Welcome to the Deep Ellum Art Park

Dallas, Texas

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It's Texas... you never know who's packin'

It’s Texas… you never know who’s packin’

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More Old Airstreams

A few more photographs taken of an Airstream Trailer graveyard I stumbled across on a trip to Denton, Texas.

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

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…time is the speed at which the past disappears.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

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“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

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“I lost my balance when the train pulled away, but a human crumple zone buffered my fall. We stayed like that, half fallen. Diagonal People.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

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“Don’t bemoan your misspent life quite yet. Forgive me for flaunting my experience, but you have no conception of what a misspent life constitutes.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Grease Trap

Grease Container outside Bar-B-Que joint, Dallas, Texas

I don’t spend as much time on my hair as people think. I get out of the shower, whack some grease on there and I’m done.
—-Chris Isaak

grease_trap

That bright bold warning sticker on the nasty old steel grease container is a very sternly worded warning to not take anything from said container. It says the container and its contents are privately owned, “pursuant to an exclusive contract with the restaurant owner.” It goes on, “We will prosecute anyone who tampers with, removes any of the contents from, or damages this container. We provide service with uniformed drivers in clearly marked company trucks. We DO NOT use subcontractors.”

Why such concern? This is a nasty steel box full of used pig grease in the alley outside the Baby Back Shack in Dallas… it is not Fort Knox.

Well, as it turns out, since the rise in popularity of bio-diesel, restaurant grease has become the new black gold… Texas Tea. Stealing grease has become big business.

Baby Back Shack, Southside, Dallas, Texas

Baby Back Shack, Cedars, Dallas, Texas

Oh, what’s that? You don’t care about the stolen grease warning? You’re curious about the stickers? Who is the girl?

I have no idea. Life is not fair.

And as i walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.
—-Elvis Costello, (What’s so Funny ’bout) Peace, Love And Understanding

Dallas Critical Mass

This Friday I went on a local bike ride that I have wanted to try for a while but never had a go until now. It’s the Dallas version of Critical Mass. The Critical Mass rides have been going on internationally in their present form since the 1990’s. They are large and informally semi-organized rides with the dual purpose of having bicycling fun and acting as a political protest where cyclists take over the streets.

The Dallas Critical Mass runs on the last Friday of every month – originating in the Main Street Garden Park downtown and heading out for parts semi-unknown.

I was invited by the good folks at Bike-Friendly Cedars so I rode my bike to the Arapaho DART station near my house and rode the train south through downtown to the Cedars station. I could have driven to a closer launching point, but I wanted to keep up with the spirit of the ride and only rely on two-wheel-human-powered power… well, except for the huge electric powered train… but you know what I mean. I guess I’m saying I wanted to avoid the automobile for the evening.

I rode around the Cedars a bit then met up with the folks and we rode to the Main Street Park. I don’t know how many riders were there… I would guess a few more than a hundred. That’s not a huge number – until you get them stretched out in a group along the road. I have been doing enough of these rides now that I run into a handful of folks I know at most every one. It’s a bit of fun.

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critical_mass1

We started out east into Deep Ellum. Sony had a couple sponsored riders on trikes with generator-powered boom boxes to provide music. The ride was slow and crowded – that’s the only downside of these types of things… you have to concentrate on the wheel in front of you and the folks on either side that you can’t look around too much – it takes a lot of concentration to ride in an irregular pack like that.

A wide variety of bikes and riders – from carbon speed-demons to heavy steel retro-cruisers to stripped-down fixies to Wal-Mart mountain bikes. I try to talk to anyone with unique bikes (tonight a Brompton Folder, and a homemade fixie) to learn the various dimensions of bikerdom.

They were corking the intersections – sending bikes out to block the cross traffic so the entire mass of bikes could get through at once. I have really mixed feelings about this – it is technically breaking the law and undoubtedly pisses some drivers off. But that’s one of the points of the ride (that’s why it’s called Critical Mass) – to take over a few streets for a few minutes one evening a month. Bikes have to wait on cars the rest of the time – have to give way to the hurtling metal… I guess taking over for this short time isn’t too bad. Plus, car drivers should learn a little patience – it will make their life a little more pleasant.

critical_mass4

critical_mass3

After turning into the Exposition Park Neighborhood we moved through part of Fair Park and then turned north into East Dallas. I had no idea where we were until we suddenly jumped up onto the Santa Fe bike trail. This pulled the line way out and it was dark by now – looking ahead at the long line of led-lit bicycles working their way along the narrow strip of concrete was quite a sight.

