Posts/January, 2009/

Seeking Signs in Dallas

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Dallas is many things, but one thing it’s not is beautiful. The four basic views possible in town are: 1) Generic suburbs and strip malls, 2) Clean, but mostly abandoned city center, 3) Sparse, crumbling and littered lower income neighborhoods, 4) Yet un-bulldozed woods and fields. There isn’t compelling natural beauty or any must-see focal point.

In the winter and summer, the entire town is in earth tones. The grass is yellow. The trees are dead. The buildings are built with dust/dirt colored bricks. It is a drab and desolate looking place. But it’s not all gloom.

The “OK” sitting at the top of my parents’ driveway. The working theory is that they are letters from an old Coke sign, though they could have spelled all sorts of words like “Locksmith”, “Bookstore”, “Cock-rings”, etc.

Male Cardinal outside the living room window.

Dove outside the window.

Trees near the creek.

I’m likely influenced by the general weirdness of my family and the low income barrio I spent my childhood in, but most of Dallas is boring to me, particularly the vast tracts of suburbs in North Dallas. Where it’s at for me is to the south, the west. It’s like another country here, really. Almost another Mexico. Everything is modest and in disrepair. The streets are potholed. There is Mexican food galore, as well as auto shops. The streets are wide and often without gutters. There is still a lot of undeveloped land. This is the stomping ground of the Mexicans and Blacks, the part of town that the others are scared to tread yet are slowly gentrifying.

One of the main contrasts to Dallas brown are the signs on this side of town. They are beautiful, colorful, and hand painted. I went on two short drives with my mother to take another look at these signs and the neighborhoods that helped shape my aesthetics.

I could take a thousand photos and never do the area justice, so I don’t claim to have captured the charm. But here are a few photos:

El Tiburon (“The Shark”) restaurant on Jefferson Blvd. in Cockrell Hill.

Yellow-loving mechanic shop.

An unfortunate name for a used car lot.

Good advise offered by a brick wall near Sunset High School on Jefferson.

Chevy truck with gull-wing doors.

Sign for Raven Pharmacy.

Retro neon sign.

Oak Cliff Barber College.

Man crossing street.

Hand painted window sign.

The red, white and blue of clear skies above Famsa.

For all your MFG needs, trust DEMCO!

The general abandonment of Ross St. downtown.

Father pointing out the future to J.

The new sign for my remodeled old high school: BTWHSPVA.

Man applies panel.

The prison like new building of BTWHSPVA.

Despite the fancy building, the temporary address is looking particularly ghetto.

Davis Street in Oak Cliff.

The parking lot for the botanica.

Permanently parked moving trailer on Davis.

The wall of a small tortilla bakery.

Happy corn man.

Man swallowed by moon bounce.

Abandoned shopping center.

Barn like radiator shop.

MOSELEY Furniture.

I don’t know what this bear is selling, but I want it.

Abandoned building of unknown purpose.

Candy Shop auto detailing and wash.

Mai’s dreary looking, but good Vietnamese restaurant near downtown.


Old warehouses on the southwest side of downtown that were made to look like Baghdad for a film. The area is abandoned and intact.


Homeless man and garbage bag.

Old gas station sign.

Citrus getting sold from a massive truck on Ft. Worth Ave.

Rims, rims, rims!

Old El Dorado Cadillac in front of barber shop.

Graffito on abandoned building.

The abandoned Murmur factory on Westmoreland. Note the KFC bucket trapped in the window.

Razor wire doesn’t do much good if you leave the gate open.

The inky blackness where murmurs were made.

Approaching downtown on Singleton.

The men of Singleton.

Abandoned school.

Ray’s gun shop. Packed.

Singleton Bridge with a view of new residential towers.

Hot Latino night club on Industrial Blvd. The dancers may be amputees, but they make up for it in racks.


Central Expressway in light traffic.

Steinway Pianos seen from Central.

Sunset driving into downtown on Ross.

It’s great to be home. The next post will try to document the house I grew up in. But, now that the holidays are over, my life feels even more in limbo. I am waiting to hear about a life changing job opportunity, but until then I’m content to relax. I am homeless but home. There may be rats infesting the attic and kitchen, but I try to stay out of their races. And I’m not in any particular rush to join the human one either.

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