MiniMoon | Texas | Houston — The New York Invasion

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I went to Houston, my hometown, a few weeks ago to be the photographer AND videographer (sweet baby Jesus) for my New York’s friend’s wedding to his Houstonian fiancé. They are a great couple, but had a tight wedding budget, so they Southern-sweet-talked me into doing both photography and videography. BUT, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is [WAS] the last time. If you are one of my few friends who is still single and you have been practicing your puppy-dog-eyes speech to get me to shoot your wedding, save the pleas and the pouty lower lip. I can not leap tall buildings in a single bound. I tried it that weekend in Houston. And pulled a hamstring.

I knew what I was getting myself into, and I attempted it anyway. I managed to shoot both photos and video, operating three video cameras and a still camera with a mere two hands. AND managed to get good footage for both. But the superhero life is not for me. I prefer sitting at a desk hiding behind my coke-bottle glasses, thankyouverymuch.

DAY 1: Breaking Records

I left my LA apartment front door at 6 a.m., got in a cab to go to the airport, checked two bags, went through security and was at the gate by 6:20 a.m. Repeat: 6:20 a.m. Twenty minutes door to gate. That has to be some kind of record. There are perks to living under the LAX flight path.

As soon as I landed in Houston, I jumped in my rental car, and went to meet Amy and Dave to shoot their “engagement” photos two days before the wedding. But, naturally, I stopped at Whataburger on the way. And the fries were PERFECT. Being a Texan, I’ll swear by Whataburger any day, but if pressed, I will admit the burgers are nothing to get excited about. But, people, the fries ARE. And when you get a good batch cooked perfectly, so good they don’t even need Whataburger’s legendary fancy ketchup, you will know what all fries should taste like.

But, anyway, after the flight and Whataburger drive-thru, the rest of the afternoon was engagement photos. Then I sat in rush-hour traffic for an hour-and-a-half to get from downtown to my home suburb of Katy to have a Tex-Mex dinner with friends. Then I drove back to Montrose to play pool with another friend and his roommates. My day started in LA at 5:30 a.m. and ended in Houston at 1:30 a.m. all on one hour of sleep the night before. Welcome home, Stace.

DAY 2: Tour de Force

I spent the morning sleeping in and taking care of some personal business in my hotel room. Oh, yeah, by the way, my parents moved. So I couldn’t go home in my hometown. That is a weird, somewhat unsettling feeling. But, there was little time for feelings that weekend, because New York was coming. I took my NY friends Frank and Aabye out for a Cuban lunch, then a few hours later I took them and another New York friend Alan to Rudy’s BBQ and then to a high school football game. As much as it pains me to admit this, I took them to watch my high school rival, the Katy Tigers, because they are the best team in Houston right now, and are #8 in the state. Unfortunately we were super late getting to the game and the Tigers had already destroyed their opponents 62-0 by the 4th quarter. But fortunately we were so late that we didn’t have to buy tickets—the lady at the box office just let us in. By then, the Katy Tigers were just standing around on the field licking the blood off their paws, while the other tiny team tried pitifully to push past the bully Tigers and score. The Tigers lazily—or mercifully depending on how you look at it—didn’t run another easy touchdown and instead decided to kick a field goal, finishing off their prey with a 65-0 win. #FridayNightLights #KatyTigersAreStillKickers #TaylorHighIpledgeToTheeHonorAndFidelity

I then drove the NYers by my old house and stole a piece of Halloween candy from my old front stoop. Then, with heavy eyes and full stomachs and nothing to lose, we went to bed.

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Amy & Dave engagement shoot

Amy & Dave engagement shoot

Baby Noah!

Katy Tigers, Rhodes Stadium. I spent many Friday and Saturday nights in high school in the bleachers of this stadium. This night I did not cheer for my rival. I am still a Taylor Mustang.

Steeling candy from the people who now live in my childhood home.

My childhood house. I took this almost 2 years ago when my parents sold the house.

DAY 3: Guns and Poses

The wedding. Superhero toolbelt on. Stress level 9.5 out of 10. Photos, photos, and more photos. Rush to operate three cameras at once while shooting photos in the ceremony. More photos. Pack everything up to rush to reception. Barely arrive in time to turn on camera for best man speech. Almost miss first dances. More photos. More video. More photos. More video. I need a drink. But I don’t drink. I need to shoot something…  with firepower. Gun range!

