The Winter’s Tale

“Though I am not naturally honest, I am sometimes so by chance.”
― William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

Dallas Theater Center
Wyly Theater
Dallas, Texas

A couple weeks ago, I received an email notification of tickets being on sale for Shakespear’s The Winter’s Tale at the Wyly in the Dallas Arts District. I am always up for a play at the Wyly so I clicked in. They were almost all gone, but I found two seats together for a Sunday Matinee performance. When I checked out, I discovered that the play was free… better still.

When the Wyly was built I was amazed by the architecture and unique coolness of the venue, but I thought to myself, “Shame I’m poor – I’ll never be able to actually see anything there.”

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

I was wrong. Between the “pay what you can” dates (essentially being able to attend a final dress rehearsal) and other special performances I am able to go a few times a year without breaking the bank.

This free performance was put on by The Public Works and was a mix of professional and volunteer actors. I knew nothing about it and The Winter’s Tale was one of the few Shakespeare plays I’ve never seen. So I was excited. It turns out that my son would be up for the weekend, so we decided that he and I would take the DART train downtown, go to the play, and meet up with Candy afterward.

The play was fun. The trained actors were easy to spot – but they were good enough to carry the night (or afternoon). The play had music added – music of every imaginable genre and style – from hoe-down country, to a Mariachi Band, to a New Orleans Second Line, and more. The only performance that seemed a bit too out there was a number by the Dallas Maverick Dancers in their cheerleader outfits. That was a bit strange – but still entertaining.

I had never been to the Wyly for a matinee. At the end of a play, the outer curtains are raised, exposing the outer wall of the Borg-like metal cube. At night this is no big deal, but in the afternoon the sun streamed in, making the top of the building seem to float in the sky.

Nick and I walked outside and started to walk to Deep Ellum, where we would meet Candy. It was about a mile and a half – doable, but a long walk in the heat.

But, there on the corner, was two Lime rental electric scooters. After the lunacy of the invasion of the rental bikes, Dallas has now picked up on the dockless scooter craze – they are all over downtown and Deep Ellum – at certain times there are more people on scooters than in cars.

Nick and I grinned, loaded the apps on our phones and unlocked the scooters. Being a Millenial, he was quicker at this and shot off down Ross. When mine beeped and lit up I thought, “Better go into this parking lot here and practice for a minute.” To the best of my memory I have never been on a scooter in my life – let alone an electric one. But my son was already moving away and I decided, what the hell, and hopped on, kicked twice and pressed the GO button.

We sped down Ross (the scooters go… what? maybe 15 miles per hour, but it feels really fast) and the light was green with no traffic so we turned down Good Latimer towards Deep Ellum. It was a blast. At the end of the block was a big red light and beyond that were the busy lanes of the Highway 75 frontage and the DART train tracks.

And I realized I had no idea how to stop the scooter.

“How do I stop?!” I yelled, while I flailed around.

“On the left!” shouted Nick.

I remembered seeing scooters with brakes in the rear and fished around with my back foot – nothing. Meanwhile, I tried steering back and forth, then dragging a foot. I was slowing, but not fast enough. As I went by, Nick reached out and grabbed me, causing me to skid off the road into the grassy area bordering the train tracks. I stopped and didn’t fall, though it was plenty scary.

I looked at the scooter and, sure enough, there was a brake lever on the left handlebar. I had been so engrossed and then so panicked, I never saw it.

The rest of the ride was easy – a hand brake is a really good idea. We dropped our scooters in front of Braindead and before we were through the door someone else rented them and sped off. We ate at Monkey King and then stopped off at Armoury D.E. (one of my favorite spots – great craft cocktails) and The Anvil Pub. It was only a block or two of walking, but Nick kept renting scooters and going around the block. He thought it was great. They only cost a couple bucks for a short trip.

I never could figure out why I would ride a rental bike in Dallas – I have my own bikes (though I enjoyed riding one in New Orleans) but those scooters are another thing. They are actually a replacement for walking. If you have more than a couple blocks (but less than a couple miles) to cover, especially in the heat, they are a great option.

