Saturday, June 29, 2002

Dave (of has informed me that my inaugural post was "shitty." This from a guy who posts once a month. A guy who takes baths, for chrissakes. Never trust a guy who takes baths.

But he may have a point. "My Dallas experience: It sucks"

That's valid, if not a little truncated. So OK, here's the deal. I'm not very good at explaining myself. I get bogged down in details. But I don't take baths. So trust me when I tell you things will begin to make sense at some point. I'm not trying to be obtuse.

Yesterday I called in sick and went with Miya to the Vans Warped Tour. I'm hardly a bona-fide punk aficionado. My taste for it has only recently matriculated. But I tend to like live music, no matter who's playing. And Miya is great company: Beautiful, sporty, intelligent. I really dig the whole festival carnival concert experience. And the Warped Tour, as you could probably guess, was teaming w/freaks. Yes, freaks. Those young, unwashed masses who think it's chic to be w/o direction, motivation, ambition, enthusiasm. Who blame this fact on Corporate America. Or moreover on a Worldwide Corporate Cartel. Their way of dealing w/it? Dye their fucking hair. Leather. White makeup. Fist in the air. But it sure is fun to watch. I mean, I fucking love these kids. I saw more colorful hair. More hugging. More smiling. I mean, for every vacant, 5-mile stare, there were 10 other punks having fun. The kids are alright.

So Miya and I walked around, listened to some music. A splendid way to spend a day off. She dropped me at the hotel. I went upstairs. Slept like a baby.

My travels in Texas could not have been more plump w/drama.

Stinky old pig, Dallas.

I moved down here from Chicago proper in February of 2000. Took a job as a graphic artist for a newspaper in Dallas. Began exploring the limits of human resilience by trusting people I should not have trusted. And somehow. Some way. I came out feeling pretty good about the entire Southwest Experience: Sunburn. Strip Malls. Oil Money. Debutantes. Heat. And some heat and then heat w/a side order of piping hot heat with humid ettouffé. And the smell. One can almost envision satellite photos of yellow-brown mist spreading from Dallas out. Infecting our innocuous neighbors. Punishing their cities for our sins. Hot spots. Pollution. Ozone alerts. And still no public transportation to stem the environmental ass fuck.

Dallas is, above all, a city without consistency. There is no focus in its topography. That is to say, it lacks a definitive character and, as such, is a painfully awkward place to try and put one’s life back together. The city lends itself more appropriately to aiding in the destruction of lives. It’s elusive. For every description I hoist upon it, it confounds me with a contradictory paradigm. At once artless and artful, depending on the time of day, prevailing magnetic fields, solar arc, pollen count. In Dallas, social and political contexts change from block to block. The same buildings that house gouche lofts with ridiculous square footage and crown moldings and hot cross can be boarded up for the benefit of reclusive crack addicts, thrown into the middle of the ghetto in a matter of yards. Thrown back, again, into uber-urban upscale downtown right-wing yuppieville and fetch $2,500/month. Easy. It’s dizzying. Frustrating, even. Add to that the arbitrary nature of alcohol sales: dry areas, Unicards, the senseless 2 a.m. bar closings and the fact that liquor can only be purchased before 9 p.m. and not at all on Sundays. It’s a drinker’s nightmare, which begs the question: Why do so many hard-core drinkers end up in Dallas? I mean, they’re here. Where did they come from?

Strip malls are the walls of this urban labyrinth, guiding me along pothole-addled streets made of broad slabs of concrete (blacktop holds the heat and has been thusly declared impractical here, for the most part). Streets on which cartoonishly large vehicles careen pell mell at speeds that grossly disregard posted limits. But shit, the city invites this lawlessness. It ignores conventions of form and function. Its constructions are mapped out by happenstance. Its Art Deco cathedrals — lavish corporate headquarters, mostly — flanked on four sides by 10-story parking garages or concrete water towers and treatment plants. Its beauty hidden behind ugliness. At every turn. And the expressways — Bush, LBJ, Central — twisting and ending and melding madly with blind junctions, interchanges, detours. As if city planners had a fiendish sense of humor.

But this city’s motor is oiled by money. By families with money best measured in tonnage: Perot, Jones, Cuban. By those upwardly mobile hipsters in BMW Z3's who never seem satisfied. Who eat at trendy cafés and shop at nuveau malls designed to look like latter-day Mexican trading villages. The ripe recent college graduates — groomed in the bubbles of Highland Park and the Park Cities — primped and powdered for the benefit of middle aged stability. Whose parents virtually pimp them out when the bachelors degree is in hand. These poor little rich girls. Nurtured by the selfish. Never given a chance to take idealism for a spin. For chrissakes, this is a city who’s high school economy is fed by football and drill teams, cheerleaders who face off in epic, convention center showdowns that have all the trappings of adult chicanery. Fucking pre-teen beauty pageants replete with screaming parents, shaking heads and lectures. And these children. These parents. Almost everyone has been reared with this mentality.

Which is not to mention the sheer number of silicon chests, heck, even posterior implants and penis pumps.

Dallas spreads out in front of me like a message written in dirt.