I just got back from Houston. What a town. What failed potential. And its panhandlers could give lessons to DC ones. Someone pointed out that a lot of the beggars were probably vestiges of Hurricane Katrina. That's probably tragically true, because I saw some pretty tragic homeless cases.
The one place I did not see homeless folks in downtown Houston, curiously enough, was the Bayou Trail. Picture this: Coming from snowbound DC where it was 27 when I left to a Houston at 80 degrees with about 100 degrees humidity. Of course I had to don my t-shirt and running shorts and check out the trails. That meant the Bayou Trail, which snakes under the complex highway system along a sort of river. It had huge failed potential, symptomatic of the entire downtown, it seemed to me. Visually, it's a great downtown -- so why did it seem so sluggish? The Bayou Trail could emulate San Antonio's Riverwalk. At least decorate it for Christmas!