The next day, the news was covering the story that a young man had died on a scooter in East Dallas over the same weekend (though the story is a bit weird). With this many people riding these, there are sure to be more accidents.

If I was to ride one on a regular basis, say on a commute to work, I would definitely wear a helmet (when you rent one, you agree to wear a helmet, but I’ve never seen anyone actually with head protection).

This is a brave new world, that has such people in it.

“Exit, pursued by a bear.”
― William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

Being Crazy About a Woman Like Her’s Always the Right Thing To Do

“Is growin’ up always miserable?” Sonny asked. “Nobody seems to enjoy it much.”
“Oh, it ain’t necessarily misearble,” Sam replied. “About eighty percent of the time, I guess.”
They were silent again, Sam the Lion thinking of the lovely, spritely girl he had once led into the water, right there, where they were sitting.
“We ought to go to a real fishin’ tank next year,” Sam said finally. “It don’t do to think about things like that too much. If she were here now I’d probably be crazy again in about five minutes. Ain’t that ridiculous?”
A half-hour later, when they had gathered up the gear and were on the way to town, he answered his own question. “It ain’t really, ” he said. “Being crazy about a woman like her’s always the right thing to do. Being a decrepit old bag of bones is what’s ridiculous.”
― Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show

Denton, Texas

Denton, Texas

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

During intermission I was talking to a guy about my age standing in our row at the Wyly – he was standing because the saxophone player was sitting in his seat and refusing to budge until the second act started and I was standing to be polite to him. We were wondering about when The Rocky Horror Show premiered in London – we guessed 1974, and were off by a year (it was born in 1973). The more well-known movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show was made in 1975.

The film famously (and truth be told, deservedly) bombed at the box office upon it initial, conventional release. I saw it about a year later, late ’76 or early ’77, at a special showing at college. It hadn’t hit its big, cult status yet – but it was on the cusp and there was a lot of buzz about it. I barely remember seeing it for the first time – the projection was bad and the sound was worse – it didn’t make much of an impression.

That changed soon enough. I was the right age to fall into the habit of going to midnight movie showings and saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show maybe fifty times. It began to be a habit, like watching the six o’clock news after work.

Then, in the early eighties, I saw a stage production here in Dallas in the West End. That production was specifically designed to mirror the movie as much as possible. It was in a small theater and for one show I was able to get front-row seats (I saw it twice). Dr. Frankenfurter sat in my lap and sang a song – I remember his leather jacket reeked.

The live play was a blast – especially in a small venue. We actually were able to go to a bar with the cast afterward.

I’ve always said that live is the way to see it.

So a while back I was excited to see that the Dallas Theater Center was doing a production of The Rocky Horror Show at the Wyly – and we bought tickets for tonight.

Wow, what a lot of fun!

One nice thing was that they weren’t afraid to stray from the familiar film tropes. Rocky, for example had dark hair. The actor playing Dr. Frankenfurter had the good sense to not channel Tim Curry’s iconic performance and to make the good doctor his own. He was kind of a Texas Frankenfurter… maybe a little, maybe – a bit different at any rate. But really, really good.

The show was not afraid to be quite a bit raunchier that the film. For example (I’ll try to avoid overt spoilers) there is one quick scene involving the Doctor, Brad Majors, a hand-powered egg beater, and the line, “Well, we just lost the Baptists.”

The best thing about the show was the pure action – especially of the first act. There is so much going on – the music is underrated and comes across powerfully live – with dancing, costumes, lights, and rolls of toilet paper being flung from the crowd through the flashing lights like a shower of tissue comets. At the intermission a woman sitting next to me stumbled around a little dizzy, “Oh, I’m having a fangirl moment,” she said.

The Wyly is a perfect venue for this – the flexible space was arranged so that there was no clear demarcation between audience and stage – the performers spent most of their time in the crowd and more than a few spectators ended up dancing with the stars.

Dallas Theater Center Wyly Theater Dallas, Texas

Dallas Theater Center
Wyly Theater
Dallas, Texas

So if you find yourself in Dallas in late September through mid October, see if you can get down to the Wyly for some slightly guilty fun. And if you are a devout Baptist… well, good luck with all that.

