Brewery Ride

I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow
I’m drunk and dirty don’t ya know, and I’m still, willin’
Out on the road late at night, Seen my pretty Alice in every head light
Alice, Dallas Alice
—- Willin’ – by Lowell George

There was an event scheduled this Sunday that I had been really looking forward to. It was a bike ride, organized by the good folks at Bike Friendly Oak Cliff that started at the Klyde Warren Park in Downtown Dallas and went to tastings at a couple of local breweries, ending up at The Foundry/Chicken Scratch in West Dallas.

These local craft microbreweries are cropping up all over town. Dallas may be a bit behind the curve, but when it does something, it does it seriously. The Brewery Tours are very popular – you go to the place, pay a small fee, get a glass, sample beer. There is often live music, and there are always a bunch of cool people. I’ve been to Deep Ellum Brewery for their tours a few times… but this was the first one on a bicycle… with a bunch of people.

The day promised to be one of those preternaturally warm Texas Winter Weekend Afternoons – whick was perfect. My plan was to ride downtown to the park, twenty five miles or so, and then pick up the folks there. I futzed around a bit and left later than I intended, plus there was a strong wind from the south and I realized I would have to pedal hard to get there on time.

As my route passed near the Spring Valley DART station, I decided that I wanted to have fun today and riding against a deadline is not what I wanted so I hopped on the train downtown. I waited on the platform on the little rise in the pavement – knowing that was where the doors to the center car would open. These cars are tall and open – few seats – designed for wheelchairs, strollers, and bicycles. There are two hooks for hanging bikes – it works pretty well.

When the train pulled in and the doors opened I saw the car was packed. There were a half-dozen bicycles (and three strollers) jammed in there. Everybody shoved back as far as they could and I squeezed in for the ride downtown.

The crowd of bicyclists grew at Klyde Warren park until it was time for everyone to haul out down Harwood street. I’m estimating about a hundred and fifty riders packed past the Art Museum and down Ross to the West End, then turning north through Victory and under I35 into the design district.

Riding along Harwood – The Nasher on the left, Dallas Museum of Art on the right

Everybody stacked their bikes up and went into the first brewery, Community Beer Company. A big, shiny new facility, it has only been open a few weeks. They were sampling a couple of beers – a Vienna Lager and a Pale Ale. Both were very good – the ale had more bite, the lager was very smooth. We milled around, talked beer, talked bikes, talked routes (especially how to get home). The Community folks were really nice, their facility looked great, and I hope they have a long and successful run in the city.

Another brewery to go, we saddled up and headed across the Trinity River on the old Continental Viaduct next to the Calatrava Bridge. The Continental span is supposed to be redone as a park – hopefully with a good bike/pedestrian path (there is a lot of controversy on this – the Trinity remains a tough cross on a bicycle).

It is a blast to ride in the city in a group of over a hundred bicycles. Scouts shoot ahead and temper the traffic at intersections so the pack can go through. It might anger a driver or two – but we were moving quickly on streets that don’t get much use on a Sunday and the cars didn’t have to wait long.

The views of a city are so cool on a bike. I still haven’t worked out a way to take pictures while riding – especially in a pack like this (it’s easy riding, but you have to pay close attention to the bikes all around you). That’s just as well, it helps me enjoy my day.

Over the river and down into West Dallas. This is a part of town that nobody dared venture into a few years ago – now it’s hip and rapidly coming into its own from The Belmont to Bishop Arts and beyond. Right at the end of the Calatrava span sits Four Corners Brewing – another craft brewery that offers tours, live music, and food trucks. They’ve been around a bit longer and offer a big selection and cool graphics. A fun place.

I had a dark porter and a red ale – both excellent.

It was cool to look around at all the bikes. There were so many different kinds of pedalled transport – from expensive carbon fiber road bikes to fixies to a Brompton folder. Most common was probably beat up old mountain bikes converted into tough urban commuters – which is exactly what I building up at home. My ancient Raleigh Technium “vintage” (there is a thin line between vintage and old/cheap/poor) bike worked great, but the roads are a bit rough in a few places (when I made it home I discovered I had broken a spoke).

