Over 99 Billion Served

Over 99 Billion Served - but no more.

Over 99 Billion Served – but no more.

There is a joke in Dallas… it goes like this, “Whenever you ask someone for directions, they always start ‘Get on Beltline…’.” And it’s true.

I live a handful of short blocks north of Beltline, so I know that endless loop well. Less than a mile to the West, on Beltline, of course, is was a McDonald’s. I have been in that place exactly once, when we first moved in, before our internet and water was hooked up. I went in there for coffee and wifi.

Now when my kids were little, we went to McDonald’s (and various other fast-food emporiums) all the time. Not for the food, per se, but for the ball pits and climbing tunnels. My kids were connoisseurs of fast-food ball pits. They would sit around at home discussing the comparative merits of all the local McDonald’s vs. Burger King. They would arrive at a decision and off we would go. When driving long distances they would spot a unique climbing structure out the speeding windows and we would have to stop. Candy would walk to another place, any place, and get food – she could not stand McDonald’s… no matter how fun the ball pit was.

But the kids had outgrown all that before we moved here. Shame, because that McDonald’s had a really nice climbing structure in a huge glass enclosure out front. (Google Maps Streetview from before the demolition). At any rate, I had no reason to go there and had only been there that once.

Still, though, I drove or biked past it at least twice a day for years and years and it had blended into the daily background of my life.

Then, one day, coming home from work, it was gone. There was nothing there except a pile of rubble.

Plastic tunnels and ball pit netting, bulldozed and torn asunder.

Plastic tunnels and ball pit netting, bulldozed and torn asunder.

It was a shock. There were the plastic tunnels all bulldozed and torn asunder. It was like finding a body in the yard – like someone you knew slightly had died. Of course, the neighborhood email list went into a frenzy of indignation and fear – nobody knew what had happened.

Of course, this is Dallas (or at least a suburb), and nothing is allowed to rest for long. The rubble was gone in a couple days and already, concrete is being poured. I assume it will be another McDonald’s – probably bigger and better.

But I bet the food will be the same.

There is another Dallas joke. “There are only two seasons in Dallas, Football and Construction.”

Kids on the Pool

One of my favorite things to do in the city, the Patio Sessions, has started up again. These are small free concerts held on Thursday evenings, in front of the Winspear Opera House in the Arts District. I’ve been to a few of these and written about them before.

The performer sets up at the corner of a large rectangular reflecting pool. The water flows slowly over a field of perfectly level and even black stone – at a depth of maybe a quarter of an inch. The spectators sit on grassy areas, paved sections, or concrete steps around this pool to watch and listen. High overhead, giant aluminum louvers provide some shade from the sun before it falls below. There’s a pop-up bar, food trucks, and a new coffee pavilion. With the surrounding buildings glowing in the setting sun (there are five Pritzker Prize winning architects represented here) it is an amazingly picturesque spot.

The only downside is that expanse of wafer-thin water is a magnet for little kids. Now, I like kids as much as the next guy, but they are noisy and distracting. The pack of rugrats cavorting on the reflecting pool diverts attention from the music. Plus I am bothered by their parents that wander around with that smug, “look at my spawn” half-smile of pride. This would all be cool – except that there is a concert going on.

But, I will admit, they are pretty cute.

Kids on the reflecting pool at the Patio Sessions, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Kids on the reflecting pool at the Patio Sessions, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)