Under the Sculpture

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

In front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure

In front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure (click to enlarge)

The sculpture is Ave, by Mark di Suvero – the same sculptor that did the Proverb piece not too far away.

“The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.”
― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

They say you are not to touch the works of art. But I always used to see kids using the sloping steel structure – the one painted bright red in the middle of the preternatural green grass sward in front of the museum – as a slide. I don’t see that any more – security must be better.

But still I think of a slide when I see it – I think of the time we used a wax paper cup to lubricate an old, rusty piece of playground equipment down at the end of the block when I was ten years old. It became so smooth and frictionless…

The feeling of rocketing down that perilous slippery slope was intoxicating and frightening. The exhilaration was accelerated by the knowledge that we had figured it out and done it ourselves. We felt we were the only children in the world to understand the secret effects of rubbing wax paper cups on smooth steel.

A father came to fetch his kids and we boasted of how fast it was. Fathers were competitive then and he said it couldn’t be that fast because were were only little kids and we didn’t know what we were talking about.

It told him to try it. With a wry, dismissive grin he hauled his creaking, awkward bulk up the ladder much too small for him (I remember him as being oh so old, though now, of course, he would have been maybe thirty years younger than I am now) and sat bumbling down, unsure suddenly of the whole endeavor, giant feet reaching down the smooth steel – I remember a sudden, last look of doubt, almost panic flickering like a shadow across his expression… but fathers were stubborn then and there could be no turning back, no chickening out in front of his children and all their friends.

So he pushed off.

And you know what happened. I remember he shot off the end of that slide like a watermelon seed squeezed between your thumb and index finger on a hot summer afternoon.

That weekend his oldest kid told me he had to go to the hospital because he broke his coccyx.

Craigslist Commuter

My commuter bike

My old commuter bike

I never noticed the Yosemite engraved on the seat tube until I removed the old paint.

I never noticed the Yosemite engraved on the seat tube until I removed the old paint.

So, the other day I was riding my commuter bike. This is the ancient Yokota mountain bike I bought in a pawn shop in 1994 for sixty dollars and then converted last year to a commuter. I stripped the bike, repainted it and added racks, lights, and fenders (and more). It was a workable commuter bike, the frame was a little small for my size – but otherwise fine. Well, like I said, I was riding it around the city and I kept feeling something wrong. It felt like the seat was broken – when I pushed on the pedals the seat would shift side to side. I slowed down, rode carefully, and made it back home.

I took the seat apart and looked at it carefully – couldn’t find anything wrong. Then I gave the whole thing a once-over and discovered that I had broken the seat tube. The weld where the tube joined the bottom bracket had cracked – that was what was flopping back and forth. I’m lucky that was the weld that broke – most others would have sent me for a tumble.

The crack in the seat tube at the bottom bracket.

The crack in the seat tube at the bottom bracket.

It’s not a surprise that it broke – I’ve been riding the bike for almost twenty years (and it was used before that). That’s a lot of flexing on that weld.

Now I needed to figure out what to do. I need a commuter bike. Plus I need two bikes anyway – my Technium road bike is even older than this one and one bike is always under repair of one kind or another.

A friend of mine tried to weld the crack – but the tubing is too thin and the weld wouldn’t hold.

A new bike is out of the question – we are so broke right now.

So I looked at new frames. There are some very affordable generic mountain bike frames available. The problem is that I would have to buy a lot of new parts (threadless headset, fork for same, stem, top-pull derailleur, cables….) because so many parts from my old bike are obsolete – even if they are still working.

Another option is a used bike. I spent a day touring pawn shops (I’m wary of this – I don’t want a hot bike – but at least I could look at some options) but their prices were high. I was working on putting together the funds for a new frame and components when I spotted a bike on Craigslist.

My old bike was a little small – so I wanted to get the size right – but this one was spot on. It was an older, well-used mountain bike, a Giant Rincon SE, for a hundred bucks. That seemed like the ticket to me – the thing should convert into a good commuter – I could mix and match parts from it and my old bike to put together something nice.

So I met the seller at a warehouse (she said it belonged to her son who rode it “all over Southern California”) and bought the thing.

