Too Damn Scary Virginia Speaks

 Too Damn Scary

Deep Ellum blues: Thank you for writing this article! I live and work in Deep Ellum ("Cruising for a Bruising," by Zac Crain, August 14). I have an apartment on Walton, work at Sol's Taco Lounge and drive the three to four blocks to work every night. Why? Because of the changes in my neighborhood over the recent months.

I've been mugged at gunpoint once, had my car broken into twice and recently had my car's convertible top slit so they could steal about 50 cents in change and my drivers license. All this occurred in the six months I've lived here. And it's a common experience within my group of peers.

My friends used to live, work and play in Deep Ellum. Most of them have moved away, and as a group we've taken our business elsewhere. It's a rare occasion when we do go out here on the weekends, and invariably it ends badly.

We do, however, spend all of our time wondering what happened to our neighborhood or discussing why there's no concerted effort to stop it. For months we've been having the same conversations over and over, and it boils down to one thing: We're tired of the bullshit.

This is a neighborhood five days a week. On the weekend it becomes a club scene, a cruising zone, a criminal center. And that's not what Deep Ellum is about.

I moved here because it has a true neighborhood feel, with artists, musicians and business owners who have a stake in this neighborhood. These same people have suddenly found their own neighborhood a hostile place to live. And that needs to be stopped.

Thanks for bringing media attention to these problems. The mayor's office and the public needed to see it in print. We can bitch among ourselves all we want, but we need help from the city officials to stop it. Once again, thank you for an excellent article.

Lori Atkinson

Loitering thugs: The past year you've made some good points about Deep Ellum's declining state. You've addressed the flailing economy and the abundance of mediocre bands that do not draw well, but I think your latest story offers the most compelling argument: The place has gotten too damn scary.

Even in a sluggish economy, bar patrons will eventually find a way downtown. After all, social drinkers will always need a place to go. As far as the entertainment goes, you can usually find a decent band playing somewhere on any given night in Deep Ellum (sans a few clubs I won't mention). But the major item keeping the customers from returning to Deep Ellum is the hostility from the loitering thugs on the street.

Good article.

Aaron Thedford
Via e-mail

Race card: I wanted to thank you for writing this. Everyone I know has been talking about the problems in Deep Ellum. It's so hard to address something like this, because so often the race card is pulled. I'm glad you wrote about it. No one wants to go to Dallas anymore, and it isn't fair to take our music away from us. People are afraid to be down there. The respect that used to be there is long gone. People will run over you, grab your ass when you're walking to a club or your car, and if you don't say anything, you turn into a nasty white bitch or even worse. We all hope this problem is fixed soon. Thanks again.

Tricia Hardin
Fort Worth

No place like Ellum: There's really no place else like Deep Ellum. I bring people from out of town there and they're amazed that we have so many acts and clubs to choose from in one area. It is on the verge of being a real attraction--a permanent playground--except there is no easy, safe or affordable way to get in or out.

Fundamentally, if they can't drive by the front of a club, the cruising will stop. Car stereos and revving engines create a lot of noise and confusion on top of the roving gangs. Police on horseback or bikes could better spot someone who is creating a problem in a totally pedestrian environment.

Fort Worth, Austin, Las Vegas, etc. all get it in their entertainment districts: Safe parking and transportation are where it starts. When you're looking at dodging drunk thugs and paying $8 to cram in a lot and get your doors dinged before you're even in the door of the club, it's not so appealing to go in the first place.

Here are my suggestions:

1) Put up concrete barrier poles and light up and cobblestone the three streets from Malcolm X to Good-Latimer. Vendors can set up kiosks in the street.

2) Set up parking off-site and provide one checked entrance for bands, services and cabs to make dropoffs.

3) Create exclusive in/out contracts with cab companies that won't charge $20 for a five-minute ride, or commission a shuttle that uses DART lots in the off-hours.

4) Buy off the $8 parking shysters and put in some real garages with attendants on the outer rim for people who must drive. Don't tow cars left overnight.

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