Thrived Like an Advanced Species of Machine

“A new social type was being created by the apartment building, a cool, unemotional personality impervious to the psychological pressures of high-rise life, with minimal needs for privacy, who thrived like an advanced species of machine in the neutral atmosphere. This was the sort of resident who was content to do nothing but sit in his over-priced apartment, watch television with the sound turned down, and wait for his neighbours to make a mistake.”
― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Downtown Dallas, Texas



Oblique Strategy:
Short circuit (If eating peas improves virility, shovel them into your pants)

The city as mirrored crystal.

Here in the crystal city it is more unpleasant to be destroyed by gratification than by pain. The best things are its junk… as long as you understand what is junk. But the most dangerous of all is truth. A mirror can protect you from Medusa but the truth will stone you even in its reflection.

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A Month of Short Stories 2017, Day 18 – Feral by Christopher Moyer

Patricia Johanson, Sagitaria Platyphylla (Delta Duckpotato), Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.

Today’s story, for day 18 – Feral by Christopher Moyer

Read it online here:
Feral by Christopher Moyer

Our grandmother watches us some of the time. The rest of the time, we do what we want. At school, the adults asked a lot of questions about that, so we stopped going. We haven’t gone down to the school in weeks or maybe months, I don’t know—our watches stopped a long time ago, too, and after that we threw them in the creek down by the park just to watch them splash.

—-Christopher Moyer, Feral

I had always wanted to own a home on a creek lot. Our house technically is, though it is more of a ditch than a creek. At any rate, there is quite a cavalcade of critters parading by, other than the joggers and dog-walkers. If you sit in my back yard at dawn and sip a cup of coffee you will see the coyotes trotting back to their dens – I assume hidden in the clumps of trees along the fairways of the golf course. A family of beavers live under the road and sometimes can be seen on the jogging trail bridges at night. Rabbits, ducks, and possums are common, sometimes a fox will show up. There is a bobcat terrorizing the neighborhood – not much can be done.

Nature is never as far away as we think it is.

Today’s bit of flash fiction by Christopher Moyer reminds us, not only of the wild presence, but how easy it is to slip back… to lose our humanity… to become feral. Easy, and maybe not so bad.

Christopher Moyer:

The first time I bid on a freelance job to ghostwrite a doomsday survival guide, I was only asked one question: Did I have experience writing for middle-aged Republican men? I told the client that I had experience writing for a wide variety of ages and political affiliations, which was noncommittal enough to be true.

The client said, “Sounds good, bro.”

We were off to the races.
—From Confessions of a Former Apocalypse Survival Guide Writer, at Vice Motherboard

They don’t call it Duck Creek for nothing.

There Is Another City

“Irene is a name for a city in the distance, and if you approach, it changes. For those who pass it without entering, the city is one thing; it is another for those who are trapped by it and never leave. There is the city where you arrive for the first time; and there is another city which you leave never to return. Each deserves a different name; perhaps I have already spoken of Irene under other names; perhaps I have spoken only of Irene.

― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Arts District, Dallas, Texas

Arts District, Dallas, Texas

Tiny Cardboard City

“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”
― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Taken through the window of an architecture firm, downtown Dallas, Texas

Taken through the window of an architecture firm, downtown Dallas, Texas

Too Busy Watching Evening Television

“Why the ancient civilizations who built the place did not use the easier, nearby rocks remains a mystery. But the skills and knowledge on display at Stonehenge are not. The major phases of construction took a total of a few hundred years. Perhaps the preplanning took another hundred or so. You can build anything in half a millennium – I don’t care how far you choose to drag your bricks. Furthermore, the astronomy embodied in Stonehenge is not fundamentally deeper than what can be discovered with a stick in the ground.

Perhaps these ancient observatories perennially impress modern people because modern people have no idea how the Sun, Moon, or stars move. We are too busy watching evening television to care what’s going on in the sky. To us, a simple rock alignment based on cosmic patterns looks like an Einsteinian feat. But a truly mysterious civilization would be one that made no cultural or architectural reference to the sky at all.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

View down Elm Street from walkway, near Harwood.  Downtown Dallas, Texas

View down Elm Street from walkway, near Harwood.
Downtown Dallas, Texas

For awhile now I have been interested in the phenomenon of Dallashenge. This is when, one certain days of the year, the sun is aligned to rise or set directly on a line with one of the major canyon streets of downtown, either in the evening or in the morning.

A lot of people do photography in New York at Manhattanhenge, but few realize the same phenomenon occurs in other big cities.

You can use Suncalc to determine the henge dates. I’ve gone downtown a few times to shoot both the morning and evening henges.

Morning Dallashenge from the triple underpass in Dealey Plaza.

Morning Dallashenge from the triple underpass in Dealey Plaza.

Links to blog entries:

Test Shots for Dallashenge

Dallashenge Photographs

Test Shots for a Morning Dallashenge

Morning Dallashenge – maybe a couple days early

Two Days Later

When I first did this I had to look around for shot locations. One place I thought would be good was the pedestrian bridge over Elm Street – but at the time I wasn’t sure how to get into the thing or what the view would look like, so I opted for a street-level view.

Here’s a test shot I took that shows the pedestrian bridge.

Elm and Harwood Streets. I like this view. I'm not sure if the pedestrian bridge will ruin the shot. Also, the Lew Sterrett jail is at the end of the street and may block the sun's orb..

Elm and Harwood Streets. I like this view. I’m not sure if the pedestrian bridge will ruin the shot. Also, the Lew Sterrett jail is at the end of the street and may block the sun’s orb..

At any rate, the other day I went on a tour of some of Downtown Dallas’ pedestrian tunnels and bridges.

As part of the tour we passed through the pedestrian bridge – it’s easy to get to and even has a cool coffee shop, Stupid Good Coffee nearby.

As you can see from the photo I took (the first one in this entry) during the tour, the view from the walkway is pretty good. One problem though, is that the distant Lew Sterrett jail blocks the horizon, so the best shot might be a couple days later (or before… I’ll have to think about it).

Plus, the tunnel system is officially only open from six to six and the sun sets at about six forty five – so I’d have to overstay a bit. A tripod set up with a camera might be a defense – we’ll have to see.

The next evening dallashenge date looks to be around October 26, so I have some time to think about it.

With Cities, It Is As With Dreams

“With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”
― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Downtown Dallas from the Commerce Street Overlook (Please click on image for a larger version on Flickr)

Downtown Dallas from the Commerce Street Overlook
(Please click on image for a larger version on Flickr)