Dallas, Texas. They say everything here is bigger but I’m not convinced. I keep on checking for my growth spurt, but I remain diminutive.
Living here is ok… as long as you make extensive use of the international airport, but my dog Virus will draw his final breath before I pack another suitcase. I owe him for 15 years of devoted service and all the dead presents, so I stay put. But I ITCH!!!
The other day a sudden awareness struck me. I realized that, to many, Dallas would be considered different and exotic. Obviously not if you live around these parts, but what about if you lived in Rome or London? I bet you English folks still think Southfork Ranch lies right smack in the middle of town (which it totally does not! Ha!)
Dallas is my new Paris. Minus the croissants and the old buildings and art that no one bothered to replace over there because, you know, they are a bunch of socialists after all…
Bye bye Art!
Driving south on 35, after crossing the Trinity River, you arrive in a neighborhood called Oak Cliff. It knows no official bounds; anything south of the river is pretty much considered Oak Cliff. Many celebrities either lived there or attended its schools: Sergeant Garcia from Zorro certainly did, and so did Batgirl.
Then, there were some for whom Oak Cliff did not bring a lot of luck. It is said that Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow met there in 1930 and we all know what happened to them. Then, there is also Dennis Rodman. When he attended South Oak Cliff High School, he failed to make the football team. Freshman year, he quit basketball in the midst of the season for not having been given enough playing time. Truth be told, he was only 5 ft 6 at the time. We all know the rest of the story. He left Oak Cliff to attend college, grew to be 6 ft 7, dyed his hair funky crazy and dated Madonna. Sometimes a change of venue is all it takes.
Nowadays Oak Cliff has bits of parts for the well-off, and plenty of parts for the not so well-off and the not so white. Most places, it’s not so safe either. I decide to walk along the route of the former steam railroad on Jefferson Boulevard.
First impression? A lot of Spanish!
Second impression? If it’s not your first language, buy a dictionary. You just know that this little fellow will misspell the word “cigar” for the remainder of his life. In all fairness, 80 cents for a supreme cigar seems like a bargain to me.
This Tejano sells Cds on the street. His friend approaches me as I am walking along the Boulevard and asks me what I am doing. I never thought I looked anything like a threat, but indigenes plain don’t like outsiders in this part of town… that is until we start talking on the sidewalk and he tells me all about his former gang activities and the murders he witnessed. Pause. “But, er, we’re friends now, right?” He reassures me and tells me he is going to watch over me. Five minutes in the hood and I’ve got myself a spankin’ new guardian angel! Or a guardian evil…
I continue my walk and cross paths with this couple of lovebirds who maintain their very own red shopping cart.
This is Brenda. Brenda scares me. As I look through the window of the laundromat, she briskly opens the door and, with a bit of what could be easily described as a disapproving tone, questions my presence on the premise. She is smaller than I am but she could take me. With a finger. I stutter something about Sergeant Garcia and Dennis Rodman and my blog and Paris and she appears overwhelmed by a sense of great pity. Silly little blond is going to have a hard time going through life with that pea-size brain! She requests a photograph. We’re buds.
Ah kids! The little girl sits on the table, patiently waiting, and her smile is beaming. After taking Brenda’s portrait, I really need a more reassuring subject. I could definitely take her.
I catch this family in front of the bus depot. The boy in the yellow tee-shirt hams it up. The boy in the orange shirt just wants to die of embarrassment. A camera generally has this effect on teenagers, especially when the whole family is involved.
This is the Supermercado. In front, another seller of CDs. I try to convince him to have his portrait taken but when he learns I have already photographed the competition, he shuts down like a clam. His CD selection is not as good anyway.
At this point, I’m starting to feel as if I had traveled to Mexico. The colors, the people, the language: there is absolutely nothing Anglo about this place besides the street names. Add a beach and I’m moving there.
A muy cool Tejano plays pool. The rules are different. Instead of starting the game with all the balls in a triangle, he aligns them on both sides of the table.
At first, this young Tejano appears very reluctant and even a little stern. He “warmed up” eventually although you really can’t tell by looking at this photograph. I want boots like that too.
The cohort of Stern Tejano, all wife-beatered and pumaed. Tejano sell-out!
Diana. In the arms of her mami. Hating me. For delaying her supper. I look like that too when I’m hungry.
At the bus depot, this Mexican man provides drinks and food to the waiting passengers. He is incredibly sweet.
In front of the bus depot, two men in intense conversation. We mean serious business.
As I make my way back, this little thing catches my eyes. She is mesmerized by me. I steal her image. I generally always ask the parents, but I just could not resist the moment.
Waiting for a call? Waiting to make one? Does anyone still use public phones?
The hair salon. All this pinkness! You feel transported back to another era. If I managed a pink salon, I would ban bright yellow products.
I enter a check cashing joint and see this security guard. To obtain the permission to photograph him, I would have gone through extraordinary lengths, jumped through hoops, and sold my grand-mother. There is something incredibly touching about him beyond his droopy eyes and high-waisted pants: the man just exudes goodness and sense of duty.
You should always pay for your ticket. Ask Lee Harvey Oswald! If the dude had paid for his ticket at the Texas Theater, he might still be sipping cocktails on a beach somewhere in the Pacific. Sometimes small savings do not pay off in the end.
I walk on the now seemingly deserted boulevard. A big black dude in a big black car moves slowly along the sidewalk. He lowers the window on the passenger’s side and asks me to join him for a ride. He is holding some kind of baton that he rubs in upward and downward motions as he insists heavily. I kinda like my life and I really feel like I ought to go home right about that time. I see him park his car a little further down the street. Time to get the hell out of here!
Bye bye Oak Cliff!