Escaped Converts

New Houstonian Peter Vogel Will Never Go Back to Portland

An occasional check-in with recent arrivals—poor, huddled, and yearning to clog our freeways

By Peter Holley November 3, 2014 Published in the November 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Convert: Peter Vogel

Former Religion: Portland, Ore.

Occupation: Maker of vintage signs;
graphic designer

Distance Traveled: 2,241 miles

Ostensible Reason for Pilgrimage: Wife is new superintendent of Catholic schools for Galveston-Houston archdiocese

Arriving Misconceptions:

  • Houston dry, flat, and brittle, a sun-scorched wasteland of tumbleweeds and dust so horrible, humans have been forced underground into air-conditioned tunnels.
  • City completely devoid of historic buildings and walkable neighborhoods.
  • Riding a bicycle or, for that matter, using any form of transportation that does not directly benefit Big Oil, leads to one’s immediate arrest.

Arriving Non-misconception: Freeways stretch hundreds of miles, possess dozens of lanes in both directions, and are sprawling, endless, and deadly.

Date/Location of Conversion: September 9, 2014, while drinking first Shiner at La Carafe.

Why He’ll Never Go Back: Heights hike and bike trails; new neighborhood reminds him of East Portland anyway; the three kids seem happy; wife “has met some great people at work”; massive sandwiches at Carter & Cooley; Ted Brown, part-time bartender at La Carafe.

Why He Can’t Go Back: “My wife actually said ‘y’all’ the other day, and I called her out. I said, ‘Hey, that’s your first y’all!’ And she said, ‘Did I just say that?’”

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