What I learned this week, December 21, 2012

Read a harrowing short story in a collection by Joyce Carol Oates the other night. It was literary in structure and style, but a crime thriller in effect. If I could, this is what I would write.

Spider Boy – from the New Yorker

High Lonesome, a great collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates

High Lonesome, a great collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates

This is from the Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s first anniversary party. Candy and I are in there, but you have to look quick.

Deep Ellum Brewing Company's Lineup

Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Lineup

I feel like such a nerd, commuting to work on a bicycle. At least I’m not the only one.

LeBron James says he bikes to most Heat home games to stay in shape

Ever since seeing the wonderful movie Tampopo, I’ve been bummed that Dallas has a lack of places to get decent Ramen. Finally, that seems to be coming to an end.
Dallas to Finally Get a Dedicated Ramen Spot

Even better, the place seems to be a product of the couple that did the cool Wicked Po’ Boys place here in Richardson.


In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.

—-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Skater, French Quarter, New Orleans

Skater, French Quarter, New Orleans

There is more to life than increasing its speed.

—-Mahatma Gandhi

America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.

—-Will Ferrell

If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.

—-Mario Andretti

Journey to Sirius

In Lubben Park, next to “Harrow” is the two-part sculpture “Journey to Sirius.” I thought it looked like early video game characters – specifically giant Space Invaders – but the artists’ plaque says it was inspired by Dogon Art and Architecture.

"Journey to Sirius" by George Smith, Lubben Park, Dallas, Texas

“Journey to Sirius” by George Smith, Lubben Park, Dallas, Texas


by George Smith
Houston, Texas

Inspired by the art and architecture of the traditional African society known as The Dogon in the West African Republic of Mali, “Journey to Sirius” incorporates two monumental structures formed of welded steel plates addressing one another diagonally across a bed of black rock.

George Smith:

“For more than ten years I have been producing sculptures inspired by The Dogon. This fascinating African society resides in a spectacular rocky region of the Republic of Mali called the Bandiagara Escarpment. The Bandiagara cliffs stretch for 125 miles parallel to the Niger River with many sections reaching a height of 2,000 feet. It is these steep, rocky cliffs that brought about the ideas used in the creation of ‘Journey to Sirius’.

On the face of the cliffs, The Dogon create their art and architecture, which consists of carvings and drawings representing mythical ancestors that are part of their elaborate cosmology, including the mythical star, Sirius.

The geometrical surfaces of the two super structures in ‘Journey to Sirius’ are an interpretation of the natural geometry found on the face of the Bandiagara cliffs and represent matter; while the sculptural forms that cantilever from the structures represent spirit and were inspired by the cliff paintings and high relief carvings found on the cliff dwellings of the Dogon.”

"Harrow" and "Journey to Sirius"

“Harrow” and “Journey to Sirius”

"Journey to Sirius"

“Journey to Sirius”


The other day I came across an article: 5 landmarks you probably didn’t know about in Downtown Dallas. I knew four of the landmarks well, but had never heard of or been to Lubben Plaza outside the Belo building in downtown.

Last Saturday, after I did a group bike ride on Exposition Avenue and Deep Ellum that visited a number of fashion boutiques in the area (but before I came across the car fire) I wanted to ride a few more miles so I crossed downtown Dallas along the Sharrows on Main Street and jumped over to the park.

There were three cool sculptures there:


Belo Corp. developed Lubben Plaza in 1985 to commemorate the centennial of The Dallas Morning News. It was given to the City of Dallas in honor of Belo’s long-time employees, past and present.

It is named for John F. Lubben and his son Joseph A. Lubben, who together completed 101 years of combined service to the Company.

Belo commissioned three Texas artists to produce the sculptures installed here. “Harrow” by Linnea Glatt and “Journey to Sirius” by George Smith were installed in 1992 in commemoration of Belo’s sesquicentannial. “Gateway Stele” by Jesus Bautista Moroles was installed in 1994, when Belo developed the current Lubben East parking lot.

The most obvious piece was “Harrow”. It’s a giant steel spiral that rotates slowly around a circular bed of sand, cutting a series of concentric eponymous harrows and it goes.

The Harrow, in Lubben Park, Dallas, Texas

The Harrow, in Lubben Park, Dallas, Texas



by Linnea Glatt

Dallas, TX

Combining elements of time, motion and place, “Harrow” is an installation of many materials and elements. The motorized cone of Cor-Ten steel turns on a circular track completing one revolution in 24 hours. As the cone turns, its bands travel through a bed of sand forming concentric rings, Seats of Cor-Ten and wood are placed in informal groups amidst trees outside the circle of sand.

James Cinquemani designed and produced the mechanical elements of “Harrow”.

