The Life of a Ghost

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

(click to enlarge)
Frank Campagna mural, Hickory Street, Dallas, Texas

I took the above photo(s) during the last Hidden Art Bicycle Tour. The mural is along Hickory Street, between The Cedars and Fair Park. Frank Campagna painted it – he has done a series of murals in this spot. It’s always sad to see an old one go – but that’s the transient nature of murals – they come and then they go.

Obviously, I took two shots, one with cyclists, one without – and layered them in Photoshop.

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My 1986 Cannondale and Fergie

“Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.”
― Woody Allen

My 30 year old touring bike in The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

On the hidden art bicycle tour, everyone else was looking at a mural behind a building, but I found this ad for a new album. Art is where you find it.

Robots on the Walls

“You mean old books?”
“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”
“How could there have been stories about space travel before –”
“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Hickory and Trunk Streets, Dallas, Texas

On our Hidden Art Bicycle Ride today we came across a building with robots painted on it. A very large building, but one on a street you don’t drive on very often. I had been there before, many times, on a bicycle, but the robots weren’t there. It was cool to see.

That Time of Year Again

Trinity River in the Fall, December, three years ago
Dallas, Texas

“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
― Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot

Riding my bicycle to the Dallas Farmer’s Market from the DART train station for September’s Critical Mass bike ride I felt a sensation as the breeze blew by me. For a minute, I was confused, “What is this?” I knew I had felt it before, but I didn’t remember it right away. Then, it popped into my mind.

I was cold.

It has been so long, I didn’t remember what it felt like to be cold.

Now this is the end of September/beginning of October… in Texas that’s really the tail end of summer, so it shouldn’t… I shouldn’t be cold. But it has been raining for days, that cold fall rain, leaving the air, if not frigid, at least comfortably cool.

Nothing to worry about, the Texas sun will fight through the cloud remnants and warm things up a time or two before the fall really arrives.

Bluetooth Keyboard and iPhone – another portable way to write stuff.

I’m struggling to get all my vacation time taken before the rapidly approaching end of the year – so I took a few hours off and came downtown a bit early. In my eternal quest for a method of writing that I can carry on my bicycle, I’m using this Bluetooth keyboard – torn out of an iPad case that I bought at a church rummage sale for six bucks. It has a slot that I can drop my phone in and I use an app called Compo to type into. Once I’m done I’ll email what I write to myself.

Fall Colors, November, three years ago
University of Texas at Dallas
Richardson, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Standing on the Pedals

“Likewise—now don’t laugh—cars and trucks should view the bike lanes as if they are sacrosanct. A driver would never think of riding up on a sidewalk. Most drivers, anyway. Hell, there are strollers and little old ladies up there! It would be unthinkable, except in action movies. A driver would get a serious fine or maybe even get locked up. Everyone around would wonder who that asshole was. Well, bike lanes should be treated the same way. You wouldn’t park your car or pull over for a stop on the sidewalk, would you? Well then, don’t park in the bike lanes either—that forces cyclists into traffic where poor little meat puppets don’t stand a chance.”
― David Byrne, Bicycle Diaries

New Orleans

Best Banh Mi In A Garland Parking Lot

A while back, I read an article from the Dallas Observer called, “Two of Texas’ Best Vietnamese Sandwich Shops Share a Garland Parking Lot.” It told the story of Quoc Bao Bakery and Saigon Deli.

From the story:

Two of the best banh mi shops in the region — arguably two of the best banh mi shops in the United States — make their homes in Garland, where they stare each other down across a shared parking lot. Just one suburban stretch of asphalt apart, Quoc Bao Bakery and Saigon Deli compete for the title of best banh mi in metro Dallas.

But I wanted to know: Which one is better?

The answer is not so simple, of course. Quoc Bao and Saigon Deli are equally great but for different reasons, and any diner’s preference will depend on taste. It all boils down to the fundamental question which professors in Dijon-stained tweed jackets ask on the first day of Sandwich Philosophy 101: Which is more important to the sandwich, really great bread or really great filling?

A quick check of the map confirmed what I had already suspected – the aforementioned parking lot was at Jupiter and Walnut – three miles of residential streets including two miles of dedicated bike lanes. Perfect bicycle riding distance.

Now I am already a fan of banh mi and already have two go-to spots. One is the branch of Lee’s Sandwiches in Cali Saigon at Jupiter and Beltline – a half-mile from my house. The other is the Nammi Food truck (which now has a brick-n-mortar location in the Dallas Farmer’s Market). But hey, how am I going to turn down “The Best?”

