Sunday, November 3, 2013

Road Trip Dallas Then and Now

We moved to Dallas in the fall of 1979.  The whole country was still wondering who shot JR?
I didn’t really know what to make of the place or the soap opera enveloping it.

Our first weekend in town, we went out for Mexican food at the Highland Park  Village, across the street from the 1933 Village Theater, home of at the time, the longest run of the Rocky Horror Picture in the South.  The Friday  night  Rocky Horror run would last years.  That night at dinner, I stopped to look at the black and white pictures along the wall of the Mexican restaurant next door.  One of them was of Dallas’ own Von Erich family, a dynasty  of wrestlers.  I’d seen one of them covered in blood in cage match on TV the night before.   Fritz Von Ericch won with his iron claw, beating rick flair.  This was what Dallas was all about – a vintage movie theater featuring drag shows, great Mexican food, and high octane, professional theatrical wrestling.

I loved living in Dallas, reveling in the ridiculous, enjoying movies, jobs, new bohemian concerts, sentimental rounds of grief and drama, scanning through the year book pictures of soon to depart seniors from each graduating class at Greenhill High.   The pain of divorces and struggles of growing was inevitably part of the process.  I never really understood why we moved to Dallas or what we were doing.  But in between there were so many significant points, living life in between other plans.

The last few years, I’ve spent less and less time there.  A few run-ins, political clashes, and fights soured me to the sweetness of the place.  The move from Ann Richards to Bush was jarring, to say the least.  I got used to ignoring that stuff when I was a kid.  But as we get older seeing friends who once enjoyed the abundance of decadence, which is Dallas at its best, turn to the Christian Right, as just say not social conservatives made my head spin.  The hypocrisy of it is beyond measure. 

So I was only going to stay a night on this trip.  My buddy was going to be there to pick me up and hang.
Sitting at DFW, I looked at the booming vast, blue sky.  Its contrast with cluttered Brooklyn skyline  is striking.

The last time anyone picked me up there was Spring break 1989.  My old neighbor was there with a six pack and a smile in tow.

So  we drove through the old neighborhood, recalling a few memories, surveyed, her old house, the house where so much fun and trouble was enjoyed.

The old Mockingbird House where we enjoyed New Years, watching old movies, passing the years.
We ran into a few new friends at dinner.  I love that Dallas can still feel like small town, a city of neighborhoods as the best cities do.

And enjoyed a night at one my  favorite bars in the history of the world.
Hanging at the Inwood during my favorite job back in 1988.  “Everything is temporary” Eddie sang on the jukebox my last week working there in 1988.  I had no idea how right she was.

By the next day, we drove to the Council on Social Work Education Conference.

Later that night, Dad and I hung out telling lies, recalling those days three decades prior when we moved to Dallas.  "The opportunity to hold history in your hands is precious," he noted, holding a piece from his collection. 

We read Shakespeare, laughed and enjoyed the moment and the most ridiculous of movies.

On the way back home, I read the story about the death of the young president in Dallas, which seemed to put Dallas on the map.   Reading the first-hand account of the trip of down to the School Book Depository in the Dallas Morning News reprint, it is still chilling to remember.   After I showed the paper to the kids, Scarlett wrote a birthday card to JFK, offering him congratulations on what would have been him 93rd year this year.  Yet, he turned down  Governor Connally’s advice not to come to Dallas. 

He wasn’t the only president to do so at their own risk.

San Antonio, Tex.
Former Texas Governor John, Connally said yesterday that he urged that former President Nixon
destroy tape recordings of his private White House
conversations. Connally added that he believes any
existing tapes should be destroyed now.
"They never should have been made in the first
place. They should have been destroyed. They should
still be destroyed," Connally told a news conference.
Connally, the Democrat-turned-Republican who
served as secretary of the Treasury under Mr. Nixon,
said the recordings "were an invasion of privacy that
should never have happened."
He was asked to comment on a report by Mr.
Nixon's former chief of staff, 11. R. Haldeman, who
claimed Connally asked him to urge Mr. Nixon to burn
the tapes:
"That's true," said Connally.

The tragicomic soap opera of this life reveals itself in the most unlikely ways.

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