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: 1 ‘ It was quite naturally incumbent upon the Observer to offer some comment on the Eighth Wonder of the World, Houston’s Astrodome, back when it opened in 19 and 65. Texas novelist Larry McMurtry cast an unloving eye on the monster structure for us. Ed. Love and Death in the Astrodome By Larry McMurtry Oct. 1, 1965 Houston The first promising bit of information I ever heard about the Houston Astrodome was that it was going to be so big they could put the Shamrock Hotel inside. Great, I thought, naturally assuming that they would take advantage of such an opportunity. Forty-five million dollars is a lot of money, but it would be almost worth it if it got the Shamrock out of sight. A year or so later, with sinking heart, I realized the Dome-builders had somehow missed the mark. The Shamrock continued to blot out a considerable proportion of the southern horizon, while a short distance away the huge, white dome poked soothingly above the summer heat-heaze like the working end of a gigantic rub-on deodorant. Apparently this was a case of form following function, because when I asked around as to why they had spent forty-five million dollars on a dome, I was told it would keep Houston’s sports fans from getting so damp and sweaty. The explanation bothered me a little. The weather in Houston is frequently oppressive, but I have always been convinced that sports fans deserve and perhaps require the bad weather they get. Braving frostbite and sunstroke helps keep their sadistic and masochistic tendencies in balance: when you make them more comfortable, you may also make them meaner. Besides, pallid though the argument may appear, it seemed a bit conscienceless for a city with leprous slums, an inadequate charity hospital, a mediocre public library, a needy symphony, and other cultural and humanitarian deficiencies, to sink more than $31 million in public funds into a ballpark. \(Conscienceless, but not surprising. Houston is the kind of boom city that will endorSe almost any amount of municipal vulgarity, so long as it has a chance of making money. Here, it is customary to build in order to steal, and however questionable the motive, it means that all sorts of public marvels do get AT ANY rate, as all the world knows, the Astrodome finally opened this past spring, with the President and many lesser celebrities attending the opening game. One could make a wicked little anthology of the things famous people had to say about the place. Locally, for awhile, the Dome was not just news, it was the only news; even Astronauts and murders were crowded off the front page. The whole state was agog, and Dallas was bilious with envy. The letters columns of The Dallas Morning News were soon clogged with plaintive little epistles telling the editors how much better life would be if Dallas only had a dome. A legislator even suggested they look into the possibility of putting a dome over the Cotton Bowl. I somehow missed going to the Dome on opening day, but I put it down as something I must do at my earliest convenience. A Houstonian who hasn’t been to the Dome may well have inner purity, but will certainly feel left out of a lot of conversations. “You have to see it to believe it,” I was frequently told. July approached, and a Wednesday afternoon finally proved convenient. Five minutes after I walked inside I knew I could have believed the Dome perfectly well without ever going near