Blacksmith Shop and a Decorative Knot

Decorative Knot, made by a blacksmith at Frisco Heritage Museum, Frisco, Texas

Decorative Knot, made by a blacksmith at Frisco Heritage Museum, Frisco, Texas

Last Sunday I made the long drive up north to Frisco. A friend of mine had told me about an open house at the Frisco Heritage Museum and Village. All the historical buildings would be open to the public. It sounded like a bit of fun, so I was there.

As I walked out of the Railroad Station I heard a series of loud metallic clangs. I turned toward the sound and there was a shower of orange sparks from a healthy flame sprouting up in the darkness of a metal shed. I recognized these as the telltale signs of a Blacksmith at work.

I walked down there and settled in, talking to the smithy at work. He was forging square nails by heating and pounding iron rods. He took special pride in his work, talking about how he had placed in some recent blacksmithing contests. Someone asked him about taking lessons and he said that Brookhaven college has a number of blacksmithing courses. After a couple of nails, he said he was done, and went over to sit down. A younger man came into the shop and began to set up his work.

“That’s one guy that learned at Brookhaven,” the original smithy said.

I walked out to see the rest of the buildings on display – the church was especially cool. Then I returned to see what the new guy was doing.

“I’m making decorative knots,” he said. He was heating rods, then bending them into a series of small loops. Finally he’d cut the knot off… and start on another. It was mostly practice in heating, forging, and bending metal – but it was pretty interesting.

He cooled one knot off in a wooden bucket of water and handed it to me. “Here’s a souvenir,” he said.

For some reason, I really like the thing.

Blacksmith fire from coal and coke. You can see a knot heating in the lower left.

Blacksmith fire from coal and coke. You can see a knot heating in the lower left.

Hammering a heated knot.

Hammering a heated knot.

Hammering a heated knot.

Hammering a heated knot.

The blacksmiths sitting around, talking shop.

The blacksmiths sitting around, talking shop.

Coal and coke fire, Frisco, Texas.

Coal and coke fire, Frisco, Texas. They explained how if you put too many of those irons in there, you would lose the one you needed to work on – thus – “too many irons in the fire.”

Decorative Knot, made by a blacksmith at Frisco Heritage Museum, Frisco, Texas

Decorative Knot, made by a blacksmith at Frisco Heritage Museum, Frisco, Texas

Spokes and Seersucker

People from the Seersucker Ride at Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

People from the Seersucker Ride at Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

A tradition in Dallas in the bicycling community is the fall/winter Tweed Ride. Last December’s ride was a lot of fun, though bitterly cold. As a bookend to that ride, the great folks at Dallas Cycle Style organized a springtime/warm weather ride, and called it the Seersucker Ride. It looked like a blast.

But I needed something seersucker to wear. I am the most fashion-challenged person in the world – but I knew what seersucker is. The only reason I knew was because once, a few years back, I had actually looked it up after seeing this scene in Sophie’s Choice.

Right now we are as broke as broke can be, so I couldn’t spend any money on clothes. Also, I futzed and dutzed, as always, around and waited too long – so ebay was out of the question. I did a circuit of the various thrift stores and actually found some seersucker (mostly pants) here and there – but none of it came even close to fitting me. It appears that only undernourished men wear seersucker.

So I was left with a journey into the heart of the beast. I actually went to a mall. Other than a trip to NorthPark for the Nasher Exchange Sculpture (and I wasn’t going to buy anything) I haven’t been inside a mall in decades. Collin Creek Mall is only a tiny jump up the freeway from where I live. I remember driving there from Oak Cliff in 1981 when it first opened – it seemed like driving forever – and how shiny, lavish, and sumptuous the enormous multi-lobed two story shopping extravaganza seemed – like a brave new world. Now, not that long later, the mall is on its last legs, barely hanging on for dear life, coasting on past glories. To walk the corridors is borderline depressing.

I found a shirt that was seersucker-like on a clearance rack for four dollars. The only open checkout was in the shoe department where I had to wait behind a woman trying to get a discount because the pair she was looking at had a tiny blemish.

“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
—-Shelley

So I had my seersucker. On Saturday morning I packed my Xootr Swift bicycle with food, drink, and a blanket, put a fresh battery in my camera, and rode the DART train downtown to meet everyone at Klyde Warren Park.

My Xootr Swift bike with picnic supplies loaded in the pannier.

My Xootr Swift bike with picnic supplies loaded in the pannier.