After an hour or so at Four Corners everybody split up. Most folks headed back over the bridge to Fair Park and a final stop a Craft and Growler and on home – but Candy was waiting at The Foundry/Chicken Scratch, where the riders from Oak Cliff were mostly headed to get something to eat.

The jam session group that plays on Sunday were at The Foundry, so we were able to get something to eat and listen to some music before packing my bike in the trunk for the drive home.

All in all, a pretty good day.


Outside Community Beer Company… a lot of bikes.


Pouring beer at Community


Arriving at the Community Beer Company, with the Dallas Skyline in the background

An Article about the ride – Craft beer scene spawns bike and bus brewery tours in North Texas

Napping in the Sculpture Garden

I usually take a two hour nap from one to four.
—-Yogi Berra

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

Taking a nap in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans

Taking a nap in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans

“I do not particularly like the word ‘work.’ Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.”
—- Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Candy Land

Everything being a constant carnival, there is no carnival left.
—-Victor Hugo

New Orleans, Tulane Homecoming

The thing about a carnival at night, well, it’s the smell. The smell of popping corn, of hot grease, the sweet smell of a cotton candy machine, the sour of the overexcited crowd … but over all of it the burning of ozone – thrown from the high voltage sparks of the hurling metal motors, copper coils and sparking brush gaps, overseen by the barkers and attendants and maintenance men – addict thin and covered with bad tattoos.

The yelling, the tinkling music – short old familiar tunes played over and over – the clanking machines, the screams of the children.

It’s like walking into another world, you stumble gap-mouthed, clutching your little string of cardboard tickets. Memories of carnivals past – of young couples, and getting sick on the tilt-a-whirl – because the carnival is timeless. That’s the point, isn’t it? – a cheap alternate universe. Step right up, step right up, we will sell you, if not something better, at least something a little different.

Sometimes you see one moving down the highway. The rides folded into compact nests of metal, all peeling paint and bright signs. The little buildings collapsed onto themselves, the same workers now driving the trucks – headed for the next dying mall parking lot, or vacant field on the edge of some sad town, or like this one, a special day at a university – the kids enjoying something different on the same grass they walk across every day.

A hot dog, please, and a funnel cake, and a coke and a beer, and a big cone full of cotton candy please, please please – I’ll throw the ball at the milk bottles and win a stuffed bear, or sit in the seat and get thrown in the air.

Hope all those bolts are tight.

Lizard of Death

I am the lizard king. I can do anything.
—- Jim Morrison

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans

“At noon in the desert a panting lizard
waited for history, its elbows tense,
watching the curve of a particular road
as if something might happen.”
—-William Stafford

What I learned this week, February 15, 2013

I re-watched this and noticed that Candy and I walked in back of the Tattoo guy at 5:58. It’s pretty odd when you watch a youtube video you like and notice that you are in it. This isn’t the first time.

50 Sure Signs That Texas Is Actually Utopia

Texas is the best place on Earth, and real humble about it to boot. Here are 50 of the 10,000 things that make it special.

The 30 Best Dwight Schrute Quotes

Inside the Battle of Hoth

From a military perspective, Hoth should have been a total debacle for the Rebel Alliance. Overconfident that they can evade Imperial surveillance, they hole up on unforgiving frigid terrain at the far end of the cosmos. Huddled into the lone Echo Base are all their major players: politically crucial Princess Leia; ace pilot Han Solo; and their game-changer, Luke Skywalker, who isn’t even a Jedi yet. . . . When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he’s holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don’t place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power’s ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.

From the Comments:

Have you even served with the Imperial forces? Sure it’s easy to take potshots from your military blog in some no-name star system while the fleet and its legions fight the rebel insurgents, but combined space/air/ground operations are a lot messier than any infographic could ever portray.

Even with the Empire’s full spectrum dominance of the battlespace, you can’t just leverage fleet assets which are optimized for ship-to-ship combat into a large scale ground invasion force. A Star Destroyer might have more firepower than the entire militaries of less advanced worlds but you still need a proper ground assault ship to support infantry landings.

