What I learned this week, November 30, 2012

 

D Magazine: Why Does Dallas Hate Cyclists?

Bicycling in Dallas is too difficult and too dangerous. Bicycling magazine called Dallas the worst city for cyclists—twice (in 2008 and 2012). As a result, only heroes do it. And the solution is simple. We need only change the way we think.

When the story you are reading is published online, there will appear, without question, comments from people who will assail Mike McNair and hurl insults at cyclists of every stripe for getting in the way of their cars. A number of years ago, golf commentator David Feherty wrote a story for D Magazine about getting run over on his bike by a car in Dallas. He did a turn with Krys Boyd on 90.1 KERA to talk about the experience and his long rehabilitation. Online and on air, a sizable number of people said: “Screw the cyclists! They are a hazard and should get off the road!” Words to that effect.

That attitude is the first thing that must change if Dallas is ever to achieve its world-class ambitions. Bicyclists are like children. They are slow. They are sometimes unpredictable. They weave and wander and clearly think the world revolves around them. They infuriate. But they are our future. So we should not only tolerate them, we should encourage and coddle them.


Great News. The Dallas Museum of Art had free admission when it was first opened, and I was working downtown. While it is worth the paid admission, making it free enables a person to enjoy the place on a more informal basis. I used to go there and look at one piece of art only – really think about it. Hard to do that when you pay ten bucks to get in.


Museum Tower is an “attack” on the Nasher Sculpture Center’s garden, building and art

As Nasher Sculpture Center landscape architect Peter Walker sees it, the intense light reflecting off Museum Tower, the 42-story, $200 million condominium complex across from the center, is an “attack on the garden and on the building and on the art.” According to Walker, “What the reflection does is very much like putting light through a magnifying glass, it essentially burns everything that it sees.”


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

Anyone with free time in North Texas tomorrow, Saturday, December 1st, think about coming down to Deep Ellum for the first

Dallas Writing Marathon


Taps for growler filling behind the bar.

Craft and Growler, down on Exposition near fair park, is open and it’s a cool place. A long way for me to drive for a growler full of beer…. but it’s worth it (my car gets great mileage).



An Idea Pomodoro – timer, pen, composition book.

A freelance writer shares his thoughts and experiences using the Pomodoro Technique to cut down on distractions and squeeze more productivity out of his day.

How a tomato helps me get stuff done


Skateboarding at night in the French Quarter

“Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air–moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh–felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing. Honeysuckle, swamp flowers, magnolia, and the mystery smell of the river scented the atmosphere, amplifying the intrusion of organic sleaze. It was aphrodisiac and repressive, soft and violent at the same time. In New Orleans, in the French Quarter, miles from the barking lungs of alligators, the air maintained this quality of breath, although here it acquired a tinge of metallic halitosis, due to fumes expelled by tourist buses, trucks delivering Dixie beer, and, on Decatur Street, a mass-transit motor coach named Desire.”

― Tom Robbins,

A cute couple.

On the way home from the store with a bag of Miller High Life.

Even a tattooed hipster wearing crazy clothes on a skateboard in one of the coolest spots on earth can have bad taste in beer.

Jenga

The Jenga Master

She spent a decade of deprivation, dedication, and study at a monastery in the mountains of Bhutan, high on the slopes of unclimbed Gangkhar Puensum, studying the game under the mysterious monks until she returned a Jenga Master.

Now she earns a meager living hustling the game in the city park.

The children are amazed at her skill, but they will never have the patience nor the passion to become a Jenga Master.

.

Rainy Day in New Orleans

New Orleans is over a hundred miles from the ocean, but it is barely dry. Rain comes quickly and unexpectedly… except it is always expected.

Luckily, there is a source of refuge in the Big Easy – whenever the skies open up, there is always a bar handy to seek shelter and good cheer.

Waiting for the St. Charles Streetcar, the rain came down, hard, so we ducked into The Avenue Pub (which happened to be right there).

The Avenue Pub is beer heaven. Open 24hrs. 7Days (never know when it’s going to rain). Their list of beers on tap is three pages long.