Year of the Rooster

Year of the Rooster Dallas Theater Center Upstart Productions

Year of the Rooster
Dallas Theater Center
Upstart Productions

I’ve been a fan of the Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly Theater ever since it first opened. I’ve seen a double handful of plays there, and enjoyed every one.

I was excited when I heard about the Center’s new initiative, the Elevator Project. This gives six local theater groups: African American Repertory Theater, Cara Mia Theatre Co., Dallas Actor’s Lab, DGDG: The Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, Second Thought Theatre and Upstart Productions – an opportunity to stage one play each in the Wyly over the next year.

These plays won’t be in the large main auditorium, but in smaller spaces on the sixth and ninth floors of the giant Borg-Cube like building. And yes, you do ride an elevator from the below-grade lobby to reach the shows.

Dallas Theater Center Wyly Theater Dallas, Texas

Dallas Theater Center
Wyly Theater
Dallas, Texas

I had seen one show, Red, in the ninth floor space (completely redone – you had no idea where you were – it felt like a New York artists’ studio). While it was running on the ninth floor, King Lear was going on downstairs.

The first production in the Elevator Series is done by Upstart Productions and is a work called Year of the Rooster. It is presented in the sixth-floor black box theater area – where I had never been. I wanted to go on one of the first nights, but work has been kicking my ass and I wasn’t able to get there until today, for a Sunday Matinee performance. I thought about riding my bike down there, but it was too hot (and ungodly humid) so I settled for a train ride.

I made a particular effort to not read anything about the play beforehand – to leave an element of surprise. I only knew that it involved at least one chicken.

The play was crackerjack. It was a harrowing tale of a struggling McDonald’s clerk, trying to keep his elderly mother supplied with stolen honey mustard packets without getting fired – who has only one chance at success, escape, and redemption – his fighting cock, Odysseus Rex.

The protagonist chicken is played by Joey Folsom as a spring-steel tight PED drugged bundle of avian rage and hate flashing a folding knife like it is his only hope in the world. Steph Garrett plays dual roles as an over-ambitious McDonald’s manager and as Odysseus Rex’s love interest – an overweight, cage-raised, soon-to-be-fried hen.

It’s not always a pleasant tale – full of salty language and Oklahoma doom. The fight scenes are exciting and a bit frightening in the small space of the sixth floor black box. In the end it’s an unforgettable entertainment – you can’t make an omelet without breaking a couple of eggs.

There are a few performances left – so if you are in the North Texas area, get your tickets before they are sold out.

The odd thing about a matinee performance is that you emerge from the darkness of the play into the unexpected and almost forgotten fiery light and withering heat of the late afternoon. The world is still there – though somehow always changed by the entertainment you have sat through. And that’s the mark of a good play – because of what you have seen – what you have lived through – you now see the world a little differently. You know something you didn’t before.

What I learned this week, August 01, 2014

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

Finally! Small, Local Theater Companies to Perform in the Dallas Arts District

Outlook grim for orbiting Russian zero-G sex geckos

Gecko in a Watering Can

Gecko in a Watering Can

Thank God – The world is saved!!!

All systems “go” as control restored to beleaguered sex gecko satellite

Amanda Popken on the Dallas Cycle Style Seersucker Ride

Amanda Popken on the Dallas Cycle Style Seersucker Ride

These 53 Colorized Photos From The Past Will Blow You Away.

Lawsuit Filed To Prove Happy Birthday Is In The Public Domain; Demands Warner Pay Back Millions Of License Fees

Happy Birthday remains the most profitable song ever. Every year, it is the song that earns the highest royalty rates, sent to Warner/Chappell Music (which makes millions per year from “licensing” the song). However, as we’ve been pointing out for years, the song is almost certainly in the public domain.

This Ultra-Foldable Commuter Bike Is Also Ultra-Spendy

A five thousand dollar Dahon folding bike… wow. I don’t feel so bad about the cash I spent on my Xootr.

