Trinity River Audubon Center; Pandemonium Ltd.

A few days ago, my father and I visited the recently opened Trinity River Audubon Center. The park is eight minutes south of downtown Dallas and built on a former illegal dump site, ranking it one notch above being built on an ancient Indian burial ground. Surprisingly, the Trinity River is home to a 6,000 acre hardwood forest—the largest urban hardwood forest in the nation. It’s also a good place to dump bodies. Or so I hear. In other seasons, the area would be lush and green. In winter, it’s dry and yellow. Because the construction is so new, it hasn’t weathered into the surrounding landscape. The small network of trails seem very clean and new. The construction must have scared all the animals away; there were few to be seen.

We paid the entrance fee and walked around for a while. Raptors circled the sky. The trail to the Trinity River was very short. I had never seen this turbid river up close before. It’s generally regarded as filthy, though quality has improved in recent years. There was a single turtle paddling around the banks. We made eye contact and shrugged.

The Center, designed by architect Antoine Predock, is pretty nice as far as centers go. It’s made from reclaimed materials and looks like a cross between a museum and a high-end restaurant. But my PHD in architecture prevents me from finding the structure faultless. For one, there are too many materials at work. The exterior contains concrete, painted brick, wood and rusted metal. It’s cobbled together like one those intentionally chaotic condo/shopping centers. Those buildings give a poor illusion of character. In a presentation I gave at Harvard, one of my main themes was being “true” in design. This building and its ilk are not “true.” Now granted, in the context of the Harvard speech “true” was referring to more to volumes than materials. But all architects should be able to read between the blue lines. Regardless, if the building is for the flockin’ Audubon Society, it should look like a flockin’ bird. It’s not that hard, geniuses.

Aububon Center exterior.

Sitting area overlooking a pond.

Walkway over another pond.



Rustic fence protecting the river.

A bend in the Trinity River.


Field of grasses.

Thorny tree. Those suckers could gore someone.

River grass.

Raptor circling.

Cat tails.

Bird watching blind.

Today, I went to work with my mother at her store. It’s called Pandemonium, and it’s insane. If you are ever in Dallas, and in need of vintage clothing and oddities, look it up. The old house is packed from floor to ceiling (and on the ceiling) with all sorts of weird crap. You can see a connection between the clutter of home and the store, but it’s in full force when business is involved. The dense assault of color, cloth, trinkets, and bling is overwhelming when you first walk in. All the aisles are narrow. People from all walks of life can find enjoyment there: teens with hippy desires, elderly seeing their old clothes as anachronisms. It’s a good source for party clothes. It has been voted “Best Vintage Clothing Store” in Dallas a few times. The toilet doesn’t work very well.

I find it cool to have a mother doing something so unusual for a living. She’s actually gotten to know more people my age than I ever have, being sort of a grape to all the youthful news on the vine. Her store has both inspired and curbed my entrepreneurial spirit.

The neighbor’s mysterious blue tarp seems to swallow more and more property each time I visit.

Business up front; toilet in the back.

Tables on the Pandemonium porch.

Prickly pear.


Mother surrounded by jewelry.


Security monitor.

Ceiling purses.

Side room.

Smiling nun.

Men’s clothing room.

Fabio stares down from the changing room ceiling.

Jesus by numbers.

Windowsill in the sewing room.

The weird stuff getting stored in the non functioning bathroom.

I freaked out when I first saw this.

Michael in the kitchen.

The old sewing machine.


Porch near the parking area.

To kill some time, I walked down the street to buy a laptop case. Then I borrowed the car and drove to a creek to read for a bit. Book: “Setting Free the Bears” by John Irving. We left the shop in the early afternoon and got some good Vietnamese food for lunch on the way home. Sometimes those thick, sweet coffees hit the spot.

Sitting and reading near Turtle Creek.

Vietnamese lemongrass chicken bun.

Drawing I posted on the passenger side.

Orange holder.

Piles of rusting machinery near Loop 12.

More machinery.

The empty flea market grounds near our house.

Car being used as a wall.

Old bus.

Fallen street sign.

Unusual amount of traffic on Loop 12.

Trailer and church.

Bell Rubber Co.

Old house.

Backyard tire storage.

Exciting news is coming soon. Stay tuned.

One Comment

kim hope:

I was just in your moms store today, I drive about a hour from the north just to go shopping with her,shes great and love the store..She gave me your blog today…She was talking about ur out of country experiences and photos..

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January 9th, 2009. Categories / Dallas

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