Unfortunately, the do-nothing blowhards in Coruscant couldn’t get funding for the promising alternative designs from Sienar Fleet Systems and we ended up (as usual) with Kuat Drive Yards’ overpriced, overdue, and underperforming AT-AT mess.

Camera and Film

I noticed, while milling around the Bishop Arts District before the Mardi Gras Parade, a little piece of cardboard box down an alley, with two disposable cameras sitting on it.

Camera in the wild.

Camera in the wild.

The box said:

I may not have mega-pixels
But I’m still pretty awesome

I thought about grabbing a camera and taking a shot, but hesitated and some other folks grabbed it first. You snooze, you lose. The idea of leaving a cheap film camera sitting around for people to use is pretty cool….

And now the pictures from the Mardi Gras Parade are up on the facebook page.

As far as the note goes… I have no idea about the misspelled URL.

I’ll keep checking back though, see what develops.

Catch Some Beads

Mardi Gras Parade, Bishop Arts, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas

Fight for the beads.

Fight for the beads.

I have this thing about Mardi Gras beads. I love to catch parade throws – yelling “Beads! Beads!” or “Big Beads!” – making eye contact with the Krewe member on the float – the cheap bilious plastic string floating through the air – the jump – the catch – and finally, adding the string to the growing collection around my neck. It’s stupid, but I love it.

Two years ago, in New Orleans, we went out to a night of smaller parades on Thursday or something… sort of a warm-up for the big Super Krewes that were coming up on the weekend. I like these smaller Krewes – they have an irreverent sense of humor that the big, expensive parades can’t match.

At any rate, after a day and night of catching, my neck was festooned with a thick collar of plastic beads – especially the smaller ones thrown by the less-well-financed Krewes of that afternoon and evening. We were hungry so at two in the morning or so we ducked into an Italian Restaurant out on St. Charles past Tulane.

As we sat there I became a little self-conscious about the beads and decided to take them off. That’s when I realized that they were terribly tangled around my neck and that I was trapped, slowly choking in a noose of bright plastic spheres strung on string. I sat there trying to work on the beads while fighting back panic.

“Just cut them off, here I have scissors in my purse,” said Candy.

“No, I can’t,” I said.

“Why not?”

“They’re Mardi Gras Beads! I can’t cut them.”

“They’re just cheap plastic. Cut ’em off.”

But I couldn’t. I have no idea why, but the fact they were thrown through the air and caught made them special, somehow. It took me an hour of careful, patient untangling to get them off.

Now, I’ve accumulated a big plastic tote full over the last few years. It sits in the bottom of a closet and I should throw them away… but I can’t do it. What I need to do is find a parade and walk – throw them myself – return them from whence they came. Back into the wild – catch and release.

That I could do.

Well, for the last two years we are way too broke to go to New Orleans for Carnival. The best we could do, last year and this, is go to Oak Cliff for the Bishop Arts Mardi Gras parade.

It isn’t New Orleans… but it will do . It has to.

Extreme Makeup

Bishop Arts Mardi Gras Parade, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas

Laissez les bons temps rouler

Laissez les bons temps rouler

The Girl With Many Eyes
One day in the park
I had quite a surprise.
I met a girl
who had many eyes.

She was really quite pretty
(and also quite shocking!)
and I noticed she had a mouth,
so we ended up talking.

We talked about flowers,
and her poetry classes,
and the problems she’d have
if she ever wore glasses.

It’s great to know a girl
who has so many eyes,
but you really get wet
when she breaks down and cries.
—- Tim Burton

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
—-Marcel Proust

I think the eyes flirt most. There are so many ways to use them.
—-Anna Held

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
—-William Blake

When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.
—-Victor Hugo

Men are born with two eyes, but with one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say.
—-Charles Caleb Colton

When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.
—-William Butler Yeats

The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.
—-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wicked thoughts and worthless efforts gradually set their mark on the face, especially the eyes.
—-Arthur Schopenhauer

So if you’re down on your luck, I know you all sympathize
Find a girl with far away eyes
And if you’re downright disgusted
And life ain’t worth a dime
Get a girl with far away eyes
—-Mick Jagger/Keith Richards