Sunday, February 27, 2011

Harry's Top Ten Pics Of All Time!

I was stunned when I saw my Flickr account has close to 1,600 photos uploaded. I have tons more I have yet to process but I had no idea I'd done that many. So I thought this a good time to pick out a few of my favorite photos of all time. Barry said out of a 10,000 photos he finds a hundred he likes. It is a volume business.

Some of these are special to me because of what I was feeling at the time of the shot and/or that time of my life. I had moments of unexpected therapy, fighting through the pain, wondering what I was even doing. Sometimes when I'd come back and look at the pics I was amazed by some of the shots, thinking someone else must have taken them. (Those were far outnumbered by the "Aw, crap!" disappointments when I'd hope for more.)

With a few honorable mentions thrown in, here are my top ten Flickr photos to date:

Honorable Mentions:

For some reason the light reflecting off the water in this photo just lifts me up. This shoot was done on the spur of the moment as I ran back to my car to get the camera after moping while staring into the Kimbell Museum's waters.

You can see my shadow dwarfed by the enormity of the structures. To some they seem like ordinary grain elevators, but to me they are descended from the temples of Egypt. Those were hard times back then, never knowing when the granaries would be full or empty.

Station Platform Night
Mockingbird Station at night. Dallas did its light rail right and I love the Mockingbird Station with its exposed structure and airy feel. I never fail to marvel at it when I pass by.

Water Canvass
Admittedly, I could do all top ten from the Japanese Gardens due to my partiality. So I will stick with the ones that stand out to me (while even then leaving many out). This is a sideways photo that just lets the garden colors bleed, removing the structure from the eye. I'd like to do this again with a more dazzling set of colors.

East Side Town Houses
I saw these townhouses two years before I took this photo and they haunted me ever since. They have a European feel and lie on the outskirts of downtown Dallas as an urban outpost. Somehow the rain made it perfect.

This was a lucky shot from the Japanese Garden Spring Festival, trying to time my shot with the strike. Didn't know I had it till I got home.

This is from an abandoned grain elevator and I felt like I was peering into a lost, forgotten corner of the world. I kept imagining the workers and their lives but having it all come to an end as the building calls them back.

I just wanted some snow pics. Due to the parking lot light I got this funky pic and I'm still shocked it came out the way it did. I like this one because it looked like I planned the eeriness. Barry says I have my own style. I do. It's called "haphazard".

Ripples Koi
The Japans: Serenity captured alive.

"Wailing Wall". This also was at the Kimbell museum, I.M Pei's masterpiece. I saw this man on a Sunday afternoon and I was afraid of taking a pic of what I saw as a private moment. But I felt the art outweighed my objections and I'm glad it did. This is one of those times where a real camera and photographer could have made gold.

The Bridge behind wire
"The Razor's Sun". The Bridge, Dallas' homeless shelter, set behind the barbed wire. Walking the area has the feel of a prison and this shot captured all I wanted to say about that feeling: harsh, brutal, in the twilight of our civilization.

This posting got ignored. Unfairly so, I say. Again, unexpected therapy came out of the shoot and I'll never forget it even if I failed that feeling later on. But this "Cows and Kilns" photo came out so perfectly with the contrast between man and nature I dearly wanted to show.

The Lost Windmill. I could have taken a hundred photos of this. Many of the photos of my Last Picture Show shoot came out like magic but this is the one I love most. I don't dare try to put my finger on why it puts me over the rainbow but I feel I'm in another time and space when I view it, of seeing something buried deep inside myself.

These Aren't The Protests You're Looking For

"In order to understand the structure of the universe
one must first understand the nature of responsibility."
-Albert Einstein

It has been said that the definition of tomorrow is to take what's happening today and move it into the light. To wit: the "economic boom" of the previous decade was not a boon but in fact the opposite. These things happen because we live in a collective state of self-deception and denial. We know this but do not admit this - which makes us a silly people. And a tragic people. The fate of the present is always rooted in the past and this can be seen today.

And since mankind lives in a state of deception, there are those who would profit from that and even build their homes on it. For where there is deception there is darkness and that darkness allows the lie to be born. Hence, there is a marketplace of definitions of this "unknown" reality we all struggle with and each marketplace has its buyers and sellers. If I can sell you on my "truth" I can market myself as a good man!

So I sit here on the moon watching the crowds gather and move from one bucket of truth to another hoping to find the one that makes them feel the best. It's sort of like watching cattle with ADD. Like cardboard figures in a shooting gallery, a new hero pops up only to be shot down once his "truth" is revealed under the ever-growing light (e.g. first GWB, now Obama). Of course, those who speak the actual truth are actually shot. We want a hero who makes us feel good with lies that can be sold as truth, which keeps us constantly switching sides:

Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he [Caesar] home?
What tributaries follow him to Rome,
To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,
Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements,
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
The livelong day, with patient expectation,
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome:
And when you saw his chariot but appear,
Have you not made an universal shout,
That Tiber trembled underneath her banks,
To hear the replication of your sounds
Made in her concave shores?
And do you now put on your best attire?
And do you now cull out a holiday?
And do you now strew flowers in his way
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood? Be gone!
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.

It's tough being a hero!

We are still of the generation of which Jesus spoke, just as backwards and superstitious ("Profits are real!") and self-serving as ever. Look at the Wisconsin protests and tell me what you see - or rather, how many ways can it be sold? The dawning of a new middle class movement? Americans sticking up for their rights at last? A long needed push for equality to right the American ship? I could write an eloquent essay supporting each of those viewpoints and I too would be applauded as Caesar.

But I like me too much to do that.

As we here in the West warn of the Middle East protests needing to support themselves by enacting social freedoms that strip off the chains of unquestioned religious laws lest their efforts be doomed and swallowed whole by a dictator by any other name, we too need to take that same caution here at home with our own unquestioned religion: greed. Do I see what is going on in Wisconsin and in places of solidarity as a rebuke of greed? More like no honor among thieves, I'd say.

Going back to Albert's quote, we have to place events within the context of responsibility. So Americans want their voice back? Tad late for that, I'd say. Where were the protests when we raided and looted another country, butchering children and driving millions from their homes? Where were the protests against the lies told to us even after indisputable proof was revealed? Where were the protests when civil rights were suspended, which puts us all in danger? The list goes on. You see, when you are silent in the face of injustice to others, then injustice shall be your fate as well. That is the order of the universe.

Just imagine the guy getting killed
is an Iraqi and you'll feel better

We have fed the dogs of war and one day they will turn on us to be devoured in due course with their insatiable appetite. Our worship of oil will cut off our food supplies and our belief that money will save us will destroy our environment. There will be more protests and screams as in turn each group finds its ox to be gored next on the altar of greed. But that is the fate we are choosing on a path built on deception: it leaves nothing still standing.

