Cobra Brewing Company

Rhythm and Beards playing at the Cobra Brewing Company in Lewisville, Texas.

Rhythm and Beards playing at the Cobra Brewing Company in Lewisville, Texas.

I often say (boast?) that with a bicycle and a transit pass I can get anywhere in the Metroplex. I think I have proven that (at least to myself) it is possible… but I never said it was always easy.

Jeffrey Sailer, a friend of mine that runs Bike Friendly Carrollton invited me to the Saturday event at the Cobra Brewing Company, a relatively new brewery in Lewisville. It looked like a great time – craft beer, three bands, beard contests, food (the party was also the first anniversary of Juniors Lone Star Barbecue Sauce) and lots more.

We were to meet at the Dowtown Carrollton DART station at 10:15, in order to get to the brewery by noon. Since I can always count on the Gods of Transit to be against me (every time I arrive at a train station, the train is pulling out, every traffic light I hit on my bike takes forever to change) I had to leave home two hours before that.

I packed up my Xootr Swift – carrying some extra weight (bottles of iced water) to verify that my homemade panniers are up to snuff – and rode down to the Arapaho train station. I bought the slightly more expensive regional day pass – until now I didn’t realize that it covered the A Train to Denton as well as the TRE to Fort Worth. I caught the Red Line downtown and then waited for the Green Line which took me out to Carrollton.

We met there and road a short trip to the Trinity Mills Station where we caught the A Train. One of these days I need to do this ride and take the train all the way to Denton (a fun city to visit and ride around in) but today we only rode it one stop to the Hebron Station then went the rest of the way on our bikes.

It seem silly to buy a train ticket for only one stop – but this is all new construction, fast stroads, and empty space filled with wetlands and there is no way to ride through there. Someday there will be bike trails, lanes, or more friendly roads, but now it is in the hands of the car-exlusive mindset of developers and suburban governments and they can’t see beyond the dark-tinted windshields of their Tahoes.

We climbed off the train at the Hebron station (the Old Town station is closer, but we wanted to get a couple of extra miles in) and rode up to the Brewery. Our timing was good, it was opening right when we arrived.

The event was a blast – one of the best Brewery Events I’ve been to. Good beer – loved their Best Mistake Stout (but I am a stout fan, after all) and their Junior’s Snake Bite JPA (a smoked jalapeño IPA) was really good. The jalapeño aroma was amazing and the heat was balanced just right.

Beer selection at the Cobra Brewing event.

Beer selection at the Cobra Brewing event.

Cobra Brewing Company, Lewisville, Texas

Cobra Brewing Company, Lewisville, Texas

There was a lot going on – music, classic Triumph sports cars, plenty of facial hair for the beard-growing contest, two guys doing vintage tintype photography, and vendors of everything from food to growlers to mustache wax.

It was also the one year anniversary for Juniors Lone Star Barbecue Sauce – there was a lot of praise for their products. They arrange their array of sauces by heat – most folks settled in at the jalapeño level, but I, of course, want to try the hotter habanero variety.

One nice thing about these brewery events is the wide variety of folks that show up. Young and old, rich and poor, bearded and hairless – everybody is there and everybody is friendly. This one was especially diverse and I’ll be back sometime… even if it takes me three trains and about a dozen miles of bike riding to get there.

The festivities went on until six, but I left a bit early – around four. That was eight hours after I had left my house and I was getting a bit tired and dehydrated. I rode to the nearest train station and drank the water I had packed – which made me feel a lot better. I thought about riding back, but my train pulled in and I decided to call it a day. Always better to leave too early than too late.

Picatinny Rail – DIY Bicycle Light

Bicycle lights can be pretty expensive, at least for the good ones. But battery powered lights aren’t what I remember from my childhood – where you had a big D-Cell light that would work for an hour or so and then go yellow and dim. The LED has revolutionized flashlights and, by extension, bike lights.

I have a couple handlebar-mounted lights – decent ones, if not top of the line. I usually set them to blink – they are lights that are designed for me to be seen, not for me to see with. On an urban road at night, that’s the most important thing. The streetlights are bright enough for a cyclist to see where he is going – but you want the cars to know you are there. Bright blinking is the best for that… plus batteries last forever.

But riding on trails at night is a different story. I needed something so that I can see – a steady white light facing forward. For example, one night coming home from Critical Mass along the White Rock Creek Trail (actually, it was the Cottonwood Trail, the wooded section just south of the Forest Lane DART station – my destination) at a little after midnight I came upon a group of homeless people sleeping on the trail. Luckily, I saw them with my light. Hitting someone sleeping on the bike trail would not be good for anyone.

