“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.”
“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”
—- Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Oblique Strategy: Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities
A young millennial couple – they live in Uptown, of course. Took an Uber to where I was ( I rode the train and then walked… should have brought my bike).
They seem nice enough.
When I was their age, we were into patched jeans. You would buy a pair of jeans and then sandpaper them until they had the proper holes. The patches were cut from old pairs of jeans and had to be hand-stitched, with big crude looping sutures in a contrasting color of heavy thread, usually yellow. I guess it was all a throw-back… and homage to our simpler ancestors, who lived in a simpler time. Iron-on patches were, of course, no good. I couldn’t sew worth beans, and my stitching was wildly uneven… which was perfect.
My attitude is, I make the sculpture in the studio on my own terms on my own time, and I want to see it go out of the studio and have its own existence whether it’s noticed or not.
Ever since I saw his exhibition at the Nasher a few years ago, I have been a fan of Tony Cragg. It was a tough time for me and visiting his sculpture meant something to me – it gave me an ethereal comfort. I think I found it reassuring that independently beauty still existed in the world.
Then I shot his work in the sculpture garden of the Dallas Museum of Art. Earlier this year, I found another work I liked in a museum in Houston.
At any rate, it is one thing to see sculpture in a museum or gallery – in a carefully-prepared setting – it is something entirely different to see sculpture in the wild… especially unexpectedly.
We were riding through Uptown Dallas at night on the monthly Critical Mass Ride, when I spotted a large sculpture out in front of a fancy office building – and it was undoubtedly a Tony Cragg. It was really cool to see, even if I had to keep on pedaling on.
Later, it didn’t take much internet searching to determine that the sculpture was Tony Cragg’s “Line of Thought” out in front of the Rosewood Court Complex. It has been there for a number of years, but I had never noticed it. Of course, that isn’t really my hood….
The weekend of the Uptown Ciclovía, where a street through uptown was closed to automobiles I made a point of finding the Rosewood Court (the Ciclovia route went right by it) and stopped to look and take a photo.
It was cool finding Cragg in the wild.
This last Saturday, looking for something to do, I discovered a Food Truck Block Party at the Ginger Man in uptown. So we took the DART train down to the underground Cityplace Station and climbed up to the surface.
The other night I saw a piece on television about how the DC government can’t keep the escalators going to their subway stations. Dallas doesn’t do any better. The Cityplace Station is ten stories underground and customers use six sets of escalators or three elevators to reach the surface. Only one escalator (the lowest up escalator) and none of the elevators were functioning. That wasn’t a problem for us – we could walk the stairs, but it was a real pain for some others. One homeless guy with a huge cart full of his belongings was trapped – he had ridden up the one working escalator up to an intermediate landing and now he couldn’t go any farther up or even back down.
We did reach the surface and as we emerged, blinking, into the sunlight I saw that our timing was perfect. The streetcar was right there. It was the Green Dragon, and it was on the turntable... and it was turning. I have been wanting to watch that thing spin since it was installed and finally I saw it.
We rode the Green Dragon down to Boll street and walked a short distance to the block party. A parking lot next to the Ginger Man was full of about a half-dozen food trucks serving food and desserts. Inside the place was a big crowd, live music, and a large assortment of beers.
Some of the food trucks had made food to co-ordinate with certain special beers being sold at the Ginger Man. The trucks had printed up little guides with the list of beers and what food would go good with each choice. I thought that was cool – sort of like a poor-man’s gourmet wine tasting.
As always, when faced with a choice of food trucks, I chose the one I had never tried before. There was only one new one (I am cutting a pretty wide swath through the still growing Dallas food truck scene) – I had heard of it before, The Little Vessel Grill.
Their menu looked good – a prix fixe – each item was seven bucks. I chose the item on the top of the menu – the Tomato Bisque Soup and Grilled Cheese (Fire in the Hole) – because it was the first item on the menu. Candy chose the second item, the BBQ Pork Sandwich (Barque at the Moon) because… it was a BBQ Pork Sandwich.
It was very good.
We had plans to go some other places, but there were specialty beers to try, other food trucks to visit, and a place full of interesting people (and a few dogs) so we ended up going nowhere else and riding the train back home (after walking down ten stories of steps) as the sun set.
There are four operating passenger streetcars in the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority‘s fleet of trolley cars. I had ridden (and written about) two of them – Matilda and Rosie. I decided to take a shot at getting on another of them and sat down at the trolley stop next to the Dallas Museum of Art and pulled out my Kindle to read a bit and wait for the car.
I was rewarded when a little streetcar named Petunia pulled up. I had not ridden this one yet.
Petunia was built in 1920 and is a “Birney Safety Car” named after her designer, Charles O Birney. Birneys were known for their bouncy ride. Petunia ran in Dallas until 1947. For the next 30 years, she was stripped of her running gear, then equipped with a stove, sink, bed, refrigerator, easy chair, and blue curtains, and used for a residence. She was acquired by MATA and rebuilt – with shock absorbers added to even out the ride.
She was packed with shoppers, commuters, and tourists (and me) and off we went across Woodall Rodgers and up McKinney Avenue. I chatted with some folks about child-raising and looked at all the folks eating in the restaurants and walking from bar to bar. Some young tourists kept going up to the streetcar engineer with a map on an iPad and tried to show him where they were trying to get to, but nobody could figure anything out.
The added shocks must work because Petunia has a much sweeter ride than the similarly sized Rosie. It was a fun and comfortable trip uptown.
There is something really cool about a trolley – whether it’s clanking through the crowded streets of Dallas or the misty neutral ground of New Orleans. There are plans for a real expansion of the trolley in Dallas… through the new park nearing construction on across the river into Oak Cliff. I wish they would hurry up – nobody lives forever.