Beer and Batuman

“I found myself remembering the day in kindergarten when the teachers showed us Dumbo, and I realized for the first time that all the kids in the class, even the bullies, rooted for Dumbo, against Dumbo’s tormentors. Invariably they laughed and cheered, both when Dumbo succeeded and when bad things happened to his enemies. But they’re you, I thought to myself. How did they not know? They didn’t know. It was astounding, an astounding truth. Everyone thought they were Dumbo.”
― Elif Batuman, The Idiot

The Idiot, by Elif Batuman

Oblique Strategy: You are an engineer

In my struggle to live life outwardly, I spotted an event on Facebook that looked interesting. There was going to be a Book Club discussion at The Wild Detectives in Bishop Arts. I love that place – named after a Roberto Bolaño novel – it has a carefully curated collection of books, coffee and beer. What else do you need? On the weekends, they turn the wifi off – so people will be forced to talk to each other.

What could be better than to meet in a place like that and talk about a book?

The selected tome was The Idiot by Elif Batuman. The book is a bildungsroman about a ninteen-year-old woman attending her first year at Harvard.

I only had a little over a week before the meeting so I set up a spreadsheet with the number of pages per day I had to read. I have a terrible confession to make. I had a nice heavy hardback copy and the Kindle version. I never picked up the physical book. The new Paperwhite is simply too good.

I’m sorry.

The book was very interesting. Terribly well-written, it was unique in that the protagonist, Selin, was the most passive main character I have ever read in a novel. She drifts along, only slightly buffeted by life. Reading about her, I had the image of a person sliding down a featureless sheet of ice, silently observing the scenery go by (in very great and subtle detail).

So my feelings on the novel were mixed. It was interesting in that this woman’s life in her freshman year was incredibly different than mine (in a bildungsroman you can’t help but compare the protagonists experiences to your own) – for example: sex, drugs, and rock and roll make no significant appearance in her life at all.

One interesting aspect of the novel is that it takes place at the very beginning of the internet age: Selin is confused at first by this email thing – until she embraces it and has the most significant relationship with a slow email conversation with someone she met in Russian class.

The Wild Detectives is way across town from my ‘hood and I fought through the traffic after work, arriving early enough for a preliminary beer (Texas Ale Project‘s Fire Ant Funeral – if you are interested).

I really enjoyed the discussion. We started talking about the cover (I never even noticed there was a rock on the cover). Talking about the email, someone brought up that it was like letter writing in the time of classic Russian Novels (like Dostoevsky’s own version of The Idiot) people would write letters to each other, the distance and time separating the two adding a surreal aspect to a relationship.

A very nice way to wile away an evening.

The next novel we will discuss is The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet. I bought a hardback copy at the bookstore – I’ll avoid temptation and not buy the Kindle version. We won’t meet until January, so I won’t need a spreadsheet to egg on the pages.

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Old Fashions

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”
—- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Four Corners Brewery
The Cedars
Dallas, Texas

Oblique Strategy: Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities

A young millennial couple – they live in Uptown, of course. Took an Uber to where I was ( I rode the train and then walked… should have brought my bike).

They seem nice enough.

When I was their age, we were into patched jeans. You would buy a pair of jeans and then sandpaper them until they had the proper holes. The patches were cut from old pairs of jeans and had to be hand-stitched, with big crude looping sutures in a contrasting color of heavy thread, usually yellow. I guess it was all a throw-back… and homage to our simpler ancestors, who lived in a simpler time. Iron-on patches were, of course, no good. I couldn’t sew worth beans, and my stitching was wildly uneven… which was perfect.

I Lift My Gaze

All of a sudden, as if a surgical hand of destiny had operated on a long-standing blindness with immediate and sensational results, I lift my gaze from my anonymous life to the clear recognition of how I live. And I see that everything I’ve done, thought or been is a species of delusion or madness. I’m amazed by what I managed not to see. I marvel at all that I was and that I now see I’m not.
—-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Dallas, Texas

Oblique Strategy: Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element

I sit there with my camera ready to raise and shoot… waiting for the woman to take another sip of beer. Sitting there waiting with my weapon in my hand, ready to raise and shoot, like a big game hunter… or more like a little kid with a BB gun waiting on a sparrow to land within range.

Bowls & Tacos

“Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.”
― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Bowls and Tacos, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

I was particularly looking forward to the last stop on this edition of the (always fun) bi-annual Friends of Santa Fe Trail Pub Ride. We would be ending up at the (relatively new) spot in Deep Ellum, Bowls & Tacos. This is a spot set up by the fine folks behind another of my favorite spots on the other end of Deep Ellum on Main Street, Braindead Brewing. I had heard good things and was suffering from a hankerin’ to get down there and try it out.

So today, a group of us Rode the Santa Fe Trail (of course) then visited Local Hub Bicycle Company and Deep Ellum Brewing, before pulling into Bowls & Tacos. It’s in a converted gas station on the East End of Deep Ellum and we appreciated their ample and well-thought-out bicycle parking.

Their menu consists of two things, obviously, Poke Bowls and Tacos. As is my habit when I am hungry, I went with the first item on the menu, The Classic Poke Bowl, with: Ahi Tuna, Seaweed Salad, Sweet Onion, Ginger Soy, Basil, Masago, Crispy Spam, Sesame Seed, Avocado Wasabi, and Nori.

Crispy Spam!

It was so good I think it will be a long time before I get over to the taco side of the menu.

Not surprisingly, their craft beer selection is excellent and heavy on Braindead Brewery products – I went with their Red.

Poke Bowl and Braindead Red beer at Bowls & Tacos, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

It was all excellent and I will be riding my bike back again. Soon. Want to try some of the other Poke Bowls. Maybe even a Taco.

The evidence of a good afternoon at Bowls & Tacos, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

A Fountain of Taps

I love creeks and the music they make.
And rills, in glades and meadows, before
they have a chance to become creeks.
I may even love them best of all
for their secrecy. I almost forgot
to say something about the source!
Can anything be more wonderful than a spring?
—-Raymond Carver, Where Water Comes Together with Other Water

The Barley House,
Dallas, Texas