Again – the dedicated bike lights cost a pretty penny – but small LED flashlights are powerful and very cheap. They sell them by the containerloads – they take three AAAs – most are adjustable. Very useful lights.

The problem is how to mount them on a bike. I actually want to mount them as low as possible. It would seem that a helmet mount would be the best – but if they are at close to eye level they don’t cast visible shadows. It’s the shadows that help you see objects in the path ahead. A low mounted flashlight will throw long shadows – easy to see.

I tried a number of solutions – velcro straps worked pretty well – but nothing was both strong, reliable, and still removable.

Until I discovered the world of Picatinny (and Weaver) rails. These is a whole host of accessories designed to mount on pistols, rifles, shotguns, or paintball guns. Laser sights, scopes, cameras… and, especially tactical flashlights. This seemed like a perfect thing to mount on a bike.

It didn’t take much searching until I found this Weaver/Picatinny rail mount with flashlight holder on Amazon – shipped from China for less than five dollars. I ordered a couple of them (for spares and different bikes) and after a patient wait, the package arrived from halfway around the world.

Now that I am outfitting my new Xootr Swift for city riding and commuting I decided to add a small front rack. I’ve found these to be indispensable for urban riding. For bike riding in the city, it’s not always about cargo capacity, it’s about organization and a front rack helps me keep organized.

I bought the cheap rack, and then mounted the rail on the bottom of the rack. Here’s how.

The Picatinny/Weaver rail flashlight mount as it arrived.

The Picatinny/Weaver rail flashlight mount as it arrived.

Four mounting holes go into the small front rack. Do this with some care - or the flashlight won't shine straight ahead.

Four mounting holes go into the small front rack. Do this with some care – or the flashlight won’t shine straight ahead.

I could have mounted the rail with the bolts that come with the assembly, but I decided to use aluminum pop rivets for weight, strength, and neatness.

I could have mounted the rail with the bolts that come with the assembly, but I decided to use aluminum pop rivets for weight, strength, and neatness.

The rail mounted on the rack and the flashlight in the holder. My flashlight was a little too big, so I simply used the longer bolts that come with the unit - the ones that are intended to go around a barrel.

The rail mounted on the rack and the flashlight in the holder. My flashlight was a little too big, so I simply used the longer bolts that come with the unit – the ones that are intended to go around a barrel.

This is how it mounts on the rack. Strong and neat.

This is how it mounts on the rack. Strong and neat.

The rack and flashlight on the bike, along with a small pump (maybe I'll post how I hold that to the rack) and a little plastic box from Office Depot, held on with nylon bolts and wingnuts in holes drilled through the box and rack. It looks sort of stupid, but is very useful to hold my wallet, phone, keys, lock... that sort of stuff.

The rack and flashlight on the bike, along with a small pump (maybe I’ll post how I hold that to the rack) and a little plastic box from Office Depot, held on with nylon bolts and wingnuts in holes drilled through the box and rack. It looks sort of stupid, but is very useful to hold my wallet, phone, keys, lock… that sort of stuff.

Take some care in mounting the rack so that it is level. If the rack points up or down very much, you would have to shim the holder to get the light horizontal.

The flashlight is held on securely, yet it comes off easily for battery replacement. I ordered an extra set so I even have a spare flashlight to stick in if needed.

Yee Haaa.

What I learned this week, April 11, 2014

10

A THOUSAND WORDS: WRITING FROM PHOTOGRAPHS

14


The murals from  Trinity Groves.

The murals from
Trinity Groves.

West Dallas, Once A Ramshackle Place, Is Now A Hot Spot, Thanks To Food

Heavy Hitter beer flight at Luck, in Trinity Groves, Dallas, Texas

Heavy Hitter beer flight at Luck, in Trinity Groves, Dallas, Texas


bad_day3

The 345 Tearout Plan Demands Reasoned Debate, Not Divisive Misdirection

What Does South Dallas Think About Highways? Let’s Ask a ‘Militant’ Black Leader.


My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle. (click to enlarge)

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.
(click to enlarge)

The Bureaucrats Are Trying to Ruin White Rock Lake Again, but the Lake Will Not Abide

racing_wind


View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

Is I-345 teardown idea a chance to finance the Trinity River toll road?

Trinity River Bottoms (click to enlarge)

Trinity River Bottoms
(click to enlarge)


The morning Dallashenge from the Triple Underpass in Dealy Plaza. Maybe a couple days early.

The morning Dallashenge from the Triple Underpass in Dealy Plaza. Maybe a couple days early.