"Not one stone here will be left on another;
every one will be thrown down."

-Jesus Christ, on the foundation of modern society

These things will happen because that is what's happening today here in the dark. Maybe repentance isn't such a bad idea after all - and then we can build something real.


You're all a bunch of day trippers!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

There Are No Ferraris On The Moon

Life in therapy land:

"My heart hurts. It hurts bad. Feels like my chest is in a giant vice and it's squeezing me. I can't even take full breaths."

"I have a pill for that-"

"I don't want a goddam pill!"

"I'm just trying to present a solution to your situation."

"That's a solution to YOUR situation, you brainwashed bigot! There's no pill for guilt or loneliness! You'd just as soon as drug up the world than have to actually help someone."

"Help is what I'm all about."

"Yeah, yeah, that's what you have to tell yourself - even when it's not true."

"Ok, then. How can I help?"

"By knowing that you can't."

His face finally uncontorted. "You've been thinking about the Ferrari again, haven't you?"

"Never stopped."

"If you fall into depression no one will hire you."

"I'm goddam homeless! If I can't be depressed now when can I be? You go be fucking happy in the concentration camp. I think it goddam sucks!"

"That's just not a practical way to be in the world."

"The world is not a practical place!"

"You have another place to live?"

Therapy: it's all about gaining the upper hand. "The moon's looking better every day."

"There are no Ferraris on the moon."

"Good, then I can't fuck any of them up!"

"Is that what you want?"

"I can't stop reliving that moment. It hits me like a hammer. I keep seeing that light pole and remembering me flooring the pedal, all the time telling myself, "No! No! You can't do that!" but I did it anyway. I can't live with this. It's like I'm stuck in time."

"You said before it was the guilt."

"Yeah, well you try being friends with someone while stealing their car! It's goddam hell! The guilt was fucking killing me! Destroying it was the only thing I could see to do. She was nothing but kind to me but I stole her car and then I wrecked it and now I can't face it."

"Did you ever tell her you stole it?"

"No! She hates me enough as it is. Bad enough she knows I wrecked it. My life is a fucking hell now. Every time I walk out onto the street I'm afraid I'm going to run into her and it's not like she's ever going to be around a homeless area with her kind of money but I can't get it out of my head she's going to find me and kill me. Driving that car was the first time I'd felt alive in years. Now I can't trust me ever again."

"Perhaps she's forgiven you."

"Not sure I want her to."

"Sulking your way to victory?"

I wanted to hit the fucker. I'm the only one he uses sarcasm on - probably because he sees me use it so much he knows he can get away with it. But I didn't have an answer.

"You know what I do? I go to the wrecking yard where it ended up - I even find myself there in my dreams - and I get a piece of the car and I hit myself with it. I don't know what else to do."

Then we sat there in silence the rest of the hour.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Orange Blossom Trail

jeffrey was living the fantasy and my eyes stretched to see the into the pale blue crystal clear water where they stood side by side both topless with her flawless body she knew to be flawless and his charm he knew to be charming and they were smiling at each other in the bright florida sun but i strained only to see her ass as they wriggled along until the perfect pair came out of the water and i played it cold by pretending i had just noticed them and the flawless girl ran to the back of jeffrey's old ratty pickup where her girlfriend was laying out in the sun and they shared knowledge of what just happened and giggled in the thrill of it as i stared uncontrollably at the pickup girl's breasts and remembered she had been designated for me but she'd have nothing to do with me resenting my even breathing so i was relieved to see her friend distract her and make her happy so i'd be off the hook then they both put on bikini tops to their glistening bodies as jeffrey gathered them up to head into the bar and i followed along like a lost puppy and noticed a careless photograph just outside the door and i briefly wondered if i would be declared useful if i somehow returned it but everyone else had gone in not giving it a second thought and jeffrey was behind the bar because he knew the cool owners and he was grabbing a beer out of the cooler and i wondered if he grabbed one for me but i couldn't see his hands in the vast crowded room of this old metal building that was really crappy but nobody cared because of the scene inside and the bar had almost no open seats and when jeffrey sat down i finally saw he had only one beer and even though he was with the flawless girl i saw him talking right away to this cute blonde chick like he'd known her all his life as he oozed more of his practiced charm and i thought how even i wanted jeffrey to like me but i was on my own between the sex liquor and music so i struck a pose in case anyone was watching of someone who suddenly remembered he'd forgotten something very important and needed to go outside to get it but really i just needed to go outside and it was dark now with a cheap sign flashing in the parking lot as i stared at the passing cars of orange blossom trail thinking how i didn't even have a car and how i wished i had a nice one but jeffrey had only that ratty pickup and he did just fine so i started the long walk back to the house crossing to the other side like i was crossing the rubicon curious to know if anyone had noticed i was missing but knowing they did not and would not care if they did so i looked for companionship with the dive bars and auto shops and decaying industrials of this always busy road and i thought how strange to see these gleaming new tire rims untouchable like stars in the sky hanging off this old rusty rack outside a cheap shack selling old tires and older dreams never made whole but i had to make sure no one thought my dreams unbecoming so i assumed the purposeful air of a wanted man and when i looked back across the street i saw two girls sitting on stools out front of a small strip joint and one waved to me the cool secret agent in her eyes no doubt but i thought if she knew me she wouldn't waste her time or maybe all she cared about was in my wallet and that was empty too so my failure was complete and i thought "i have to get off this boulevard" where everyone can see me but when i strayed back behind to the hardcore houses the dogs and chain link fences did not welcome me as an outsider as i ran back to the road devising a cover story for my presence as a man without money or motive but all i could think about was how that damn car alarm going off down the block was annoying the hell out of me and how an internet friend asked me about the end of the world and i told her it was coming but nobody would admit doing wrong and she cringed saying she better put her money in a safe place and i told her when that time comes money won't mean anything more than the paper it's printed on just like now but no one admits that either and i had no answer then just like i had no answer now walking down orange blossom trail where no one cares about your insights just your scene but my air was wearing thin on that damn neverending road of despair so when i finally got close back to the house i ran through my weariness to be safe and unseen and i felt safeless as ever as i opened the fridge to get a beer thinking how everyone would laugh knowing i had to walk five miles to get a beer when jeffrey just reached around the bar for free to get one and by the light of the open fridge i saw my world and found it wanting so i turned on the tv as my portal to life and like always a late night bikini contest was on one of the local channels desperate for ratings so i obliged them marveling at the girls unafraid and free and i wondered how they ever got that way and i worshiped them as was my wont until finally i pulled the throw over my head on the couch but my dreams were haunted by my lonely evening walk and the coming inquisition of why i left the fun of orange blossom trail

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Search Of The REAL Bonnie And Clyde

Author's note: This all started for me when I read about a book signing by Jeff Guinn here in Dallas. I was contemptuous because I saw it was a book about Bonnie and Clyde and it smacked to me after all this time of someone making an easy dollar off their fame and off their pain. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Several weeks later I see a special on Bonnie and Clyde and turns out their true story really has been obscured by both myth and misinformation and author Jeff Guinn's "Go Down Together" was a fine piece of work uncovering that story while taking no sides but the truth. But in that truth I found many tears. What cruelty has wrought this world.