Linnea Glatt:

“I am interested in the idea of placemaking, of which this is my most obvious manifestation. Of my works, ‘Harrow’ is the most active and on the contrary the most serene and contemplative. The repetition and constancy of the bands of the cone drawing in the sand symbolize for me the cyclical nature of life and the balancing of life’s events. The gesture is meant to embrace, to settle and to provoke thought. As with my previous pieces, ‘Harrow’ implies a human presence and dialogue.”


A distant, out of focus skateboarder jumps across the street from The Harrow.

A distant, out of focus skateboarder jumps across the street from The Harrow.

The Harrow, by Linnea Glatt

The Harrow, by Linnea Glatt

I sat and looked at it for a while, but it didn’t seem to be moving. Maybe they shut it off on the weekends. I’ll have to check it out again, see if I can see it roll.

Someone is Having a Bad Day

I was on my way home from a fun bike ride on Exposition Avenue and in Deep Ellum when I saw traffic coming to a sudden stop and a column of nasty black smoke rising in the distance. A car was on fire, right before the Highway 75 Exit to Woodall Rogers.

Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.

Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.

I had this happen to me once… it isn’t fun.

Years ago, I was sitting down in a cheap Chinese restaurant, about to dig into a lunch-portion of cashew chicken when somebody stuck their head in the door.

“Excuse me, does anyone in here drive a blue Ford?” he asked.

“I do,” I piped up. I assumed I had left my lights on or some such drivel.

“Oh, it’s on fire.”

Not good news. I had been having trouble with the carburetor (this was in the ancient days of yore when every car had at least one carburetor) backfiring and such and it seems to have decided to spit out flames while it was sitting there in the tiny parking lot of the Chinese restaurant. This was in the dark days, the absolute nadir of American engineering and the cars were all a terrible, complex mess with all sorts of odd-looking, unfathomable, and flammable parts bolted to their engines and equipped with carburetors that, apparently, were prone to self-immolation.

It had a mile of rubber hoses and tubing supposedly fulfilling mysterious functions running all over under the hood like a giant bowl of evil black spaghetti. All of this was burning, sending a giant column of toxic smoke high into the gray sky.

I stared, dumbstruck into inactivity, at the conflagration until the proprietor came out with an extinguisher… so I extinguished it. The white powder mingled with the black soot and molten rubber in such a mess that I knew the car had had it.

Now I was faced with a difficult choice. The whole restaurant was staring at me, standing there, holding the spent extinguisher next to my ex-vehicle… but I still had a fresh plate of Chinese food sitting inside.

So, I sucked up my pride and what little dignity I had left… walked back inside, sat down, and resumed my luncheon. This was only about a half-mile from my work, so after I finished I strolled out and walked back along the road to my work for the afternoon. This was before cellphones, so I couldn’t really even call anybody to come get me… and I don’t think I would have anyway.

While I walked I would look back over my shoulder at the column of evil black smoke as it continued to rise and then spread out in a cloud that seemed to hover high in the sky, exactly between me and the bright spot in the cloud cover that represented the sun.

I wanted to put this whole thing behind me, so I signed the title, stuck it behind the license plate of the burned out wreck, and had a salvage company come take it away for its scrap metal value without my presence. I asked them to pay the owner for his extinguisher in cash, and they sent me a check for whatever was left.

I was able to buy two Compact Disks with the balance… I think they were Tears for Fears and Fine Young Cannibals (their second CD).



Lucky Dogs

From the wonderful book, A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. In the story, Ignatius J. Reilly discovers and ends up working for a famous New Orleans Hot Dog Vendor. In the book, it’s Seven Paradise Vendors… in real life, Lucky Dogs.

Seven Paradise Vendors, Incorporated, was housed in what had formerly been an automobile repair shop, the dark ground floor of an otherwise unoccupied commercial building on Poydras Street. The garage doors were usually open, giving the passerby an acrid nos-trilful of boiling hot dogs and mustard and also of cement soaked over many years by automobile lubricants and motor oils that had dripped and drained from Harmons and Hupmobiles. The powerful stench of Paradise Vendors, Incorporated, sometimes led the overwhelmed and perplexed stroller to glance through the open door into the darkness of the garage. There his eye fell upon a fleet of large tin hot dogs mounted on bicycle tires. It was hardly an imposing vehicular collection. Several of the mobile hot dogs were badly dented. One crumpled frankfurter lay on its side, its one wheel horizontally above it, a traffic fatality. Among the afternoon pedestrians who hurried past Paradise Vendors, Incorporated, one formidable figure waddled slowly along. It was Ignatius. Stopping before the narrow garage, he sniffed the fumes from Paradise with great sensory pleasure, the protruding hairs in his nostrils analyzing, cataloging, categorizing, and classifying the distinct odors of hot dog, mustard, and lubricant. Breathing deeply, he wondered whether he also detected the more delicate odor, the fragile scent of hot dog buns. He looked at the white-gloved hands of his Mickey Mouse wristwatch and noticed that he had eaten lunch only an hour before. Still the intriguing aromas were making him salivate actively. He stepped into the garage and looked around. In a corner an old man was boiling hot dogs in a large institutional pot whose size dwarfed the gas range upon which it rested. “Pardon me, sir,” Ignatius called. “Do you retail here?” The man’s watering eyes turned toward the large visitor. “What do you want?”