I spent most of a day cleaning, adjusting, and lubricating – then adding my racks, bags, and lights. I swapped the lugged mountain tires and wheels with the slicks on my commuter. The bike has twist-grip shifters, which I’ve never used before – but maybe it’s time to try something new.

Another difference is that it has a front shock adsorbing fork. I’ve never used one of these before. It’s a cheap one, but does seem to make the city riding a bit more comfortable. The problem is that I can’t mount fenders on the fork – so the bike won’t be as good commuting in the rain.

I’ve been thinking about this and I think I’ll buy a steel rigid fork and an extra headset. I can mount a spare brake and my front rack and fenders on that – and use it for commuting. Meanwhile, I can keep the shock fork and the lugged wheels – if I want to ride off-road I can swap them out in a few minutes.

Two bikes for one.

It rides nice. The Giant aluminum frame is rock-solid and it does fit me perfectly. The components are cheap – but they are running fine right now. They should be good enough for commuting. I’ll keep my old parts and swap them out if anything wears out.

The timing is good – it looks like I’ll be short a car for a while – and have to ride to work.

My new Giant Rincon SE commuter bike.

My new Giant Rincon SE commuter bike.

Giant Rincon SE with Dallas in the background

Giant Rincon SE with Dallas in the background

Trainspotting

“We start off with high hopes, then we bottle it. We realise that we’re all going to die, without really finding out the big answers. We develop all those long-winded ideas which just interpret the reality of our lives in different ways, without really extending our body of worthwhile knowledge, about the big things, the real things. Basically, we live a short disappointing life; and then we die. We fill up our lives with shite, things like careers and relationships to delude ourselves that it isn’t all totally pointless.”
― Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting

My son, Nick, is home for a few days before he heads back to school. I told him I was going to do, “A stupid Dad thing.” I said I was going to drive down into South Dallas and sit around and wait until I could see an old train engine go by.
“Yes,” he said, “That sounds like a stupid Dad thing.”

When our kids were little, I used to take them down to Fair Park. It’s an underused and unappreciated piece of our city. We would stop off at the Age of Steam museum on the north side of the park. That was a little-known, overcrowded spot where they had an amazing collection of rolling stock – a true history of the American railroads.

Big Boy 4018, in Fair Park, a few years ago.

Big Boy 4018, in Fair Park, a few years ago.

Big Boy 4018, next to a slight lesser engine, in Fair Park, a few years ago.

Big Boy 4018, next to a slightly lesser engine, in Fair Park, a few years ago.

Big Boy 4018, behind the wire in Fair Park

Big Boy 4018, behind the wire in Fair Park

The museum was always neglected by the city and actively discouraged by Fair Park officials. It became more and more threadbare and run down. I was worried that it would fade away. But, eventually, the city of Frisco came through and decided to build a brand-new, spacious Museum of the American Railroad. It seemed to take forever, but the thing finally came together. I can’t wait to visit the place when it opens.

One challenge was to move all the rolling stock from the Fair Park sidings all the way out to Frisco. No mean feat – over the last few years they have been using slack time in the various railways across the Metroplex to move their cars and engines out to their new digs.

Only one piece of equipment remained – but that was a doozy. Union Pacific Big Boy 4018. One of twenty-five “Big Boy” coal-fired steam engines built in the early forties – arguably the largest steam locomotives in the world. 133 feet long, and weighing one and a quarter million pounds (with its tender) – that’s a big hunk of iron to move across a giant modern city.

I wanted to see this.

For months now, the move has been scheduled and canceled – due to technical and scheduling problems. Finally, this Sunday, it looked like the thing was going to go off. I followed on facebook and twitter and made sure it was going to be leaving home – then packed up my bicycle, folding chair, camera, notebook and pen, and some cold water and headed out.

The route was available online and I picked out a spot in South Dallas where the rail line ran along a deserted stretch of grass and trees – that still had a road (Railroad Avenue) right next to it. When I arrived, I realized I must have picked a good spot – there were quite a few folks there, including news reporters, official rail line photographers, railroad dispatchers on their days off, and a good gaggle of serious train fanatics.

Unfortunately, there were some serious delays and we waited for several hours while a number of other trains sped by, but no Big Boy.

While we were waiting some other trains came by. All the folks on this Amtrack were looking out the windows wondering why everyone was standing there with cameras.

