By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
In fact, only minutes after last week's bankruptcy hearing that ended the EC's lease, a Belmor Corp. representative asked me if I knew anybody who'd be interested in becoming the building's new tenant. I didn't have an answer and still don't--my friends aren't exactly the kind who can spend thousands every month on renting a Deep Ellum club.
All my poor ass can do is wonder what the future might have in store for the building. The possibilities for a space that historic, spacious and close to downtown are endless, so before a tenant swipes the spot, I've let my imagination get the best of me and dreamt up possibilities for the next iteration of Trees--or whatever it might be renamed. Surprisingly, a few of these suggestions are somewhat sincere. Guess which ones.
Trees Recruitment Center: Much has been made about the Army, Navy and National Guard failing to meet annual quotas, even though the U.S. military has done its damnedest to stay "edgy" and attract more kids to the service. But commercials full of guitar licks aren't enough. The military will reinstate Trees' former butt-rock schedule and use the "Trees" theme to convert the space into a realistic-looking training jungle and attract potential jarheads.
Pros: Local bums will finally be persuaded to do something other than harass passersby for change every five seconds.
"Got a buck?"
"Even better--here's an AK-47 and a plane ticket to Iraq."
"How'm I supposed to buy booze with these?"
Cons: Godsmack will come to town every few weeks to play their shitty song from those Navy commercials. Drill sergeants will make concertgoers do push-ups whenever the mood strikes them. Did I mention Godsmack?
The Black Forest: Unlike Erykah Badu's Black Forest Theater, this take on the Trees theme will deliver hip-hop concerts on a consistent basis, and unlike most other local hip-hop clubs, this one will actually publicize its local shows more than two days before they occur.
Pros: Dallas concertgoers will finally have a dedicated venue to see the talented, smart and opinionated performers I've raved about for the past year.
Cons: White people will grow disillusioned after only a few months when a gun-related incident still hasn't occurred. More than a few concertgoers will be heard to remark, "These aren't like the black people I see on TV."
Trees Roller Derby: With two roller derby leagues in town and the debut of A&E's new reality series about the phenomenon, this idea might actually be profitable.
Pros: The two-story layout will allow multiple matches at the same time, and roller derby's more entertaining when a rock band performs a soundtrack for the girl-on-girl violence.
Cons: The Double Wide will lose all of its clientele and go out of business in three days.
Trees Laser Tag, Bowling Alley and/or Arcade: Sorry to sound nerdy, but Trees' layout is perfect for Halo-style gun battles--think "laser grenade ambush at the merch booth," and you'll agree. Plus, I'd like an arcade or bowling alley that doesn't require a 20-minute drive to the boonies--or, in the case of Dave & Buster's, khaki shorts.
Pros: Imagine Centro-matic performing the videogame-loving "Starfighter #1479" while you achieve a new high score in Ms. Pac Man. Awesome.
Cons: Kids walking into or out of the arcade will have trouble lying to the locals when asked repeatedly if they have any spare change.
Mace Pellets R Us: It's a fact--the undermanned Dallas police force patrols Main Street with mace-loaded paintball guns to herd late-night Deep Ellum crowds off the streets. I considered suggesting an education center at Trees to teach Dallas police that harassing a largely black nightclub population--most of whom aren't trying to commit crimes--only antagonizes an already stressful district, but that'd be silly. Let's give the cops easier access to reload on ammo instead.
Pros: By placing this shop on Elm Street, cops who reload their guns during closing-time patrols might finally do something about that street's crime and traffic problems after 2 a.m.
Cons: ...we doubt it. Plus, if Club Dada reopens across the street as "Taser Town," then the Trees building is doomed.
Trees Unemployment Office: ...too easy.
Pros: Club Dada employees won't have to walk far from their former place of employment after being abandoned with no advance warning from owner Steve Shin--because, really, everybody needs a plan B.
Cons: At this rate, the TUO might become the only way for talented musicians to come to Deep Ellum and get a paycheck.
Trees 2.0: The roomy, well-located building will be a perfect spot for live music in the metroplex. Someone with a little cash, competitive booking and a willingness to stretch across multiple genres can turn it into a central point of Deep Ellum again for local and national concerts. Rock, hip-hop, jazz, country--as long as the booking doesn't get into a rut and the club rebuilds a sense of community in the district, Trees can rise again.
Pros: Call us crazy, but we don't think the last incarnation of the building was a bad idea.
Cons: The Entertainment Collaborative might call us crazy.