I used all this as a stepping stone to document their local history and explore their story along with learning my video camera (hence the crude videos embedded). What follows is my retracing of their steps, of two kids who died in their early twenties whose biggest crime (of many) was not knowing they weren't supposed to live life.


DOJ Crop

You've read the story of Jesse James
of how he lived and died.
If you're still in need;
of something to read,
here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang
I'm sure you all have read.
how they rob and steal;
and those who squeal,
are usually found dying or dead.

There's lots of untruths to these write-ups;
they're not as ruthless as that.
their nature is raw;
they hate all the law,
the stool pigeons, spotters and rats.

They call them cold-blooded killers
they say they are heartless and mean.
But I say this with pride
that I once knew Clyde,
when he was honest and upright and clean.

It's 1922 and you as a child are living in the squalor camps of West Dallas. Your family can't even afford a tent, you sleep under the horse wagon dragged in from the failed farm abandoned by your father. For most in the camps there is no way out: you're born, you suffer, you die. You are separated from the downtown skyscrapers you see by the vast earthen levees meant to keep the Trinity river from ruining the holy land. It's meant to keep you out too - for the very same reason.

There are two kinds of sin in this world and neither are ever forgiven: sin in the eyes of God and sin in the eyes of man. God wants you to live, to see your dreams fulfilled and your heart happy regardless of anything else. If you fail in this you will suffer without recourse. But the world does not tolerate the living, it cares not if your dreams are fulfilled or if your heart sings. And in tragic mockery if you fail to please it you will also suffer without recourse. From such things are the seeds of disaster sown.

But the law fooled around;
kept taking him down,
and locking him up in a cell.
Till he said to me;
"I'll never be free,
so I'll meet a few of them in hell"

The road was so dimly lighted
there were no highway signs to guide.
But they made up their minds;
if all roads were blind,
they wouldn't give up till they died.

The road gets dimmer and dimmer
sometimes you can hardly see.
But it's fight man to man
and do all you can,
for they know they can never be free.

From heart-break some people have suffered
from weariness some people have died.
But take it all in all;
our troubles are small,
till we get like Bonnie and Clyde.

No human on this planet passes without asking this question: "For what am I living (or dying) for?" When Bonnie and Clyde started their bloody path they already considered themselves dead. What was left to do? The trick became to somehow find some life before the grim reaper came calling. If you place their lives in this perspective, many of their senseless acts become more understandable: there was no plan for the future because there was no future to be had.

Most people when told they don't deserve a life accept that and die. Bonnie and Clyde never understood why they should die. But when Bonnie wrote "till we get like Bonnie and Clyde" she shows an insight lost on most: that sooner or later a breaking point comes. If we truly believe society can be no better than this then we will implode, the price we pay for believing every life is not deserved. Slowly this truth is dawning on us here in the 21st century and our true faces revealed once and for all.

And no more will we have to listen to high talk of "how things should be". It will be death for the unholy grooms and brides.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas
and they have no clue or guide.
If they can't find a fiend,
they just wipe their slate clean
and hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.

There's two crimes committed in America
not accredited to the Barrow mob.
They had no hand;
in the kidnap demand,
nor the Kansas City Depot job.

A newsboy once said to his buddy;
"I wish old Clyde would get jumped.
In these awfull hard times;
we'd make a few dimes,
if five or six cops would get bumped"

The police haven't got the report yet
but Clyde called me up today.
He said, "Don't start any fights;
we aren't working nights,
we're joining the NRA."

Desperate times create desperate people. Who are Bonnie and Clyde if born a generation later? As a child, Clyde's greatest joy was music and his first stated desire for a profession was to be part of a band (he kept a musical instrument with him the rest of his life, a saxophone in the death car). Who would that kid be if he'd grown up with the opportunities the 50's? Bonnie also had a performer's mentality, dreaming of fame on Broadway. But like bloggers of today, her creative outlet was reduced to what she simply had on hand: writing.

Sadly, society takes no final responsibility upon itself - and that is the source of much bloodshed and oppressive despair that boils over. We're all in this together. Helping you is helping me. Making cops the criminals and the outlaws saints isn't going to solve anything. Yet we keep traveling down that road leaving a growing trail of human carnage, blaming the rock that hits us but never the force behind it.

After all, who killed Jesus? Was it merely the few Roman soldiers who drove in the nails? No one else touched him, right? Or was it the court system? Or was the true reality that all those who believed he should die carry blood upon their hands? So you see, you can never touch a gun and yet still be a killer just the same. I see Bonnies and Clydes in business suits, in Congress, in grocery stores, in churches and everywhere else. They may be safe from "the laws" of this world but not so much in the next.

From Irving to West Dallas viaduct
is known as the Great Divide.
Where the women are kin;
and the men are men,
and they won't "stool" on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens
and rent them a nice little flat.
About the third night;
they're invited to fight,
by a sub-gun's rat-tat-tat.

They don't think they're too smart or desperate
they know that the law always wins.
They've been shot at before;
but they do not ignore,
that death is the wages of sin.

Some day they'll go down together
they'll bury them side by side.
To few it'll be grief,
to the law a relief
but it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.

-Bonnie Parker, 1934
shortly before death

Eastham Prison Farm: Genesis

"For the men, Changi was more than a prison.
Changi was genesis, the place of beginning again."
-James Clavell, "King Rat"

In the WWII Japanese POW camp of Changi, the guards had free reign to inflict whatever punishment they pleased upon the prisoners. For most prisoners it was a death sentence via overwork, malnutrition and on-the-spot executions at will. That was also the M.O. of The Bloody 'Ham of 1932 in the piney woods of east Texas. Or, as author Jeff Guinn called it: "the filthiest hellhole in the entire corrupt Texas criminal justice system."

Prison Farm Entrance

Derelict and emotionally disturbed prison board members gave carte blanche to the predator guards who were as unaccountable as any Nazi guard at a concentration camp. Brutalizing prisoners in Texas was considered a moral construct which meant anything goes. To wit, per author Guinn:

[Psychopath] Lee Simmons agreed to become general manager of the prison system...[The sadist] especially [enjoyed] frequent use of "the bat", a leather strap anywhere from eighteen inches to three feet long...Greased for maximum velocity and striking power, it would be used to lacerate the bare back, buttocks, and thighs of recalcitrant prisoners spread-eagled face down on the ground...Every blow from the three-ply leather bat tore skin, ripped into muscle, and drew copious amounts of blood...The prisoner being beaten invariably screamed, lost control of his bowels and bladder, and finally passed out.

