The Geometry of Nature

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.
—-George Santayana


Though his health and family had been broken in the process, he’d found his purpose in life — to share the ancient key discovered anew in the garden: if we feed the earth, it will feed us.
I see that is the secret, too, to living. Though the earth demands its sacrifices, spring will always return.
—- Melissa Coleman

Spring comes early in Texas. Spring comes in the middle of winter. The green shoots that will collect the energy, energize the chlorophyll, store the sugar needed for this season’s flowers are already pulling themselves up out of the black soil.

The curve of the leaves is still pristine – not yet tattered by the windstorms to come or eaten by the insects still sleeping in their eggs. On my way to work I watch the green tips poke up, multiply, and spread out to catch the fire of the morning sun peeking over the horizon.

The dead heat, yellow straw and the dry dust is still a long way off, but it will come. Let them grow when they will – while they can.


April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.
—- T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Texas Woofus

I enjoyed the warm weather Sunday by taking in a long bike ride from White Rock Lake down the Santa Fe Trail through East Dallas and on through the mirrored canyons of Main Street Downtown.

On the way back I took a detour from Deep Ellum down Exposition and cruised around Fair Park for a bit. I love the Art Deco art and architecture and sculpture (here and here) down there.

This time, I stopped by and snapped some photographs of an odd piece of Art Deco solid artistry outside the Swine Building – the Texas Woofus.

From the plaque:

According to sculptor Lawrence Tenney Stevens, the Texas Woofus is a composite figure with Texas long-horns, a sheep’s head, a stallion’s neck with mane, a hog’s body, the dulap of a sheep, turkey tail feathers, wings, and a highly decorated strip of a blanket.

The original was created in 1936 for the Texas Centennial. Its fate remains a mystery.

So, the story goes that the original was created – a 9 foot tall, 2,700 pound bronze – but a short time later it simply disappeared. Some people think the religious fundamentalists stole it because it resembled a pagan god – or that is was removed for repair and misplaced. At any rate, for 60 years it was forgotten, until Craig Holcomb, executive director of the Friends of Fair Park saw some old shots of the odd sculpture and thought it was very cool.

A fund raising dinner, The Woofus Dinner, was created and wealthy Dallasites attended, woofing hello and singing a specially-written ditty, “The Woofus Song,” ponied up about fifty grand, enough to rebuild the Woofus.

In 2002 the thing made its re-appearance.

For something with this hallowed a history, it’s sure hidden away in an obscure nook. I had stumbled across it during the Fair one year while on a quest for a bathroom and always wanted to get back for a more leisurely look.

So here, without further ado, I give you, the Texas Woofus.

The Texas Woofus

The Texas Woofus

The Woofus has a pipe in his mouth. During the State Fair a stream of water rushes forth. I'm going to have to see that someday.

The Woofus has a pipe in his mouth. During the State Fair a stream of water rushes forth. I’m going to have to see that someday.

I love the geometric style of Art Deco.

I love the geometric style of Art Deco.

Ice and Kale

One of the popular plants for winter garden color here in Texas is Ornamental Kale.  You see beds of purple, green and red cabbage all over the place.


Ornamental Kale at the Dallas Arboretum

Ornamental Kale at the Dallas Arboretum


Yes, it does get cold here sometimes.

Not right now, though. I took this photo back in late December sometime… not sure exactly when. While a large part of the country is digging out from under massive winter storms, it’s warm and beautiful in North Texas. It was about seventy today, sunny and calm. I was able to go on a long bike ride, the parks were packed with folks, the perfect outdoor day.

Of course, we pay for that in the summer. July and August are toxic. So let me enjoy the good times when I can.

Gator or Snake?

Last year, this woman was riding in the Bishop Arts District Mardi Gras Parade with a (small) alligator:

Instead of beads, this woman wanted to throw live alligators.

Instead of beads, this woman wanted to throw live alligators.

and this year, she was back. This time with a giant snake (I believe it is a reticulated python – but I could be wrong).

Luckily, she didn't throw anything.

Luckily, she didn’t throw anything.

Don’t worry… she was riding on the Dallas Zoo float… so I guess she knows what she is doing.

What I learned this week,February 22, 2013

It even comes to Dallas and Klyde Warren Park

I like the guy in the yellow cowboy hat.

