Dallas – It’s Where They Shoot Presidents.

I really did like Dallas.
Everything in my history, everything in my DNA told me I would not. could not, should not like Dallas. But I did.
When I said the above to a friend, expressing that I wasn’t sure where my preconceived notions came from, he said “It’s because they shoot presidents in Dallas.”
Maybe that’s part of it.IMG_5386
When I first arrived in Dallas I stayed with a friend I met online 5 or 6 years ago while playing poker. He lives in a fabulous apartment in downtown Dallas with a balcony to dream about and spectacular views of some of Dallas’ most iconic buildings. He had to go to work for a few hours and I had no clue what I wanted to see or do in Dallas. Since it wasn’t too far from his apartment, or his office, he suggested the Sixth Floor Museum.

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He told me what it was. But I still wasn’t prepared.
The Sixth Floor Museum is located in the Texas Book Depository, from where it is said Oswald shot Kennedy. From the sixth floor, (obviously.)
Props to the curators. The museum is tasteful, or at least as much as such a commemorative museum can be.

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We explore just a bit of Kennedy’s life and not only what brought him to politics, but what he brought to the political scene. We consider some of the decisions he made that didn’t please every American. We’re told enough about the local political scene in Dallas to understand some of the prevailing tensions of the moment. We see interviews with local police and with Secret Service as they express their concerns about this visit. Not enough concerns to curtail his Texas five city tour but enough to have been mentioned.
The hopefulness of the country and of the young presidential couple is viscerally implanted in museum goers. At least it was well implanted in me. So even though I know how this story ends, I still held my breath as I journeyed the hallway with minute by minute pictures of the crawl of the motorcade down Houston street, turning onto Elm.
And then, here we are. At the corner window on the 6th floor. Looking at onto the street from the same vantage point Oswald supposedly had when he supposedly shot the 35th President of the United States of America.
I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach.
As I write this I, once again, immerse myself in the realities of what went on in Dealey Plaza. And it feels kind of ickky.
I say ‘supposedly’ above, because, like much of America, I’m not sure I can buy into the idea that the shots came from that 6th floor window. Standing there. Intuitively. It makes more sense. It FEELS more like the shots came from the grassy knoll. But what do I know? I wasn’t even born yet. So lets just keep my intuitions out of this missive. It does none of us any good at all for me to have an opinion on this matter.
Jackie’s actions and her poise intrigue me.
It’s no secret that the woman had class. And style. But it seems she also had a good solid grip on reality and the brutality and messiness that life contains.
Jackie wore a now infamous pink wool suit that day. It got spattered with blood and brains, yet she refused to change her clothes.
At the hospital she was urged to wash her face, her hands, her legs, and change her clothes.
No.
“Let them see what they have done.”
She also refused to leave JFK’s body. The only time she left his side was for a brief moment on Air Force One to stand beside LBJ, in her gory pink suit, as he was sworn in as President.
Only once she was back at the White House, only after she’d given instruction for his memorial (to be done much like Lincoln’s was done nearly a century earlier), did she finally leave his side and go change her clothes.
The suit is locked away in the National Archives in Maryland and won’t be available for public viewing until 2103.

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To be cliche about it all, there’s something that’s hard to look away from. Its like a train wreck. Craning one’s neck to see ever more twisted bodies.

The Grassy Knoll

I went back a few days later. Not to the Book Depository, but to Dealey Plaza itself. I walked around, took pictures, read all the plaques, and contemplated the need of us all to see those Xs painted onto the middle of the street, representing the deadly shots.

Fucking Harsh America. Fucking Harsh.

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(As my poker-playing lawyer friend said, this happening forever hovers in the psyche of Dallas. But still, I didn’t hate the place.)

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Shoutout To TripAdvisor

Seriously, I just want to give a huge shoutout to TripAdvisor.

I’ve been using their app to find places to eat or visit.

Now on the eating front… I love that they rank places. ALL the places in a city. So you can look at them in order #1 through #2784. Or you can look at the ones near you. And even when you look at it that way it tells you what rank they are.

Yesterday in Dallas, as per recommendations from TripAdvisor, my friend Aryn (who just happens to be in town headed north while I’m in town headed south) and I ate at the following places:

The Velvet Taco – #18 of 2,962 – The place was AMAZING! Order at the counter, long communal tables, your name will be called. The menu was short and sweet and the girl at the counter asked “Have you been here before?” Then gave us a menu and circled all the best sellers. The menu is also on the wall and features a WTF special – that’s the weekly taco feature. I had the Rotisserie Chicken taco, and Ahi Poke Taco (which is raw tuna in lettuce) and the Rotisserie Corn – which was a delicious little cup of shaved Mexican corn on the cob goodness. If you are ever in Dallas – eat here!

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Cedar’s Mediterranean Mezza & Grill – #77 of 2,962 – Yay! It’s a salad bar. Sorta half Latin, half Greek, half oh I don’t even know but wow. Turkish salad, hummus (in three flavors), eggplant (five different ways), stuffed grape leaves, citrus potato salad, mint cabbage salad, roasted potatoes, Babaganoush, Tabouleh, pita pizzas, couscous salad with almonds, three different bean dishes, and more. The added bonus to our visit is that there was a large party in the main room that was fun to watch. It was a beautiful princess celebrating her Sweet 16. (Is it normal that she was dressed exactly like her cake topped figurine? Do they sell the dresses, hair pieces and figurines together?) It was joyous to watch her. No sarcasm at all here – the food was phenomenal and the party was sweet.

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Today we ate at:

Ellen’s Southern Kitchen – #157 of 2,962 – We went here for Brunch because it looked good and not expensive. “Breakfast served AL day because Grits RULE!”I had the Big Ol Country Breakfast – which was Biscuits and Gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns. Aryn had poached eggs with garlic and spinach on grits. She said the grits were great. Lots of alternative looking folk working here and dining here (along with sweet little old grandmas and such…) Definitely worthy.

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Asian Mint – #45 of 2,962 – We were both wiped out from a day of (free) museum walking (The Dallas Museum of Art is quite good.) and a visit to Dealey Plaza to honor America’s past and ponder brutality, reality and life in America. So we decided to just grab some food to take back to the hotel. Orange Chicken, Summer Rolls, and Coconut Soup. The place was packed as we waited for our take-out and we were delighted at how good it was. (I didn’t get any photos here.)

So yeah, Thanks TripAdvisor