“I would like to buy one of your hot dogs. They smell rather tasty. I was wondering if I could buy just one.”

Lucky Dogs cart - Bourbon Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

Lucky Dogs cart – Bourbon Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

“May I select my own?” Ignatius asked, peering down over the top of the pot. In the boiling water the frankfurters swished and lashed like artificially colored and magnified paramecia. Ignatius filled his lungs with the pungent, sour aroma. “I shall pretend that I am in a smart restaurant and that this is the lobster pond.”

“Here, take this fork,” the man said, handing Ignatius a bent and corroded semblance of a spear. “Try to keep your hands out of the water. It’s like acid. Look what it’s done to the fork.”

“My,” Ignatius said to the old man after having taken his first bite. “These are rather strong. What are the ingredients in these.”

“Rubber, cereal, tripe. Who knows? I wouldn’t touch one of them myself.”

“They’re curiously appealing,” Ignatius said, clearing his throat. “I thought that the vibrissae about my nostrils detected something unique while I was outside.”

Ignatius J. Reilly

Ignatius J. Reilly, sculpture on Canal Street.

Ignatius is such a fan of the Paradise Hot Dog, he is able to get a job as a vendor, setting out on the streets of his beloved New Orleans, pushing a heavy cart.

This does not turn out well.

George, who was wandering up Carondelet with an armload of packages wrapped in plain brown paper, heard.the cry and went up to the gargantuan vendor. “Hey, stop. Gimme one of these.”

Ignatius looked sternly at the young boy who had placed himself in the wagon’s path. His valve protested against the pimples, the surly face that seemed to hang from the long well-lubricated hair, the cigarette behind the ear, the aquamarine jacket, the delicate boots, the tight trousers that bulged offensively in the crotch in violation of all rules of theology and geometry.

“I am sorry,” Ignatius snorted. “I have only a few frankfurters left, and I must save them. Please get out of my way.”

“Save them? Who for?”

“That is none of your business, you waif. Why aren’t you in school? Kindly stop molesting me. Anyway, I have no change.”

“I got a quarter,” the thin white lips sneered. “I cannot sell you a frank, sir. Is that clear?” “Whatsa matter with you, friend?”

“What’s the matter with me? What’s the matter with you? Are you unnatural enough to want a hot dog this early in the afternoon? My conscience will not let me sell you one. Just look at your loathsome complexion. You are a growing boy whose system needs to be surfeited with vegetables and orange juice and whole wheat bread and spinach and such. I, for one, will not contribute to the debauchery of a minor.”

“Whadda you talking about? Sell me one of them hot dogs. I’m hungry. I ain’t had no lunch.”

“No!” Ignatius screamed so furiously that the pas-sersby stared. “Now get away from me before I run over you with this cart.”

George pulled open the lid of the bun compartment and said, “Hey, you got plenty stuff in here. Fix me a weenie.”

“Help!” Ignatius screamed, suddenly remembering the old man’s warnings about robberies. “Someone is stealing my buns! Police!”

My son, Lee in front of a cart.

My son, Lee in front of a cart.

What I learned this week,December 14, 2012

Why The Hot Sauce Industry Is The New Craft Beer Industry


Hot Sauce Goes Mainstream

11 Foods You Can’t Buy Anywhere Anymore

How to Make Beer

Check out this beautiful 1933 brewing guide from the pages of Popular Science.

Pint Sized
How nanobreweries—fledgling operations in garages and backyard sheds—are revolutionizing the American beer industry.

Pan’s Labyrinth to be Adapted into Stage Musical

The Decade’s 25 Most-Essential Foreign Films

Cook Your Meat in a Beer Cooler: The World’s Best (and Cheapest) Sous-Vide Hack

The Monster Collection of Moleskine Tips, Tricks and Hacks

Here and There – Chihuly and Winfrey Point

A photo I took a while back of the Chihuly Exhibit in the Arboretum, with White Rock Lake’s Winfrey Point in the distance across an arm of the lake. This huge glass sculpture is called “The Sun.”

Chihuly with Winfrey Point in the background, across the water.

Chihuly with Winfrey Point in the background, across the water.

A shot I took from a bicycle ride on Winfrey Point, with the Arboretum and the Chihuly Sun in the background.

Arboretum from Winfrey Point, a peloton of cyclists going by on the road.

Arboretum from Winfrey Point, a peloton of cyclists going by on the road.