Sunday, September 17, 2006

Saturday evening ramblings

Lunch hour in Southlake

On Saturdays, sometimes we go to lunch with K's mom before I head off to work. Today, our restaurant of choice was Kincaid's in Southlake. If you're familiar with Kincaid's Hamburgers in Ft. Worth, you already know that they make one of the best burgers money can buy. Of course, as anyone who's been to Kincaid's knows, it's not only about the food -- but the atmosphere and ambience as well. Part hamburger stand, part grocery store, the original Kincaids, located on Camp Bowie Blvd. west of the Fort Worth cultural district started life in the 1946 as a neighborhood market. They'd serve burgers as long as their daily supply of fresh ground beef lasted; when it ran out, they were closed for the day. They had a few tables, but if you weren't lucky enough to grab a seat at one, you had to lay out your food along the top of the grocery counters and eat standing up.

as good as the original? The "new" Kincaid's in Southlake

Recently, they expanded and opened a second location, northeast of Ft. Worth in the town of Southlake. Now, who would've thought they'd be able to re-create the Kincaid's experience at a strip shopping center in upscale Southlake? I'll admit, I had my doubts, but once inside, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the Southlake branch resembles the original location in Ft. Worth. From the pale green latex wall paint, to the random assortment of balloons hanging from the ceiling (my favorites are the Smurf and the giant pickle), to the picnic-style tables with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, to the grocery shelves doubling as standing lunch counters... it's the real deal. And apparently, the locals from Southlake and Grapevine are sold on the concept -- the Southlake store has been doing a booming business both of the times I've been there. My second visit to the Southlake location was every bit as enjoyable as the first time I ate at the "original" in Ft. Worth. Check out either one if you get a chance...

L and a friend in front of the grocery shelf / stand-up lunch counter

inflatable ambiance at Kincaid's

Well, your cd collection looks shiny and costly...

My cd collection consists of several hundred disks, and I don't think I've ever thrown away (or otherwise disposed of) a single one. I really need to liquidate my collection, especially the box of "overflow" cd's I have stashed away in a closet to free up shelf space for the ones I tend to listen to more frequently. Occasionally, though, I find myself digging something out of that box, or even grabbing one for the shelf that I haven't listened to in ages, dusting it off, and popping it in the player. Yesterday's example: "4-track Manifesto" and "This Euphoria" by Texas musician David (pronounced Dah-veed) Garza. I remember the Deep Ellum club scene from 10-12 years ago ... Garza was one of the names I'd see time and time again, performing at all the Dallas clubs. Never once did I see him perform, and I never was interested in his music until I heard a few of his songs on KTCU, our local college station. So I picked up a couple of his cds at CD Warehouse. Reviews of Garza's material have drawn comparisons to such musical heavyweights as Prince and David Bowie... when I listen to his songs, the influences are so various that it's hard to pin them down... I hear elements of pop, classic rock 'n' roll, funk, soul, new wave, and folk ... an intriguing blend, to be sure -- sort of a one-man, non-roots-music-based equivalent of Austin's "the Gourds". In other words, worth listening to.

It's strange that I hadn't even thought of any of Garza's songs for probably at least the past 3 or 4 years, and then yesterday something reminded me of one of his songs so I popped in one of his cd's. My relatively recent (past 4 years) and extremely enthusiastic interest in "Texas music" and "outlaw country" sometimes preoccupies me from enjoying some of the other good stuff in my collection. Listening to the funky beats of Dah-veed has me wanting to break out some 311, Happy Mondays, and Primal Scream. And that's one reason I'm keeping all the old stuff, even as my tastes and interests expand... sooner or later, I'm gonna want to hear some of those old songs. I know, I know... just get an ipod... well, K just got one and she has been enjoying it... I haven't been real impressed with how it sounds in the car, though. And once you upload all your songs to it, if you scrap your cd collection and then something happens to the ipod, well, you're screwed in a major way. I guess that's why you also need to save them to your computer's hard drive. But isn't there something to be said for holding onto something tangible, a jewel box with an actual cd inside, along with photos, liner notes, lyrics and credits? Music seems to lose some of its personality once it has been reduced to a digital file on a tiny silver electronic gizmo. We've come a long way from 8-tracks and 12-inch l.p.'s -- maybe a little bit TOO far.