The Beer Buddha says:

“Honestly this category really isn’t fair; but why punish one bar because all the others can’t hold it’s jockstrap? We all know The Avenue Pub is THE beer bar in not only New Orleans but in Louisiana. Nothing against all the other bars in the state but you ALL know you have a long way to go to be mentioned in the same sentence with AP.”

Draft Magazine lists it as one of the 100 best beer bars in the country. They say:

“Only in New Orleans will you find a beer bar open 24/7. The staff is militant about clean beer lines and proper glassware, so even when you stumble in at 4 a.m. you get the best pint in the city. Choose from more than 47 rotating taps and about as many bottles, all focusing on American beer. Go for an exhaustive introduction to local NOLA Brewing or to people-watch from the balcony.”

The Complex City Guide has it at 12 in the 25 best Beer Bars in the country. They say,

“Louisiana may not be the first state you think of when you think of beer (sure, they’ve got Abita), but when you change state to city and beer to drunk, it’s no wonder that New Orleans has one of the best beer spots in the country. Avenue Pub features a rotating 47 taps on two floors (so you can get your exercise in between rounds) and once you mix that with some amazing Louisiana cuisine, you won’t be thinking about Bourbon Street no more. And the most important part, here in the land of to-go cups, the Avenue is open 24 hours a day. Yup.”

And all this is right there, right on the Streetcar Line, right when it starts to rain.

My only complaint – they don’t have Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Pollinator on tap. Maybe I can send them an email.

The Avenue Pub, on St. Charles in New Orleans

  • Moleskine with Varsity Disposable Fountain Pen
  • Streetcar Fare
  • Beer list and food menu
  • NOLA Blonde Ale Beer
  • Fox Barrel Pear Cider (sorry, it wasn’t even noon yet and I was a little beer’d out – so I had a cider. It was good. So sue me)

A lot of taps.

No Orange Slices! No Muddling!

Michael Prysock

Michael Prysock, (facebook), with Mark Deffebach  Sunday afternoon concert in Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

I mean, the genuine roots of culture is folk music.

—-Johnny Rotton

Michael Prysock and Mark Deffebach the Mandolin Player

There are no bridges in folk songs because the peasants died building them.

—-Eugene Chadbourne

 

Michael Prysock

The late sixties and early seventies were kind of a breeding ground for exciting new sounds because easy listening and folk were kind of taking over the airwaves. I think it was a natural next step to take that blissful, easy-going sound and strangle the life out of it.

—-Alice Cooper

You have to open your mind. I like the ability to express myself in a deep way. It’s the closest music to our humanity – it’s like a folk music that rises up out of a culture.

—-Sonny Terry

 

Zoom

I was walking in the park and this guy waved at me. Then he said, ‘I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.’ I said, ‘I am.’

—-Demetri Martin

Clyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing – just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?

—-Ralph Marston

I went to the park and saw this kid flying a kite. The kid was really excited. I don’t know why, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Now if he had had a chair on the other end of that string, I would have been impressed.

—- Mitch Hedberg

Instead of going shopping, I went for a fun ride with the Bike Friendly Richardson group.

Bike Friendly Richardson

Renner Trail

What an amazing day and what an incredible group of riders who came out for Bike Friendly Richardson’s 4th Annual Black Friday Ride. When I arrived early to the starting point at East Side, folks were already waiting to go. Eventually, the group grew to over 30 riders. Even City Councilman, Amir Omar, stopped by to see us off and applaud our efforts.

We also had a pretty large variety of bikes, from a stretched-frame cruiser, a cargo bike, a tandem, some classic refurbs, a few mountain bikes, to some super light road bikes. With so many different styles of riders, my first concern was how I was going to pace a ride and keep everybody happy — not a problem.

The group was amazing. Nobody had an agenda, other than having a casual ride around town and avoiding the crowded, Black Friday shopping malls. The ride was…

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Bad Veins

We left the Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s First Annual Party and walked over to Main street where the Deep Ellum Market was in full bloom. I’ve heard some good music at the Markets – the bands set up on the sidewalk outside a recording studio on Main. I’ve seen Ducado Vega and June Marieezy – they were all really good.

Today was a duo called Bad Veins – a guitar/singer/keyboardist and a drummer. They said they usually play with a backing tape deck (named Irene) but decided to be a little more laid back and simply play. They were pretty darn good. They had a little cadre of fans sitting in plastic chairs in the street. How cool.

