class of Ivy Leagues, is located in Houston. Many Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners choose to teach in Houston when they could have gone elsewhere.
Along with Rice, Houston houses the nation's largest medical center district, many technology companies, and NASA. Just among these, Houston is home to a large number of scientists, physicians, researchers, and engineers.
Additionally, Houston is home to the third largest number of working artists in the nation.
Houston was also named as one of the top 10 vegetarian-friendly cites by PETA, and is the only city in Texas on the list.
The city also has one of the country's largest gay populations.
... So much for stereotypes or the idea that Austin is the state's most progressive city!
So please, whatever you do, don't call us "rednecks" or "hicks" because we are far from it. Of course there are a few areas where you might find people more fitting of these stereotypes (such as Channelview, Pasadena, and some areas on the northern outskirts) but these are hardly representative of the city as a whole (though from Hollywood and the media you might think otherwise). We live in the nation's fourth largest city, and we love our arts, our sciences, and our diversity.
Back in 2001, when we visited Houston, my uncle bought 50 pounds of crawfish and boiled them with sausage, potatoes, onions and spices. When they were finished, we stood around a heaping pile of food and just chowed down!