They Say You Die Twice

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”
― Banksy

Roll Up Door Tony Bones, 2008 Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Roll Up Door
Tony Bones, 2008
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

2008 Artwork by Tony Bones

Tony Bones detail

Tony Bones
detail

“Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled a great and glorious nation. Favourite amongst his subjects was the court painter of whom he was very proud. Everybody agreed this wizzened old man pianted the greatest pictures in the whole kingdom and the king would spend hours each day gazing at them in wonder. However, one day a dirty and dishevelled stranger presented himself at the court claiming that in fact he was the greatest painter in the land. The indignant king decreed a competition would be held between the two artists, confident it would teach the vagabond an embarrassing lesson. Within a month they were both to produce a masterpiece that would out do the other. After thirty days of working feverishly day and night, both artists were ready. They placed their paintings, each hidden by a cloth, on easels in the great hall of the castle. As a large crowd gathered, the king ordered the cloth be pulled first from the court artist’s easel. Everyone gasped as before them was revealed a wonderful oil painting of a table set with a feast. At its centre was an ornate bowl full of exotic fruits glistening moistly in the dawn light. As the crowd gazed admiringly, a sparrow perched high up on the rafters of the hall swooped down and hungrily tried to snatch one of the grapes from the painted bowl only to hit the canvas and fall down dead with shock at the feet of the king. ’Aha!’ exclaimed the king. ’My artist has produced a painting so wonderful it has fooled nature herself, surely you must agree that he is the greatest painter who ever lived!’ But the vagabond said nothing and stared solemnly at his feet. ’Now, pull the blanket from your painting and let us see what you have for us,’ cried the king. But the tramp remained motionless and said nothing. Growing impatient, the king stepped forward and reached out to grab the blanket only to freeze in horror at the last moment. ’You see,’ said the tramp quietly, ’there is no blanket covering the painting. This is actually just a painting of a cloth covering a painting. And whereas your famous artist is content to fool nature, I’ve made the king of the whole country look like a clueless little twat.”
― Banksy, Wall and Piece

Like A Reflection In A Fun House Mirror

“Silence. How long it lasted, I couldn’t tell. It might have been five seconds, it might have been a minute. Time wasn’t fixed. It wavered, stretched, shrank. Or was it me that wavered, stretched, and shrank in the silence? I was warped in the folds of time, like a reflection in a fun house mirror.”
― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

(click to enlarge) Anish Kapoor (India, 1954) The World Turned Outside In, 2003 Polished stainless steel Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

(click to enlarge)
Anish Kapoor (India, 1954)
The World Turned Outside In, 2003
Polished stainless steel
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas

You Insolent Demon, How Blind You Are!

You insolent demon, how blind you are! You may think I’m small, but I can grow easily enough. You may think I’m unarmed, but I could pull the moon down from the sky with my two hands. Don’t worry, old Sun WuKong will sock you one.
—- Sun WuKong, The Monkey King

I love noodles! Because of that, I was excited when, about a year ago, I read of the opening of a new place in Deep Ellum – The Monkey King Noodle Company.

Restaurant review: Monkey King Noodle Co. is a Chinese noodle soup lover’s paradise

All Hail The Monkey King

There had been this two-story taco joint on Main Street. I don’t think I had ever actually eaten there – but it was colorful and smelled delicious and I was unhappy when I saw it closed down. But it wasn’t long before construction started up. When I found out it was going to be a noodle spot – greatness.

Monkey King promised fresh hand-pulled noodles and authentic Chinese street food recipies. That sounded right up my alley – but I was never able to work out a visit. They were closed every time I stopped by.

Finally I was riding my bike down Main and saw someone out cleaning at Monkey King. I checked my phone and saw they would be opening at six – which was a half hour or so away. I rode on down to The Cold Beer Company and had a Temptress, then came back a few minutes after six.

The line was already halfway down the block but I had time so I locked up my bike and joined the queue. The guy in front of me said he lived nearby and was a huge fan of the Soup Dumplings – but since this was my first time there I went ahead and ordered the top of the menu, The Spicy Beef Noodle Soup.

And it was good. The hand thrown noodles are thick, chewy, and… well, perfect. The broth was as spicy as promised and the hunks of beef surprisingly hearty.

The small Monkey King building has a scary steel spiral staircase up to a patio on the roof. I really enjoyed chatting with the folks up there, eating our food while the sun set behind the crystal spires of downtown.

Now I have to go back and try those Soup Dumplings.

Monkey King Noodle Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas With cool covered patio on the roof.

Monkey King Noodle Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas
With cool covered patio on the roof.

Spicy Beef Noodles from Monkey King Noodle Company

Spicy Beef Noodles from Monkey King Noodle Company

Beauty Is In The Eye

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
—-Kinky Friedman

Deep Ellum, then and now.

