A landmark market research study on reader habits recently commissioned by Houstonia was mostly unilluminating (i.e., we get it—blow-in subscription cards are a pain). Nevertheless, it unearthed two surprising findings germane to the present discussion, namely, 1) when readers pick up an issue they tend to see the cover first, and then b) immediately and frantically rifle through the book until at last, panting and well-nigh incontinent, they reach the Editor’s Note page. Mindful of that, I will endeavor to explain this month’s cover headline, “Dream Homes,” two little words that have provoked considerable grumbling in some quarters. As one long-time reader put it (I’m paraphrasing): Soon, you’ll be like every other magazine in this town, obsessed with Houston’s socialites and super-rich, publishing articles “by Promoted Series Correspondent” about Rob Lowe’s inspiring and syndicated fight to navigate “the riptides of Hollywood” as a celebrity sex tape pioneer, even as the magazine’s ethos is Shrinky Dinked down to “hip. current. cool.” and its web site becomes dominated by your editor in cat-eye glasses and a Clairol Natural Instincts Raspberry Crème coif.
Such a reaction—hysterical and wrong-headed—stems in my view from a fundamental misreading of “dream homes,” a term that should not be taken to connote Xanadu’s stately pleasure-domes (except maybe here), architectural whimsy (except here) or an addiction to house porn (er, here). Rather, Houstonia is using dream in the broadest sense, as something a penniless French girl with no future but a face like Anne Hathaway sans make-up might have (“I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miz), which is to say something that might come to fruition anywhere, even a lowly Iowa corn patch (Field of Dreams), which is to say something potentially cheap and flavorless but at least available to all (Dream Whip®).
Now, if everyone has dreams, and most people have homes, it would seem to follow syllogistically that most people have dream homes; however, this turns out not to be the case. I, for instance, live in a dump. Of late, however, inspired by our January issue and swept away by the populist tenor of my own rhetoric, I have begun searching for a dream home of my own, as a result of which I can now confidently assert that these things are indeed obtainable by the vast majority of Houstonians. Of course, our housing market being what it is, be advised that your own dream may be subject to a furious bidder’s war, particularly if there’s a travertine backsplash in the offing, and obviously all bets are off in the event of Pergo flooring or Corian Glacier White countertops. Still, the dream is not beyond the reach of the persistent, impulsive, resolute, and mortgage-pre-approved.
In closing, let me reiterate that our “Dream Homes” feature does not signal some radical departure for Houstonia, but rather the further fulfillment of its editors’ dream: a publication open to any Bayou City resident with $4.95 to spare, or $16.95 annually at a savings of 65 percent. Rest assured that our compass will never shift, that Houstonia will never be anything but a magazine written by and for Houston’s masses, and that I personally will never opt for the vulgarity of raspberry crème when medium chestnut is all that’s required.