FADER Explains: Harlem Shake

I really enjoyed Red at the Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly Theater.

It’s nice to see it get a good review.

I have been thinking about Big Bend a lot. I miss the place. I used to go there to reconnect. I need to figure out how to get back.

Sometimes you get ideas that you really like but know they are crazy and will never happen. That’s when you feel stupid.

Sometimes… not too often… you find out that your crazy idea isn’t that insane and that somebody else is trying to actually do it. That’s when you no longer feel stupid, but instead feel lazy, cowardly, and ineffectual.

Affordable artist housing potentially coming to Dallas Arts District

8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need

I’ve read all these – a pretty good list.

Bring Good Brews Home From Craft and Growler

That guy Guy Fieri – from that food show that shows him eating all sorts of stuff you should not eat – accomplished a rare feat. He opened a restaurant that garnered a zero star review from the New York Times (read it, it’s well written and pretty funny).

He also neglected to register the whole URL for his restaurant’s name… so somebody else did, and posted a

great fake menu.

Shame it’s satire… wouldn’t you want to get something like:

Guy’s Big Balls – $26.95

Snuggle up to two 4-pound Rice-A-Roni crusted mozzarella balls endangered with shaved lamb and pork and blasted with Guy’s signature Cadillac Cream sauce until dripping off the plate. Served Nestled inside a tempura pickle, with a side of maximum-well-done duck skin.

Extra Wet Naps – $3.50.

Photograph by Jamie Chung for Bloomberg Businessweek

Photograph by Jamie Chung for Bloomberg Businessweek

Sriracha Hot Sauce Catches Fire, Yet ‘There’s Only One Rooster’

Like ketchup, sriracha is a generic term, its name coming from a port town in Thailand where the sauce supposedly was conceived. When people in America talk about sriracha, what they’re really talking about is Huy Fong’s version. It’s been name-checked on The Simpsons, is featured prominently on the Food Network, and has inspired a cottage industry of knockoffs, small-batch artisanal homages, and merchandise ranging from iPhone cases to air fresheners to lip balm to sriracha-patterned high heels.

15 Great David Foster Wallace Quotes

por ejemplo:

12. “I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it.’”

– Infinite Jest (1996)

Just go there and read them all.

This looks really, really cool:
Nasher Sculpture Center and Mayor Mike Rawlings announce landmark public art initiative in conjunction with the museum’s 10th anniversary

Official site: Nasher X-Change

100 icebreakers for talks with strangers

America’s New Mandarins

But I think that we are looking at something even deeper than that: the Mandarinization of America.

The Chinese imperial bureaucracy was immensely powerful. Entrance was theoretically open to anyone, from any walk of society–as long as they could pass a very tough examination. The number of passes was tightly restricted to keep the bureaucracy at optimal size.

Passing the tests and becoming a “scholar official” was a ticket to a very good, very secure life. And there is something to like about a system like this . . . especially if you happen to be good at exams. Of course, once you gave the imperial bureaucracy a lot of power, and made entrance into said bureaucracy conditional on passing a tough exam, what you have is . . . a country run by people who think that being good at exams is the most important thing on earth. Sound familiar?

The people who pass these sorts of admissions tests are very clever. But they’re also, as time goes on, increasingly narrow. The way to pass a series of highly competitive exams is to focus every fiber of your being on learning what the authorities want, and giving it to them. To the extent that the “Tiger Mom” phenomenon is actually real, it’s arguably the cultural legacy of the Mandarin system.


In fact, I think that to some extent, the current political wars are a culture war not between social liberals and social conservatives, but between the values of the mandarin system, and the values of those who compete in the very different culture of ordinary businesses–ones outside glamor industries like tech or design.