The goal was to make the idea of ever returning to prison an unthinkable idea to convicts. To the freedom loving Clyde they were highly successful - and the price for that was the lives of several lawmen and civilian casualties. Like everyone who thinks they can beat the sin out of someone prison officials only beat it further in. Then - as now - the goal of Texas prisons is to inflict harm as retribution, not rehabilitation. This was told to me by a guard I talked to outside his dorm at Eastham.

Prison Farm Old Unit 2
The old unit that housed Clyde

He told me about how Clyde was small and repeatedly raped in prison. Author Guinn assigns that crime to one we'll call the Monster. Clyde killed the Monster after another inmate agreed to take the blame. One swift blow with a lead pipe and Clyde made the world a better place. The guard told me they don't hold at all for rape anymore and he was insistent on that point. Whether he needed me to believe that because it's true or to cover up I do not know.

I asked him what kind of prisoners were held there expecting it to be low level offenders considering it was an open farm. He said they had all types: murderers, rapists, you name it. The guard also claimed the farm was self-sufficient with its crops, cows and hog farm. He went on to say many of the felons are also skilled craftsmen, manufacturing $10,000 saddles (each of the Bush anti-Christ Presidents has one) among other things. But it was the work detail back in Clyde's day that became a de facto death sentence.

Prisoners were expected to run to the work fields, some as far as two miles away (the predator-guards were mounted on horses). Twelve hours of grueling work interrupted only by a ten minute lunch then run back at the end of the day. Clyde had no hope of surviving his fourteen year sentence as he watched his body wear down. The reason the Eastham is called the bloody 'Ham is because of the number of prisoner self-mutilations to escape the doom of the work detail. Clyde chopped off two toes in his effort to survive, never to walk normally again.

Prison Farm Old Unit Front

But even facing all this, when a fellow prisoner Clyde had befriended was beaten for his escape attempt, Clyde did not clear out like everyone else, but stayed in support though he gained the ire of the guards. Loyalty to those who were kind to him or supportive was a trait from which he never wavered. Clyde scowled when guards gave him orders, refusing to surrender himself, never fitting in to a prison life he called "a burning hell".

Many are those who claim to be for "justice" and "victims' rights". But as Nietzsche said: "Beware of those in whom the will to punish is strong." Their true goal is to increase crime, to turn out prisoners who are angrier, meaner and harder than what they went in as, then to release them upon society to commit greater atrocities - and thusly "prove" the point for more prisons. But it's ironic that here in the Bible Belt we so conveniently forget the words of Jesus:

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

They also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"

He will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

WARNING: American prison images contained in the video:

For good measure, I took a piss on the building

For the rest of Clyde's life he was bent on revenge on the Eastham brutalizers and their continuing injustices. In 1934 he was able to help engineer an escape of several prisoners, planting guns for them with Bonnie driving the getaway car.


Life On The Run

"Better a good run than a bad stand."
Buck Barrow, Clyde's older brother

For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has got ever other car
skinned and even if my business hasen’t been strickly legal it don’t hurt
enything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V8.

--Clyde's letter thanking Henry Ford.

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were dreamers who knew only one thing for certain: they wanted out. Out of the misery, out of the hopelessness and out of the soul consuming drudgery of dead-end jobs till death. Many people moralize about the couple's choice of a life of open crime, I shall refrain from that mistake. What made them heroes at first was their seemingly finding a way out of the hard scrabble meagerness of the Depression era and that was seen as a sign of hope. At that point of utter bleakness, anything would do.

What they did not have, however, was a place to run to. They basically looped through a circuit of states from Texas to Okalahoma to Missouri to Iowa to Arkansas and back. As a criminal, Clyde had little talent (except for car theft). But being a man on the run was his forte. An excellent driver who stole the fastest cars as well as a marksman who broke out Browning Automatic Rifles from local National Guard armories, he could both outrun and outshoot the pursuing police.

His favorite tactic was to cross state lines to escape the law's reach and he had no problem driving several hundred miles in a day even over the rough and rutted roads of the time. As their notoriety grew, they were forced to set up campsites off road, eating out of tin cans and sleeping in the car. While it's true they craved and enjoyed the finer things of life, they never truly achieved that goal except for some dress clothing.

Because they were running blindly ragged, most of their killings were pure happenstance and tragically needless. Gradually the noose tightened around them and they heard the ticking in their ears for when the clock would strike midnight. Yet their devotion to each other was absolute and they were determined to share their fate together. For in their own way they were "free" and that free air pumped life into their souls even as they bled in their life-and-death struggle.

Below I imagined myself on the run, scampering down a dirt packed road as fast as I dared, living on the edge.

Here's a small documentary about the Ford V8 and Bonnie and Clyde's relationship with it:


"We rob banks!"

This line was used extensively throughout the 1967 movie and two days before their death, Clyde used it to impress a 16 year old boy who'd wandered onto their campsite. They offered him money or one of their guns as a token but the boy refused fearing he'd be arrested for it. Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd despised Bonnie and Clyde, seeing them as incompetent oafs stumbling through unplanned robberies; completely unprofessional. They were right for the most part.

But the duo loved the idea of the glamorous image of bank robbers for themselves. Much like now, banks were hated for their role in the suffering. (Unfortunately, they have only become more ruthless and we more accepting of their dastardly deeds. Only a nation of gangsters allows such a thing.)

Locally, only one bank of two still stands personally robbed by Clyde and Bonnie. That is in Ponder, Texas. The place is very much intact and even for sale:

This is your chance to own a little piece of history! The Historic Ponder Bank Building. As the story goes Bonnie and Clyde robbed this bank and it was featured in a movie. It still has the original teller cages and the bank vault. This building has overlooked the city square of Ponder for over a century. It would be the perfect spot for a business. The building has 2 baths and a small kitchen.


I'd love to own that!

Stuart, Iowa

In Pilot Point, north of the DFW area, Clyde and his motley crew planned to rob both banks in the town square at the same time. But a newbie member of his crew had cold feet and warned the authorities ahead of time. When the gang showed up at the appointed time, two Texas Rangers were in a car waiting for them. They never came back. The main Pilot Point bank is now an art gallery and the owner graciously allowed me to film inside. (The opening still of the video below is of the Lancaster bank no longer standing that the Barrow gang also robbed.)

The movie clip below shows them robbing the Ponder bank at the end.