So I rigged my folding bike for hot summer riding (the temperature was flirting with triple digits) which means I filled a half-gallon Nalgene bottle with ice and water, enclosed it in an insulated cooler that fit it tightly, and clipped it to the crossrack on the back of the bike.

Despite the heat, the ride down wasn’t unpleasant at all. I had been tracking all my rides with a phone app and keeping my average miles on a spreadsheet I devised. However, recently, I have been studying a short book The Bicycle Effect: Cycling as Meditation by Juan Carlos Kreimer. It has me thinking more and more of cycling as a mindfulness exercise as well as a means of transportation. I have embraced being the world’s slowest cyclist and putting aside goals of distance and speed – other than the obvious need to make sure it is possible to get where I want to go.

I chose Saigon Deli for my first visit, for no particular reason. Will have to go for the bread at Quoc Bao Bakery next time.

Banh Mi sandwich, Mango Smoothie, and Bicycle Helmet at Saigon Deli, Garland, Texas

Sandwich Menu at Saigon Deli, Garland, Texas

The store was bright, cheery, and clean. I ordered a #1 combination sandwich ($3.50) and a Mango Smoothie (also $3.50). It was very good. Best in the world? Best in Garland? Best in the parking lot?

We’ll see. It was worth the bike ride in the heat though, and that’s all that’s important.

What I learned this week, August 12, 2017

 

The Brutal Saga of One Extremely Evil Railroad Crossing


 

That’s part of what motivated Cherry and company to conduct what they call the nation’s first “empirical analysis of rail-grade crossings and single-bicycle crashes.” To them, the problem wasn’t with the cyclists. It was with the roadway design and the fact nobody knows, scientifically speaking, the best way to bike over railroad tracks.

This footage is amazing and very, very hard to watch. It is beyond my imagination that a city could put in a dedicated bike lane that includes a railroad crossing at an angle of less than 30 degrees, and then take so long to try and correct it. Imagine someone building a road that wrecks a good percentage of the cars that drove on it. It would be on the national news.

Nobody gives a damn.


 

Restaurant Workers Reveal Their Personal Food Hacks And Tips


 


 

Brian Eno Explains the Loss of Humanity in Modern Music


 

In music, as in film, we have reached a point where every element of every composition can be fully produced and automated by computers. This is a breakthrough that allows producers with little or no musical training the ability to rapidly turn out hits. It also allows talented musicians without access to expensive equipment to record their music with little more than their laptops. But the ease of digital recording technology has encouraged producers, musicians, and engineers at all levels to smooth out every rough edge and correct every mistake, even in recordings of real humans playing old-fashioned analogue instruments. After all, if you could make the drummer play in perfect time every measure, the singer hit every note on key, or the guitarist play every note perfectly, why wouldn’t you?

One answer comes in a succinct quotation from Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, which Ted Mills referenced in a recent post here on Miles Davis: “Honor Your Mistakes as a Hidden Intention.” (The advice is similar to that Davis gave to Herbie Hancock, “There are no mistakes, just chances to improvise.”) In the short clip at the top, Eno elaborates in the context of digital production, saying “the temptation of the technology is to smooth everything out.”

The man is a genius.


To avoid traffic, this guy swims to work

Munich, Germany resident Benjamin David hated sitting in traffic on his way to his job at a beer garden. So instead of hopping in a car or on a bike, he now puts on a wetsuit and jumps into the River Isar for his daily commute.

This guy is my new hero – I whine so much about riding my bike to work… and this guy swims.

Not only that, but he works in a Munich beer garden.


 

Dining in a time machine: Couple tours Dallas eateries that have made it for four decades


 

I moved to Dallas in 1981 – the restaurants I fondly remember from that time that are still open include Campisi’s, The Grape, Spaghetti Warehouse, and, especially, Snuffer’s.


 

I Ride KC


 

In this blog, the author sets out to ride every street in Kansas City. What an interesting quest. I don’t think it would be possible to ride every street in Dallas, but it would be fairly straightforward to ride all the residential streets in Richardson. Something to think about.


Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture

Returning to the American cultural values of the 1950s — thrift, gratitude, temperance, continence, among others — would “significantly reduce society’s pathologies,” says Penn Law School professor Amy Wax in an op-ed published Thursday on Philly.com and co-written with Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego School of Law.

 

Not all cultures are created equal’ says Penn Law professor in op-ed


 

This very interesting and needed op-ed will either create a shit-storm of argument… or, more likely, be completely ignored.

Penn Prof Faces Backlash for Saying “Not All Cultures Are Created Equal


This week’s short film….