I have a gorgeous blonde Texas girl friend from college, who over the past few years, in efforts to bond with father and brothers, started getting interested in guns. And being in LA and an aspiring actress, she started a creating a brand—Girls’ Guide to Guns—by blogging, writing [parts of] a book, creating/pitching a reality show, shooting scenes with her cinematographer boyfriend-now-husband, etc, just trying to get something off the ground. During this process, the NRA found her and must have decided a gorgeous friendly blonde with a killer smile was just the new face they needed in the current volatile climate of gun animosity. So now, Natalie is an NRA spokesperson. Who better to recommend a gun range when the New Yorkers asked me, “Can we shoot guns?!??!”

So Natalie recommended Athena Gun Club. Said she hadn’t been there herself, but had heard good things. THIS PLACE. Man. Do not go there if you are a beginner. They basically hand you a gun and say something to the effect of, “if you can drop the mag and lock it back and cock the gun, we’ll let you loose.” (Geez, what?! At least we all had a healthy respect of the weapon but what if some other beginner goes to the range who doesn’t fear the death machine in his hand.) Andy stepped up to the competency test, and after some finagling, figured it out. Then we were left to our own devices in the range, and all the New Yorkers looked at me in shock, saying, “What do you mean you’ve never shot a hand gun!??! We thought you were going to show us!” LISTEN PEOPLE, just because I’m from Texas doesn’t mean I shoot guns and ride horses. But I can ride a horse. And now shoot a hand gun and a shot gun. So, shutup. Nevermind. LeaveMeAlone.

So we all clung to the back wall while we sacrificed Andy to be first again. Every deafening shot made us all more nervous. But we each took our turn and managed to survive. When I recapped our experience to Natalie, she was livid. She said she was going to call the management and rip them a new one for not showing us any safety procedures. So if the NRA doesn’t approve of this gun range, all I can say is this is probably not a good place for beginners. Maybe it’s a good place for those guys who walked in the front door with their semi-automatics.

To finish off my duties as Texas tour guide, I took the New Yorkers to Cavendars to try on cowboy hats and boots. Afterwards some of them went to see their friend perform in a modern dance show, and I took Jose to get BBQ since he missed out the day before. Late that night we met in the lobby and enjoyed each other’s company one last time over a farewell Shipley’s donut.

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the wedding: couple photos

One of the photos I took while operating three video cameras.

The New Yorkers ready to shoot some guns.

Andy is the sacrificial lamb.

We watch Andy from far back as possible.

Jose "helping" Aabye. | Jose "bravely" tackling the job during his turn.

My turn. Did it. Don't think I'll do it again.

Frank wore it best. #whiteprivilege

Aabye and Alan are good sports. Jose conveniently disappeared.

guns from Stacey Meineke on Vimeo.

DAY 4: The Last Goodbye

The New Yorkers left for their flights before I came down for breakfast. I had booked a late flight on Sunday thinking I’d visit Houston friends, but they were all busy on Sunday, so I had to play tourist in my hometown. So I had Tex-Mex one last time and visited weird, quirky places: The Beer Can House and The Orange Show. I’m still not sure what the purpose was of either of these places. For the beer can house, it was just a way for the owner to pass his time and drink beer, some 50,000 cans of beer. John Milkovisch didn’t take himself too seriously in regards to his beer can house. I actually found his designs quite interesting and artistic, although Milkovisch didn’t consider himself an artist. Likewise, Jeff McKissack, the inventor of the strange Orange Show, also didn’t like to be called an artist. He just wanted a place to celebrate his favorite fruit. And he thought the world would be as thrilled with this little carnival as he was, but either the grapevine never reached them, or they found the idea as fruity as its creator, and the crowds he expected never showed up. McKissack withdrew into his home and died seven months later. Both men died never wanting to be called an artists, but now their creations are preserved as art installations.

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The beer can house.

John Milkovisch and his wife Mary who was a VERY good sport.

Check it: beaded earing he probably made himself. #moustachesforever #sneakycamimmortalizeshipsters

The Orange Show

Smither Park next to The Orange Show

As I flew back from my old home to my new home, I said goodbye to Houston. There’s really nothing left there for me now. I’ve been in LA for seven years, and every day I’ve had one foot out the door pointed east toward Texas. But the longer I’m away, the more it feels like a far off land. But the good thing about Texas is, it will always welcome you back. No matter how long you’re away, you will always be a part of the team. There will always be a spot on the bench for you when you’re ready to come home. #TexasForever

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