The Killings of Bonnie and Clyde

Rifle and modified shotguns used by the Barrow gang.
(Presently housed in the Texas Ranger museum in Waco)

"All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle."
- Patton, 1944

Gee, maybe Bonnie and Clyde were just good patriots with their many shootings and killings (13 dead by the gang). Our gun crazy culture has made us by far the most violent western nation. And here we have two more who think they can find an answer at the end of a gun barrel. Many of the killings were senseless and stupid, done out of mindless panic. They are just sickening to read about. But Bonnie and Clyde weren't alone.

Prohibition gave rise to the gangster era and Tommy gun toting killers. We've been shooting like crazy ever since. There's something about the immediate feeling of power a gun brings that attracts Americans with an irresistible seduction. It feeds into a delusion of power, that as long as I have a loaded gun no man is my master. That's sort of like saying jumping off a building won't kill you; the statement is true - for a very short while.

"Poverty is the worst form of violence."

Bonnie and Clyde sealed their fate with every killing. To them it was a kill-or-be-killed world, that's just part of the deal. Death in all its forms surrounded them and swallowed them up since birth. Starvation and denial create predators out of the once meek. The truly soulless ones do it through the system as they realize wealth can be stolen through the manipulation and exploitation of the weak. When that sort of behavior is rewarded, no wonder a crime spree like the Barrow gang's didn't seem like such a stretch in their minds. They just didn't know how to do it with a pen.

Some like to say no crisis is a real crisis: we've had them before and always come out OK, they allege. But like an addict who slowly succumbs to his addiction, the bouts run deeper and deeper bringing the disease to a head. America has been permanently crippled by her systemic greed and we're digging the hole deeper every day. This time though, no one is "fighting back" - not even with a crime wave. No one has the ethics to question the system, instead we say: "If you're dying it's because you deserve to die."

The note is wrong. Bonnie did pass the gun and Clyde
and two cohorts managed to escape - albeit briefly.
The escape attempt is what got his sentence maximized.

Ironically, it's because Bonnie and Clyde believed they deserved to live they embarked on their death trip for a few stolen moments outside our defined system of life. After the Joplin, Missouri shootout (you can still see the apartment garage to this day) undeveloped pictures by the gang were left in haste. It was with the release of these pictures of the them goofing around, posing and enjoying life that made Bonnie and Clyde famous and captured the public's imagination, still gripped by despair deep in the heart of the depression.

Yet, their time was short. The bad news is our own ways are also short. The good news is this is not the only way.

As we continue our death spiral, all hail the mighty gun as we go down in flames just like our deadly duo. The Lord is my Kalashnikov, I shall not want!


Red River Plunge

Plunge Bridge
On June 10, 1933, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Pritchard and family saw
from their home on the bluff (west) the plunge of auto into
Red River. Rescuing the victims, unrecognized as Bonnie
Parker and Clyde and Buck Barrow [actually it was not Buck
but W.D. Jones, a kid who worshipped Clyde], they sent
for help. Upon their arrival the local sheriff and police
chief were disarmed by Bonnie Parker. Buck Barrow shot
Pritchard's daughter while crippling the family car to halt
pursuit. Kidnapping the officers, the gangsters fled.
Bonnie and Clyde were fated to meet death in 1934. In this
quiet region, the escapade is now legend.

- Historical Marker by the bridge

Clyde's self-destructive edge would flare up at times and his overconfidence in his driving would prove costly in this disastrous wreck. The pair had odd streaks of luck. On one hand they had the worst kind of luck in pursuing their criminal careers but also amazing luck in escaping to live another day. The kidnapping of pursuing officers was a common tactic for them when they had the choice. In their minds, their shootings were always self defense. This would prove out to be one more example.

BAR gun clip and a glove of Bonnie's retrieved from the wreckage

I went to the site of the nightmare plunge and visited the Collingsworth County Museum in Wellington, Texas which holds these artifacts in a display case. They also had a stack of Bonnie and Clyde books labeled as being used by Jeff Guinn in his research. (Many county museums have unique artifacts like this. I was especially struck by a foreboding black SS jacket brought back from WWII. Locals donate these kind of items and you never know what you may find.)


Below I share my own video re-creation of the plunge and give details on just how horrific it was, for Bonnie in particular. For weeks they left a trail of bloody bandages.

The Cowardly Ambush of Bonnie and Clyde

Death Headlines

Don't get me wrong, Bonnie and Clyde had to be killed - both for their own sake as well as others'. But they were also made scapegoats for the larger ills of society. Sure, this violent pair was taken out so the all the decent law abiding people could be "safe" - decent as in having their sins legal! Goldman Sachs destroys more lives on a coffee break than all the damage Bonnie and Clyde did put together. Institutionalized violence is no less wrong in the eyes of God, only ours.

1934 was a bad year for outlaw gangsters. Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde and the rest all got killed, mostly by the biggest gangster of all: J. Edgar Hoover (I'll never forget laughing about a Congressman who was briefed on the true story of Hoover and then demanded Hoover's name be taken off the FBI building. Will never happen!) But the fate of our larcenous lovers came off pretty well, I thought.


True, they were given no warning (though they planned to), Clyde shot dead from the start. But what if he had been asked to surrender against clearly hopeless odds? I think he would have lied to himself, arguing he'd made it out of hopeless spots before. But seeing it as hopeless would have forced him to think of Bonnie and to realize that if he fired instead of surrendering that would be a death sentence for her. I wouldn't wish anyone to carry that for eternity.

Bonnie did not die right away but let out a blood curling scream at the sight of Clyde and the final realization doom was upon her. The lawmen said that scream haunted them for life - as it should have. Afterwards they divided up the booty in the car, selling it to collectors for personal profit. The Barrows asked for their son's belongings to be returned but only his saxophone was. They needed the money to the point that what little they did get back - Clyde's bloody pants - they cut up to fit the younger Barrow clan children, bloodstains and all.

Ambush Rifles
Two of the weapons used by the ambushers. For once,
the law was determined to match Clyde's firepower.

So why do I say cowardly when I have no problem with the way the ambush went down? Because the ambushers were instruments - not of God and Justice but of a broken society. Could they ever have gunned down a banker like that? Does an oil speculator who crushes the lives of millions ever fear a bullet? Of course not, these hiding gunmen would have pissed their pants and whined like little girls at the thought of shooting the "legitimately" greedy; shooting someone of high social standing too much like shooting themselves.

So for all you professed law and order types, why don't we hang a few banksters from the yard arm at Wall Street and leave them hanging for all to see? Wouldn't that send the right message to not be greedy? Purity through penalties, no? So why this exception? Isn't one of the main arguments against Bonnie and Clyde is that they wanted to live well but take shortcuts? Uh huh, yeah - they were the only two in America ever guilty of that! And that's why we shoot the bank robbers and yet let the banks rob us blind - we all want a free ride here in the land of nothing free.