Unfortunately, there was a bad accident near White Rock Lake – apparently (I didn’t see it) a woman coming the other way without lights collided with some riders while they moved to the left to pass. The entire group stopped, and then moved off into The Lot so that the emergency crews could get in.

After a while, the ride moved off, but a bunch (including me) decided to stay at The Lot. There was food, music, and good beer.

I still needed to get home, so I decided to ride to the DART Station at the north end of White Rock Lake, about five miles away. Another rider offered to ride with me so we took off. The trail around the lake is usually so busy that I have been avoiding it – but at eleven or so at night it was deserted. Our lights were good enough to see without any problems and some summer thunderstorms (all missing Dallas) had coursed through the area and cooled the air… it was really fun riding.

I enjoyed it enough that when I reached the train station I kept going. I wanted to get up to the Forest Lane Station, about another five miles, so I could catch the Red train and get home without a transfer. I am very familiar with this stretch of trail during the day and it was a blast to ride it in the pitch dark (it’s through creek-bottom woodlands and there are no lights whatsoever).

The only difficulty was a stretch of the Cottonwood Trail just south of the train station had a collection of homeless people sleeping on the trail and I had to be very careful not to run somebody over. That would be very painful for everyone.

I caught a train at Forest and when I boarded the car I found a couple of other riders that were also on the way home from Critical Mass. Sort of cool to be talking bikes on a train scooting through the city in the middle of the night.

The last few late night miles home from the train station were fun too – no traffic and a cool breeze. I think I might try some midnight rides here in the Texas Summer – find a route free of cars and obstacles – especially people sleeping in the way.

Zombies and Cops

Looking at my schedule on Thursday, I had a lot that I wanted to do that evening and on Friday, so I decided to take a vacation day and try and squeeze in as much as I could. After changing into bicycling clothes I left work and drove up to Beltline and 75 in Richardson, where the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is about to open and stashed my car in a quiet spot. I pulled my bicycle out of the hatch and rode west a few miles to the Big Shucks Oyster Bar on Coit.

The hard thing about using a bicycle for entertainment is the logistics. You have to haul stuff – phones and wallets and keys and locks and camera and extra clothes and emergency repair tools and this and that and the other. It’s too much thinking about what you have and how you can carry it and how you can keep it from getting stolen. I still haven’t figured out a good way to carry a folding chair on my road bike (my commuter bike with its plethora of racks is out of commission – I broke the seat tube the other day) so I left that in my car, where I could get to it later.

At Big Shucks, I locked my bike to the metal rail and settled in on the patio with a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and a Negra Modelo. When you think of shrimp cocktail you probably think about a bland, slimy mixture of large limp shrimp floating in some insipid watery sauce. A Mexican Shrimp Cocktail is a different thing altogether. It’s spicy, made fresh with firm, tiny shrimp with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and avocados. It’s a great warm weather treat. Every place makes theirs a little different, but Big Shucks does them as well as anybody.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and Negra Modelo at Big Shucks.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and Negra Modelo at Big Shucks.

After a while, some more bicyclists showed up and we all finished our food, saddled up and headed out. This ride was organized by the Richardson Urban Bicycle Club – the same group I had ridden to see Dazed and Confused with a couple of weeks ago. We were riding back to the same place again, this time to see a double feature of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

The Alamo Drafthouse was having a soft opening and was showing the newest film from director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, The World’s End inside. After that, they were going to show Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz outside on the inflatable screen. We didn’t have tickets for the new film, but were all excited about the other two.

I was a little worried about the crowd. Of course, there is room in a parking lot for a lot of people in folding chairs, but folks had been gathering since before noon. Some people had the brilliant idea of looking in the “free” section of Craigslist and grabbing couches. They had hauled a few over and set them up, relaxing for the afternoon. I worried for naught – there were a lot of people there (many dressed as zombies and a few as cops) but the place wasn’t overflowing and I was able to find a spot where the screen, though distant, was visible.