Stock Xootr Swift - I only added the seat bag and bottle cage (click to enlarge)

Stock Xootr Swift – I only added the seat bag and bottle cage
(click to enlarge)

The basic fold on the Xootr Swift. It basically folds in half - and it only takes a few sconds. Not a tiny package - but small enough to make the bike more practical to transport or store.

The basic fold on the Xootr Swift. It basically folds in half – and it only takes a few sconds. Not a tiny package – but small enough to make the bike more practical to transport or store.

I drive a tiny car - a Toyota Matrix. I always liked it because I could fold the rear seats down and get a bike (barely) into the back of the car (never liked exterior bike racks).  I ways surprised at how small the Xootr Swift folded down. I was able to fit it easily in the small space behind the rear seat. Now I have a four-passenger car again.

I drive a tiny car – a Toyota Matrix. I always liked it because I could fold the rear seats down and get a bike (barely) into the back of the car (never liked exterior bike racks). I ways surprised at how small the Xootr Swift folded down. I was able to fit it easily in the small space behind the rear seat. Now I have a four-passenger car again.

My Xootr Swift bike with picnic supplies loaded in the pannier.

My Xootr Swift bike with picnic supplies loaded in the pannier.

10 Quotes from Tarantino-directed Films

Dallas Leaders Walked Arm-in-Arm with John Wiley Price in the Betrayal of Southern Dallas | Dallas Observer

Eggs Florentine at Smoke

Eggs Florentine at Smoke

The porch and entrance at Smoke

The porch and entrance at Smoke

A really useful list of local restaurants… tied to a map. Of course, there are plenty worthwhile that aren’t on here, but I’ve been to about half of them and they are all deserving.

The 38 Essential Dallas Restaurants, July 2014

Jimmy's Italian

Jimmy’s Italian

Meat Case - Italian Sausage and more

Meat Case at Jimmy’s – Italian Sausage and more

Babe's Chicken Dinner House

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

The odd fire pit outside at Babe's Chicken Dinner House in Carrollton, Texas.

The odd fire pit outside at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Carrollton, Texas.

Magnolia Hotel (Pegasus) and Joule Hotel (pool) Dallas, Texas

Magnolia Hotel (Pegasus) and Joule Hotel (pool)
Dallas, Texas

The coolest coffee place in Dallas that you have never heard of.

My secretary setup

One place where the magic happens

Clutter is Killing Your Creativity

What I learned this week, May 23, 2014

Uptown Cyclovia

The crowd at Ciclovia Dallas on the Houston Street Viaduct with the Dallas downtown skyline

The crowd at Ciclovia Dallas on the Houston Street Viaduct with the Dallas downtown skyline

Uptown Ciclovia: An International Perspective

Have you ever dreamed of leisurely peddling on your bike without having to subconsciously worry about traffic? Ever wanted to walk down the middle lane of a typically busy street to get to Klyde Warren Park? Well, your dream will become a reality this Memorial Day!

Uptown Ciclovia (if you don’t know about it yet, Ciclo-what should catch you up to speed) is a car-free experience that will connect the Katy Trail to Klyde Warren Park via Cedar Springs Road on May 26th. By closing the street to automobiles, people may enjoy the street however they so choose- run, walk, bike, skip, hop, dance, roller-skate, etc. The best part? There will be no cars to get in your way. I repeat- there will be NO cars! Have you ever been on a Dallas street and without seeing cars? Exactly.

I am really looking forward to this.

The last Dallas Cyclovia was a couple of years ago on the causeway over the Trinity River. It was a lot of fun and this one looks even better. A Cyclovia in Uptown will be cool.

Music at Ciclovia Dallas

Music at Ciclovia Dallas

I’ve been to the Wyly theater more than a few times. I’ve written about it:
Sherlock Holmes, The Final Adventure
The Fortress of Solitude
Black Swallows the Red
As Flies to Wanton Boys
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
We Are Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

It is an amazing place.

Follow the rules, bikers

We need to rethink our urban areas. They need to be redesigned around a new set of values, one that doesn’t seek to accommodate bikers and pedestrians within an auto-dominated environment but instead does the opposite: accommodates automobiles in an environment dominated by people. It is people that create value. It is people that build wealth. It is in prioritizing their needs – whether on foot, on a bike or in a wheelchair – that we will begin to change the financial health of our cities and truly make them strong towns.