Historical Marker (defaced)

"I remember the next moments so clearly, it seems I am living them right now. All of us are concealed, but the car moving towards us is in view, at full speed, the only way Clyde ever drove. He has caught sight of the truck and appears already to be slowing. "This is him," I tell [fellow ambusher] Alcorn. "This is it, it's Clyde."
-Ted Hinton, Ambush, 1979

The logistics of the ambush were to have the father of Clyde's running mate Henry Methvin pose on the side of the road with his truck apparently broken down. He would not be suspected. (His motive was to gain amnesty for his son.) When the pair stopped to help, the ambushers unleashed their barrage of "about 150 shots". Right after the original deal for amnesty was made, Henry killed a police officer in cold blood just outside Grapevine, Texas but "the laws" wanted Bonnie and Clyde so badly they overlooked that faux pas in order to keep his father's cooperation.

Living hard, going down hard!

At the actual death scene, filmed by the ambushers five minutes after the killings:

We all died a little when they died.


The Final Hypocrisy

Wages of Sin
"To what throwback in humanity or flaw in civilization
the world owes its Barrows and Dillingers can only be conjectured.
It is an evil outcropping whose example spreads and will
spread, until juries act sternly to convince the erring that
property and life are sacred and punishment speedy and severe."

Dallas Morning News laughatorial

Translation: Gosh, we'uns is jess too moralls to understanding the likes of bad folks!

The world is a criminal enterprise - filled with criminals and run by criminals. And when forced to face that we become very angry and vindictive because we know what that means for us in our heart of hearts as we squelch unspeakable thoughts. But just as a cop who steals a car because its owner has a dried plant in his pocket becomes a crook or a woman who has affairs with only married men becomes a thief of other's lives or those who say love is not enough become perjurers in the court of life, the fruits of our endeavors bring us either life or death regardless of how hard we claim otherwise.

All things which violate the natural order will in time vanish without exception. That is as it must be. Like a dam forced to hold back ever increasing water, mankind has built a wall between itself and the irrepressible order that must be set free. If we stay on our present path - if we continue to do nothing other than proclaim ourselves holy - then we will lose all say on our fate (like Bonnie and Clyde) just as we have no say over a burst dam as unleashed water washes away lives.

I find it highly ironic when I hear the fools and halfwits, the willfully ignorant and the deliberately deceitful declare with absolute conviction that we must build our dam always higher to "save lives" and "do the correct thing". More war, more power, more lies. But they are merely the voices of doom who wish us to join their fate. The true path to survival lays elsewhere, it lies in the releasing of the inevitably-to-be-released waters and never resorting to these ways ever again.

The future can only be ensured when we stop holding back that which cannot be contained: our love.

The shack Clyde's parents turned into a filling station.
Future owners called the condition of the home/filling station
to be "appalling".

The city fathers still keep an iron boot on west Dallas, now called La Bajada (the lower depths) because of its Hispanic community. Houses date back to the time of Bonnie and Clyde and the decrepit schools and decaying infrastructure are enough to make you ill (except for an underfunded designer bridge leading in to Dallas proper).

It's easy to spot the cut-throats: they are the ones spouting America as "the land of opportunity" (the super-disingenuous assholes say "Become an entrepreneur!"). You see, when you expound that myth it allows you to drive by places like La Bajada and blame their poverty on some inherent deficiency. We give them the worst of the worst and if they react poorly to it we point and say, "See? They deserve no better!"

I've heard liars say the Bible condones slavery. It does not. It merely says treat your slaves fairly. You know why? Because the weakness of man is to always enslave his fellow man, it has never stopped, not for a single day. The tens of millions of working poor in this country are actually less than slaves because we don't even acknowledge them as such. They are used and exploited, treated with such violence in nature that our future grows dimmer by the day.

America is going to experience a hell like never before and it will be a hell she crafted. Time will come when we wished we treated our slaves better because we're all to suffer the fate of our slaves in the end. We are a nation of future Bonnie and Clydes - and I can't help but laugh when we futilely claim the rule of money will save us. Good luck with all that!

"Gone but not forgotten" (at the bottom) was inscribed per Clyde's request

Links and Notes:

"Go Down Together" The best Bonnie and Clyde biography.

"On the Trail of Bonnie and Clyde Then and Now" The ultimate guide to following their trail and sites associated with them. It's out of print now but the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco had one left when I was there!

Bonnie and Clyde's Hideout A website devoted to all things Bonnie and Clyde with tons of links and info.

A site dedicated to Blanche Barrow, Buck's wife. She got ten years for her part in the crime spree. She later wrote a book about that time. She offered many fascinating insights

The Ambush Museum in Gibsland, LA is curated by "Boots" Hinton, son of Ted Hinton who was one of the ambushers. He'll talk all things Bonnie and Clyde with you!

If Clyde were alive this day, he'd be 100, same as Reagan. Claims he was impotent or bisexual are false according to those who ran with him who testified he was in fact quite virile.

Newspapers were much more engaged during the Depression without the phony "objectivity" practiced to the point of blandness done today. Dallas County Sheriff "Smoot" Schmid was a Keystone cop with political ambitions causing him to overstate situations when it served him - such as confidently announcing he knew the killer of one his deputies in a botched stakeout. When the alleged killer turned out to be in Los Angeles, scorched reporters were not kind to the Sheriff's next guess, publishing the following headline:

"Pretty Boy [Floyd] Is New Suspect In Killing; Jesse James Next?"

The article went on to note that because Jesse James was dead he was "therefore practically eliminated from the search for the slayer of Deputy Sheriff Malcom Davis." [It was in fact Clyde who'd done the killing]. There were also other instances of pithy commentary inserted into stories such as when Clyde and his two fellow escapees from the Waco Jail were labeled as "three dumbbells". I assert if papers returned to these convictions it would reverse their fortunes (though they keep believing the opposite).

The Dallas Historical Society has an annual Bonnie and Clyde tour in May. Author John Neal Phillips (who also wrote a fine book on them) provides historical details along the way.

The 1967 "Bonnie and Clyde" film is often discounted by historians for it's many factual inaccuracies. However, for conveying their sprirt it was quite accurate and portrays the self-images the pair would have like to have had shown. And though glamorized to be watchable, I still find the film brutal as it's all done under a veil of despair and ultimate doom that is understood by the audience. The in-your-face violence only underscored the hellish nature of their plight and their careless killings.


According to the Department of Justice, 216,600 prison rapes were committed in one year. All of them were preventable. That's tens of thousands of future Clydes to be put out onto the street with little prospect of employment. A nation's character is defined in how it treats its most vulnerable. Dear America, you're failing the test, both in our institutional prisons and in the prison of street life.

A recent study released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found "even in substantiated cases of staff sexually abusing inmates, only half of the abusive officials were subject to any legal action. Indeed, 15 percent of confirmed staff abusers were allowed to keep their jobs."