The Tunnels Didn’t Kill Downtown Dallas; Dallas Killed Downtown Dallas

I agree with this article. I worked downtown in the 80′s and the tunnel system was a vibrant addition – to a great extent it was the best thing downtown. It was full of restaurants and little shops and gave office drones access to parks such as Thanksgiving Square. Lately, I had a Writing Marathon downtown in some cold weather and I wished the tunnel system was still intact. With the cold in winter (the freezing wind whips around those big buildings in a wind tunnel effect strong enough to lift you off our feet) and especially the killer heat in summer the tunnels give a welcome respite. The underground can be viewed as an addition or an extension of a vibrant street life, not as a detriment.


Writing Surface Dropped Down

The hinged writing surface dropped down on the secretary.

William Faulkner’s Hollywood Odyssey


Finally, a map to show why you don’t go to Corpus every weekend.


Here are the 13 films SNL parodied, that won Razzies, and that everyone completely overlooked as critical gems…except for the fact that, not only are they not bad, but some of them are downright good. Give ‘em another go. They deserve it.

13 Films That Need To Be Cult Classics

Lumbo

Lumbo:

Lumbo, by David Pound, twentyheads.com

Lumbo, by David Pound, twentyheads.com

One reason I always head down to the Deep Ellum Arts Festival as soon as I can after it opens (after work on Friday) every years is so that I can get a look at David Pound’s work before too many are sold.

David Pound, TwentyHeads.com, is a sculptor that makes little monster heads in wooden boxes. I have loved his work ever since I saw it a few years ago and I save up to buy something each year. This would be the fourth.

The First one I bought was Persuasion:

Persuation

Persuation

Then Burrow:

Burrow

Burrow

and last year, I bought Fracture Zone:

Fracture Zone

Fracture Zone

Two years ago, I had David make a commission of a pair of earrings for Candy for Mother’s Day that were modeled on our dog, Rusty.

Earrings I had David Pound make for Candy for Mother's Day.

Earrings I had David Pound make for Candy for Mother’s Day.

They do look like Rusty

They do look like Rusty

As always, he had a large collection of cool little monster heads in boxes. As always, it was tough for me to choose. I think I gravitate to the simpler works – I seem to look for little guys that have interesting expressions on their faces. At any rate, after two visits (I looked for a bit, walked around, and came back to make up my mind) and some input from Candy, I chose Lumbo – a little unhappy looking purple guy with three orange eyes and some delicate bones (mouse bones?) sticking up out of his head.

Now he takes his place with his three buddies on a little shelf over our television (they share their spot with a couple Zulu Coconuts).

If you like David’s work (and who doesn’t) take a look at his website – twentyheads.com. To see more of his stuff, like his facebook page, his DeviantArt Page, or at Nashville’s Smallest Art Gallery.

This year was a good one for growing Monster Heads in little wooden boxes.

This year was a good one for growing Monster Heads in little wooden boxes.

Hard to pick only one.

Hard to pick only one.
(click to enlarge)

I like the heads, I like the titles, and I like the images on the inside of the boxes.

I like the heads, I like the titles, and I like the images on the inside of the boxes.
(click to enlarge)

TunnelVisions

Friday I packed my bike onto the DART train after work and headed downtown – riding over from the station through the heavy Friday/Rushhour/FinalFour/NASCAR/Concert traffic to Deep Ellum. It was the annual Deep Ellum Arts Festival – running all weekend, but I wanted to get in at the beginning.

One of the things (more to come) that I wanted to see was TunnelVisions Mural Tournament.

From the Facebook Page:

The Deep Ellum Community Association is proud to debut the inaugural TunnelVisions 2014 Mural Tournament at the Deep Ellum Village section of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival.

Throughout the weekend, 30 mural artists from across the city will paint 4×8 panels to be attached to a pop-up, walk-through tunnel structure, invoking memories of the TunnelVisions project on Good Latimer. Each artist has exactly 4 hours to paint. 6-8 artists will paint at a time. And it will be pressure-packed, high drama.

Confirmed artists include:
Sour Grapes, Joe Skilz, Hatziel Flores, Judith Lea Perkins, David Rodriguez, Jeff Thornton, Cathey Miller, Isaac Davies, Richard Ross, Tony Slomo, Ben Camillo, Brian Crawford, Michael Lagocki, Patricia Rodriguez, Jerod Davies, Jeff Sheely, Brad Albright, Roxanne Mather, Randy Guthmiller, Dan Colcer, Justin Clumpner, Clint Scism, Jashua Davies, Ixchel Aguilar, and more.

Finished boards are added to the tunnel and over the course of the weekend, the tunnel frame will be transformed into a huge, 12’ wide by 8 foot tall, 32’ deep Mural Tunnel. Artists paint every hour of the Festival until 3pm Sunday, when the last artists finish and judging begins.

