Chucks & Grime – South Dallas February 2011

Picture post…

This photo was taken during shoots for a photography book I’m working on, celebrating my neighborhood south of downtown Dallas, the Cedars.

It’s a brilliant, gorgeous spring day in Dallas – even though it’s only February 15th.

Partly Cloudy
74°F
Current: Partly Cloudy
Wind: S at 17 mph
Humidity: 46%

I hope this isn’t one of the weather teasers we usually get.  A little over a week ago we had the “ice storm of the century” followed by 6 inches of snow – now it’s 75 degrees.   ¡Bienvenidos a Tejas!

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South Dallas Story – Pt. 2

Pretty good Saturday, I’d say.  So far anyway.  It was 73 degrees and sunny in Dallas, but unfortunately I didn’t get out to enjoy it as much as I’d have liked.  I was going to set off on foot around the neighborhood to get some shots for a photography book I’m working on, but decided the light was too direct at 2:00pm.  I settled on 4:30-ish.  As I went out, though, I caught my photographer neighbor (see a prior post), and we got to talking, as we’re prone to do.  Interesting dude.  We ended up talking for like an hour, until we were interrupted by the wifey peeking out of the blinds (she’d just gotten up from a day of slumber, and we were standing in front of our door) and a woman from our building’s property management company.

But, I did manage to work on some new paintings (almost done), and edit some of the shots I got last weekend.  What the hell – I’ll share one of them below.

I’m really excited about this project.  It’s a coffee table style photography book about Cedars (aka The Cedars), my neighborhood in South Dallas.  I have no ETA on it at all, but hopefully sometime sooner than later.  This year for sure.  Of course, this is in addition to two poetry book projects currently underway.  Ugh, I really need to stop procrastinating on those and get with it.

In total contrast to today’s weather, here’s a time-lapse video of snow (a relative rarity in the Sun Belt-Buckle that is DFW) falling on Cedars Station, our local DART train station.

I do want to get in some rainy shots, maybe some snowy/icy shots if we get anything good this winter, and some sunny shots.  Watch this blog for more as the project moves forward.

My neighbor is a world-class photographer, and does it for a living, so I must admit it’s sort of intimidating.  He’s also in his early 20s (8 years younger than me) so that makes it somewhat even more intimidating.  It’s also inspiring though.  I’ve never claimed to be the best artist, writer, or photographer, but I’m just doing what I love.  I don’t have all the training and latest tips, but I do have the passion, and I think I do a pretty good job.

Okay,  enough blogging (for now) – time to work on more art, and then watch ‘True Grit’ with the wifey.

South Dallas Story – pt. 1

Disclaimer: The photos contained in this post, unless otherwise noted, were not taken by me, and have been located on the internet.

For those of you who don’t know me IRL, I recently moved to a neighborhood of South Dallas called the Cedars.  It’s just in the shadow of downtown Dallas, technically part of South Dallas, but close enough in to call it downtown and not be lying.

It’s at the northern edge of arguably the most ‘hood’ part of Dallas – the South and South East portions.  But, due perhaps to its proximity to downtown Dallas, it’s what I like to call “the white people’s hood.”  Decades of blight and decay abound, but it’s not as “bad” as some other neighborhoods, even within the same zip code as us.  The further south one travels from the Cedars, the more blighted the terrain becomes.

Drug dealing and prostitution are not at all uncommon, even in broad daylight.  A block away from our loft is an actual $7 a night flophouse – the infamous Bunkhaus.

Vacant lots polkadot our immediate neighborhood and the surrounding environs, with grassy lots where grand old homes once stood.  It’s fairly obvious in most cases that the lots have been empty for years – makes me wonder how many.  Decades even?

We live in a converted loft that used to be part of reputed mob associate and Lee Harvey Oswald murderer Jack Ruby‘s ‘Silver Spur Nightclub.’

Jack Ruby

The NuGrape Bottling Plant at left, the red building was a hotel and the Silver Spur, and the old Ervay Theater at far right

In the past couple of months living here, I have fallen hopelessly in love with this somewhat-forgotten, underrated part of the city, for all the reasons I listed in the beginning of this post.  I love it for its grittiness, its reality, its urban appeal.  Like me, it’s an underdog, something of a loner, and often misunderstood.

The district has gone from being one of Dallas’ earliest wealthy enclaves – and the center of the city’s Jewish population; to an industrial blighted area rife with poverty, crime, and urban decay; to a quiet, slow reemergence as an affordable artist/loft neighborhood.

More to come, as I continue to explore this vibrant, amazing part of my city.  I’m so inspired I’m even planning a photography book project.

Downtown Dallas from an empty lot in the Cedars

Snow In Dallas…

…but no accumulation in my neighborhood 😦

Winter has finally fallen upon Dallas, with a winter storm moving in last night.  Rained all day, then heavy snowfall, but here in the inner city, it didn’t stick.  Friends in the ‘burbs are posting pics online of a solid white dusting of snow.  Ah well, I’d still rather live here. 😉

’30 Days of Truth’ post to follow…