While we were waiting some other trains came by. All the folks on this Amtrack were looking out the windows wondering why everyone was standing there with cameras.

Train fans, waiting for Big Boy.

Train fans, waiting for Big Boy.

A freight train stopped on the track, blocking the route, waiting for clearance ahead and we all realized it would be several hours more – so I took off and went to a favorite place in Exposition Plaza – Pizza Lounge – for a slice, an IPA, and watch the Rangers get beat on the television over the bar. I was able to keep up on twitter – and when it looked like the train was moving again I headed out.

The crowd at Scyene Road, under the DART bridge, waiting.

The crowd at Scyene Road, under the DART bridge, waiting.

This time I stopped at Scyene road, near the DART station. The train would reach that spot first, and there was a good crowd of folks still waiting. It still took about another hour, but it was pretty darn cool – worth the six-hour wait. Several serious railroad fans were saying, “Seeing an engine like this moving on the tracks is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Of course, it wasn’t under its own power. There was talk once of restoring this engine to operating condition, but it would be prohibitively expensive, nobody wants coal burning trains around, and there isn’t much track left that can take this size of machine. It was pulled along by a diesel engine, and was hooked to a long line of tank cars to provide braking and stability.

Three generations. The smoking diesel pulling the steam Big Boy, while the electric DART train zooms by overhead.

Three generations. The smoking diesel pulling the steam Big Boy, while the electric DART train zooms by overhead. (click to enlarge)

Big Boy 4018

Big Boy 4018 (click to enlarge)

The massive drive wheels on Big Boy 4018 (click to enlarge)

The massive drive wheels on Big Boy 4018 (click to enlarge)

Big Boy 4018 (click to enlarge)

Big Boy 4018 (click to enlarge)

Big Boy 4018

Big Boy 4018

I was expecting the size but not the fantastic complexity. The size, number, and beauty of all those parts spinning as the train went by was incredible. Now I understand why the train fans wanted to see it move. When you look at these things in a static museum it’s easy to forget and hard to comprehend that they were built to move, move fast, move long distances, and pull unimaginably heavy loads.

Once it went by I drove back to Railroad Avenue, and as I pulled in, the Big Boy was already passing. I managed to get a shot of it as it went over Bexar Street.

Big Boy 4018 (click to enlarge)

Big Boy 4018 (click to enlarge)

The Union Pacific photographer told me of a spot where I could get a picture of the train with the Dallas skyline in the background, but there was another tall container train on a siding blocking the view. The train still had a long way to go, but I was getting tired and needed some water, so I headed home.

“Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers… Choose DSY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away in the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself, choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?”
― Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting

Ghosts of Pedestrians

On Thursday, I spotted an event that was going on down at Klyde Warren Park at eight in the evening. There was a free concert by Paul Thorn. I checked out his youtube page and thought it might be interesting. It wasn’t really my type of music – but he seemed to be a talented and interesting songwriter.

After work, I was way too tired – but I didn’t want to waste another evening flopping around the house, so I pulled myself together and went down to the train station.

Unfortunately, the music was not to my liking – live, with his full band it was way too country-rock for me. I had hoped it would be more in the vein of acoustic songwriter country folk-rock – but this was full on boot-scooting country pop-rock – probably my least favorite genre of music.

I stuck for awhile, then set off walking. After stopping by the reading area and looking through an art book of odd and disturbing (I liked them) paintings by Balthus (the streetlights are almost bright enough for reading) I cruised by the food trucks (right now, we are especially broke, so I ate leftovers before going downtown) and then turned to walk back to the train station.

I had my camera and, on a whim, did some shots of traffic and people by resting my camera on a concrete pillar or whatnot – and adjusting the f-stop for long exposures.

The results were a happy surprise. I came up with a half-dozen that I liked (I’ll put them up here over time – sorry to subject y’all to my experiments). More importantly, It is a technique that shows some promise. Now, I need to work on some spots and do the shots with a tripod and remote release – to get a bit more flexibility in the shot and sharpness in the background. Maybe I can add some models, some added light, or possibly some stacked shots.

So, despite the music not being to my taste, the evening wasn’t wasted.

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Pearl

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Pearl

While I had my camera sitting on a low concrete wall in front of the Chase Tower in Downtown Dallas, a saw a family of three crossing at the light, coming toward me. I pointed the camera toward the street and triggered the shutter into a long exposure as they passed.

