What I learned this week, July 7, 2014

US bike boom strongest with people over 55 (not hipsters)



ride2

Community Beer Co. wants you to name its newest brew

Riding up outside Community Brewing in the Dallas Design District

Riding up outside Community Brewing in the Dallas Design District


Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism


Want to empower African American kids? Give them bikes


Photographer Shows Proof of Shocking Similarities In Human Templates Between Complete Strangers


In college, we managed to score a keg of beer that had been left behind from a Fraternity Party in a cafeteria cooler. It has sat there for well over a year. We threw a big party, tapped the keg, and realized it had gone bad.
“What are we going to do?” my friend asked, “The beer is bad and all these people are coming over.”

“I know,” I said, “Let’s tell everybody it’s Lone Star.”

People would complain about the beer and I’d tell them it was Lone Star – they would nod knowingly and keep drinking.

11 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT LONE STAR BEER



Bicycle Second Line New Orleans, Louisiana

Bicycle Second Line
New Orleans, Louisiana

What’s the worst thing about cycling? Other cyclists


clarinet1

The Politics of Sitting Alone

Kaboom Town

Tonight there was a bicycle ride scheduled to the Kaboom Town fireworks display in Addison.

Everybody told me, “Don’t go to Kaboom Town – it’s too crowded and the traffic is too bad.”

But you see, on a bicycle, you can sort of run around the traffic and the ride organizers had arranged to have a party on the third floor of a parking garage not too far from the show. It was a fundraiser for a French club or something – and for a reasonable donation there would be food and beverage. Sounded like a plan.

Everybody met up at a local taco place, gathered together, and rode off through the neighborhoods. It was a slow ride – and an easy five miles or so. The party was fun and the fireworks were pretty impressive.

There was an acrobatic airshow from Addison airport highlighted by someone going up after dark in an ultralight covered in fireworks and shooting roman candles off into the air. The only way that could have been better is if they had a group of them shooting at each other. Maybe next year.

The ride back in the dark was a little hairy with all the impatient traffic. There isn’t much you can do other than ride in a group and take a lane. Someone yelled at us – which is a little aggravating – I’m sure we slowed him up a good seven seconds in his driving rush (after sitting stopped in traffic for an hour) home. I guess it can’t really be a real bike ride unless someone yells at you.

Bikes lining up at Torchy's Tacos - ready for the ride to Kaboom Town.

Bikes lining up at Torchy’s Tacos – ready for the ride to Kaboom Town.

Party in the parking garage.

Party in the parking garage.

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Fireworks from Reunion Tower

My old commuter bicycle with Reunion Tower in the background

My old commuter bicycle with Reunion Tower in the background
(click to enlarge)

I remember the first time I saw it – in 1979 (it was only a year old) and driving from Kansas to Padre Island. We took the I35 Route through Dallas (instead of I35W through Fort Worth) and there was Reunion Tower, looming up next to the highway. Unexpected, it was pretty impressive.

Not long after, I saw the tower in a little seen science fiction film on PBS – The Lathe of Heaven. Reunion Tower was part of an enormous “dream machine” that warped reality. Then, after I moved here – every now and then I’d take people up to the bar in the ball. The view from up there is pretty cool.

Now they have rebuilt and remodeled the Observation Deck on the tower. After I drove my bike downtown and watched the video show on the side of the Omni Hotel, I moved over to watch the fireworks show that was supposed to go down. I chatted with the photographers, cops, and general gawkers up there – nobody knew any details. We all assumed the fireworks would be fired from the big empty field that sits where Reunion Arena used to be.

Finally, the show started. The fireworks were fired directly from the tower itself. It was amazing – probably the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen.

I had my camera set up on a tripod. I stood there with the infrared remote, clicking the shutter open and closed. Here’s what came up.

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Fireworks from Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Nick crossing home plate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. They let the kids run the bases after an afternoon game – we had to wait for hours for his turn. This would have been right after the Ballpark opened, probably 1995. It’s hard to believe he’s a junior in college now.

A few weeks ago I won a pair of Ranger tickets in a raffle. They weren’t particularly expensive seats – only ten dollars each – but something won is always something good. Still, the games were on a Friday night – that’s a long drive after work, and the horrible Texas heat is upon us… so I considered giving the tickets away.

But it turned out that Nick was flying into town the afternoon before the game, so I was glad to hang on to them. There is nothing better than going to a baseball game with your son.

Baseball is a time machine. Baseball exists outside of the rest of reality and to enter a baseball stadium is to connect with every other time you have been to a baseball game.

When we walked in I thought of the first major league games I had attended – in Kansas City while I was in college. I thought of the old Ranger Ballpark – the crappy old one that was a little bit to the north of Rangers Ballpark. Since I was with Nick, I remembered taking him as a toddler to the old ballpark – he immediately began to throw ketchup coated french fries over the railing onto the crowd below. We had to leave before the second inning.

I remembered the times we would take the kids to games. We would buy really inexpensive bench seats out in the outfield, right next to the opposing team’s bullpen. Nick and Lee would talk to the pitchers through the wire mesh. Some would give them pitching hints. Some gave them souvenir balls.

Nick talked about driving back from school in North Carolina to see a World’s Series game at the Ballpark. As a twenty-odd year Ranger fan I never thought I’d see a World’s Series played here (now I want to see them win one).

All the ballgames I had been to or played in swirled in my mind, decades and decades worth. The ballpark is fancier than it used to be, the scoreboards are colorful, stunning, electronic (I remember seeing a single-A game in Charleston, West Virginia where the “Dot Race” was three kids racing behind the outfield fence with brightly-colored wooden cutout horses atop long poles), and now the food choices are much more varied and tasty (and expensive) – but the game is the same. The bat, the ball, the three bases exactly the same distance apart.

It is a connection between people and between times and between space. It is baseball. I had not been to a game in a couple years… I almost forgot.

One thing I always say is that baseball is the only sporting event that you can enjoy when your team loses. For most of the night, that looked like what was what was going to happen. I was resigned to the loss and simply soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying hanging out. Oakland was up two to nothing until the eighth inning and the Rangers loaded the bases. There were two outs though, so not much hope.

But, wonder of wonders, a run walked in, and then Craig Gentry hit a bases-loaded, three run triple to give the good guys the win. A bases-loaded triple! Arguably the most exciting play in the game. The sell-out crowd went nuts. The radio announcers on the way home said the Baseball Gods were smiling on the Rangers tonight.

Then, after the game, they had a fireworks show. It was very nice – I’m not sure, but I think this was the first time I’ve seen those really cool smiley-face star shells – impressive.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, and somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout.

And sometimes – not often, but sometimes, there is joy in Mudville.

The view from the cheap seats. This is actually a really good place to sit. It’s high up, but you get a view of the game you don’t see on television – the placement of the fielders, the way a double play moves. I had no complaints.

One of the things I like best about Rangers Ballpark is the ample terrace around the upper level. Even on a hot summer evening there is a nice breeze at this altitude and it’s a great place to walk out and hang for a few minutes while the other team is batting.

If you look over the edge of the terrace on the first-base side you have an imposing view across the parking lots of the Death Star – where the Dallas Cowboys play. A photograph does not convey the horrible gigantic-ness of this monstrosity.

Off the third-base side are the roller coasters of Six Flags Over Texas.

The sun sets over the parking lots from the terrace of the Ballpark.

I couldn’t believe it… during a slow part of the game the crowd actually started doing the wave. About three decades too late in my opinion. Even the big main scoreboard didn’t approve.