Remembering 9/11

I didn't say anything about it in my last post, but I observed the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as many Americans did -- by watching lots of media coverage on tv and reflecting back on that terrible day five years ago.

I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday... I had planned to go out photographing trains that morning, but overslept. When I woke up, I could hear the tv news in the next room, and it sounded like an important story. I went to the study to check train lineups on the computer, but K was on line, trying to contact two friends whose husbands worked at the Pentagon. She simply told me, "go look at the tv". I got there just in time to see the second tower collapse, and spent the rest of the morning glued to the tv. L was five years old and had just started kindergarten; M was six months old. We didn't feel like cooking for lunch, so we went to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. They had the news on all of their tv's and there was no way we were going to enjoy our meal in light of what was happening. We should have stayed home. Later, I had to go to work to take my 2-year rules exam in order to stay certified at my job. We were supposed to take the exam at Tarrant County College, but they had closed the campus due to the day's events, so they moved it to a conference room at work. It was hard to concentrate on taking the test; images of what I had seen on the news -- especially footage of the second jet hitting the south tower, and people jumping from the burning buildings -- kept running through my mind.

The skies were eerily quiet that night... with the suspension of commercial air traffic, our neighborhood -- which is in the flight path of Alliance Airport and normally sees several takeoffs and/or landings throughout the night -- was noticeably more quiet. A night or two later, when traffic resumed, I remember six planes in a row coming in for landing, one of the first signs that life and commerce would go on.

K and I visited New York in September 2002, just after the one-year anniversary. We only had a few days there, but before we left, we visited ground zero. A barricade along one of the adjacent street corners had become a makeshift shrine to the victims, with lots of candles and flowers and photos and letters and -- this really got to me -- kids' toys and stuffed animals. I wondered how many of those belonged to the victims' own kids.

Five years later, I wouldn't say that 9/11 has made a tremendous difference in how I live my life. I am still proud and grateful to be an American, and I'm not living my life in fear of another attack like the terrorists want me to... I go about my daily business and routine pretty much the same as before. I hear and read all kinds of reports of harrassment suffered by fellow railfans in the name of security -- it seems like anyone pointing a camera near a railroad track these days is subject to extra scrutiny -- but I have experienced very few problems myself. I will say this -- whether or not it's fair, and whether or not it's completely justified, 9/11 has given me a much more negative impression of the Islamic faith than I had previously. And I don't believe that we (the United States) are doing nearly enough to keep potential terrorists out of our country. It's pretty damn sad that we might have to suffer another attack -- possibly one that makes 9/11 seem tame by comparison -- before we begin to get serious about keeping these people outside of our borders. Then again, we've lasted five years without another attack, when some people 3 and 4 years ago were expecting us to see another one any day, so we must be doing something right...

I haven't watched any of the recent 9/11 movies -- well, I did see Michael Moore's "Farenheit 9/11"... what a sickening piece of crap that was -- and really don't have much desire to. I purchased and read several books about the attacks within the first year; maybe that was all the coverage I needed. Even with nothing but my exposure to the media coverage from that first day, I'll remember it for a lifetime. I am still angry about the attacks, and disappointed in the failures of my country's intelligence and military agencies which allowed them to occur. But the most important sentiment still applies as much as it did that first day -- may God help the souls of the innocent victims of 9/11 to be at peace, and their families and friends to be strong.


nr: Jack Kerouac - On the Road

np: David Garza - "Ready to Fly", downloaded from Garza's "myspace" page:


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