Rich college presidents linked to poorer teachers, students

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies looks at the salaries of top administrators at many of the public universities around the country and draws some very interesting conclusions that any graduates of these schools with high debt loads will not be surprised to know. The most fundamental of these is that high pay of university presidents goes hand in hand with lower pay for faculty members and higher student debt on average.

Bike lane merging with right turn lane at Beltline road.

Bike lane merging with right turn lane at Beltline road.

Did Cooper Stock really have to die?

It is possible, even probable, experts say, because of the way Americans have designed their streets for hundreds of years — essentially viewing pedestrian fatalities as the cost of doing business, as the collateral damage of speed and progress.

“Traditionally we build assuming that drivers and pedestrians will do the right thing even though we know that humans are flawed,” says Claes Tingvall, the director of Traffic Safety for the Swedish Transport Administration, in an interview with Yahoo News. “You don’t design an elevator or an airplane or a nuclear power station on the assumption that everyone will do the right thing. You design it assuming they will make mistakes, and build in ways that withstand and minimize error.”

For nearly 20 years, Sweden has been building on that latter assumption, rethinking and revamping its transportation system, both the philosophy and the nuts and bolts. They call this 1997 legislation Vision Zero — meaning the goal is to reach zero pedestrian deaths in all of Sweden — and under the program people are valued over cars, safety over efficiency. Streets have been narrowed; speed limits have been lowered. Above all, the Swedes have declared an end to the argument over whether safety violations should be punished or prevented. Voting for problem solving over finger pointing, they view collisions as warnings that some fix — a differently timed light, a better lit intersection — is needed.

Reading about this terrible tragedy made me think of the near misses I’ve had lately. They all were in the same situation that killed that poor boy. Crossing in a crosswalk with a green light and the little walk light is a death trap for a pedestrian or a cyclist. The problem is that the left-turning cars are not looking in the crosswalk – they are looking at the oncoming traffic. They say to themselves, “I can make this turn if I hurry up!” – step on the accelerator and turn into people in the crosswalk.

One cause is the poor design of intersections. The root cause is people driving too fast. Both can be solved with better road design, but it takes a paridigm shift – one that I think can only occur in someone that is walking and/or biking a lot in the city.

Rail crossing on Arapaho road.

Rail crossing on Arapaho road.

New Report: Every Bicyclist Counts

A terrible string of fatal bike crashes in the Tampa area in late 2011 and early 2012 left the local bike community reeling.

As they shared each awful tragedy with us, we too felt frustrated and powerless. We also realized how little we really knew about the circumstances of serious crashes between bikes and cars, and how woefully inadequate (and late) the available data was at the national level.

For a 12-month period, we set about the grim task of tracking and documenting every fatal traffic crash involving a bicyclist captured by relevant internet search terms. We also wanted to offer a place to remember the victims and raise the hope that their deaths would at least inform efforts to prevent such tragedies in the future.

The result was the Every Bicyclist Counts initiative:

Magazine Street, New Orleans

Magazine Street, New Orleans

Slow Ride: Biking Doesn’t Have to Be a Race

Believe it or not biking does not have to be a full-fledged cardio workout every time you go for a ride. In fact, a lot of countries seem to be on to something that many of us in the States have yet to fully embrace, the idea of a “slow ride.”

My whole idea of cycling is to ride as slowly as possible (and still get to where I need/want to be). Unfortunately, a lot of this is the fact that the engine on my bicycle is old and worn out. I like riding slowly, but I do miss having the options.

The rise of
 cycle cafes

The march of British cycle cafes seems irrepressible.

Unfortunately, for me, a bike ride from Texas to England for a cup of joe or a bite is a bit much.