Going to this had been sort of a last-minute decision and I hadn’t thought much about what to do… but it was fun. There was a long string of food trucks and I had a Guacamole Pie from The Bomb Fried Pies. Then I went over to check out the breweries… and hit the jackpot.

If you’ve been reading here you know of my fondness for locally brewed craft beer. Dallas, as always, is getting into the craft brewery thing late… but also, Dallas, as always, is doing it in a big, serious, and very good way.

Tonight there were six local breweries set up, with two beers each. You bought a sample card, a small plastic cup, and a yellow wrist band… and had at it. Since the double feature couldn’t start until the festivities inside ended, and then there were two entire movies… there was plenty of time to try everything.
I have been to sampling tours at all of the breweries except 903, so I was familiar with most of what they had to offer. It was all good.

Tasting Card - six breweries, twelve beers

Tasting Card – six breweries, twelve beers

903 Brewers
Sherman
Roos Red Ale
Roasted Coconut Ale

Community Beer Company
Dallas
Public Ale
Witbier

Deep Ellum Brewing Company
Deep Ellum
IPA
Dallas Blonde

Four Corners
West Dallas
Paletero Pale Ale
Block Party Porter

Lakewood Brewing Company
Garland
Zomer Pils
Lager

Rahr and Sons Brewing Comany
Fort Worth
Texas Red
Rahr’s Blonde

In particular, I enjoyed the 903 Roasted Coconut Ale and the Four Corner’s Block Party Porter… mostly because I had never tried those before.

Soon after sunset the theater let out, swelling the parking lot crowd, a pair of black limos coursed up front and discharged their contents onto the makeshift stage. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright talked up the crowd for a while. I’m not sure what they think about Texas – they seemed shocked by the heat, though it didn’t seem too bad to any of us. There were a couple of contests – beating a zombie with a cricket bat and screaming while shooting a gun in the air. One burly Texan managed to break the cricket bat over the zombie’s head – which I didn’t think was possible.

Everybody settled down and the movies began. Shaun of the Dead is a hoot, of course – perfect fair for an outdoor showing on an inflatable screen.

The crowd in the parking lot

The crowd in the parking lot

Shaun is having a bad day.

Shaun is having a bad day.

After Shaun of the Dead ended most folks gave it up and went home – it was getting pretty late for a Thursday. I started to get up but then decided, “What the Hell,” and settled back in for the second show. I was able to scoot my chair forward and get a better look at Hot Fuzz – which I hadn’t seen before. Another great genre-mixing explosion of hilarity and bloodshed, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

It was about two in the morning when everything ended. I was very glad to have my car nearby – I didn’t really feel like riding my bicycle any great distance. That sort of thing makes for a long day. I felt like a zombie.

Added Later:
Slideshow Photos: Zombies, movie stars take over Alamo Drafthouse for ‘Blood and Ice Cream’ trilogy

Coming out of the Circle

Sherry Owens, Dallas
Coming out of the Circle 1999 Steel
Frisco, Texas

Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop.

—-Black Elk Speaks

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Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all , and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.

—-Black Elk Speaks

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I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.

And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth, — you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.

—- Black Elk Speaks

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To the center of the world you have taken me and showed the goodness and the beauty and the strangeness of the greening earth, the only mother — and there the spirit shapes of things, as they should be, you have shown to me and I have seen. At the center of this sacred hoop, you have said that I should make the tree to bloom.

With tears running, O Great Spirit , Great Spirit, my Grandfather — with running tears I must say now that the tree has never bloomed. A pitiful old man, you see me here, and I have fallen away and have done nothing. Here at the center of the world, where you took me when I was young and taught me; here, old, I stand, and the tree is withered, Grandfather, my Grandfather!

Again, and maybe the last time on this earth, I recall the great vision you sent me. It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds. Hear me, not for myself, but for my people; I am old. Hear me that they may once more go back into the sacred hoop and find the good red road, the shielding tree!

—-Black Elk Speaks