Tomorrow: Listen to Awesome Music & Help Out Houston Cyclists, In Honor of Chelsea Norman
Getting late, and my eyes are rapidly melting in my skull (in part because I stupidly started Andy Weir‘s The Martian after dinner and haven’t put it down until just now), but I didn’t want to drop the ball on this one — it’s pretty damn important.
In December of 2013, a woman driving down Waugh hit and killed a 24-year-old Whole Foods employee as she biked home from work. The victim was named Chelsea Norman, and she’d just finished her shift and was making the quick ride home. The driver hit Chelsea, who was in the bike lane along the street, and fled, leaving her to die in the gutter.
Now, I know it’s been more than a year now, so it’s mostly faded from the memories of many Houstonians, but this remains a grim, senseless tragedy, one that’s ongoing for Chelsea’s family and friends. Thankfully, the driver of the vehicle, Margaret Mayer, was eventually found and arrested, and this past December, she was convicted by a jury of the crime, with a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The reality, though, is that Houston’s streets are one hell of a dangerous place for cyclists. When we lived in the Fourth Ward, I tried riding my bike down Fairview to Montrose and south to the Diedrich’s that used to be down near St. Thomas; I made it exactly once on the main roads, and refused to ever attempt it again, instead taking back streets the whole way every time after that. I did my absolute best to follow all traffic laws, stopped at all the lights along the way, and I still had multiple near-misses with vehicles who very clearly did not give a solitary fuck about sharing the road with a bicycle.
Since then I’ve watched bike lanes pop up all over the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, both back in the old days and now out in our near-suburban ‘hood; that’s been encouraging, to be sure. But then something like this happens, and I find myself swearing that I’ll never let my kids ride their bikes anywhere on a busy street anywhere in this damn city. It’s still too damn dangerous.
And frankly, that sucks. I’ve done my fair share of griping over the years about cyclists, it’s true, but at the end of the day, they’ve got as much right to be out on the road as any car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle. The only problem is that they’re a hell of a lot more fragile. Houston drivers — myself included — need to learn to pay attention and actually share these streets, rather than treating them like their own personal speedway.
Okay, so why am I bringing this up now? Well, because tomorrow (er, tonight, I guess, at this point), Saturday, April 4th, a bunch of goodhearted people are putting on a benefit show at Bohemeo’s in memory of Chelsea Norman. The money raised at the show will go to help Chelsea’s family and to start a Crime Stoppers reward in her name to provide incentive to help out other people like Chelsea.
They’ve assembled a great, great lineup to help out, to boot. I’ve heard good things about both Space Villains* (I guess the asterisk is part of the actual name?) and Giant Kitty but haven’t heard ’em yet, I’m afraid, so for me the big draw are the other three bands on the bill.
There’s the retro-tinged alt-rock sound of Jody Seabody & The Whirls, whom I like quite a bit (and yeah, I need to check out their new Some Witch 7″, ASAP), and even better still, there’s the one-two punch of The Wheel Workers and Jealous Creatures. The former are a sharp-yet-bright pop/rock band that somehow manages to be thoughtful and impassioned and catchy as hell all at once — oh, and they’ve got a stellar-looking new album, Citizens, coming out next month — and the latter play a great, great, hazy, rough-edged kind of roots-ish indie-rock, kind of like what might happen if you crossbred Pavement and the Cowboy Junkies.
All three bands are really freaking great, well worth seeing no matter what the cause happens to be, but it’s great to see them lending a hand here. Go and lend one yourself, if you can; the show starts at 8PM.