Not Giving a Damn

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn”
― Orson Welles

Neiman Marcus Window, Downtown Dallas, Texas

Window reflection, Dsquared2 Clothing, and the Dallas Eye.

Oblique Strategies: Don’t be frightened of cliches

I am not their target kind of customer. Even though I’ve lived in Dallas close to forty years now, and spent a lot of time downtown, I’ve only been in the big main fancy Neiman Marcus store a couple of times… and I only remember it once.

That was before I moved here – I was only visiting – so I must have been young. I went in with a friend that wanted to look at the fashions and I followed her. Right at the entryway we were waylaid by a couple of women demonstrating nail care products – some sort of abrasive sanding thing (to remove ridges) and a set of various strong-smelling types of polish. I was the only one without colored nails so they demonstrated on me. I stood as stoically as I could while they sanded the ridges off a couple of my nails and then put polish on them. A good-sized group of women gathered to watch and to ooh and aah at the miracle product. It wasn’t too bad… actually, it was kind of interesting. I was mostly glad that, for once, my hands were clean.

But I didn’t buy anything.

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What I learned this week, July 25, 2014

Love People, Not Pleasure

ABD AL-RAHMAN III was an emir and caliph of Córdoba in 10th-century Spain. He was an absolute ruler who lived in complete luxury. Here’s how he assessed his life:

“I have now reigned above 50 years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity.”

Fame, riches and pleasure beyond imagination. Sound great? He went on to write:

“I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.”


Bike Lanes on Custer Road

Bike Lanes on Custer Road

Ashley Haire On Making Dallas Bike-Friendly

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

7 Big Ways Cities Have Transformed Themselves for Bikes

Bike lane on Yale, near my house.

Bike lane on Yale, near my house.


Deep Ellum Brewing Company's Lineup

Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Lineup

Life as a Beer Geek: The Lessons I’ve Learned

The Bourbon Barrel Temptress, on a Bourbon Barrel

The Bourbon Barrel Temptress, on a Bourbon Barrel


Posing with an S. E. Hinton paperback.

Posing with an S. E. Hinton paperback.

10 CELEBS WHO BIKE IN STYLE

seersucker1_s


Two Shark Tacos on the left, and two Mystery (Iguana) tacos on the right.

Two Shark Tacos on the left, and two Mystery (Iguana) tacos on the right.

One of the Dos Equis Taco Hotesses

One of the Dos Equis Taco Hotesses

The Best in DFW: Where the tacos are crazy-good

Professional competition Tacos

Professional competition Tacos


Here’s an interesting article about a little movie that I always thought was great. I didn’t realize it had reached cult status and was so hard to find – I’ve seen it on cable several times.

“Jesus Loves Winners”: How “Drop Dead Gorgeous” Found Cult Success As A Flop


13 Useful Tools You Should Only Buy on the Cheap

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.

Fashion Shoot at the Farmer’s Market

I had plans this afternoon to meet a friend at the Dallas Farmer’s Market and shoot some photographs. For days I watched the weather and despaired that the cold and rain seemed to reign over North Texas. Sunday morning was cold, gray, and the water still fell. Looking at the forecast, though, they predicted that the precipitation would end precipitously at about two in the afternoon – so I decided to hold out hope and drove down there.

Sure enough, right at two the sun broke out. Within two hours there was not a cloud in the sky.

In a continuation of good omens, as I was driving down there, coming off of Good Latimer Freeway, I cut through a new urban condominium development and spotted someone doing a photo shoot on the sidewalk – either a fashion shoot or a set of senior pictures. There was a photographer, a model, a couple assistants off to the side, and a small collection of lights, diffusers, and reflectors.

I love taking pictures of other people’s photoshoots – like the one I stumbled across in Pirate Alley in the French Quarter. I guess it’s because I don’t have any models I can use – so I like to steal images from other people.

The problem with shooting in a condominium complex is that people keep walking by. Nobody seemed to notice anything.

I'm actually taking a photo of the STOP sign. The others just showed up by accident.

Pirate Alley Fashion Shoot

In the French Quarter, in New Orleans, there is a little alley, only one block long, between the Saint Louis Cathedral and the Old Spanish Governors Mansion, the Cabildo. It runs from Chartres Street at Jackson Square to Royal Street. The alley is intersected by Cabildo Alley and it continues past the Spanish Dungeon and then The Faulkner House, where he wrote his first novel.

It’s called Pirate Alley, or Pirate’s alley – nobody really knows how it came on that name, despite many legends.

Even though now I realize it is a famous spot – I first stumbled on it by accident trying to fight my way through the French Quarter Mardi Gras crowds. It is always a quiet little lane surprisingly isolated from the hub and the bub of the tourist crowds bursting in Jackson Square or the never ending party jostling the other French Quarter Streets. Whenever I’m in the quarter, I try to walk the Pirate Alley.

The other day I was walking and riding the streetcars around the city taking some photographs. I was walking from Canal through the quarter to Frenchman Street and cut through the alley to Jackson Square. I found a photographer and his assistant setting up lights while a few feet down a model was arranging a pile of clothes. They were doing a fashion shoot.

I didn’t stop – I had miles to go before I sleep – but a while later, I looped back through Jackson Square and took a look to see if the fashion shoot was still on.

It was.

(click to enlarge)

Without the portable lights they had, Pirate Alley was a tough place for me to shoot the people doing the shoot. Though a beautiful spot it has bad, uneven light.

I popped my head in and snapped a couple shots. I didn’t take the time it takes to make a good shot – I was more than a little self-conscious – they kept looking at me – I guess my big camera makes me look like a professional photographer (lack of skill isn’t obvious from the outside). I don’t know what the rules of courtesy are when shooting someone shooting someone. Of course, there isn’t any more pubic spot than Pirate Alley – so if you choose that as your location, you get what you get.