The park was a hive of activity – S.E. Hinton was on her way to grace the presence of the Dallas Reads One Book celebration of The Outsiders. They gave us all paperback copies and took photos of everyone in period outfits reading the tome. We would like to have seen the author (and seen the movie they would show later) but we had a picnic to do so we all rode off across Uptown to Lee Park.

Posing with an S. E. Hinton paperback.

Posing with an S. E. Hinton paperback.

It was a beautiful spot – along Turtle Creek with a fountain in the center and a wave of purple/pink Azaleas blooming across the water. We parked the bikes, spread out the blankets, and unloaded the vittles – a veritable moveable feast. A volunteer had driven in to deliver items too bulky to bike – coolers of ice, extra water, a croquet set. Not content with pitiful portable picnic players, he brought in a generator, amp, and speakers and we had vintage music all proper – angel trumpets and devil trombones.

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Such a great day. The weather was warm with a bit of a breeze. A beautiful park with a lot of cool people. There is something about wearing silly clothing and riding together through a big city on ridiculous bicycles that is relaxing and disarming. Such fun.

There were a lot of photos taken – I tried not to spend too much time shooting, but everything and everybody around was too freakishly photogenic to resist. I have a nice collection I’ll post here for journal entries over the next few days.

Shooting photographs at the Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Shooting photographs at the Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

All good things must come to an end and we packed up and headed out. Three of us rode back downtown, cutting west on the Katy Trail which ends at the American Airlines Center. As we passed next to the building the Dallas Mavericks basketball playoff game ended, spilling an enormous throng of blue-T shirted fans out all around us – flowing like a rabid river as we worked our way through on our bicycles. It was surreal.

Luckily, the home team had won on a last second three point shot right before we arrived, so everyone was in a great mood. Everyone was yelling, “Vince Carter!, Vince Carter!”

It wouldn’t have been any fun to ride through that crowd if the home team had lost.

I rode back to Klyde Warren Park and rested for a bit. I knew the trains would be full of Maverick fans on their way home, plus I needed to decompress for a few minutes. Next to me a young couple sat playing chess – she was much better, but he liked to win, so he kept buying her wine until he prevailed. The inflatable movie screen for the showing of The Outsiders went up – but I didn’t want to stay downtown that long after dark, so I caught my train and went home.

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

THE STORY: The world’s greatest detective has seemingly reached the end of his remarkable career when a case presents itself that is too tempting to ignore: The King of Bohemia is about to be blackmailed by a notorious photograph, and the woman at the heart of this crime is the famous opera singer, Irene Adler. With his trusted companion, Doctor Watson, at his side, Sherlock Holmes pursues first the case, and then the affections of Miss Adler—and in doing so, marches right into the lair of his longtime adversary, that malevolent genius of crime: Professor Moriarty. In this spirited, fast-moving and thoroughly theatrical adaptation, Steven Dietz presents Holmes at the height of his powers—surrounded by all the elements that fans of his exploits have come to expect: danger, intrigue, wit, humor and surprise. “The game is afoot, Watson—and it is a dangerous one!”

As I have said before, I remember watching the enormous Borg Cube of the Wyly Theater going up in the shiny new Dallas Arts District and thinking, “What a cool place! Such a shame I’ll never be able to afford to go to a play there.”

The Wyly Theater.

The Wyly Theater.

I was wrong. By judicious actions and careful attention to the Internet – I have been able to find a series of bargains and go to a play down at the Wyly on a fairly regular basis. My most reliable source for affordable seats is the Dallas Theater Center’s Pay What You Can performances. As each play opens, the first performance is open to anyone and the price is what you think you can afford. I guess one way to look at it is that it’s a bargain admission to what really is a final dress rehearsal – but I have really enjoyed all the performances I’ve seen.

This time around it was Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. I logged in exactly at ten – when the tickets went on sale – and I’m glad I did. The show sold out in eight minutes. I managed to snag tickets for myself and a couple friends from my writing group.

The play was a lot of fun. It was nice to see a straight play – nothing special (although the moving sets were ingenious and effective) except a handful of actors standing out there delivering the classic Arthur Conan Doyle lines.

I won’t give away any secrets – although this isn’t so much a whodunit as much as it is a chess game between Holmes and his greatest enemy, Moriarty. The play is faithful, with a little bit of updating (a modern love story, a very strong female character, and an emphasis on Holmes’ drug use) to make it engaging to a 21st century audience, but it keeps the quaint style and innocent entertainment.

