What I learned this week, April 11, 2014

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A THOUSAND WORDS: WRITING FROM PHOTOGRAPHS

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The murals from  Trinity Groves.

The murals from
Trinity Groves.

West Dallas, Once A Ramshackle Place, Is Now A Hot Spot, Thanks To Food

Heavy Hitter beer flight at Luck, in Trinity Groves, Dallas, Texas

Heavy Hitter beer flight at Luck, in Trinity Groves, Dallas, Texas


bad_day3

The 345 Tearout Plan Demands Reasoned Debate, Not Divisive Misdirection

What Does South Dallas Think About Highways? Let’s Ask a ‘Militant’ Black Leader.


My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle. (click to enlarge)

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.
(click to enlarge)

The Bureaucrats Are Trying to Ruin White Rock Lake Again, but the Lake Will Not Abide

racing_wind


View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

Is I-345 teardown idea a chance to finance the Trinity River toll road?

Trinity River Bottoms (click to enlarge)

Trinity River Bottoms
(click to enlarge)


The morning Dallashenge from the Triple Underpass in Dealy Plaza. Maybe a couple days early.

The morning Dallashenge from the Triple Underpass in Dealy Plaza. Maybe a couple days early.

The Tunnels Didn’t Kill Downtown Dallas; Dallas Killed Downtown Dallas

I agree with this article. I worked downtown in the 80’s and the tunnel system was a vibrant addition – to a great extent it was the best thing downtown. It was full of restaurants and little shops and gave office drones access to parks such as Thanksgiving Square. Lately, I had a Writing Marathon downtown in some cold weather and I wished the tunnel system was still intact. With the cold in winter (the freezing wind whips around those big buildings in a wind tunnel effect strong enough to lift you off our feet) and especially the killer heat in summer the tunnels give a welcome respite. The underground can be viewed as an addition or an extension of a vibrant street life, not as a detriment.


Writing Surface Dropped Down

The hinged writing surface dropped down on the secretary.

William Faulkner’s Hollywood Odyssey


Finally, a map to show why you don’t go to Corpus every weekend.


Here are the 13 films SNL parodied, that won Razzies, and that everyone completely overlooked as critical gems…except for the fact that, not only are they not bad, but some of them are downright good. Give ’em another go. They deserve it.

13 Films That Need To Be Cult Classics

Faulkner House Books

When I’m lucky enough to visit New Orleans I try to avoid the more obvious tourist traps. I see nothing special about the bitter Joe and greasy dough at Cafe Du Monde, rarely set foot on Bourbon Street, and try to walk out of the Quarter (or at least skirt the edges) whenever possible. Still, there is cool stuff even in the heart of touristland.

One special little spot is Pirate’s Alley. It’s a narrow passage that runs alongside the St. Louis Cathedral, connecting Jackson Square with Royal Street. History drips onto the cobblestones like Spanish Moss from an iron balcony.

Usually I like to aimlessly drift through and see what there is to see. There is usually something interesting. Once, I stumbled across a fashion shoot in the alley.

Fashion Shoot in Pirate's Alley (click to enlarge)

Fashion Shoot in Pirate’s Alley (click to enlarge)

On our last trip – I walked down Decatur from Canal, headed for Pirate’s Alley. This time I was going somewhere in particular – an unusual state for me in the Big Easy. I had realized that I had never visited Faulkner House Books – a tiny bookstore located in the alley.

What makes this store so famous is that it occupies an apartment on the lower floor where William Faulkner once lived. There, in that very space, he hammered out his first novel Soldier’s Pay, begining the transition from unknown poet to Nobel prize winning novelist.

So I crossed Jackson Square – ignoring the thick crowd of artists, musicians, tourists, and fortunetellers – strolled down the alley past the Absinthe House and pushed the doors open to the bookstore.

It’s a small place – not hard to imagine it as a tiny apartment for a young, struggling writer. It’s packed with bookcases, every inch of wall covered, plus a collection of free-standing cases.

“Can I help you?” a woman asked.

“Umm, I’m just looking.”

“Well, the rare and first editions are around the corner, and ask me if you need anything.”

I glanced and saw a well-dressed elderly gentleman delicately thumbing through the case. The woman walked over to him and began to talk about the history of each volume he was examining. I heard him talking about which editions he already had in his collection and what holes he was trying to fill.

Those books were obviously not in my price range so I moved back toward the entrance and began to peruse the ordinary mass market offerings – after all, I had to buy something. I considered picking up a Faulkner novel but decided instead on Same Place, Same Things, a book of short stories by Tim Gautreaux. A South Louisiana writer, I had read another collection of his, Welding With Children, and really liked it.

We had talked about Tim Gautreaux while walking around on our New Orleans Writing Marathon the day before. I had discovered that he had written a story, Waiting for the Evening News, (contained in the book I chose) based on a train derailment in Livingston, Louisiana in 1982. I wanted to read that story because I had worked that train derailment when I was a consultant to the Emergency Response Division of the EPA.

Paperback in hand, I waited while the other man paid for his purchases – two beautiful, large books. His bill came to just under a thousand dollars. After he left, I handed my little trade sale paperback to the woman.

“Sorry, my purchase isn’t quite as big as his,” I said.

She ignored this. “This is very good work, have you read him before?”

I said I had and told her a quick version of the story of the derailment. She smiled and rang me up.

The entrance to Faulkner House Books

The entrance to Faulkner House Books

faulkner2

Right after I took a photo of the plaque, this guy did the same thing.

Right after I took a photo of the plaque, this guy did the same thing.

He and his wife never went in the store - he just moved along, not even taking his eye out of the viewfinder.

He and his wife never went in the store – he just moved along, not even taking his eye out of the viewfinder.

An old video of the train derailment at Livingston. I worked there for a couple weeks – providing technical assistance and taking samples to help determine when the residents could return home. I’m in the video, though unrecognizable, at about the nine minute mark.