Benjamin Davis – Bad Veins guitar player and singer.

The Bad Veins and their dedicated fans.

A fan.

Bad Veins playing on the sidewalk in Deep Ellum.

What I learned this week, November 23, 2012

My dream is to some day write something that shows up on this list:

The 40 most gruesome deaths in literature

Blood Meridian is my “favorite” – if that’s the right word.

The fates of The Kid and Judge Holden are irrevocably intertwined. Although Holden slaughters The Kid (by now The Man) in an outhouse, we’re spared the repugnant details. We’re not spared the reactions of those that spy the hideous scene. The Man’s death was not a quick, nor was it a pretty affair.


This man is my hero.

When I watch that video, it’s amazing how many of the things that make Dallas livable are a direct product of this guy’s work.

One thing I thought interesting is that, as an example of what Dallas has that is bad – he showed a photo of the High Five interchange. What he didn’t know/mention is that underneath that giant monstrosity is a really nice bicycle trail. When they built the High Five, they thought seriously about providing alternative transport and added a way to cross both 635 and 75 – two of the frustrating barriers to alternative transport in our area.

It’s also a pretty darn impressive route to ride – along a little urban creek with almost a billion dollars worth of five layers of roadway stretching upwards hundreds of feet overhead.

The problem was that the cities on either side didn’t provide the support to build access to the High Five trail for years after it was built. Now it’s connected, but not as well as it should be.


20 Small Things In Life That Are Absolutely Delightful


IT’S TIME TO REFLECT WELL ON DALLAS:

A CALL TO ACTION

Over the past 14 months, as this issue became known and stories about the damage Museum Tower is doing to its neighbors have appeared locally and nationally, many of you have asked us what you can do to encourage a positive resolution. If you live in the city of Dallas, I would ask you to make your Dallas city council representative aware of your opinion, whether by letter, email, or telephone. If you live outside of the city and care about Dallas’ cultural institutions voicing your support and opinion to our elected officials is also welcome. The leadership of Museum Tower needs to recognize their responsibility to our community, and your council representatives can play an important role in resolving this matter.

I’d like to reaffirm that we at the Nasher are advocates for the development of the Arts District and support the goal of Museum Tower to add residencies to this neighborhood. Ray Nasher has given our community an incredible gift by building an unparalleled museum in the heart of the Dallas Arts District and making his extraordinary collection accessible to all. The Nasher is an invaluable educational, cultural and economic resource for the people of Dallas and visitors from around the world and we need your support and your voices to ensure its future contributions to the region.

With thanks, as ever, for your interest and support,|
Sincerely,
Jeremy Strick
Director
Nasher Sculpture Center

If you would like to share your thoughts please contact support@nashersculpturecenter.org

The deadly solar rays burning down from the Museum Tower onto the Klyde Warren Park. The tower builders say this is not a problem, but take my word for it, it was nasty.

This bright shadow on the wall of the Nasher sculpture garden is not cast by the sun, but by the reflection off the Museum Tower.


Why are fountain pen sales rising?

Why? Because they are cool, that’s why.

You might expect that email and the ballpoint pen had killed the fountain pen. But sales are rising, so is the fountain pen a curious example of an old-fashioned object surviving the winds of change?

For many people, fountain pens bring back memories of school days full of inky fingers, smudged exercise books and piles of pink blotting paper.

But for others, a fat Montblanc or a silver-plated Parker is a treasured item. Prominently displayed, they are associated with long, sinuous lines of cursive script.

…..

Sharon Hughes, a buyer for John Lewis, says people relish returning to solid, traditional objects to make sense of a difficult and complex world.

“They are an old-fashioned thing but people like the personal touch. It is nice for things to be handwritten and not having everything via email,” she says.

According to Eva Pauli, from German manufacturer Lamy, the digitisation of everyday life has led to a change in writing by hand.

“Writing is becoming more and more exclusive and personal. This will probably be the reason that some people speak of a comeback of the fountain pen,” she says.

Sheaffer Pens

Sheaffer Pens


Portland’s cargo bike love and expertise spreads to Texas