Opening night, there were a few hiccups. The opening was delayed by a few minutes with sound board problems, but the crowd entertained itself with the start of a wave. But all was forgiven and a lot of smiles came out at the end.

Now, the next play at the Wyly is Le Mis. I’ll have to have fast fingers, I’m sure it’ll sell out even faster.

What I learned this week, April 25, 2014

Bike rider on the DART train.

Bike rider on the DART train.

Yield to Wheels: DART reconfigures rail cars to better accommodate bikes, wheelchairs and more

This is a welcome upgrade. It is surprising how many bicycles you see on the DART trains now.

What’s frustrating is the number of able bodied people without bikes, luggage, or grocery carts, that you find sitting in the fold-down seats in the handicap or bicycle spots on the trains in the present format. They sit there, usually engrossed in their phones, blithley ignoring the growing crowd of people in wheelchairs, holding bags, or doing the “DART Dance” with their bicycle (The DART Dance is moving back and forth, standing in the open area of the train, as each stop opens on the left or right). The only way to fix that is to remove the seats.

train_animate


Right now, the way things are going – I can relate to this person….

This Guy Is Trying to Collect Every Single Copy of the Movie ‘Speed’ on VHS

Yeah, it’s like a radical dedication to uselessness.
Totally. I don’t give a shit whether what I do is practical or not; I just don’t want to perpetuate society’s shitty capitalism forever. If you see everything needs a use or an instrumental value as like part of a capitalistic worldview, then the World Speed Project is anti-that.


We Didn’t Believe In ‘Artisanal’ Toast, Until We Made Our Own

What the world needs now – a three dollar and fifty cent piece of toast.


Dallas is a canvas for change

Travelling Man - sculpture east of Downtown Dallas

Travelling Man – sculpture east of Downtown Dallas

How Highways Hurt Dallas

On a recent business trip to Dallas, I was shocked by how much concrete and how few people I saw. My first impression was that Dallas is a city stuck in an outmoded way of thinking about transportation. It was like my plane was a time machine that had taken me back to 1970, when everyone still thought that the way to fix congested highways was to build more and wider highways. Coming into town, I saw more concrete going down, from the DFW Connector Highway Construction Project north of the airport to the massive LBJ Express Project. I learned that about $15 billion is currently being spent on highways in North Texas, more than in any other region of the country. All the construction seemed bizarre because the area already seemed to have an unhealthy abundance of highways. This is not bragging material for the city; this should be embarrassing. Given what has been learned about highways in cities over the last 40 years, priorities could have been better placed elsewhere.


The 50 Best TV Shows Streaming on Netflix (2014)

You already know what #1 is, of course. Still, there are 49 more to discover – it could ruin your life if you wanted to let it.


Kristen Wiig, Alice Munro And Negative Space In Fiction

Director Liza Johnson on the Challenges of Adapting Alice Munro For “Hateship Loveship”

Hateship Loveship Departs From Alice Munro’s Iconic Story — But Still Does Her Proud


The 23 Best National Park Adventures – #10 Carlsbad Caverns

I have actually done this one. If you visit Carlsbad – be sure and sign up for the Slaughter Canyon Tour. You get to hike a very long half mile through some steep and intimidating scenery. A ranger then unlocks an iron gate and takes you on a tour of an undeveloped cave. There are no lights (a spare flashlight is required), no paths (you use ropes to get over a tough patch), no sound effects… only an enormous ancient beautiful cave.

They have been giving tours of the Slaughter Canyon Cave for decades, but you will feel like you are the first person to walk in there.


Cross-Post: A Reaction to DMN Editorial on 345

I-345 near downtown Dallas

I-345 near downtown Dallas

How to Build Another Uptown

This battle is not just about I-345. It is about a strategy. It is about duplicating as many times as we can the one success urban Dallas has—Uptown. It is about a city devoted more to residents than to commuters. Tearing down the aged hulk of I-345 is a first, small step. But it could be enough to tell the market that Dallas is finally about to assert itself as a real, honest-to-God city.


SORCERER, The Movie That Got Blown Up By STAR WARS

SORCERER is one of my favorites; one of the most tense and exciting films ever made. It is a shame that it never hit the big time – a victim of (as the article says) Star Wars fever, and an unfortunate mistake in titling (trying to tie in to The Exocist). See it if you get a chance.

Of course it is a remake of a classic French film, THE WAGES OF FEAR. It’s the rare example of the remake being as good as the original. I don’t know which version is better, they are very similar and completely different. THE WAGES OF FEAR is available streaming on Hulu plus.