I am old enough and have lived in Dallas long enough to have seen Deep Ellum rise, fall, and now rise again. When I first moved here in 1981 it was an urban industrial wasteland – known only for cheap space for marginal businesses.

Yet, even then, the neighborhood had a long and famous history. The music from the 1920’s, lead by Blind Lemon Jefferson, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, Texas Bill Day and Bessie Smith paved the way for modern jazz, blues, and rock and roll as much as any other place. But in 1969 a giant elevated freeway choked off the urban oxygen and the vibrant area fell into decay.

Then in the 1980’s fueled by cheap funky space and the punk revolution in music Deep Ellum regained its reputation as a spawning ground for music and nightlife. I was there for that – and it was something.

But again, the city zoning laws, rising crime, and the fact that the wealthy edge of the city was vomiting out over the cotton fields over an hour north threw Deep Ellum back into disrespect and disrepair.

Now, though, the population is moving back in and Deep Ellum is coming back with a vengeance. This time it is different, the rebirth is fueled by people actually living in and around the area. This time it feels like it might last.

The last Friday of the month is Dallas Critical Mass. I always enjoy these, a lot, even though it took all my will power to get my stuff together and catch a train downtown – work wore me out so much, the siren song of the couch was almost irresistible. This is a rare sweet spot in Dallas weather – and a big group showed up in the park for the ride. One of the fun things about the Critical Mass Ride is that nobody knows where it is going. This month we wound around downtown, then headed out Main Street through Deep Ellum.

When we crossed Exposition the bicyclists were clumping up in a big group right in the middle of the street, and I realized we had reached our destination. It was the Cold Beer Company – a new bar/restaurant/place to hang out on the edge of Deep Ellum.

I realized that I had seen this little building before, and had even photographed it and posted a blog entry. It was once the rundown and abandoned spot that used to hold Vern’s Kitchen until it closed in 2009. I liked the place, even with the broken windows and graffiti, but didn’t think that Deep Ellum would grow enough to resurrect a business on such a wayward spot.

I was wrong. We stayed at the Cold Beer Company for a couple of cold beers (Peticolas Velvet Hammer to be exact) and I pronounce the location to be back and back for the better. The room is small, but they have done a great job with their patio and garden areas. They even have a cool custom bike rack out in front.

The building that would become The Cold Beer Company, in March of 2013

The building that would become The Cold Beer Company, in March of 2013

The Cold Beer Company today... from about the same angle.

The Cold Beer Company today… from about the same angle.

Be Content With Silence

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
― Ansel Adams

Silence Antoine-Augustin Préault Dallas Museum of Art

Silence
Antoine-Augustin Préault
Dallas Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

(label text)

Antoine-Augustin Préault
French, 1809-1879

Silence
c. 1842
Patinated plaster
Anonymous gift and General Acquisition Fund, 2014.10

French sculptor Antoine-Augustin Préault created eerie contrasts of shadow and light in this composition featuring merely a face and a hand. Linear drapery enshrouds the androgynous figure’s face, drawing attention to its gaunt features, half-closed eyes, and skeletal hand. A finger lifted to the lips is a gesture commonly found in ancient funerary sculptures that glorified the dead. Portraiture or reliefs bearing images of the deceased performing this gesture were intended to conjure pleasant memories, but Silence, with its brutal evocation of frailty and death, breaks from the well-established canon.

Préault designed Silence for Jacob Roblès’ tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, which is the city’s largest and most famous burial ground. The medallion’s compositional elements combine to convey a somber nature perfect for the purpose of a tomb. Its superb round, dark hardwood frame with a deep ogee, or S-shaped molding, enhances the sculpture’s dimensionality and melancholy theme.

“Does not everything depend on our interpretation of the silence around us?”
― Lawrence Durrell, Justine

When the Pretty Women Walk Over My Grave

“It’s not what I’d want for at my funeral. When I die, I just want them to plant me somewhere warm. And then when the pretty women walk over my grave I would grab their ankles, like in that movie.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Funerary Figure (tau-tau) Dallas Museum of Art Dallas, Texas

Funerary Figure (tau-tau)
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

(label text)
Funerary figure (tau-tau)
Indonesia: South Sluawesi, Sa’dan Toraja People
19th century or earlier
Wood
The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 1980.2 McD

The Toraja carve tau-tau, smaller than life-size funerary figures, to commemorate the deceased when a high-ranking funeral is held. Only members of the highest-ranking aristocracy are permitted to have permanent tau-tau. This unusually small funerary figure appears to be archaic in style and probably predates even the oldest effigies seen beside Toraja tombs today.

The bun or hair knot at the back of the head of this tau-tau indicates that it represents a female. Her mouth is open and may remind one of The Scream, a modern painting by Edvard Munch. The expression is not precisely understood, but it may have been meant to capture bearing of an authoritative aristocratic woman accustomed during her lifetime to public speaking and giving orders, as this tau-tau appears to be doing