Prizes include $1500 for 1st, $750 for second, $250 for third, and a People’s Choice Award. Winners will also receive a package including a night at the Omni Hotel, and Deep Ellum gift certificates.

I especially wanted to get there first thing on Friday because among the first wave of artists were three that I was familiar with. Justin Clumpner had taught the cool Art History class I attended at Kettle Art the other day – Sour Grapes painted a couple of murals we toured on the Dallas Contemporary Street Art Bike Tour – and Richard Ross has a number of Deep Ellum Murals that I’ve admired.

Closeup of the Sour Grapes mural at the Belmont Hotel, Dallas, Texas. (click to enlarge)

Closeup of the Sour Grapes mural at the Belmont Hotel, Dallas, Texas.
(click to enlarge)

Richard Ross Column Deep Ellum Art Park, Dallas, Texas (Click to Enlarge)

Richard Ross Column
Deep Ellum Art Park, Dallas, Texas
(Click to Enlarge)

I made it down there just as they started. It was pretty darn cool.

I’ll try to get by there Saturday to look at some more work… and definitely see if I can see the finished stuff on Sunday. What fun.

The start of a work of art

The start of a work of art

Justin Clumpner starting on his mural

Justin Clumpner starting on his mural

Sour Grapes planning their mural

Sour Grapes planning their mural

Alfredo Pina prepping his panel.

Alfredo Pina prepping his panel.

Sour Grapes

Sour Grapes

Justin Clumpner

Justin Clumpner

Sour Grapes adding detail

Sour Grapes adding detail

Richard Ross

Richard Ross

Richard Ross and Justin Clumpner

Richard Ross and Justin Clumpner

What I learned this week, April 4, 2014

Stock Xootr Swift - I only added the seat bag and bottle cage (click to enlarge)

Stock Xootr Swift – I only added the seat bag and bottle cage
(click to enlarge)

Cycling’s Catching On In Texas, For A Very Texas Reason

Technium

Technium


parking

American cities are haunted by too many parking spaces


Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.

Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.

Transportation Planners Hesitant to Tear Down I-345, Because Poor People


Travelling Man - sculpture east of Downtown Dallas

Travelling Man – sculpture east of Downtown Dallas

11 tips for out-of-towners visiting Dallas on Final Four weekend


Dallas Skyline from the Soda Bar on the roof of the NYLO Southside hotel.

Dallas Skyline from the Soda Bar on the roof of the NYLO Southside hotel.

Final Four guide: Celebrities tell us their Dallas favorites


Painting at the entrance to the Urban Gardens, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Painting at the entrance to the Urban Gardens, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

The 10 Best Murals in Dallas

cathedonia4


Writing in my Moleskine Journal outside the Mojo Lounge, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

Writing in my Moleskine Journal outside the Mojo Lounge, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

Reasons to Love Writing by Hand


Dallashenge from the triple underpass in Dealey Plaza. This is an HDR image - three shots taken at different exposures and combined with software.

Morning Dallashenge – dawn from the triple underpass in Dealey Plaza.

People exposed to earlier sunlight are leaner than those who get afternoon light


List of tracks that sample the Amen break

I knew it sounded familiar – this, for example, is from one of my favorite albums.

Brain, Thoughts, and a Red Door

Mural by Leighton Autrey
Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

“The ugly and stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. They live as we all should live– undisturbed, indifferent, and without disquiet. They never bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands. Your rank and wealth, Henry; my brains, such as they are– my art, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray’s good looks– we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Dirk

“…So please, be tolerant of those who describe a sporting moment as their best ever. We do not lack imagination, nor have we had sad and barren lives; it is just that real life is paler, duller, and contains less potential for unexpected delirium.”
― Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

“You have to give 100 percent in the first half of the game. If that isn’t enough, in the second half, you have to give what’s left.”
― Yogi Berra

Hand of Dirk, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Hand of Dirk, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

I’m still working through older photographs – I need some bicycle shots with my new Xootr Swift, instead of my old commuter bike.

“We have to do something about our bad starts because it’s not the first time it’s happened to us all year. Maybe we should get up at 6 o’clock and run around the block.”
—-Dirk Nowitzki

“I sat down in the producer’s office and he handed me a basketball. It had my name on it.”
—-Spalding Gray

Dirk Nowitzki Gives Conan The Texas Citizenship Test

Holding Up the Sun

“By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.”
― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Mural by Richard Ross
Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

“See,” Sasha muttered, eyeing the sun. “It’s mine.”
― Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Richard Ross, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Richard Ross, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

“Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning. ”
― Pablo Neruda