Here’s a Los Angeles Times story on Houston’s current economic good fortune:
FINE wine flows freely at Tony’s, the dining room of the rich and powerful in this dynamic Sun Belt city. But it always flows a little faster when the price of crude oil is high — and these days, owner Tony Vallone said, the bottles are emptying at a brisk pace.
On a recent Friday evening, socialites in fur coats stepped past the cascading sheets of water at the glass entrance, into an airy room adorned with vibrant Robert Rauschenberg paintings. Waiters wheeled out enormous souffles and whole red snappers encrusted in salt. The richest man in town, oil pipeline magnate Dan Duncan, was dining there for the third time in four days.
At the center table, Ileana Trevino, the head of a hospital foundation, was celebrating her 51st birthday with about a dozen close friends and her husband, Michael, a Marathon Oil executive. She was asked what she wanted to drink.
“Whatever’s expensive,” Trevino replied, and laughed. The sommelier recommended bottles of a $50 red from Spain’s Montsant region, a modest option at a restaurant that offers magnums of 1945 Chateau Petrus Bordeaux for $30,000.
“It’s almost palpable, isn’t it?” said attorney Michael Solar, one of Trevino’s friends, as he waved his glass to indicate the wealth in the packed room. “When the rest of the country is doing well, it seems like Houston is often struggling. But when the rest of the country is struggling, it seems like Houston is often doing well.”
High oil, natural gas and electricity prices may bring pain to families and business owners elsewhere, but in America’s energy capital, they bring prosperity.
Two out of every five Houstonians owe their jobs to energy — many big oil and gas companies have their world or American headquarters in Houston — and the industry’s spectacular profits in recent years have helped the nation’s fourth-largest city outdistance the country as a whole in economic growth.
The story continues on, noting that housing is affordable, high-end spas and social clubs have waiting lists, gas-guzzling SUVs are popular (think Hummers!), and Houstonians love to eat out. It reads almost like a primer for Angelenos, describing a foreign land and people.
The only thing missing from the story was a quote from Bob Stein.