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

THE STORY: The world’s greatest detective has seemingly reached the end of his remarkable career when a case presents itself that is too tempting to ignore: The King of Bohemia is about to be blackmailed by a notorious photograph, and the woman at the heart of this crime is the famous opera singer, Irene Adler. With his trusted companion, Doctor Watson, at his side, Sherlock Holmes pursues first the case, and then the affections of Miss Adler—and in doing so, marches right into the lair of his longtime adversary, that malevolent genius of crime: Professor Moriarty. In this spirited, fast-moving and thoroughly theatrical adaptation, Steven Dietz presents Holmes at the height of his powers—surrounded by all the elements that fans of his exploits have come to expect: danger, intrigue, wit, humor and surprise. “The game is afoot, Watson—and it is a dangerous one!”

As I have said before, I remember watching the enormous Borg Cube of the Wyly Theater going up in the shiny new Dallas Arts District and thinking, “What a cool place! Such a shame I’ll never be able to afford to go to a play there.”

The Wyly Theater.

The Wyly Theater.

I was wrong. By judicious actions and careful attention to the Internet – I have been able to find a series of bargains and go to a play down at the Wyly on a fairly regular basis. My most reliable source for affordable seats is the Dallas Theater Center’s Pay What You Can performances. As each play opens, the first performance is open to anyone and the price is what you think you can afford. I guess one way to look at it is that it’s a bargain admission to what really is a final dress rehearsal – but I have really enjoyed all the performances I’ve seen.

This time around it was Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. I logged in exactly at ten – when the tickets went on sale – and I’m glad I did. The show sold out in eight minutes. I managed to snag tickets for myself and a couple friends from my writing group.

The play was a lot of fun. It was nice to see a straight play – nothing special (although the moving sets were ingenious and effective) except a handful of actors standing out there delivering the classic Arthur Conan Doyle lines.

I won’t give away any secrets – although this isn’t so much a whodunit as much as it is a chess game between Holmes and his greatest enemy, Moriarty. The play is faithful, with a little bit of updating (a modern love story, a very strong female character, and an emphasis on Holmes’ drug use) to make it engaging to a 21st century audience, but it keeps the quaint style and innocent entertainment.

Opening night, there were a few hiccups. The opening was delayed by a few minutes with sound board problems, but the crowd entertained itself with the start of a wave. But all was forgiven and a lot of smiles came out at the end.

Now, the next play at the Wyly is Le Mis. I’ll have to have fast fingers, I’m sure it’ll sell out even faster.

The Fortress of Solitude

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

The Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District

The Dallas Theater Center has this thing, these “pay what you can” nights. These are opening performances where you can get a ticket for whatever you want. These are great for me, because I couldn’t afford to go to the Wyly otherwise.

So far, I’ve seen King Lear, The Tempest, Red, and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, at the Wyly and enjoyed the hell out of every one. This time it was the premiere of The Fortress of Solitude – a new musical adapted from the bestselling book by Johnathan Lethem. The show will run here in Dallas and then move onto New York.

I have never read the book, so I knew nothing of the story. There was nothing on the web about the musical – which isn’t surprising, because this is the premiere. That was actually sort of exciting – other than workshops and previews and such, this was the first time anyone had seen The Fortress of Solitude.

My son Lee is in town after graduation, staying for a few days before going back to New Orleans to work. We took the DART train downtown and walked over to the Wyly. Before the curtain came up, Lee asked, “Where is the orchestra pit?” I said there wasn’t one and I guessed they would use tape. Once the play started, however, a screen rose to show the musicians up on a scaffold above most of the action. There was a conductor down in front, facing a blank wall, directing into a small video camera – and her image was displayed on several carefully placed screens for the musicians and singers.

The musical was crackerjack. I imagine the source material isn’t the most obvious place to pull song and dance – and that made the story a lot more subtle and complex that the usual “girl meets boy” plot. The songs were great, especially when they were used to give a sense of time passing from the 1970’s to the turn of the century – from rock to soul to folk to rap to punk and finally, even a little Talking Heads thrown in.

It was a good time.

Our original seats were up on the third balcony (all good – there isn’t a bad seat in the Wyly) but a numbering mess-up had us move down into the orchestra level. I noticed a man sitting next to Lee holding a small notepad and scribbling all through the first act. During intermission I looked through the program and realized that the man was Daniel Aukin (I think), who conceived and directed the play. It must have been exciting for him to see his creation in front of a full audience for the first time.

