For the past week I've been in Dallas, Texas for a work conference. I was excited to visit this city, thinking I would be serenaded by handsome cowboys playing acoustic guitar. Big belt buckles, cowboy boots, wide brimmed hats. This was my perception of Dallas. In reality the city is a complete hellhole, filled with many loiters. There's absolutely nothing to do here and I'm very happy to be back in beautiful, green Virginia. I found only one interesting area called "Deep Ellum," which is located in east Dallas.
1. Deep Ellum has an interesting past. In 1914, Henry Ford picked Deep Ellum as the site for one of his early automotive plants. The plant was built specifically for assembly of Ford's famous Model T. The plant remained in Deep Ellum until the late 1930s. However, Deep Ellum's main claim to fame is that it was an early hub for the Dallas music and arts scene. The neighborhood became a hotbed for jazz musicians in the 1920s and to this day there are many live music venues in the area. Walking around you will still see many musicians carrying instruments and there are several recording studios here.
2. The height of the Deep Ellum scene was the early 1990s. During this time there were almost sixty bars and live music venues in the condensed area, along with many tattoo parlors, funky retail shops, and expensive loft spaces. In the early to mid-2000s the landscape of the neighborhood began to change. Businesses started closing, more loiters moved into the area and the live music scene began to decline. Today Deep Ellum is perceived as being a high crime area and it is in fact very sketchy. I would not walk around here at night. I've never seen so many people walking around with these huge keyboards. But this guy was nice enough to sing to me :))
3. Deep Ellum also is known for its beautiful wall murals and graffiti. It's everywhere and you will never forget where you are because "Deep Ellum" usually appears somewhere in the painted scene.
4. I've already mentioned that I like this type of art if it's tastefully done so I'll share a few images with you. This one is very strange.
5. The painted scenes appear on the sides of buildings, on stand alone creations and on many structural elements. There are major highways in the area and it's very shadowy due to the bridges and other road columns. Strange lighting conditions and difficult to shoot for me.
6. Some stand alone creations.
8. The railroads are also part of Deep Ellum's roots. The Houston and Texas Central railroad tracks ran through the region. But the growing availability and use of automobiles killed these lines by the mid 1950s. This cool mural pays homage to the area's railroad history. The Deep Ellum sign which is depicted in the cover photo for this story also appears in the mural.
9. This is perhaps the most relaxing area of Deep Ellum, with benches and individual seats carved from trees. Very peaceful and clean (a rarity here) and there's a private flower garden.
10. I took a quick break in this seat to cool off and have some water. Very warm in Dallas, about 30C each day.
11. It's no secret that Americans are open people. It seems we like to place signs everywhere, explaining everything. Here we're informed that the murals and general landscape are a joint effort between Keep Dallas Beautiful and the Texas Department of Transportation.
12. Even trashcans in Deep Ellum are artistic, but perhaps they should spend some time teaching the locals how to use them. Dallas, in general, a very dirty and grey city. Trash everywhere. Who is so lazy that they can't place rubbish in a bin when they are everywhere? Shameful!
14. Sex in public, well sure. It's exciting and romantic on some secluded beach or forest. But in the middle of Deep Ellum? I don't see the appeal and always complete disgust when I see condom wrappers thrown on the sidewalk or public walkways. At least the used condom isn't there.
15. Here the Dallas police welcomes visitors! And the Russian police - they would post such a friendly sign?
16. The "Welcome" mural was actually painted by a local police officer. According to the inscription, it's a reminder that police officers and local citizens are all part of the same community.
17. Deep Ellum also is home to a very large dog park known as "Bark Park Central."
18. Dogs run around and chase each other. Daily exercise for all!
20. When they need a rest, the dogs take turns sniffing each other.
21. Some budding romances, kisses, whispers. Russians seem to prefer cats. I will never understand why. Dogs are more emotional, loyal, care in the eyes. Cats sneaky!
22. Beauty! But they would not look at me.
23. The dog park also has many murals.
24. Ummm, interesting bench!
25. The key to any civilized society is individual responsibility. Here, we try to make it pretty easy. Trash cans everywhere and poop bags to keep the dog park clean. The park is closed every Monday for maintenance. In my area, there are many dog owners and these bags appear on numerous sidewalks to help keep areas clean from dog crap.
26. Dog walkers. Probably every country has them now - people who are paid to regularly walk dogs.
27. The only good thing I will say about Dallas is that there's excellent and tasty food there. Very fine steaks and burgers. I ate at this place.
28. Cute and colorful waitress.
29. This place was very funny, including the menu. You can order a "burger in a bowl" but you will be considered a sissy. :) It's a slang term for being a coward or overly scared. I ordered a regular burger, covered with cheese and onions. Delicious!
30. This guy made my burger. Happy to pose for a photo.
31. Interesting decor. I guess it's a bull. Whatever it is, it needs an eyebrow wax as you can't even see the eyes. Creepy.
32. My main food phobia is pickles. I hate them more than any other food. I'd rather eat an insect than a pickle. At my local deli, I'm known as the "no pickle" lady because I will throw a fit if they put a pickle on my plate and the juice leaks on my bread. They will have to remake the sandwich because the taste is so repulsive to me. At this place, pickle connoisseurs will have many flavor options.
33. I don't drink soda but will occasionally have a root beer float. Vanilla ice-cream covered in this soda. Nice sweet treat.
34. Not a Model T but great American machine!
35. The cab situation in Dallas is horrible, the worst of any U.S. city I've traveled to. First, you have to wait forever for one to arrive. Second, they are very expensive. Third, the cab drivers are incredibly rude and have no clue where they are going. "Cowboy Cab" is the main company in the city. This cowboy was a real asshole and yelled as soon as he saw the camera. I probably rode in at least twenty cabs during the week, running from meeting to meeting. A few of the drivers looked homeless and some of the cabs were in very poor condition. They will also try to rip you off. Quote one price and then try to charge another when you arrive at destination. So it becomes necessary to argue with them. Immediate rise of blood pressure!
36. I love America and wish I could say Dallas is another great American city but I can't. I would never send a foreigner here. There really is nothing to do. The downtown area is full of skyscrapers but it's oddly empty during business hours. A sort of ghost town. A few business people walking amongst the homeless, drunks and beggars. If you have a car and like to shop I think there are some nice malls in the suburbs but very little shopping in the downtown area. I hate shopping and these huge malls are a nightmare for me.
Dallas is probably best known for being the place where former President John F. Kennedy was shot. You can view the grassy knoll area where the shooting occurred. There are two "X" marks on the road where the shooting happened. There's also a museum about the shooting. There's a zoo here, an arboretum and some other museums. I can see all of these things in DC, in a much nicer environment. If I never return to Dallas again, I'll be very happy. Sorry if there are any Texans that read my blog. :) Maybe you can tell me a nice part of Texas to visit, but Dallas isn't for me.