All I know is, you leave me to be raped for year, someone is going to fucking die and I pretty much don't care who it is. Texas isn't "tough on crime", it's tough on crime victims, glorifying evil. Spare me your tales of woe when you have your own hand in the making of the victimization. We're all in this together. Not admitting that doesn't make it any less true.

I guess I'm just not smart enough to figure out which people don't count.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obama Negotiates With Hitler!

Many celebrities were on hand
for the press conference

WASHINGTON (AP) President Obama today unveiled what he described as "an historic agreement providing millions with relief from a fate no human being should ever face under any circumstances." Under the new agreement a "staggering" 33% reduction in the number of Jews sent to concentration camps was announced amid much fanfare and celebration. Many well-fed pundits declared this a stunning political victory for the White House.

Negotiations dragged on for the better part of a year, often turning acrimonious between Obama and what he termed "unrealistic progressives". The President's voice ringed with bitterness against those "who would make the perfect the enemy of the good" while lavishing praise on Republican Nazi dictator Hitler for reaching the compromise. As part of the deal the Obama administration agreed to forfeit the assets of all Jewish businesses and "run all the Jews out of Hollywood" for those allowed to remain free.

The President however did note that it would in fact be ideal to halt all Jewish death camps but "Gosh darn it, those Nazis just won't let us." Despite resistance from the Progressives Who Believe All People Deserve To Live party, many Leftists Who Sold Their Souls For Political Power were brimming with praise for the agreement. "With this reduction it will take vastly longer to extinguish the Jewish population whom I'd like to say are some of the finest people on the face of this earth. This agreement also allows us to give up and stop worrying about the death camps altogether as we allegedly promise to do something more about them at a later date. Haha!"

Republican Nazi leaders are reportedly "furious"
at what they call "unjust demonization" of the
death camps by "vicious hate groups".

When Republican Nazi leader Hitler was questioned about the agreement he feigned outrage and decried the "tactics of fascist implementation" over what he called America's core values. "That man has no right to take away my right to fuck people! His problem is he wants to give away our money to the Jews but I'm preserving America by taking it back for myself!" When asked about Obama's praise of him the maniacal madman emphasized the President "is a fucking useful idiot!"

When informed of his huge hemorrhaging in the polls after the bill's passage indicating a massive return to power for the Republican Nazi party, President Obama appeared chagrined and conciliatory to the Nazi butchers. "I just want to make it clear that I intend to work harder to reach across the aisle and enable my murderous colleagues." He admitted that no person or party "had a monopoly on wisdom. I would like to make it clear that I do not intend to take away anyone's right to fuck people as I fully support the American way of life!"

I's sorry, boss!

White House aides, stung by vehement Nazi criticism the President was a "Jew lover", are rumored to be working on a plan to "fuck the Jews royally. It's not like they count politically as long as nobody cares what happens to them." Naive pundits declared this a sly move on the President's part as he appears to stay above the fray while he cuts backroom deals in humiliating appeasement. Obama has long made it well known his goal to unite all sides onto the same page.

"I know I'm a good guy because I believe there's room for everyone, including the Republican Nazis. I respect their point of view, unlike the goddam Progressives with their complete lack of judgement. I am a pragmatic President, one who supports endless war, funding investment banks at the expense of the working class, leaving out-of-control greed unfettered, suspending civil rights and violating international law when it's politically expedient. Everyone should love what I do or the bad guys will win!"


Sunday, February 13, 2011

14 Million Ways To Die

Maybe it was the smell of Emily's vomit that had everyone all up in knots. Funny how you clean that shit up but the smell don't leave. It was like casting a spell on us in that white-tiled yellow-walled anti-septic shelter TV psycho ward room, we all just sittin' there thinkin' the shit's never gonna get any better and we be livin' on the streets till they eat us up and leave us to rot and die. And for fucking what?

That's what I want to know, motherfuckers! For fucking what? Tell me what I did I gotta die for. Nobody wants to answer me. They got no answer worth tellin'.

An' I got this tooth that's killin' me I got no way to fix.

I guess we was all feelin' the same thing when this cracker family commercial comes on showing snowflake brats on this disney cruise with mommy and daddy smilin' like God's own. Jason looks over at me like he's readin' my mind.

"We ain't the lambs we pretend to be."

That set off a shit storm of everyone bitchin' and wantin' to know how they got the nerve to be puttin' brainwashing propaganda on our TV set. I walked out of the room and into the cold city night cuz I wanted to go to a place where nobody knows me.

That's when I got to thinking of the injustice of it all. Where be the justice? If it's here I sure as hell ain't seein' it. Maybe it's been a damn lie all along, there really ain't nothin' to fight for. Just one big illusion and good guys getting bad guys don't mean nothin' when they both the same and the bad guys runnin' the show up top anyways. God don't want no fucking justice then I don't want no goddam justice neither!

I'm dying here and I ask you again: for fucking what do I die you cocksuckin' motherfuckers!

Wish I could put this goddam tooth in you!

Speaking of vomit...

That's why you like sucking that dick isn't it bitch, so you can fill yourself up with lies. You pretendin', him pretendin' same time as we goin' down the drain never comin' back. Been hearin' it all me life: aint nothin' in this world worth livin' for but the jack and the crack. I thought there was something else. Now I can't figure out what it was...

It's not far and I'm passing by where the big shots live with walls of rocky hate between me and them. I'm wondering why they got what they got. They steal it legal with the white man's con? They got a million of 'em. Talk to this head shrinker once for 15 minutes and he wanted three C's for that! He had himself convinced he was worth that but that just mean him's the one what need his head fixed! They got scams wherever you go. The farther you climb out of the hole the more they want from ya and they got the guns and gall to back it up.

I'm never gonna go straight. Rodriguez came crawling back after they towed his van away. He was just getting by but he had no insurance card on him so they took his van, his tools, his whole fucking life. Know what the cops told him cuz he was working 60 hours a week? They tell him he got no responsibility! Work, don't work - don't matter. You end up in the same place anyhow.

And for fucking what? What does hard work get anybody you shit sniffin' fuckers? God damn you all to hell.

I can't live with this achin' tooth!

Your benefit package is death

Just kidding myself, ain't I? I'm holding on for what? Maybe it is all about the way of the gun. Bullets go in cops same as anybody else. What does that prove? Means we's all the same, just a matter of who fires the last shot. Right don't make might. Am I a sucker or not?

That's when I get my Glock and become a man of the world. You told me we get what we deserve. I deserve better so I'm gonna go get better.

