Goodbye, Groovy East Dallas

How Jim Schutze forsook his hippie-dippy days and learned to love the snout house

In people who are tightly bound to a certain joint the way the Gold Rush clientele are bound, there is commitment beyond mere customer loyalty, perhaps in some cases even bordering on obsessive-compulsive disorder. For example, the Gold Rush, a small place now, was tiny before "the expansion." In the mid-1990s it doubled to its present modest size by taking in an adjacent shop and knocking down a wall.

George Sanchez, proprietor/spokesman for the extended clan that runs and owns the Gold Rush, told me his original customers, who date to the pre-expansion era of the Gold Rush, won't sit on the "new side."

"They all want to sit on the old side, not on the new side," he said. "We even have our new East Dallas in the Gold Rush, and they won't sit over there."

Dallas Public Library
Lorlee Bartos makes the point that a McMansion is better than a whorehouse.
Mark Graham
Lorlee Bartos makes the point that a McMansion is better than a whorehouse.

Isn't that interesting, that people who see themselves as either fleeing from the monotony of sameness or drawn to the interest of diversity can be so extremely conservative in their own habits? But not me. I stopped trying to eat those soybean chocolate balls a long time ago. I have grown.

Neighborhood activist/gadfly Avi Adelman lives right across the street from the Lower Greenville Whole Foods. When I talked to him, he was adamantly dry-eyed about the whole thing.

"If a development comes in across the street, it's a business development anyway, and it's going to make my values go up. Nobody cares if I weep for the hippies. I'm not upset either way. Development happens. Shit happens. Whatever you want to say. You cannot stay stuck in a time frame."

Well, thank you, Avi. I certainly feel uplifted by that.

So here it is, then. Fine with the McMansions. Fine with the new development, the whole deal. Things are better in most ways. The conservation districts will preserve the architecture. The new people will learn. Some of them may even start hanging out at the Gold Rush.

But certain kinds of stuff just won't happen anymore. It's a ghost, a whisper, a will-o'-the-wisp. And it's gone, gone glimmering down the dirty alleyways and through the tangled forests of neglected backyards, lost beneath sodden clothing and furniture of evictees dumped in front of tottering apartment buildings, gone and lost now because East Dallas is too good for it. Too nice.

Jeff Liles told me this story:

"I miss seeing Roxy Gordon's house," he said. "I would drive by, and that would just make me feel like I was in East Dallas. He had all these animal bones, these bone sculptures that hung down on the front porch. His house was like a living museum of outlaw culture. Now it's a vacant lot.

"I remember going over there one night, and the door was open, and you could tell a bunch of people were all hanging out in the living room. There were all these guys sitting around drinking straight from the bottle, and this guy was sitting in the corner, singing.

"And it was Townes Van Zandt [legendary Texas singer-songwriter, died in 1997]. He was just sitting there singing all of his songs for a handful of people in this living room.

"Roxy went back into the kitchen, and I kind of followed him back there, and I was, like, blown away. I wanted to thank him. I said, 'Roxy, I can't believe I'm getting to experience something like this. Thank you so much.'

"He said, 'Dammit, Jeff, can you take him with you? He's been here a fuckin' week.'

"I said, 'Well, I'm staying with my parents in North Dallas. I don't know if I can bring Townes Van Zandt over to my house.'

"Shit like that happened all the time, man."

In the upper right-hand corner, you can see "old" Lakewood being cut out of the fields. That was 1925.

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