The City at Night

Well, I just got into town about an hour ago
Took a look around, see which way the wind blow
Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows

Are you a lucky little lady in The City of Light
Or just another lost angel…City of Night
—-LA Woman, The Doors

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Pearl

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Pearl

Nevermore

As I have been looking around the area at local sculptures I have been running into multiple works by local sculptors. I have already put up entries on two works by Joe BarringtonRoadrunner with Lizard and The Headlines Screamed, Baithouse Disappears. I’ve found two more – one can wait – but tonight I give you 4 Ravens, Nevermore!

Joe Barrington
Throckmorton
4 Ravens, Nevermore!
2000, metal, paint

Frisco, Texas

ravens1

4 Ravens, Nevermore!
Joe Barrington

4 Ravens, Nevermore!

4 Ravens, Nevermore!

ravens3

4 Ravens, Nevermore!
Joe Barrington

ravens4

4 Ravens, Nevermore!
Joe Barrington

4 Ravens, Nevermore!

4 Ravens, Nevermore!

The Raven, read by Christopher Walken

 

The Dallas Police Department Welcomes You to Deep Ellum

One pillar in the Dallas Art Park was painted by a Dallas Police Officer. It’s a good story.

“I know the law-abiding people don’t hate us, but just dealing with the criminal element, we get a lot of hate,” she said. “If I could plant one little seed in someone’s head that the police are the good guys, I would consider myself to be successful in this deal.”
—from the Dallas Morning News

From the Pillar:

This mural was painted by DPD officer Cat Lafitte 8642 as a reminder to citizens and officers alike that we are a community.
Supplies provided by the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, the Dallas Derby Devils, and all the awesome folks who donated their hard earned money

Pillar in the Dallas Art Park painted by Cat Laffite

Pillar in the Dallas Art Park painted by Cat Laffite

The side of the pillar - Justice Shall Be Served

The side of the pillar – Justice Shall Be Served

The pillar contains some words of wisdom –

What I’ve Learned in 32 Years:

Thank a cop, a nurse, a teacher, a soldier, a firefighter – for working so hard for the benefit of everyone and never getting paid enough.

  • Hug your mama cuz I guarantee you were a turd when you were 2
  • Be yourself cuz those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter
  • If you’re unhappy with something, change it, if you can’t change it, accept it
  • Use your freakin turn signal, people!
  • Hate corrodes the vessel that carries it
  • If someone hurts you, do what you (legally) can to punish them then secretly thank them for making you a stronger person
  • Never eat yellow snow!
  • Read a book
  • Never fry bacon in the nude
  • Be nice to animals, old people and kids
  • If the shoe doesn’t fit, that aintcho shoe!
  • And most importantly….
What I've Learned in 32 Years

What I’ve Learned in 32 Years

Unfortunately, things did not work out well. The internet remembers everything.

A Dallas police officer who is under investigation after getting into a fight with a Plano hospital worker bragged about the incident on her Facebook page.
“I threw my boot at him, Jerry Springer style, and nailed him in the face,” Senior Cpl. Cat Lafitte wrote this week, several days after police were called to the hospital Feb. 9. “It broke his glasses and cut his face and bruised it up real good!”
—-from The Dallas Morning News

Cat Lafitte, Police Officer Fired for Brawling and Bragging About It, Refused Help, Cops Say

Growing

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
― Anaïs Nin

Andrew Rogers, Australia
Growing
1999
Frisco, Texas

You’ve got to work hard! There’s no substitute for hard work, it doesn’t happen by itself. I think about art seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I work really hard. That’s the only way you get the work done!
—-Andrew Rogers

Andrew Rogers, Growing, Frisco, Texas

Andrew Rogers, Growing, Frisco, Texas

“Dear God,” she prayed, “let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere – be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”
― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Andrew Rogers, Growing, Frisco, Texas

Andrew Rogers, Growing, Frisco, Texas

“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”
― Maya Angelou

“When a child first catches adults out — when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just — his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“He stood at the window of the empty cafe and watched the activites in the square and he said that it was good that God kept the truths of life from the young as they were starting out or else they’d have no heart to start at all.”
― Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye