Disclaimer: This isn’t all about music. It’s more or less about Deep Ellum, my most favorite Dallas neighborhood, a neighborhood filled with culture, music, art, food and damn good times.
Last weekend was my last as a Deep Ellum resident. For now. I have to say “for now” because I really hope, and have to believe, that one day, I’ll return. My lease is up, the rent is too damn high and as of Saturday, I’ll be moving to the Design District. Don’t get me wrong, the area is cool, but it’s not Deep Ellum living. I know I sound as though I’ll never visit and it’s goodbye forever or something (it most certainly is not, I’ll likely be here multiple times a week), but instead of walking to Anvil Pub each Tuesday for half-price food, I’ll be driving. There will be no more walks home from Adair’s Saloon that I don’t remember. Don’t worry, in that case, I won’t drive – I’ll either use some self-control or call a cab. I will no longer be able to walk over to a show at Dada or The Prophet Bar. I won’t be able to giggle as I walk past Trees and see all the kids dressed in black, looking miserable, as they wait in line for whatever band they’ve elected to see. I’m not hatin’, I was that kid at one time – kind of. Hell, I’m going to have to drive everywhere now. Sucks. Also, I won’t be able to order Zini’s Pizza delivery, whether intoxicated or sober.
God, I’m really going to miss this place.
Anyway, I made sure to do my last weekend here correctly by attending the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, eating some Deep Ellum food and enjoying some Deep Ellum tunes.
Friday, immediately after work, I and my trusted adventure-er, Christina, headed down to explore, the weather being slightly perfect. After grabbing some coupons for beer, we wandered through the various art vendors and admired the unique works, most of it folk art, pieces inspired by Dia de los Muertos and many portraits of beloved celebrities and musicians. After getting my bearings, figuring out where the stages were, where the beer was and what kind of food was about, Christina and I sat down outside Maracas Cocina Mexicana, formally Monica’s Aca y Alla for those of you keeping track. For the record, the menu was quite similar, delish and the margaritas were strong and cheap.
Her friend Kaylee joined in time for us to wander more. That’s what I love about festivals like this: there are never any destinations in mind, it’s all about playing things by ear and enjoying the ride and whatever pops up along the way. After grabbing coupon beer, at an intersection along Main, in front of Pepe’s Ranch, we found a familiar puppeteer performing. The fellow we’d seen with The Venetian Sailors the week before at Deep Ellum Big Folkin’ Fest, Will Schutze I believe is his name, was there, making his marionettes (is that the proper term?) dance to classics like “Johnny B. Goode.” It was fun seeing adults and kids alike gathering around him, all with charmed smiles on their faces.
From there, as vendors and artists started shutting their tents, we headed to one of our favorite Deep Ellum haunts, Anvil Pub. We normally visit on Tuesdays during the late-afternoon hours for food and brew. We’re typically gone by 9ish so dropping in at night is out of the ordinary but still quite wonderful. Granted, when I woke up the next morning, head pounding, trying to recount how many drinks I’d had the night before, I completely forget we even stopped in to Anvil. Anyway, Anvil made sense to us because the beer selection was plentiful and cheaper. Two Buried Hatchet’s later and we were on our way to Adair’s Saloon to meet my Twitter friend, Zack. I enjoy meeting Twitter friends, so what?
Oh, Adair’s. I have such a soft spot for this place. I only take the right people into it, knowing they’ll love it just as much as I do but I remember continuously telling Christina and Kaylee of it’s dive bar nature with a few extra large sides of hootenanny and honky tonk. We walked in to find live country music, folks dancing and a crowd. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Christina and Kaylee so far seemed as comfortable as could be. Our Shiner was poured into plastic pints, our whiskey in tiny plastic shot cups. By this time, I had already lost my phone in the bathroom once and continued to discuss my two-stepping and waltz abilities (which, in all actuality, are nothing to brag about) as we watched others boot scoot. At some point, we discovered a young Japanese man twirl numerous young ladies as though he was a born and bred Texan. Which, he could have been, I don’t think we ever asked those questions. A point came where his friend began talking to us and questioned what we were drinking and seemed to brag about his whiskey and Coke. For some reason, in my beer-rattled mind, I became offended. You don’t pretend you’re better than me because you’re drinking whiskey and a sugary soda, sir. Either way, this lead to shots, one of which was bought for him, one of which he never showed up to take. I handed it off to my now in-real-life friend, Zack, before eventually heading home. Do I remember which route we took home? No, no I do not. I’m like a damn gremlin, don’t feed me whiskey after midnight.
Once home, I put Deer Tick’s “Born on Flag Day” on and Christina commented that “drunk Megan is my favorite.” I disagreed as she and Kaylee left and I talked about how I couldn’t wait to order Zini’s Pizza. Which, of course, I did, only to find that they brought me free Zini’s Sticks and a brownie. I guess they know that when customers order a cheese and jalapeno pizza online at 1 something A.M., it means they need all the carbs they can get. This was proven to them when I answered the door in softpants, a tank and signed jibberish on the check. Thank you, sweet Zini’s, you’re my favorite.
My last Deep Ellum Saturday started with Excedrine Migraine, a turkey sandwich from 7-11, a blue Gatorade and a lot of water. Soon enough, I was as good as new and ready to get to Arts Fest for Parallel Play, one of the many artists I fell in love with at BFF2. The folkers were playing one of the larger stages at the corner of Main and Good Latimer. The festival had a large crowd on Saturday, not surprisingly though as the weather was fantastic and felt almost like late Spring. The band had a large crowd themselves, composed of young, older, some fans and some soon to be. Their set was a good mix of new songs, as well as tunes off their “The Floor is Lava” album, which has been in rotation for me since BFF2. I watched a man with long, white hair and white mustache dance while wearing the most fabulous sequined green shirt. For a while, I wasn’t so sure about this guy and could only image what drugs he’d taken beforehand. After watching him for a bit though, I felt like he wasn’t on drugs, he was just having a damn good time watching Parallel Play. Same goes for the 40-something, visor-wearing lady directly in front of the stage. There was even a small group of little ones behind me dancing in a circle to the tunes. It was rather adorable. I saw quite a few people walk away with their albums and that was heart warming to me. Considering I already had it, I walked away with a t-shirt. Their set was great, needless to say.
Later, Christina and I met up with my old, beloved group of friends from Waco, Whitney, Melissa, Kristi and Clint, two of which I hadn’t seen in years, to grab some dinner and then go see Grizzly Bear at The Palladium. We walked to Deep Ellum’s Twisted Root but with a line out the door, decided Cane Rosso was a better decision. Despite my drunk pizza the night before, I was still down for some fancy pizza. I mean, who’s not always down for pizza, regardless of what kind? Our food was tasty, the beer was great – Revolver Blood & Honey – of course it was great. We even got a desert pizza reminiscent of CiCi’s but, much, much better. Good stuff, Cane Rosso. I’ll be real though, if I want pizza in Deep Ellum, it’s Zini’s or Serious for me. I can’t help it.
Next, it was off to the Palladium. Honestly though, I’m not going to try and review Grizzly Bear. You all know I love Grizzly Bear and every time I have seen them has been epic and perfect and this night was no different.
I ended the evening back in Deep Ellum at, where else, but Anvil Pub. Our group met another group who actually lived at my apartments. Of course, leave it to me to meet my neighbors days before I planned on moving. When the others headed off to a party, I called it a night as I mentioned that I couldn’t risk another “last night”. I took in the people walking down the sidewalks next to me, the tiny, familiar motorcycles that typically sit in front of Elm Street Tattoo, July Alley and Serious Pizza, the buildings, the graffiti, all of it. While crossing through the Cafe Brazil parking lot, a little man on a unicycle cruised down the street while on his phone, it appeared. I mean, did I need a more perfect send off from the area?
I know Deep Ellum has its many an empty old bar or storefront, covered in neon green signs from a realtor trying to attract new tenants, I know it sometimes seems that businesses come and go. If you guys would get your butts down here, there wouldn’t be any “go” to that statement. I know there are a few bums about (do a good deed and give ‘em a buck or a cigarette and I guarantee you, you will have just met your new best friend) and a negative news story or two about crime in areas nearby, but really, where in a big city will you not find that? Look past those things and check out the artwork, the galleries, check out the local businesses, enjoy the food, enjoy the drinks, come listen to some damn good music, local or otherwise. Come hang out with some of the most genuine people in Big D. You’ve been so good to me Deep Ellum, I’ll be back soon.