Later, after the ovation died down, he asked Lee, “Well, how did you guys like it?” Lee said it was awesome. And it was.

Now, the next play is Sherlock Holmes and pay what you can tickets will be sold on April 21. Get in quick, they go fast.

What I learned this week,February 22, 2013

It even comes to Dallas and Klyde Warren Park

I like the guy in the yellow cowboy hat.

FADER Explains: Harlem Shake

I really enjoyed Red at the Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly Theater.

It’s nice to see it get a good review.

I have been thinking about Big Bend a lot. I miss the place. I used to go there to reconnect. I need to figure out how to get back.

Sometimes you get ideas that you really like but know they are crazy and will never happen. That’s when you feel stupid.

Sometimes… not too often… you find out that your crazy idea isn’t that insane and that somebody else is trying to actually do it. That’s when you no longer feel stupid, but instead feel lazy, cowardly, and ineffectual.

Affordable artist housing potentially coming to Dallas Arts District

8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need

I’ve read all these – a pretty good list.

Bring Good Brews Home From Craft and Growler

That guy Guy Fieri – from that food show that shows him eating all sorts of stuff you should not eat – accomplished a rare feat. He opened a restaurant that garnered a zero star review from the New York Times (read it, it’s well written and pretty funny).

He also neglected to register the whole URL for his restaurant’s name… so somebody else did, and posted a

great fake menu.

Shame it’s satire… wouldn’t you want to get something like:

Guy’s Big Balls – $26.95

Snuggle up to two 4-pound Rice-A-Roni crusted mozzarella balls endangered with shaved lamb and pork and blasted with Guy’s signature Cadillac Cream sauce until dripping off the plate. Served Nestled inside a tempura pickle, with a side of maximum-well-done duck skin.

Extra Wet Naps – $3.50.

Photograph by Jamie Chung for Bloomberg Businessweek

Photograph by Jamie Chung for Bloomberg Businessweek

Sriracha Hot Sauce Catches Fire, Yet ‘There’s Only One Rooster’

Like ketchup, sriracha is a generic term, its name coming from a port town in Thailand where the sauce supposedly was conceived. When people in America talk about sriracha, what they’re really talking about is Huy Fong’s version. It’s been name-checked on The Simpsons, is featured prominently on the Food Network, and has inspired a cottage industry of knockoffs, small-batch artisanal homages, and merchandise ranging from iPhone cases to air fresheners to lip balm to sriracha-patterned high heels.

15 Great David Foster Wallace Quotes

por ejemplo:

12. “I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it.’”

– Infinite Jest (1996)

Just go there and read them all.

This looks really, really cool:
Nasher Sculpture Center and Mayor Mike Rawlings announce landmark public art initiative in conjunction with the museum’s 10th anniversary

Official site: Nasher X-Change

100 icebreakers for talks with strangers

America’s New Mandarins

But I think that we are looking at something even deeper than that: the Mandarinization of America.

The Chinese imperial bureaucracy was immensely powerful. Entrance was theoretically open to anyone, from any walk of society–as long as they could pass a very tough examination. The number of passes was tightly restricted to keep the bureaucracy at optimal size.

Passing the tests and becoming a “scholar official” was a ticket to a very good, very secure life. And there is something to like about a system like this . . . especially if you happen to be good at exams. Of course, once you gave the imperial bureaucracy a lot of power, and made entrance into said bureaucracy conditional on passing a tough exam, what you have is . . . a country run by people who think that being good at exams is the most important thing on earth. Sound familiar?

The people who pass these sorts of admissions tests are very clever. But they’re also, as time goes on, increasingly narrow. The way to pass a series of highly competitive exams is to focus every fiber of your being on learning what the authorities want, and giving it to them. To the extent that the “Tiger Mom” phenomenon is actually real, it’s arguably the cultural legacy of the Mandarin system.


In fact, I think that to some extent, the current political wars are a culture war not between social liberals and social conservatives, but between the values of the mandarin system, and the values of those who compete in the very different culture of ordinary businesses–ones outside glamor industries like tech or design.

