Hanging Out in the TMC


Yeah, that’s me after a few too many cocktails in the hotel lounge. As Lance related, I’m in Houston in the Texas Medical Center (TMC) visiting my father who recently had an internal defibrillator put on his heart. The surgery went remarkably well and he seems more lively than when he went under the knife on Thursday, but he’s trapped in the bureaucratic waiting-for-approval world of hospitalization that feels like standing in line at the DMV…only with your ass hanging out of a gown. Thus my mother and I keep him company during the day and sit starring at the hotel walls at night. I decided to start obliterating the time with vodka this evening, thanks to the encouragement of the medical-student bar staff who have seen this all before.

As always when I’m here, I’m struck by the bizarre experience of this health care city (and I’ve unfortunately been here a lot with Dad’s ongoing heart problems). The TMC is the largest medical district in the world, with one of the highest concentrations of hospitals, clinics, research centers and doctors anywhere (photo of the TMC’s rows and rows of hospitals). Just looking out my hotel window I can see the Texas Children’s Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, the Methodist Hospital, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor’s College of Medicine, Ben Taub Hospital, office tower after office tower of medical offices, research facilities…and seemingly perpetual construction for even more. There’s a boutique across the street for designer scrubs (the official uniform of this city-state) and almost every store/cafe/bar has a somewhat medical theme or is named after a famous surgeon, doctor or whathaveyou.

It’s a highly Ballardian place, full of sanitized winding corridors to nowhere, sterilized corporate conformity, multi-million dollar ugly sculpture, startlingly advanced high technology, foreign doctors nabbed from the world over, meticulously manicured lawns, smiling receptionists in vivid eyeshadow…and just beneath the surface –infecting the place with its sole purpose– life and death. Think Super-Cannes for physicians.

The medical city-state is populated with one of the most diverse populations of transients you’ll ever encounter. Wealthy cronies of African despots, regular old Texas folk with big belt buckles and tall hats, uber-cute Filipina nurses who just love America, staggeringly beautiful European women twice the age they look (medical refugees from collapsing socialist health systems), and lots and lots of Saudi wives in midnight black abayas. It’s a fun place to people watch though. It’s Houston, so the even the female doctors go clack-clacking around the hospitals all day in exotic leather Louboutin and Manolo stilettos.

The location is pricey. Considering the vast sums we tend to plop on over-priced hotel rooms whenever Dad is up here, I got to looking around at the nearby housing on a lark. There’s a dump of a sixteen-hundred square foot animal house across from Rice that’s selling for seven hundred thousand dollars. Think that’s high, consider that the place was recently flooded and looks to have been largely unrepaired. The college kids across the street had a new Porsche Cayman sitting in their driveway. Yeah. I can’t even begin to fathom what my college romantic life might have looked like behind the wheel of that car.

Fitting enough for the visitor, because the place sucks up money like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve spent thousands of dollars here and have little to show for it besides a Prada raincoat I bought due to the unexpected rains….and a load of service receipts stuffed in its pockets.

The growth of the place tells the story of once sleepy Houston’s spectacularly rapid rise to ostentatious wealth, and the more general attainment by the United States of a new order of civilization that is scarcely imaginable in much of the world. On Saturday, I took my mother to dinner at this posh little Italian restaurant in the penthouse of a building near the hospital Dad’s in. Mom noticed that the building was named after Dr. John P. McGovern, Mom’s allergist when she was growing up in Houston in the late fifties/early sixties. Back then McGovern’s clinic had been a small, rather intimate affair. In his building today he’s immortalized in a massive neo-classical bronze bust with a weighty inscription about the medical worlds he’s conquered. The future once happened here.

Sphere: Related Content

Your Ad Here

6 Responses to “Hanging Out in the TMC”

  1. on 27 Jan 2008 at 11:29 pm feathers

    Wishing well and a speedy recovery to your dad, Lee… I know how this is.


  2. on 27 Jan 2008 at 11:36 pm Lee

    Thanks Ms. Feathers. He’s really doing great. He’s walking, joking…bitching about the market and Hillary Clinton. Good old normal Dad. I just wish they’d release him already.

  3. on 27 Jan 2008 at 11:55 pm feathers

    Glad to know… :) My dad was really sick last year so I feel your pain (and also the other one $$$$$$) Funny your comment about doctors clack-claking in Manolos and Louboutins, if I ask my husband what is a Manolo or a Louboutin he would ask say what?

  4. on 28 Jan 2008 at 7:25 am ChrisB

    That’s great news that he’s doing better lee. I have a buddy that lives right over in that area. It’s a pretty cheap apt near rice village. Rice Village is one of my favorite bar spots to go, plus there’s some good restaurants there too. How long will you be in houston?

  5. on 28 Jan 2008 at 12:06 pm Lee

    Looks like I’m finally outta here tomorrow morning. Just picked up dad from the hospital. He looks younger (increased bloodflow due to the AICD).

  6. on 19 Jul 2009 at 6:33 am christian

    Christian louboutin shoes are fashion and sexy,they are irresistible and charming,I like it very much!

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Get rewarded at leading casinos.

online casino real money usa