I started where the pickins is easy at the Hotel Zaza Ritz fancy fuck. I seen them pull up in them cars costing more I ever made in my whole life. I'm thinking they don't need 'em much as I do. I slide my way in, waitin' for the chance and I see this R8 pull in I just got to have! I come screaming out the bushes scaring off the valet and the squealin' bitch drivin' it. I go screeching out of there and I got to tell you it was the best feeling of my life!

That's when I KNEW I deserved better, feeling that engine rushing under me going down the road. Ain't nothing like I ever felt before! I figured lojack would be tracking me so I headed outta range to the country. Was 200 miles before I stopped and I was a changed man. How do I go back to thinking I deserve nothin' again? How do I tell myself pushin' that broom down the office lobby is the way to go?

The lie is dead - just like justice. They told me I was holding the "social fabric" together carrying them soul scorchin' crap jobs on me back but really it was me bein' the puppet to make the bad guys' lives good. Fuck that shit. I got just as much right drivin' this car as their sorry asses ever did. Maybe more since I been workin' all my life, takin' all the shit. What they ever do to deserve anything more than me?

I'm out on Highway 80, gassing up at this Valero station in some tiny twat town I don't even know the name of. I'm thinking to myself: "There's 14 million ways to die and no way to live." Which way do I go? Can't go back to bein' a slave. Can't go forever in a car cops want back for their real bosses. Man, them cops is just prison bulls on the outside.

I park off to the side, smelling leather that fill you up like a dream. The dash is all lit up like nothin' I ever saw, like a giant Swiss watch, and I can tell them people who made this was wanting to make it the best it could be. At the shelter, we just get the blankets nobody else wants and the cheapest of everything. Damn, do I like this world better. No wonder they do what they do to keep their lives like this, free from all the pain and vomit smells. Seein' them blow people up aroun' the world makes a whole lot more sense now. They' playin' for keeps.

That's what they's fighting for.

But who's gonna free me from this killing tooth?

What have I got to fight for? I can't stay in this R8 world I'm sitting in. There just be me. I gotta fight for me. Yeah...that'll piss 'em off. Just don't be like them. That will kill them in the end cuz they won't be able to stand it. It'll eat 'em all up and devour 'em - just like they left for to happen to me. Maybe that's their way of showing their soul. Maybe there's the justice.

I'm angry. I'm killin' angry. But I'm keeping my soul for now. But can't say it always gonna be like that...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

"I Can't Have You Videotaping Here, Sir"

If ever there was an event made for Dallas it would be the Super Bowl. Dallas is a city that loves to whore itself out to the most glamorous god it can find and the Super Bowl is the most glamorous sporting event there is in the good ol' US of A. Salivating Dallasites were all in a lather at the prospect of hoisting their skirts and show off what fine panties we have to offer. Local big shots were giggling like a virgin on prom night.

The NFL takes over the host city's stadium, ruling it with an iron fist. Ticket distribution, seating, media participation is handed down according to how the league wants it. Going on 45 of them, they know exactly how they want things to be and they hit town like a 1965 Beatles tour with everyone rolling over to feed the excess. That naturally sort of irked me.

Preparations started weeks before the Big Game. I took some (unwelcome) video around the stadium at that time. Everyone was stopping and taking pictures. One woman just stopped her car in the street and whipped out her camera. We were all gawking at our Jerry Jones Christmas tree sure to impress the world ant the hundreds of millions of anticipated viewers. Forget Santa Claus! The Super Bowl is coming to town!


Saturday's crowd

Getting the ESPN crew for downtown Forth Worth's Sundance square was considered quite a coup by the city's leaders. ESPN checked out both Dallas and Forth Worth for locations and found this one to be ideal. Downtown Fort Worth has been revitalized by the billionaire Bass brothers over the last two decades, transforming it into a welcoming mixture of both old and new.

The unexpected frigid weather put a huge damper on ESPN's plans, forcing the radio personnel to move inside, requiring crews to work through the night to get cumbersome equipment moved. The sports station was not discouraged however as they found the convenience for food and lodgings so inviting they sounded like a return engagement was fine by them.

When Saturday finally came with good weather, fans poured in - but I was long gone. I came on the two coldest days while the crowds were sparse to say the least. This allowed me to get as close as possible. A few brave fans also had a great chance to get on camera with the piddling amount on hand for the camera to pan. Everyone wanted their few minutes of fame.


The NFL Experience is a traveling carnival started in the mid 90s as an attraction during Super Bowl week. Dallas had hoped to set an attendance record with 250,000 but the cold weather was setting records of its own. Set up in the Dallas Convention Center it covered over 850,000 square feet, the NFL shop consuming 30,000 square feet on its own. The Experience lasts through game day with the shop staying open an extra two days presumably to sell the champions' gear.

On Thursday night was NFL After Dark from 9 PM to midnight for adults only with the reduced admission price of $15. I definitely recommend it though I think the crowd was down due to the slick roads. I would have liked to have seen more Hall of Fame stuff and other rare artifacts instead of commercial displays. Not like I'll be making a trip to Canton any time soon so this was my one shot for viewing pieces of football history.

Overall the NFL experience was a good experience. It's not something for the jaded to attend but I think it's a great thing for kids who want a taste of the NFL but without the huge price tag that usually comes with it.


With all the strange weather and grumbling by the visiting media the omens did not portend a favorable game day event. But the sky was clear before the game and the sun was a welcome sight. I think everyone was relieved for game day to come at last, to get out of the house and soak up the fun. I got no ill vibes at all as I transported myself through the crowd, even between opposing fans.

Unfortunately the rest of world found out what I already knew about Dallas: we love the glitz but hate the grunt work. Reality is so inconvenient (see Trinity River levees decay). 1,200 temporary seats were sold but not constructed by the time the game rolled around. There was mass confusion on how to handle this. The NFL holds back 800 tickets for emergency situations and they ended up using every single one of them. However, that left 400 fans missing out on the trip of a lifetime for some. There is no compensation for missing your lifelong team in the Super Bowl.

The Party Plaza fans who paid 200 a pop were left hung out to dry as well. Though thousands of tickets were sold, entry was delayed for hours - for some past the first quarter - due to an inadequate number of screeners. Reports of people literally pissing their pants waiting in line were common. Concession stands ran out of beer and since they had no stadium access the attendees were forced to endure the freezing rain coming down during the second half.

The game was great at least. I didn't want Pittsburgh to rack up anymore championships so I was rooting for the Pack. Steelers fans after the game were down right pissy as they had relished the chance to celebrate on the Cowboys' home field. Try throwing to guys with the same color jerseys if you want to win.

The event organizers were left with a lot of black eyes and hopefully if they get the chance to host another game they will be more mature and seasoned in their approach. There's more to logistics than just sucking up to people (the forte of Dallas glitterati). Despite the incredible snobbery built in to the whole thing, it was still kinda cool to see the Super Bowl up close. But if it never comes back again I won't be that disappointed.