Face the Dragon

Meddle not in the affairs of the dragon; for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, Texas

“Never laugh at live dragons.”
—- J.R.R. Tolkien


“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
—-J. R. R. Tolkien

“What do you know about dragons?”
“They’re big, scaly, four-legged creatures with wings who terrorized small villages until a virgin was offered up as a sacrifice.”
His grinned again. “I do miss the virgins.”
—- Katie MacAlister, You Slay Me

“Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, and frolicked in the Autumn Mist in a land called Honah Lee, little Jacky Paper loved that rascal Puff, and gave him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff.”
—- Peter Yarrow, Puff, The Magic Dragon

“For instance, dragons are deeply revered by the Chinese. According to legend they have megapowers that include weather control and life creation. And they’re seen as kind, benevolent creatures. Funny. Every fairy tale I’d ever heard involving dragons starred daring knights trotting off to kill said dragons. Probably the real reason every time East meets West they get pissed off and throw tea in our faces.”
—- Jennifer Rardin

“The townspeople took the prince for dead
When he never returned with the dragon’s head
When with her, he stayed
She thought he’d be too afraid
But he loved her too much instead.”
—-Jess C. Scott, Piety, Dragon Poems

“Everybody knows who dragons are. They are enourmous,fierce,bloodthirsty creatures appearing in fairytales and legends primarily as accessories, functioning mainly to set of the bravery of the knights challenging them. Dragons are obscure,mysterious characters described only in broad terms, little more than foils to enhance a hero’s valor. Dragons though are much more than this. They are intelligent and educated creatures who lead entralling lives.”
—- H.G. Ciruelo Cabral

“A dragon’s heart burns fiercely, even in the face of evil.”
—- S.G. Rogers, Jon Hansen and the Dragon Clan of Yden

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
—- Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.”
—- Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

“How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”
—- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

“I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.”
—- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

“My nightly craft is winged in white, a dragon of night dark sea.
Swift born, dream bound and rudderless, her captain and crew are me.
We’ve sailed a hundred sleeping tides where no seaman’s ever been
And only my white-winged craft and I know the wonders we have seen.”
—- Anne McCaffrey, Dragonsong


The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans Museum of Art

Kenneth Snelson, Verlane Tower

George Segal, Three Figures and Four Benches

When I was a kid, living in places like the Northeast or the Midwest I became fascinated by Spanish Moss. I don’t remember when I first heard about it…. These were the days long, long before the internet, of course, and even television was only in black and white and hard to see (only three channels anyway) so I would have had to have read about it in a book or maybe seen some in a film.

The thought of a thin, filmy plant growing in the air, hanging from trees, seemed so exotic to me, like it was an alien organism growing on our own earth. I did as much research as I could – which at the time consisted of looking up articles in the various encyclopedias in the school library – and thought about what the stuff looked like in real life.

We were going to move from Kansas to Panama and would be flying out of South Carolina. This would take a long drive, three days – with stops in Memphis and Atlanta. Thinking about the trip, I realized that there would be Spanish Moss along the way. As we moved farther south I eagerly stared out of the window. Somewhere out of Memphis, little bits of fuzz began to appear here and there until once we were close to Atlanta, it was all over the place.

That evening, I walked around our hotel looking at the Spanish Moss. It was everywhere and it was as amazing as I thought. I couldn’t believe that people actually lived in the midst of such wonder and didn’t give it a second thought. The next day, in Charleston, South Carolina, I found even more – it hung thick in the trees like a living cloud, an aerial wave of plant life. I still remember the feeling of seeing the stuff, feeling it in my fingers, looking at it up close.

There is an amazing quality to the curiosity of youth… a passionate sense of wonder.

Now I live in the South and see the stuff all the time…. But when I do I still feel the echoes of those days.


There is one gap in the buildings lining Flora Street – the avenue running through the heart of the Dallas Arts District – and that is the rough top of a parking garage across from the symphony hall. I have seen teenaged skaters run off the concrete. A high rise office tower is planned for this spot (like we need another one of those) but it has been vacant for years.

The odds and ends of the property have been used for some art installations before – most notably the Zen Garden and Ice Sculptures done for the installation Transcendence.

On my last visit, riding my bike through, I saw a bunch of figures – sculptures – hanging out on the thing. Riding up for a closer look I was interested in seeing that one figure was decorated with an orange safety vest and a blue hard hat. While I was lining up a photograph the figure jumped down and I realized that it was a worker adjusting the lighting system.

Borders, by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, Dallas Arts District, with the cube of the Wyly Theater in the background

Borders, by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, Dallas Arts District, with the cube of the Wyly Theater in the background

Borders, in the Dallas Arts District

Borders, in the Dallas Arts District

Borders” is a sculptural exhibition by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir. The sign says that the 13 pairs of figures, made from aluminum and cast iron are from the collection of the artist. It looks like the exhibition was originally done in New York City – I don’t know if these are actually the same figures or not.