Black Swallows the Red

“There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend: One day, the black will swallow the red.” – John Logan, from Red


It was time for another “Pay What You Can” night at Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly theater. I have seen King Lear and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at rock-bottom prices and now watch the web site for any new opportunities.

This go-round is the Tony Award winning play Red, by John Logan. It’s a two man play based on the artist Mark Rothko, set in Rothko’s studio in 1958, during the time he is working on a group of large murals for the new Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York. Rothko and his fictional assistant, Ken, work and talk about art and life. The overarching conflict between the two is the very acceptance of the commission to decorate the walls of a restaurant frequented by the wealthiest people in the world. Rothko insists it is a subversive act, that he wants to paint, “something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room.” Ken counters that Rothko simply wants to feed his ego with the money and fame the prestigious commission offers.

At any rate, I was going alone, and went to catch the train downtown. Since I left from work, I felt underdressed – but that was fine; the crowd for “Pay What You Can” night was motley and wearing all sorts of styles at various levels.

I was interested in the staging of Red. King Lear is still running at the Wyly in the main stage above the lobby (the Wyly is revolutionary in its stacked structure – the lobby is at the bottom, the stage area above, with the support spaces higher up). For Red, they converted the rehearsal hall on the ninth floor into an artist’s studio.

While the patrons attending Lear were entering on the right side of the Lobby, we were divided into groups and sent up elevators to the ninth floor. The tickets had no seat assignments, so the crowd wandered around the edges of the studio, finding chairs lined against the wall on low risers. After I settled in, I noticed the actor playing Rothko silently sitting in a comfortable chair in the center of the room, staring and contemplating one of his in-progress color fields. Finally, the last patron came in looking around, looking lost – I noted his clothing was curiously dated… like something out of the fifties. Suddenly I realized that this was the actor playing the assistant, he spoke to Rothko, and the play began.

The play was simple – only two characters, one set, no intermission. Very intimate – you are there in the studio with the two characters. It was more intellectual than passionate – the only real moments of raw emotion was generated by Ken talking about the death of his parents… and that felt a bit forced. Still, it was enjoyable – the character of Rothko is a grand pompous bully – and a brilliant one. Ken was more of a blank canvass where Rothko would paint with his powerful personality and stubborn ideas, but Ken’s point of view somehow kept winning out in the end.

One highlight was a long, wordless passage where Rothko and Ken together slather the dark crimson undertone on a giant canvas, both working hard, slinging heavy brushfulls of paint in different sections of the wall-sized work, their breathing hard and passionate in the small space. To Rothko his paintings are living things… and he feels responsible for and concerned about their ultimate fate.

There is a lot of talk of the art of the time. It was fascinating how Rothko boasted of how he and the abstract expressionists dethroned Picasso and Matisse (“Nobody even thinks of painting cubism anymore, it’s dead”) and how Ken feels that Pop Art is now overthrowing Rothko.

Ken namedrops Warhol, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Lichtenstein – and Rothko asks, “Lichtenstein, who’s that?”

I was happy when, in my mind I thought, “Comic Books,” and then Ken says, “Comic Books.”

There is a lot of namedropping here, and it helps to know a thing or two about a thing or two – but not so much that it gets in the way of the entertainment.

After the play we rode the elevators back down to the lobby. It was full of patrons from King Lear, which was in intermission. They were all very nattily dressed, formal, seeing and being seen in that Dallas way while we cheapskates skittered away at the edges.

Outside, the glittering canyons of the city were shining at night while torn scraps of low cloud skimmed by overhead, illuminated by the lights below. It was beautiful and a bit of a shock – while the play was going on it was easy to think you were really in a dingy art studio and forget that you were really nine stories in the air in a huge aluminum cube-theater-machine.

Down Flora Street, between the hulking rows of the Arts District public edifices stood the Dallas Museum of Art. Inside, I knew, there was a Rothko painting. I’ve seen it before – but now I want to go back and stare at it for a while, watch it pulse, see it live, think about what the artist was thinking in that dark place where it was painted.

Mark Rothko, Orange, Red and Red, Dallas Museum of Art

Mark Rothko, Orange, Red and Red, Dallas Museum of Art